House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was million.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Beauce (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Customs Act November 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with the hon. member for Niagara Falls.

I am very pleased to take my turn at expressing support for Bill C-18, which will give Revenue Canada customs officers the additional powers they require to enforce the Criminal Code at the border. It will be recalled that Bill C-89 ought to have been passed last March, but the elections intervened and it was put off.

This bill will have a positive impact for all Canadians, particularly those in Beauce, where we have the Armstrong border crossing. It will allow us to fill in a gap in enforcement which currently prevents our officers from intervening at border crossings to control criminal behaviour, such as impaired driving, child abduction, the possession of stolen goods. It also gives officers the power to arrest and detain any individual for whom there is an outstanding arrest warrant.

Bill C-18 will reinforce Revenue Canada's commitment to protect Canadians. Thanks to our position at the border, we have a unique advantage in identifying and intercepting criminals. We want to take advantage of our advantageous position. The bill will transform enforcement of the Criminal Code at the border considerably. It will in fact allow us to intercept criminals at the border and consequently to provide the communities in our country with better protection.

We can assure Canadians that we will provide customs officers with training that will equip them to perform their new duties in a fair and responsible manner while remaining within the law.

The government's position is that there is no need to have personnel at the border carry firearms, as this could, moreover, escalate violence instead of helping resolve conflicts. Customs officers perform their jobs effectively without firearms, and everything leads us to believe that this is the way it will always be.

What it means is that they will be able to intervene without waiting for the police when they believe someone has committed, or is in the act of committing, an offence under the Criminal Code. They will, for instance, be in a position to take the following steps: detain impaired drivers; take a breath sample, hand over to the police those whose alcohol level is high enough to justify their taking a breathalyser test; detain or arrest suspected child abductors; arrest or detain persons against whom a warrant for arrest has been issued under the Criminal Code. Customs officers will hold suspects in detention until the police can intervene. This makes a huge difference in the enforcement of the Criminal Code at the border.

It is essential to bear in mind that customs officers will use these powers only within the framework of their duties at entry points. They will not take part in investigations under the Criminal Code. With the exception of testifying in court, they will not take part in investigations once the police have intervened.

At present, customs officers have the power to arrest and detain persons for offences under the Customs Act and the Excise Act. But when they observe Criminal Code offences, the only line of action open to them is to notify local authorities. The purpose of the bill put forward today is to confer on designated officers the power to arrest and detain persons who contravene the Criminal Code. This means that customs officers will have the power to perform arrests for such offences as impaired driving, child abduction or, as I said, possession of stolen goods.

It is important that this bill be passed as quickly as possible so that selection and training can start. We hope to implement this program within six to nine months after the bill is passed. We intend to apply the program at all ports of entry, starting with those with the heaviest traffic and the largest number of Criminal Code offences.

Every manned border crossing will have designated officers responsible for enforcing the Criminal Code. We are glad that the various police forces at the municipal and provincial levels, as well as the RCMP, welcomed this change. With this legislation, the police will be able to rely on customs officers to arrest and detain at the border any person suspected of a Criminal Code offence, which will make a big difference in the workload of the police.

We plan to continue discussions with the provinces and with our federal colleagues to finalize the implementation plan.

Designated officers will be vested with the powers required to arrest or detain persons suspected of violating the Criminal Code. These officers will work at ports of entry across Canada and will have direct contact with travellers wishing to enter Canada. Immediate response powers will only be granted to those full time customs officers who have received appropriate training. That is why I am pleased to support Bill C-18 today.

Regional Development November 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat in this House a piece of excellent news for the great Québec-Chaudière-Appalaches region.

On November 7, the hon. secretary of state responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development gave a highly positive report on the regional technology fund. After a mere year of existence, thanks to contributions totalling $3.3 million, this fund has made ten high-tech projects possible. These projects, in which close to $17 million will be invested, will create 187 jobs in the greater Québec-Chaudière-Appalaches region.

This initiative, undertaken by the government in partnership with Gatiq-Technorégion, will help make this region a centre of excellence for the companies involved in the new economy.

This is once again proof of the important role played by the Canadian government, via FORDQ and its secretary of state.

Jacques Villeneuve November 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebeckers paid a vibrant tribute to a new Canadian hero, Jacques Villeneuve. However, I was shocked to see the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste use this event to try to score political points.

The SSJB's president, Guy Bouthillier, even boasted about it when he said that all events have a political dimension.

Jacques Villeneuve showed once again that he was a true champion by not falling into this disgraceful separatist trap. Yesterday, we saw that Jacques Villeneuve, like the Liberal government, had firm control of the steering wheel.

Bravo Jacques, our new Formula One world champion.

Parenting Arrangements November 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to my colleague opposite speaking about his experiences and his background in the legal profession. I was once a policy advisor at the provincial level and I can tell you that I have seen more than one woman having difficulties with provincial laws. I don't think there is much to be proud of in this respect. Either he is out of touch, or he was being selective in his choice of cases.

He often makes reference to the senators. I can introduce him to some of them and he will realize that they are people with a lot of experience and knowledge and that, even if a few were caught with their eyes closed, that does not mean they are all sleeping. It is important that he realize this.

I have a question for the hon. member. If a couple separates and one of the partners moves to another province, would national standards not make it easier to settle matters?

That was my comment and my question.

Cavalier Textiles October 28th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to mention that Cavalier Textiles is the main supplier of specialized spun yarn and strands in Canada.

The company develops, produces and markets a full range of synthetic yarn and cotton products considered to be the best on the market. The company is reaffirming its leadership by investing $14.7 million to modernize its four Quebec plants in Sherbrooke, Drummondville, Montmagny and Saint-Georges de Beauce.

As part of this investment, the Canadian and Quebec governments will grant a refundable loan of $2,868,000 under the Canada-Quebec subsidiary agreement on industrial development. The loan will allow Cavalier Textiles to speed up its own investments, which will result in the creation of close to 50 new jobs, while preserving existing jobs.

This is yet another illustration that there is strength in unity and that, together, Quebec and Canada can help our businesses.

Éboulements Tragedy October 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, as the Liberal member of Parliament for Beauce, I rise today on behalf of the government to extend to the families of the 43 victims of the bus crash in Les Éboulements our deepest condolences on their loss.

What explanation or comfort can we offer? What can we say to help these families understand and accept such a tragedy? If I had the answer to any one of these questions, I would have rushed to share it with my constituents and friends of Saint-Bernard de Beauce.

Neither I nor anyone else has the power to explain that which cannot be explained or to prevent pain and suffering. To all the children, grandchildren, spouses, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and neighbours left bereaved by this tragic accident, we offer our friendship. We will stand by them and listen to them.

It is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy like this one to have us realize how strong the ties are between the hearts of all Canadians and how sensitive we all are to the pain of our fellow citizens.

I very closely monitored reports of the accident in Les Éboulements and I spoke to several members of the victims' families. They all mentioned the extraordinary generosity and solidarity they witnessed during this ordeal. Many messages of sympathy were sent from every part of Canada, throughout last week.

All our kind words and our words of encouragement will not bring back those who died last week. However, I persist in believing that the friendship, solidarity and respect displayed so far will, in time, ease the pain and sadness of the people of Saint-Bernard.

Some will say that things will never be the same again in Saint-Bernard de Beauce and that the tragic death of the 42 residents and the serious injuries to five others will finally kill the spirit of this magnificent town. I cannot agree with them because, after visiting the place, after meeting and comforting members of the families of the victims, I have to tell you that the essence of the Beauce spirit was not lost in the accident.

This harmonious mixture of pride, solidarity, generosity and ingenuity mobilized the entire community within a few hours of the accident. It is this strength of spirit that gives us the courage to carry on and that ensures that the people of Saint-Bernard de Beauce will dig in even harder and will together survive the worst highway tragedy in Canada.

I reiterate in closing our most sincere sympathy for the terrible drama they fell victim to and our wishes for a speedy recovery for those still in hospital. I can assure them that both I and my government will always be there to help them lighten ever so slightly the burden of sorrow they carry.

Saguenay And Manitoba Floods October 8th, 1997

I am honoured to be able to pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of the thousands of courageous and determined men and women volunteers and Canadian military personnel who fought the Saguenay floods in Quebec and the Red River floods in Manitoba.

A mere mention of these two events is sufficient to remind us of the immensity of the disasters which struck these areas and the immensity of the needs they created. These unprecedented natural disasters led to the greatest expression of generosity and solidarity modern-day Canada has ever known.

The Saguenay and Manitoba floods have not only left their mark on the geography of those regions. They have also left their mark on the hearts of all Canadians, with an undying memory of a people standing up against adversity and reaching out to help those in need.

Acid Rain October 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Acid rain is of great concern to all foresters, especially those in my riding of Beauce.

I would like to know what measures the government plans to take to alleviate this problem.

Acid Rain October 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment, Ms. Christine Stewart—

Youth Strategy September 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, our government, together with the Quebec Community Futures Development Corporations, has launched an important program with an initial budget of six million dollars, aimed at people 35 years old and younger in communities served by all 54 CFDCs.

The Youth Strategy has three components: a fund for young entrepreneurs, a program for hiring youth advisors in the CFDCs and the extension of the Summer Employment Program for students.

The fund for young entrepreneurs is used to secure loans for projects in sectors identified as priorities in the investment plan of each CFDC. It will not only dispense some financial help, it will also provide support to the entrepreneurs in all of their endeavours.

Our government has determined that youth employment should be a priority. All stakeholders recognize that we must curtail the migration of young people from their native communities to major centres.

This Youth Strategy—