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

2004 Allan Cup April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like all members of Canada's Parliament to join me and the people of the Beauce region in congratulating the Garaga hockey team from Saint-Georges, and its organization, for winning the Canadian championship for the second time in three years, in the 2004 Allan Cup tournament.

The tournament was held in the city of Saint-Georges, in the Beauce region, from April 19 to 25. Six teams representing various regions of the country fought for the Allan Cup, the trophy emblematic of the senior amateur hockey championship of Canada.

I take this opportunity to thank all these teams who showed us their passion, their determination and their will to win.

I offer my sincere congratulations to the event's organizers who made it possible to hold a top-notch tournament and, once again, my most sincere congratulations to the Saint-Georges Garaga hockey team and its entire organization.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

I am sorry, but it seems that the Bloc does not want to listen to the answers. It only wants to listen to the questions. However, we are going to answer anyway.

Measures were taken, which no previous government had ever done. We quickly asked the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to get to the bottom of things. Furthermore, a judge will investigate. He will conduct a full investigation and get to the bottom of this. We introduced legislation so that public servants could speak out against irregularities and systemic fraud.

We allowed cabinet memorandums, normally accessible only 30 years later, to be made available so that people can get to the bottom of this situation and ensure that taxpayers' money is being used properly.

However, what the Bloc member is forgetting is that the Canadian government must be judged on its entire record and, on that score, this government has reduced the debt by $52 billion. We are saving $3 billion in interest.

We reduced taxes by $100 billion over five years and increased transfer payments to the provinces, as a responsible government should. We increased the Canada child tax benefit as a responsible government should.

We are working together with the provinces—I know that it hurts the Bloc to hear that—to ensure that Canadians have access to the best possible services. That is how a responsible government acts.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his courageous question. I did not think he would dare ask such a question. However, it is a pleasure to answer him.

Unlike the Parti Quebecois, which, a few years ago, had a major problem with commissions, the Quebec Liberal Party called for an inquiry. All the former thought to do was say, “Listen, we will amend the legislation on lobbyists, and voila, problem solved”.

The Government of Canada, on this side, recognizes that there was a problem. A small group of people improperly used taxpayers' funds, and measures were taken—

The Budget March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey.

I take pleasure in speaking today to all Canadians, to tell them how we, the Government of Canada, have adopted a budget that demonstrates sound financial management.

It includes provisions for responsible and prudent financial management. It talks of improving accountability and integrity with respect to public expenditures and of continuing to present balanced budgets or better.

In the field of health, the budget promotes effective policies that will preserve and reinforce our health care and public health systems. With respect to learning, it is important to provide young people with the tools for success, while encouraging lifelong learning for all Canadians.

Of course, communities must not be neglected. We must ensure that solid and sustainable foundations are laid to create a new deal for communities. And to that we add knowledge and commercialization, in order to increase productivity through investments in research and development.

Canada's relations with the rest of the world are also a high priority and require the creation and strengthening of Canada's international ties.

Relative to economic and fiscal prospects, Canada’s economy was hit by a series of shocks in 2003, ranging from the SARS outbreak, a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the Ontario power blackout to forest fires in British Columbia and Hurricane Juan in Nova Scotia. All this, combined with the rapid increase of more than 20% in the value of the Canadian dollar, pushed Canada’s economic growth down to 1.7% last year, well below the 3.2% forecast by private-sector economists at the time of the last federal budget.

For 2004, private sector economists forecast an average growth rate of 2.7% for Canada’s economy, reflecting solid domestic fundamentals, low interest rates and a stronger economy. In 2005, growth is forecast to rise to 3.3%.

With respect to responsible and prudent financial management, the Government of Canada is committed to balanced budgets or better in each of the next two years. This commitment to fiscal discipline means the government will maintain its annual $3 billion contingency reserve which, if not needed to deal with unforeseen circumstances, will be used to reduce the federal debt.

Moreover, the budget restores $1 billion in economic prudence for 2004-05 and 2005-06. This kind of prudence is what enabled us to address some extraordinary burdens, as I mentioned earlier, and also allowed the government to provide $1 billion in direct assistance to agricultural producers to help offset the severe hardships caused by recent disease outbreaks and sudden drops in farm incomes.

This budget also sets the objective of reducing Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 25% within 10 years. I would like to point out that 50 years ago there were eight workers for every one retiree. Today, it is five workers for every one retiree, and in 25 years in Quebec, it will be two workers for every one retiree, which is why it is important to decrease the debt to ensure that our children and grandchildren have a promising future and the health care that they deserve.

An investment of $665 million this fiscal year and over the next two years includes $165 million to assist in creating the new Canada public health agency and to fund its main activities, including increasing emergency response capacity, and enhancing surveillance. It also includes some $100 million to be invested in Canada Health Infoway to develop high quality, real-time public health surveillance systems.

We need only think of SARS, West Nile virus and other diseases where rapid intervention is essential.

In addition, this budget provides an additional $400 million to the provinces and territories to support a national immunization strategy and to assist in enhancing their public health capacities.

This is in addition, of course, to the $2 billion that the Canadian government is transferring to the provinces this year, building on the 2003-04 agreement for $34.8 billion, for a total of $36.8 billion.

In terms of learning, budget 2004 includes a comprehensive package of measures to make post-secondary education more accessible to all Canadians and promote lifelong learning, including the following.

There will be a new Canada learning bond of up to $2,000 for children born after 2003 in a family entitled to the national child benefit supplement. An initial $500 bond will be provided, with subsequent $100 annual instalments for children, until age 15, in each year that the family is entitled to the national child benefit supplement.

Next, the Canada education savings grant matching rate for low-and middle-income families will be significantly enhanced.

A new upfront grant of up to $3,000 for first year post-secondary dependent students from low-income families is also being introduced.

The budget also raises the weekly loan ceiling under the Canada student loans program to $210 from $165.

In addition, this budget will be accelerating implementation of the agreement with the provinces and territories to improve access to affordable, quality early learning and child care programs.

Finally, this budget will extend the education tax credit to employees who pursue career-related studies.

A new deal for communities is announced. Budget 2004 takes the first steps on the government’s commitment to forge a new deal for communities of all sizes.

Municipalities will receive an estimated $7 billion in relief over the next 10 years with respect to the GST and the federal portion of the harmonized sales tax.

As an example, for the year 2004-05, which is said to have started on February 1, the municipalities of Quebec will receive $129 million. I can tell hon. members that several mayors have written to us, and others have spoken to us personally to thank us for this measure taken by the Government of Canada to support them in meeting their great need to upgrade their infrastructure.

The $1 billion for infrastructure will be spent over the next five years instead of the previously announced 10-year period, again because we know how many municipalities are in urgent need. We had a duty to do something, and this is excellent news.

Regarding the community-based and non profit sector, Canadians depend on a wide range of organizations to contribute to the well-being of individuals and families. We are going to improves the tax rules for charities; extend small business programs and help establish capital funds and other sources of lending to benefit social economy enterprises; and provide additional funding over two years to the voluntary sector.

This has been very well received by stakeholders in the social economy and by the entire Canadian public as well.

Unfortunately, I see that time is moving along quickly, so I will just say in conclusion that we have an excellent budget. There are things we will still need to do. There are things that are not included. For example, in 2000, we adopted a five-year plan to reduce taxes by $100 billion, and this year—that is the one about to begin—2004-05, Canadians will benefit from $31 million in tax reductions.

This shows the Liberal government's awareness and the importance it places on this budget, a budget of which I am very proud.

The Budget March 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have one thing to say. I am glad to see that the member from the Bloc recognizes that the government has taken steps with respect to wind power. I think that this is important.

However, what the member fails to understand is that steps were taken in previous budgets, that these steps are being applied now and that they were not announced in this year's budget. I will give you an example.

We will be lowering taxes by $25 billion this year. This was not indicated in the current budget because it was announced in the 2000 budget. We are talking about $100 billion tax cuts over five years, including $25 billion this year and $30 billion next year. These are the kinds of measures that I am talking about.

We are working in areas related to hydrogen and cells in which the government is investing money. We are working for the environment—it is important—because we care about it and, being a responsible government, we will keep on doing it.

The cleaning up of contaminated sites announced in the last budget is a concrete measure to which the government is sensitive and for which it is working very hard, because it relates to the protection of the environment. This is what the liberal government, which is a responsible government, will keep on doing.

The Budget March 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe the words of the member who just spoke. This is incredible! He spoke about the sponsorship scandal and said a number of things. In Quebec, when the same problem happened, what did the Landry government do? It said the legislation would be changed.

As for us, we say that we want a judge to investigate, a study by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and a legal counsel. We are changing the legislation to protect public servants who might witness any wrongdoing. We implemented measures and we will correct the problem because a few people did not do what had to be done to ensure the public money was well spent. This is what we are doing as a responsible government.

I hear the member say that we are doing nothing for the regions when we have decided to provide municipalities with $7 billion over 10 years. What the member does not know is that, this year, $129 million will be provided to all municipalities in Quebec. These are concrete measures. The $1 billion infrastructure program over ten years is being brought back to five years. These are concrete measures for all municipalities in Quebec.

It is too bad that the member does not see clearly. He talks about the guaranteed income supplement, but what was the member doing instead of informing people in his riding that they were entitled to the guaranteed income supplement? Where was the member? He was not taking care of this because he was not doing his job. He was spending his time criticizing. This is what he is doing!

We put a program in place, the Regional Strategic Initiative by Canada Economic Development. This is $15 million over three years to help the Gaspe Peninsula. These are concrete measures.

Yes, we are responsible and we will work to help people in the regions, contrary to the Bloc Quebecois, which does not have the guts to help its people.

The Budget March 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the 2004 budget recognizes the importance of the social economy, which is based on values we hold dear: sustainable development, equality of opportunity, inclusion of the less fortunate and community action.

This is a growing sector all across the country. In Quebec, for example, 10,000 collective businesses and community organizations employ more than 100,000 people. These enterprises produce goods and services for the market economy, but direct their surpluses to the pursuit of social and community goals

We will be investing $162 million over 5 years in this dynamic sector; $100 million to increase lending to social economy enterprises; $47 million for pilot projects supporting strategic planning and capacity building; and $15 million for community-based research on the social economy.

Our government wishes to improve the social infrastructure of communities in all corners of the country, and the 2004 budget will provide us with the means to bring this about.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a comment. I think that the $60 million invested by the Government of Canada is a significant amount and my hon. colleague, the minister, is aware of that. We must be vigilant. Quebec, and the Beauce in particular, is very much affected by globalization. It has an important impact on our region.

I hope that the department of industry or foreign trade will follow up on this, to ensure that jobs at home are protected and that we are in a position to allow Canadian businesses to establish partnerships with developing countries to build on the offer made here, to protect our jobs and add value to our products. In this way we will be able to get through this crisis. It is important for there to be follow-up. I am happy to see this $60 million being invested by the Canadian government.

Transport November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member needs to know is that it is not a one-third-one-third-one-third program; it is a program of Economic Development Canada within the program of strategic infrastructure for regional development, in areas where tourism-related development is very important and 30% of employment is related to tourism. Le Manoir and the casino were important elements to which we contributed in order to help provide employment for the people.

Transport November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member does not understand is that the region has an unemployment rate of 16% and that 30% of the jobs in the region depend on tourism. It is an important tool for development in the region. Transport Canada had issued a warning that this was a dangerous runway. We have acted in the interests of the people of the region and faced up to our responsibilities.