Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Beauharnois—Salaberry (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Sustainable Development April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Minister of the Environment attended the session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development to discuss world challenges related to water.

It is estimated that diseases communicated by undrinkable water are costing in excess of $250 million annually. Economic progress and quality of life in developing countries are increasingly restricted by the poor quality and the lack of water. Access to water can become a source of conflict and a threat to peace and security.

As the Prime Minister mentioned yesterday in his speech delivered in Washington, there is an urgent need for the international system and multilateral institutions to operate more efficiently.

This is why Canada is playing a key role to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme and to improve the United Nations' ability to deal with the issue of water.

Also, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment will examine the best way for Canada to meet its international commitments regarding the development of integrated water management plans by the year 2005.

Canada National Parks Act April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to reassure my colleague that, indeed, the government of British Columbia has been consulted, since it even signed the agreement. It is a major partner.

I also told you earlier that we have already met all the major groups that we would have probably invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Parks Canada has discussed with them, as well as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, federal and provincial governments, regional and district administrations, as well as all provincial groups of first nations members. They were all involved in this negotiation or consultation process.

We must always keep in mind that this is a national park and that the reserve is in the national park. Thus, this is only a transfer of lands from the national park to the Indian reserve that is also in this national park.

We are not taking anything from outside the park. We are not getting anything from anybody. We are simply allowing an aboriginal community to get back some quality of life and to improve its living conditions.

I simply want to reassure the member that, indeed, all these people have been met. They unanimously endorsed this project. The government of British Columbia also endorsed it.

Canada National Parks Act April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As for consulting, I know that several attempts were made to meet with the opposition critic. The director of the Parks Canada Agency had also offered to meet him to discuss the project and give him some information. There might have been some shortcomings in that regard and we apologize for that.

However, this bill is in no way partisan. All this is done in order to solve a longstanding problem. Of course, it took a while for the whole consultation process with the communities to help us solve the problem. It was more a humanitarian and logic gesture that had to be made by the government in this regard.

As for the surrounding communities, everybody agreed. There is no land taken away from those people. Nobody lost anything. We are giving part of the park back to an Indian community who is suffering from a major demographic problem, in order to help that community expand a little.

I was listening to my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot yesterday when he was talking about the housing problem in the aboriginal communities. This is a good example. This bill will help them go forward with the construction of new housing units. It will also allow an aboriginal community to enjoy a better quality of life.

Canada National Parks Act April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege today to speak at third reading of the bill that amends the Canada National Parks Act to withdraw lands from Riding Mountain National Park of Canada and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada for the purpose of Indian reserves.

The changes relating to the withdrawal of lands are for the purpose of alleviating serious problems of housing shortage on the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation. In the case of the Riding Mountain National Park, they will correct an error in the wording of the legal description of the ceded lands, in compliance with a specific land claim.

I want to reiterate that Bill C-28 will not create a precedent for other national parks. These are unique circumstances we must collectively consider.

When Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was created in 1970, it completely surrounded the seven-hectare parcel of land occupied by the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation since 1889. At the time, Esowista was changing from a seasonal fishing camp to a permanent residential community.

The Government of Canada recognized that a larger site would eventually be required to meet the needs of the Esowista community, and it committed to finding a long-term solution.

The removal of the 86.4 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will help address the acute overcrowding problem in the Esowista reserve, improve infrastructures to remedy sewage disposal and water quality concerns, and support the development of a model community that will exist in harmony with the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

This land represents less than 1% of the park’s total land base. Withdrawing this land from the territory now occupied by the park will only slightly impact the ecological integrity of the park and will allow us to meet the needs of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

In 1929, when Riding Mountain National Park was created, it took in most of Indian Reserve No. 61A. The Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation was relocated to another site outside the national park. In 1994, an agreement for the settlement of the specific land claim was signed between the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin and Canada and Reserve No. 61A was restored. In 2000, most of the lands in question were removed from the Riding Mountain site when the Canada National Parks Act was enacted.

However, because of a mistake made during the preparation of the official instrument removing the lands in question, a five-hectare tract of land was omitted and remained within the park's boundaries. Therefore, the Canada National Parks Act will be amended to restore Reserve No. 61A of the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation in its entirety, and to correct the mistake made at the time.

What about environmental considerations? Removing 86.4 hectares from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will not unduly detract from the objectives of ecological integrity for the park because the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has promised to cooperate with Parks Canada to ensure long-term protection for the natural and cultural resources of the lands in the park surrounding the Esowista reserve.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have committed to use the land in a way that would respect the ecological integrity of the park. Also, several measures will be taken to help promote the sustainable development of the park.

The management of the lands to be withdrawn from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will be based on the guidelines for model communities developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Parks Canada will review the master plan for the site and then submit it for approval to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Also, each individual project will be subject to an assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

To ensure proper protection to the lands adjacent to the park, a $2.5 million mitigation fund will be provided to Parks Canada by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

I should also point out that the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will not require additional funding for the Esowista expansion. It is expected that 160 housing units will be needed, 35 of them in the short term.

Concerning the five hectares to be withdrawn from Riding Mountain Park, this is a requirement from the 1994 specific land claim agreement. I can reassure Canadians that this amendment to the Canada National Parks Act has no environmental impact.

Consultations on these initiatives indicate wide public support. Several stakeholders have expressed their support for the withdrawal of land from Pacific Rim Park. Among these are the first nations involved, first nations provincial groups, local, regional and provincial levels of government, as well as non-government environmental organizations, for example, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

All parties concerned view Esowista as a unique situation, and they support the need to make sure that members of the community stay together, and to provide lands for residential and similar purposes. I thank them for their support.

One of the priorities in Parks Canada's recent ministerial plans has been to strengthen relations with native communities. Our accomplishments in Pacific Rim Park clearly demonstrate our commitment to them.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has taken significant strides in recent years to promote aboriginal initiatives, forging relationships and making significant efforts toward the meaningful involvement of aboriginal people in the cooperative management of the national park reserve. The results have been remarkable.

By way of illustration I would like to highlight a few of these accomplishments.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve worked with the Ucluelet First Nation to develop the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail inside the national park. Opened in 2003, this interpretive trail provides extensive on site interpretation of regional first nations' culture, history and language.

On June 23, 2004, the Ucluelet First Nation will again honour the opening of the trail by erecting the first totem pole to be carved and raised in traditional territory of this first nation in 104 years, a source of great pride for this first nation community.

This “welcoming” pole will greet Canadians and international visitors to the trail and to Ucluelet First Nation and Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory. It will symbolize the long history and continuing presence of first nations peoples in the region and in the national park in particular.

On the West Coast Trail unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Parks Canada funds an initiative called Quu'as West Coast Trail Society. A not-for-profit group, this society is a training and mentoring program for three first nations along the famous West Coast Trail, one of the world's great recreational hiking routes.

By engaging in the cooperative management of the west coast trail with Parks Canada, young first nations members are exposed to the full gamut of park management issues and training related to public safety, resource conservation, monitoring and public interpretation.

As a result of this program, first nations graduates have gone on to secure full-time employment with Parks Canada, other agencies and industry.

Strong community relations are the basis for a wide range of formal and informal agreements that can advance our common interests.

I am pleased that this transfer of park lands for the purpose of an Indian reserve will help meet the needs of treaty negotiations and will create a better working climate with native communities.

I would like to warmly salute the Government of British Columbia for its support of this initiative regarding the expansion of Esowista. This collaboration is key to the withdrawal of lands from Pacific Rim and their transfer to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for the needs of Indian reserves.

I urge all members of the House to join me in supporting Bill C-28.

Patent Act April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by my colleague from Verchères—Les-Patriotes, as well as those made by his colleague before him.

Indeed this bill is extremely significant for Canada, but even more so for developing countries. My colleague was wondering how to ensure that those who need drugs do have access to them. Even if we have the finest policies in the world allowing us to provide those drugs at a very low cost, in the end those who import them will decide what to do with them.

Actually, I wanted to ask him the following question. What kind of distribution network would he envision? Would it be through the embassies, through NGOs or internationally recognized organizations? In his opinion, what would be the most efficient way to make sure that those who need drugs have access to them?

This is a concern for me. When I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry I raised the issue. I raised it often within our own party. We must ensure that drugs provided to certain countries will not find their back onto our own market or be distributed in countries that do not necessarily need them.

I believe this piece of legislation put forward by the current Prime Minister's government is an excellent and extraordinary one. The Minister of Industry has done a terrific job on this issue. The will to deal with the problem of access to drugs is there. At issue though is the way we go about it. We may have the best of intentions and the best of ideas, but whether or not we get results always comes down to the way we go about doing things.

Supply April 27th, 2004

Madam Speaker, it pains me to hear speeches like this. When the people opposite waste time on a motion that goes against our very own parliamentary framework, as they are doing today, it clearly demonstrates that the opposition does not have much to say about major national and international issues.

If these people were serious about this, they would have brought forward a motion to amend the Canadian Constitution in order to change the Canadian parliamentary framework.

The Canadian Constitution currently provides for a five year mandate. So, we cannot go over that five year limit. At a fixed date, at the end of the five-year mandate, there is automatically an election. No government, no party elected to run the country can go over the five-year limit. That is in the Constitution. Now, should we change the mandate to four years, three years, five and a half years or four and a half years, that is another matter.

We too are anxious to see an election so that we may debate these issues, most certainly. I would invite everyone to come to the riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry during the next election campaign. We will make sure the truth comes out. We will clearly demonstrate that the Bloc Quebecois is now fighting to defeat the Government of Quebec, as well as the Government of Canada. In fact, this is a party that has no other purpose but to defeat governments. It claims to want to defend the interests of Quebec in Ottawa, but it is working in fact against the Government of Quebec in Quebec.

What is more, these people have a disgusting propensity to tell lies by the dozen. Take their candidate in Beauharnois—Salaberry for example, who has announced to me, and this from the Bloc Quebecois itself, that I voted against one of their motions. As you are clearly aware, the record of the division indicates that I voted in favour of that motion, which concerned seasonal workers. So they are specialists in disinformation.

It is more or less the same thing here. The opposition wants to introduce a motion just to waste time, to drag things out. If they really want to change the parliamentary framework, let them introduce a motion to amend the Canadian Constitution. Constitutional amendments require unanimous consent by the provinces. So what purpose is there to debating a motion that in fact is pointless? Let them introduce a motion to amend the Canadian Constitution.

I am not opposed to having a fixed date, mandates set at five years, four years or whatever. But the parliamentary system we have allows the executive to go before the population at what it deems to be the right time. For example, a debate on free trade became an election issue for the Conservatives at one time. Today, the Conservative Alliance has replaced them.

So this is a tool, a system that allows a government to consult the population at the appropriate time, with a view to making progress, holding a national debate on an important cause. The government can do that. But, if there were a fixed mandate, doing so would be rather difficult.

Petitions April 27th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure of presenting a petition signed by 210 residents of my riding and other areas who are against the government bill amending the definition of marriage.

They argue that marriage as perceived as the stable union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others pre-exists the state. Because it pre-exists the state and because it is a fundamental element of any society, the institution of marriage should not be tampered with by the charter of rights, the state or any court.

To broaden and amend the definition of marriage to include same sex partners would be discriminatory to families and marriage, which will then be denied the social and legislative recognition as the unique and irreplaceable foundation of our society.

Committees of the House April 27th, 2004

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, April 19, 2004, the committee has considered Bill C-28, an Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, and agreed on Monday, April 26, 2004, to report it without amendment.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I fully agree with my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois. Yes, the Quebec City airport is fundamental to the development of the region, Yes, it is essential for a negotiated agreement to be reached as soon as possible. The government and the Minister of Labour both want this. The minister is prepared to intervene. She has informed the parties and has invited them to sit down with the mediator in order to get this agreement signed as soon as possible.

Imposing arbitrators is not how we do things. An arbitrator is appointed at the request of both parties. Both parties must, however, consent to this.

In this case, I feel that labour and management both need to act in good faith, and must try one last time to sit down together to reach an agreement.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, we can see that my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois is also on the campaign trail. We can hear electioneering language coming from him already.

He refers to us as members of the sponsorship party; I, in turn, would call them the candidates of the disinformation party. We have had evidence of precisely that in my region, where the Bloc candidate has circulated a piece of totally false information in order to mislead people.

Getting back to the issue raised by the Bloc Quebecois member, first, a preliminary collective agreement is currently being negotiated for a group of about 50 white collar workers, blue collar workers and firefighters.

On May 7, 2003—and this is something that people need to know—the Minister of Labour appointed a conciliation officer to help the parties negotiate a collective agreement. This officer met with the parties on July 10 and 11, September 15 and 17, October 8, 10, 29 and 31, and November 3 and 4, 2003. An agreement was not reached, however.

The parties agreed to extend the term of the conciliation officer to November 16, 2003. On November 12, 2003, the union submitted an offer from the employer that members voted to reject. The conciliation officer met the parties on November 13, 2003. On November 14, 2003, the union voted unanimously to go on strike. The conciliation officer met the parties on December 2, 3 and 16, 2003. On December 16, 2003, the parties reached an agreement in principle with the help of an officer of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Consequently, the two parties negotiated an agreement in principle, which the union executive then approved.

On January 7, 2004, the union rejected the agreement in principle of December 16, 2003. On January 8, 2004, the minister spared no effort. She immediately intervened, appointed a mediator to help the parties continue to negotiate in order to reach a new agreement.

The mediator met the parties on January 15 and February 2 and 3, 2004. The union went on strike on February 9, 2004. The union and the employer agreed on the maintenance of certain services such as firefighting and runway maintenance during the work stoppage.

On February 11, 2004, the Superior Court of Quebec upheld an application for an interim interlocutory injunction ordering union members not to harass or intimidate employees required to fulfill their duties under the agreement signed by both parties. This agreement is valid until May 18, 2004. On February 23, 2004, workers on strike also prevented customs from accessing the airport but this was immediately resolved. Obviously, we learned that vandalism and other acts had been committed. Two union members were dismissed for public mischief, sabotage and vandalism.

In fact, there were negotiations with the conciliation officer appointed by the Minister of Labour. On two occasions, the employer and the union reached an agreement in principle. Unfortunately, workers voted to reject those agreements. The workers are now on strike.

At this time, we hope a mediator is still available to bring the parties together. Ideally, the parties would sit down together again to try to hammer out an agreement as soon as possible.