Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Bloc MP for Jonquière (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2004, with 6% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Hiv-Aids October 2nd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, can we get a formal commitment from the Minister of Industry that he will not jeopardize the provisions of the Patent Act, which protects intellectual property?

Hiv-Aids October 2nd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, we fully agree with the decision to allow the poorest countries, notably those in Africa, to have access to patented drugs for their fight against AIDS. Pharmaceutical research companies have also promised to do their part.

That said, can the Minister of Industry guarantee that this offer to the poor countries will be carried out in accordance with the Patent Act, which protects intellectual property?

Library and Archives of Canada Act October 1st, 2003

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on the motions by my hon. colleague from Fraser Valley, with regard to Bill C-36.

The aim of this bill is to create a new institution called the Library and Archives of Canada. I must inform the House that the Bloc Quebecois opposes this bill, but before I explain why, I want to briefly discuss the motions now before the House.

I want to talk about Motion No. 12, which deals with clause 8 in the bill, under the heading “Objects and Powers”. The Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of this motion, because it will ensure impartiality. As a result of everything we witnessed today and everything that happened with the sponsorship program under Communication Canada, we discovered all the goings-on and the friends compensated with taxpayers' money.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that if this motion were defeated, it would mean that the current government has not learned from its mistakes with Communication Canada and the sponsorship program. Constituents and taxpayers would appreciate less partisanship when it comes to public funds. In fact, under the current Liberal government here in Canada, there is increasing partisanship and cronyism. I congratulate the hon. member for Fraser Valley for having introduced this amendment.

As for Motion No. 17, which would amend the bill by adding clause 13(5). Clause 13 is found in the part of the bill dealing with “government and ministerial records”.

I can tell the hon. member for Fraser Valley that the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this amendment, because if we add this paragraph and limit access to verification in such a bill, it would also limit transparency. I think that our constituents, all Canadians and Quebeckers, are asking their elected officials and the government to be increasingly transparent and, when supposedly impartial bodies are created, to allow them access to all documents. I am against the Alliance motion, which would restrict this access.

The other motions, numbers 20, 21 and 23, deal with copyright. I am very surprised that copyright is still included in this bill, since, when we discussed this bill in committee in June, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage agreed to withdraw all these clauses from the bill. We came to an agreement and here it is again in the bill.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is currently studying copyright.

I do not understand how copyright can be included in this bill creating an institution. Matters of copyright are too important.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage mentioned just now that there would be copyright for people who died between 1929 and 1949. I do not understand this. It is totally confusing.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage must look into this concept of copyright very seriously. The Bloc Quebecois agrees completely with the Canadian Alliance in its decision to propose these amendments.

It is important that people who have written books in the past be recognized. As for those who were not recognized and whom we now define as persons desiring recognition, can we really lump all that into a bill? I say no. It is too important. It would mean that the government did not accord as much importance to the country's authors as the public did.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with the Canadian Alliance. We must do it. It is urgent. It is necessary. Everything having to do with copyright must be removed from this bill. That is the opinion of the Bloc Quebecois concerning the motions for amendment proposed by the Canadian Alliance.

Taxation September 19th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, in the budget brought down on February 27, 1995, the former finance minister increased the gasoline excise tax by 1.5¢ per litre in order to eliminate the deficit.

Now that it is no longer needed, does the current Minister of Finance intend to eliminate this tax and, finally, show his sympathy for the plight of consumers, or is he still waiting for orders from the real boss?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act September 19th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the bill introduced by the government. The Bloc Quebecois is against Bill C-49 in principle and against its referral to committee before second reading.

This morning, the important thing is to tell the voters what is hiding beneath all this, to expose this sleight of hand, this manipulation of public opinion and democracy that the government is about to perpetrate.

The Bloc Quebecois does not object to this process taking place after every census, every ten years. That is a normal democratic process and naturally apolitical. This process began in March 2001, when the most recent census data were published. From that starting point, the process was automatically set in motion. That is normal and that is what was done. That is how it should be done.

But this bill now before the House is trying to prevent the process from continuing to its end, as provided by law. This bill is an attempt to alter an established process. It is introducing politics into an apolitical process.

If this government can do this, then why is it that I, as a member from the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region, am seeing it butchered by this process? My region, which currently has four ridings, will be cut down to three. It has been butchered. We knew, as we went into this process, that our region was experiencing a decline in its population and its number of voters.

We decided that we would join forces and appear before the commission when it held meetings in my region. As the Bloc Quebecois member responsible for the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region, I called upon all the mayors of all the cities in the region. I asked them to send us a resolution saying what they wanted us to put before the commission. Through their municipal councils, 99% of the people in my region—almost all of them—sent us resolutions saying that they wanted to keep the status quo, that is, keep our four electoral districts.

Why did they want to do that? We are always saying that we are an isolated region, an enclave surrounded by forest. We cannot attract people from elsewhere because the region is cut off.

Within our region, there was the potential to respect the spirit of this legislation and keep what we had. But, initially, under the process, there had to be an electoral quota of at least 95,000 constituents per riding. Our population numbered 310,000. Divided by four, this figure no longer met the criteria, because we either had to be less than 25% or more than 25%.

We testified before the committee. The members listened with extremely open minds. They heard our demands. But they decided to uphold their decision.

There is another process in the House; members of Parliament can testify before a committee of other members. At that point, the Liberal members circumvented our efforts.

As members representing that region, we said that we would be able to ensure that our region was designated. This legislation would allow us to do this. This is important, given our demographics and our young population.

For several years now, the Saguenay--Lac-Saint-Jean region has undertaken an initiative to attract immigrants and people from the outside, in order to repopulate and increase our numbers.

Instead of understanding this argument, a Liberal member said during a meeting of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Subcommittee that this was enough and that we would not get anything else. She did not listen to the other members; she ignored our representations and our arguments. She had already formed her opinion and said that it was that or nothing. This subcommittee chaired by a Liberal member did not respect what its peers had to say. After all, we represent the people.

Furthermore, the regional Liberal members are saying that they have political clout in their regions and their party. The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord did not use his political clout to defend his region. The Liberal Party and the member should be ashamed. Our region had the right to keep its vested rights, because we had taken all the necessary steps and we had the support of the population.

If this government can change the normal process, why can I not say, “Too bad, but I take issue with the fact that you did not listen to me”. This is a double standard. Why should they have the right to do something when I do not have the same right, to represent my region?

I notice that the bill does not give this power to members or the regions concerned. They are being undemocratic. And why? In order to please an ordinary member, the member for LaSalle—Émard.

We have been talking about this since yesterday. It is time to talk about this member, since he is the future prime minister. He said he will be more transparent and that he will ensure that the House of Commons will be seen to be more democratic. Yet, his first move, even before becoming prime minister, is an undemocratic one.

This is serious. It is easy to see the mote in someone else's eye and not the beam in one own's eye. This bill does not respect the regions, does not listen to the members from the regions, and it will gradually diminish the representation of our regions in this Parliament.

Why are they doing this? It is the members from the regions who are reacting the most vigorously. They are the most in touch with their voters. They know what the public needs. A complacent government does not want to hear about the real problems of individuals. That is too painful.

What is more, the commission's decision is irrevocable. What is done, is done. In my region, in each riding, senior people in the Liberal Party are saying they will challenge this process all the way up to the Supreme Court. I want democracy to prevail, the effective date—August 25, 2004—to stand, and the democratic process not to be tampered with.

That would allow our region to keep four members who could still question this government's actions and state exactly what the regions want. I will therefore be voting against this bill.

Supply September 18th, 2003

This is not Les Invasions barbares .

Supply September 18th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it is sad to hear such things from a member I used to hold in high esteem. I think he is kowtowing to the future Prime Minister. He wants to be one of his lackeys, to be by his side. For my part, the only role I want to play here is to inform my constituents and tell them the truth about what is going on in Ottawa.

The amount that Revenue Canada will not get from these rich shipowners who fly the flag of Barbados or Panama, where there are also banks, is $2 billion a year. The member tells me we are engaging in demagoguery. No, actually we are educating people. It is quite different.

I believe it is time that in Canada, in this Parliament, we start telling things as they are to the real people who are listening to us. The members across the way are not listening.

Supply September 18th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, for his excellent question.

He just put his finger on the problem. We know what has been happening on the softwood lumber issue over the past two or three years. All that money could have helped our workers. The region I represent is among the hardest hit by the crisis in the softwood lumber industry. There are currently 3,000 workers receiving EI benefits. Sometimes, when they are no longer eligible for EI benefits, they go on welfare and then stop showing up in the statistics.

There is also mad cow disease. No cases of the disease were found in Quebec, but still our producers have been unable to export their products for months now. We could also talk about health care or the underprivileged.

Last night, the House voted. Members of Parliament wanted a discretionary envelope to be able to provide assistance to organizations that need help. The government said no. They could hand this $2 billion to members of Parliament who could, in turn, distribute it among the poor in their regions. I could give the House thousands of examples. What we have here is a heartless government that would rather help the rich than the poor. They keep on taxing us, but where does the money go? To their friends, that is where.

That is why it is important for the Bloc Quebecois to use this allotted day to raise this issue and tell Canada about what the government is doing for the rich but not doing for the poor.

Supply September 18th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

This is a most important day for the Bloc Quebecois. Through this motion, the Bloc Quebecois is saying to all those who are watching us and to all Quebeckers and Canadians that:

In order to ensure tax equity, the government should terminate Canada’s tax convention with Barbados, a tax haven, which enables wealthy Canadian taxpayers and companies to avoid their tax obligations, and should play a leadership role at the international level in activities to eliminate tax havens.

This motion allows parliamentarians to express their concerns, because it is important to have fairness in our tax system. Everybody pays taxes. It is not fair that the richest among us can get away with paying so little.

There must be tax equity, because all taxpayers have to bear the cost of tax evasion by some businesses, some banks and even some individuals.

As mentioned in the motion, we will be talking about the tax agreement between Canada and Barbados, a tax haven according to the original definition established by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD.

Tax havens are countries with a very low or nonexistent tax rate. Their lack of fiscal rigour encourages wealthy taxpayers to discreetly transfer a portion of their fortunes there, and many businesses to set up subsidiaries there, in order to shelter part of their income from the tax collector.

In 1998, the OECD drew up a list of tax havens, based on four criteria. Tax havens are places with no taxes or nominal taxes, a lack of effective exchange of tax information, a lack of transparency, andno substantial activities or performance obligations for businesses in the country.

The OECD found 35 countries that met all these criteria and pointed to 47 others which, although not tax havens, had some harmful fiscal practices similar to those in tax havens.

Given all these facts about tax havens, it is also important for people to know what a tax convention is. It is an agreement between two countries. There have been tax conventions in the past. Some people get tax conventions confused with tax havens.

A tax convention is an agreement between two countries enabling them to exchange tax information concerning taxpayers with income in these countries. It also prevents taxpayers from having to pay income tax in both countries. There is an agreement: it is called a tax convention. A clear distinction has to be made between a tax convention and a tax haven, otherwise, these two goals will be completely misunderstood.

Let us take Barbados as an example. We know that the member for LaSalle—Émard knows Barbados very well. It is a country with which Canada has a tax convention. Since we are all family here, let us imagine a Canadian company, say, for example, the company owned by the former minister of finance and current member for LaSalle—Émard, Canada Steamship Lines, which has a subsidiary in Barbados. The subsidiary in Barbados, which need be nothing more than an empty shell, can declare enormous profits. Its tax rate in Barbados will be ridiculously low, perhaps 2.5%.

Imagine the situation when we realize all the profits they make. It was in the papers over the summer, but being summer I am certain not many saw it. Their companies recorded $82 million in profit—scandalous.

There are also a number of Canadian banks with direct foreign investments. These investments total $389 billion. We are not talking millions, but billions. Of that total, $38.7 billion was invested in Barbados, the Bahamas and Bermuda, three tax havens according to the OECD. That is what tax havens are all about.

What is more, the Canadian government is encouraging these havens right now. I would like to give those listening some examples, since we all do business with banks.

In 2002, the total saved in taxes through the use of foreign subsidiaries was: Royal Bank, $841 million, or $61.9 million more than in 2001; Bank of Montreal, $530 million, or $29 million more than in 2001; Scotiabank, $463 million. For the Toronto Dominion, it was $235 million, $5 million more than in 2001, and for the CIBC it was $92 million, a tax saving of $8 million over the 2001 figure. In all, that makes 2 billion,161 million dollars.

I had thought that the present finance minister would adopt a different approach than the former one. But no, he sanctions the same situation and makes no changes, claiming that Canadians have nothing to complain about, because of their $1 billion tax decrease over five years.

If I were not taking this so seriously, I would die laughing at that one. But what is going on here is too serious. They are really taking us for fools. They must think we just fell off the turnip truck.

The $2 billion the federal government is letting the banks have represents, for example, the amount that has been committed in transfer payments to Quebec for health. Now they are backtracking because there is no longer any certainty of a budget surplus.

If the banks were taxed, we would have that money for health. We know how important that is, but no. The former finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard—as everyone in Quebec and in Canada knows, we hear it everywhere—owns several companies operating out of Barbados.

It should be noted that the taxation system in Barbados has the following characteristics and that is why it wants so many companies to have their head offices there. In Barbados, the tax rate is 1% for profits over $15 million US and 2.5% for profits under $5 million. There is no tax on capital gains, no deductions at source and no surveillance or control over exchanges.

We know that the current member for LaSalle—Émard is in love with Barbados. I can understand, considering all the money he makes there.

I have run out of time, but if the people who are listening to us would like to have statistics and be truly aware of everything that is going on with the current member for LaSalle—Émard, who will soon be Prime Minister of Canada, all they have to do is call the Bloc Quebecois. It would be our pleasure to provide them with information. The Bloc Quebecois, with its motion, is telling this government to refuse to have tax agreements with countries that are tax havens.

Community Activity Support Fund September 15th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak today, as Parliament resumes, in support of the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Jean, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this Hous, ethe government should make available to Members a support fund for community activities in each of their ridings.

It is an extraordinary thing to see Liberal MPs at last supporting an initiative by a Bloc Quebecois member. It is my turn to applaud them.

This private member's business from my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Jean, is of extreme importance for our communities.

This summer, I travelled all over my riding, and met with the MNA for Jonquière. as well as municipal and county councillors.

In Quebec, we have set up large-scale municipal structures, and the municipal councillors informed me that they had discretionary envelopes. Imagine, municipal councillors have these, while we federal Members of Parliament do not. With the stupendous budget surplus this government has amassed from the taxes of ordinary citizens, it is high time steps were taken to enable us, as representatives of our constituents and the ones closest to them, to help them out on an ad hoc basis.

I could name hundreds of associations in my riding from which we get letters daily saying “I would like to obtain funds from your discretionary fund, your discretionary envelope as an MP.”

When I inform them that I do not have such a thing, they cannot believe it. I was an assistant to a provincial member of parliament for ten years, and we had discretionary funds. The whole system worked very well. Last spring, certain Liberal MPs were saying “Oh but we do not know how that will be administered.”

The chief returning officer for Quebec has carried out a study that showed this was very well administered in Quebec. As far as I am concerned, having a discretionary envelope will make it possible for me to help people out, not give them presents, but give them help. They are not asking for a fortune. Sometimes they are asking for $100, $200 or $300 in order to be able to make it to the end of their fiscal year.

We all know what a hard time these community organizations have chasing up funds. They are constantly holding fundraising campaigns. No one can imagine how important it would be to them to be able to get help from the MP for their riding.

I congratulate my colleague from Saint-Jean for having dared to move his motion. After all the fine applause from the Liberal members, it is time for this government to take real action, so that every member of Parliament can benefit from a discretionary allowance in his or her riding.

These funds would not be used to do just anything. The money would be available to help the people and associations who need it. This is not to put on a big show, because we have had enough of the noise the Liberal Party makes whenever it gives the most paltry amount to people who organize activities.

I think it is a form of recognition. If we did not have such community organizations, how much would it cost society? Imagine the billions of dollars it would cost if we did not have these people who take care of the less fortunate, women, abused women, children, the poor, and so many others. There are also organizations representing seniors and defending their rights. We need these people.

We know how difficult it is to follow all of Parliament's legislative activities. We cannot plead ignorance, but not all legislation can be followed. Even ourselves, as members of Parliament, sometimes have trouble following all the legislation.

These people provide help and can point to what they are doing for their clients.

Once again, I think it is time to act. We are going to stop putting off until tomorrow the things that can be done today. The federal government has enough money to do this.

By the way, as we resume sitting here in the House, I want to welcome all those who are listening and all the members in this House. I want to wish them an excellent session. It will be a very important session. We will be talking about subjects that will affect the people who are asking for our help, in order to give them the means to help the most needy.

When I was working at the provincial level, I never gave assistance to those who did not need it. Sometimes an amount like $100 or $200 is received as if it were $100,000, because they truly need such sums of money if they are going to be able to continue their excellent work.

In my opinion, if the members of this House do not support my colleague's motion, then they are out of touch with their constituents. They are burying their heads in the sand. They are telling their constituents, “Vote for me but, once elected, your concerns will no longer be mine.” It is too bad. I do not know if the other members feel as responsible for their constituents as I do, but I get two, three or four letters every day from such associations asking me for this money.

It is fine to say that it has to come out of my salary. That is normal, and I do so frequently. It is fine to say that we are going to help promote them by giving them $100. They do not even have the means to promote themselves. They spend all their energy seeking both provincial and federal funding just to survive. Furthermore, they must constantly hold fundraisers.

It is time to admit they are right and to recognize them for what they are by giving them a small sum. Even $100 will grow as if they had received $5,000. It is not much, but we are talking about an organization's survival.

I congratulate my hon. colleague from Saint-Jean for moving this motion. Not all the members in this House would have had the courage to do so. Since I become a member six years ago, this issue has been discussed informally. Some members do not know anything about it because they do not want to know anything. However, this goes on at the provincial and municipal levels.

People say that the federal government should provide the support, and this means that it must consider the real needs of individuals and do whatever is necessary to help them. These people are not asking for a free ride. With all the money being stockpiled here, this is their right.