Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Regional Economy March 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, regional economies are based on forests, water and land, but these resources are slowly disappearing and there is a crying need for a solution.

According to various studies reported on by Le Journal de Québec , at least 67% of lumber harvested in the regions is processed in Montreal.

For example, the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec gets $20 million from Abitibi-Témiscamingue but invests nothing there, while the FTQ solidarity fund gets $14 million in savings from Abitibi-Témiscamingue while investing less than one million in that region.

Sponsorship Program March 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I received a letter from Claude Lebel, president of the Festival forestier de Senneterre, in which he wrote:

We recently learned about the cancellation of your government's sponsorship program. This leads us to fear for the financial survival of our event.

—Last year, we received a sponsorship of $7,500—

For ten years we have gone to great lengths to provide our fellow citizens and our visitors with a top quality event—

—it is never easy to finance such an event, particularly in a region like Abitibi.—

The Festival forestier contributes significantly to economic and social development.—The Festival plays an important role in the community and has made it possible for the Canadian government to inform citizens of its priorities, programs and services.

Supply February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I could throw the ball back in his court. I knew his father, the hon. Mr. Elmer MacKay, very well. He was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party with us. Today, his son is on the other side, history will not be rewritten.

I liked the end of his speech. He read the Speech from the Throne twice.

Supply February 17th, 2004

Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. I really appreciate the question from the member of the NDP. He asked this question and he is right to a certain extent. Today we are dealing with a network.

Before answering his question, I would like to point out that he made an error. He mentioned the name of the member for Shefford. He made an error. I would like him to make a correction. He mentioned the name of the member for Shefford, who is here today and who is an honest, upstanding woman. She was not part of that group. Would he please stand up and correct his error.

Supply February 17th, 2004

We see the Bloc Quebecois is trying to intervene. The member ought to sit down and shut up. The member of the Bloc Quebecois may have nice white teeth, but his mouth could do with a bit of cleaning up.

Now for the matter of the question from the hon. member, the matter of the Alliance members' trip to Morocco at the taxpayers' expense. That is what we were addressing. We were saying that the government is seeking solutions. The Prime Minister will find solutions to ensure that those who have defrauded the taxpayers will be dismissed.

This is clear, with the figures to back it up. The registry is public. It is available here in the House of Commons. The only thing missing, which the member does not mention, is the cost. We see what all the other members spent. We all agree on public accounts such as travel by the Governor General.

We can also see what they have been doing. Between 1985 and 1990, I raised the issue of making expenditures of MPs public. I am the instigator. I was in the Conservative Party at the time. We have the list from 1984 to the present time. It can be consulted and their spending identified. I can understand their annoyance. This is the first time they have heard about it.

They are hearing how much it costs these major world bodies, these major sponsors. For sponsorships they are. A whole system of sponsorships, but only for those travelling to Russia, Taiwan, Washington, China, Israel, California, Yemen, Washington again, and to the United States. I have the whole list. A person could take hours talking about it.

But what is important is for the taxpayers to know what is going on. If they know what the sponsorship situation is, they also need to know about the sponsorships by major organizations, which for the sake of the Conservatives I will repeat in English: sponsors.

Supply February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I know that people do not like to hear the truth. The hon. member has referred to travel by the Governor General of Canada. We know that this, being travel, will be recorded in the public accounts.

I have already referred to the registry in Standing Order 22. She claims Conservative MPs could not travel. If we look at this—

Supply February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, there is a saying where I come from that the truth hurts. We have just seen proof. We just witnessed it.

I have here a book written by Brigitte Alepin, CA, tax expert, entitled, Ces riches qui ne paient pas d'impôts . It is about business people, politicians, actors, officials of crown corporations and even church officials.

This book was published a few days ago. It is still a hot potato. When I read page 166, I was confused, because there is an attack on the Liberal Party.

A woman wrote this. By launching insults as he just did in the House of Commons, he is insulting the good woman who wrote this book. This books tells about all the people in Canada, all the rich people, who are not paying taxes. I find her competent, because she has appeared on television shows and been interviewed on the radio. She appears on shows and I have a great deal of respect for her.

I respect the book that the hon. member has written in terms of the knowledge it contains. However, if he can talk about the family of the Prime Minister of Canada, his sons and all his companies, we too can talk. I see that he intervened rather quickly. I think he ran. He was out of breath, because he was unable to speak for more than 30 seconds. We will come back to this book during the election campaign.

But, today, the important thing is to speak out. Consider sponsorships by major international corporations and countries. They are known as endorsements, but I still call them sponsorships.

A first class ticket costs about $7,000 or $8,000. We have the list today. We have studied it. It is quite simple. It is public information in Parliament. The strangest thing in all this is that there is no figure corresponding to each trip made by all the members of the House.

I indicated how much this trip cost me, about $4,000. I am not afraid to say so, because I have kept the records since 1986. I can say so today.

The book I mentioned earlier, published by Mérindien and written by Brigitte Alepin costs about $19. We need to know what is happening.

Coming back to the sponsorships, both opposition and Liberal members are right to speak up. However, the motion before us is very partisan. Our family, my wife, my grandson, my friends are under attack. I had telephone conversations about that last night.

There is nothing wrong with the opposition attacking the system, but it should be careful not to implicate everybody. Strangely enough, it is not rising in the House to accuse every member one after the other on this issue.

As regards the ring of thieves, a friend of mine in Val-d'Or just found one in his company. It took him four year to find it. He was disappointed, because one of his best employees was involved. There are many examples like this one.

What happened to the taxpayers' money? I am mad. I made statements on FM 102.7, in our region, with Félix Séguin. The public noted what I said. I said some pretty harsh things. I used words that I cannot repeat in this House for fear of being interrupted and told that it is way off base. Hon. members know me. When I have something to say, I say it. And many people get angry when you tell the truth.

Today, I am taking part in the debate on this motion. I am disappointed with what this motion says, but we are going to fight. The Prime Minister will continue to hold the reins of government and take action against those who misused the taxpayers' money. It makes no sense.

Supply February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have carefully read the Conservative Party motion to be voted on. If we speak of the Conservative Party, we mean from 1984 until today. This motion accuses the Liberal Party of using public funds for personal benefit and to benefit friends, family and the Liberal Party of Canada.

Last night and this morning I made a number of telephone calls to my riding, which, I might mention, is the largest riding in the 10 provinces. I talked to some 30 people, who said I ought to speak. As a Liberal member of Parliament I am here to help the people of this vast riding. Back home, the name on my office and on our documents is “Bureau du citoyen” or citizens' office. It is like that no matter which party occupies the office.

Reading this motion, I see that the opposition is engaging in very partisan politics. Nevertheless, we hear a lot of talk about the report of the Auditor General of Canada. I am very pleased with this report. I understand very well. I was elected in 1984. I spent nine years and two months with the Conservative Party. Since 1997 I have been with the Liberal Party of Canada. I came back to my old political party. We see by this report that the Liberal government believes that the Auditor General fulfills an essential function. She carries out the audits and independent studies of government activities.

We know that this talk of sponsorships has been going on for several months. I made a statement in the House yesterday afternoon in which I said that I had asked a question in June 2003 to try to find out what was happening. In the vast area of Abitibi-Témiscamingue—some 800,000 square kilometres and 2,000 kilometres from end to end, as the crow flies—I have 63 municipalities to work with. I have to tell them about the programs that exist. I particularly wanted to know how they were organized and what applications were accepted.

According to the report I have obtained—which I was waiting to make public, and finally did yesterday—in my riding, all in all, we have received approximately $65,000. When we look at the sponsorship situation in the riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, in Quebec, the riding of the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, we see that they received in excess of $5 million. In contrast with a big riding like ours, I do not find it funny at all.

What all the members of this House and the public want is a comprehensive report. It is very hard to get. I cannot understand why the Conservative Party of Canada, Brian Mulroney's party, cannot ask today that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts draw up a list of all sponsorship projects from 1998 to now, by electoral district and political party, with the names of members and projects, the amounts allocated to the projects, the commission paid to the coordinating agency and communication agencies, as well as a complete list of refusals for each riding.

That is what is important to know. We know some of it. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the government should make this report public today, riding by riding, so that all members can see where the money went. It will be surprising to see where contacts are made.

What is hardest for us is to uncover a ring of thieves. When thieves want to rob government, a city or a company, it takes time to flush them out. The Auditor General got hold of the file. The Prime Minister of Canada stood firm. This is the first time I have seen a Prime Minister of Canada intervene so regularly. Even the opposition, even the Bloc Quebecois are not too pleased to see our Prime Minister on television standing firm. This Prime Minister will be doing his homework, he will clean house, regardless of whose name comes out.

There is something odd in all of this. We look at the Conservative Party across the way; it is not a new party, it has been around since 1984. I want to tell the members of the Conservative Party that I am the one who ensured that individual members' expenditures are made public. Every year, a report entitled, “Members' Office and Travel Expenses”, is produced. This report is tabled annually.

In the days of the Conservatives, this was not done. It took me months and months to obtain this report on the members' expenditures. Even today, this information is confidential. The Bloc Quebecois members are not doing this on the provincial level.

When the Parti Quebecois was in power, there was no authorization to divulge the details of expenditures by members of the Quebec National Assembly, meaning costs for travel, lodging, party dues—frankly, there is no party in Quebec anymore. The Parti Quebecois went to the Superior Court to prevent their expenditures from being disclosed. Today, there is a new government in power.

We in the federal government do disclose such expenditures. They are made public in a report tabled with the Speaker of the House. The report is referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which notes the travel expenses. Given the size of my riding, people must be made aware of these expenditures.

This morning something odd occurred. I asked a question concerning travel paid for by sponsors, travel all over the world by one influential Conservative Party member. This is no secret, yet the person answering called it a stupid question.

However, Standing Order 22 stipulates that there must be a public registry of foreign travel by MPs. It provides details of travel by members, particularly those in the Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois.

This morning I was again looking at the details of trips by, among others, those of the member for St. Albert, Alberta, whom we often see on television and who is calling for the production of expense reports for Liberal MPs, the government, and executive assistants.

I find it odd that this member has neglected to mention that he has travelled all over. In the past ten years he has been away a total of 3 months and 23 days. He has been to Russia, India, Bangladesh, Belgium, the Ukraine, and several other countries, at a total cost of more than $500,000, that is half a million dollars. This is all very bizarre.

We have Standing Order 22, but the official opposition is not calling for expenditures to be made public. All spending by all members can be found in a report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The opposition is not talking about Standing Order 22. We can see that the member for St. Albert spent in excess of half a million dollars on accommodation, entertainment and plane tickets. We know that a flight costs between $7,000 and $8,000. I have the list.

The oddest thing about all of this is in a report I have before me. When we comment on others, we must speak of ourselves as well. I have made but the one foreign trip, and I will tell this to the public today. I kept notes on it because I knew one day I would have to talk about it.

In 1986, my wife and I were invited by the government of Belgium. That trip cost $1,941 for me and $1,948 for my wife and I received a $420 per diem for travelling from May 11 to 17, 1986. That is what the Speaker of the House of Commons at the time, Mr. John Fraser, wrote to me in a letter dated December 30, 1991.

I can now state my travel expenses for all the trips I have made in the world since 1986 at the taxpayer's expense, just think about that. I hear members from the Conservative Party of Canada saying this is bizarre. I find it very bizarre when they receive sponsorships almost on the sly from large global agencies to travel the world.

If they know of such travels, they have until the end of the day to disclose all the expenses. I can stand here and say that in 1986, my trip for two people cost nearly $4,000. However, I know what the Conservative Party of Canada opposite is talking about when it refers to sponsorships. They receive sponsorships to travel to Haiti, Hawaii and Russia.

When they are not present in the House, no need to ask questions. The same is true for the Bloc Quebecois. They travel all over the world. The NDP less so. They travel less, it is true. I also do not travel much; once in 15 years is not excessive.

The Conservative Party of Canada should ask for the tabling in the House of Commons of the complete list of all the trips made by Conservative, Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and NDP members who have travelled outside of Canada between 1984 and the present as well as the cost of these travels including flights, meals, and accommodation paid by the taxpayer and especially by the sponsors.

Major sponsors are involved in this. People would be interested in knowing. And yet, looking at things overall, we wonder why they are not declaring that now. They are prepared to corner the government during question period. That is their job.

It is the same thing with the Bloc Quebecois member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, who recently published a book that may have been funded by taxpayers in Quebec and Canada. The book criticizes the Prime Minister of Canada and his sons, their companies and the Barbados.

There is one thing to know about the companies that do business around Barbados. Of the 1,900 companies in Canada, there are about 700 in Quebec that do business in foreign countries.

Today, as it happens, I was looking at another book entitled, Ces riches qui ne paient pas d'impôts . This member of the Bloc Quebecois, who is a former Progressive Conservative by the way, and who travelled all over the world about twice a month, should get out his list and calculate his spending. But if one looks closely at what is written on page 166 of this book, one finds something bizarre.

This Bloc MP, who dumped on the family of our Prime Minister in his book, should have a look at his family, because it is written here, about his brother:

Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at the Irish “exile” of Luc Plamondon.

That is, the brother of the hon. Bloc Quebecois member.

Ireland is a very popular jurisdiction with artists, writers, composers and sculptors because they can take advantage of a tax exemption. By settling in Ireland, they do not have to pay tax on the income derived from their art.

It is important to point this out. The book has just been released, and I look forward to seeing the hon. member rise—

Supply February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, you are an excellent referee. We know about your experience in the national hockey league. You are clearly demonstrating your skills today.

My comment is the following. I recall that, under the Progressive Conservatives, I was the only member in the House of Commons to do so. The Progressive Conservative Party, the NDP and all opposition members disagreed with my disclosing all my expenditures as an MP.

If all members' expenditures are published every year in a report entitled, Members' Office and Travel Expenses, it is thanks to me. This way, people have a clear picture. Look at the history of the House of Commons to find out how I went about it.

Coming back to my comment. We have, in the House of Commons, a registry of foreign travel by sponsors, promoters and Canada.

The Conservative member for St. Albert, Alberta, has been on television in recent months, expressing outrage at the spending by all chiefs of staff on this side of the House. Moreover, there is no reporting concerning this spending. Only names are listed.

After investigation, we can see that the member for St. Albert in the new Conservative Party has travelled the world. We are talking about expensive travel, with business class fares at $6,400. He even travelled to receive a sponsorship. He who got a sponsorship is now denouncing sponsorships. That is one sponsorship from promoters.

I travelled only once in 15 years and 10 months. It was in 1986. I travelled with my wife, and our trip cost the Canadian government all of $4,302.

My question is the following. Will this new Conservative Party of Canada, as it is called today, produce by the end of the day all the expenditures of their members, from the PC Party and the Alliance, who have travelled with promoters around the world, at a cost of millions of dollars?

Also, could we be presented with comprehensive reports on all sponsorships under the program in question, by electoral district and by member, and on how it was distributed?

I look forward to receiving an answer by this evening.

Supply February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened very closely to the two previous speakers. I would like to make a comment and ask two questions.

I find bizarre the attitude to this motion attacking all members. I warn the hon. member that I was a member of Parliament in the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney. I know how the machine works. I spent nine years and two months with the Conservatives in this place.

You say that you are a new Conservative Party, but that means nothing. When you attack all members of this House on—