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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

Economic Development October 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, a new federal development initiative needs to be put in place just for the resource regions of Quebec, along the lines of FEDNOR in northern Ontario.

This new agency's mandate would be to improve the economy of the various communities by promoting business start-ups and job creation in the context of the new economy, through programs developed in accordance with directions from promoters and economic organizations such as chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and municipalities.

I have been calling for the creation of such an agency just for the resource regions of Quebec for several years now.

Cattle Producers October 20th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the cattle producers in Abitibi-Témiscamingue will have lost over $8 million in 2003, following the detection of a lone case of mad cow disease in western Canada.

On October 17, I met with farmers in Val-d'Or. Cattle farmers in our vast region are still experiencing a significant shortfall related to this Canadian crisis, because they have not yet been compensated for their cull cattle. The financial assistance announced by the governments of Quebec and Canada is not sufficient to cover all the losses suffered by these businesses.

We must respect the farmers of Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Canada, and heed their demands. We must take immediate action so they can obtain the financial assistance they need to survive.

Monsignor Marc Ouellet October 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, Pope John Paul II's appointment of Monsignor Marc Ouellet as a cardinal surprised many in his village of La Motte in Abitibi.

No one was more proud or more moved than the mother of Quebec City's Archbishop, Mrs. Graziella Ouellet, who said, “It warms a mother's heart, but it is also emotionally overwhelming. It will be a daunting task and I hope the Lord will help him”.

Monsignor Ouellet is a very cultured man; he speaks five languages and earned a PhD in theology in the 1980s. Monsignor Ouellet said he was pleased with this honour, but that he was especially pleased for Quebec and Canada.

Monsignor Ouellet, the people of La Motte, Abitibi and Canada congratulate you, wish you an excellent tenure as a cardinal, and thank Pope John Paul II for your appointment.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Madam Speaker, when the hon. member talks about the price of gasoline at the pumps, she should also add that, in Quebec, the price at the pumps is set by the Régie de l'énergie, which was created by the PQ government. There is a basic price, a floor price, on which no member has a say. Quebec has a floor price while its neighbouring provinces rely on the market price.

I have two questions for the hon. member. First, we all agree that she took stock of the requests of the Mining Association of Canada. We know that the government is proposing 5% for the first year, and 7% and 10% for the following years. The Mining Association of Canada wanted 20% for the first year. Can the hon. member confirm to the House and all Canadian taxpayers that what they proposed was 10% instead of 5% for the first year, then 14% for the second year and 20%?

Has the hon. member for Drummond had the opportunity since September 2003 to go over the report on the mining industry in Abitibi-Témiscamingue prepared by economist Luc Blanchette? It is a very good report. We stand by the mining community. I am a former miner myself and we will stand by these people in the years to come. We will not be able to win all the battles, but we hope to win half of them.

Unlike some of my colleagues, I do not represent a resource region of 5 or 10 square kilometres, but rather a riding of 800,000 square kilometres. I will vote in favour of this bill, because I do not want to lose that 5%. It is 50% of the 10% that the hon. member asked for in committee, which was 10% instead of 20%. She should get her facts straight.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Madam Speaker, the member for LaSalle—Émard has always paid his taxes in Canada. The member for LaSalle—Émard, personally, has always paid his taxes in Quebec. I find it strange that the member is attacking a member who has a very good reputation in Canada. I also find it strange that he does not dare to tell us about the opinion on the Abitibi-Témiscamingue mining industry that was prepared by an economist in September 2003. These members do not even know what is happening in our area.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I wanted to raise a point of order on a matter of interpretation. The hon. member said we were not there, at committee. That is incorrect. We cannot be everywhere at once, and there are many committees of the House of Commons. Often, Bloc Quebecois members travel around the world and cannot attend committee. We do not mention it in the House. They are travelling. I am the only member not to have travelled abroad. I want to make that perfectly clear.

The hon. member mentioned the $250 million for oil companies. Well, let us talk about oil and this $250 million. There are two provinces in Canada with an energy authority These authorities set the floor price for oil. We cannot talk about oil without talking about the people who put regular gas in their vehicles. As we know, recently in Ottawa, gasoline has been selling for 66.4¢ per litre, while in the Abitibi, it is selling for 74.9¢; in Kuujjuaq, regular gas is selling for $1.22 per litre. Who established an energy authority for oil in Quebec? The PQ did, when it was in office. It should not have. It should have gone the way of the free market instead. Our gasoline price would be closer to Ontario's 66.4¢, instead of 74.9¢.

Let us look at the bill as it stands. The Bloc Quebecois contends that we did not adopt the amendments put forward. There are no amendments before the House at this time. Bill C-48 is. We all have respect for the Quebec Mining Association, the Mining Association of Canada and prospectors. We win some and we lose some; it is 50-50. But the hon. member mentioned rates. The Bloc said, “We support the mining association for 20%”. That is incorrect; what the Bloc proposed was 10%, then 14% and 20% thereafter. They should switch gears, because we are not debating amendments today.

I support the legislation in order to get at least 50%.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Oh, oh.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak on behalf of everyone in my riding, of the miners, mining companies and small mining businesses throughout the vast territory of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Chapais-Chibougamau and James Bay, and on behalf of the James Bay Cree and the Inuit in Nunavik. The riding covers about 850,000 square kilometres in Quebec and is the biggest mining riding in Canada.

I listened to the Bloc Quebecois member who said that noboby had had spoken out. I find this passing strange, because I have documents from the finance minister dated February 2002. It is the answer of the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard to one of my letters. Back in 2002, I asked for a reduction in the general tax rate of mining companies.

We knew that the tax rate for small businesses was supposed to drop from 28% in 2000 to 21% in 2004. This goes to show that we are concerned about the same issues.

Coming back to the mining industry, a story by Juliane Pilon was published in La Dépêche , a paper belonging to Jacques Aylwin, under the title “Decline in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue mining industry”. It said that rates go up, then go down, and may well remain low. That is what we should be promoting.

The Mining Association of Canada wrote us to enlist our support for an amendment to Bill C-48. I note, however, that none of the proposed amendments has been adopted and the Bloc Quebecois did not get anywhere in committee. The Liberal member who spoke earlier has summarized the entire situation very well as far as what the mining association was calling for is concerned. The same thing is happening back home.

If, however, we examine the facts, we know that the federal government is proposing a new rate: 5%, then 7%,10%, 10% and 10% until 2007. The mining association asked us to support 20%.

I listened carefully to the Bloc Quebecois member for Joliette, who said that they too support the Mining Association of Canada. What I find strange is that this is not what they proposed in the standing committee. Their proposal was 10% the first year, followed by 14% the second, and 20% thereafter. I find it odd that the Bloc Quebecois did not call for 20% right off the bat, instead of going from 10% to 14% and finally to 20%.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the comments by the hon. member. Some things are true, but I cannot agree with what he has said about us, the Liberal members from Abitibi and the resource regions. I understand that some resource regions have only tobacco growing; others have mining. I am a former miner, myself.

In my remarks, I want to comment on the fact that he said no one has intervened. I have here a letter dated February 21, 2002, in which I told my government, the former finance minister, the Liberal member for LaSalle—Émard, that it was necessary to consider the same sort of reductions for small and medium-size businesses as for other sectors. It was necessary to reduce the general corporate tax rate from 28% in 2000 to 21% in 2004. As for small and medium-size businesses, it is very odd that the Bloc is not discussing what was happening in these companies, that no one took the differences between various industries into account. On the other hand, when we discuss natural resources, these members say we do not stand up for our constituents. We know that there is always room for improvement in bills.

I have here some notes from my friends in the mining sector. They point out the difference between junior and senior mining companies and explain the repercussions of Bill C-48. The issue is this: we know that we must improve the tax system not only for the large, senior companies, but also for the junior companies and small mining corporations.

Still, to go from that to saying that we have not intervened; I am sorry, but this is a false debate at the expense of our resource regions. Because in these regions, when there is no more ore, there is still a problem with respect to the price of metals. Today, our problem is the issue of the rising dollar.

One point is very important: we do intervene. I do not want anyone to say to me that we do not intervene; you are not aware of the letters we write to the minister. We work from within; we work in our ridings. We do not see these hon. members in our regions and our mines very often. I used to be a miner. We do not often see them around Chapais-Chibougamau, or even in Val d'Or. I understand that this bill needs improvement, but it is a first step and I am satisfied. Some things must be amended, but we have to work together.

If they are going to call us liars and say we are doing nothing, they can go to the devil.