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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Bloc MP for Saint-Maurice—Champlain (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Transportation Amendment Act November 28th, 2005

No, Madam Speaker, I have not seen to what extent we can solve the problem.

I know we talk a lot about environmental problems related to noise, both inside and outside the train. As for the dumping of waste my colleague mentioned, indeed it is an issue that must be solved. This is why, in the next Parliament, this legislation will have to be improved.

My colleague said he took the train to the maritime provinces. I take this opportunity to say that it is possible to make a wonderful trip to the north of my riding. It is a long way to communities like Weymontachie and many others in the northern part of my riding. They are totally isolated in the woods. However, my riding is worth visiting by train, and visitors can reach the most magnificent lakes. Thus, they can enjoy fishing and many other outdoor activities. I think my hon. colleague for Trois-Rivières has had an opportunity to ride on that train.

In addition, I take this opportunity to mention that in my area, the scenery is beautiful. Train transportation must be improved in all aspects, but in the meantime, it is available. And if people choose the train rather than a car or a truck, this mode of transportation is less damaging to the environment and its use would help the train to solve its own environmental problems.

Transportation Amendment Act November 28th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House, probably for the last time.

I will take advantage of this debate on Bill C-44 to try and “keep on track”. As for transportation, I think I can say that I have travelled a lot, not so much by Via Rail or train, but rather by car. I live in a huge riding located four hours away from Ottawa. The geographic size of my riding of Saint-Maurice—Champlain is within 4,000 kilometres of that of Switzerland. It is not a riding, but rather a country that needs to be populated. The population of this small country, the size of Switzerland, is approximately 100,000.

This explains why we know a lot about transportation in our area. Unfortunately, we do not have everything we need.

The environment problem is one area of transportation that I consider important. We know that no mode of transportation will ever really protect the environment.

Coming back to Switzerland, one only has to go to Europe, to France for example, to see how transportation was developed in order to help the world and the human beings who need it, in harmony with the environment.

Obviously, a riding such as mine, with 100,000 inhabitants, cannot benefit from the same services as Switzerland. However, there are ways to adapt rail transportation in order to use it more and to use it better, and in order to protect people properly. Noise pollution due to railways is quite unpleasant, but the situation can certainly be improved.

Last week, I was disappointed that a bill I cared very much about was rejected at third reading. Today, perhaps one mayor in my riding will be happy about this bill since it seeks to improve the effects of the rail system on the environment and, among other things, it seeks to reduce noise.

The mayor of Saint-Tite, which is the capital of western culture, with a western festival of its own, often tells me that it is quite incredible that the railway going by this village bothers people in the middle of the night to the point where it is almost unbearable. Trains must be slowed down and barriers must be erected, because it is dangerous for tourists. Saint-Tite has 5,000 inhabitants. But during the festival, 150,000 people stay there. While being adapted to our needs, rail transportation must avoid problems related to the environment.

I am not going to discuss this bill clause by clause, but I hope that we will focus on developing transportation which is as ecological as possible.

I take the opportunity to thank you, Madam Speaker, and bid you farewell. I know that this is your last day in this Parliament, since you will not be running in the next election. You have been of great service to us. You did a good job chairing the debates in this House and it has always been a pleasure to work with you.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate those who are here to serve us in this House. In a way, they take care of some of our transportation needs as they bring us our water, with a smile. All too often, when we see these people in the House, we tend to forget that they are here to serve us and that we should thank them for that. I want to thank them now on behalf of all my colleagues. Today, I had the pleasure of bringing them a rose so they can remember that they made our life easier. Even their smiles warm up this place and I want to thank them for that.

I also want to congratulate all those who, like me, will not be seeking re-election and are here for the last time.

I wish to thank them for the discussions we had, even for the arguments and the fights, for through it all, we have, I hope, moved society forward.

This Parliament is democratic in nature. If we want it to stay that way, I think we must have the privilege to use democracy. I hope the Prime Minister—I do not know if he will be re-elected and come back—will do what he said he would during the last election, when he talked a great deal about democratizing debate. He has not had much success with this yet. If he comes back, I hope he will work toward that or that the next prime minister will. It is the only way to ensure Canadians will get answers from government. We could get things done if we used this House as a temple of democracy.

Too often, we realize after asking 440 questions that we still do not have answers. It took an inquiry to finally get answers. To me, that is a serious infringement of democracy. I hope that in the future we will be able to use Parliament as a tool of democracy that nurtures democracy in such a way that Canadians have better access to what we do, are better informed about what we do, and encourage us to work harder to serve them better.

Guaranteed Income Supplement November 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, that answer is unacceptable. Seniors in need of the guaranteed income supplement have been deprived of $3.2 billion over the past 12 years.

Even if the Liberals increase the GIS, seniors who were deprived of it in the past are still living in poverty. The money is sitting in the government's coffers.

Guaranteed Income Supplement November 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my political career is coming to an end and, yesterday, I saw the House at both its best and worst.

Is the Prime Minister not ashamed that his party voted in favour of the bill to make the guaranteed income supplement retroactive and then, two minutes later, refused to pass it at final stage?

Notre-Dame-de-la-Présentation Church November 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Notre-Dame-de-la-Présentation church in Shawinigan south is the home of famed painter Ozias Leduc's last major pieces of work and, as such, has been designated a historic site.

I want to acknowledge the hard work of the committee for the protection of the works of Ozias Leduc in securing this designation.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the renowned artist, the committee wanted to display the exquisite decor inside this church. Regarded as his artistic legacy, these works blend spirituality and the history of the development of the Mauricie region.

I invite my colleagues to come and visit this historic site in Shawinigan, located a stone's throw from the Cité de l'énergie scientific theme park. One can enjoy a beautiful view of the Saint-Maurice River while strolling through the gardens surrounding the church. This is one more reason to visit the Mauricie region, a destination no one should miss.

Old Age Security Act November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I understand that you are not ashamed and I am not ashamed of you. I will speak to you directly, but about people I am not proud of.

They are bragging that of the $3.2 billion, they will be giving out $2.7 billion over the next five years. By then, those to whom the money is owed will be gone. The government will say it was being generous to give out $2.7 billion of the $3 billion that did not belong to it in the first place. Perhaps, since the government is so generous, it will throw in a bouquet of flowers and an apple turnover. And then brag about. I think this is very sad.

There is a story I have told many times and I will close by telling it again, since it illustrates the situation well. A woman, 88 years old, from Sherbrooke had 8 or 10 children. She lived out her golden years on $6,000 a year. At the time of her death she was owed $90,000. The government says that a backlog of paperwork is preventing it from handing out the money. That is why that woman from Sherbrooke did not get her money. I find that very sad.

If this is indeed my last speech, I want to address seniors. Please, watch your government more closely, stop being had, and look out for your own interests because the government here in Ottawa is not doing so.

Old Age Security Act November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I too, like the member speaking before me, am probably making my last speech. I am familiar enough with the standing orders for having sat in and chaired the Quebec National Assembly and been a member here since 2000. The arguments the government has raised will not convince seniors that it cannot give them back their money. That is very clear.

I am not asking for new money, but rather what belongs to them. This bill was not introduced last week. It has been before Parliament for over a year. If this is in fact my last speech, I will have the great pleasure of telling seniors that I at least got this far. With the help of the NDP and the Conservatives, we could give them the $3 billion taken from them. It was not perhaps done on purpose. However, the people the other members working on this and I met were well aware of the fact that it was for those who had not been informed that we were calling for the reimbursement.

Jane Stewart, the minister at the time, acknowledged the situation, improved it and provided more information. She told me, however, that it was impossible for her to pay the people back retroactively. Why? If I owe the government money, how is it that it can claim the money from me retroactively as far back as five or ten years and make me pay a penalty? That is perfectly legal. It is a whole different matter, however, when seniors, living in miserable conditions I can attest to, forgot it or were not told of it and realized five years later that they had been owed money for five years.

The government did not want to be robbed, but seniors are not robbers. Without saying where they are to be found, I will say the robbers are readily recognizable. These people are not robbers. They simply lacked information. In fact, we were put onto the trail by a Toronto journalist. It was not even our idea. He discovered that a number of seniors were short of money, when there was money here in Parliament that belonged to them. This money was wasted. Look at the sponsorship scandal. We can see where the money went. It was wasted. You should be ashamed.

When they say that—

Seniors November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, let us not forget that the GIS concerns the most vulnerable members of our society. We are talking about seniors who barely have enough to get by on.

Second, the Minister of Finance is swimming in a surplus of over $11 billion. This is shameful.

What will it take for the government to show a bit more heart and, above all, a bit more honesty with regard to seniors and pay them what they are owed?

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is saying is so true.

I had the opportunity to tour Quebec regarding the seniors' issue. When I visited the aboriginal community, I realized that, out of a population of 2,000, only 2 or 3 people were over 65. As we can see, life expectancy among aboriginal people is not very high, and this is because our failure to act.

The hon. member is right when he says that we have been neglecting them for the past 20 years. In fact, it has been longer than that, but over the past 20 years, we have been more aware of their plight. We have greater means now, but they are also better able to see to what extent they are being neglected. In my opinion, it is very urgent to look after these people and give them back part of what is owed to them.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for giving the floor back to me for a few minutes so that I can express how disgusted I am at how much money has been wasted just because there is an excess of it. The sponsorship scandal saga has shown us that there was no shortage of money. The government does not take care of its own affairs because it prefers to interfere in provincial jurisdictions.

The government interferes in provincial jurisdictions such as education and health by refusing to give money back to the provinces. If we do end up getting any money it is only because we have been begging for it for years.

The federal government does not take care of its own affairs. However, it is not shy about interfering in jurisdictions that do not belong to it, including aboriginal affairs. It was mentioned earlier that Alberta, like Quebec, has a legislative framework for taking care of aboriginals. However, a big part of that framework is the federal government's responsibility. The purpose of this legislation is to correct this problem that has been ignored for years.

I mentioned the landing strip. I am incensed by the economic and sanitary conditions aboriginals are living in. Some of them say, “We cannot repair our house because it does not belong to us. We cannot use our land as collateral for a loan because it does not belong to us”. They are living in hardship conditions. This problem is the responsibility of the federal government and the CMHC, which have the means to help, but refuse to do so. They are ignoring aboriginals.

With just a few weeks before an election, we urgently need to pass this legislation, even if it is already too late. Nonetheless, I hope the government will not be boasting about this, since it has no reason to brag about the work it has done for aboriginals.