House of Commons photo


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

Parliament of Canada Act April 6th, 2005

Madam Speaker, it is not the first time that I have been involved in a debate on members' salaries. I was a member of the Quebec National Assembly and, before Mr. Lévesque—who was the premier at the time—found a formula, the issue would come up every year. As the hon. member said, this issue always leads to some grandstanding. We can have anyone say just about anything on MPs' salaries.

I agree with the hon. member. At some point, we have to find a basic principle, so that we stop talking about our salary. This does not make sense. In my view, the act that was passed made sense to some extent, because it was based on the principles that my colleague just mentioned.

I want to ask him if he thinks this is simply some kind of political pettiness.

It is easy to deal with a journalist's question by saying “This 10.8% increase over four years does not make sense. We will cancel it”. However, a Liberal member just said that we will get the equivalent, or some 2% annually, but that is grandstanding. I wonder if my colleague could comment on this way of managing things.

Employment Insurance Act April 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I take part in this debate. I wish to commend my hon. colleague from Trois-Rivières for her work on this issue. I would like to limit myself to trying to convince the Liberals of something of which I will probably not be successful in convincing them. As members know, they can hardly show their faces these days. When they attempt to explain to the public, the workers who are denied a right, that all in all what they have done with the EI program was good, things get a little ugly.

I would like to invite the Liberal member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, who spoke earlier, to come and travel across my region of Haute-Mauricie, where people have lost their money to the EI fund. I do not care whether the Liberals call it a fund or not. They must know how to write, because they wrote it somewhere. It is clear that they took money that did not belong to them. The member said they were kind because they reduced the premiums. Not one worker asked for lower premiums. What the workers wanted was to be able to rely on this insurance should they lose their job. The Liberals may laugh now, but they will not laugh when they face an election in the future.

Imagine someone taking out fire insurance on his house. It burns down with all his belongings in it, and the insurance company tells him that the bad news is that it will not be giving him any money. The good news, however, is that his premiums will be lower in future. Does that make any sense? That is the reform they are trying to sell people on, the reform they carried out in order, as my colleague has already said, to get their hands on as much money as possible. Soon we will be finding out even more about this government's dishonesty. I find it shocking that they are trying to put things over on people once again. I think they will take it just as far as they can go.

They have taken the money of about 38% of workers who contributed to EI in order to have some security. I keep hearing from people in my offices in La Tuque, Grand-Mère, Shawinigan and elsewhere in the riding “Mr. Gagnon, I have just lost my job and I am not entitled to benefits although I paid into it for years.” It is the same all over Quebec. Why? Because the Liberal Party took the money in order to do favours for its little friends. They claim that not only have they paid down the debt, but they have acted as good administrators because they have reduced it by $65 billion. Of that amount, $54 billion came from workers, and $3 billion from seniors. As many palms as possible were greased, and now they are boasting about paying the debt down by $65 billion. It pains me to see that they are capable of defending such things.

It is no surprise that, in raising such issues—and I know we are not allowed to comment on who is or is not present in the House—I will certainly not get any ovations on my speech from the people across the way. I am quite sure of that. The public has had enough. A couple of weeks ago, a mother asked me whether I could possibly go around to the schools to tell people it is still possible for politics to be honest. She found it depressing to hear our young people coming home from school talking about political scandals. I plan to do that, because a country survives because of politics, is administered by politics.

Since I am not allowed to use the word “lie” in the House, I will say that people are fed up with never being told the truth. Earlier, someone said that the government did everything to help workers, that it reduced premiums. Come on. This is not what workers want. They want their due. They do not want a reduction of their premiums. Whether they pay $3 or $2.95 is of little importance, but if they lose their job and cannot provide for their family even though they are insured, that changes everything.

The government is using nice rhetoric about poverty and how sensitive it is to child poverty. But can children be well-off when their family is poor? Can children enjoy what they are entitled to as children, including education and so on, when their working parents lose their jobs and do not qualify for benefits, even though they contributed to the employment insurance program?

Let us stop being hypocrites. Let us begin administering the fund like intelligent and honest people. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières is proposing an honest piece of legislation. Workers are asking for this legislation. Let us adopt it.

If the Liberals are opposed to it, I invite them to come to my riding and tell workers that they did their best to protect them. They will see the workers' reaction for themselves. The last election held in Quebec was quite telling. The next one, which may come sooner than some think, will show that we no longer want such corruption. We want to manage our own affairs in Quebec, we do not to be lied to anymore, and we will probably make the appropriate decision at the earliest opportunity.

Employment Insurance Act April 4th, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for recognizing me. I am not rising for a question. I believe there is time left to participate in the debate, is there not?

Question No. 74 March 21st, 2005

With respect to persons eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement who are not receiving it, persons eligible for a survivor allowance who are not receiving it, and persons eligible for a spouse’s allowance who are not receiving it: ( a ) what has the government done, and how often, to try to trace these people; ( b ) how many letters have been sent out by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency; ( c ) how many people have been reached by phone; ( d ) how many forms have been mailed out; ( e ) how many providers of services to seniors have been contacted; ( f ) how many information inserts have been mailed out; ( g ) how many renewal applications forms have been sent out when someone no longer submits an income tax return; ( h ) what kind of publicity for these benefits is done in major centres, and how often; and ( i ) what else has been done?

(Return tabled)

Supply March 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it has been a pleasure to hear my colleague, who is very able and experienced in these matters, explain all this to us. However, we must keep in mind that not everybody has studied law. Everybody is not a lawyer. In this respect, I want to make sure that I have fully understood my colleague.

When he talks about reversing the burden of proof, this is well after conviction. That means that the criminal has been found guilty and convicted. It is then that he has to prove that the assets he has in his possession have not been acquired with the proceeds of the crime.

The general public always find it scandalous that notorious criminals spend a few months in jail, and then recover the proceeds of their crimes and lead the good life. Those are questions raised in the general public.

Question No. 73 March 10th, 2005

With respect to Old Age Security payments, what are the most recent estimates on: ( a ) the number of Canadian seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) but not receiving it and, of this number, how many are Quebeckers; ( b ) the number of Canadian seniors eligible for the survivor’s allowance but not receiving it and, of this number, how many are Quebeckers; and ( c ) the number of Canadian seniors eligible for the spouse’s allowance but not receiving it and, of this number, how many are Quebeckers?

(Return tabled)

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. I always like to hear him speak because he is someone with ability and experience.

He did not have enough time to address a matter on which I would like to ask him a question. I am increasingly outraged by the immorality of the budgets around here, especially the latest budget.

There is talk of paying down the federal debt. I want to know whether my colleague agrees with me or not. Everyone agrees that debt should be paid off but, whenever possible, we try to get those who ran up the debt in the first place to do the paying.

As far as I know, the unemployed and the most vulnerable seniors are not the ones who ran up the federal debt. Nor was it the people needing social housing. It is not the poor who have run up the government's debt. Yet, these people are seeing funding cut in order to pay off the debt. In my opinion, those responsible for the debt are people who use tax havens, like the current Prime Minister does for his shipping companies.

Does the hon. member agree with me that it is completely immoral to pay off the debt on the backs of the poor?

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the Conservative member's speech and liked it very much. It shows me how closely aligned our ideas can sometimes be.

I agreed with his statement that this budget was humiliating for producers. That was his word, humiliating, and I wonder if the hon. member does not also consider it just as humiliating for the unemployed. They have been misled and had the contents of the employment insurance fund taken away. Now they are getting only a trifle back, and virtually nothing of what they have been requesting.

Is it not also extremely humiliating for seniors, who have lost most of the guaranteed income supplement over the past 12 years? They have been led to believe that they will be reimbursed immediately, but it will be only in 2007. In addition, only in five years' time will they see the amount they had been promised, $2.7 billion, whereas they were deprived of $3.2 billion.

I would like to know whether the hon. member agrees with me that this budget is humiliating for many people in society and certainly does not keep the promises made by the Liberal Party.

The Budget March 7th, 2005

Madam Speaker, the previous speaker is right to curb his enthusiasm. Rarely have I heard a more arrogant, dishonest and insulting speech. It does not make any sense.

I will raise only the issue of seniors. Over the past 12 years, this government has taken $3.2 billion from the poorest seniors. Today, many of them have passed away. We are asking for seniors to get retroactive payments of the money they are owed, but the government is refusing.

Now, it is boasting about the allocation in this budget of $2.7 billion over five years for seniors, when $3.2 billion was taken from them over the past 12 years. Is there anything more arrogant and more insulting to seniors than that? In 2007, the government will start repaying not the people from whom it took this money, since they will be gone, but rather seniors newly entitled to the guaranteed income supplement. Payment of this $2.7 billion will be completed within five years. There is no way the previous speaker could have more deliberately misled our seniors.

I could talk about the unemployed, but I will stop here, to give him the opportunity to respond. This makes absolutely no sense. Some $45 billion was taken from the workers and the unemployed, and this is what they are getting back. Yet, the government is boasting about a budget full of good news. It is, instead, an arrogant and insulting budget for Quebec.

The Budget February 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, who chooses his words carefully and talks about pertinent matters.

We have struggled together with an issue that is one of society's greatest injustices. For the past decade or more, seniors in need of the guaranteed income supplement to survive, have been forgotten. At least 68,000 seniors from Quebec have been denied their benefits. The government pocketed some $3.2 billion and now it must give this money back to the seniors.

I want to know whether my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is satisfied with the standards set out in the budget, whereby increases would be provided to seniors in two years and again in five years. I would like to get my colleague's thoughts on this.