House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Bloc MP for Brossard—La Prairie (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 18% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act to permit the resumption and continuation of the operation of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River December 11th, 2007

Mr. Chair, it was mentioned earlier that the Chalk River reactor has frequently been shut down, but for short durations. I believe three or four day periods were mentioned.

How often do these three or four day stoppages occur?

An Act to permit the resumption and continuation of the operation of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River December 11th, 2007

Mr. Chair, I have another question for Mr. McGee.

It was mentioned that Chalk River has existed for 50 years. How long have isotopes been produced there?

An Act to permit the resumption and continuation of the operation of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River December 11th, 2007

Mr. Chair, Mr. McGee has control over the distribution of isotopes, right?

How does he decide which client gets priority? Is it Canadians or Americans? Do the contracts determine who gets priority?

An Act to permit the resumption and continuation of the operation of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River December 11th, 2007

Mr. Chair, since the product is in short supply, when Chalk River resumes production, will Canadians or Americans get priority? Who will decide to supply Canadian hospitals before American hospitals?

An Act to permit the resumption and continuation of the operation of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River December 11th, 2007

Mr. Chair, the minister will have an opportunity to continue his response.

When there is a shortage of isotopes, who decides how they are distributed? It was mentioned previously that there are Canadian clients and 400,000 American clients, but who makes the decisions about distribution when there is a shortage?

Is there a policy on giving priority to Canadians' needs before sending isotopes to the United States?

National Sustainable Development Act December 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill C-474, the National Sustainable Development Act, introduced by the member for Don Valley West.

I see two objectives in Bill C-474. The first is to develop a sustainable development strategy based on the precautionary principle. The second is to create a position of commissioner of the environment and sustainable development that would be independent of the Office of the Auditor General. The bill also provides for the appointment of a sustainable development advisory council to advise the government on the national sustainable development strategy that will be developed.

I would like to talk about sustainable development and the precautionary principle. It should be noted that sustainable development has not been the credo of the successive federal governments in Ottawa. On the contrary, the federal government, both the Liberals and Conservatives, encouraged the development of the oil sands, a very polluting industry, instead of relying on clean energies or strategies that allow for sustainable development.

Although it is in the news now, the concept of sustainable development is nothing new. The expression “sustainable development” was popularized in 1987 after the publication of a report from the World Commission on Environment and Development entitled, “Our Common Future”. This report defined sustainable development.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

However, people seem to forget that two concepts are inherent to the notion of sustainable development: the concept of needs and, particularly, the essential needs of the most vulnerable, to whom it is agreed the greatest priority must be given; and secondly, the idea that our technology and social organization can impose limits on the environment’s ability to meet current and future needs.

Thus, sustainable development has more than just one objective, since it has to do with social and environmental equity, not only between citizens, but also between generations. Thus, when we talk about our children, we are talking about our future.

The concept of sustainable development was revisited in 1992 at the famous United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the conference, a clear message was sent regarding the urgency of reconciling economic and social development, and environmental protection for the simple reason that sustainable development is essential to ensuring the well being of human communities and the preservation of life sustaining ecosystems.

I would now like to discuss the precautionary principle. In the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development that closed the United Nations Conference on the Environment, the precautionary principle was recommended as the best approach to environmental management. Essentially it involves the application of prudent foresight, the recognition of uncertainty and error on the side of caution when decisions must be taken in a domain where knowledge is incomplete.

Further, the approach recognizes that the burden and standard of proof should be commensurate with the potential risks to sustainable use of resources and to the environment. Participants emphasized that a precautionary approach should consider subtle, sublethal effects and not rely only on population impacts.

The precautionary approach has been followed in other areas, in particular for specific resources such as the fisheries and for general issues pertaining to the integrity of the environment. Observing the precautionary principle can translate into environmental assessments, pilot projects, close monitoring of impacts, careful interpretation of data and management tailored to needs.

Once again, be it Liberal or Conservative, the federal government refuses to take a precautionary approach. The most basic approach is often rejected out of hand, and short-term gain takes precedence over future problems. This is true of the Conservative government, which is doing everything it can to reject the Kyoto protocol, even though economists as credible as Britain's Nicholas Stern are saying that it would cost far more to respond to the destructive effects of climate change than to attack the root of the problem now.

GMOs are another perfect example, because the medium- and long-term effects of genetically modified organisms on health and the environment are not yet known. In light of this, the Bloc Québécois has criticized the federal government for refusing to demonstrate transparency with regard to genetically modified organisms, by neglecting to make it mandatory to label foods that are genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients so that people are informed and can choose the foods they eat.

Even worse, the federal government still has not adopted the precautionary principle when it comes to GMOs. Given the lack of information about the medium- and long-term effects of GMOs, it is only natural to have concerns. In order to approve a transgenic product, the federal government relies on studies made by companies and merely reviews them. It does not conduct a systematic second assessment of all the plants and foods that are put on the market. Consequently, there is very little public or independent expertise in the evaluation of transgenic foods.

The objective of the Cartagena protocol is to help regulate the transboundary movement, transfer, handling and use of any GMO that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and pose risks to human health. The precautionary principle is an integral part of the Cartagena protocol and a condition of its application, as stipulated in principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development adopted in 1992 at the earth summit in Rio. In the protocol, the precautionary approach is described as follows:

Lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge regarding the extent of the potential adverse effects of a living modified organism on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the Party of import, taking also into account risks to human health, shall not prevent that Party from taking a decision, as appropriate, with regard to the import of the living modified organism in order to avoid or minimize such potential adverse effects.

Nevertheless, the federal government refuses to ratify the Cartagena protocol, ignoring what, to the common sense of Quebeckers, is the most fundamental prudence.

Let us now discuss the second objective of the bill, which deals with the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. In the past, the latter played a useful role in evaluating the government's policies with respect to environmental protection and hence the importance of ensuring complete autonomy in carrying out his responsibilities. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development played an important role in revealing the extent of federal assistance to the oil industry.

In his report tabled in 2000, he brought to the forefront the issue of subsidies to the oil industry.

I simply wish to outline the Bloc's position. We support the principle of Bill C-474; however, amendments will have to be made in future discussions.

The Environment December 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, censure is not coming solely from other countries. The National Assembly of Quebec, in marking the 10th anniversary of the Kyoto protocol, unanimously renewed its commitment to reduce Quebec's greenhouse gas emissions by 6% with respect to 1990 levels by 2012 and reaffirmed that it disagrees with the position of the Government of Canada.

If the government is really serious about wanting to respect Quebec as a nation, why does it not adopt the territorial approach and transfer funding to Quebec City, which wants to make the Kyoto protocol a success, not a failure?

The Environment December 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Canada is increasingly isolated at the Bali conference. The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has called the Conservatives a government of skeptics, whereas Mr. de Boer has said it would be hypocritical to set no binding targets. The environment ministers of Quebec and Ontario are demanding that the Prime Minister show leadership.

Are we to conclude from the government's attitude in Bali that Canada has decided to give priority to the economy at the expense of the environment?

The Environment December 7th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, instead of going back on past commitments and rethinking the very principles, structure and objectives of the Kyoto protocol, should the government not be recognizing that it is only normal for industrialized countries to make a greater effort because it is easier for an American to replace his Hummer with a smaller vehicle than it is for an Indian to stop cooking his food in his traditional way?

The Environment December 7th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, this government's doublespeak has reached new heights when it comes to the environment. While it claims to want to fight climate change, we learn that it wants to call into question the very foundation of the Kyoto protocol.

Will the government confirm that its real intentions are not just to sabotage the Bali conference, but also to call into question the very foundation of the Kyoto protocol?