House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was energy.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Timiskaming—Cochrane (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Late Private Gilles Desmarais September 29th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to inform the House of the death of Gilles Desmarais, a Canadian serviceman who was serving with the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Private Desmarais died on Friday, September 25, 1998, after being accidentally electrocuted in a Canadian camp.

Private Desmarais was 23 years old. He was born in Noëlville, in my riding, and had been serving in Bosnia since early July. He was scheduled to return to Canada at the end of January 1999.

He was a three year veteran of the regular Canadian Forces, having also previously served as a reservist with the Second Battalion of the Irish Regiment in Sudbury, Ontario.

I wish to extend to the family and friends of Private Desmarais my most sincere condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with them as they go through this difficult time.

I take this opportunity to salute all our Canadian Forces troops serving on peacekeeping missions. These fine women and men put their lives at risk on a daily basis for their country and for—

Reform Party June 1st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the polls in Quebec are clear when it comes to the presence and role of the Reform Party. Nobody wants anything to do with them.

The only people interested in this political party are the Bloc Quebecois. It is truly strange. The Bloc Quebecois is the party that criticizes the Reform Party for its anti-Quebec stand. Now the Reformers are looking at them as possible allies.

It is the separatists who will welcome this shift. I can hardly wait to hear the new Sovereignist-Reform party line. As a third way, it is pretty sad.

Hepatitis C April 28th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, tonight the House will be asked to vote on a Reform motion condemning the government's $1.1 billion compensation package to the victims of hepatitis C.

This agreement was signed by all 10 provinces and 2 territories and by governments of all political parties.

Today I challenge all four opposition parties to come clean with Canadians. If they wish to condemn the federal government they must also publicly condemn their provincial counterparts.

I challenge the leader of the Reform Party and the leader of the Conservative Party to publicly today condemn their friends Mike Harris and Ralph Klein. I challenge the leader of the New Democratic Party today to publicly condemn Roy Romanow and Glen Clark.

I challenge the leader of the Bloc Quebecois to publicly condemn right now his leader, Lucien Bouchard.

Banking Services April 23rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

More and more bank branches are closing down in rural areas, and the people living in those areas are being forced to travel long distances in order to have access to banking services.

Can the minister tell the House what steps can be taken to lessen the problems being faced by our fellow citizens who live in rural areas?

National Head Start Program April 20th, 1998

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak on Motion No. M-261, a motion which encourages the government to develop a comprehensive national head start program. I thank my colleague the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for introducing this motion. I congratulate him for his compassion and for the work he has done on this very important issue.

There is no doubt that youth crime is alarming. Social workers are getting calls from parents who claim their children are uncontrollably violent. It is even a problem among elementary school children and preschoolers. It is not rare to see 10-year old children behaving violently at school, nor is it rare to see that between siblings. There is indeed something inconceivably wrong with an 11-year old boy who rapes or a 14-year old who stabs a 7-year old to death.

The truth is that harsher punishment or counselling and proper parenting are simply not enough. What is the solution? The solution might be found in programs such as head start which would assist at risk children in their development. Head start programs aim to level the playing field before children enter the public school system. This is a constructive approach to deal with the problem.

Every year thousands of disadvantaged children enter school for the first time. Many have health problems and many lack self-confidence. If children are allowed to fall behind in the early years, then often their troubles are compounded in later years. Extensive research has shown that it is possible to enhance the ability of a disadvantaged child to cope with school and their total environment.

A real head start program addresses the emotional, social and psychological needs of children, as well as their health and nutritional requirements. All existing head start programs have been very favourably received by educators, child development specialists, community leaders and parents.

This program will have a significant impact on communities. To a certain extent, it will make it possible to find solutions to a variety of situations: single-parent families, teenage pregnancies, illiteracy, homelessness, alcohol and drug abuse, and ill-treatment of children.

A head start program helps children to do better in school and provides parents with the knowledge and services they need to manage their lives better. Parents must participate directly in their children's development, playing a great role in this regard.

The head start program is patterned on the national action program for children and on the agreement worked out by premiers for the purpose of accelerating the work planned under this program.

Naturally, funding for the head start program would come from the federal, provincial and municipal governments and would require the participation of community volunteers. It would recognize that the needs of children vary by community, province and region.

What is the priority? The priority must be our children. They learn how to learn at an early age. Have members ever been in an intensive care neonatal unit? Have they ever seen a baby addicted to drugs or affected by alcohol? Do they know how much that costs? It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then the child becomes a ward of the community, perhaps permanently damaged.

This is why we are having this debate today. We want to stress the importance of little children, young and formative pieces of clay. Children are and must be our priority.

We must create a special early childhood development program for disadvantaged children. It is an investment we will never regret.

In the first 18 months a child learns to think well or poorly of himself. In the first two years children either learn how to learn or do not learn how to learn. This is why we must provide them with tools for their development and guide them on the right path. It costs a lot more to send kids to prison than to send them to school.

I am passionate about early childhood education for disadvantaged, tiny children. Studies prove that if we love and nurture, show affection to these little pieces of clay they will be honour students. Furthermore, studies confirm that there can be more than $7 in savings for every $1 spent on such programs.

We must be on the cutting edge of this initiative. We have eliminated the deficit. It is now time to invest in our children, our greatest asset. We have to take responsibility because it is our duty.

Let us come out of this debate with a consensus. We must continually rework the head start idea for it to become the most cost effective program ever developed.

I see that the hour has come to an end. I will continue the next time the matter is before the House.

Forestry March 27th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

British Columbia's forest industry is in trouble. Logging levels and foreign exports are down. B.C. mills and workers are idle.

What is the federal government doing to address these issues facing this most important Canadian industry?

Supply March 17th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, yes, I will gladly comment on this.

If the Reform Party had conducted this issue with decorum, I would probably be standing here today in support of that motion. I agree with the idea per se, but the Reform Party took an issue that is dear to my heart and made a circus out of it. There is no way I will attach my name to this type of conduct.

Supply March 17th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am in the process of preparing a private member's bill with the legal department but it is not done yet. It will come in the future.

I want to emphasize that this private member's bill will need to have some kind of provision to prevent the Reform Party from throwing the flag on the floor. Their motion does not say much about their party because of what happened with the member for Medicine Hat. They have to put a provision in their motion that it will be stationary or glued to the desk because they cannot trust the conduct of their own members.

I would hope if and when a private member's bill is introduced it will have provisions to prevent that.

Supply March 17th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of my speech I said that I would be making the Bloc members angry. I think I have succeeded in doing so. I must have touched a nerve, because they reacted to the truths I said in my speech.

Yes, I confirm that I had a flag on my desk for a few days. I had it there with pride, and I wore it with pride. I hope to be able to do so again some day. But the way to accomplish that is not to add fuel to the fire, but to refer the ruling to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I am extremely disappointed that Reform, which claims to be prepared to co-operate and to desire change, is refusing to use the same process as for the singing of the national anthem in this House.

Supply March 17th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, while members of the Bloc Quebecois claim to respect the rules of decorum in this House, the hon. member has just called another member a hypocrite. I think this is unparliamentary. I would ask that he withdraw his remarks.