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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was research.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees Of The House December 11th, 1997

Madam Speaker, the festive spirit of the holiday season is upon us, even within and around this chamber. Nonetheless, we have an important issue to debate today. Let us try to do so calmly and seriously, as this is a very serious matter.

The purpose of this debate is to help prepare the next federal budget, which will define the rules of the game not only for the budget but also for the development of our country in the next year. Sometimes, policy choices made at budget time have long-lasting impact. So, this is a serious matter.

I do not sit on the Standing Committee on Finance. Many of those who spoke before me are members of this committee and, as such, have participated in the consultations held across the country.

However, anyone can read the committee's report, which is entitled Keeping the Balance: Security and Opportunity for Canadians . This is the report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

This is quite a substantial document, reflecting what was said at the many consultations sessions held across the country.

Like everyone here, while not all of us sit on the finance committee, I think that all have a say in determining what the main priorities should be for the coming year and next few years.

We have seen the vigorous action taken by the Liberal federal government in this last term as well as the action taken by the legislatures or parliaments of several provinces. I have witnessed some of the changes of direction the PQ government imposed on the people of Quebec these past few years.

As a result, today, we are at a point where balance has been restored or is about to be restored in federal public finances.

A few years ago, in 1992-93, we were saying that the public finances were in a crisis. Canada was regarded as a country on its way to becoming a third world country. The worst speculations were being made about the development of our country. At the time, Canada was trailing other industrialized countries as regards the state of its public finances. Now, four or five years later, it is said to be at head of the pack.

There was a major turnaround. We were on the verge of a disaster, but we have now set in place the conditions that will give our country a new impetus to tackle what lies ahead.

Thanks to the strategy implemented in recent years, the deficit dropped to its lowest level in 20 years, and it will continue to diminish. In fact, it will disappear. This strategy also brought interest rates to their lowest level in decades, while helping our economy pick up again and promoting job creation. These are all positive factors.

However, the debt, as a percentage of the gross domestic product, remains huge and, as pointed out by others, including the hon. member for Kamloops, who spoke just before me, some individuals, groups and organizations have shouldered the burden of this effort to put our fiscal house in order.

I listened to the hon. member for Kamloops, who has been here for close to 20 years. He spoke in a very eloquent and colourful way, and he gave many examples of the price paid by various segments of the population. We have to be very sensitive to the description he made of the situation, because what he said does not exist only in his riding, but everywhere in Canada. It exists in my riding of Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies and in many ridings with a large number of middle or low income earners.

The hon. member did not mention it, but many small businesses also suffered a major shock in recent years and had to find new ways to organize themselves or had to restructure. Many jobs became precarious because of all these changes. It is a fact. Some sectors paid the price and shouldered the burden of that turnaround.

It is not enough to be eloquent, as the members opposite have been about what has gone on in recent years. Of course, those who were present can always criticize what the Conservatives did from 1985 to 1989 and from 1989 to 1993; they are perfectly entitled to do so.

They are perfectly entitled to criticize the Liberals for what they did from 1993 to 1997. There is nothing wrong with that in a parliamentary debate. But, apart from criticizing past events and describing the impact of the changes of recent years, what matters now is what action we take in response to the present situation. What should we do and what do we suggest? What are the points on which we are going to agree for the years ahead?

I do not think that reducing the deficit is the ultimate goal and I was very interested to see that this was also mentioned in the standing committee's report. With respect to reducing the deficit, it said, and I quote “Balanced budgets, and restrained spending are not the government's ultimate goals. The same is true of the price stability objective of the Bank of Canada. They are merely intermediate objectives, which enable and support the achievement of our ultimate ends: fostering job creation, economic growth and opportunity for all, while maintaining the qualities that characterize Canadian society, particularly a concern about equity and fairness. This is the balance that characterizes the government's approach and reflects the values of Canadian society. The difficult choices made in recent years tried to keep this balance in mind. The choices to be made in the future must do so as well”.

I think that all members should take note. The purpose of this debate is to get the House to take note of what in this report seems of interest to Canadians. I think it is a step in the right direction.

The pre-budget consultations of the past few weeks have led to the production of this report. What Canadians want, and what the Standing Committee on Finance wants, is to have the next budget keep the balance that has been focused on in recent years, and must be attained.

I feel it is important to specify what type of balance we want. Balance in inertia is not what we want, in my opinion. What the finance committee means is that a balance has been attained so we can lead our country in the right direction. That is, moreover, what it says in the foreword to the report of the Standing Committee on Finance. It says that Canadians want a balance between the security offered by debt reduction and the benefits of investing in people, technology and research and development.

I could go on and on, but I am splitting my time with the hon. member for Niagara Falls. As the representative of the riding of Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, I am greatly interested in the main thrust of this report we have before us, which consists of asking the government to reinvest in human resources, in education, in training, in health, in our young people, in a youth employment strategy, and also in developing our businesses.

I will add, of course, that it is also important to revise certain measures in our tax system with a view to ensuring greater equity, with particular thought to the most disadvantaged and the sector of the population hardest hit in recent years. This report contains a collection of proposals. Others can be added drawing on suggestions made during this debate. Some others could be considered as well. That is the purpose of this consultation within a parliamentary debate. Some other proposals could be taken into consideration as well, such as those from the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, which is calling for certain tax mechanisms to be redirected for the benefit of sustainable development.

I believe we must continue in the months to come to take a very serious approach to an exchange of views on these very important matters.

Economic And Social Programs December 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, with the Canadian first ministers conference just hours away, the PQ government went all out by asking the federal government to freeze its spending in various economic and social programs.

The PQ's political goals are clear: to derail any plans for federal-provincial co-operation regarding the future of Canada.

The Parti Quebecois is carrying on its irresponsible referendum battle, inviting the Canadian government to abandon its responsibilities to the people of Canada, something our government is obviously not prepared to do.

We made a vital commitment to the people of Canada in the last election campaign to improve their quality of life. Giving in to threats by a sovereignist provincial government, whose sole purpose is to break up the country, is out of the question.

If the Parti Quebecois is serious about taking Quebec out of Canada and will not agree to full and frank discussion, it should call an election in Quebec and let the people know what their future will be after separation.

Committees Of The House December 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, would you include that as part of my parliamentary apprenticeship. I had no idea that it was not appropriate to show a government document in quoting it. I could not have guessed.

In her remarks, the member mentioned that her party had presented a dissenting opinion. She quoted a number of sections of the dissenting report.

However, she neglected to quote an important passage of the opinion, which provides that, for the Bloc, the only solution for Quebec is either to let itself be steamrollered by the federal government or to get out of Canada following a referendum on sovereignty.

If this is the definitive analysis of the Bloc Quebecois on this debate on public finances, the upcoming budget and the choices to be made, I would like to know how they can point to dissent based on the idea of having to separate from Canada while listening to the eminent spokespersons of the Quebec government, the minister of finance and even the Quebec premier say that the federal government cannot be allowed to destroy Canada's Constitution.

Which face is the real one? Which is the real intent? Do these people want to help rebuild Canada on a healthier basis or do they want to separate from Canada as they indicate in their dissenting report?

Committees Of The House December 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, do you mean that it is indecent to show a government document, that it is not permitted?

Committees Of The House December 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to our Bloc Quebecois colleague's speech. At one point in it she mentioned that her party had included a dissenting opinion in the report she was commenting on.

Workers Receiving Tips November 26th, 1997

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

The Government of Quebec recently announced measures to collect tax on the tips of restaurant and hotel workers. However, many people are concerned about how tips will be assessed for employment insurance purposes.

Could the minister tell us what the Government of Canada is prepared to do to make sure that the workers concerned can benefit to the maximum of the safety net provided by the employment insurance plan?

Division No. 28 November 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be considered as being present for the next divisions and I will be voting with my party.

The Environment November 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, starting this evening and until November 10, delegates from some 40 francophone countries will be gathering at a forum in Montreal on the subject of education and the environment.

This event of unprecedented scope, which was prepared long ago, is the logical next step to the hopes raised by the Brundtland report in 1982 and the Rio earth summit.

I would like to point out that our government has provided support for this event, which was organized primarily by the Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec and the Association québécoise pour la promotion de l'éducation relative à l'environnement.

On behalf of all Canadians with school age children, I am grateful for this remarkable initiative, which will make our children not only better citizens, but “envirocitizens” and citizens of the world better prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century. This initiative will serve as a solid base for a vast network of partners in matters relating to the environment and sustainable development.

Team Canada Inc. October 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, our government is delivering on its promises with respect to employment support.

In the red book, on page 34, we read that “a new Liberal government will create a Trade Promotion Agency that builds on the Team Canada approach to international business”.

To follow up on this commitment, the Minister of International Trade announced a few days ago a series of new measures to better co-ordinate trade promotion initiatives by Canadian businesses already on the export market or looking to be.

Under the umbrella of Team Canada Inc., all public and private stakeholders interested in exports will form an on-going network, we will have more trade commissioners abroad, and a special small business unit will be established within the department, not to mention the 24 hour a day telephone and computer information services that will be made available.

This is good news for businesses in Canada and in my riding of Anjou—Rivières-des-Prairies, whose growth depends on finding new export opportunities on the international market. This is good news because it will result in job creation.

World Teachers Day October 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, as we celebrate World Teachers Day, I would like to pay tribute to my fellow teachers who have dedicated their lives to educating our children.

A recent study by the International Bureau of Education confirmed that the quality of life and social status of 50 million teachers across the world had dropped drastically.

According to UNESCO, the teaching profession is the largest in the world. In Canada there are more than 400,000 teachers.

I would like to recognize in particular the work of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, represented in our gallery by its president, Jan Eastman, its secretary general, Mr. Schryburt, and his deputy, Mr. Weiner.

I would also like to salute the French speaking teachers of Quebec, who belong for the most part to the Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec, represented by Joanne Fortier and Carl Charbonneau, and the Fédération nationale des enseignants et enseignantes du Québec, formerly presided over by my neighbour on Montreal Island and current member for Mercier.