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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

Message of Peace November 8th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to an initiative undertaken by 15,000 young Quebecers in sending a message of peace to the Prime Minister and all members of parliament.

The pupils of Chelsea's Le Grand Boisé school, on behalf of the youth of Quebec, brought to parliament 15,000 paper doves on which they had drawn and written messages of peace.

The feelings of urgency and helplessness that overtook humanity after the events of September 11 have left people searching for what to do.

Teachers have had to deal with all the questions and fears of our young people. These attacks led to a number of discussions and activities around peace, solidarity, democracy and human rights.

Congratulations to these young people, as well as to the Centrale des syndicats du Québec and Amnesty International, for launching this appeal in favour of a peaceful settlement of this current world conflict and of respect for the humans rights of all.

World Teachers' Day October 4th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, October 5 is World Teachers' Day. All levels of government should focus attention on the essential work done by educators in modeling and building the future.

Teachers are at the centre of the present and future of our society; they are, in fact, at the crossroads between the two.

Teachers are, however, expected to transmit values that sometimes appear to have been rejected by society as a whole: effort, discipline, respect of authority.

In a context of increasingly cosmopolitan communities and the reality of cultural globalization, teachers must shape responsible and competent citizens.

The emphasis of this international event is on teacher training, and this year's theme is “Qualified Teachers for Quality Education”.

Teaching requires a total commitment. Can our societies and our governments make that same commitment to teachers?

Attack on the United States September 17th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the condemnation of terrorism was on a par with that expressed today by our Prime Minister; I need not come back to that. It was very clear. Condemnation has been universal. I share in it, as does our government.

As concerns the rest of the question, the opposition member should understand that terrorists may organize in certain parts of the world with the support of people who have no idea they are living in a breeding ground for terrorists. The member opposite should understand a simple concept: there is a lot of suffering in areas in the world, which are familiar with terrorism from having endured it at the hands of their neighbours or major powers. The member opposite may not know what terrorism is, but they do.

Terrorist organizations take root in these areas and from there strike the United States. If it were possible to resolve some of the international situations that continue to kill thousands of innocents, we would snuff out a number of terrorist organizations. This is what the member opposite should understand.

Attack on the United States September 17th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is in fact an action our government has taken that is already underway and that, I hope, will continue to expand.

Our government, our Prime Minister and a number of ministers are involved in ongoing discussions with their counterparts in international organizations they belong to. We realized, from hearing the viewpoint of a number of heads of European countries, that there is a general feeling totally along the lines of what the Canadian Prime Minister said today, namely that we must act wisely and patiently, that it will take time and that a variety of complementary components will be involved.

Military action is not excluded a priori, but what is the real solution to this type of situation where we do not really know where the enemy is? Who is the enemy, where is it hiding out, how is it organized? We have no idea, unlike in the case of Pearl Harbor, which has often been cited and in which we knew very well who was the cause. Today, we have no idea.

So, the international action currently in progress to which the government is contributing could result in a review of all international relations and institutions in which we all participate, in an effort to come up with a set of measures, which affect not only security and information but also certain economic provisions and certain programs for co-operation in such a way that they provide the solution to conflicts that are currently smouldering away internationally and that therefore are a breeding ground for acts of terrorism.

I think this action sought by my colleague in opposition will take on even greater proportions now.

Attack on the United States September 17th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I will share the time allotted me with one of my colleagues.

I would like to add my voice to those of the Prime Minister and my colleagues in expressing my condolences to the American people, the family and friends of the victims of the horrible terrorist attack that took the lives of an overwhelming number of innocent Americans, as well as Canadians and persons from other countries.

Let us make no mistake. Whether it involves a handful of people swept away by some ideology or other, a group of unbalanced individuals or a large or small country, all acts of terrorism are to be condemned. The acts perpetrated in the United States on September 11 rightly elicited universal reprobation. Terrorism is a violent rending of the fabric of humanity and a direct affront to all attempts, to dialogue and to the construction of harmonious and strong international relations.

Canada's position has been clear in this regard, as was the speed with which we offered our friends and neighbours all the help they might need at this difficult time. Our solidarity found particular expression on the day of national mourning, last Friday, an initiative that expressed the depth of feeling of the government and the people of Canada for the victims of the attacks and their families.

On the other hand, voices are being raised just about everywhere calling for revenge for this attack, far worse than the attack on Pearl Harbor, for those responsible for it, and their accomplices, to be punished without mercy, taken back into the stone age in fact.

We know that the U.S. government wants to use NATO to mobilize the international community against what it terms an act of war against the United States but also against democracy and the rights and freedoms of all civilized countries.

There is one major question remaining, however: identification and location of the guilty parties. Was a network of individuals involved? Did these individuals receive the support of a state or states, or did they not?

Much reference is, of course, made to the billionaire bin Laden and his network, or to the Taliban of Afghanistan. In both cases, these are people well known to the U.S. and to the CIA because they have supported them, armed them in fact, to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. According to specialists in the Arab and Muslim world, these are monsters of the Americans' own making.

I am certainly in favour of the U.S. finding a way to break with their former allies, if they are found responsible for the events of September 11. However how can this be done without the murder of other innocents, this time far away from U.S. cameras, but people who are just as real and just as important as those whose met their deaths on September 11.

I personally am far more in favour of the motion before this House, which states that the House:

--reaffirm its commitment to the humane values of free and democratic society and its determination to bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack on these values--

I believe that the true solutions to these problems of terrorism and international security must be sought through the building of peace rather than the constantly increasing, and often blind, use of brute force.

These solutions lie in the strengthening of international and multilateral institutions that can promote health, education, human rights, democracy, the environment and international co-operation.

They also lie in the respect of international law and the search for sustainable political solutions, which will stabilize the international context. Specifically, in the event of regional conditions that have become intolerable, I believe the international community would be more secure and more stable if it were to force a sustainable and equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring the Palestinians of their full political rights over their own territory including a fair settlement of Jerusalem and refugees' right of return, and thus of the security of Israel.

We, the international community, would do well to ensure that Iraq be reintegrated into the normal circuit of international relations and institutions, rather than continuing to pursue a policy of exclusion and aggression towards this county, a policy that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent and young people without weakening the regime that is being targeted.

Everyone in the House and in all democratic parliaments, I expect, agrees that we need to work together to eradicate terrorism and stop those who would perpetrate acts of terrorism, but I would add that it is even more important to address the causes and circumstances that often trigger such acts.

With regards to this, I think that we must approach the problem in a rational manner even though emotions run high, to try to find long-term sustainable political solutions despite the fact that using force may prove tempting.

What we need to do is organize a response that is vigorous yet democratic, based not on a simple polarization between good and bad, based not on so-called wars between civilizations, but instead on solutions that would affect the economy, safety, international relations and institutions, based on measures that are more inclusive of populations, zones and states that are currently marginalized in this era of frenzied globalization.

In conclusion, I would like to express two wishes. First, that our government, as an ally of the United States, uses all its influence in order to persuade our giant neighbour to join forces with the international community in order to do something about the situations at the root of terrorism, rather than limit its action to reprisals which will result in other innocent victims and do nothing to improve security. Canadian support must not be a carte blanche for military adventurism without a lasting positive outcome. Instead, it should encourage action characterized by wisdom and patience, as the Prime Minister suggested today.

My second wish is that we fight against and prevent any intolerance and aggressive behaviour directed at any cultural or religious community living in Canada, especially the Arab Muslim community. Pointing a finger of blame at any component of Canadian society for the acts of terrorism committed in New York on September 11 would be tantamount to engaging in our own form of terrorism within Canada. Any such action must be denounced and repressed in the name of those same values which we are defending internationally as well as at home.

Over the past 50 years, Canada has won international respect for its participation in dozens of peacekeeping missions. If we have a few hundreds of millions of dollars to devote to an international effort following the events of September 11, I would like to see us continue to invest in peacebuilding.

The UN has declared 2001 the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. What has just happened in New York City and what might happen any time from now shows the extent to which our greatest problems may well arise not from too much such dialogue internationally but from profound shortcomings within our international, political and financial institutions, which are now preventing the establishment of a new international order based on transparency and equity.

Eradicating terrorism is about more than wiping out a network of terrorists. It is about creating new conditions so that wealth is no longer concentrated in the hands of a few and so that the living conditions of the majority improve over the next few decades. It is our duty as Canadians to base our solidarity with the Americans on such a vision, which I believe corresponds to the deepest Canadian values vis-à-vis fairness and international co-operation.

It is our duty as Canadians to demonstrate our solidarity internationally according to our Canadian values.

Main Estimates, 2001-02 June 12th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I thank our colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska for sharing his comments with us. I was going to thank him for his suggestions as well, but I did not find any of those in his speech.

There are criticisms of the health system, as he says. He tells us that there are still problems and I think the Minister of Health has said the same himself, that not everything has been said or done in that area.

I thank my colleague because he has provided our viewing audience with an opportunity to make a comparison between the health minister's words and what our government has accomplished, as summarized in a sober yet eloquent manner by the minister, and the inconsistencies of the opposition critic's words.

He tells us we lack vision, yet at the same time he faults us for striking a royal commission to address the problems and come up with a long term vision of the ongoing problems.

This is totally inconsistent. We have indeed taken steps to meet this challenge of providing a long term vision for Canada's health care system. The opposition critic has carefully omitted any reference to research, an area of great success. Our government's investments in health research will make it possible for there to be a thorough renewal of our country's health services and health care in the years to come. That is vision.

I would like to hear the opposition critic fault us, if he is able, for our investments in research and in health in Canada.

Seniors Month June 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleagues and all Canadians that in most provinces June is Seniors Month.

It is a time to celebrate the contribution that seniors bring to our communities and to reflect on the impact that Canada's aging population will have on our society.

Seniors play an irreplaceable role in our lives. They provide caregiving and support. They act as advisers. They offer a sense of continuity and transmit knowledge and values between generations.

During this International Year of the Volunteer, we have one more opportunity to salute our seniors. Large numbers of them give of their time and energies to benefit their communities. In fact, this is the age group that gives the most volunteer hours.

For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I would encourage you and our colleagues to take part in the celebrations of this special year and of Seniors Month in particular.

National Agriculture Industry Relief Coordination Act June 5th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, for some time now, a Health Canada directive has provided for a tolerance of no more than 0.5 ppm of mercury in fish.

Some species are not covered by the directive: swordfish, shark and both fresh and frozen tuna. These are large predatory species that tend to accumulate mercury and therefore have higher levels of it.

Rather than preventing perfectly wholesome and nutritious foods from being available in the marketplace, a strategy to protect health in the case of exempted species was warranted. Contrary to recent media reports, Health Canada did not instruct CFIA to exempt these fish from testing or other surveillance activities. In fact fish are subjected to regular inspection by CFIA. The agency enforces the guideline and monitors levels of mercury in these fish.

In 1998 Health Canada issued an advisory recommending consumption of no more than one meal per month in the case of women of child bearing age and children, and one meal per week for the general Canadian population. This advisory was reissued last week.

I am sure everyone understands that, when it comes to health protection, the same strategy cannot be employed in all circumstances. While laws and directives are useful in the production and sale of foods, there are other situations where it is just as legitimate to use strategies based on the use of information or, as in this case, consumer advisories. In this instance, the advisory to limit consumption seems the best strategy.

Other jurisdictions have also exempted species. The European Union, for instance, has a 0.5 ppm limit for the mean total mercury content of fish and exempts many more species than does Canada.

I maintain that Canada can proudly take its place in the world as a nation that acts responsibly to protect groups sensitive to mercury in fish.

Canada is not at all imprudent in the case of mercury, and, in some instances, it is even more prudent than others in its recommendations. The directive in effect and the advisories issued should be seen as strategies that both help disseminate important health information.

Health June 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I understand the hon. member's impatience.

However, we are actually in the process of taking measures. The parliamentary committee produced a report. That is the past. The report's recommendations are being implemented. The council that was recommended by the standing committee of the House has been set up and the budgets are there. The situation will improve with the co-operation of the provinces and of the medical staff involved in this area.

Health June 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I wish to tell the hon. member that the practice that is reported in some newspapers today and to which he is referring is totally reprehensible. Health Canada absolutely condemns it.

The Canadian government has taken very concrete measures. We invested over $20 million to deal with the issue of organ and tissue transplants. Following the report, we set up a national council on organ donations and transplants. We implemented all the recommendations made in the report of the House committee and I think that the situation will improve.