Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Beauharnois—Salaberry (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Treaties Act June 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, to respond to my colleague and to give her a short lesson in international law and Canadian constitutional law, we know there are several federal states in the world, Swiss cantons or German Länders, which are not sovereign states and which can conclude international treaties, as provided by the constitution.

We interpret our constitution. It is Mr. Gérin-Lajoie, a liberal and a federalist, as my colleague from Laval Centre said earlier, who promoted the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine whereby Quebec could conclude treaties within its areas of jurisdiction. I remind the hon. member that all successive Quebec governments, whether of the Liberal Party or the Parti Quebecois, maintained that this Gérin-Lajoie doctrine should prevail and that Quebec could conclude international treaties within its areas of jurisdiction.

In closing this debate, I want to thank members of the House who took part in the debate on Bill C-214. I appreciate and count on the support of oppositions members who have fully realized that this bill is aimed at democratizing the process of conclusion of treaties, at circulating treaties concluded by Canada but not properly circulated.

Even today, people will not be able to find the text of a Canadian treaty on the Government of Canada site, which is totally inappropriate, since they will find on sites of other countries, such as the United States and France, treaties they have concluded.

The purpose of this bill is therefore to ensure that parliament participates when treaties are concluded by approving the most important treaties, and that there is an obligation on the government to disseminate its treaties by tabling them in the House, or by publishing them either on an electronic site, in the Canada Gazette , or in the Canada Treaty Series .

In my opinion, this is essential because this parliament is lagging somewhat behind other parliaments in the world, such as those of Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom. These parliaments have, in recent years, amended their procedure and allowed members to debate treaties, which, as the member for Lac-Saint-Jean pointed out, are taking on increasing importance.

I noted objections from the government side resulting from a desire not to acknowledge that the royal prerogative with respect to the conclusion of treaties should be shared between the federal and provincial governments in application and respect of the federal principle. They also thought that this bill would have the effect of unduly limiting the prerogatives and discretion of the government with respect to the conclusion of treaties. That is not the case.

References to a republican system such as that of the United States ignore the development of practices in Commonwealth countries, where parliament is finally being given a voice when it comes to concluding treaties.

I will conclude by expressing the hope that this bill will receive significant support when it is voted on, on Monday. I also hope that the government realizes that this debate cannot be postponed any longer.

This is a debate that must take place. Let us hope that government members and ministers take the initiative, as other governments have done, and modify the existing practice, which is outmoded and unworthy of a country which claims to be democratic but which does not which to give a voice to the people's elected representatives when it comes to important treaties.

Supply June 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I would remind my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie that it is not my practice to refer to my colleagues, including himself, in disrespectful terms.

We are in opposition to one another. We hold divergent opinions on the future of Quebec and Canada. I was pointing out that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the architect of plan B must indeed count on the Canada Information Office to implement his plan B.

It is one of the tools for plan B, which seeks to block the march of Quebecers toward sovereignty, but not with much success. In the weeks, the months and the years to come, we will see how this strategy used by the minister, the Prime Minister and all those who shared that vision, how that way of planning Canada's future, of imposing certain views about the future, will not produce the results anticipated by those who came up with that idea of a plan B, at the expense of plan A, which was based on reconciliation.

The slippery slope, and I say this with all due respect for the member for Brossard—La Prairie, is the one used by the Canada Information Office, the one which consists in buying off people with contracts, in making friends by awarding contracts, in wooing them, in getting them to promote Canadian unity by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes even millions of dollars. That is the slippery slope in democracy.

By contrast, we sovereignists in Quebec cannot be criticized, because we have legislation respecting the financing of political parties whereby individuals and, more recently in our case, businesses can only contribute a maximum of $5,000 to help and support parties that promote sovereignty.

Let me tell the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie and all the Liberal members that the slippery slope, the dangerous thing to do is to use public funds for promotion and, indeed, propaganda. We are not afraid to say it and we will continue to show how the awarding of contracts is closely related to how those who get these contracts contribute money to the Liberal Party to campaign and stay in office.

But this party will not remain in office for long with practices that show so little respect for the public. Canadians must be better represented here than they are by the Liberals, who want to help their friends and make this government one that helps its friends.

Supply June 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I will answer that quickly. If there are good reasons to dismantle the Department of Human Resources Development because of the abuses there, there are even more reasons to dismantle the Canada Information Office, with the abuses we are revealing and will continue to reveal in the near future.

It gives us an opportunity show that this government is using old methods, trying to reward the friends of the party, who contribute unlimited amounts to its coffers, with no thought for the public, which is paying these people, who then turn around and hand some of the money over to the Liberal Party.

Madam Speaker, I would like to add something else, which concerns you. One result of these tours organized by the Canada Information Office is that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs can come to my riding and speak to community groups. Two weeks ago, he came to my riding of Beauharnois to meet with members of community groups. He did not invite me. He did not have the courtesy to invite the member who knows these community groups very well, who works with them all the time.

When he visited Saint-Lambert, he invited the member for Saint-Lambert. He wanted her to be there when he spoke to community groups, at taxpayers' expense, at the expense of citizens, who were treated to a visit by the government. Through the work of the Canada Information Office, they saw the government investing in tours that gave ministers an opportunity to talk about the government's ideas for supporting community groups with a member such as you, but not with a member such as me.

There is something very partisan about what this government is doing and about the manner in which it wishes to inform the public about its services. It excludes Bloc Quebecois members when it comes to tours but includes Liberal Party members. There is something very unhealthy about the way this Liberal government delivers government services.

Supply June 8th, 2000

Blueberry pie.

Supply June 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the motion moved by the Bloc Quebecois, which is part of our job as an opposition party.

Our job is to make the government accountable for its actions and the way it carries out its responsibilities. Our job is also to make the government accountable for how its spends taxpayers' money and the fees for services it collects from its citizens. The government must serve the people who voted it in and elected members of parliament such as us, in the Bloc Quebecois, so that we in the House control and monitor government activity.

As such, we are going our duty today reasserting accusations against a government which in our view—and it is a view shared by a number of opposition members in this House—is mismanaging public funds.

It is using it for purely partisan ends to help friends of the regime, friends of a particular party, buddies who are getting rich thanks to said party which is looking out for them, giving them jobs and contracts, making things easy for them even though it does not need the services of these consultants. Civil servants who are paid to provide a public service cannot do their jobs because the work has been contracted out to friends of the regime.

We will never apologize for playing this role, for fulfilling our obligation to monitor, putting questions to the ministers and demanding answers from them, asking the citizens, when the time comes for them to elect new members of parliament, to punish the lack of answers, the government's failure to account for the way it spends taxpayers' money.

Beyond the numbers, the contracts and the identity of the people who benefited from these contracts, which were made public in the House, the propensity of the government to spend money on the so called “national unity” issue, on informing citizens about Canada, is part of a greater plan, plan B. This is what I want to talk about.

Quite obviously, the activities of the Canada Information Office, established in 1996, a few months after the October 30 1995 referendum, are part of a comprehensive plan aimed at countering sovereignty and the rise of the sovereignist feeling.

This plan is aimed at countering a project which, as I was saying earlier, is legitimate and supported by Quebec political parties that have members elected at the national assembly and at the House of Commons. These parties are suggesting eminently democratic means for Quebec to attain sovereignty and believe such attainment of sovereignty must be done with the enlightened consent of Quebecers in a democratic framework and according to democratic rules.

Plan B, which includes this Canada Information Office and its activities, is specifically directed at countering that march of Quebecers on sovereignty. That is what is disturbing and shocking for Quebecers in general, not only for those who support the sovereignist option but also for those who, even though they choose Canada as an option for the future, are seeing to what extent public funds are squandered on the promotion of Canadian unity, which does not need public funds to be promoted in such a way.

With a sensible plan A competing with the plan sovereignist Quebecers have for Quebec, the debate might be held in more interesting and stimulating conditions for those Quebecers who have still not made up their mind and want to know what is the best option for the future of Quebec and its citizens. No, it seems there is now a need to resort to a Canada Information Office and to excessive amounts spent on all kinds of ludicrous contracts.

I mentioned this morning as an example a contract to study the status of provincial legislation with regard to the constitution amending process.

This has already been done by academics and constitutional experts. It has certainly been done by the Department of Justice as well as officials from the Privy Council, but it had to be redone by the Canada Information Office. No doubt this was done as well by the Council of Canadian Unity, in which this government also invests major amounts to promote Canadian unity.

An element of this plan B is the activities of the Canada Information Office. But the government does not stop there when it comes to plan B. It spends millions of dollars to promote identity through the flag, which must be shown in all public events where the government has invested money. It even wanted to have it displayed in the works of every Quebec writer who receives a federal grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage. Writers and publishers in Quebec forcefully opposed this, until the government withdrew its idea of imposing the Canadian flag in all books published in Quebec.

When the government scares Quebecers with the issue of partition, with the idea that the Quebec territory should be divided in several parts, this is also part of a plan B that does not lead anywhere, since the support for sovereignty is stable and is even increasing these days.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, which was probably inspired by the architect of plan B, even offered a catechism to its diplomats to teach them how to answer sovereignists who are abroad to promote their democratic project all over the world. People abroad have the right to know that, in Quebec, there are some of us who support that option for Quebec's future.

Plan B culminated with Bill C-20 on the so-called clarity. This is a bill that we reviewed here, in totally unacceptable conditions, conditions that violated the most elementary democratic practices.

The senators are now questioning the bill, because they too feel that it is absolutely unnecessary for the promotion of Canadian unity. On the contrary, it could hinder those who want to promote that unity. Bill C-20 also poses major constitutional problems and puts into question, as argued by the senators, the equality of the two houses of parliament.

We did not need big brother. The Minister of Human Resources Development finally realized that she should not keep a database on Quebecers and other Canadians. We do not need the BIC/CIO brother either. We do not need an office that will hold information about journalists and will probably have information on people like the Bloc Quebecois members in this House who promote sovereignty. We do not need an office that does this kind of work. Canadians do not have to pay for that and nor do Quebecers.

Through its propaganda disguised as information, the Liberal government will not succeed in winning Quebecers over, identifying them to or having them identify to the Canada that the Liberals want and are building. This is not how they will succeed in promoting Canada. This is not how they will contribute to a truly democratic debate on the future of Canada and Quebec.

Supply June 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, above and beyond the questions of transparency and use of public funds, which we consider misuse, for studies by Compex consulting on provincial legislation relating to amendments to the constitution, I would like to know who these people are.

What the Canada Information Office is doing is, quite obviously, part of plan B. I would like the minister to tell me whether what the Canada Information Office is doing and the propaganda it is distributing is not merely part of plan B, part of the arsenal being used against Quebec sovereignty, against that eminently democratic project of ours.

It is a major insult to us when the member says that what we are planning is a threat to break up Canada and that it lacks legitimacy, since the Supreme Court of Canada itself has said that it was a legitimate project.

Enough then of this talk of threats by someone who is himself from Quebec and who knows that there are people in his riding, as there are elsewhere in Quebec, who believe sovereignty is a legitimate option that deserves to be presented and defended to Quebecers with all the democratic tools at our disposal.

Is not the Canada Information Office and everything it is doing quite simply one more component of plan B, which is aimed at blocking Quebecers' path to sovereignty?

Supply June 8th, 2000

It is annoying listening to this.

Supply June 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I do not know if the hon. member had the opportunity to say it, but since we often hear the Minister of Public Works and Government Services say that contracts are always awarded by way of the bidding process, can the hon. member for Chambly confirm that the CIO contracts have always been awarded, as we often hear in the House, by way of public tender?

Business Of The House June 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all the parties and I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill C-214, An Act to provide for the participation of the House of Commons when treaties are concluded, all questions necessary to dispose of the said motion shall be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Monday, June 12, 2000, at the end of Government Orders.

Petitions June 7th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, as the debates on Bill C-20 are continuing in the Senate, I have the honour to present, on behalf of Quebec citizens, a petition to tell the House that they alone control their destiny, that they alone can decide their future, and that Bill C-20 is undemocratic. It respects neither the letter nor the spirit of the supreme court opinion. I am tabling this motion on behalf on these citizens.