House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Bloc MP for Berthier—Montcalm (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 57% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, for the information of the House and also because my fellow Bloc member mentioned a case in Quebec where a taxi driver was killed by a young offender, I just want to say that the act was correctly applied to this person by the courts in Quebec, in that there was a request for transfer to adult court, and in fact, this young person was transferred to adult court. He will be treated as an adult and will be sentenced as an adult, if he is found guilty. So in the present legislation, we have all the instruments we need to do this. The problem is one of enforcement, and I think the Bloc Quebecois tends to emphasize this because the problem is really how the law is enforced.

And this week, I was very surprised to see the crime statistics. If we look at the figures, and all the newspapers reported the Statistics Canada survey which tells us that the crime rate has not increased since 1988, even in the case of young offenders, and I must say this is even more encouraging, and it seems the number of all types of crimes went down during the same period.

I have a question for the hon. member, if he would care to answer. I realize this bill did not come from the Bloc Quebecois, because it would never have made it to the House, but I would appreciate it if the hon. member would explain to the House why we have a bill that is so repressive-we have always had a problem with young offenders, and as long as murders are committed by young offenders, the problem will exist -when the statistics clearly show the problem is not as serious as one would have us believe in this House. There has been no shocking increase in the youth crime rate, so why introduce a bill at the

last minute with stricter sentencing for young people, a bill that will be even more repressive?

Why was it absolutely necessary to table a bill like this in the House? And why reverse the onus of proof so that it will be up to the defence to prove that young offenders should not be tried in adult court where they may get more severe sentences instead of being tried under the Young Offenders Act? Could the hon. member explain why we have this bill, although the statistics show that no further legislation is necessary and that legal circles in Quebec and Ontario are very clear about not tinkering with the Young Offenders Act because it is good legislation, and so perhaps the problem is one of enforcement?

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I listened closely to what the Secretary of State for Training and Youth said. I think that she understands the problem well, particularly in a riding like mine where there really is a problem with young native offenders. I think her analysis of the situation was excellent.

I would like the hon. secretary of state to tell us however, with regard to social rehabilitation and reintegration-because I am sure she has ascertained with the Minister of Justice that it does-if indeed this aspect is covered in the bill. I am quite sure she did check because the minister alluded, albeit half-heartedly, to rehabilitation or reintegration. I would like to know where in the bill this aspect is emphasized. Is it emphasized by imposing stiffer sentences? By reversing the burden of the proof? How exactly does the bill provide for the reintegration of young offenders into society?

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Rimouski-Témiscouata. I think she understands the problem of young offenders and she presented the issue quite well.

The member is also surely aware, from what the Minister of Justice has said, that he wants to address this issue in two steps: the first step being the amendments which he proposed last week and which are being undertaken, as you said so well, without first knowing the results of the 1992 amendments. The Act is therefore being reworked again before those results are even known. The second step will take the form of large-scale consultations on the entire young offenders issue, possibly resulting in a report to the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, along with proposed amendments to the Young Offenders Act. This is just one more snag for the Young Offenders Act, which was passed in 1984.

I have two questions for the member, Madam Speaker, which can be answered quickly. First of all, does the member find this to be a normal process in dealing with an issue as important as young offenders? Second, do this process and the amendments proposed by the minister-although she did touch on this point in her address-conform to Quebec's expectations concerning this issue, and in particular the expectations communicated very clearly to the federal justice minister by the National Assembly and the provincial minister of justice?

Restricted Weapons June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Canadian citizens are still allowed to own a very large number of military and paramilitary weapons and they can also own revolvers as long as they first obtain a free certificate. A majority of Quebecers and Canadians favour a complete ban on these weapons. I think that there should be a ban on the possession of military-and paramilitary-type weapons and of most semi-automatic weapons.

It is unacceptable that the Mini-Ruger 14 used in the Polytechnic massacre is still a legal weapon in Canada. This and other types of weapons cannot be tolerated in a free and democratic society.

We can no longer hide from the reality that weapons are a scourge in our society. And we can no longer ignore the smuggling of military armaments and weapons of all kinds that the Liberal government prefers not to see. The time to act is now.

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

I think the hon. member should simply read the bill, and he will realize that these are not minor amendments, and that on the contrary, the amendments this bill contains are very serious.

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I was rather surprised to hear the hon. member say these are minor amendments. I do not think we are looking at the same bill. If we look carefully at the highlights of the bill, according to the minister there will be an increase in sentencing from 5 to 10 years and from 3 to 7 years for certain types of offences. I would not call that minor, Mr. Speaker, when we say that a young person will spend four or five years more in prison for a crime.

I know he has committed a crime. I know he has to be sentenced, but this is not a minor change. Do I have any time left, Mr. Speaker?

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the hon. member that I know that, according to the bill, a young offender between the ages of 14 and 16 can be transferred. The transfer system remains, but I wanted to draw the attention of the hon. member to the fact that the system exists in the present act, for young offenders between 14 and 17. I wanted to point that out to the hon. member.

In her answer the parliamentary secretary says that the decision to propose automatic referral to adult court for offenders aged 16 and 17 had been taken after serious consultation. I would like to know which groups asked for those changes or in which provinces they were most vocal?

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have an easy question for the hon. member. In her speech, she talked about the transfer to adult court and she seemed to be in favour of the system proposed by the Minister of Justice in his amendments. Does the parliamentary secretary not realize that under the present system a young offender between the ages of 14 and 17 can be transferred to adult court? If the prosecution asks for the transfer to adult court of an accused between the ages of 14 and 17, the judge can order the transfer, in which case the regular system applies and the sentences are the ones set for adults.

If she is aware of that, why does she want to change a system which has been operating for 10 years? If it is because of a particular problem, I would like to know what it is and how we could solve it, apart from the proposed amendments.

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, answering this question is easy because it is not true that there has been an explosion in youth crime. The statistics even show a decrease except, as I said earlier in my speech, in the major centres like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver where there are gangs, where new arrivals try to enforce their own brand of justice, and so on.

It is not true that there has been a tremendous increase in youth crime and I think it is wrong to try to give that impression. According to the statistics I have which cover the period from 1972 to 1992, the number of crimes of all kinds is exactly the same, give or take four or five. It is wrong to talk about an increase. We will discuss it in detail in the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, but it is wrong to talk about an explosion, as we will demonstrate before the committee.

What I do not like in the referral or the minister's request is that we will adopt the Young Offenders Act. The committee considered that, of course, but it also planned a second phase to consider the amendments I want. We know that the minister consulted or at least said he consulted several stakeholders. Does the bill really meet these stakeholders' requests? I doubt it.

I will now take this opportunity to respond to the hon. member who asked me a question earlier that I just remembered. Yes, it is true that, under the referral system, the judges will decide whether or not young offenders will be transferred to adult court. Quebec has room to accommodate these people and I am convinced that the jurisprudence that will evolve in Quebec will be rather similar to that of Ontario but very different from that of Western Canada. Why? Because Quebec and Ontario have started to develop a whole system to accommodate these young people, including youth protection and rehabilitation centres-Quebec already has several such centres.

What will happen in Western Canada and the Northwest Territories? They do not have any rehabilitation centres where they can send their young offenders. So my main conclusion is that the jurisprudence will be much tougher in Western Canada and they will take the opportunity to transfer all these 16- and 17-year-olds to adult court. That is what I question and what I find very dangerous.

I hope I have answered the question this time.

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

As far as referral is concerned, Mr. Speaker, there are two points I have not raised yet, but that really worry me. When we talk about referral, we talk about the whole justice system. This is going to be very costly. I cannot wait to see how much this new referral process will cost to the justice system? Also, this bill will make the procedure more cumbersome.

I would like to give a straight answer to the hon. member, but I seem to have forgotten what was his question was. I think it had to do with judges, but I am not sure. Can he remind me of his question?