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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

Supply March 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech; she raised several points which, as I see it, relate to provisions that exist already. However, the law is enforced by men and women who use their own intellectual capabilities, limits and ways of tackling and understanding problems so that there is no consistency in the way it is done. As several of the member's suggestions are already in place, maybe we should do more education and ask judges to enforce legislation in a more consistent manner; I will come back to that when I have the floor later on.

The question I would like to ask the member concerns what could be done about the points she raised and particularly about the compensation she proposed be given to victims.

If we examine the case of persons sentenced to prison or what have you, in most instances these people live on welfare or have hidden whatever they own and have nothing to their name.

In such cases, should we restore prison sentences for civil debts? If so, would the member not agree that this would be like going the clock back two centuries? If not, who will compensate victims as she proposed before?

The Budget February 23rd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I have a short question for the hon. member. I listened carefully to his comments and I find them rather philosophical, dealing in generalities. However, now that we know exactly what is in the budget, we know that the government is attacking two things, to name only these: unemployment insurance and seniors. We know that the tax credit for people 65 or older will decrease progressively for net incomes over $25,921 and will disappear for incomes over $49,100. We also know that the government will cut transfers for unemployment insurance, education and welfare by some $466 million and by $1.5 billion 1996. I would like the hon. member to tell the House whether the Reform Party agrees with this kind of measure. Can seniors and people receiving UI benefits count on the Reform Party, which is

an opposition party, to raise its voice loud and clear against this injustice? Can these people count on the Reform Party for support?

Criminal Code February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for the opportunity to discuss this bill. Being a lawyer by trade, it is quite the experience to see the other side of the coin and it is also very enlightening.

Bill C-8 proposes to amend two acts, one of which is the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. My colleague from the Bloc discussed this aspect. I will comment on the amendments which concern the Criminal Code. Since I am the Official Opposition

critic on matters regarding the Solicitor General of Canada, I will only discuss clause 1 of Bill C-8.

At first glance, this clause seems to meet most of the stakeholders' expectations regarding the use of force by peace officers against fleeing suspects and prisoners trying to escape.

However, to appreciate the proposed amendments and assess the implications of delegating such power to officers, i.e. persons in authority, and also to be able to make constructive criticisms, it is useful to remember that section 25 is part of the general provisions of the Criminal Code, more specifically in the chapter dealing with the protection of people responsible for implementing and enforcing the law.

The general provisions of the Code are certainly the best known, and perhaps the most used, provisions of this act, and that is true even for policemen who do not necessarily often go to court.

Consequently, it is essential that these general provisions be very clear, understandable and defined.

Based on past experience, we can assume that police officers will use that new section. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, they will do so to protect themselves. However, experience also tells us that we must be very careful when it comes to granting increased power to persons in authority. These powers and their use must be defined in a very clear and specific way to avoid any gap between the objective of such delegation of power and its routine use by the persons in authority.

For at least ten years, the federal legislator has been pondering the issue, and that illustrates the importance of amendments such as the ones contained in Bill C-8.

In recent years, the review of this issue intensified and, in September 1991, the federal government proposed, at a meeting of ministers of justice, to amend subsection 25(4) of the Criminal Code, in order to better circumscribe the use of force by peace officers and prison guards.

The objective was therefore to better circumscribe the use of force by the police, while protecting the public and the police itself.

The Minister of Justice of the time, the very transient Kim Campbell, presented in August 1992 a discussion paper on the question of fleeing suspects.

The study was progressing when, in April 1993, the Douglas Lines case, already mentioned, brought to the fore this question of necessary force. I will give a short synopsis of the case, because I think it will help us understand what is involved in amending section 25.

In the Douglas Lines case, a young white police officer in Toronto was chasing a black 19-year-old suspected of having tried to snatch the purse of a woman some time before.

The police officer ordered the suspect to stop, which of course he did not do, so the police officer shot six bullets in the direction of the suspect who was hit twice. The police officer said that he believed that the suspect was armed.

In fact, upon searching the suspect, they only found a knife which was probably the weapon used in the attempted theft.

The police officer was charged with dangerous use of a firearm.

However, as was said before, he was acquitted by a Toronto judge, and the ratio decidendi tended to suggest that subsection 25(4) of the Criminal Code was unconstitutional.

I have already mentioned that amending subsection 25(4) has been under consideration for about 10 years.

The judge also said-and maybe that was to force the government into action-that he suspended for six months the application of the judgment to give the federal government time to review the clause in question. The ball was in the government court, so to speak, and something had to be done.

Let us study clause 1 of Bill C-8 to see how it amends the various subsections of section 25 of the Criminal Code.

Bill C-8 proposes changes which deserve an in-depth analysis, because of their implications for the various police forces and the area of law enforcement in general.

Let us take the section we are looking at. We can see that subsection 25(3) confirms the possibility for anyone to use force intended or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm if that person believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary for the purpose of preserving himself or herself or any one under his or her protection from death or grievous bodily harm.

Therefore, according to this subsection, the use of force is not unwarranted; it is clearly justifiable and well-defined legally.

Subsection 25(4) as rewritten in Bill C-8, and that is the point I want to comment, leaves me puzzled. I do not question the necessity of such a subsection-I think the Toronto judge did not leave the legislator any choice-but the wording of it. It allows a peace officer to use force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm in order to arrest a person taking flight provided he-the peace officer-respects certain conditions.

However, we must admit, and give credit where credit is due, that these conditions are spelled out clearly and in full detail in

paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) of the subsection; that certainly does credit to the legislator who wrote it.

Paragraph (a) reads: "the peace officer is proceeding lawfully to arrest with or without warrant". It creates no problem. Neither does paragraph (b) which reads: "the offence for which the person is to be arrested is one for which that person may be arrested without warrant". Paragraph (c) reads: "the person to be arrested takes flight to avoid arrest". That is the very purpose of the law. Paragraph (d) reads: "the peace officer or other person using the force believes on reasonable grounds that the force is necessary for the purpose of protecting the peace officer, the person lawfully assisting the peace officer or any other person from imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm". This is the one paragraph I would like to comment; I will come back to it later on. Finally, paragraph (e) reads: "the flight cannot be prevented by reasonable means in a less violent manner". That is self-evident.

We see that the legislator added the words "imminent or future" in paragraph (d) of this new section, contrary to the previous section which did not provide for any timeframe. It said that the provisions applied under given circumstances, but with no mention of the words "imminent or future", as in the proposed section.

By adding these, the legislator introduces a time difference between subsections (3) and (4) of the same section. Given the two interpretation tenets known by any lawyer, to the effect that first, any piece of legislation is to be interpreted as a whole, and second, everything in the law has a meaning, the words "imminent or future" could lead to a very loose interpretation on the part of peace officers. We should not create a new problem while attempting to solve one.

If the noble objective was to restrict the use of force on the part of peace officers and prison guards, such force should not be allowed to be used on a continuous basis, without any time limit.

I humbly submit that the words "imminent or future" can lead to abuses. Sometimes, in a piece of legislation, a single term, a word, an expression have a definite purpose, but in the present case the expression "imminent or future" makes an already complete text cumbersome.

The legislator did not see fit to add the words "imminent or future" to subsection 25(3) while it is doing so in paragraph 25(4)(d), under similar circumstances. Why? Is it that he wants to provide greater protection to peace officers than to citizens? Does he believe that one would be more prone than the other to abuse such a wider use of force? The answer is anybody's guess.

Unfortunately in both cases there are and always will be excessive people who will abuse a given provision.

Why then open the door to such a broad use of force over time? Good judgment and the appraisal of the situation at a given time, on the part of the peace officer, his or her assistant, or a citizen, must prevail, as stated in subsection 25(3).

Therefore, I will suggest to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, on which I sit, to remove the words "imminent or future" from the last part of paragraph 25 (4)(d) and thus prevent any possible ambiguity.

Moving on to section 25(5) of the Criminal Code, I think that in this case, the legislator was well advised to take into consideration the special situation faced by peace officers in a penitentiaries. I believe that circumstances warranted such a provision and I approve of it.

The fact of the matter is that in penitentiaries, it is practically impossible for the correctional personnel reacting to an attempted escape to tell whether the inmate in question will pose a threat to society if his attempt is successful. Not only is it unlikely in such a situation that the peace officer would know the inmate attempting to escape but chances are he would not know what enabled the inmate to make such an attempt at a given time on a given day. It was therefore important-and the legislator understood it well-to give this power to the peace officer in case of escape, and section 25(5) does just that.

However, we will have to make sure that the use of force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm would be authorized only as a last resort, when every other means that could be used under the circumstances to tell the inmate to stop his escape attempt, such as a warning shot, had failed.

Of course, these section of the Criminal Code will be supervised, that is to say that control will be exercised by superior court judges in Canada to determine whether or not the person, peace officer or citizen, used excessive force under section 25(4)-25(5) in the case of peace officers-and over time, through jurisprudence, through the decisions made by the judges, we will be able to determine if these provisions go far enough or not, or whatever.

First of all, I think we can say here in the House that, concerning Bill C-8, and clause 1 in particular, the government is on the right track. After ten years and many consultations, as the minister said this morning, subsections 25(4) and 25(5) meet the expectations of Canadians as well as those of peace officers.

Two words in the bill are important. They are "imminent or future". Why add these words if they are meaningless, if they are not intended to give more time, if they are not meant to give

officers permission to use force much later on? We could consider making some changes to these provisions later on in committee. We will make these observations then.

You have understood, Mr. Speaker, that as my colleague said a moment ago, we will support this bill, but we will move amendments before the appropriate committee.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his four questions or observations. I will start with the first one.

What the Official Opposition is asking for is a committee which would look at where taxpayers' money goes. Quebec pays billions of dollars every year, the pretext being that it is truly getting value for its money. We have heard that tune many times from the members opposite.

I gave one very specific example of an area where Quebec pays without getting value for its money. We could look at other cases as well. If the hon. member is truly sincere about what he wants to do, he should agree to our proposal and we will get the final word. We want to know who pays and how much, where the money goes and why.

Second, the ideal thing would be for each department to examine the Auditor General's report and make it bedtime reading. Then, every night, the horror stories uncovered by the Auditor General would be recalled and efforts would be made to correct them. Of course, this is just wishful thinking. Every year, the same thing happens. If we did not talk about the Auditor General's report, no one would. The government wants it to be swept under the rug.

Third, I do not think that Canada should be held up as an example for other countries to follow, considering that in just the one small area that I mentioned, namely the national police

force, the annual deficit is between $300 and $350 million. There is not a manager in the world who would be around long if he ran his business or his country in this manner.

Fourth, I do not think we should compare Canada to some of the other countries that we do. We have a clearly established democracy and clearly established social values, in Quebec as well as in Canada. We are a people, at least in so far as Quebec is concerned, who are looking not just for our fair share, but looking to become masters in our own home. Quebec has been repeating the same thing for years. Eventually, English Canada will get the message and the comparisons which you were making earlier will stop.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, every year, the report of the Auditor General of Canada is tabled in the House of Commons. The report is in the news for the first few weeks, but then interest wanes, so that for all practical purposes, the Auditor General's report sits gathering dust on the shelves in government departments.

However, I see many items in this report that could be followed up and would help the government improve its policies in a number of areas.

Instead of engaging in pre-budgetary window dressing, the Liberal government would do well to examine and memorize the annual horror stories in the Auditor General's reports and rectify these situations immediately.

As you know, in Quebec and Canada, whether the Liberals or the Conservatives are in power, we are facing a financial situation that is very bleak. I think we should realize this when we look at Canada's finances.

Especially in a federation or a confederation, and I think some time my hon. friends opposite, my Canadian friends, will have to explain the difference between these two terms, because some Liberals have been asking Bloc members about the difference between separation and sovereignty for Quebec. I think they ought to realize that what Quebec wants is sovereignty and decide what the terms federation and Confederation mean, because it is rather confusing. Canadians, and especially Quebecers, tend to confuse these terms.

In any case, I was saying that the government should act on the recommendations of the Auditor General if it really wants to put its financial house in order. However, that may be wishful thinking. There are aspects to this nice, shiny, federal system on the verge of bankruptcy which are faintly ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous, and I will explain why.

Goodies have to be handed out to support our precious and costly Canadian unity. I found one of these ridiculous aspects when I looked at the Auditor General's reports for the past few years. My example only concerns the portfolio for which I was appointed official critic, the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada.

In Canada, national generosity as an approach to RCMP expenditures is costing the federal Treasury millions of dollars. First of all, the hon. member should realize that through contractual arrangements, the RCMP provides police services in eight provinces, the two territories and 191 municipalities, except for Quebec and Ontario which do not benefit directly from all this largesse.

This means that in addition to its federal police function, the RCMP provides provincial policing for about 40 per cent of the Canadian population and municipal policing for about 20 per cent of the same population. For some Canadians, the RCMP is the only police they know. Theoretically there is nothing wrong with this, but it costs millions, and if this generous system, introduced by the Liberals and the Conservatives, contributes to the deficit, there is a problem.

Upon reading the Auditor General's report for 1992, we soon realize there is a problem with this system. The RCMP provides provincial and municipal policing at below cost as calculated by the Auditor General in his 1992 report.

Ever since the government entered into contract policing, it has been charging provinces and municipalities for RCMP services. However, as the Auditor General pointed out in his report: "The federal government has never attempted to recover the full cost of providing these services". We read this on page 532.

The federal government does not compute the real cost of these services but negotiates a cost base with the provinces. Actually, the provinces and municipalities pay only a percentage of the negotiated cost base. Usually, it is between 70 and 90 per cent of the real cost. The government uses the theoretical cost base negotiated by the parties to charge the provinces and the municipalities that benefit under the system.

The federal government is losing a lot of money with this approach. The contract signed in April 1992 is a 20-year agreement, and there is a faintly ridiculous aspect to this contract as well, because it can only be reviewed every five years and the adjustments require unanimous agreement by the parties.

The new cost base works out to about $800 million annually, while the real cost, according to the Auditor General, is between $900 million and $950 million. The real cost, which represents a difference of $100 million to $150 million was calculated by the Auditor General according to the guidelines outlined in the Treasury Board's guide to the costing of outputs.

Still according to the Auditor General, it appears that the federal government, in this case the Department of the Solicitor General, does not include some major cost items such as departmental administration at headquarters, EDP services, office rental and certain employee benefits paid by the federal government. The list is much longer on page 533 of the Auditor General's report, which I think the government would do well to read in preparation for its upcoming budget.

As I said before, for the duration of the 20 year contract, the agreement, which is reviewed every five years, cannot be adjusted without the mutual consent of the federal government and the provinces. Generally speaking, the provinces agree to pay only those new expenses they believe are appropriate.

The federal government receives only $600 million or so annually for the provision by the RCMP of provincial and municipal polices services which cost between $900 and $950 million per year. So, the balance sheet looks like this: real cost of services: $900 to $950 million; revenues: $600 million; the federal government's share: between $300 and $350 million. Quebec' share-and I think it is important for my hon. friends opposite to hear it-is 24 per cent of the total, or between $70 and $90 million. That is what Quebec pays for services which it does not get, or worse still, for a service that it already pays the provincial government and the municipalities to provide. This is one blatant example of how federalism is costly to Quebec.

The federal shortfall, as I mentioned earlier, totals $300 million annually. If we calculate on a twenty-year basis, because the agreement covers a span of twenty years, the shortfall amounts to roughly $6 billion. In other words, Quebec taxpayers subsidize provincial and municipal police services in the other provinces, excluding Ontario of course, as I said earlier, to the tune of between $70 and $90 million per year, or between $1.4 and $1.8 billion over the term of the agreement. More than 40 per cent of Canadians receive police services that are subsidized by Quebec and Ontario residents. Some provinces benefit more than others. For instance, a large portion of British Columbia has no police force other than the national force which provides service at both the municipal and provincial levels.

In conclusion, what the Official Opposition is calling for is a committee which would examine this area and determine if overlap exists and whether a province is paying for a service it is not receiving. I think the government, if it is truly realistic and honest about what it wants to do, should go along with the Official Opposition's proposal to review, item by item, the cost of national police services. And this is only one area, one under the responsibility of the Solicitor General of Canada. If we were to look at all departments, we would see how much money the provinces, and Quebec in particular, pay out for services they do not receive.

Federal Grants February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, what I wanted the Prime Minister to say is whether, in those days, a $4.5 million grant-

Federal Grants February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister of Canada. In 1982, when he was a senior minister in the Trudeau cabinet, the present Prime Minister authorized payment of a $4.5 million grant from the Laprade fund, which he managed, to his friend the former Liberal member for my riding, Mr. Antonio Yanakis, to build a sports centre which would have been used by taxpayers in the Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon area.

Could the Prime Minister tell us whether, before granting this money, he secured sufficient guarantees to ensure that public funds-

Cigarette Smuggling February 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask the Prime Minister a supplementary question.

Does the Prime Minister make the commitment that the federal government will end the activities of some 500 smugglers in the Akwesasne region, identified yesterday by his colleague from Sault Ste. Marie, the Minister of Indian Affairs?

Cigarette Smuggling February 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Prime Minister. As the RCMP itself admits, cigarette seizures by police forces last year amounted to only 1 per cent of all the contraband. It is a real sieve! Nevertheless, the government repeated again today in this House that it intends to enforce the law throughout Canadian territory.

Can we take the government seriously today when it promises to enforce the law throughout Canada, without exception, while smuggling is going on with the knowledge and in full view of the police authorities, who have not made any move to stop the smugglers?

Telecommunications February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, when he was in the opposition, the Liberal member for Scarborough-Rouge River, then chairman of the Committee on National Security, stated that the CSE was obviously overstepping its authority and might invade the privacy of Canadians with these devices.

My question is this: Does the minister agree with his colleague that the Communications Security Establishment is overstepping its authority and does he intend to investigate this matter?