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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

Stock Market Speculation September 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, a number of countries are currently looking into the movement of capital and dubious stock market speculation orders made shortly before the September 11 strikes. Terrorists might have speculated knowing the events that would occur.

Could the solicitor general tell us whether such an investigation was undertaken in Canada as well and specifically at the Toronto stock exchange?

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001 September 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to know why we have spent one day on the amended motion. One really only has to see the content of Bill C-15, and one will immediately realize that something is not right.

Without going into the details about each of the elements, since they have already been discussed at length today, upon reading the omnibus bill, one will see that it creates a new offence to protect children against sexual exploitation, notably sexual exploitation through games or the use of the Internet.

The bill increases the maximum sentence in cases of criminal harassment. It makes home invasion an aggravating factor in sentencing. It creates an offence of disarming, or attempting to disarm, a peace officer. It increases the penalties for offences related to cruelty to animals. New definitions are provided on this subject.

The bill codifies and clarifies the application process for ministerial review in cases of alleged miscarriage of justice. The bill confers certain powers to the minister. It reforms criminal procedure and modernizes it with respect to aspects related to preliminary inquiry procedures, disclosure of evidence, and case management and preliminary inquiries.

The bill sets out regulations for electronic documents and remote appearances. It outlines a complete system for pleas, private prosecutions, alternate juror selection, restrictions on the use of agents and it amends the Firearms Act using certain criminal code provisions.

Once we have seen that, we are entitled to move to the next question: is it unreasonable for the opposition to call for the Liberals to break up this bill? Is it unreasonable?

This is not just a question that involves the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc Quebecois, the New Democratic Party, the Progressive Conservative Party or the Progressive Conservative Democratic Representative coalition. It is not a question that concerns a single political party. It is a matter of simple common sense. It is a matter of simple opposition common sense, some might say, because opposition members are the only ones who think this way.

What I have learned from the eloquent speech by the government House leader is that, when he was in opposition, he called for exactly the same thing from the Progressive Conservative government of the day, that is not to present omnibus bills like Bill C-15 we have before us at this time, so that the opposition, as well as the government MPs, might to do their jobs properly.

Today, is it unreasonable to ask the government to split this bill? Why would it not be made into three separate bills, because there really are three categories? Not three categories of offence, but three categories of functioning for the House to get its job done properly.

We have the category on which everyone agrees: child protection, increased sentences for sexual harassment, and a reform and modernization of the justice system to speed up trials. Everyone agrees on that. Why does the government not introduce a bill that includes these three? If that was what we had before us in the House today we would have passed it right away and it would be a fait accompli.

The second category, perhaps, is one on which the House is not unanimous, but we have heard talk of it, we have already discussed it, either in the House or private members bills, or on the Standing Committee on Justice, or in briefs from the Canadian Police Association or from lobbyists.

These issues are home invasions, which are an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. The bill also creates an offence of disarming, or attempting to disarm, a peace officer. Then there is the review process following a miscarriage of justice.

This is another category, not that we fully support everything that is included in that category, particularly as regards miscarriage of justice. I find it unacceptable that the Minister of Justice, in her great wisdom, can decide whether or not to compensate. This issue could have been dealt with quickly since we had already discussed it. This is the second category. Another bill would have been needed. We would have fully co-operated, since everyone knows the issues here. We know where we are headed. We are either for it or against it, but we know where we are headed and we know where we stand.

The last category is the one with a capital “P” for problematic, since it is the whole issue of firearms. Is there a more problematic issue right now than the registration of firearms? The Bloc Quebecois supported the principle of gun registration.

If we look at what is currently being done in the area of registration, I think we should be very careful with any amendment to this legislation, because it is not an easy thing to do. Let us be clear. Currently, there are over 100,000 firearms owners in Quebec who have problems with the Firearms Act, particularly as regards the procurement of ammunition.

We do not question the principle. We simply want to point out that this is a sensitive and complex issue. We do not want to mix this with the protection of children. Are we clear on this?

The other part deals with cruelty to animals. We support the principle that we must modernize the criminal code, which dates back a long, long time, as regards the issue of animal cruelty. We support the principle, but is it normal to include such a broad definition? Is it normal to tell a fisherman that he must make sure that his catches are indeed dead? He is being told that if he puts a fish in his boat when it is still alive, this amounts to cruelty to a vertebrate, since the fish is a vertebrate.

This is an important issue. We could easily have split Bill C-15 in three different parts to speed up its passage.

Why are we making such a request? Simply because we want the House to be able to make an informed decision when the time comes to vote on these important provisions of the criminal code.

First, the House must have all the information it needs to decide if it wants to pass this bill or not. This information will help members to do their job properly. When I say that, I mean that they must study the bill carefully and try not to forget anything.

Let us imagine for a moment that Bill C-15 is not split and that it goes to the justice committee as it is now. In the same day, the committee will hear hunters and fishers, psychologists who will talk about the protection of children, computer experts and police officers.

I know that Liberal members often play musical chairs in these committees. Three quarters of them do not follow the same committee regularly. What would they do in the clause by clause study other than say yes to everything, as the Minister of Justice would tell them to do? Is that the Liberal government's idea of enhancing the role of members of parliament? I do not think so.

I could go on for hours about this bill and explain how the government is going about it the wrong way. However since I have only a few minutes or a few seconds left, I would like to correct a statement made by the Liberal government. It said this morning that when it introduced this omnibus bill in June 2000, the opposition did not react.

I would invite the members opposite to examine Bill C-36 introduced in the 36th parliament and they will see that the whole issue of cruelty to animals was not included in that bill.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001 September 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, generally speaking, I agree with the hon. member's comments. However, there are parts of his speech that I find difficult to understand, particularly when he says that a 14 year old cannot give his free and educated consent and that the age should be raised to 18, because this same hon. member, or the party that he represents, wants to lower the age to 10 in the Young Offenders Act.

It seems to me that there is a contradiction regarding the age of young people. If they are not old enough to give their consent, then they are not old enough to be treated as adults either. At some point, I would appreciate it if the hon. member could clarify this issue.

But there is another party that contradicts itself a lot. I believe the hon. member pointed this out in his speech, but I also wish to point it out and then ask a question. I am referring to the government party.

The government is holding serious debates on the work of an MP, how to improve the parliamentary rules to help MPs better serve their constituents, to have rules here in the House in order to do their jobs better, in fact all manner of good things. One day this week it was discussed in fact, but concretely I feel the government needs to demonstrate its good faith to us.

With the motion presented by the opposition party, the government could demonstrate to this House and to all those watching us as well that, indeed, it does want to raise the value of what MPs do. What the opposition is asking for is just to have the proper tools to do our work better. This is a highly complex bill, one that touches on all manner of things, and puts on equal footing certain values that should not be confused. For instance, in particular, child protection and animal protection. Putting the two together makes no sense.

There are some things that could be put through rapidly in order to get them applied equally promptly. Other things in the bill deserve more study and analysis.

Finally, my question to the hon. member is a very simple one. If the government were in favour of the motion and decided to break the bill up into two or three bills, if it divided its bill, does it think that the members of this House, both in government and in opposition, could do a better job, could ensure that the resulting bill or bills would be more in line with our constituents' expectations?

My question then is this: if the government were to split the bill, would it be acting on its claim of wishing to reform the system and enhancing the work of MPs?

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001 September 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel just mentioned, we agree with a number of amendments which the minister is proposing in this bill. The majority of members agree with certain amendments, which means that we could pass this part of the bill very quickly.

Regarding the other part of the bill, the vast majority of members, including those on the government side, have certain concerns. That part deals, among other things, with cruelty to animals and with the Firearms Act.

It seems to me that what we are asking is fairly simple. We just want the bill to be divided into two separate bills so we can adopt as quickly as possible all provisions aimed at protecting children, at increasing penalties for specific offences and at giving better legislative tools to our police officers.

On the other hand, with regard to cruelty to animals, given the complexity of the issue, we must take the time to look at the bill very carefully. We are not against protecting animals and imposing harsher penalties. That is not the point. It is a very complex issue.

That is the subject of my question to the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. Given the definition of the term animal, which is defined in the bill as a vertebrate other than a human being, does the member think, as do several pharmaceutical companies and several Canadian universities and associations working in the medical field, that such a bill, if passed, would hinder the development of drugs? Had we had such legislation in the past, would we have been able to make such great discoveries as we have made so far with regard to drugs that most people know, drugs that have unfortunately been tested on animals but that are now saving human lives?

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001 September 20th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the remarks of the previous speaker. Indeed, the first part of it concerned the conduct of the Liberal government. We have to acknowledge that the Canadian Alliance member was right.

We do have a strange government. It says one thing and does another. It tells the people one thing but, in practice, does something else. We could give many examples of this.

I will give an example similar to the one the member gave, and it concerns organized crime. This is a very important matter. Everyone has debated it here in the House. We quickly passed the bill in June in order to implement it as quickly as possible. Bill C-24 is before the other House as is another very important bill, Bill C-7, the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The Liberal government says that public safety is important and that it wants to do its utmost to, in addition to having anti-gang legislation, amend the anti-gang legislation, which has not yet been passed in the Senate, and add amendments in order to fight terrorism. Well, we might have thought the government would instruct the other House to have Bill C-24 examined as quickly as possible in order to be put into effect. Well no, it did not.

The Liberal government instructed the Senate not to pass as quickly as possible the anti-gang legislation, the legislation to fight organized crime, not to make amendments to cover terrorism, as the Prime Minister has been saying since the start of the conflict; no, the government instructed the other House to pass Bill C-7. Declaring war against young offenders will certainly settle the affairs of the world. This is an example of the sort of speech the government makes here for public ears. But, the reality of the matter is something else again.

The Canadian Alliance member is right: we should be discussing something other than a bill as complicated and controversial as Bill C-15. If hon. members took a good look at this legislation, they would agree that it is inconsistent. We cannot deal with and put on the same footing—after all, we are amending the criminal code—the protection of children, the vulnerability of childhood, and the protection of animals. This does not make any sense.

We could pass very quickly all the provisions that have to do with the protection of children, such as Internet games and issues. We could also adopt very quickly provisions dealing with penalties as they relate to harassment. We could adopt them today if the government was willing to co-operate by simply splitting the bill.

There are controversial clauses, such as those on animal cruelty. I can understand the hon. member from western Canada whose constituents are very concerned with this bill, because back home in Quebec, we also have farmers, people who work with animals, hunters, fishers, research laboratories and universities that are concerned. Instead of discussing a bill that no one wants or that is largely controversial, we could have talked about the preparation of the strikes that the United States are about to make. We could have talked about how to help small and medium size businesses, companies, and how to improve our border services. We could have talked about the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, about public safety. But no, we are not talking about these issues.

Could the Canadian Alliance member tell us which parts of the bill we could quickly adopt because they are not being challenged by his party, and could he point out those that are more controversial and require a more indepth review? Could we split this bill in two?

We could adopt one part quickly and take more time to properly review the other part.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001 September 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to what the hon. member said, and indeed, he is right on a number of points.

I would simply like the hon. member to enlighten the House. I want to make sure that I understood the thrust of his speech. Everyone knows that there are a number of subjects covered in the omnibus bill, Bill C-15, before the House. There are a number of subjects amended in the criminal code.

Am I correct in understanding that he would like the government to follow up on the opposition's request to split Bill C-15 into several bills, including one that could deal with, as the hon. member stated so well, sexual exploitation and the whole issue of the use of the Internet in order to gain access to children. Another bill could deal with criminal harassment, and another with home invasion.

Am I correct in understanding that a number of these bills would not be contested by his party, in other words, that they would give their consent fairly quickly? Or perhaps he could even give it immediately and tell the government “Here are the subjects on which we agree and on which we would like to proceed quickly. Here are the other subjects that we consider problematic, and in which the House should invest more time, in order to examine some particular aspect of the bill, because it deserves a more in-depth study”.

My question is quite simple. I would like to hear from the hon. member from the New Democratic Party what exactly is not contested by his party and that he would like to have passed quickly, and what is problematic. Could he distinguish between the two so that it can be determined as specifically as possible which elements of the bill are problematic and which are not?

Privilege September 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I think you have before you some good arguments by the government House leader, including one from the time he himself was in opposition and could see that this approach was unacceptable.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that you could create a precedent in this regard. The member's arguments are very creditable. However, a look at the bill reveals that it contains some horrendous aberrations.

There is no way, even for the purposes of amending the criminal code, that cruelty to animals and cruelty to children can be considered on the same footing. Nor can sexual harassment and judicial errors. The standing committee on justice, which will consider this question and examine the bill, will have to hear experts on firearms, on children's rights, on cruelty to animals and the police on matters of home invasions. It is very complex.

I think the member is in good faith. I think everyone here is. The ultimate aim of this House is to ensure our laws are as good as they can be. For whom? For our constituents and for the people we represent. The easiest and most desirable way to do it in such a case would be to split the bill, because it contains aberrations. It is through the stubbornness of the Minister of Justice, to be fair, that this is not happening.

The Chair has the obligation, I think, in matters of the work of this House, to ensure matters are as clear as possible for the people we represent and for taxpayers, whom we represent also, and that legislation holds up, especially to enable the members of this House to have the tools they need to vote properly on such a bill. However, because of the way it was drafted by the Minister of Justice, this is not and will not be possible.

Criminal Code June 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, this is urgent.

Need I remind the minister that just about every week a child dies, men and women die, because of a repeat offender who could care less about the law?

For once, will the minister act like a minister and have her officials set to paper, in black and white, a bill that could be tabled this fall to fight these repeat offenders and enable the provinces that so desire to set up an ignition interlock device program for these alcoholics at the wheel? This is a serious question.

Criminal Code June 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, at the federal-provincial conference on the harmonization of legislation, Quebec's proposal to introduce ignition interlock systems for drivers who are repeat offenders received the support of 32 of the 33 provincial delegates.

Does the Minister of Justice intend to act on this proposal by introducing legislative amendments to the criminal code quickly to enable Quebec and all provinces to start up a program for an ignition interlock device for drunk drivers who could be repeat offenders?

Criminal Code June 11th, 2001

The hon. Liberal member across the way says that it takes a Bloc Quebecois member; even he has understood.

There is also another point on which I do not think we have gone far enough. We will vote in favour of Bill C-24, but I believe we could go a little further. We are going to monitor how it will be applied, we will watch how the police forces and the government are going to apply this law. In due course we will review the situation, since we consider it one of our priorities, both before it is passed and after as well. The matter of reversal of burden of proof is the aspect relating to the proceeds of crime that we believe needs to be taken further. It is still too easy to get around this.

There are many cases I could cite. For instance, when someone declares an income of $13,000 for the previous year and is driving around in a Jaguar, frequenting the most chic Montreal restaurants almost nightly, and lives in a $350,000 house, I think there is something fishy going on. The law needs to be strengthened in this area.

The government should also amend certain federal laws relating to taxation. As Canada has a police force specializing in organized crime, there should be special investigators to enter organized crime, investigate and build files. We do not have this at the moment, and millions of dollars are slipping through our fingers. We will study that closely and come back to it if the government drags its feet once again.

We will not wait for the Liberal members from Quebec. We know they never do anything. We will take the initiative and continue to defend the matter as we have done from the start.

There is also the question of financing. I know the member for Provencher, a member of the Canadian Alliance, mentioned this in his remarks earlier. He is right, especially since I put the question to the minister. I asked her, “Of the $200 million that you say you will make available for the implementation of C-24, how many millions of dollars will go to Quebec, because the provinces will apply it on a daily basis? The provinces will be going after organized crime. How many millions of dollars will be coming to Quebec?”

Do members know what the answer was? It is perfectly splendid “Zero”. The $200 million is for the federal government, for the machinery. for adjustments, for training, for application purposes, not for those working on location. And yet we know that a lot of money is needed there.

We know because we carried out operation Printemps 2001 in Quebec. We conducted the biggest operation against organized crime that Canada has seen. I no longer know how many gang leaders and members in good standing were arrested, and how many warrants were issued. I think there were about 40 in approximately 77 municipalities. So it was quite a large-scale operation.

Operation springtime 2001 alone cost the Quebec treasury around $15 million, and that does not include all the future court costs. If close to 50% of all those accused end up behind bars, several prisons would have to be adapted, because they could not all be incarcerated immediately.

In addition, we saw what it cost in terms of adapting court houses, conducting trials, and so on. The costs were enormous. The federal contribution needs to be rethought, because no funding has been planned for Quebec or the other provinces with respect to enforcement of this legislation.

This is very important. We know that enforcement is what will make the difference. Even if we have the best laws in all the world, if we are unable to enforce them, if we lack the staff or law enforcement officers, where will it leave us? In the wonderful Canadian system in which we live, it is the federal government which makes certain laws and the provinces which enforce them.

It seems to me that there is something wrong. The federal government is the lawmaker and it has money coming out of its ears, but it decides to make cuts and to look after its own interests. Fine. But we have to see about the implementation of the act as such, which is very important.

Right now, what the minister is telling us about funding is not reassuring. We will have to check and to monitor this very closely to ensure that Quebec, among others, gets the necessary funds. This will not be the first issue over which we fight. Indeed, the Bloc Quebecois has fought a number of battles to ensure that the federal government gives us the money that belongs to us, the money owed to the province under certain programs and following Ottawa's withdrawal from certain programs, including in the area of justice. We fought; we went and got money for Quebec, and we will continue to do so.

We will not wait for Liberal members from Quebec, because they never say anything in the House, they are too afraid to get any money. But not us Bloc Quebecois members. We will continue to protect Quebec's interests and to go and get the taxes that we paid.

I will conclude by saying that for us the most important issue that is still unresolved is that of making it a crime to merely be a member of a criminal gang. This is not in the bill, but I still believe in such a clause and the government is making a mistake by not taking the Bloc Quebecois up on its proposal.

We said so in 1997, when the Minister of Justice brought in amendments to the criminal code. We told her—or rather him, since the federal Minister of Justice was a man at that time—that it was a mistake. But he did not heed us. He had indeed made a mistake. Today we still feel that not making mere membership a crime is again an error on the government's part.

There is the whole matter of the Canadian constitution. Is it or is it not constitutional to make mere membership in a gang an offence? There is agreement on the definition of a gang as being a group of individuals who join together to commit crime and to live off the proceeds of crime. Such a definition naturally excludes such groups as the Knights of Columbus, the Daughters of Isabelle, the Optimist clubs, the Club Richelieu and so on. Does this respect the Canadian constitution or not? I believe that it does. I believe we have everything we need in the Canadian constitution to create legislation in this area that respects jurisdictions, that respects the Canadian constitution.

That was my opinion before, continues to be today, and likely will be tomorrow as well. For the worst case scenario, that it does not respect the Canadian constitution, we have the notwithstanding clause in section 33 and it can be used in such a case. It is not true that the constitution is there to protect gangs. It does not do so in Bill C-24.

We will be voting in favour of Bill C-24 because it offers additional tools. It may not be all we wanted in such a system, but in large part it reflects what we were calling for. We are going to vote in favour of this bill. But it will have to be monitored very closely and we will not hesitate in the least to revisit the matter. We will not hesitate to invoke the notwithstanding clause if need be. In any case, there are reference procedures. We could have checked the legality or illegality of a bill that used the definition of organized crime as we understand it.

The government opposite knows about that, since it has already used the reference procedure. The Liberals were a little short on guts politically. They did not go that far. We will follow this. We will check it and closely follow the laws daily application. We will no doubt be back if certain points are not well applied, and the criminals still get away with it.

We know that criminal groups are well informed in legal terms. They are sometimes said to be better equipped legally than the crown prosecutors. They are obviously going to examine this bill and find its weak spots, try to get around it.

We will follow the law's application. We will work, as we always have, with the police and the justice system and, once again, try to bring the issue of organized crime before this House. We will try to convince the minister to go further in the procedures we raised with Bill C-24.

Probably, one day or other, the government opposite will tell us we were right, as we were right in 1997 to complain about the bill it tabled. One day or other, I am sure, the government will say it will have to go further, because the bill does not provide what Canada and Quebec need to fight organized crime.

Once again, we will be there for the people of Quebec. We will rise, unlike the Liberal members from Quebec, who say nothing in this House. From this side of the House, we will defend the interests of Quebec, because we were elected to do that.