Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for Richmond—Wolfe (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-65.

I want to point out right off that the bill before us exemplifies this government's approach to all legislation. Having sat here for some time now, we in the official opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge about parliamentary life. We are more experienced. This is the result of three and a half years of parliamentary debate. And now we have a new ability: the ability to assess, based on facts, to what extent the legislation passed by the Liberal Government of Canada complies with the provisions of the Constitution and respects provincial jurisdiction.

Since it took office, this Liberal government tried repeatedly, through several bills tabled in this House, to meddle in areas of provincial responsibility, ignoring their respective jurisdictions as well as the terms of federal-provincial agreements. In addition, as I was able to see for myself while participating in several debates on

the reorganization of the Department of Industry, the Federal Office of Regional Development, the Federal Business Development Bank, now the Business Development Bank of Canada, this government took every opportunity, every time a bill was introduced, to give itself, the department or the minister responsible more powers, thereby gaining more and more control in recognized areas of provincial jurisdiction, without going through the federal-provincial consultation process.

You will understand that, with the legislative experience it has gained, the official opposition now knows how to get in the way of the government's efforts to take powers away from the provinces by disregarding provincial jurisdictions.

What does the government propose today? Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act. I want to make four general observations before dealing more specifically with the bill.

First, when we read the bill, we realize that, as usual, the provinces' jurisdiction and responsibilities are completely ignored and overlooked.

Later on, I will point out some major contradictions by referring to statements made in the red book, and also by the environment ministers, both the former one, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the current one. This government, which always claims to want to co-operate and to establish partnerships with the provinces, does just the opposite with its bills. This government tries to get its hands on power. It gives itself special powers, at the expense of the partners it claims to respect.

Second, this bill does not take into account the sharing of powers. The sharing of powers in areas that come under provincial jurisdiction has always been a burden for the federal government.

Even though the government tries, as it has always done, to convince Quebecers of its desire to create a partnership with them, it invariably comes up with bills that give increased power to its ministers, or that confirm such power.

The provisions of the bill make it clear that the minister is giving himself a very broad discretionary power. This from a government which always claims to seek partnerships with others. Yet, it gives itself, through its own mechanisms, its department and its minister, very broad discretionary powers. In fact, after the talks on the internal trade agreement, this government went so far as to add to the bill things that had not even been mentioned in the discussions with the provincial ministers.

But such is the way of this government. We all know that. Everyone knows the federal Liberal government, particularly in Quebec, given its pattern of the last 30 years, which consists in promising one thing but doing just the opposite once in office.

This bill provides that the minister will appoint COSEWIC members. Later, I will define the COSEWIC, this committee set up to protect endangered species. The minister alone will make these appointments. It gives himself the power to do so. This government shares everything but, in the end, it always includes a little clause saying that "as a minister, I will appoint those who will sit on the committee". In discussions between the ministers and the provinces, they always say "we are acting in good faith, we will make sure that everyone is represented, that there is representation from all parts of the country and everyone is included".

So what happens? They table a bill in which the minister has the authority to appoint people without consulting his partners. Is that partnership? Is that respect? They said in the course of discussions and negotiations that they would reach an agreement on committee membership. So the bill is tabled, and what does it say? It says the minister will appoint the members himself.

Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to please check if there is a quorum.

Young Canada Works April 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I think the parliamentary secretary was looking at the wrong page when he answered.

I would remind this government and the Prime Minister that freedom of expression and association is specifically mentioned in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is dangerous to see the Prime Minister and his government departing so easily from established rights.

I ask the Prime Minister whether we are to understand from the government's reply that it is confirming that a sovereignist from Quebec could not work for the federal government because of his or her political opinions?

Young Canada Works April 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, yesterday my colleague, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, pointed out how upset the Bloc Quebecois was at Heritage Canada's ideological and propagandist slant in its treatment of young people seeking employment under the Young Canada Works program.

The Deputy Prime Minister even had the nerve to reply to the official opposition that "when you work for Heritage Canada, it is obvious that you must also belong to Canada".

My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Given the attitude of the Deputy Prime Minister, would the Prime Minister tell the

House whether a Quebecer who has the required qualifications and who is a sovereignist may work for Heritage Canada, yes or no?

Broadcast Act April 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your co-operation, and I want to thank my colleagues for giving me a chance to explain why we should vote against this bill.

The purpose of Bill C-216 is to prohibit cable distributors from providing an optional service without the consent of the subscriber. It is intended to prevent negative option billing. This is a marketing technique that puts the onus on the consumer to indicate that he does not want the service.

For instance, when a consumer is offered specialty channels, he is offered them as a service by the cable company, which tells him that if a month from now he is no longer interested, he should give them a call and they will remove the service. So the onus is on the consumer to accept or refuse the offer, and if he does neither, the

cable distributor providing the service bills the consumer. This is called negative option billing.

The bill provides for two exceptions. First, if the new service is substituted for an existing service with no increase in the amount billed, and second, if no distinct separate charge is levied for that service. The Senate, when it considered this bill, proposed an amendment.

The purpose of this amendment is to give the CRTC the power it already had and did not wish to use, which is to allow negative option billing in the case of specialty channels. The CRTC already had that power, and an amendment was proposed to confirm that it had the power and should use it.

I may recall that this bill came on the heels of a revolt among consumers in English Canada. It started in the Vancouver area where there was an outcry in 1995 when a new package of services was introduced by Rogers Communications. In January 1995, six new English specialty channels came on the air, as authorized by the CRTC. Rogers Communications took advantage of this opportunity to change the packages it offered to consumers and, in the process, subscribers lost some of the channels they liked.

They were going to have to pay extra to have them again. The subscribers also had to tell the cable company they did not want to take the new channels. This is called negative option billing.

Consumers in the west were penalized by the fact that Rogers insisted on adding new channels, as a marketing strategy, and the channels consumers enjoyed were withdrawn. Consumers had to pay extra to get them. This obviously drew a loud outcry from western consumers and from consumers in the Toronto area.

What was happening in Quebec at the time? Vidéotron was not offering a tiered service. It simply added new specialty services to its basic service at no extra cost. COGECO and CF Cable reached an agreement with the office of consumer protection after demonstrating the importance of the billing. This is one way of achieving desired penetration, that is, selling the product to enough subscribers to make it cost effective. In Quebec, because the market is so small, 85 per cent penetration is necessary. In other words, 85 per cent of customers must subscribe to cable for it to be cost effective.

Why did the office give its approval and allow the billing, as long as flexible arrangements were in place for consumers who did not understand their obligation to cancel their subscription and avoid being penalized? Simply because, in Quebec, legislation prohibits negative option billing. The same legislation may be found in two other provinces. Billing is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. Product availability and client invoicing are provincial matters. This is why cable companies in Quebec agreed with the consumer association-they wanted to obey the law-and why COGECO did not ask its customers for a cent. This was not the case in the west.

I should add there were no optional services in Quebec at the time, and they did not arrive on the market until 1995.

So some of my colleagues and I are going to take this hour to explain in detail how this whole practice of negative option billing must be opposed and how there must also be respect for the fact that it comes under provincial jurisdiction.

Second, it must also be said that, if passed, the bill will have the effect of preventing any new French language specialty services from broadcasting in Quebec or in French Canada.

My colleagues will back this up and show how this bill has an impact on all francophone communities in Canada, and especially in Quebec.

Finally, they will also show how many organizations, how many specialists have demonstrated here in the House, before the committee and in the Senate that the scope of this bill is unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, as you are indicating to me that I have only two minutes left, I would like to move an amendment to this bill. I move, seconded by the member for Drummond:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:

A message be sent to the Senate to inform their Honours that this House rejects the amendment made by the Senate to Bill C-216, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (broadcasting policy), because, in the opinion of this House, it does not bring the Bill into conformity with the objectives of the Broadcasting Act with regard to French-language services.

That, Mr. Speaker, is the amendment I wished to move, and I will invite my colleagues to continue the debate by pointing out how many experts have opposed the bill, beginning obviously with Quebec's Minister of Cultural Affairs, Louise Beaudoin, who spoke out strongly against it, raising the important issues of distribution and dissemination of cable services for francophones, particularly in Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, if you will approve this amendment, I will move it. My colleagues will continue, in this debate, to show, argument by argument, that this bill should be rejected, because it poses a threat to all francophones in Canada, including Acadian francophones and francophones in Quebec.

Broadcast Act April 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House that this bill, standing in the name of the hon. member for Sarnia, was basically well intentioned.

As far as protecting the consumer is concerned, we have always said in this House that one of the objectives of this bill was to prevent negative option billing, in other words, the consumer should be able to decide whether he wants certain specialty channels provided by cable distributors.

However, although the hon. member brings up the issue of democracy, and I will do so as well, although he argues that we want to protect the interests of consumers and our fellow citizens in Quebec and in Canada, I remind him of what I said in my comments on March 27, 1996, and September 16, 1996, which included arguments that have gained in strength since the bill was considered by the Senate. Many organizations and experts told the Senate that this bill went beyond its original purpose and that in fact it would have a negative impact on the public.

I will outline the sequence of events. If I could speak to them directly, I would ask all members who wish to talk to do so outside so I can make myself clear-

Copyright Act March 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is with much pride that, as the official opposition critic for heritage and cultural industries, I stand to take part in this debate.

This is an occasion of great pride and a great step forward for the artists, the creators, those who nurture our imagination and our culture; it is a great step forward because, after third reading, this bill will be sent to the other place and will ultimately receive royal assent.

I listened with great pleasure the comments made by the Canadian heritage minister, because she pointed out that the tremendous work that has been done all along in the committee, which received so many reports and studies-over 170 briefs-and heard about 67 witnesses, work that was done with great care and determination to improve a bill that will serve the artists, the cultural industries and the users.

Very briefly, I think the colleagues in the heritage committee, both the government and the official opposition colleagues, quickly understood that we had the will and determination to work together to advance the best things possible for this bill.

In that regard, I must say that, as parliamentarians, we are of course members of Parliament elected to legislate; we are here to make laws. In the process of studying the copyright legislation, we all felt-and I think I speak for my colleagues-that we were playing our role as parliamentarians, that is making sure the bill put forward gets improved every step along the way in keeping with its ultimate goal, which in this case was to serve, as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage said, the interests of the artists, of the creators and of the cultural industries.

In that sense, I think we reached our objective. I urge all my colleagues in the House to support the bill on third reading because these objectives have been reached.

I would like to remind the House simply but clearly that this bill comes after an act that was passed in 1924 and was first amended in 1988. Now, in 1997, we have a third set of amendments, the so-called phase II.

Most artists and creators in visual or performing arts get an income from artistic activity that averages between $7,000 and $13,000 a year, depending on the type of activity. It is easy to understand that, for these people, it has been quite a long wait, from 1924 to 1988, before the society they live in and the Parliament of all elected representatives got around to listen to them.

This is a crucial stage, because in 1988, artists and creators were granted greater moral and economic rights. In 1988, an extremely pivotal development took place: collective societies were recognized. Authors and creators can now be represented by an organization that tries to better manage the royalties and levies authors, creators, and artists are entitled to, if they are to earn a living from their artistic activity.

Bill C-32 introduces majors elements, including the neighbouring rights concept. The heritage minister just mentioned it a

moment ago. On behalf of our performers and the recording industry, we must at last join the 50 countries or so that have recognized neighbouring rights and signed the Rome Convention. This last phase of Bill C-32 will allow our performers to have their rights recognized in more than 50 countries. This is a major step forward.

In this bill, there is another recognition, another important gain in the area of private copying. Everyone recognized during the hearings, and we spoke together about this, that a lot of illegal copying, a lot of bootlegging of songs and music is done without the creators and singers necessarily getting their fair share.

With the private copying system, royalties will be paid directly to the manufacturer who, in turn, will redistribute them among creators, authors, composers and singers who, up until now, were deprived of their share because of this universally recognized practice that is the copying of cassettes.

This bill also has an interesting feature that gives us hope: it will be reviewed in five years.

Everybody knows that this bill is not perfect. We worked on it, we improved it, but everybody admits that, in certain respects, it is already out of date. One reason for this is that it does not refer to modern technologies, to all those communication means which are being developed and on which artists still have no control in defending their rights.

I ask the government to see to it that phase III can get under way as soon as possible and to request that the heritage committee complete its work before the bill is reviewed in five years, so we are well informed when the time comes.

I wish to recall that the question of copyright has been on the official opposition's agenda since we arrived in this House. My colleague, the heritage minister, will recall that, at the beginning of this 35th Parliament, my colleague for Rimouski-Témiscouata, who spoke before me, asked her a question about this. She asked the minister to table a copyright bill as soon as possible. I must say that, in this regard, the official opposition's mandate has been fulfilled.

I also remind the House that, in the interests of the artists, the official opposition asked the government to give consideration as quickly as possible to the new technologies and the new circumstances on the global market.

In fact, between 1988 and 1990, some changes were made to the act as a result of NAFTA and other international agreements. Not long ago, the heritage committee was asked to review our cultural policy in relation to those international agreements.

The official opposition did its job and managed to convince the government to act in the best interests of artists, who had been waiting for these changes for a long time. They are still waiting for some changes reflecting the new international market conditions and the new technologies.

Today is an important day. I ask all my colleagues to vote for the bill at third reading.

In concluding, I would like to thank first, my colleagues on the heritage committee for their co-operation and their support. I also thank the staff and the advisers who followed the committee during its proceedings to help its members understand all the issues and do a good job in presenting to this House an improved bill meeting the ultimate objectives of the authors.

Finally, I want to express my appreciation for all the groups who submitted briefs or came before us to express their opinion and explain the issues as clearly as possible to help us do a good job.

I want to express my sincere thanks to all those people and I hope that the bill will be given royal assent before the elections are called.

Presence In Gallery March 19th, 1997

The Prime Minister's proposal is an excellent one, and one we support.

Copyright March 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I remind the Minister of Canadian Heritage that, if the bill is not passed before the election is called, her government will have to bear the responsibility of depriving creators and performers of their rights.

Will the minister ensure Bill C-32 gets to third reading before the Easter break?

Copyright March 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government is getting ready to break another of its election promises: to renew copyright legislation.

With the election deadline, the government is ensuring that Bill C-32 will die on the Order Paper by unduly delaying its legislative progress, and this will end up hurting authors, composers and performers.

My question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Since the minister has said that the difficulties between herself and her colleague in industry were resolved, could she explain why she is running the risk of aborting Bill C-32 by postponing its third reading?