Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was regional.

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

Pearson International Airport Agreements Act April 29th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues, I am pleased to speak in the debate on Bill C-22 and, following them, to shed some light on this bill. This bill absolutely must be clarified because, as you heard in everything they said, there are grey areas, some very dark grey areas, in this bill.

A major topic of the government's red book, the real political manifesto of the Liberal Party of Canada during the election campaign, is to question the disproportionate and decisive influence of behind-the-scenes lobbies on government policies.

The purpose is to restore the image of this same government so that the people again trust their political elite and democracy will experience an unprecedented renewal. The Liberal bible says: "We will develop a Code of Conduct for Public Officials to guide cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, senators, political staff, and public servants in their dealings with lobbyists".

Indeed, a key word in the Liberals' election campaign was openness. However, the reality is quite different. Instead, it shows this party's shameless opportunism and its thirst for power with a view to consolidating the political and financial establishment in Canada.

In the attempted privatization of Pearson airport in Toronto, there is a series of troubling facts that make one seriously question the openness of the Liberal government and of the previous government.

Bill C-22 is a unique opportunity for the Bloc Quebecois to shed light on all the lobbyists who are the real leaders in the old parties, a shadowy area in Canadian politics, Mr. Speaker.

When the federal government published its policy on airport management in Canada in the spring of 1987, it showed that it intended to turn airport management over to local authorities, such as provincial governments, municipalities or boards authorized by federal or provincial legislation. Transport Canada is to provide a safe and efficient airport system. This can be done through appropriate legislation and financial support, without Transport Canada owning an airport.

In the summer of that year, the Conservative government designated Claridge Properties Inc. to build and operate terminal 3 at Pearson. Since then, this consortium owned by Charles Bronfman has had a monopoly. In the first half of the 1990s, he, with the help of the Conservative Party, was in a position to become the sole manager of the airport's three terminals. Not more than a month after his triumph in English Canada last November, the Prime Minister, acting completely contrary to a spirit of openness, asked a former Ontario Liberal minister, Mr. Nixon, to conduct an inquiry behind closed doors, yes, in secret, on this incipient monopoly. As you know, doing something behind closed doors is just the opposite of ensuring transparency. Yet, this is the way these old parties work. Mr. Nixon writes in his report:

Terminal 3 will be privately based and operated for a further 57 years. To contemplate the privatization of the remaining two terminals of this public asset is, in my view, contrary to the public good.

In March 1992, the government blatantly contradicted its political statement by officially requesting proposals for the privatization of terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson airport. The deadline for proposals was 90 days. A 90-day period in this case was not normal, because this was no ordinary call for tenders, since it involved a very complex contract over 57 years. So, why have such a short bidding period, if not to favour those firms which had already expressed an interest, including Claridge Properties Inc. and Paxport, which had already submitted a privatization plan in 1989?

Let me give you some details on Paxport. The Don Matthews Group, which has a 40 per cent interest in this consortium, has links to the Progressive Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. Mr. Matthews was chairman of Brian Mulroney's leadership campaign and is a former chairman of the Conservative Party. When Paxport made its bid following the government offer to privatize terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson, its president was Ray Hession, a former deputy minister of Industry and senior civil servant with Supply and Services where contracts are awarded. In other words, all the key players were related to the previous Liberal governments. The president of Paxport Inc. himself hired the group of lobbyists which was to work on the privatization project for the benefit of the company. He then resigned from his position as president in 1992, once approval of Paxport's bid was confirmed by the government. And there you have it.

In February 1993, Paxport and Claridge Properties Inc. merged and became T1 T2 Limited Partnership. One of the reasons Paxport's bid had been accepted was that it would create healthy competition between the manager of terminals 1 and 2, Paxport, and the manager of terminal 3, Claridge. Consequently, the merging of the two companies had the effect of totally eliminating any such competition. Not to mention that Claridge

managed to acquire a 66 per cent interest in the consortium. So, this is a monopoly.

Claridge Properties Inc. has very close ties to the Liberal Party of Canada. Senator Léo Kolber, who sat on the board of directors of Claridge when the agreements were signed, is the same guy who held a benefit dinner at his home, in Westmount, for the Liberal Party, at $1,000 per guest, where the guest of honour was the current Prime Minister. Now you see why they tried to keep this benefit dinner secret.

Herb Metcalfe, former party organizer for the current Prime Minister, is a lobbyist at Capital Hill Group and represents Claridge Properties. Ramsay Withers, former deputy minister of Transport at the time the request for proposals concerning Terminal 3 at Pearson airport went out, is a Liberal lobbyist who has very close ties to the current Prime Minister.

Given these facts, we have to wonder about the nature of this government and about its ties to the Toronto financial establishment. What about the openness they promised us? What about the ethics? Be serious. What we have here is cover-up and patronage benefiting some private interests at the expense of Canadian taxpayers, and particularly middle-class citizens, which the government always picks on, and the underprivileged. Let us be blunt. The Liberal Party of Canada has always been in cahoots with the financial establishment.

On October 7, 1993, the legal agreement on the privatization of Terminals 1 and 2 was signed. However, Claridge Properties had taken control of T1 T2 Partnership Inc. a few months before, in May of 1993. So, the October agreement was between the government and Pearson Development Corporation.

What is Pearson Development? It is a joint venture partnership which manages operations at all three Pearson airport terminals. Claridge Properties, which is the contractor for terminal 3, holds a 66 per cent interest in Pearson Development and is also the majority shareholder in Paxport, which was awarded the contract in December 1992 for the privatization of Terminals 1 and 2. Once again, so much for transparency and ethics! The least we could say is that the Pearson deal is nothing more than the takeover of all three terminals by a financial power that has a friendly relationship with a so-called democratic government.

Clearly, whether the government is Liberal or Conservative, it is all the same. Today more than ever before, it is increasingly obvious that powerful financial interests, to achieve their ends, will put at the head of the Canadian government a friend who will stop at nothing to stay in power, a person who will have absolutely no regard for the most fundamental rule of transparency and ethics.

Due to the troubling circumstances under which the 1993 agreement was negotiated and executed-

Manpower Training April 29th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, so the minister is confirming that the negotiations are deteriorating and that we are in a deadlock.

Is the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs confirming, and will he have the courage to admit, that relations between Quebec and Ottawa have been deteriorating in several areas, particularly in education, youth programs, readjustment programs for fishermen, the review of Bill C-91, health financing and the high-speed train, to name just a few, and that, finally, Ottawa's intentions are aimed at centralization?

Manpower Training April 29th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The Prime Minister says that the Bloc Quebecois is stirring up a tempest in a teapot. Yet, he seems to refuse to listen to several comments and interventions made by Quebec ministers.

The Quebec minister of employment has been trying unsuccessfully for several months to convince the federal government to reach an agreement on the manpower training issue. Yesterday, he sent out a real alarm over the state of relations between Quebec and Ottawa. Speaking of malaise, the minister said that several of his Cabinet colleagues have been coming up against Ottawa's centralizing designs.

Are we to understand from that statement, and contrary to what the minister said in this House, that the negotiations between Quebec and Ottawa over manpower training are more than ever in a deadlock because of Ottawa's refusal to give anything to Quebec?

Provincial Election April 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister could barely hide how anxious he is to take an active part in the coming election campaign in Quebec. What is disappointing is that he refused to promise publicly to abide by the spirit of the Quebec legislation on election expenses. The Bloc Quebecois strongly deplores that the taxpayers are made to pay against their will, through their taxes, such breaches to democracy.

Also, in light of the Prime Minister's refusal, are we to understand that he intends to authorize massive, illegitimate expenses to be made in Quebec during the election campaign, as was done at the time of the 1980 referendum? We believe that the Prime Minister should take the advice of the Quebec Premier and mind his own business.

Conflict In Former Yugoslavia April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the minister that the situation is sensitive and cause for great concern. That is why my second question is for the minister.

Can the minister enlighten us on Canada's role in the present negotiations involving the UN, the United States and Russia, among others, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioned yesterday in a press conference?

Conflict In Former Yugoslavia April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, accompanied by the Minister of National Defence, minimized the seriousness of the situation in Bosnia by comparing it to "a last-minute glitch"; in addition, he expected a quick settlement for the 16 Canadian peacekeepers held hostage by the Serbian armed forces. We know that the situation has degenerated since then, because the Serbian forces have taken other UN troops and observers hostage, bringing the total number to 155.

Can the Minister of Defence report on the negotiations which were to begin this morning between UN representatives and the Serbian military forces for the release of the hostages?

Income Tax Act April 15th, 1994

Yes, Madam Speaker. First, I would like to set the record straight. I was in this House and I did not speak in this debate.

Second, I think you were aware, as you were given the names of the speakers in this debate, that we were going to rise. Reform members had also given notice that they would rise.

I do not intend to continue and stir up a dispute. What you must realize, regarding our mutual co-operation in this debate, is that we in the Bloc did not quite understand the meaning of your announcement. This is why we are asking you to exercise your authority and your good judgment. We misinterpreted your remarks.

So if in the future we in the Bloc must alter our relationship regarding this co-operation, you must tell us clearly that sometimes you cannot make use of your good judgment to allow the debate to go on. And I think the party in power should consider that what is important in this part of House proceedings is to allow members to speak to get through the whole process in a democratic fashion. That is basically why we make speeches. It is a matter of democracy.

And if the party in power wants to muzzle us this morning, knowing full well that we had members ready to speak, Madam Speaker, I call on your good judgment and ask you for a ruling.

Income Tax Act April 15th, 1994

I was here. I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Income Tax Act April 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I told you, and I want to make it clear, that my colleagues and I did not hear the request for debate. We simply heard a question, not that debate was being called.

Madam Speaker, I would ask you to please reconsider your decision.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 April 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, to provide an adequate answer, I must point out that regional county municipalities in Quebec-as my colleagues have explained in detail-are municipalities grouped together and whose economic, cultural and social activities are closely related and involve people commuting between home and the workplace. These regional county municipalities were asked to develop strategic plans and first review all the problems experienced in their region, in terms of employment and social, educational and cultural development.

Once the diagnosis was established, a strategic plan was developed for each regional county municipality. Let me use the example of the Eastern Townships, where there are seven regional county municipalities. Together, these municipalities examined and put together their strategic development plans, and then quickly selected major thrusts and common development projects, favouring a decentralization of the Quebec government to the regions, a transfer-the hon. member opposite should listen-of funds to the decision makers at the regional level and, consequently, a decision-making process with real spending power.

When we look at the proposed electoral reform, we realize that this structure is not understood and is simply ignored. The powers that be in Ottawa do not understand this structure and they draw electoral boundaries which systematically undermine an effort which has already been going on for some ten years in Quebec. These are the major structuring arguments which lead us to participate in this debate, and this may be the reason why some hon. members are not listening to what we are saying.

If hon. members are receptive, they will understand that what is taking place in Quebec is really a decentralization in favour of the real decision makers, those who are key players in the field. First, these people can identify problems and, second, they can provide original and effective solutions.