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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the hon. member is so receptive to the idea of openly discussing sovereignty in this House and that he is prepared to accept some of the arguments that have been raised here so that together we can consider what lies ahead for us.

Our course of action will be quite straightforward. Yes, the Parti Quebecois will win the next election in Quebec. A referendum process will be launched and will be won by the Parti Quebecois. The members of the Bloc Quebecois will be pleased to work in Quebec with considerable open-mindedness with a view to laying the groundwork for negotiations with English Canada. Yes, we will be participating in the process.

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

The members across the way are reacting to these words because they are not familiar with them. Do they know the words logic and decentralization? Decentralization is part of a logical process of regional self-management based on grass-roots democracy. Does that mean something to you?

Our approach favours the emergence of very decentralized and unbureaucratic organizations. Having read the Auditor General's report, we know the high cost of this bureaucratic monster, which is leading us straight to bankruptcy. In short, we oppose all authoritarian social and economic management policies of unified and centralizing administrations, like the Liberal government, which are ruining this country's finances, let us get that clear it once and for all.

By favouring the decentralization of decision-making, we will help the people in the ridings work for regional development instead of trying to develop an impossible Canada.

Adopting Bill C-18 on third reading is a good thing, but, in closing, I wish to say to hon. members that the next stage, consideration by the Senate, is not really essential for us. That institution costs us $43 million a year, but does not produce anything. Nevertheless, Bill C-18 is now at third reading, and we support it.

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-18 at third reading. I would like to remind you that during debate on second reading, I stressed the fundamentally democratic nature of the Bloc Quebecois and its

intention to respect the character and autonomy of the people it represents in every riding of Quebec.

I would like to draw the attention of the member from Calgary West, who is wondering about our intentions, trying to understand our approach, to the strongly held democratic beliefs of the Bloc members. I would add that one of our party's main objectives-particularly when it comes to Quebec independence-is, as I have already said, to follow the democratic process every step of the way.

We are taking part in this debate for much more significant reasons than party politics, since, as a number of my colleagues stated in this House, the decentralization process started a few years ago in Quebec is being accelerated and decision-making powers are being transferred back to the regions.

Today I want to say again that the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of Bill C-18, a bill to suspend the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act for a two-year period and abolish the 11 electoral boundaries commissions. Our goal in supporting this legislation which suspends the operation of the Act for two years is, as you will have understood, to respect the regional character of the population and, at the same time, to avoid hampering the process of decentralization towards these same regions that is now under way in Quebec.

Yesterday, I was pointing out in this House that the government in office, the Liberal government, does not usually understand the deep meaning of decentralization. In our fundamental reasons in favour of that readjustment, we are stressing that if, and I repeat if, Quebec is still in the Confederation when this step takes place, we would want to make sure at that time that all of this decentralization pursued by Quebec would be fully respected.

However, as I mentioned yesterday, the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-18 with some reservations. First of all, it seems essential that we denounce once again the arbitrariness and inconsistency of some boundaries established in the past. To that effect, we must emphasize the importance of administrative divisions in Quebec. I remind you that these administrative zones not only have a strategic importance for Quebec, but they are also based on fundamental geographic, economic, industrial and cultural considerations, and we must fully understand all the work done by the economic, cultural and geographic communities in Quebec.

As long as Quebec remains part of the Canadian Confederation, the federal commissions readjusting electoral boundaries will have to take into consideration regional county municipalities as well as administrative regions.

As I said in my first speech, and this is the reason for our second reservation about Bill C-18, we consider decision-making an essential element of regional policy for the year 2000. Yet decentralized economic and social development is absent from Canadian policy as seen by the highly centralizing Liberal government. Again, the Liberal government's centralizing thrust works against the process and the work being done in Quebec.

Let us not be afraid of words; let us not deny history; it is high time that Quebec broke free from this centralizing federalism which is extremely costly and leading us to bankruptcy.

Decentralization of the political and economic decision making process appears to us equally essential to the creation of jobs in RCMs, particularly in my area of Sherbrooke, in Val-Saint-François and in the Asbestos region. Therefore, in the spirit of the reform of the Minister of Regional Development of Quebec, Mr. Picotte, and following the consolidation of regional development councils, the Bloc Quebecois commits itself to entrust the regions with political and economic decision-making.

The Bloc Quebecois proposes that the Government of Quebec should not be the only one involved in the developing of a consistent economic policy. The general direction of development must be defined by the regions in the first place.

I personally support the approach proposed by the Bélanger-Campeau Commission, according to which regional authorities are synonymous with regional government. Regional development councils will enjoy the credibility that comes with being elected and have the authority to pass regulations and raise taxes.

The rest of the provinces have to be told that. This way, Quebec remains original and authentic in its approach to regional development.

Decentralization of a central government, this bureaucratic monster which is well known to civil servants, must come from political sovereignty.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that decentralization of government funds and political power is the only way to promote development in eight regional strategic areas defined by the regional council of Eastern Townships, which brings us to the redistribution of all constituencies in the Eastern Townships.

Last spring, in the five-year development plan for the Eastern Townships, local decision makers were able to identify three major development themes.

First, development strategies are defined according to problems caused by delays and all the catching up to do. By promoting resource development, manpower training, research, technological development and business networking, these local

decision-makers are influencing economic development throughout the country.

Hence, we truly believe that people should feel they belong to their region and that ridings should be defined according to common interests shared by municipalities. That basically explains our position on Bill C-18.

Second, in any forward looking approach, it is primarily at the local level that development policy can be defined based on natural and cultural assets of the RCMs and on environmental protection.

Third, we should always start from a decision at the local level, when defining a set of criteria for building on our strengths through investments to modernize our agriculture, forestry and mining sectors and make them more competitive. Therefore, it is primarily for structural reasons that we support this bill.

If my colleagues will bear with me, I will try to explain the reasons behind specific actions by Quebec. Human resources development, manpower training, the potential for natural and cultural development, research and development, environmental protection, natural resources industries and business networking are a priority for my team, and we believe that the RCMs of my riding of Richmond-Wolfe and other Quebec ridings, and the revised electoral boundaries, will be the basis for economic development.

My question is: Should we be always waiting for federal subsidies to boost research and development in the RCMs of Val-Saint-François and Sherbrooke? No. The Bloc Quebecois replies that the time has come to repatriate all powers and public funds which belong to us as a sovereign country and to share them with the regions which represent the real power.

In Richmond-Wolfe, the Bloc Quebecois wants to do more than change the structure and the riding boundaries. We want some logic.

People Of Quebec April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, recently, the Prime Minister of Canada said that one had to get out of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area to find out what the real world was like.

Similarly, his Minister of Foreign Affairs was glad to see members of the Bloc Quebecois come to Ottawa, because this would get them out of the backwoods and broaden their horizons.

Yesterday, their spiritual father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, made another of his nasty statements when he said, and I quote, "that Quebec students do not know their French and when they become intellectuals, they are intellectuals of the worst kind."

Mr. Speaker, these ghosts from the past should realize that Quebeckers are far too sensible to pay any attention to their contemptuous remarks and that whatever this herd of snorting dinosaurs may claim, Quebec is a modern and open society that looks to the future.

Quebeckers will soon make themselves heard, and out of these so-called backwoods will rise a great French nation in the Americas.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues, I too wish to speak on Bill C-18 and express my opinions, which are heavily slanted in favour of the riding of Richmond-Wolfe which I have the pleasure of representing in this House.

First of all, I would like to review some of the events leading up to this debate on Bill C-18. As you know, every time the census rolls around, Canada's chief statistician asks the Chief Electoral Officer to establish electoral boundaries commissions with a view to redrawing the electoral map to keep pace with demographic growth and to ensure more balanced representation in the House.

As a fundamentally democratic party, the Bloc Quebecois is fully aware of the importance of such a process. One of our party's fundamental objectives, in particular with an eye to Quebec independence, is the exercise of democracy in its broadest sense. Mindful of the inherent democratic rights of the citizens of Quebec and Canada, the Bloc Quebecois wishes to support any measure which will bring about a thorough review of legislation which dates back thirty years, namely the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

Therefore, in this regard, and with certain reservations, the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-18 which calls for the suspension of the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act for a period of two years and the abolition of the eleven existing electoral boundaries commissions.

The Reform Party has moved three amendments to Bill C-18. The first would shorten the suspension period from 24 months to 12 months, the second would delete the clause providing for the abolition of the commissions and the third would amend the clause which grants the government the authority to abolish the commissions. The Bloc Quebecois does not see the relevance of such amendments and will certainly not support them. The democratic objective pursued by our party leads our members to support an in-depth review of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-18 with certain reservations.

First, we believe it is essential to point out the arbitrariness and inconsistency of some boundaries established in the past and, to that effect, we must emphasize the importance of administrative divisions in Quebec.

As some of my colleagues have done, I will illustrate that point by referring to the division of regional development councils. These administrative zones not only have a strategic importance for Quebec: they are also based on fundamental geographic, economic, industrial, and cultural considerations. Consequently, as long as the province remains part of the Canadian Confederation, the federal commissions readjusting electoral boundaries will have to take into consideration regional county municipalities, as well as administrative regions.

We also feel that the decentralization of decision-making authority is an essential component of the regional policy of the year 2000, something which is definitely not a component of the current central government's policy. Indeed, we are well aware of how uncomfortable the federal government is when it comes to delegating powers to regions and to provinces in particular.

Our second reservation regarding Bill C-18 has to do with the total lack of consideration of regional autonomy in the provincial and federal policies of English Canada as a whole. Regarding this aspect, I would like to quote some reactions following the announcement of the proposals made by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

As soon as the proposals made by the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Quebec were announced, on February 9 of this year, they were criticized by a good number of people representing the political, social and economic sectors in the Eastern Townships. Let us take the example of a municipality which plays an extremely important role in the economy of the riding of Richmond-Wolfe. I am referring to the city of Valcourt, which benefits from the presence of Bombardier, a company playing an extremely strong and powerful role in the development and the economy of the area. The mayor of Valcourt, Mr. Denis Allaire, finds it hard to understand why, under the new boundaries, his municipality would become part of the riding of Drummond, and he intends to voice his opposition to such a change.

It must be understood that the electoral boundaries readjustment is not an opportunity for a mayor or for corporate or ordinary citizens to say that they do not want to become part of a riding: these people are merely reaffirming their sense of belonging to a riding and to an economic and socio-cultural region. It is interesting to note that Mayor André Leclerc of Warwick worried about the opposite situation, which would see his municipality become part of the riding of Richmond-Wolfe. The mayor feels that Warwick would be removed from its natural ties, operations and activities with the region of Victoriaville, in the riding of Lotbinière.

He also felt that this readjustment would disrupt the economic regions.

I would also like to refer to a comment made in La Tribune by the hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, who said: The member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead is not pleased at all to see that part of his constituency will become part of the Thetford Mines region''-this will help illustrate the mistakes which can be made to the detriment of a region's natural development-and he intends to express his discontent loud and clear to the commissioners when they hold their hearings in Sherbrooke.'' It is not that he holds a grudge against the citizens of the asbestos region, but Mr. Bernier maintains that there is no affinity between the two poles. He said he knows the riding very well and he is convinced that people of Mégantic relate first to the Sherbrooke region and only secondly to Saint-Georges-de-Beauce. Therefore, the Mégantic region has no connection whatsoever with the asbestos region. Except for family ties, the people of Mégantic and those of the Thetford Mines region have pratically nothing in common.

I would even add that in the Richmond-Wolfe riding, the integration process which affected the municipalities of Rock Forest, Saint-Élie, Deauville, Valcourt, Racine and Richmond, made it so that the majority of the population, involved in the development of a strategic plan for the RCM of Le Val Saint-François associated with another extremely important RCM, Sherbrooke, would see the best part of its discussions, efforts and co-operation go up in smoke, just as the outcome of the plan for joint action on economic, social and cultural development in that region.

Evidently, the people in these communities have developed a sense of responsibility over the years; they were asked to do so- They were always told they should take their future into their own hands and accept responsibility for their own economic, social and cultural development. They were told it was important for them to bring the decision centres closer to their region. In this respect, the readjustment of electoral boundaries goes against all the work that has been done over the years in Quebec in the area of joint action and the establishment of decision centres closer to the people involved and more attuned to their analysis of local problems.

In Quebec, in recent years and more precisely since 1985, regional conferences have given priority to joint action and development projects focusing on municipalities and surrounding regions. Over the years, this process has led to thinking and developing a strategic plan involving the creation of regional county municipalities-or MRCs as they are called in Quebec-which co-ordinate their own plans at a higher level, that of economic development councils or regional development councils. As a result, each region in Quebec signs a general development agreement with the government and the Department of Regional Development.

The exercise of electoral boundaries readjustment demonstrates that Ottawa is not sensitive to that. It does not take regional development into consideration, does not understand it, and sets limits which have nothing in common with natural economic development and, in particular, nothing to do with the fact that local governments are trying to make their own decisions, to do their own analysis of problems, and to implement their own solutions to development problems.

Clearly, we support this review and, if Quebec remains within Confederation, we would like people in charge of preparing new legislation to take notice of these fundamental structures in Quebec. Regionalization and taking charge of one's destiny is something for the 21st century, and the Liberal government, the government in power, will have to understand that some day.

Supply March 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, first of all, allow me to congratulate the hon. member of the Reform Party on her speech which, in my opinion, was very sound. I want to thank her for recognizing the timeliness of the motion put forward by the Bloc and by my colleague from Rimouski. I would, however, like to make two brief comments.

First, I would just like to gently remind my hon. colleague that the official opposition is very concerned about Canadian culture. The proof of this is that we initiated and welcomed a debate on this subject.

As the official opposition, we are acting responsibly and with conviction. And if we are here in this House reaffirming our primary goal, which is to create a francophone country in the Americas to complement the Canadian, American or Spanish cultures and all countries of the Americas, it is only because we wish to put a new country on the map.

Collège Militaire Royal De Saint-Jean March 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, does the minister realize that for some savings which he himself is unable to demonstrate, the Liberal Government of Canada is killing the only French language military training institution in America and sending a very negative message about the place of francophones in the armed forces and their future there? Does he realize that?

Collège Militaire Royal De Saint-Jean March 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, while the people of Saint-Jean mobilize every day to express their concern about the closing of the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, the only French language institution of its kind in the country, the minister stubbornly persists in his decision to close it.

Can the minister of defence confirm to us that his government has reached an agreement with the Government of Quebec and that the announcement of this agreement has been deliberately delayed until the closing speech of the Quebec Liberal Party convention on Sunday afternoon?


The Budget March 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in reply to the Minister of Finance's budget, I wish to underline that the government totally ignored the recommendations found in the Auditor General's report.

Canada is going through a major crisis. The accumulated debt exceeds $500 billion, and the annual deficit now totals $41 billion. In other words, each year, this unmanageable country earns less than it spends, and is inevitably heading toward economic bankruptcy.

Big corporations and capital holders say that a decrease in their profits resulting from a fairer tax system would cause irreparable damage to the economy.

So, they argue that the government must slash budgetary expenses. The business community, the decision-makers in the world of high finance suggest that the time is right to dismantle

what is left of the welfare state. The neo-conservatism of the 1980s is now the philosophy of the Minister of Finance in the present Liberal government, since he fully approves of the big corporations' approach, and his budget proves it.

In fact, this budget speech announces that the government will, during the next three years, cut more than $7.5 billion from social programs, particularly unemployment insurance. Thus, the government has avoided launching a frontal attack on major great financial interests, while it has ignored waste within its bureaucracy and mismanagement by senior civil servants and its own policy-makers.

First of all, I would like to remind the House of some of the comments the Auditor General made in his last report about waste and mismanagement of public funds, which comments the Minister of Finance totally ignored while preparing his budget.

The government is doing absolutely nothing to reduce the structural deficit, since it avoids dealing with waste and mismanagement. Let me give you some examples of waste. The federal vehicle fleet costs more than $500 million and 4,000 new vehicles are added every year; Investment Canada has spent $132,000 to set up a new office, complete with a kitchen and a bathroom, for the new president, even if the office of the previous president, located in the same building, provided all those amenities. The cost of the use of the Challenger aircrafts reached $54 million, more than half of which was spent for transporting ministers. According to the Auditor General, this comes to $19,650 per hour of flight. More than 800 civil servants who received a cash out to retire were rehired afterwards. About $30 million was wasted that way.

The Canadian Grain Commission has made an ex gratia payment-and I remind you that an ex gratia payment is one that is made as a gift, in the public interest, and not because it is legally necessary-in the amount of approximately $657,000 to some producers as compensation for losses incurred because a seed cleaning company that had obtained a licence from the Commission went bankrupt.

What measures in this budget tend to eliminate such waste, which is only the tip of the iceberg? None. And what about the mismanagement that has become generalized within the Public Service since the Liberal Party was in power at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s? The Auditor General has given several examples of this, which we have grouped according to three types of problems: program assessment, identification of program overlapping, and a more general view of certain expenditures reflecting poor management on the part of the government.

On the subject of program assessment, in his 1993 report, the Auditor General especially blamed mismanagement of public funds on a glaring lack of close examination of government spending. He recommended that programs be judged on their results so as to guide policy decisions. The Bloc Quebecois has already raised this point, but it is worth repeating that nowhere in this Liberal budget is the problem of program assessment really addressed.

From a quantitative standpoint, between 1989 and 1992, program evaluation spending fell by 28 per cent, resulting in a much smaller number of program evaluations being performed. In 1987-88, 99 program evaluations were conducted, compared to only 80 in 1992. Again according to the Auditor General's report, in 1991-92, the government spent $125 billion on 16 programs, only two of which were thoroughly evaluated. It is not the most expensive programs which are evaluated. It is estimated that twice as many programs worth less than $250 million are evaluated compared to those worth more than $250 million.

From a qualitative standpoint, since the responsibility for program evaluation rests with the department, the immediate needs of managers prevail over the government's needs and the public interest. When interviewed by the Auditor General, the persons responsible for program evaluation within the department said that the most important role of an evaluation is to assist managers in solving organizational problems. So they pay no attention to the fundamental function of program evaluation, which is to measure the effectiveness of a program and to question its relevancy if necessary in order to achieve optimal resource allocation. It is to be noted that this type of information would be most useful to Parliament in allocating resources and to Canadians in rating government performance. In fact, parliamentarians are asked to work blindly, to allocate resources without knowing the facts.

In his report, the Auditor General says, and I quote: "In the 1990s, program evaluation should be seen as crucial to the management of government expenditures, because it can help to arrive at informed decisions aimed at controlling growth of the public debt". In spite of that warning or, if you prefer, of that suggestion by the Auditor General, nothing in the budget would lead one to believe that the Liberal government is heading in that direction.

Overlapping remains one of the main causes of waste and poor financial management. The federal spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction accounts for 24 per cent of overlapping and the power to legislate in areas of shared jurisdiction accounts for 76 per cent of overlapping, but, again, nothing in the budget shows that there is a will to change the traditional Liberal way of thinking in this regard.

Program duplication is partly to blame for the mismanagement of public funds and is therefore responsible for the increasing cost of government action. Since it is more economi-

cal to give to only one administration exclusive jurisdiction over services provided simultaneously; since duplication often adds nothing to the quality of government interventions, quite the contrary; since affected employees and facilities could be used in a much more rational and relevant way; and since also the measures put in place by both levels of government often cancel each other out, the competing if not conflicting nature of federal-provincial relations makes it difficult to co-ordinate programs because neither level of government is ready to make major concessions about their own objectives and priorities.

Finally, program duplication is an inflationary factor in the Canadian economy since an increase in the amount of information citizens must have to be able to take advantage of the services and financial aid available, or to conform to laws and regulations, results in a multiplication of the steps required to get that information and thus, in an increase in the number of employees involved in a somewhat unproductive task.

In conclusion, we find it hard to understand that the Minister of Finance, who seems to have made the fight against deficit his priority, has ignored the recommendations of the Auditor General about waste and mismanagement of public funds. In order to eliminate waste, unnecessary spending and mismanagement in government, in the name of the Bloc Quebecois, I request again that the government create a parliamentary committee to analyze and review budget spending, item by item.

Publishing Industry March 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a minister is confused-