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

Kanesatake Reserve February 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware that the RCMP itself has declared that the territory is a hub. The supplementary question I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister is this: The Mohawk leaders' alarmist declarations have raised the already high level of tension on the reserves. Is it not the Prime Minister's duty to meet with the Mohawk leaders to demand that they promise to co-operate with the government to end smuggling and to ensure respect for the law on their territory like everywhere else in Canada, as the government claims?

Kanesatake Reserve February 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is easy to see that the Deputy Prime Minister does not understand the difference between intervention and situation.

The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister would have the general public believe that the Bloc Quebecois is trying to tarnish the Mohawks' reputation. Everyone, including every person involved in this, knows and recognizes that illicit smuggling activities on Mohawk reserves can be blamed on a handful of armed individuals who are imposing a reign of terror.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Does she recognize that smuggling on reserves is done by a small number of individuals whose activities threaten the safety of the Mohawk people and the surrounding communities?

Official Languages February 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, since May 1993, members of all other parties in the House have presented petitions against the federal government's official language policy.

I deplore the attitude of Liberal and Reform members who table these petitions in the House and thus support Canadian extremists who want to ban the use of French by the federal administration. I also want to condemn members who table these petitions while claiming they do not support them.

I would ask my Liberal and Reform colleagues to stop this hypocrisy. If they believe English should become the only official language of the federal government, let them say so.

Members of the Bloc Quebecois support maintaining the use of both official languages in federal departments and crown corporations, and I would ask all members to show the same flexibility and tolerance.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in short, our goal-and I think, judging from their speeches, that it is a goal shared by members from all parties-is to start by looking at every expenditure item in every department. It is a very simple exercise before starting from scratch to set targets and deciding which programs should be maintained. You have recognized that there is a lot of waste and the Auditor General recognizes it also.

Second, we must look at ways to revive the economy and go from budget cuts to investments in order to create jobs and kick-start the economy. We are quite willing to take such actions as soon as possible after all public accounts have been audited.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his comment and questions. First of all, the hon. member must understand that all members of the Bloc Quebecois were elected in a democratic fashion by the people of Quebec. It is with a great deal of pride that all my colleagues from Quebec come to sit in Ottawa with a culture recognized in Quebec through the French language, with English-speaking friends who are true Quebecers, and all across Canada with people we want as our friends, with their great English Canadian culture.

So it is with pride that we often refer to Quebec and to the mandate we have been given to defend the interests of Quebecers because of the $28 billion we contribute to the federal coffers.

Having said that, I think it is-

supply February 11th, 1994

Another example of waste is the $54 million cost related to the use of the Challenger aircraft. Travelling done by ministers accounted for more than half of this amount, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is well aware. According to the Auditor General, this figure translates into an hourly cost of $19,650. Is this the best way to finance the travelling of ministers and other officials? This is the question asked by the Auditor General, who does not have access to the information which would reveal whether or not this travelling was justified.

Another example of mismanagement is the Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery Program, through which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans spent $587 million. The Auditor General estimates that, of that amount, close to $15 million were wasted because the program was poorly managed.

Another example is the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy which we just mentioned. The strategy provided for an investment of one billion dollars over a five-year period. Three departments were directly involved: Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Industry, as well as Employment and Immigration. The stated goal was to reduce the gap between aboriginal people and other Canadians.

We do not question the objectives of those programs. As the hon. member said earlier, we are not asking for cuts to those programs, but we want some tools to be able to evaluate their implementation. In 1993, $900 million were spent to reduce that gap. The Auditor General deplored the lack of co-ordination between the three departments. It is not clear who must assume leadership for the implementation of the strategy. The departments concerned should have a co-ordination plan as well as a system to evaluate that strategy.

In short, we do not know what concrete benefits resulted from this strategy. We do not know if the funds were spent according to aboriginal people's priorities. We do not know if there is a more profitable way of attaining the same results. As I said earlier, between 1989 and 1992, the budget to conduct evaluations was reduced by 28 per cent, and out of 16 programs representing a total of close to $125 billion, only two were evaluated.

I want to draw your attention on the duplication of programs and the overlapping of jurisdiction, which are also responsible for the waste of public funds. In a 1991 study done by the Treasury Board of Canada, not the Bloc Quebecois or any other group, the Treasury Board concluded that, for at least half of the provinces, there is apparent duplication between provincial and federal programs, this in 60 per cent of cases. The vague division of responsibilities, the incursion of the federal government in provincial fields of jurisdiction, as well as the federal spending power are the main causes of this duplication and overlapping.

According to the Bélanger-Campeau Commission on the Constitutional Future of Quebec, set up by the Quebec Liberal government, the best way to put public finances in order is for Quebec to become sovereign. Indeed, the Secretariat of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission reached a basic conclusion: since Quebec is not recording any significant net gain under the current system, we will soon have a negative balance. It now has been established that federal transfers to Quebec will continue to decrease, relatively speaking, as shown by the announcement made by the federal government concerning established programs financing.

As for the equalization program, its very foundation is eroding. The role of the government as the main provider can only decrease. The consensus reached by the Bélanger-Campeau Commission is also the opinion of all Quebec decision makers, including the unions, the professional associations as well as the business and financial communities. They all agree on one thing: to eliminate the federal government's debt, the current political system needs to undergo major changes. The Canadian federal system has failed us and cannot be reformed, as all Quebecers have proved with Charlottetown. And that political situation is at the root of our public finance crisis.

The dynamics and the gigantic proportions of the Canadian civil service are further examples of significant waste and loss of energy. In management training, we learn that civil servants and other managers often look forward to increase their influence by hiring too many people or requesting a bigger operating budget than they need. In so doing, they cannot properly streamline expenditures. Employees do not always have reasons or the desire to confront government machinery.

The Bloc Quebecois, with the best interests of Quebecers in mind, asks that a standing committee on government spending be struck right now with members accountable to the people.

We believe that the people's representatives should make sure that the objectives of the various programs are met and that the government is managing the public purse with equity, efficiency and care. Besides, the Auditor General brought that up when he wrote, and I quote: "Most of the time Parliament is not provided with adequate information on the results that departments and Crown corporations have achieved with billions of dollars of taxpayers' money".

A parliamentary committee on government spending could ensure that Parliament and thus the Canadian people are better informed on the government financial situation.

That is why we support the Auditor General's proposal to require departments, and I quote: "to submit, through the committee on government spending, clear and comprehensive reports to Parliament on the exact state of their stewardshipand to provide, when significant expenditures are incurred, information based on results". The point here is for the

government to achieve political justification rather than trying desperately to stay in power thanks to unjustified grants.

supply February 11th, 1994

If the government had a mechanism for quickly adjusting tax credit programs where there was a problem, as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee, it could have avoided much of this loss.

Investment Canada spent $132,000 on a new office, kitchen and bathroom for its new president, although her predecessor's office was located in the same building and had the same amenities.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it would be appropriate to create such a committee, because the Auditor General's report, as I said before, shows that Quebecers and Canadians are right when they believe that the government is wasting part of public funds. I suggest we look at a few examples of waste, unnecessary spending and poor management to support this view.

For instance, at National Revenue, because of a loophole in the resource deduction, the government lost $1.2 billion in revenue.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity today to remind the House of some of the factors that contribute to the problems of Canada's public administration.

My comments are largely based on the positions taken by the Bloc Quebecois in this House during the pre-budget debate. We think it is important to repeat these discussions on public administration and the wasting of public funds, because we see the latter as one of the causes of the failure of Canadian federalism.

The rising federal deficit has increased our foreign debt and, as you know, this trend towards relying on foreign loans to finance the deficit has mortgaged the future of generations of Quebecers and Canadians.

Our children will pay for the debt, for what I would call the Trudeaumania of the 1970s, when credit cards became the Canadian government's main economic instrument.

From 1960 to 1994, the debt as a percentage of GDP rose from 34.6 per cent to 71.8 per cent-a typical example of public finances out of control. This means that since 1960, the debt has increased faster than the revenue that would be used to pay it off. If the debt/GDP ratio indicates the extent of the problem inherited from the past, it is easy to see, if we look at how the deficit evolved as a percentage of GDP, where this explosion of the federal debt started. It started when the Liberal Party of Canada was in power.

The Liberals are responsible for this public debt explosion.

Today, during this sluggish economic recovery, taxpayers have the impression that the federal government is not doing its share to improve its management methods and eliminate waste. In the Auditor General's last report we read, and I quote: "Today, it is clearer than ever, to both public servants and parliamentarians, that Canadians expect them to demonstrate sound and prudent management rather than finding new ways to spend borrowed money".

In order to eliminate waste, unnecessary spending and poor management in our public administration, I reiterate the request by the Bloc Quebecois for a parliamentary committee that would analyse and review public expenditures, item by item.

supply February 11th, 1994

Just a short question, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday I touched on this whole issue of program management and I would like to ask the industry minister for his opinion on program management and strategy. The Auditor General's report-and his colleague, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who was a senior official himself, will probably agree on what was suggested-seems to point to a 28 per cent reduction in funds earmarked for program evaluation over two fiscal years. I think this is fundamental in the whole question of programs when in 1991-1992, for example, $124.5 billion was invested in 16 programs, only two of which were thoroughly evaluated.

So I am asking you this: What do you think of the lack of an assessment mechanism allowing us to see if the money injected has achieved the goals that were set, if program management and processes on which so much money is spent have had some success.