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

Armed Forces Bands February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence. We learned recently that the Department of National Defence spends more than $32 million a year for several military bands within the Canadian Forces. Given the terrible state of Canada's finances, does he consider it acceptable to spend $32 million on the bands of the Canadian Forces?

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the minister of Human Resources Development ended his answer to my question on a potential Unemployment Insurance costs increase by inviting the Official Opposition to co-operate with him in a thorough examination of social programmes, and thus study the question of government's social expenditures as a whole.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind the minister of Human Resources Development that we should also take a look at the evolution of certain of our social policies, and I am particularly referring to the lack of a family oriented policy in Canada, since 1994 year is the International Year of the Family.

With the emergence of a certain form of neoliberalism in the eighties, a new view of family responsibility has come to the fore; it has now become an individual responsibility, thus freeing society from a seemingly embarrassing load.

Federal social policies are often based on a concept of the family where the husband is the only wage earner. Thus, we have a married exemption in our tax system. In our old age security plan, the wife's benefits are cut in half when her husband dies, but if the wife dies, her husband keeps all his benefits.

As a result of complex changes in the tax system and the deindexation of family and child benefits, a Senate committee says that, from 1986 to 1991, the federal government grabbed $3.5 billion out of the family and child benefits program. A Quebec family with two children and an income of $70,000 a year pays as much tax as a childless family with the same income.

Thus, a couple who chooses to invest in a pension plan will have generous tax deductions, but if it prefers to invest in the future of the Quebec nation by having children, it has to fend for itself without any help from Revenue Canada.

This lack of family oriented policies at the federal level carries tragic consequences. In 1991, the number of children depending on food banks in Quebec and Canada was estimated at 700,000. One year later, it was 900,000. Many teachers throughout our school system complain that they are now social workers because of a sharp deterioration in family life and because of the number of children they look after.

The following case shows the great inconsistency of federal family-oriented policies. In Toronto, a young mother, owner of a small business with nine employees, had to be on her job in her business two days only after having a baby. That person contributes to plans insuring a significant percentage of her employees' salaries when they are on maternity leave, but nothing in the social policies of the federal government provides for maternity leave for that small business owner. Such a situation is unacceptable.

The establishment of a universal day care program, maternity leave and special leave granted to mothers to provide care to a sick child are but a few of the issues that have to be debated in initiating a true reform of social programs, and especially the establishment of family oriented policy.

Simple things such as allowing children to have lunch at school so that they do not have to travel, offering flexible work schedules and offering a flexible transit system to seniors would also foster the emergence of a family oriented policy.

In the past, the federal government, and this includes the Liberal government, showed a lack of vision and a lack of courage towards Quebecers and Canadians with respect to family oriented policies.

We, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, are convinced that a review of our social programs starts with the development of a real family oriented policy in Canada as well as in Quebec. Whatever options the Liberal Party has, it is difficult for us to think that this government can ignore the fundamental changes that family structures have undergone in Canada and Quebec since the introduction of social programs.

Senate February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister intend to cut the Senate's budget?

Senate February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister intend to intervene to end this waste and to let this House study the budget of-

Senate February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today a journalist in La Presse enlightened us about the horrible overspending of the Canadian Senate. The Senate costs over $43 million a year, and it sat only 47 days last year, with an average of 22 senators away each sitting day. In addition, we learned that a senator had his floor raised, at taxpayers' expense, so that he could better see the Parliament buildings through the window from his chair.

National Defence January 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, from the newspapers we can see that Canadian troops in Bosnia are experiencing serious problems. However, during the debate, the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party made their positions clear. I would like to ask the Prime Minister why he is reluctant to adopt a clear and unambiguous position on this matter.

National Defence January 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a little earlier during Question Period the Prime Minister referred to two debates.

In fact, last Tuesday there was a constructive debate in this House on the situation in Bosnia. However, the government did not take advantage of this debate to put forward its own position, and we still do not know whether the government is in favour of maintaining Canadian troops in Bosnia or endorses a unilateral

withdrawal, as the Prime Minister suggested just before he left for Europe two weeks ago.

My question is directed to the Minister of National Defence: Can the minister tell us in the House today what the government's position is on our peacekeepers in Bosnia?

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I did say in my speech that we, in the Bloc Quebecois, are committed to fundamental values. Clearly, the agreements passed with our allies and friends must be abided by. These considerations having to do with the value and observance of agreements must be maintained. Of course, as far as we are concerned, what really matters is to get to consider in its entirety the national defence policy, which has not been tabled yet. I call upon the hon. member to urge his government to table as soon as possible their White Paper on Defence that we have heard so much about.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. First of all, I must remind the hon. member that what I suggested in my speech was to allow experiments relating to electro-optical guidance technology.

I totally agree with the member on that. We are totally against any arms race or war. I did mention in my speech however that destabilisation is occurring in certain regions and, as we know, a country where democratic principles are completely disregarded is a country with a potential for and threat of aggression against which we must react. It is mainly in that perspective that we should look at the development of technological know-how.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

I am pleased to participate as the member for Richmond-Wolfe in this debate on cruise missiles and I would like to send warm greetings to all the voters in my constituency of Richmond-Wolfe who placed their trust in me last October 25 and gave me a clear mandate.

Obviously, we must examine this particular issue within a broader context. The Bloc Quebecois would have liked the government to undertake a comprehensive review of national defence policy. Nevertheless, for a sovereigntist member of Parliament and member of the Bloc Quebecois, the Canada-US Test and Evaluation Program, or if you prefer, the agreement on cruise missile testing, is critically important. This kind of debate on the relevance of allowing new tests to take place over Canadian territory during the course of this year highlights in particular the role of a sovereign Quebec with respect to western agreements on military strategy.

There are three distinct types of cruise missiles, namely the surface, sea and air varieties. The cruise missile tested in Canada falls into the third category of weapon. It is primarily the vehicle, or delivery system, which determines whether these weapons will or will not be subject to disarmament agreements or nuclear weapons verification control. The most stringent control measures of all have been adopted in the case of the air and sea version of these missiles.

One of the means available for verifying nuclear arms during the cold war and for maintaining a certain balance between the superpowers was the National Technical Means, that is a verification technique based on information obtained by superpowers about the weapons of foreign countries.

For instance, if a superpower formally announces that it is going to test a specific type of weapon and if the other superpower discovers, through its verification techniques, that the weapon in question is not consistent with the formal announcements made, then the whole balance of deterrence is called into question and the mutual trust of the two superpowers is shaken. And we know how importance trust is in such matters.

Therefore, it is extremely important that Canada, as an ally of the United States, stand by its commitment and guarantee its co-operation in the area of strategic weapons testing so that it does not impede international disarmament procedures and in the process fuel the nuclear race.

All of the verification, monitoring and voluntary disarmament techniques to which the superpowers agreed under the SALT I and SALT II treaties have since been superseded by new agreements such as the INF, which stands for Intermediate Nuclear Force, and START I and START II. Today these verification techniques still form the basis of arms control. Canada cannot disregard them. It must ensure compliance with these agreements to limit the nuclear threat.

Cruise missiles launched from bomber aircraft are considered strategic if their range exceeds 600 kilometres. The missile tested in Canada has a range superior to 600 kilometres. Accordingly, the Canadian government cannot, under the terms of international arms control and strategic weapons verification treaties, dissociate itself from the strategic nuclear mission of the air version of the cruise missile.

The cruise missile satisfies different objectives in terms of U.S. strategy. The air and sea versions are at the very heart of the United States's strategy of deterrence based on the concept of the tripartite retaliatory force or triad.

This offensive triad brings together land-, sea- and air-based strategic weapons. Canada's commitments to the strategic deterrent force are basically a part of co-operation between allies. To the extent that Canada bases its defence on agreement among allies, it must voluntarily co-operate in implementing this strategic deterrent force if required. This is part of the national defence policies of 1971 and 1987 and the defence policy statement of 1992.

Like my colleagues and my leader, I recall that under this approach, Canada was asked in 1983 to accept air-launched cruise missile tests on its territory, although this nuclear deterrence strategy was not officially based on NATO's strategy.

In its 1992 security policy statement, Canada revised its position on strategic issues, recognizing that the world was no longer bipolar. The new nuclear powers were considered inherently unstable and so it became difficult for Canada and its allies to get away from nuclear deterrence.

Cruise missiles made a key contribution to the offensive against Iraq. The non-nuclear air-launched cruise missile was used, showing the need for this missile in local conflicts, although it is not always perfectly accurate in hitting the target. The advantage of using such a weapon is that massive bombing is made unnecessary, thus saving many civilian lives. Strategic flexibility and tactics make the cruise a weapon better suited to the present strategic environment. This flexibility is why the development programs for these new missiles need to be extended. Canada, like our party, must be aware of the different uses to which these weapons can be put.

From what we know, the missile that the Americans want to test in 1994 would have new electro-optical guidance technologies.

International relations are extremely complex and cannot be analyzed from just one point of view. The issue of national defence is revealing in this regard. In 1993, Canada extended a formal commitment with the United States to facilitate the testing of certain types of weapons. Remember that the agreement runs for ten years, so this commitment will end in 2003. Canada would find itself in a sensitive position with its partners if it broke its commitments, whatever their nature. Canada must act as a responsible state which respects its international commitments. These values are particularly important for the sovereigntist members of the Bloc Quebecois.

It is essential to state clearly that the Bloc Quebecois, while not agreeing with the continuation of the arms race, cannot totally distance itself either from the unstable international environment which has existed since the former Soviet Union broke up and from the potential dangers which unfortunately threaten our world. The Bloc Quebecois's sovereigntist thrust must not mean a kind of isolationism, heedless of our responsibilities to our strategic allies. On this score, it is important to send a clear and unambiguous message to the rest of the world: Canada and Quebec must respect their international commitments, with the possibility of renegotiating them with their allies once these agreements expire, using the appropriate procedures when the time comes.

Another argument for accepting cruise missile tests over Canadian territory is the devastating effect of massive bombardment on civilian populations. For example, in the gulf war, massive conventional bombing would have been extremely costly in civilian lives since most of the sites destroyed were located in inhabited Iraqi territory. Surgical strikes such as those carried out by cruise missiles have shown the effectiveness of such weapons, considerably limiting the loss of human life.

The tests which the American government wants to conduct do not involve new nuclear technologies either. Thus they do not escalate strategic nuclear forces. Furthermore, a ceiling has already been set for the total number of missiles deployed under the START I and START II treaties. The cruise missile tests on Canadian soil are only to improve the guidance system. They cannot and must not be considered destabilizing under international arms control or disarmament agreements.

Finally, one question arises: should cruise missile tests be related to the issue of converting military industry and to the lower military spending advocated by the Bloc Quebecois? I say no, they should not. First, very few military companies in Quebec and Canada are involved with this type of weapon. The economic, industrial and technological impact is minimal since a ceiling has been set for the number of units to be built. Therefore no increase in the budget of the Canadian Department of National Defence is involved.

Thus, it would be wrong for the Liberal government to make a connection with the lower military spending advocated by the Bloc Quebecois.

It is important for Canada and Quebec to strengthen these strategic commitments; therefore the Bloc Quebecois is in

favour of military agreements with its allies to ensure the security of Canadian and Quebec territory.