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

National Unity February 18th, 1997

It makes no sense, Mr. Speaker.

After the flag operation, after the Canada information office, after the TV quiz, now the heritage minister wants to indoctrinate children starting in junior kindergarten.

Where will it stop? What is next? "Flushabye Flags"?

National Unity February 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, strangely enough, this government, which has made major cuts to culture, always seems able to find money to fund propaganda campaigns. The latest idea the Minister of Canadian Heritage came up with is a propaganda kit on Canada for distribution in schools.

My question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The federal government had promised to withdraw from provincial jurisdictions. Why is the minister jumping in with both feet and squandering public funds to distribute her propaganda kit in schools when her colleague, the Minister of Finance, is cutting transfer payments for education?

Department Of Foreign Affairs February 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, surely the minister must know that this program has been in place for several decades to de-politicize the funding process, and that Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council were set up precisely for that purpose.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs not realize that he is taking part in a witch hunt that was started the day after the referendum by the heritage committee, and that is being led by the ineffable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage?

Department Of Foreign Affairs February 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On February 10, the Department of Foreign Affairs very quietly released its new guidelines on the funding of the arts. The new

policy provides that, in order to be sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs, cultural projects will have to promote national unity.

Given that the Department of Foreign Affairs is violating the freedom of expression of artists by restricting funding to cultural projects that promote Canada, will the minister pledge to transfer his department's cultural program to the Canada Council, which is an independent organization with no political ties whose mandate is precisely to manage support for artists?

Supply February 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments. I sense a deeply held conviction in what he said. I think the hon. member defends his point of view very well and is a skilful defender of the Liberal government's policy. However, we are miles apart.

I would like to remind him of a number of positions taken by his own government. First of all, there is the matter of the European model, the unity of international trade, free trade within a geographical area. May I remind the hon. member that Quebec has been a determined proponent of free trade? It supported free trade. And who was against free trade? The Prime Minister and the Liberal Party, the hon. member's party.

The hon. member need not hold up the European market and the common market as examples. In Quebec we know all about opening up markets. North-south trade with the United States is worth more than $34 billion, while trade with the other Canadian provinces is worth about the same. I may remind the hon. member that it was his party that opposed free trade.

Second, I may remind him that the European Union is a union of countries and that this is what Quebec wants, to be a country and enrich the continent with a francophone country.

In the Americas there are important, flourishing cultures: English Canadian, American, Spanish and Portuguese cultures. We simply want to add a French speaking country to the Americas, and thus add to these riches. Furthermore, we are offering an economic partnership to a partner and friend we have known for a long time, Canada.

This is an example of our open attitude to English Canada: we ask it to be a partner, once Quebecers have voted in favour of becoming a country and a nation, and this union will come in the form of agreements.

On the other hand, I would like to remind the member of his own ministerial responsibilities. When this government was elected, there were over one million unemployed in this country, which he calls the finest country in the world, in the G-7. When the Liberals were elected, there were one million unemployed. They said they were going to fight unemployment. There were also more than one million children living in poverty. The Liberals said this situation was untenable. They said they were going to fight poverty.

And, today, what do we see? We are heading toward elections. We have over one million unemployed. We now have a million and a half children living in poverty in this country. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I remind the member who has just said that Canada is the finest country in the world that his government has created the situation we are in today through its budget choices.

I would point out that, instead of investing in jobs and fighting poverty, this government has decided to siphon off $5 billion a year from the unemployment insurance fund. This money belongs to employees and employers and not the government. Year after year, the government dipped into people's pockets.

Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance will probably brag that he achieved his objectives in the fight against the deficit. He reached them by dipping into people's pockets rather than by giving money back to them, as they were entitled to expect, for job creation. He is responsible for the poverty related tragedies in Canadian and Quebec society. That is how things stand and you are going to have to swallow that, because we will be reminding you of it throughout the election campaign. We will not let you forget your track record and your fine promises in the red book, which you dropped as soon as you got elected.

Supply February 17th, 1997


That this House denounce the use of public funds squandered on propaganda activities sponsored by Heritage Canada, such as the Canada Information Office and

the One Million Flags Operation, at a time when cuts unprecedented in the history of Canada have been imposed on cultural institutions in Canada and Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, this is an official opposition day. As indicated in the motion, we once again condemn the federal government's policy, which basically consists in denying the existence of Quebec as a nation as well as the Quebec culture and using propaganda-we will clearly demonstrate today how extensive this propaganda is-in its relentless fight against the nationalist vitality of Quebecers and their desire to have their own country.

The purpose of this motion is to denounce the use of public funds squandered on propaganda activities sponsored by Heritage Canada, such as the Canada Information office and the One Million Flags operation, and other operations we will detail later, at a time when cuts unprecedented in the history of Canada have been imposed on all cultural institutions in Canada and Quebec.

Today, February 17, is Flag Day. This may be a proud day, a day that may mean something to Canadians in general, but I must add in the same breath that February 17, a day set aside for celebrating the Canadian flag, is a sad day for Quebec.

I would like to remind the House of the origins of the federal government's determination to use public funds to fight openly and specifically Quebec's legitimate and democratic aspiration to statehood. You will recall that, in one of his books, Pierre Elliott Trudeau stated that an effective way of defeating Quebec nationalists was to fight them with Canadian nationalism, regardless of the cost.

Today, we will demonstrate not only to this House but also to Quebecers and Canadians that, ever since this policy was established by Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberals, this government has been obsessed with spending as much energy, resources and money as necessary to fight Quebec.

May I remind you that this institution is publicly funded. Part of these public funds, the $30 billion collected in taxes every year in this country, comes from Quebec and is used to fight Quebec's democratic aspiration to statehood.

Today, February 17, Canadian Flag Day, we must recognize that the heritage minister's One Million Flags operation, which will cost taxpayers in Canada and Quebec in excess of $15 million, is the continuation of Trudeau's idea of spending endless money on fighting Quebec and its march toward sovereignty.

Today, February 17, is Flag Day in Canada, but it is a sad day in Quebec. Remember what happened a year ago in Hull, during the Flag Day celebration. The event was tarnished by an incident during which the Prime Minister grabbed a protester by the throat. It became uglier when the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage immediately reacted by saying the protester was obviously a separatist, when in fact everyone realized in the hours that followed that the man was simply protesting against poverty in this country, against poverty generated by this government.

But the Deputy Prime Minister, this champion of propaganda, immediately said during a scrum that it was a separatist who had been protesting and who was grabbed by the throat by the Prime Minister.

These were unfunded accusations by the Deputy Prime Minister, who was guided by her state of mind, which is to constantly try to incriminate Quebec sovereignists, when everyone in this country knows that Quebec's evolution and march toward sovereignty is taking place through a democratic process and with respect for the rules of democracy.

Today, February 17, is also a sad day for Quebec because of the patriation of the Constitution, in 1982, which took place in spite of a motion passed by the National Assembly, asking that the Constitution not be patriated unilaterally.

The Liberals of the time, led by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, ignored the Quebec institution called the National Assembly and unilaterally patriated the Constitution, thus confirming, much to the pleasure of the federal Liberals, that, for once in Canada's history, they had bumped Quebecers out of the picture, no longer recognizing them as a founding people. The Quebec culture no longer existed, a culture which represents the essence of the people of Quebec, through its creators, artists, writers and film producers. Indeed, with that decision, the federal Liberals denied the existence of the people of Quebec and their culture.

From now on, according to this government, the people of Quebec will simply be a big cultural community within an English Canada. The government wants to turn the people of Quebec into a big cultural community within an English Canada.

Quebec's culture is sad today because artistic and creative criteria have taken a back seat to the political criteria of this government. Today, this policy of propaganda, which is designed to stamp out Quebec's culture and its aspirations to sovereignty, is now solidly entrenched in all departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, which just last week approved a policy for international cultural distribution that requires artistic works to be demonstrably in favour of Canada's national unity.

The heritage minister has obviously been instructed to concentrate on the Canadian national identity, and to stamp out Quebec's national identity. This is the mission of Heritage Canada, and we are going to show today how public funds are being used for

propaganda purposes. All departments, the entire machinery of government is taking part in this propaganda exercise.

The result is a sad day for cultural industries and for creators and artists who must work for Canadian unity if they want their projects to reach a larger audience. If they want to reach an audience in Canada, in Quebec as well as abroad, they must first now meet the essential criterion set by this government, by the federal Liberals, the political criterion of promoting Canadian unity, to the detriment of their own creations, of their own works.

We have denounced this government for interfering in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, particularly manpower training, but also culture and communications. There was the very recent example where this government, specifically the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, actually told journalists that they were not doing a good job in their coverage of the referendum.

This government actually told journalists that they were not promoting Canadian unity in their coverage of the referendum. This is a government that is becoming increasingly totalitarian, calling to mind the Trudeau era with its emphasis on controlling content, controlling those who work in the field of artistic creation, those who shape our identity. Those who work in the print and communications media are being criticized for not working to build Canadian identity.

In this connection, I will refer to a quote from La Presse of November 14, 1995: ``The accusations against the CBC arise out of the convictions of a number of the Liberal leading lights, federal Liberal leading lights, including the Prime Minister himself, if we are to believe this weekend's statements, that the public broadcaster did not fulfil its duty during the referendum campaign and has actively harmed the federalist cause''.

This government has reached the stage of wanting to control the media, of wanting to tell the media what it must say on Canadian unity. We are not going to follow suit, for all Quebecers have built their democracy on clear rules of the game, under which all parties have a right to express themselves regardless of their position or their option.

This government is accusing the CBC, which it claims was mandated to promote conviction and national unity. The Prime Minister went on to say: "Obviously this is not one of its concerns; I saw something else this evening when I was watching television". The Prime Minister is concerned that his option be reflected by "his" Radio-Canada and "his" CBC, for his government had just stated that it was the owner.

Following along with that argument, creators, artists and cultural industries are called upon to serve Canadian unity. They are called to serve the government's political ideology, convictions and political objectives, and not their own creations, which are essential to our society.

Mr. Chrétien stated that evening of November 14, in the context of the Commonwealth Summit being held in Auckland, New Zealand, that "the CBC, whose mandate it is to promote national unity, has not fulfilled its role".

When the Prime Minister of a country accuses the press of not supporting his political option, no more need be said. In this, we must acknowledge that the government is consistent with itself, and is continuing the legacy of Trudeau.

The government is pushing the political criteria that from now on are supposed to guide the whole government apparatus, all those useless investments. In future, its support for culture, its domestic and foreign policies will be based essentially on political criteria. We just saw this with the policy announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Today, I found it very depressing to read an article by Stéphane Baillargeon in Le Devoir . This journalist wrote: ``Today, political and not artistic criteria are applied to the support given by the federal Department of Foreign Affairs to Canadian artists on tour abroad. Requests for grants will from now on be examined on the basis of the ability to promote respect for Canadian sovereignty and Canadian unity and to present Canada as a bilingual country consisting of various cultures''.

That is this government's new policy: to promote, both outside and inside the country, a Canadian cultural policy in an English-speaking country where there is room for other cultural communities. What this government is trying to do is make Quebec and its culture one of the many cultural communities in this English Canada.

The Minister of Human Resources Development suggests in his statement that only Canada can own and preserve French and Quebec culture. May I remind the minister that the situation of francophones across Canada is such that year after year, the Commissioner of Official Languages has found there is ongoing assimilation? Francophones in Canada are constantly being assimilated, and the government would have us believe, in the kind of statements made by the Minister of Human Resources Development, that Canada is saving the French fact and French culture in Quebec. Not so: Quebec creators and artists are the ones who are doing that in Quebec.

I would like to first show you how much this government has been spending on propaganda activities alone since 1994 and then tell you about the cuts it has made in our cultural industries.

During this period, the government spent as much as $98 million on programs to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Canadian flag. There was $1.1 million for advertising billboards. Remember those billboards, all 600 of them? Coincidentally, 300 were put up in Quebec and the remaining 300 across the rest of Canada. That is how this government targets its propaganda.

UN 50th anniversary celebrations: $1.8 million; Heritage Minutes: $2.2 million; tourism promotion: $15 million; the One Million Voices campaign, Fédération des communautés francophones: $500,000; National Capital Commission: $3 million; Canadian unity: $4 million; Canadian passports: $25,000; federal government services, television advertising: $5 million; Operation Unity: $11 million; Council for Canadian Unity: $8.4 million; Canada Information Office: $19.5 million; Operation One Million Flags : more than $15 million; Operation Unity: $5 million; Word given, Word kept: $600,000; Services included: $400,000; Take it to Heart : $550,000, that is more than half a million; and the latest addition Attractions Canada: $1.5 million, for a grand total of $98 million.

Nearly $100 million was spent on propaganda. Meanwhile, what is this government doing? It is literally putting the axe to cultural industries, including major industries and institutions in Canada and Quebec, namely the CBC, Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board.

This government, which is investing close to $100 million for propaganda purposes, made drastic cuts affecting the broadcasters themselves, those who promote our culture and help build our national identity, and also the artists and creators who reflect our own identity.

This government is talking out of both sides of its mouth. In its red book, it claims that these are important institutions, that a stable financial process must be established, and that the Conservatives were wrong to target this industry. However, once they took office, the Liberals changed their tune. What did they do? They systematically cut. The CBC lost 4,000 jobs and $14 million in an unprecedented series of cuts, while the National Film Board suffered a cut of $20 million.

In conclusion, the official opposition declares that February 17, 1997, Canada Flag Day, is a sad day for Quebecers. It is a sad day because Canada is represented by a Liberal government that speaks out of both sides of its mouth, first promising to support and to develop the very essence of our identity, namely our culture, and then, once in office, cutting and systematically eliminating all the tools for these cultural institutions, by reducing budgets.

During the next election, the Bloc Quebecois will fight this government in Quebec, this government that speaks out of both sides of its mouth. The election will allow all Bloc Quebecois members to come back here to protect Quebec's interests.

Culture February 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I may remind the minister that is not what they said on the Canadian heritage committee to, for instance, Marie Laberge and our Quebec film makers when they accused them of making anti-Canadian films.

The government should set its sights a little higher and allocate money for promoting culture abroad on the basis of the quality of the works and projects submitted by the artists and not in terms of the political propaganda sought by this government.

Culture February 14th, 1997

The Minister of National Defence says hear, hear, but what he is saying is "get out" to Quebec culture and Quebec artists. That is what it means.

Since this funding policy is discriminatory and antidemocratic, will the minister, so as to refrain from all political interference, remove this criterion from the objectives of the foreign affairs cultural relations program?

Culture February 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, we should remember that the cuts the hon. member suggested were to be made at headquarters, not in the lower echelons. The government understood the message perfectly. It cut $414 million and 4,000 jobs. That is what happened.

My question is directed to the government, to anyone who can answer. After the Minister of Canadian Heritage, we now have the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the national unity bandwagon. With his new rules for awarding grants, from now on the minister will only fund projects that will promote Canadian unity abroad.

Quebec Culture February 10th, 1997

By giving Ottawa full credit for culture in Quebec, is the minister not insulting the artists and craftspeople who have produced it and have created the cultural institutions that ensure its dissemination?