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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2003, as Independent MP for Témiscamingue (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply June 4th, 2002

Madam Chairman—

Supply June 4th, 2002

Madam Chairman, in this list of programs sponsored by the federal government, we see a lot of radio flashes related to the agrifood industry, the environment, hunting and fishing. That is what my colleague from Chambly was saying earlier.

I spend a lot of time in my car and I hear the Government of Canada wishing me a good trip, telling me to drive safely, to eat sensibly, to have a nice bicycle ride, to have a good partridge hunt on the 28th when the hunting season is practically over, and so on.

If you listen to Les amateurs de sport , from 4 to 7 p.m. on Radio Media, you will hear dozens of these flashes. The minister said earlier that he had put an end to all that. It is not true. These ads can still be heard on the air. There is $1,154,000 for agrifood flashes, the same amount for environmental flashes, and so on.

That does not exist anywhere else except in Quebec. Why do Quebecers and nobody else in Canada need to be told to have a good trip, to have a nice bicycle ride or to have a good partridge hunt? How can the minister explain that the Government of Canada has run these ads only in Quebec?

Supply June 4th, 2002

Madam Chairman, what bothers me is that it is my impression that the government is trying to slip this through the back door, since it could not get it through the front door.

I remind the House that when the Deputy Prime Minister floated the balloon of helping professional sports teams, there was an outcry from Canadians that led the government to back down within 24 to 48 hours and say “no, we will not support hockey clubs”, which was the case at hand at the time.

If we look at the numbers here, we see that the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Expos, every year, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000, $800,000 and $900,000 was paid and each time, fees of 12% were paid to communications agencies. All this adds up to $20 million. The numbers show that the government did what it said it would not do: support professional sports clubs.

I see that the minster understood my point and the question proves this. However I think that people have been fooled, when we see that the government did what it said it would not do, particularly when the Deputy Prime Minister said no way. In the end, they flipped on the matter.

How does the government explain that today the figures contain $20 million for professional sports clubs?

Supply June 4th, 2002

Madam Chairman, I have here, in the list of sponsorships approved by the federal government, a series of quite astounding details.

I would like the minister to explain how this meets the expectations of citizens.

Here is what we find: Canadian Football League, $95,000; Montreal Expos, $1,223,000; the Montreal Expos caravan, $54,000; the soccer club l'Impact, $300,000; the NHL All-Star Game, $80,000—and hockey players are not what you would call disadvantaged people; the Senators, season 1997-98, $355,000.

I could go on up to a total of $20 million invested in professional hockey teams or basketball and baseball teams. In Canada, over a period of four to five years, professional sports teams received $20 million from the government.

What do we say to taxpayers who ask us questions about the usefulness of giving sponsorships to professional sports teams?

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak earlier today when we were not discussing the amendment now before us, and I had a few more things to say. I am happy that our last amendment incorporates things said by Amnesty International. This is not without insignificance, in the current context. Perhaps it can enlighten us before we proceeed any further with consideration of the bill before us.

Bill C-55 is a new version of a bill that was even worse initially, that is Bill C-42. Today, a certain amount of time has gone by since September 11, so that we can now better assess things. As more time goes by, we will be able to determine what we must do even better.

In my opinion, we must first ask this question: would we have thought of passing measures such as those in Bill C-55 this time last year? Certainly not. Have things changed since September 11? Yes, of course. But nothing justifies the current panic and psychosis. That is what Amnesty International is saying.

This is what we find in the newspapers. In the Journal de Montréal , Michel C. Auger writes:

Almost everywhere in the world, national security and the war against terrorism are becoming the best excuses to violate fundamental human rights.

It is disturbing to see such a tendency in many countries. It is not unique to this government. What is shameful is that we find the same tendency in our government in Ottawa, that is possibly to encourage abuse or create a climate that could lead to further measures. People wanted more security. After September 11, they felt very insecure, but not to the point of violating some fundamental rights as we are doing now.

We see it again today in Le Devoir . The editorial is entitled “Security versus freedom”. When we have to ask ourselves these types of questions, it means that there is a problem with what is being done here and we really have to think about it.

Few members on that side of the House addressed this issue today. The member from Mount Royal did it in the media but his colleagues remained silent throughout the day. Their silence disturbs me. We do not know their views, their positions in this important debate for our society. Our role is to step back as much as possible before passing these kinds of legislation, which will put so much power in the hands of a minister. It is all the more worrisome, members will agree, when this minister's competence is questionable. We have had these kinds of ministers throughout history and there will be more of them.

I do not have any problem with ministers having powers in a number of areas, but when these powers have an impact on fundamental freedoms, this is going too far. A minister is given the ability to act without following the usual procedure whereby a whole series of assessments is done before any legislation is passed. The problem with these powers is that they are often exercised in an atmosphere of sheer panic.

For example, one would never think of holding a debate here on something like the death penalty two days after some heinous crime. Often, government members are critical of the Canadian Alliance for using events in the news to make a dramatic plea for a tougher criminal code. They are doing exactly the same thing by giving themselves these powers in the wake of September 11. That is what we are seeing right now, and we must say “Enough is enough”.

Another thing that worries me is the constant tendency of the government to almost blindly follow the lead of the Americans in everything. Canada never stands out from the Americans in any original way. It is all very fine and well for us to have common standards on a certain number of things, but we are always falling in with what they want.

If the last federal budgets had been prepared in Washington, they would not have been any different from what we saw here. We had the impression that the government just tabled a carbon copy here and read it out in parliament.

We wonder where bills are written. Earlier, the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie spoke about international treaties which were not signed by some countries. Oddly, when Canada was missing from the list, so was the United States. One might wonder just how real a voice Canada has internationally. Is it not increasingly seen as a mascot of the United States?

At some point, we must ask ourselves some questions. If I were in the shoes of the folks who are so full of advice about Canadian sovereignty and so on, I would be worried, because we are seeing less and less of it. On issues as important as this one, if there are differences—and I think there are in the public—we must ensure that they reflect our values and act responsibly when it comes to—

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

No, I do not think it is necessarily for the best. Such extraordinary powers could be given to such an individual. This is of enormous concern to me.

True enough, this is the aftermath of the September 11 events, but I would like somebody to explain to me in a very practical way how the actions taken would have been different if Bill C-55 had been passed. What difference would it have made? Now, they want to give the impression that the government is getting more powers to act. That is a way to avoid all discussion or debate on whether the existing powers have been properly used.

The same thing happened in the United States. We have seen that especially in the last few weeks, when we have learned that there had been serious warnings some time before the events about impending threats.

It is not always the theoretical powers that count when events such as those of September 11 happen, but the ability to use the existing powers. There is already an impressive array of powers to ensure control and security.

Unforeseen disasters can always happen, of course. Concerning this, we should be careful here, because the government will boast that it has passed legislation. This is not the first time it introduces a security bill since September 11. There was another one in the last session. That bill, Bill C-42, was even worse. But many unacceptable elements still remain.

We are now in a situation where, at the end of this session, in June, just before we leave for the summer, the government would like to pass this bill at second reading, send it to committee and, I am sure, ram it through, in the hope to pass it before the summer.

I am quite worried, because they are using the same tactics they used at first with Bill C-42: they want it deal with fairly quickly, arguing that it is not all that bad, that in fact everything is fine, that these powers are necessary. Face with fierce opposition from the Bloc Quebecois, other parties and the general public, the government relented and admitted that, in some instances, it went too far.

Yet, it is the same government that said, when it introduced Bill C-42, “No, no, everything is fine. Do not worry”.

It is very dangerous to improvise in this type of situation and to go too fast. Governments often take advantage of situations. We saw it after September 11. It is not unique to this country; other countries have done so, and Canada is going down the same path of taking advantage of situations. When people have safety concerns, the government increases its powers under the guise of improving safety. This is happening once again. In this case, the power is in the hands of a member of the executive and not necessarily in the hands of parliament. This tendency is quite common. It is political opportunism for the government to increase its powers in such a way.

I hope the House will exercise caution with regard to this bill. It will take time. Realistically, I do not think that we will succeed in convincing the Liberals at the second reading stage. We have reached the point where we are discussing an amendment. Where should that debate take place? Before which committee of the House?

When the time comes to consider this bill in greater detail, the committee will have to take its time. Several people have already sounded the alarm. They told us, “Wait a minute, this goes much too far. The government is taking advantage of a particular context”.

As we distance ourselves from September 11, and emotion has already diminished, the basis for decisions will be much sounder; they will not be improvised, taken in a panic or tainted by the opportunism of those who wield power and want more of it.

We need to be cautious. As I said earlier, I have a lot of difficulty with hasty decisions. So much the better if the government is sent back to the drawing board now. I would like the Liberals to say “Wait a minute, this is going much too far”, and come back to a more modest and realistic approach to improving security. Again, there should be very concrete examples of what was not done and should have been. From a legislative point of view, I would like to know what tools were not used that would have been necessary in practical terms. I do not want to hear general statements about stricter legislation being required.

Legislation is one thing, but the means to implement it are something else. How can we ensure that our security is protected? At the same time, let us not delude ourselves: this is a huge territory. However great the means available, they remain modest. While not the primary target of terrorist acts, we are not totally without protection either.

In discussions and in the media, we hear that individuals use our territory to serve in organizations having international links with terrorism. This is the most worrisome aspect, and something we have been suspecting for a while. Of course, we must continue to deal with the issue. Secret services and information services have a key role to play in this regard, but we must be aware that those powers should not be used in an abusive way or in all kinds of internal situations having nothing to do with the fight against terrorism. We must target our action carefully. These are normal and legitimate concerns.

It is not because we oppose this bill that we believe nothing should be done, but on the other hand the government does not need disproportionate powers. And in this case, it is not the government, but a single minister. I have a great deal of difficulty with that. All the powers are given to the minister of defence. This is a huge concern. I hope we will hear from the hon. members on this.

The hon. member for Mount Royal said publicly that he disagreed. When he votes, I hope that he will act according to what he said in the past, when he stated that this was unacceptable. I wish that other colleagues of his will do the same. The best way for them to be heard is also to send a message to their government. We are not asking them to defeat the government, just to send it a message saying that what is happening in this bill is nonsense, and the government will do its homework.

At worst, if ever the bill gets to committee, let us hope that it will not be rammed through, in keeping with the government strategy whereby it tries to pass the bill in a hurry before the summer recess, only to ease its conscience, saying it has done something for security. In real life, it is not so. The government will have given itself major powers that might lead to serious abuse.

Several people have already sounded the alarm. I will conclude by saying that I hope to hear the Liberal members, not just here and there in the hallways, but by exercising later the real power they have to stand up and vote.

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I listened to the previous speeches in this debate and I found them interesting.

We must stop and think about what we are about to do here in parliament. I invite members across the way, who are rather silent, to say their piece. I question their ability to defend the merits of this bill, since very few of them are taking the floor these days.

We are reviewing a bill through which parliament, the elected representatives in this House, will put in the hands of one single individual extraordinary powers of nearly unprecedented scope.

Yes, I heard the last comments and, without getting into this debate, I would say that the trauma caused by the War Measures Act and the abuses it brought is still felt in Quebec.

The bill would give a single individual considerable powers, such as the power to designate controlled access military zones, with all the risks this involves for the rights of people in such zones, not to mention the abuses that could occur with regard to the choice and the size of a zone, and the reasons for doing so.

In passing Bill C-55, parliament would give up its responsibility to have a say in such a situation, by giving a lot of power to a single individual who would not be required to follow the usual legislative process. Again, that person would not be subject to the usual requirements when taking such extraordinary measures, whether or not they are extraordinary.

This is a concern. We have a new defence minister, but a few weeks ago we had a really worrying situation when the military chain of command failed to inform the Prime Minister that Canada was taking prisoners; supposedly it was an error in judgment on the part of the defence minister.

This was the government's defence. This person made a serious error in judgment, because the whole canadian position in an extremely important debate in the international arena, namely the debate on the status of prisoners, was affected as a result. Even though this person was removed, this could very well have been the same one; anyhow—

Government Contracts May 27th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, is this statement by the former minister of public works not just more proof that, if we are really to get to the bottom of this whole affair, what is needed is a public inquiry, with more powers than those available to the auditor general?

Government Contracts May 27th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when he lost the job of minister of public works, the government House leader happily declared “At last, I will not have to answer any more questions”, referring to the contracts handed out to firms run by friends of the Liberal Party.

Does this expression of relief not indicate that there are still many questions unanswered, and that the next minister will have his work cut out for him explaining how and why there are so many ties between ministers of this government and firms run by their friends, which receive all sorts of generous contracts?

Government Contracts May 9th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, is the minister of public works going to call his colleagues, who are trying to discredit the auditor general, to order? Will he go after these members and tell them what he is telling us here, which is that she is doing an excellent job, that her work is irreproachable, and that what is going on is completely unacceptable? That is what we are asking.

Will he call to order the Liberal sheep who are busy discrediting the auditor general?