House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Bloc MP for Trois-Rivières (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Brazil October 30th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, on October 27, the people of Brazil democratically exercised their preference for a progressive government by electing Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers Party, as their President.

By opting for a left-centre government, the Brazilians are an example of a people which has decided to affirm and assume the sovereignty conferred upon it by its democratic right to choose.

In this era of globalization, more than ever before, a victory for the people constitutes a victory for democracy itself, providing evidence as it does of the power still in the hands of peoples to determine their future.

With the hope that the Lula government will have the support of the international and the financial communities, the International Monetary Fund in particular, I extend on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois our wishes for the best of luck to the Brazilians and their government in their efforts to rebuild their country economically and socially.

Supply October 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, we will start with the last question on partisan appointments by the Quebec government. If the statement made by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord were true, knowing the Quebec press and how hard it is on the government, and how closely it follows the debates, I think the government would end up getting hassled about every one of its appointments. As far as I know, there are guidelines, there are mechanisms which lead to the recommendation of certain candidates for this or that position and the executive makes the decision on the appointment, because that is its responsibility.

As for the municipal amalgamations, the example I have in mind when I hear about this is Mont-Tremblant. On the one hand, we have all the development of the mountain with astronomical investments, and on the other the nearby villages which benefit less.

In its wisdom, the government said that it would form a new entity and that everyone would benefit from the riches. It is too easy to say “No, the mountain belongs to me and I am keeping it for myself,” as some people wanted to do in certain areas of the Montreal region, particularly in the west island. The idea of municipal mergers is a new way to redistribute wealth, and I think that it will bear fruit. Those who were opposed to the mergers are now beginning to realize that people are generally very satisfied one year later. Imagine what it will be like once the mergers gain full steam and they really start to pay off. They will benefit all of Quebec's economy and true democracy.

Finally, I would like to give today's example. In philosophy, there is comprehension and there is extension. It is possible to get to the same place using different approaches.

The sensitive issue of sponsorships is a good example of bogus democracy. There are new elements in this affair. We know that there may have been fraud involved. There was certainly propaganda. We saw big “Canada” signs on the ice at the Forum, costing $500,000 a piece.

Then, there are the contributions to the Liberal Party of Canada. When we ask questions of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, we get the impression that there are government agreements. The government answers in its own way without being accountable to the public. A minister answers that he does not really understand the question for whatever reason. He gives whatever answer he wants, and as the opposition, we are forced to live with that. This demonstrates my little thesis that Canada is a democracy that is in very bad shape.

Supply October 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to again congratulate my colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier on the appropriateness of the motion he is putting forward today, given the way this government is evolving.

For the benefit of those listening to us, I will read the motion, which states:

That, in the opinion of this House, government appointments of ambassadors, consuls general and heads of regulatory bodies and Crown corporations should automatically be referred to the appropriate committee of the House of Commons for consideration, and that the relevant Standing Orders of the House of Commons should be amended accordingly.

I will point out that there are 3,500 such appointments, virtually arbitrary appointments, by the Prime Minister and his apparatchiks, in this fine democracy that is Canadian democracy. I would, however, like to focus my speech particularly on a number of heads of Crown corporations and agencies that are of great importance, both the agency and the individual. I am thinking particularly of Jean Pelletier.

Jean Pelletier is a former mayor of Quebec City, a man of strong personality and a former executive assistant to the Prime Minister. He certainly has the right high profile to head up VIA Rail; we have no doubts about his competence, but no one has ever had to prove it, even though it is obvious. Without challenging the individual himself, we do want to focus on the appointment process.

The same goes for André Ouellet, a nice young man. I spoke with him again last month, on a very sensitive issue, because it is not always very clear with Canada Post. However, he is very skilled with people, this is part of his abilities. He is a former Liberal minister. Apart from the fact that he was a Liberal minister, nothing proves his expertise. Once again, the PMO decided that, from now on, André Ouellet would act as president of Canada Post.

It is possible to make several dozen appointments like this. In my opinion, on many aspects, and we will try to demonstrate this in the few minutes that we have here, Canada is a fine, modern and sophisticated banana republic that knows how to present things, how to do things on a large scale so they do not show too much. However, they end up showing.

It is a little bit like Mexico. The PRI, that is, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, has been in power for 73 years, probably because it appointed a good number of friends. Over the years, the number of friends adds up, especially with friends of friends. As long as the people do not protest, the PRI remains there. However, when citizens get upset, they kick it out as was the case recently. The PRI had been in power for 73 consecutive years.

In the case of the Liberal Party of Canada, it is 69 years—that is close to the PRI—69 years during the last century. That means that a lot of friends were appointed. That means that, between 1900 and 2000, particularly the latter part from the 1960s on with Trudeau, Turner and the present member for Saint-Maurice, many friends of the Liberals were appointed. We saw it in Shawinigan, and we see it everywhere, from coast to coast. Often times, it is for political reasons. Their skills are not taken into account; they are irrelevant. It is the whole appointment process that comes into question.

What I find irritating is the appointment of directors of Crown corporations, as well as of returning officers. This concerns us all, from coast to coast.

The chief electoral officer of Canada has been denouncing this situation publicly for a long time, saying that he should the one who appoints these people as part of an appointment process that would be as unarbitrary as possible. We need not look far; we have only to follow Quebec's example. The member for Beauharnois—Quebec spoke a little while ago about Quebec. We can talk about Quebec.

Where the appointment of returning officers is concerned, Quebec is a model. Of course, let us face it, nothing is perfect in this world of ours, but we should set benchmarks to ensure some kind of neutrality, if we want a non-partisan and objective appointment process. As things now stand, if you are not a Liberal, you do not stand a chance of being appointed as a returning officer, which means that the democratic process has been tainted.

Personal acquaintances can sometimes be blamed when mistakes are made. How many friends does a returning officer have in the Liberal Party who have some influence over the election process? To whom would they naturally turn to?

Let us say that funds were misappropriated or there was an attitude problem and a complaint was filed. At present, the chief electoral officer cannot fire a returning officer, because he did not hire him. It has happened. The chief electoral officer cannot fire someone he did not hire.

The chief electoral officer plays a key role in making this great big country a democratic country. He has a key role that is being tarnished because of the lack of an objective, unbiased and professional process for appointing returning officers.

Therefore, we do not have a democracy. I talk about a banana republic, and that comparison can take us very far. A banana republic is a country that hates referendums and that will have nothing to do with the kind of democracy we have in Quebec democracy, where we are constantly wondering if a referendum should not be held.

No referendum was held on the Confederation, in 1867; no referendum was held on the patriation of the Constitution, in 1982; no referendum was held on the social union agreement, in 1999.

There was never any referendum to deny the existence of the Quebec people. Aboriginals are recognized in this great big country, but not the Quebec people, which is not even recognized as a distinct society. Everyone knows that it is an empty shell. There never was a referendum. The public was not consulted, except on a few occasions.

We did it and were rebuffed every time. It sure does not make us enthusiastic. We were rebuffed at the time of the Constitution and we were rebuffed again in 1992, when English Canada said no and Quebeckers said no, but for fundamentally different reasons. However, everyone said no to the policy designed here in Ottawa. So, this is a strange model of democracy.

I personally saw, from another angle, just how serious it is when people talk about banana republics. You will recall, Mr. Speaker—you were no doubt here—the debate on family trusts, when Mr. Desautels, the Auditor General at the time, had the courage to criticize this government's attitude in siding with a big Canadian family at the expense of the poor, which cost the Canadian tax system some $400 million to $700 million. What happened?

At the time, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. Bay Street came to Parliament Hill. The great manipulators, the great taxation strategists were denounced by the Auditor General. The folks from Bay Street, the professional accountants came to Ottawa to reproach the Auditor General for having discovered their secret; they told him that he had violated one of the great principles of Canadian taxation, the secret, since it was possible to identify a person or family with the information that he had made public.

Instead of congratulating the Auditor General, we in this sophisticated banana republic of ours, shunned him, starting with the chair at the time, who is still a member today, who attacked him as chair, refusing to let any of his Liberal colleagues ask questions, using his background in finance as an excuse. He asked excessively detailed questions to the Auditor General, from his most recent positions on the taxation system to make him look bad, in an attempt to discredit the Auditor General.

I remember this as though it were yesterday, because that is how it was, and this exemplifies this nice, modern banana republic we live in. Those were very dark days, in my opinion, for the pretentious image of democracy that this country reflects, particularly abroad, in using Quebec, in trying to pass Canada off as a bilingual and binational country, when in fact we know quite well, as I said earlier, that in reality, the Quebec people is not recognized within Canada.

Supply October 29th, 2002

Madam Speaker, this morning, the government House leader expressed his satisfaction with the way things work in general here in Ottawa, particularly with the way committees do their job. He even went as far as to say that my colleague from Mercier was also very pleased with the way things work, quoting her as stating that many witnesses were invited to appear at her request or at the committee's request. Yet I have the feeling that my colleague is not as pleased as he claimed she was. I would like her to explain to us the kind of reservations that she has with regard to Standing Orders 110 and 111, which deal with the work of committees and calling on appointees to appear.

I understand that the amendment that she proposed earlier is aimed at improving the situation. I would like to hear her comments on this.

Supply October 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I never criticized the judge in question. I am criticizing the appointment process. I am asking the House leader whether he agrees with the appointment process, where there is no consultation of members of Parliament or any other authority of the Canadian government as to the appointment of a justice to the Supreme Court. This is left entirely to the discretion of the Prime Minister and his office.

Supply October 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, who said that the government House leader was a born comedian.

Personally, I would like to see him as the subject of a sketch in one of the future installments of La petite vie , because what is going on here as we speak is really fit for La petite vie . Given his experience, the leader really has to be happy-go-lucky to interpret parliamentary procedure the way he does.

There is an impending danger for democracy in this great Canada, known as the very best country in the world. Do not forget that more people refrained from voting in the last election in this alleged great country than those who voted for the Liberal Party.

There is a problem. The government House leader reminds me of the Creditists who said “We are standing on the edge, and with Social Credit, we will take a step forward”. This is what the government House leader is inviting us to do.

I would like to ask him this. Does he agree that there is still a problem? In the case of the most recent appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada, where all the dealing seems to have been done on aweekend, the announcement was made public around 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning, when Madam agreed to--

Supply October 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier for his initiative and the passion he used to convince the Bloc leadership to put forward this motion today.

I have two questions for him, one that has to do with the past and one that is related to a more current issue. Let me begin with the more current issue.

We know that, as a matter of internal policy I guess, the Liberal Party of Canada used taxpayer dollars to very politely invite the former member for Verdun--Saint-Henri--Saint-Paul--Pointe Saint-Charles to take a very comfortable seat in the Canadian Senate.

Pursuant to a decision made behind closed doors by the apparatchiks surrounding the Prime Minister, the former member of Parliament is now sitting in the Senate. As the member for Saint-Maurice put it, the riding was practically handed over to the current member for Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles on a silver platter, and she only had to make a personal decision.

I would like the member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier to tell us how such a phenomenon fits in the Canadian culture.

My second question has more to do with the past.

Ivory Coast October 23rd, 2002

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

On September 18, there was an attempted coup in Ivory Coast, thrusting the democratically elected government into a precarious position.

Before the situation worsens and gets out of control, as has happened not that long ago in other African countries, does the Canadian government intend to reaffirm its support of the Government of Ivory Coast, a government that was elected democratically in October 2000?

Canada Pension Plan October 22nd, 2002

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my NDP colleague on his speech and I also want to make a few comments.

First, we cannot talk about a deposit and investment fund in Canada without referring, as my colleague from Drummond did so cleverly, to the existence of as extraordinary an institution as the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which was founded in the 1960s. My colleague from Drummond spoke at length about the work of Jacques Parizeau, one of the great thinkers behind this fine institution.

Mr. Parizeau was one of the great premiers and one of the great finance ministers in Quebec. He was a very bold and courageous premier, a great manager of the province's finances and a builder of Quebec. He is a man of vision but, at the same time, he has compassion for the role of the state, a totally modern state despite what some of the new stars that we see in Quebec today may think. These people have obviously been planted in Quebec, just as is the case elsewhere on the planet, to promote neo- liberalism and to counter the good work that the state can do in a society.

Going back to the Caisse de dépôt et de placement, we should not forget that this institution was established in the heyday of modern Canadian federalism, when the federal government agreed to discuss and negotiate between equals with the provinces. This was the Lester B. Pearson era.

Members need to remember that this fine institution, the Caisse de dépôt et de placement, appears to have been one of the reasons why Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gérard Pelletier, who have been called the three doves, entered politics. They ran and, unfortunately, were elected. They took it upon themselves to put Quebec in its place. The Caisse de dépôt came on the heels of the nationalization of electricity, as a means for a people to better control its own destiny. Thanks to the Pierre Elliott Trudeaus of this world, their meanness, their narrow-mindedness and their egocentricity toward Quebec, this kind of development was never seen again.

I have a question for my NPD colleague. How does he explain the really shameful attitude, as my colleague for Drummond put it, of Bay Street? How does he explain their attitude concerning the Caisse de dépôt?

My second question is this: Can we be sure, with this initiative of the Canadian government, that the Caisse de dépôt et de placement in Québec will not be subjected to the Canadian investment board? Quebec should be recognized as a distinct society, at least in the financial sector.

Centre intégré des pâtes et papier de Trois-Rivières October 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the hard work, patience and in particular the perseverance of many people in the Mauricie area bore fruit this week when the federal government at last decided, close to a year and a half after the Government of Quebec's commitment, to pay its proper share of the funding for the Centre intégré des pâtes et papier de Trois-Rivières.

The CIPP is also funded by public Quebec bodies, namely the Cégep and the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, as well as the pulp and paper industry, and is of vital importance to our region and to Quebec as a whole. It will bring together under one roof not just R and D activities, but also training activities for the next generation of workers in this sector, which will in future require even more specialized labour.

The completion of this project, which is international in scope, represents the outcome of some great teamwork for all of us in Mauricie. I am particularly pleased that this week's announcement falls almost two years to the day on the date on which the regional mobilization campaign was begun, a campaign in which I played a proud and active role.