House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents Act October 19th, 1999

Madam Speaker, it is always with sadness that we rise in this House when we feel it is the last time the government will allow us to speak on a given bill. First of all, let me say that I too feel it is an outrage.

I believe the protection of personal and private information in a bill regarding electronic commerce is something that obviously concerns us all because it very deeply affects all Quebecers and Canadians. One might wonder whether the government has something to hide.

I will remind this House that the difficulty in developing a legislation is to identify the problem and to propose a bill that is so clear that it can also be implemented easily.

First of all, the minister is trying to create dissension because he disregards this first principle. Some of my colleagues just mentioned that, in the summer of 1998 or at a meeting held in the spring of 1998, the minister discussed this issue with his colleagues. However, he presented them with a draft of the bill in September and, if my memory serves me right, he introduced his bill in this House on October 1, 1998. So much for the discussions.

Just like a game or electronic commerce that the minister is getting ready to do, he is making things appearing or wandering at his will. This could instil fears into people.

The second point I wish to raise—and members will say that I am a member of the Bloc and that I am always sensitive to this question—is the issue of jurisdiction.

Of course, when the British North America Act was first enacted, the issue of the protection of personal or private information in electronic commerce was surely not a concern in the legislators' mind. However, we must say that Quebec's Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector is a good one. It is applied in its jurisdiction. It is fully in force.

What I do not understand is that the federal government, by the back door, through its Minister of Industry, wants to pass an act on electronic commerce. By saying in clause 4 that the act applies everywhere in Canada, he is looking for trouble.

I said in my speech that the most difficult task was to find a justification for the enactment of a law and then to define so clearly the issue that the act can be very easily applied.

Because the minister is looking for trouble, I must say, if the bill is passed and if he continues to reject all amendments suggested by the Bloc, we will have two different jurisdictions regulating the same thing.

Since everybody knows that electronic data travels very fast, merchants will have to ask themselves if the data they received or collected on a given day on their customers must be dealt with according to the Quebec act or the federal act.

If they have to transfer data to another province or elsewhere, they will have to clarify the situation before sending it.

The other issue I want to raise relates to the good faith of the Minister of Industry. In the speech he gave when he introduced the bill—I do not remember the date—he said that “Where a province adopts substantially similar legislation, the organizations covered by the provincial legislation will be exempted from the application of the federal law within that jurisdiction. Quebec already has privacy legislation similar to the bill entitled Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, so the province will be exempted from the application of the federal Bill”. That is what he said at the beginning of the debate, but I do not see anything in his bill that would confirm such a statement.

The government will have to amend the bill because the present wording does not allow for such an exemption. The only provision concerning exemptions is found in paragraph 27(2)(d). That provision allows the exemption of an organization, an activity or a category from the application of the part of the bill concerning the collection, use or disclosure of personal data inside a particular province.

In that definition of the power conferred to the governor in council, organizations and activities are mentioned, but it cannot be used to exempt everything that is done in a particular province. We already know that the legislation will have to be changed or amended accordingly.

In light of the bill's flaws, considering that electronic commerce is just beginning and will become much more prevalent in the future, and that this is a sensitive issue for Quebecers and Canadians, why did the minister not accept the Bloc Quebecois' proposal to withdraw the bill and to go back to the drawing board to harmonize this legislation with the Quebec act while also taking into account the need for legislation in the rest of Canada?

It would have been easy for the minister to do that, particularly since the government postponed the beginning of the session. In the process, former Bill C-54 died on the order paper. In the new parliament, it has now become Bill C-6. It moved up in terms of its number, but not much has moved in the minister's head or, I should say, in the department.

Why rush things now? Could it be that after this thundering and daring throne speech, the legislative agenda is such that the government must reintroduce old bills that are flawed and must rush them through parliament? I find it hard to understand. Perhaps this is what the throne speech was all about: do nothing, introduce old bills as new ones, come up with bills that we did not have time to finish debating during the last parliament. One wonders what kind of government we are dealing with.

Madam Speaker, you are indicating that my time is almost up. This is unfortunate, because I would have liked to continue. I would like all parliamentarians who are here to understand—and I must point out the number of members opposite who are here on a Tuesday evening. It is remarkable to see the government benches full—

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief, because I see that members still have many questions to ask.

I would like to tell my colleague that he is right when he says that our constituents are wondering what they will be allowed to fish, even if they are not fishing lobster right now. He mentioned those who fish herring or crab.

He is right to say that some of them are wondering whether they will be able to go on fishing with the uncertain quotas the minister is offering, or whether they are ready to retire. I think the member is quite right, and knows whereof he speaks.

I would like the member to tell us what we can do to get the Liberals to see reason. At the same time, I would like to draw a parallel with what he said about their dealing with problems on a timely fashion. Let us not forget that, in the Atlantic provinces alone, it cost $1 billion to harmonize the GST. They sorted that out one spring.

This time, people need to understand that a similar amount is involved, even more than with the moratorium on the fishery, with the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, or TAGS. This program cost $2 billion. The ineptitude and negligence have been going on for 240 years and that is going to cost something. The sooner we tackle the problem, the less painful it will be.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the question raised by the NDP member and the reply from the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry brings me to another point.

What other skeletons are the Liberals hiding in their closet? Are there other costs like this that we are not aware of? I do not mean to describe the aboriginal nations as skeletons. What I mean is that the truth is being withheld from parliamentarians and non-native fishers. People have a right to know. All of us, myself included, were kept in the dark.

When I was a little boy, I played with friends, not knowing that they would have more rights than I do today. I am very glad for them, but I did not know. Canadians should be told once and for all what other swords of Damocles are hanging over their heads, and not necessarily just in the fishery.

This evening, we are looking at the native problem in the context of the Maritime fisheries crisis. But to use a good old Maritime expression, this is perhaps just the tip of the iceberg.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, if I understood the question, the member is asking me whether I prefer to go back to the courts or put up with further laxity and carelessness from the other side of the House.

Pardon the expression, but there is a French saying about it not mattering whether one is bitten by a dog or a bitch. I would not like to give the judges this responsibility, and I see that there is a lack of leadership on the other side. How will we, on this side of the House, find a way to put pressure on them so that they come to their senses? I do not know.

Many people have suggested that the truth or the way to get out of this mess might well come from the grassroots, and I believe that. Once the stunned reaction of our non-native fishers has passed— I believe them to be very peaceful people—they will be able to come up with solutions. We must have confidence in eastern Canadians. We have always overcome crises, and we will again.

Together, with the communities involved, we must find a way to get the government to take its responsibilities. But, I repeat, Grit or Tory, the problem always remains the same. There is a management problem at Fisheries and Oceans, and it is not for nothing that the standing committee unanimously pointed the finger not necessarily at the government but at the management style in that department.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

I am glad the member has raised this point. This is something the auditor general raised. I know the representatives of some fishers' associations believe the auditor general is not really the one who should decide this. However, there is a problem. The member's question was right and very much to the point. It is up to us now to look into all this. I would remind the House that what the auditor general said and what is contained in the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans about the situation on the Atlantic coast— and this was a unanimous all-party report—is that everybody agrees that there is a management problem at Fisheries and Oceans and that things have to change. If the Marshall decision is the opportunity to start anew, I think we should seize it.

What is being pointed out is significant. However, what is going on in one lobster fishery differs from what is going on in another. There is a management problem. I am tired of hearing the same worn out old record to the effect that it is a conservation problem when it is in fact a management problem.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I will have to share my time with my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry, unless the House gives us more time. The motion says that speeches cannot exceed 20 minutes, but if I can have more time, I will take it.

I took a few notes during the minister's speech, and since he has not yet left to catch a plane despite the advice he was given, I will take this opportunity to tell him what I think. We like having the opportunity to talk to him, but when there is an emergency, he should be there where he is most needed.

The minister recognized right from the start that the natives have rights, which were confirmed by the supreme court, and that these rights are subject to regulations.

All we need to do next is to define the words “moderate livelihood”. It is unfortunate that at this stage I am the one who has to answer the questions. However, I will ask a series of questions he can answer in the questions and comments period if he wants to.

What we are trying to get a definition of is the expression “moderate livelihood”. That is the hardest thing to do here. And I know that the minister, who was a businessman, knows that. For a businessman, the hardest thing to do is to bring people to the negotiation table, but the minister's experience could be helpful in this instance.

I think that the court gave some useful indications. I mean that when one does not want to be stuck, as we are, with a bad judgement, one tries to negotiate an agreement, even a bad one.

In the present situation, the minister will have the opportunity to introduce legislation, to regulate fisheries. I recognize that the other party will not like the first set of rules. However, the only way to settle the issue is to go to court or sit down and negotiate.

I imagine I am not telling the minister anything new this evening, but I am keen to see the agenda he will set. All we saw on the television was the minister calling for a 30 day moratorium. We were not told who he would be sitting down with to negotiate.

I also noted in my speech today the fact that he intends to negotiate with the current beneficiaries, and mentioned that they are the current incarnations of the treaty signatories. I would like to get to know this better in good French or in business language, but I would like a complete list to be sure that there will not be other players joining a month after negotiations have begun.

I would also like the minister to take note when I ask what he is going to do during his 30 days. We would need to know his agenda, what will be negotiated and who will be sitting around the table. Certainly, there will be representatives of the fishers, other federal ministers and provincial ones too, I hope. The House must be reminded that, for every seafaring man, there are, as a rule of thumb, five people working on land. Thought must be given as well to the consequences of processing.

Still in the context of what is to be prepared, when will we know exactly who will be involved in the negotiations? Negotiations must deal with “moderate livelihood”, but the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans signed the UN fishing agreement this summer. Article 5 pertains to commercial fishers as we know them and mentions that the signatory countries are committed to establishing and developing sustainable and profitable fishing.

In this international agreement definition, I do not see the beginnings of the definition of profitable in the vocabulary of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans here in Canada. It is an international agreement in which all the UN countries say, each time the development of fisheries is discussed, “without subsidies”.

What does “without subsidies”, as used internationally, mean in Canadian terms? Does it include EI? Does it include the interest deductions allowed by certain provinces on boats?

I need to know what form the profitable fisheries the minister has already administered would take, because I already imagine the moderate livelihood they have in mind for aboriginals is at least one step up from the threshold of profitability.

I would also like to see a start made on defining the level of profitability as understood by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

One thing that worried me about the minister's remarks was his comment that they had not yet taken in all the implications of the decision. I would have preferred not to harangue the minister unduly when he is new to the job, but it is unfortunate that his department did not have a plan B, particularly when they lost.

Out of respect for native and non-native fishers, I will perhaps avoid trite plays on words here this evening but, in some cases, they have a plan B ready, and in some cases they do not.

I would also like to know what the minister thinks about the different management styles throughout the world because, while we are on the aboriginal problem, I think that the 1867 legislation as it pertains to fisheries should also be revisited because, under the treaties, the discretionary nature of licences does not meet the aboriginal criterion.

We should take this opportunity to dust off Canada's old fisheries act. But the most serious problem is the historic sharing between the provinces.

If we end up having to define the resources we are going to have to give the native fishers, we will need to know where those resources are coming from. Rather than get into individual calculations, why not take the opportunity to look into some form of sharing?

There are management systems and Canada is part of one in which the percentage of each participant is determined before the total allowable catch is calculated each year. I refer to NAFO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, to which Canada belongs.

Why could what is good for Canada when it seeks to reach agreement with its colleagues outside its borders not be good for working with colleagues within its borders? I ask the minister that.

If my choice of vocabulary happens to grate on the ears of the minister or his officials, I would invite them to re-examine the French model, which speaks of stabilization criteria rather than historical share. In other words, I am appealing to a quality in the minister that can sometimes be a defect, but in this case can be positive.

A businessman needs tools if he is to manage. In order to manage, he must be able to plan, and to know how he is going to pay for his boat and for his groceries. The same thing goes for an aboriginal fisher, who has to know how and where he is going to fish, and in what quantities.

Meanwhile, there are short term tools to determine what is needed to buy social peace. Second, the government must make it known to the fishers that it intends to make long term plans and it can take advantage of this winter season to start a permit buy-back program. There are some people who need to make decisions about investing in a boat this winter. They may say to themselves that it is better for them to sell their fishing licence to Fisheries and Oceans because the size of the quota for the coming years is too unpredictable. The government needs to take all of this into account.

If it does not do so as soon as possible, I think it will be irresponsible, and things will be worse than they were right after September 17.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I have never seen so many people taking part so enthusiastically in a debate on fisheries.

I would like to ask a question of the former parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I would like to ask him to comment on the speech made by the Secretary of State for Children and Youth, who said that, according to her, catches by native fishers on the east coast represent only 1% of commercial catches.

I would like to know where the member stands on what the secretary of state said. We just heard his call for calm to both native and non-native fishers.

If this is about 1%, then somebody in the government must tell us how the others will be compensated. Otherwise, I see a double standard.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

I wanted to know what a moderate livelihood is.

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I can see that you are trying to please everyone, but you should not make enemies in your own party.

Many members would like to speak, so I will ask the two questions I have. I am a bit surprised at the suggestion that we should go back to the court with this decision.

Let me ask first this question, just to make sure I did not misunderstand the last remarks of the hon. member opposite. Did he say that we will have to go back to the court to get an interpretation of the decision in the Marshall case?

Here is my second question. The hon. member has been talking about absolutist views, whereas in reality nothing is ever totally black or white. How can we deal with the situation, when the court asks us to do our job and negotiate what a moderate livelihood should mean?

Would the hon. member care to comment?

Special Debate October 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I can see that many members want to put questions, so I would like to give the hon. member for Skeena the opportunity to speak while the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and Indian Affairs are here, by asking him the following question.

Since the House of Commons has recognized the need to hold, on this very first day of the session, after the government has prorogued Parliament, an emergency debate on the fishery crisis and the Marshall judgment, would it not have been important for the government to immediately re-establish both the standing committees on aboriginal affairs and fisheries, so that we could find out who would be representing the government on these committees?

Some members have told us tonight “We are not lawyers nor constitutional law experts”. This committee would have had the opportunity and the money to examine the ins and outs of this issue and help us make a more informed decision on what is happening here.

I have the feeling that the government, just like the minister who would like us to believe that he is doing something, would have us go round in circles. I would remind the House that we do not even have the right to vote on the issue being debated here tonight. In the end, I feel like I may be losing my time here, when there are things to be negotiated.

In the meantime, to be able to inform the people we represent, we should have access to correct and relevant information. I would like to know if my hon. colleague from Skeena is as eager as I am to find out the truth and to see if the government is indeed out of money.