House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Champlain (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Quebec Games March 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to the tremendous success of the Quebec Games in the Mauricie region.

As the member for Champlain, I congratulate Yves Charpentier, president of the 1999 Quebec Games, which were the 34th provincial finals, and Réjean Lemay, director general, and the major organizers, for their superb management of these games, resulting in a budget surplus.

Also I wish to thank and salute the 3,500 volunteers who helped run the show, making the games a memorable success in our Mauricie region.

I also want to congratulate all the athletes who are the reason for such a success. I congratulate and encourage all our young athletes in the Mauricie region for doing their personal best in their respective disciplines. These young athletes represented us so well, by winning 19 medals at the 1999 Quebec Games.

Division No. 329 March 8th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I will vote for this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 328 March 8th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 22, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act October 21st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-43, to establish the Canada customs and revenue agency.

The purpose of the agency is, first, to provide programs and services in a more efficient and cost-effective manner, through greater autonomy and flexibility; second, to improve services and reduce the cost of administering revenues and enforcement by working with the provinces to eliminate duplication and overlap; third, to strengthen the effectiveness of the Canadian federation and foster national unity by making the agency responsible for providing federal, provincial and even municipal services to Canadians.

The third objective mysteriously disappeared when the second progress report was tabled. None of the provinces has agreed to enter into an agreement. The provinces, with the exception of Manitoba, remain unenthusiastic about the establishment of such an agency.

In the face of this opposition, Revenue Canada's spokesperson, Michel Cléroux, explained that the provinces had not said no. That is not a very good explanation.

The agency will not produce the promised savings. Its promoters recognized from the start that the greatest savings would come from harmonizing taxation.

However, we all know that the extension of the harmonized or blended sales tax flew like a lead balloon. In addition, the proposed agency will not require the provinces to pay for tax collection and treatment when the provincial program is fully harmonized with a federal taxation program. This free service does not represent a cost reduction but a cost increase for the agency.

The agency's status will also enable its executives to pay themselves salaries comparable to those of business leaders in the private sector.

Regardless of the position one adopts on this matter, one must recognize that it constitutes a new item of expenditure.

Coming at a time when the morale of public servants who are not in executive positions is suffering seriously after a six-year freeze, it must not be lost sight of that, since April 1, the present government has awarded its executives raises of up to 19%.

The agency has already cost the taxpayer rather dearly. Thousands of departmental employees have been involved in design teams and other internal exercises aimed at turning the dream of senior management into reality. A good part of the focus of Revenue Canada has been turned away from more important and more pressing matters.

I will give an example. You will recall a CBC program which reported that, according to Department of National Revenue documents, over 500 of the 1,500 auditor positions in the Toronto region were vacant. This situation would mean a shortfall for the federal treasury in this region of over $500 million in 1997. We estimate the loss would be over $2 billion for all of Canada.

The agency would be a less effective solution than the status quo. The myth surrounding the agency is that it could provide tax services more cheaply and more effectively. However, the structure proposed for the new agency adds another level of bureaucracy in the form of an appointed board of management, which would have nothing more than a supervisory role. Nevertheless, time, money and staff must be provided for the board and its staff.

At the same time, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency would report to Treasury Board on administrative matters, such as its activity and human resources plans.

The agency would upset the balance between tax policy and tax collection. There is, at the present time, a healthy balance between the structure and tax policy, which should be left up to the department and the Minister of Finance, and enforcement of this policy, which is the responsibility of the Minister of Revenue and his department, the Department of National Revenue.

The agency's status would upset this balance. The agency's bureaucrats would inevitably launch into a turf war with their Department of Finance counterparts. This would be a costly and unproductive exercise that would serve the interests of no one but the mandarins.

The agency would open the door to bureaucratic patronage and the abuse of power. In practice, the agency would have carte blanche with respect to contracts, and with respect to the management of property, materiel, information and technology. With limited outside scrutiny, the risk of favouritism and abuse of power by bureaucrats is very, very high.

The agency would pose a threat to taxpayers' privacy. If the agency were actually to achieve its objectives, personal information would be concentrated in a large organization not directly overseen directly by Parliament.

Moreover, internal departmental documents indicate that the creation of a “big brother” raises concerns among some of those involved with privacy issues. We share those concerns.

What do the experts and the business sector have to say about this agency? Nothing good. In his report of December 1997, the Auditor General of Canada voiced concerns about the accountability of the proposed agency by asking: “What assurance will the people of Canada and parliamentarians have that the public interest is protected?”

As well, a Public Policy Forum, or PPF, study commissioned by Revenue Canada reported that Canadian business had serious reservations about the creation of this agency. The PPF report referred to the agency's objective of rationalizing and simplifying tax collection.

However, 40% of the businesses the PPF surveyed saw no advantage to a single national collection agency and 68% felt that such an agency would add to their compliance costs, or have no effect whatsoever.

As we have seen, then, the promise of a single tax collection agency did nothing to bring about the harmonization of taxes in all provinces. For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois and I will be voting against the bill.

Alain Bellerive October 8th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the efforts and many years of consistent work by Alain Bellerive, of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, a doctor in particle physics whose thesis has earned him a two-year contract with the European centre for particle physics research, the CERN, in Geneva. This centre brings together the finest scholars in the world.

Speaking personally and on behalf of the residents of my riding of Champlain, I want him to know how proud we are of him.

Dr. Bellerive, 28, completed six years of advanced studies and is now employed with the leading international laboratory for research in particle physics. This young physicist dreams of coming home to perform similar duties in a Canadian or Quebec university.

Alain, I wish you the best of luck and I hope your dream will come true.

S. Matte Hardware Store In Saint-Tite June 11th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, a page of history will soon be turned in Saint-Tite, in the riding of Champlain, when André Matte and his sister Odette will, for the last time, close the door of the family hardware store that has been part of that small community for 116 years.

The Mattes still have the basket and the snow-pusher that are associated with their business in Saint-Tite. One can still find many other items on the shelves of the family business that was started by Siméon Matte, in 1882.

André and Odette loved their work and did not count their hours. The S. Matte hardware store is closing not because of financial problems, but because there is no one to take over the business. André et Odette Matte, both in their 60s, will enjoy a well-deserved retirement.

On behalf of all the residents of the Mékinac region and the municipality of Saint-Tite, I thank them both. You will be sorely missed.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998 May 25th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this important bill and to the group of motions we have introduced, which consist essentially in deleting any reference to the existence of millennium scholarships.

Why are we introducing this group of motions? Our reason is a good one. We are doing so because, with these millennium scholarships, the federal government is poking its nose into other people's business. During the three weeks of hearings held by the Standing Committee on Finance, 14 Quebec organizations appeared, all saying the same thing, which was that the federal government has no business interfering in an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. According to the very Constitution that these people claim to be defending, the federal government does not have the right to interfere and the organizations are asking for the right to opt out with full compensation for Quebec.

Those who appeared before the committee did so on behalf of organizations as important as the FTQ, the CSN, and university and college student groups. A group of former student movement leaders who presided over the reform in the education sector over the last eleven years came to deliver essentially seven messages to the committee, and more particularly to the federal government. The first of these messages is that, with these millennium scholarships, the federal government is revealing its complete lack of familiarity with Quebec's reality.

Once again, the government is demonstrating its bad faith. If it had wanted to do the right thing, it would have amended the Canada Student Loans Act. We know that all that was needed was to add the scholarships to that legislation and it would have possible to opt out with full compensation.

My first point is this government's bad faith. My second is this. The negotiations under way could have been given a chance, without this rush to pass a bill that, as we know, does not give the foundation authority to allow a province to opt out with full compensation if it so wishes.

Why? It is obvious, the Prime Minister said so himself, that the government needed to be visible. It therefore introduced a bill that does not allow opting out with full compensation.

The board of directors will not have the power to delegate to the provinces. That is why the Bloc Quebecois will be speaking to Bill C-36 today, and it is not in favour because the millennium scholarships do not reflect the reality of Quebec and of Quebeckers.

If there had not been pressure from the Government of Quebec, if there had not been pressure from the coalition in favour of Quebec opting out with full compensation, we would never have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Quebec.

Forty one per cent of the witnesses heard. This means the committee heard 1.2 million people through their associations. It means 80,000 owners of small and medium size businesses.

As we know, the business world, including the Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Quebec chamber of commerce and the Quebec and Canadian association of manufacturers et exporters came and told the committee that Quebec should be allowed to manage its education sector, and that opting out with full compensation should be allowed, so that the money could be used based on Quebec's needs and realities. This is very disappointing.

Several student associations from outside Quebec came to tell the government to listen to Quebec. They said the federal government should, for once, listen to Quebec's demands. I attended a few meetings with various representatives, associations officials and witnesses, and I can tell you that several witnesses realized that the government was acting in bad faith on this issue.

The consensus in Quebec included stakeholders from the education sector and union representatives, but polls were also conducted. In one of them, 71% of the respondents were more supportive of the Canada social transfer. People said it had been very difficult for them to go through the period of austerity created by the cuts, and they felt that, perhaps, the surpluses were not being managed properly, since the government was giving $2.5 billion to a private foundation which, as we know, will have a rather wide mandate. I do not think we should expect a great deal of transparency from that foundation, and I am very disappointed.

Therefore, I ask the consent of this House to postpone consideration of this bill until we have seen the outcome of the negotiations between Quebec and Ottawa. Why not defer consideration of the bill? Mr. Speaker, I am urging you to ask if the House would agree to defer consideration of this legislation.

The government is acting in bad faith. We sovereignists know that many Quebeckers are not acting in bad faith, because they still had hopes that the federal system would undergo a reform. The millennium foundation, because it arrogantly encroaches on the rights of the provinces, has shown the true colours of the federal government. We hope that many Quebeckers who did not yet realize it will now understand that federalism—regardless of which party is in office—cannot be reformed. This government showed incredible contempt for Quebeckers when it thought that this would go through smoothly and that Quebeckers would quietly put up with it, because it is a monetary issue.

Just to top it all off, two weeks ago the three main employer associations in Quebec, the Conseil du patronat, the Quebec chamber of commerce and the Association des manufacturiers et des exportateurs du Québec testified before the committee. These are not exactly sovereignist people. The representatives of these three associations came to tell the government to stop the study of the bill until negotiations were complete. If an agreement is reached, it will be included in the law. If none is reached, the government will assume its responsibility and the opposition its. But there will be no pretence of democracy as is being imposed on us today.

This is why the Bloc has presented motions to eliminate everything to do with the foundation from this bill. Quebec will never allow the government to tromp all over a system it has developed, which is the best in the world. We will never let it happen. We will ensure it does it by gagging us at every stage, otherwise this bill will never be passed.

Canada Post May 7th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour.

Yesterday in federal court, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers filed an application for disqualification of Justice Guy Richard. At the same time, CUPW was calling for the Minister of Labour to sign a negotiated agreement.

Does the Minister of Labour intent to bow to the demands of the union and to resume negotiations?

Éric Bédard February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Tuesday, February 17, Éric Bédard, a speed skater from Sainte-Thècle in the riding of Champlain, won the bronze medal in Nagano in the men's short track 1,000 metre.

I am very proud to pay tribute to the courage and determination of our first Quebecker to win a medal at the Nagano Olympic Games.

My congratulations to Éric Bédard for an exceptional performance. I also offer my congratulations to his parents Gaétan and Claire Bédard and to his family and to the people of Sainte-Thècle.

This is the first time an Olympic medal has been awarded to an athlete from the Mauricie. Éric Bédard's success brings honour to his region and to all of Quebec.

Congratulations, Éric, and good luck in the relay.

Corinne Bourassa-Aubin February 5th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to inform this House that Corinne Bourassa-Aubin, who was born in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès on January 26, 1898, and has been a resident of the riding of Champlain for 70 years, has just celebrated her 100th birthday.

Mrs. Bourassa-Aubin currently resides at the Luc-Désilets home, in Cap-de-la-Madeleine. Married on October 6, 1919, to Rémi Aubin, Corinne Bourassa gave birth to nine children, six of whom are still alive. Today, their family tree includes 20 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

My congratulations to Corinne Bourassa-Aubin. I hope she will have a great time with her family and friends, next Saturday, at the 100th birthday party they are throwing for her.

I take this opportunity to commend the management and staff of the Luc-Désilets home for the care they have given her.

Happy 100th, Corinne.