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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

Petitions November 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to present a petition from the riding of Champlain, consisting of 9,000 signatures covering 450 pages. This petition seeks the abolition of the Senate.

The text of the petition reads as follows: "The undersigned residents of Canada call upon the House to note the following: whereas the Senate consists of non-elected individuals who are not accountable for their actions; the Senate has an annual operating budget of $43 million; the Senate refuses to account for its votes to the committees of the House of Commons; the Senate does not fulfil its mandate for regional representation; the Senate duplicates the work done by members in the House of Commons; and considering the need for modern parliamentarian institutions and the motion to abolish the Senate now being debated in the House of

Commons; therefore your petitioners call upon Parliament to take steps to abolish the Senate".

The Parti Quebecois November 8th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on November 15, six members of Quebec's National Assembly will celebrate 20 years of public life as members of the Parti Quebecois. They are Jacques Brassard, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean; Guy Chevrette, the member for Joliette; Jean Garon, the member for Lévis; François Gendron, the member for Abitibi-Ouest; Jean-Pierre Jolivet, the member for Laviolette; and Denis Perron, the member for Duplessis.

This is a first in Quebec history. It is the first time six members of the same political party have succeeded in winning every provincial election for 20 years in a row.

On November 15, 1976, these members were elected by the people in their ridings on the basis of the Parti Quebecois' sovereignist option. These members have performed and continue to perform innumerable services for their communities.

I wish to thank and congratulate these members, who, throughout their political careers, have defended the rights of all Quebecers with vigour, conviction and firmness.

Child Poverty October 22nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on November 24, 1989, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000.

During that debate, the foreign affairs minister of the day stated, and I quote: "A day does not go by in this House of Commons when we do not hear ministers of the Conservative regime talk about the deficit. [-]I never heard the Minister of Finance talk about the real deficit in this country, which is those one million kids in poverty. [-]When you have a million children living in poverty, that is the greatest lack of investment. That is the greatest deficit we face".

In 1989, when this speech was made, there were one million poor children in Canada. Today, there are 1,362,000.

When will the government act on this motion passed in 1989?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and talk about Bill C-60, an Act to establish the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and to repeal and amend other Acts as a consequence.

The need for a federal food inspection agency comes from pressure exerted by municipal and provincial governments, the agricultural sector, fisheries and even consumers. The setting up of a single unit in the area of food inspection was therefore awaited anxiously.

Very often those who must deal with the federal system of food inspection do not know to which agency they should refer. Indeed, the present system of federal inspection is such that they must deal with several departments or agencies including Agriculture Canada, Fisheries and Oceans as well as Health Canada. These three departments account for more than $340 million annually in expenditures by the Consolidated Revenue Fund for food inspection.

The creation of a public agency responsible for all federal inspection services was announced in the 1996-97 Budget. This announcement has raised great expectations, and Bill C-60 should now answer them. Unfortunately, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency the federal government is proposing is rather disappointing if you consider its structure, its make up and its mandate.

According to senior officials responsible for setting up the project, the proposed agency is a model of originality. There is no similar agency in the world. However, originality is not necessarily what provinces, municipalities and the agricultural and fishery sectors hoped to get in answer to their requests. These people wanted an end to duplication and in particular they did not want to assume the cost of an agency whose efficiency has yet to be proven.

Bill C-60 says that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is established "in order to consolidate and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of federal inspection services related to food and

animal and plant health and to increase collaboration with provincial governments in this area". All this is hot air, good intentions and window dressing.

In reality, the future agency will be a patronage haven created to reward the friends of the government of the day. The evidence is in clause 5 of the bill which provides that: "The Governor in Council shall appoint a President and an Executive Vice-president of the Agency to hold office during pleasure for a term not exceeding five years, which term may be renewed for one or more further terms". We see clearly this appointment procedure is designed to ensure the executive power's political loyalty to the government. This procedure is arbitrary, unfair and highly partisan. It calls into question the objectivity of decisions and actions that will be taken by the future federal food inspection agency. That is what must be expected from the agency.

That is not all. The agency will also have an advisory board of not more than twelve members who this time will be appointed by the minister responsible for the agency. This absolute discretionary power will probably be given to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, since it is he who gave us Bill C-60.

What we must understand in all this is that the choice of policies relating to the agency's mandate will thus be determined by the minister's friends. Once again, this appointment procedure is totally unacceptable. It does not respond in any way to the expectations of provincial and municipal governments and of the people in the farming sector and fisheries.

Furthermore, the membership of this famous advisory board does not provide any guarantee as to the representation of the farming and fisheries sectors on the committee, and even less about the involvement of the provinces and municipalities.

How will the agency be able, as is mentioned in Bill C-60, to pursue a greater degree of collaboration between federal and provincial departments in the area of federal food inspection if the provinces are not permanently represented on the agency? The provinces have their say in this future agency.

At this time, there is no guarantee that they will have a forum where they may heard, and most of all, there is no guarantee that they will be able to actively participate in decisions that will be taken. These decisions affect them directly and we should not ignore the total lack of judgment the government is showing in this issue.

When we look at the mission of the agency, it is not more reassuring. It says that the Minister of Health is responsible, among other things, for establishing policies and standards relating to the safety and the nutritional quality of food sold in Canada. This prerogative given to the Minister of Health allows him to interfere directly in fields of provincial jurisdiction by setting standards and regulations, which will be applied all across Canada. These powers belong rightfully to the provinces and not to the federal government. This situation must be strongly condemned.

Much was expected from the creation of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Once again, the federal government is disappointing us. What we are offered today is obviously, another example of patronage. Once again, the provinces are being pushed aside and, moreover, the government is making sure that it controls everything by exercising provincial powers.

Nobody in the agriculture and fishing sectors, including the provinces and the municipalities, was expecting such a disappointment. They expected at least to be true partners in the decision-making process. This is not the case. Bill C-60 introduced by the Minister of Agriculture has every possible flaw and we must scrap it.

Oceans Act October 7th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Gaspé for his question. Concerning the fees, we are now visiting our constituents in our ridings and we hear a lot of complaints.

As I said, these fees will ruin outfitting operations and fairs in our ridings, where there are lakes. In Sainte-Thècle, where the lake and forest fair takes place, these fees will reduce the flow of visitors in the nearby communities, affecting the tourism and fishing industries, as well as river canoeing and kayaking. If these municipalities must pay for the lake activities or infrastructures, I think we will see student summer jobs disappear, and this is really too bad. Summer jobs for students as well as every other paying job in our municipalities would be affected.

Oceans Act October 7th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate to my colleague that I am not a member of the government. It is not up to me to find out all the answers. We are here in fact to protect the interests of the taxpayers. We can see today that duplication among departments really exists, even among federal departments.

Moreover, this infringes on the provincial jurisdiction over lakes and rivers. As you know, we have many outfitters in my riding of Champlain. We even have a lake and forest fair. My colleague mentioned earlier the issue of student jobs. Where my riding, which is so rich in lakes and rivers, will be hurt is in its outfitters and fairs. That is why I want to stress the fact that my riding's outfitters and fairs will be ruined.

This is where the student jobs come from. And now, the whole economy of the tourism industry will be destabilized.

Oceans Act October 7th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, before speaking on Bill C-26, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Gaspé on the excellent job he is doing on this issue.

I am pleased to rise in this House to speak on Bill C-26, an act respecting the oceans of Canada. The bill is based essentially on three parts: first, the recognition of Canada's jurisdiction over its ocean areas; second, a legislative framework for a national oceans management strategy; and third, the granting of powers to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, including the power to fix fees, power over marine sciences and, of course, power over the coast guard.

Bill C-26 is a perfect example of how little respect the federal government has for the provinces. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is set to unilaterally impose a fee structure on the marine industry for the services provided by the coast guard, particularly navigational aids and icebreaking.

Not only does it impose a fee structure that is far from equitable, but Bill C-26 also encroaches upon provincial jurisdiction, which it totally ignores, granting the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the power to act without first obtaining the consent of the provincial governments concerned.

The minister uses Bill C-26 as an excuse to legislate in areas that currently fall under provincial jurisdiction or in a grey area. It is clear that the minister is taking this opportunity to settle the situation in his favour by taking over areas where he would like to act alone. The most blatant evidence of this is the fact that the provinces were barely considered in the process.

The tactic is simple: the provinces are led to believe that consultations are being carried out in good faith, but the government then acts according to plan, without making any changes.

We now see the result. While the bill is not yet in force, the Canadian coast guard has already started charging the shipping industry for its services. It should be the other way around. The mess the minister will be plunging the shipping industry and the pleasure craft industry into will come as a surprise to no one.

Just look at the provisions of Bill C-26 and you will understand the meaning of chaos, a real mess.

I will now look at part I of Bill C-26 entitled "Canada's maritime zones". This part refers to the rights the government wishes to legislate. Since the law of the sea is covered under an

international convention, jurisdiction over maritime zones is established accordingly.

This legislation is so much wishful thinking and fine principles. The problem is that the provincial jurisdiction over maritime zones is being totally ignored. Worse still, the government is using the preamble of Bill C-26 to claim sovereign rights over this jurisdiction. Bloc Quebecois members are not fooled by these tactics, and neither are the provinces.

Part II of Bill C-26 sets out the legislative framework for the establishment of a national oceans management strategy. As I said before, the government is trying to assume new powers by taking advantage of existing grey areas. The result is an inappropriate legislative framework and persisting doubts over federal responsibilities as far as oceans management is concerned.

This vague legislative framework is deliberate and suggests that the minister intends to interfere in areas which should come under provincial jurisdiction. As an example, Bill C-26 refers to provincial ministers as mere associates. It goes even further, and places interested persons and bodies on the same level.

The main element of this part of the legislation is without any doubt the environment to which it refers. Indeed, Bill C-26 gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans environmental powers which already belong to the Department of the Environment.

It is as though a sectoral environment department was being established within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a coastal environment department. Why not abolish the existing environment department and transfer the responsibility for environment protection and conservation to all the departments? This would make it a total mess.

Seriously, we know that the tendency in the environment sector is to centralize powers in Ottawa. With Bill C-26, and supposedly because of the national interest, as defined in the Constitution, and the global nature of environmental problems, the fisheries and oceans minister will assume all the powers, including some which are not his relating to the environment.

The best example of this is the definition of "sustainable development", which is found in the bill instead of in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The fisheries and oceans minister will also have the right to develop and to implement a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. In order to achieve all this, officials will first have to set up activity management plans, establish management and consultation organizations, develop multiple programs and environmental standards, as well as collect and analyze scientific data on these ecosystems.

All this implies that the fisheries and oceans minister will turn his department into a perfect model of duplication and waste of public moneys, since it will get involved in all these activities which, incidentally, are already being conducted by Environment Canada or the provinces. Since the minister will be under no obligation to work in co-operation with officials from the environment department or any other department, let alone with the provinces, it should come as no surprise that the marine sector cannot understand what is going on. All this is unacceptable.

Part III of Bill C-26 gives the minister powers regarding fees, marine sciences and the coast guard. It is to be noted that, while the bill has not been passed yet, the minister has already implemented the first stage of the fee structure for navigation aids, which will bring in $20 million. Indeed, companies were billed during the summer, even though the impact study on such fees will only be completed in November. Anyway, we already know what the results will be: the fees will have a devastating impact on the job situation in the marine sector in Canada and in Quebec.

Also, the whole fee policy is unfair. The minister is using the user fee principle to justify the regional rates, which give him the opportunity, for instance, to help out his native province of Newfoundland by granting considerable reductions, which the regions of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes will have to make up for.

We already know that these fees will greatly undermine the competitiveness of the ports in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes areas. The minister also intends to implement charges for dredging ports and the St. Lawrence seaway as well as for ice breaking along waterways. These measures are putting the ports of Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Matane and Rimouski in jeopardy, and that is unacceptable.

Bill C-26 undermines the power of the provinces by granting the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans exclusive powers over the maritime areas, all in the so-called best interests of the country. The government will only succeed in creating a total administrative mess and costly duplication by setting up an unfair fee schedule and by granting the Department of Fisheries and Oceans powers in environmental matters, which are already dealt with by the Minister of Environment.

The proposed measures in Bill C-26 are a threat to the marine sector and this is unacceptable, since the current economic situation requires rational and stimulating action to help create and develop jobs.

Oceans Act June 12th, 1996

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries has unilaterally decided to charge the shipping industry fees for Coast Guard services, including the provision of aids to navigation and ice breaking services. Clauses 41, 47, and 52 of Bill C-26 give the minister the power to charge these fees.

Several amendments to these clauses were put forward by the Bloc Quebecois for the following reasons: to make the fees

principle more equitable and to force the minister to co-operate with the industry and the provinces before fixing or increasing the fees. These changes would prevent the minister from making unilateral decisions without holding public consultations, as he has done for the fees he wants to charge as of June 1996.

In fact, all the witnesses who appeared before the fisheries and oceans committee decried the decision making and consultation process of the Coast Guard, especially the fact that the minister went ahead with the fees without assessing the economic impact on the shipping industry and all the other industries that rely on shipping.

Also, 75 per cent of the witnesses asked the minister for a moratorium on the fees until the impact studies ordered by the Department of Fisheries come out next fall. The witnesses also recommended that the minister cooperate with the shipping industry in carrying out economic impact studies. Lastly, the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes stakeholders reached a clear consensus against the minister's proposal which they, along with the Ontario and Quebec governments, found unacceptable.

Dismissing all these recommendations and objections, the minister is apparently determined to go ahead with this fee structure and does not care about its possibly devastating effect on jobs in the shipping industry, a very important sector of the Quebec economy.

Moreover, several questions on the department's fee structure policy remain unanswered. First of all, this whole policy is based on the regionalization that divides Canada into three regions: the West, the East and the St. Lawrence region. This rather artificial division was advanced by the Coast Guard under pressure by the maritimes and the West. Each new proposal by the Coast Guard means higher fees for boats in the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes region.

The minister mentioned fairness and the user-fee principle to justify this regional division. Yet, when we read the proposal, we see that all the regions and especially the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes area will pay part of the marine services to Newfoundland, which is the minister's province, since the boats that go there will get substantial reductions at the expense of boats in other regions. Moreover, according to the minister's policy, the port of Churchill, in Manitoba, will not have to pay for Coast Guard services.

Another major problem is that the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes ports are increasingly less competitive than American ports. On the one hand, boats using the St. Lawrence Seaway to go to the United States without stopping at any Canadian port will not pay for Coast Guard services, thus greatly threatening the competitiveness of the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes ports.

On the other, the user pay principle advocated by the minister is not respected in a number of instances, in particular for the ports of

Sept-Îles and Port-Cartier, which will pay up to $5 million annually for the use of a single buoy.

Finally, the user fees the minister would like to impose are only the tip of the iceberg, since they only include navigational aids such as buoys, lighthouses, and so on. The other services the department intends to charge for are the dredging of Seaway harbours and ice breaking in waterways.

These other fees may turn out to be much higher than those for navigational aids, and there is reason to be concerned about the survival and ability to compete of ports along the St. Lawrence, particularly the port of Montreal and a number of ports in the regions such as those of Matane, Rimouski and Trois-Rivières.

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the effects of this fee structure in my riding, the riding of Champlain, on pleasure boats, pedal boats and other small craft. These should be exempt from this tax in disguise. The riding of Champlain abounds in hunting spots and lakes and is known as a tourist centre.

This disguised tax, or user fee structure as the government calls it, will harm the tourist industry, which provides the riding with jobs it needs to survive. Imagine the impact of charging user fees for pleasure boats on the economy of a region such as mine. We do not yet have all the details, but there is talk of charging fees for pedal boats and sailboards. I do not know where they will hang the plates, but I am sure they will think of something.

You can imagine what fees on rowboats and canoes will do to the tourist industry in my region. Small and medium sized businesses which depend on the rental of this kind of equipment during the summer season will have to pay these fees. Will they have to be paid annually, every five years, every four years or every three years? I do not yet know how it will work. We could have big surprises. Will these fees be progressive? All that to collect a few million dollars because the finance minister needs money. It is absolutely outrageous!

And think about what it will cost to collect that money. How will the government find all the people who own a pedalboat, a sailboard, a rowboat or a canoe? It is practically impossible and unmanageable. Again, in the end, it will be the small and middle income people who will pay the bill, who will pay the price for the federal government's financial problems. That is why the Bloc Quebecois and myself, who represent the riding of Champlain, will oppose Bill C-26.

Criminal Code May 6th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I think the yeas were louder than the nays.

Department Of Human Resources Development Act April 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his wonderful speech. I would like him to be more specific. We know that Mr. Martin's budget has affected three generations: the 18 to 30-year olds, the 30 to 60-year olds and those who are 60 years old and over.

I would like my colleague to be more specific on the issue of part time jobs. In Champlain riding, there are many part time jobs, and I would like him to explain what it implies. We know that unemployment insurance has been cut, and that this will this category of workers very badly.