House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

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

Won his last election, in 1997, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taxation April 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the President of the Treasury Board.

One of the recommendations of the Bloc Quebecois on tax reform concerned the Governor General's salary of $97,400 on which he does not pay a cent of income tax. Of course, the Minister of Finance did nothing about this.

Although all taxpayers must do their fair share to help the Minister of Finance fight the deficit and even the Queen of England now pays income tax, what justification does the minister have for the fact that her representative in Canada, with a salary of $97,400, does not?

Polyvalente Charles-Gravel April 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Le Gravillon , a newspaper published by the polyvalente Charles-Gravel in Chicoutimi, is among the winners of the merit award for French in education. The paper received the award from the conseil pédagogique interdisciplinaire du Québec in the secondary school category. Le Gravillon has become well known for the quality of French in its articles and editorials, all of which are written by students at the Charles-Gravel secondary school.

Under the supervision of teacher Martin Tremblay, Le Gravillon has over the years become a tool for promoting the French language, while mobilizing the school's resources and energy to offer a quality product.

Three cheers for Martin Tremblay's team and for the students at Charles-Gravel.

Somalia Inquiry March 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, we have heard that the Liberal government has decided to substitute a Senate committee for the Somalia commission of inquiry headed by Mr. Justice Létourneau.

The public will not be fooled. The government is clearly doing everything it can to try to patch up its defence minister's mistakes. In fact, the Senate committee will be both judge and judged. Think of all the attempts to cover up the truth that have been made under the Conservatives and the Liberals.

We will recall that documents were falsified, and others shredded or otherwise destroyed. We also recall the "search day", the big scramble for lost documents. A real farce.

What we want, and all Canadians want, is the truth. Again, the Liberal government, by refusing to extend the mandate of the Létourneau commission, is undermining whatever little credibility it has left.

Supply March 12th, 1997

Tell the truth.

Tobacco Act March 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I listened very carefully to the hon. member who spoke for the Liberal Party. I see that he too is very concerned about the economic aspects. Apparently, his riding is in an agricultural area where a lot of tobacco is grown. He mentioned 16,000 jobs, 22 per cent of all farm jobs and $56 million worth of taxes. And this is in a very rich province. Today, the economy in Montreal and the province of Quebec is facing a host of problems.

I would appreciate if he would explain a few things for me. Did he at any time consider talking to his government to try to establish a measure of fairness and ensure some kind of economic balance?

Not so long ago, when it wanted to harmonize the GST in the provinces of Eastern Canada because it thought they would lose a lot more than Quebec, the government offered them $1.2 billion or $1.3 billion as compensation. It has been calculated that in the province of Quebec, and especially Montreal, this bill will cost us $30 million.

I wonder why the Liberal Party, which decided to give $1.2 billion in compensation to the provinces in Eastern Canada, would not do the same for Montreal. Does he think he could get this point across to his government?

Tobacco Act March 6th, 1997

It has been a long time since you yourself were in Montreal.

City Of Châteauguay March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, last year, in January 1996, the City of Châteauguay suffered severe flooding because the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft was not available to clear the mouth of the river, as it was being repaired.

This absurd situation prompted me to ask on several occasions that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans make sure to change the maintenance schedule of this craft so that, in future, it would be available, if needed, during the months of January, February and March.

This year, when we had this spell of milder weather on February 21, the hovercraft was able to respond. As Bruno Dufour, the hovercraft captain, indicated, this year, they did not want to take any chances, and the craft was overhauled in November in order to be ready to respond to any emergency come January.

I am very happy that the citizens of Châteauguay did not have to contend with more flooding this year.

Tobacco Act March 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-71, the Tobacco Act. This gives me the opportunity to explain to constituents in the riding of Châteauguay where my party and I stand on this bill.

Concerning the principle of this bill, as we have said many times, we voted for it at second reading. Indeed, I feel it is important to inform and educate people and eliminate the subliminal propaganda aimed at children. We know that tobacco use has an impact on the health of Quebecers and Canadians. That is why the Bloc Quebecois gave its approval in principle at second reading, as long as changes were made to the way the products could be displayed in the stores, that the regulations were tabled immediately and that more leeway was given for sponsorships, but this is not the case.

We intend to vote against this bill at third reading. While we support the principle of regulating the use of tobacco, we do not agree with the measures associated with signs, particularly with regard to sponsor identification. We also have a problem with the future regulations, because they give the minister too much leeway in the implementation of this bill and the way the products are to be displayed in the stores does not meet our demands.

As I was saying, the negative impact of tobacco use on the health of Quebecers and Canadians has been proven and demonstrated. This Liberal government is mistaken if it thinks that banning sponsorships is the solution. Moreover, we know that many Liberal members, and also senators, have their doubts about the bill this government is getting ready to pass. However, they do not have enough backbone to defend Quebec.

The government must be really out of touch to think that smokers will give up their habits if Benson & Hedges stops funding the fireworks. How can it imagine that non-smokers will start smoking simply because events such as the Grand Prix in Montreal are sponsored by tobacco companies? We do not need advanced courses in marketing to understand that sponsorships are an extra advertising tool for the brand, and not for the decision to start smoking.

Would it be dreaming in technicolour to think, as the labour minister told Liberals gathered in Quebec City last weekend, that other sponsors could take over from the tobacco companies? That will not happen and, contrary to what the minister said, it is not blackmail on the part of tobacco companies. We, in the Bloc Quebecois, believe that several international events are threatened.

I would like to give us more food for thought in debating this bill. Little has been said about the therapeutic aspect of the various cultural and sports events sponsored by tobacco companies. Has consideration been given to how beneficial these events bringing the people of Quebec together can be? These are excellent opportunities for communities from various backgrounds to meet at one given place to share each in their own way experiences that are often quite meaningful.

Often, families and other groups that make up Quebec's society get together for such events. There is no doubt that all these events provide a break from routine, rest and entertainment. It would be most unfortunate that such festive reunions would be killed in the name of ensuring the well-being of Quebec's society. The Minister of Health should be sensitive to this reality, because it affects the mental health of an entire community.

Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that we will be able to undo the harm done after losing the only Formula I Grand Prix race in North America. Bear in mind that, in stubbornly rushing this bill through, the Liberals are forgetting their promise for jobs, jobs, jobs. I agree with my hon. colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata, who suggested that the Minister of Health was out of touch with the reality and economy in Quebec and that the Prime Minister should get involved.

Is there anyone in this government who takes Quebec's interests to heart? I hope to see Liberal members from Quebec rise for the first time to oppose this bill that will seriously affect Quebec's economy.

Do not tell us that this bill has the support of the people of Quebec. It is not true. For example, a SOM- Le Soleil poll conducted last December showed that close to three quarters of the adult population in the Quebec City region were opposed to the provisions contained in this bill. Moreover, at noon today, merchants from downtown Montreal held a protest against this bill, which will adversely affect the restaurant, tourism and business industries. The Montreal Chamber of Commerce stated its opposition to the Liberal government's bill by calling it a fundamentalist measure.

We must say it loud and clear to Quebecers: this bill goes beyond the laudable goal of fighting tobacco consumption. It will directly affect Montreal's sports and cultural events. It will make them disappear, thus eliminating a whole industry in the city's economy.

This is a sad record for a government that is about to call a general election. Chances are the upcoming polls will be very revealing for the Bloc, which really looks after the interests of Quebecers. The bill also reflects a favourite tactic of this Liberal government. I am referring to the postponement, until after the general election, of certain irritants such as the implementation of clauses 24(2) and 24(3) on sponsorship. This is a tactic frequently used by the Minister of Finance, and it most certainly inspired his colleague, the Minister of Health.

Even though some measures are being postponed, international events such as the Montreal Grand Prix will be in jeopardy as early as this year, because of certain clauses of the bill dealing with issues such as broadcasting and communication media.

For all these reasons, I will oppose the bill at third reading, and I urge all members to do likewise. We will vote against this bill at third reading.

Excise Tax Act February 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw these words because I was quoting a text, not making an accusation.

That is what Quebecers and Canadians will remember-in any case, they heard it on television and they read about it in the media-when they mark their ballots in the next general election.

I deplore the attitude of a government that tries to prevent us from doing our job as parliamentarians. As a member of the official opposition, I may remind this House that we had less than 24 hours to examine a very technical bill more than 300 pages long, before proceeding with second reading.

This week, the opposition had not yet received the printed version of Bill C-70 as amended in committee, and this was 24 hours before resuming debate on third reading. How can we possibly do our job as parliamentarians under those conditions? Either the Liberal government is terribly inefficient or it is deliberately engaging in obstruction. Hon. members may draw their own conclusions.

This has been said before but it bears repeating: the Liberals do not keep their promises and have a very selective memory.

Not so long ago when they were in opposition, in November 1989, the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Finance maintained that the goods and services tax proposed by the Conservative government was not a good proposal and that no amount of tinkering would make it fair to the taxpayer.

But what are that same party's representatives proposing today, if not tinkering? It makes no sense. Hiding the tax in the price does not change anything. The GST stays the same, at the same rate, and the provincial tax will harmonize accordingly. This tax will be just as bad and just as unfair to the taxpayer.

By hiding the GST in the sales price, the government is opening the door wide to a possible increase in the GST in the days to come. And do not tell us that consumers want this. Consumers want the Liberal government to keep its promises, including scrapping the GST.

The official opposition believes there can be no sales tax reform without a tax reform that covers all forms of taxation at all levels of government. For more than three years, the Bloc Quebecois has been asking the Minister of Finance about this, but the minister and his government prefer to cut transfers to the provinces, and the Prime Minister prefers to choke the unemployed.

There was the survey by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in 1994, in which 70 per cent of Canadian businesses said they were opposed to hiding the tax. In February 1996, the same survey reconfirmed this point, with not 70 per cent but 76 per cent of Canadian businesses opposed to harmonizing the tax. That is revealing.

Another major problem is the political gift to the maritime provinces of some $1 billion in tax money paid by Canadians. The official opposition thinks all provinces should also benefit from agreements relating to harmonization, including compensation. Why should there be a double standard on the issue of compensation?

As my time is up, I will conclude by saying that Quebecers will see once again it does not pay to work with the federal government. They will see that the approach of this government has not changed. It is plan B, and we will continue to oppose it.

Excise Tax Act February 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-70. Before addressing the subject matter of the bill, I would like to respond, if I may, to something that was said by the hon. member who spoke before me.

He accused the Bloc Quebecois of being against harmonizing the GST. Either he misunderstood what we said or he got it wrong. Quebec was the first province to harmonize its sales tax with the GST, and we did it at our own expense. What we disagree with is the fact that, months before an election, the government is considering spending $1.3 billion to help eastern provinces harmonize their taxes, while we did it at our own expense. That is what we object to.

Allow me to say a few words today about Bill C-70. First of all, I wonder about the democratic values underlying this Liberal government's actions. The public is shocked by the way this government operates, which is hardly transparent.

I told you yesterday how difficult it was to obtain information from Heritage Canada on the cost of the Take it to Heart program, an initiative to promote Canadian citizenship. The Liberal government is taking a hard line on more serious and complex issues. There are countless examples. Just think of the Somalia inquiry, the Krever Commission, the Airbus affair, the Pearson Airport deal. The Liberals are camouflaging the facts and hindering the proper functioning of our democratic institutions.

If we had to find a three-letter word that best sums up the image, the weakness, the incompetence of this government, the one that would immediately come to mind is "GST", because it represents unkept promises, mismanagement, improvisation, arrogance, lack of accountability, deceit.

That same undemocratic attitude motivates the government in connection with the GST. They are rushing this bill through, systematically concealing the facts from Quebecers and Canadians, so as to clear the way for the next election campaign.

What they will not be able to conceal, however, is the embarrassment of the Prime Minister and the Heritage Minister over their failure to keep their promise to scrap the GST, to kill it. It is clear that the Prime Minister does not want to have to apologize again, as he had to after his appearance on the CBC on December 12, when Johanne Savoie, a Montreal waitress, backed him into a corner by asking him about his campaign promise on the abolition, pure and simple, of the unpopular goods and services tax. Let us recall the Globe and Mail editorial headed The Prime Minister is lying'', where it states, and I quote:The Prime Minister told a lie. Not a fib, not a prevarication, not a disingenuous remark-''