Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for Chicoutimi (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Elections Act November 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my colleague across the way that, after all she has said about this bill, I think she has left out the most important part. For us, the most important part is the funding of political parties. The bill is silent on this topic. You have, of course, been aware of the Bloc Quebecois's position from the beginning.

The Bloc Quebecois has always fiercely defended the principle by which political parties must get their funding from individual contributions. The bill before us today does not spell this out.

In addition, the political funding of the Bloc Quebecois is not determined by this legislation, but by the legislation governing political parties in Quebec. Accordingly, funding may come only from voters, the only ones entitled to make political contributions.

Thus, having established this principle, we are not at the mercy of organizations and corporations that could, by making very large contributions to campaign funds, blackmail, as it were, those holding power.

I would like to ask my colleague why she did not make the point to her caucus that her party should add a funding policy to the Canada Elections Act that would limit contributions to voters alone?

Fisheries Act November 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, as regards the first part of the statement made by my colleague from Gaspé, I would like to inform the members of this House that, despite everything that happened in July in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, if the minister decides in the coming hours to take a real stand on ice fishing in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, because the flooding caused river banks to shift, this activity cannot continue without the permission of the minister of fisheries. I therefore invite the hon. members of this House to come and visit us and take part in this winter activity, thus giving the region a much needed boost in light of everything it went through. We are therefore promoting winter tourism.

As for his comment on the bill itself, I would simply like to say there are three problems the bill does not resolve. It maintains the status quo as regards the problem of overcapacity. Only the industry and the provinces concerned can decide what quotas the industry can absorb and the resource can tolerate. This must be decided not by federal standards and in high places, but by those who are close to the people earning their living from it.

To my way of thinking, this bill represents the status quo. The Bloc Quebecois wants to encourage the growth of a more independent and cost effective fishing industry-which is important for the people living off this resource-and especially one that is free of the many subsidies, which do not please everyone. We want to get rid of this sort of thing.

People want to work, they want to earn a living from this resource. They want to develop it into something that is cost effective. So let us give these investors-small or big-all the means they need to draw reasonable incomes from this industry.

I am sure, as it is a regular occurrence, that we will not be seeing people exerting pressure on the ministers any more in an attempt to remedy things. Why not correct everything when we have the opportunity? We could do it, if the current minister of fisheries went back to the drawing board.

Fisheries Act November 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her comment, which reflects what members of the industry want, that is to make theirs a professional industry.

However, the bill before us is silent on these issues. It is merely a merging of several existing acts. It maintains the status quo. What is new in this legislation? For example, does it say anything about how to make the industry viable and profitable? Does it say that the government is prepared to protect the investments made by fishers to develop their industry? The answer is no. This bill is general in nature, except for the fact that it gives the minister more and more power over the various organizations.

We know that, the more the minister consults these organizations, the less he follows up on what people are asking him. The same thing happened with other bills. Therefore, the problem will not be solved with a minister like this one, who does not give a hoot about the consultations he holds all over the country. The minister made a lot of people come to meet him and to make representations. What was the result of this whole exercise in the proposed bill? Nothing. A big zero.

For example, did the minister streamline regulations to help members of the industry adjust more easily? No, nothing was done in this regard. What about the issue of excess capacity? There is absolutely nothing on this either. Again, the minister has a short-sighted vision of what is going on in this industry. He does not realize that, if the bill is passed by this House, it will apply for many years to come and fishers will have to do without any improvement. The result is that the industry will once again experience total chaos.

The minister must review his position, and I hope many Liberal caucus members will inform him of their intentions and get their message across.

Fisheries Act November 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill that was introduced by the fisheries minister. First of all, I must say that, with this bill, the federal government is not taking any action to ensure that, in the future, fishing will be done in a responsible way, that is, in a profitable and sustainable way, from viewpoint of both the environment and of industry workers.

To me, this bill represents one of the worst to be introduced in the House since our election. Yet, it should be the bill of the century. It combines several acts, some of which have existed since 1867. It is one of the worst bills I have seen, because it does not take into account the industry itself. Also, it does not take into account those who work in it and, particularly, those who depend on it.

Did this bill try to do anything to solve the problems of overcapacity? Absolutely not. Was there any attempt to solve the problem of industry revenues, of the industry's viability? Absolutely not. Dis this bill try to do anything to solve the problem of over-regulation? No.

Furthermore, this bill does not take into account Quebec's demands with regard to fisheries. Thus, this bill has the same characteristics as many others, that is, that the federal government keeps on acting unilaterally and maintains its centralizing perspective, which the Bloc Quebecois has always rejected. This is also unacceptable to the stakeholders in the industry.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has obviously learned well, and learned fast. I must admit that his predecessor was rather good when it came to federal paternalism. Notwithstanding his role in the now famous October 1995 demonstration of love, his predecessor never showed Quebecers he was aware of their needs and concerns regarding the fisheries industry.

While this bill establishes a regime for the conservation and management of fisheries, the minister's priority is to issue fisheries management guidelines. Does the minister realize that, before issuing such guidelines, he should have asked himself what the fishing industry is like in Quebec and Canada?

We all know about the current depletion of fish stocks. In fact, this depletion led to a moratorium on Atlantic groundfish. On the west coast, major steps had to be taken to ensure a degree of control over stocks. This goes to show there is indeed a serious problem. Will this bill solve this problem?

Let us see how the minister intends to go about it. As far as he is concerned, stock management simply does not exist. There is no mention, anywhere in this bill, of this important concept which is, I might say, vitally important to the fishing industry.

There are a number of questions, important questions, that the minister should have asked himself, questions like the following: Who will the fishers authorized to harvest the resource be? Should fishing become a profession, with a limit to the number of fishers? What types of vessels should fishers use? This bill does not answer any of these basic questions.

Is the minister blind? Does he have a vision for the future of this industry? There is no hint of that in here. This bill will put in place a regime for the conservation and management of fisheries. It provides the minister with new powers. If the bill is passed, the minister will be authorized to enter into agreements with fishers' associations or organizations.

These agreements could have a serious impact. There could be agreements on harvest limits and conservation measures for instance. How many licences will be issued and how much will they cost? What will the responsibilities and funding measures applicable to fisheries management be? To all these questions, the minister does not provide an answer.

The agreements could also state that fishers are required to contribute to biological research. As if it was not bad enough that they have to pay to have the right to fish, they could also have to pay for research. Now I have heard it all.

The government will go so far as to provide guidelines regarding the decision to be made in case of major violations of the act. But who will be part of this group of fishers? We cannot find out. There are no guidelines on this issue. With whom will the minister negotiate? Let us not be fooled. We know very well that the minister himself will decide who will sit at the negotiation table. He will invite his friends, of course, and should the minister not agree with those sitting at the table, who will form the group of fishers? The minister will have full authority to renege on his word.

The fishing industry needs clear and precise answers. It has been plagued by uncertainty for too long to now be presented with solutions such as those proposed in Bill C-62. This industry, and a large proportion of those who live off it, has had to put up with unstable and inadequate revenues for too long. Is this what the minister wants to offer to these people?

In Quebec, we feel the fishing industry is one that must be looked after. We feel it is one of the economy's engines. Consequently, our approach is totally different from that of the federal fisheries minister. The Quebec government's official position on fisheries is the one that was stated at the 1994 conference of fisheries ministers, in Victoria.

Quebec then publicly asked the federal government to give to the province full authority over fisheries management. Quebec wants to take full responsibility for the stocks fished by its residents. It is of course understood that any transfer of responsibility should be accompanied by a transfer of the budget set aside for this purpose.

Quebec wants its fair share of fish stocks taken by residents of more than one province. Let us consider how the industry in Quebec sees this share. I would like to point out at this point that Quebec's position was unanimous, including the government and all partners who took part in the forum on Quebec maritime fisheries.

The industry in Quebec believes it is essential to get out of the traditional pattern of interprovincial competition and concentrate on joint management of a renewable resource. A quota would be applied to the available volume of a particular species and would determine how the industry would manage that species.

If this mechanism is applied to all species, it will determine the resources available to each province. This will put an end to provincial bickering. There will be no more lobbying to appropriate a greater share of traditional resources.

Professional fishers would then enjoy stable access to their resources and feel more secure in the major investments they must make in this industry. Once their share is established, the industry and governments, federal and provincial, would be able to concentrate their efforts on developing this sector on a sound basis.

The entire industry stands to gain. When we know what we are entitled to and what is available, we are in a better position to manage the resource and subsequent processing. The minister is aware of the Quebec government's position in this respect. He was advised of this position in September by the Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Once again, the federal government is encroaching on Quebec's jurisdiction. We see duplication in matters such as the conservation and protection of fish habitat and pollution prevention. In case the minister did not know, Quebec has happens to have a Minister of the Environment and Wildlife. He is responsible for the protection and use of the aquatic environment and the resources found therein.

Quebec has jurisdiction over civil rights, private property, municipal authorities, physical planning and resource management, and this includes any matter of a local or private nature. It is therefore up to Quebec to take the responsibility for managing the aquatic environment and to take all necessary steps to protect it, to ensure the quality of that environment and to conserve its resources.

So what is the federal government doing here? Why more duplication? This is unacceptable federal encroachment. Since

1993, we have said repeatedly in this House that this government is increasingly encroaching on the jurisdiction of the provinces.

This government must absolutely allow the provinces to decide if they rather be subject to federal standards or to their own. Quebec has asked not to be subject to federal standards. The minister must reconsider and respect Quebec's wishes, thus preventing costly duplication.

I would like to draw attention to the new structure imposed under Bill C-62. This bill provides for the establishment of fisheries tribunals. The members of these tribunals could be appointed by the government for three year terms, and then be reappointed. As if the government had run out of places in the current structure to appoint its friends, it is now creating fisheries tribunals. This way, the minister retains complete control over the sentences handed out by these tribunals. We know full well that those who are appointed by the government must toe the government line.

Does the industry agree with the proposed creation of fisheries tribunals? No, it does not. Those involved do not want to answer to an administrative tribunal. We have magistrates in Quebec and Canada. Our judicial system is very efficient. The people in the fisheries industry want to be treated like any other citizen, they want to be tried by the judicial system in place, not some new structure.

The minister must abandon his plans to establish fisheries tribunals and go back to the drawing board as soon as possible. He must review his bill. He must listen to what the industry has to say. He must also take into account Quebec's demands, and ensure that his bill meets the needs of those who depend on the fisheries.

The fisheries industry is too important an industry, in Quebec as well as in Canada, to have a bill imposed on it that does not meet the needs of those who depend on it. It is therefore imperative that the minister go back to the drawing board.

Employment And Health November 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is already a well known fact that the poorer people are, the more they risk getting sick. Three medical researchers in my region took this statement one step further, coming up with figures to confirm it.

The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region lags in the job creation department. Year after year, our region posts the highest rate of unemployment in the country. At the same time, greater use is made of health care services in our region than in others.

The regions' level of economic development must be boosted in order to improve the health of the population. More must be done to create jobs. Putting people back to work will reduce health costs in our region. This is true not only for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region but also for all the other regions. It makes sense: give people work, and health costs will go down.

The Divorce Act November 4th, 1996

First of all, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment, since this is the first opportunity I have had to speak since then. I had the pleasure of sitting with you on the joint committee on regulation, where I appreciated your contribution to each of the debates we had in the other place.

Today, we are once again inundated, literally inundated with motions put forward by the Reform Party that do little if anything to improve the bill before us.

The latest proposal would require the Minister of Justice to table every proposed guideline before this House for referral to a standing committee of the House of Commons.

We in the Bloc Quebecois have a problem living with the proposed amendment, and particularly with the word "each". This would have the effect of including provincial guidelines. Basically, what this amendment tells us is that provincial guidelines recognized by the federal government will be those referred to by the term guideline in the legislation.

All this is is a switch between provincial and federal guidelines. And that is unacceptable to us in the Bloc Quebecois.

In fact, there is consensus around this issue in Quebec. Our system, the one currently used in Quebec, works just fine. The measures approved and adopted last year for the collection of out of province support have pleased almost everyone.

These guidelines met the needs of Quebecers. They also met the needs of children. To the extent possible, these guidelines have done the most to ensure the well-being of children, although this is an area where there is always room for improvement. Not every case is the same. Almost all decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis.

The amendment put forward by the Reform Party does not improve the bill in any way. It still gives the federal government the right to replace the whole Quebec system with its own. In fact, clause 1(4) provides that the governor in council may, by order, designate a province for the purposes of the definition "applicable guidelines". That is interference.

The verb "may" is used. Let us consider its meaning. Any guidelines issued by a province must be approved by the federal government to become applicable. This is another example of centralization, of paternalism. They are not withdrawing but centralizing even further. The federal government imposes its vision on the provinces, although this vision is not always in line with reality.

Which government is better able to meet these needs? Federal rejection of the guidelines established by a province could give rise to some absurd situations. The most striking example is that of a separation handled according to provincial guidelines, while the divorce would have to follow federal guidelines. This could make a huge difference in the ruling, in the amount of support for each child.

The Quebec legislation on separation is more generous than the federal law on divorce. This clause must disappear. Such iniquities are unacceptable. The discretionary power given by the verb "may" must be taken away from the federal government.

This is what gives the amendment proposed by my colleague from Québec its whole meaning. This amendment is aimed at limiting the list of criteria the provinces must comply with to have their guidelines recognized by the federal government as superseding its own.

I ask government members to reflect on the amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois, so that the provinces' guidelines are approved by this government. In fact, the amendment provides that, once a province has complied with federal criteria, its own guidelines will automatically replace those of the federal government. This would prevent strange situations where children, whom the act is supposed to protect, would suffer from a measure that would have become unfair.

I will conclude by pointing out that selecting the payer's address as the place of residence, instead of the child's domicile, for support purposes, creates an enormous problem. Those who avoid their responsibilities in this regard often do so simply by virtue of the fact that the payer's place of residence was chosen, instead of the child's domicile.

We have a lot before us. The Bloc Quebecois tabled its amendments. I ask members opposite to carefully review each of the proposed amendments, not in our interests, but in the interests of our children.

Divorce Act November 4th, 1996

As I said, this is a vast country. I did not say it was the best country in which to live. I said that it covered a wide area.

We are completely distinct. We are not alike. What works in British Columbia does not work in Quebec. What works in Toronto does not necessarily work in Montreal. There are therefore distinctions to be made.

Members will recall that the discussions concerning child support payments arose from the Thibaudeau case. This case forced the government to throw together a bill that, as we see today, is in need of amendment. The bill before us, with all its amendments, includes a number of measures to ensure that children's interests are respected. However, most of these measures are unsatisfactory.

The guidelines respecting the determination and amount of child support orders make no sense at all to me. This part alone should be completely overhauled. I do not think it meets the expectations of the people concerned. In reality, judges will now have guidelines to follow in determining the amount of child support. They will no longer be able to exercise discretion. They will no longer be called upon to make a decision, but merely to approve what the government wishes to enforce. This, in my view, is very different from allowing them to exercise discretion, and so on.

Where is the happy medium that will respect the rights of children? With these guidelines, the government is on the wrong track. I will not be revealing any great secret when I say that the federal model before us is inconsistent with the Quebec model.

Furthermore, the criteria governing the guidelines are very different. In order to see this difference, perhaps we could take the concrete example of a non-custodial parent who is an income security recipient. In Quebec, this person does not have to pay support. It is very easy to understand why. He or she barely has enough to live on as it is. Yet, in what is being proposed to us, this individual might have to pay child support.

Is this really realistic? When that question is asked, even if the individual has the best of intentions, he or she will not be able to meet obligations. This bill also assumes that the parents' incomes are equal for purposes of paying child support. Only the income of the non-custodial parent will be taken into account.

This loses sight of whom the support payments are for. They are for the children. In Quebec, support payments are based on both parents' ability to pay, which, as you will agree, means shared responsibility for the children. There is, therefore, a world of difference, a vital difference between what they want to apply here and what is done in Quebec.

Moreover, this system has been tested, and the latest measures adopted in Quebec are satisfactory to everyone, at this point. With this bill, the federal government can, with a sweep of its hand, completely do away with everything that is being done in one province, compared to another.

Moreover, it is also stated that the Governor in Council may, by order, designate a province for purposes of the definition of "applicable guidelines".

The verb "may" is used just about everywhere. This has just been discussed. It means that, if a province issues guidelines, it absolutely must obtain the blessings of the federal government for these to be applicable.

The same federal paternalism as always. The federal government is, therefore, imposing its view on the provinces, but it is a view that does not always take reality into consideration. Let me tell you, I personally can do without this centralizing paternalism, which is the trademark of this government, moreover. If a province finds the guidelines it has set being refused, this could lead to absurd situations.

The most striking example is one where a separation is governed by the grid of a province, while the divorce would be under the federal guideline. A mother of two who separates could be awarded $1,500 under the provincial grid, while another who divorces could get $1,000 under the federal one. Where does the problem lie?

Let us identify this problem. Such a rule must be done away with. This is why we must take away all the discretionary power that this bill gives the federal government and, therefore, the amendment proposed by my colleague from Quebec must be seriously taken into consideration.

This amendment provides that once a province has satisfied federal criteria, its own guidelines will automatically be recognized in replacement of federal guidelines. This would eliminate the possibility of facing situations out of control like the one I referred to earlier.

Another aspect of the bill which concerns me a lot is the provision which takes into consideration the place of residence of the payer instead of that of the child for purposes of the award. Once again, they forget that this legislation must serve children exclusively, yet it tends to forget them too easily.

However, children should be at the core of this measure. This bill must be improved for the protection of those children. We hope and I eagerly hope that the members opposite will take into consideration each of the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois in order to improve the protection for our children, and I stress the word protection.

Divorce Act November 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, following on my colleague, I am pleased to rise today and give my opinion on Bill C-41, and particularly on all the motions tabled this morning. It is clear, from the number of motions and amendments now on the table that this bill must be overhauled.

If it had been drafted in such a way as to meet with unanimous approval, we would not be faced with so many amendments and motions. This points up the federal government's vision on child support payments. When I say vision, unfortunately the federal government has once again forgotten that this is a vast country. Regardless of what members across the way think, we are not all alike.

The Death Of Arthur Tremblay October 28th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, former Senator Arthur Tremblay died yesterday morning in Quebec City at the age of 79.

He participated in the campaign against Duplessis, worked as a senior government official, became the first Deputy Minister of Education in Quebec history, and was the driving force behind the educational reform of the 1960s. After serving as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, he was appointed to the Senate in 1979.

As a great servant of the state, he always put Quebec's interests first. He was an architect of the quiet revolution, but his political reflections led him to oppose the unilateral patriation of the Constitution. Bitterly disappointed when the Meech Lake accord failed as a result of Newfoundland and Manitoba's opposition, he joined the sovereignist ranks. As former minister Marc-André Bédard reminded us, Senator Tremblay was a perfectionist, and not the kind of man to take position without careful consideration.

Senator Tremblay will remain a great Quebecer to us all. To his family, I wish to express our sincerest condolences.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act October 28th, 1996

Madam Speaker, following on my colleague, I will speak today to Bill C-29, which the government attempts to sell with three main reasons.

First of all, it comes right out and tells us that manganese represents a serious danger to public health. The second reason it gives is that it could result in extensive damage to antipollution systems in vehicles. The third reason it gives is that this bill provides an opportunity to harmonize our policies with those of the United States. These are the three reasons given for the bill.

In my opinion, the government has only one real reason for introducing this bill. It is a question of protectionism. We know that the product that will replace manganese is ethanol. This bill is an attempt to protect ethanol producers in Ontario and western Canada. This, in my view, is the real reason why the government has introduced this bill.

We must not forget that in 1994 the then environment minister and the then health minister positioned themselves with respect to this bill. These two ministers put forward a development program designed to protect ethanol.

Once you have a program, you are talking about money invested. This program has a 70 million dollar budget. There is no turning back; significant funds have been committed. Naturally, the major factories are going to be in Ontario and western Canada.

However, the government is also forgetting that there are important social costs associated with this bill.

Considering the present economic situation, it would be irresponsible to ignore the additional costs that would result if this bill were passed. The petroleum industry mentioned that it would cost $7 million in Quebec alone to bring about the necessary changes. Imagine the millions of dollars it would take across Canada. And someone will have to pay for all this. In the end, it will be the gasoline consumer.

The petroleum industry tells us that automatically, people will be laid off. Today, with the level of unemployment we have in Canada, we cannot afford to let any industry proceed with lay-offs. The order of the day should as follows: put people back to work and let them feel proud of themselves once again. We cannot afford lay-offs in this industry.

And what about damages of $275 million being sought by Ethyl Corporation, an American company that produces manganese? This company alleges that NAFTA has been violated. Do we have so much money in this country that we can afford to take this lightly? Has the Minister of the Environment consulted his legal advisors? At a time when the government is making cuts in social programs and health care, this is a very serious matter. If the government is in such a hurry to spend its money, I suggest it consider how many jobs it could create with that money.

The House will agree that if this bill is passed, it will be a very expensive proposition. So it is rather irresponsible to go ahead with this bill. Furthermore, the government should take the advice of the provinces and act on that advice. Of course we all know the federal government has no respect for the provinces. This has been a long standing rendition.

And in this bill, the government is true to form. We all know that six provinces out of ten vehemently oppose this bill. They are calling for nothing less than its rejection. Interprovincial trade is

threatened, so the provinces have some say in the matter. However, as we all know, the government's attitude is centralist.

In committee and on second reading, we in the Bloc Quebecois tried to have this bill postponed. We urged the government to wait until various studies had been concluded before making a decision, and to consult those who had something to say about the bill and to listen to these people. That is how important the matter is.

We do not need the kind of consultations we had with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans a few months ago, who did not take the process seriously.

I think that the impact on health and the environment is too serious for us to accept this bill. The minister should go back to the drawing board, let more people have their say and also wait until all the studies are in before coming back with a new bill. That is why the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this bill on third reading.