Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Late Denis Perron April 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the hon. member for Duplessis, Denis Perron, passed away.

Mr. Perron, who was elected to the National Assembly in 1976 and re-elected without interruption since that time, was close to his constituents, had an abiding concern for the future of his riding and was deeply convinced of the need for a sovereign Quebec. Hailing from the North, from iron ore country, Denis Perron was a man of integrity, known for his frankness, generosity and sense of duty.

I had the privilege of his acquaintance, and I imagine that his untimely passing will leave a sense of great loss in his own family and throughout Quebec.

We wish to extend our sincere condolences to his family, his wife Marie and his children Michel, Gisèle and Christian, his staff, his friends and his constituents who supported him in his riding.

Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997

Madam Speaker, my colleague for Beauséjour seems to be speculating about my chances to be back here, in this House, after the election. I would like to reassure him. I know he is about to leave us to assume other duties we do not know anything about yet. I wish him well. I suspect we will soon have a new Senator Robichaud in the other place.

That said, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-65 dealing with endangered species. It is a very serious bill that interferes in areas of provincial jurisdiction. I will get back to this.

It seems quite fitting to be discussing endangered species just hours from an election call. I want to draw a parallel with this absentee government, whose mind is elsewhere these days. One only has to watch Oral Question Period to realize that the ministers would rather be doing something else than answering questions.

Considering the way this government's piecemeal approach, I can say, like my colleague from the Reform Party, who just announced that his party would form the next government, that the Liberal government opposite is certainly an endangered species nowadays.

Our fellow citizens across Canada, and particularly in Quebec, are in a position to know we must get rid of this government. In fact, I would say the greatest threat is not that this government could be out, but that it could come back for another mandate, since we see, as I mentioned earlier, that the main concern of this government these days is to announce good news that the official opposition had been demanding throughout its mandate.

This week there was the manpower agreement announced by the human resources development minister, after 32 years of negotiations, I might add. If this is not a record in terms of stretching out negotiations, it is certainly a good average. At this rate, not many colleagues in this House will see the results of the next negotiations dealing with who knows what, endangered species perhaps. At the rate negotiations are going, the very future of this federal government, of this institution, is in danger.

Consider the intergovernmental affairs minister's attitude when the Quebec government asked for an amendment to the Constitution establishing linguistic school boards. The contempt of this government is obvious as election day nears.

When it is not delaying a decision it should be taking now, such as the one on linguistic school boards, the government is announcing amendments to a bill that has yet to receive royal assent-and I am referring to the tobacco bill. The Prime Minister has succeeded in this incredible feat of announcing, even before Bill C-71, the Tobacco Act, received royal assent, that it would be amended next fall. It is quite an achievement. If ridicule could kill, we would no longer have a Prime Minister.

That being said, I would like to deal briefly with Bill C-65 to point out how this bill is right in the tradition of this government. In their speeches, government members and the Prime Minister, who is here occasionally for question period, keep harping about how, these past few years, their government has been most open to the decentralization of our federation.

But each time the government introduces a new bill, it proves otherwise. Back home we have an expression for that. We say the Prime Minister talks from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, we are being told the government is more open to decentralization, but, on the other hand, whenever the government introduces a bill, like Bill C-65, it tries to centralize even more. The official opposition objects to this intrusion in a provincial jurisdiction. In

the area of the protection of endangered species as in many others, Quebec has already taken its responsibilities.

Since 1989, there has been a law concerning endangered species. There was a consensus in Quebec and all stakeholders asked their government, the Quebec government, to take action, which it did by adopting a bill that satisfied the aspirations and desires of the Quebec people.

It was the same thing in Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, the province you are from and of which you are justifiably so proud, Madam Speaker, which all adopted legislation on endangered species.

But the federal government, as it usually does, decided not to take into account the desire of the provinces to take things into their own hands and solve their problems by talking to each other to ensure that their respective laws are in sync. But no, the federal government decided to barge in and take this area of jurisdiction away from the provinces so it could impose its own views and decisions.

That is the essence of that bill. That is why the official opposition will take its responsibilities and defend Quebecers' interests as it always does when Quebec's jurisdiction is questioned, when Quebec's interests are threatened. And I know, Madam Speaker, that you are proud of the official opposition. We will vote against this bill and ensure that it will die on the Order Paper, so that we will not hear about it anymore, not only during the election campaign, but ever again.

I would also like to point out that the government, by invading this field of jurisdiction, is creating more problems than it is solving, as is usually the case. It would have been much more productive and efficient if the government had simply asked the provinces to reach an agreement in this matter, if it had recognized that a lot of work had already been done since similar laws have been adopted in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and of course Quebec, in 1989. The enforcement of these laws takes necessarily into account the needs of the people.

Madam Speaker, you are indicating that my time has expired. Since I respect the rules of the House, I will comply with your order and end my speech.

Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, could you determine whether or not we have a quorum?

Jacques Villeneuve April 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was absorbed in Formula 1 racing and its professional drivers.

We had a wonderful show yesterday during the retransmission of the Formula 1 Grand Prix from Argentina. After an exciting and challenging race, this young 26-year-old Quebecer, Jacques Villeneuve, climbed the podium for the second consecutive time when he won this Grand Prix.

With his sixth win in 19 Grand Prix races, he not only managed to equal the record of his late father, Gilles, he also showed us all that he is a real Villeneuve, a real champion. He has now become the racer to beat.

I want to congratulate Jacques Villeneuve on his win and I hope he will go on to win the first championship of his young career.

Transition Job Fund April 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the minister will be in Sherbrooke tomorrow. I am anxious to hear what he will have to say in response to the questions from stakeholders in the region who want to know why the Sherbrooke region is disadvantaged by this program, and is placed in direct competition with all of the cities in Canada, and of course all of Quebec.

Is the Minister of Human Resources Development telling us with this response that the Sherbrooke region ought to import unemployed people from elsewhere in order to be eligible for some consideration by this government?

Transition Job Fund April 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Recently, Pierre Dagenais, the Director of the Société de développement économique de la région de Sherbrooke, condemned the federal government because its transition job fund was available only to regions with more than 12 per cent unemployment. It seems that the Sherbrooke region, with its 11.5 per cent unemployment rate, is not entitled to this form of federal assistance.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development explain to us how the Sherbrooke region can be excluded from such a job creation program, when it ranks fourth poorest of 25 major Canadian cities?

Human Rights March 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the least we can say is that when the Prime Minister raises human rights issues he makes few waves abroad.

We will come back home for my supplementary. The commission strongly criticizes the government's inaction in 1996 on the issue of people with disabilities. Perhaps the Minister of National Defence would care to pay attention.

It stressed the fact that, apart from a few isolated breakthroughs, 1996 was for many of them-persons with disabilities-a year of almost total stagnation, with certain hard won gains actually being lost.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the election goodies he offered people with disabilities do not make up for all the many cuts he has made, which are behind the deterioration in the situation of people with disabilities?

Human Rights March 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The new human rights commissioner tabled her first annual report this morning. She criticizes the government's lack of constructive action in a number of areas, including the lack of follow up to the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

As regards foreign policy, does the Prime Minister, who still is refusing to raise the issue of human rights publicly on Team Canada trips, acknowledge that his government is much better at high-sounding rhetoric than practical action, as the Canadian Human Rights Commission argues?

Criminal Code March 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill C-304 introduced by our colleague, the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway, and I have several reasons for that, the main one being that the debate stirred by our colleague is one that has been going on for years in our society. I am convinced-and I will get back to it later in my remarks-that a great many people wish the government would move on this.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway and commend his courage on this issue and others in the past, particularly what he did for Sue Rodriguez. Through his courageous actions, he keeps the debate alive and gives it credibility. This is much to his credit.

As he pointed out, assisted suicide is a serious issue that deserves consideration. Again, this is a moral issue and, as such, it necessarily calls for a free vote in this House and, as hard as it may be to deal with psychologically and emotionally, it needs to be addressed and solutions need to be found.

In debating bills in this House, it is often argued that, when a government at any level adopts legislation, there is already a broad public consensus on this issue. Governments always act after the fact, because governments are seldom proactive, and this issue is a perfect case in point.

My hon. colleague from Burnaby-Kingsway mentioned surveys, and several could be quoted here, all of which clearly show that the public is far ahead of politicians, and government members in particular, because, so far, they have not had the courage to fulfil their commitments in this respect. They are way behind because there is a broad public consensus that this issue should be addressed not only on a legal level but also on a human level.

We all recall that, just a few years ago-I am sure it must have been the same in the rest of Canada as in Quebec-one would go out of his way to maintain anyone who was ill, especially the terminally ill, by any therapeutic means available, whether drugs or technology.

The medical community, and particularly the public, protested against what was then called aggressive therapy. The expression became widely known. Eventually, a stop was put to this practice, except for rare isolated cases. Now, the medical community and the public at large recognize the need to respect the individual.

This is a fundamental notion that comes into play when a person reaches the end of his life. I believe an individual has the legal right, but should also have the opportunity to die with dignity,

when faced with a disease that leaves him no hope and nothing to do but wait for a lingering death.

We can think of the physical and psychological pain of the person who is going to die, but let us not forget the psychological torment of the close ones. That pain too must be taken into account. This is why, in Quebec, the lawmakers introduced a legal provision with a very limited scope, whereby any individual can make what is called a living will. This means that the person can, in an official legal document, decide how he wants his life to end, should he find himself be in a situation where he is unable to make that decision, particularly if faced with an incurable disease that could unduly prolong his life in excruciating pain.

Although I do not have with me figures to support my contention, I know through my family and the people I meet, that an increasing number of people have a living will. In other words, more and more people not only hope, but demand to die with dignity.

It is strange to have a debate on one's right to die with dignity, considering we usually make sure of this for our pets.

Indeed, anyone who owns a sick cat or dog will immediately seek to put an end to its suffering. I am not saying that measures must be adopted blindly that would lead to decisions being taken lightly. I am saying that, when it comes down to it, it seems a bit odd-ridiculous even, I would say-for there to be a discussion of the need to die with dignity. This ought to be an automatically recognized right, which does not need to be proven.

Our present system involves hypocrisy, as the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway has said. At the present time, the practice in Quebec-and in the rest of Canada, I understand-is to relieve the suffering of patients who are headed inexorably toward death by stepping up their medication, even if this hastens their end. This cannot, however, be done openly. Physicians or nurses who do so could be brought before the courts at any time, unless the Criminal Code were amended along the lines the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway wishes. Let us put an end, then, to this hypocrisy, given the public consensus on this.

I will close on this point. A new term would also have to be adopted to replace "assisted suicide". It is true that, in reality, if someone asks to have his life shortened, this is a form of suicide, but I believe that presenting it in this way is putting it in a negative light, whereas all the person is asking is to die with dignity. Everyone ought to have that right.