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

Regional Airports December 2nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the secretary of state for regional development.

The Liberal government has set in motion its plan for pulling out of airport management with no regard for the consequences of such a decision on the development of a number of regions in Quebec. Last November 4, representatives of the Charlevoix, Forestville, Rivière-du-Loup, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Sherbrooke regional airports met with the secretary of state for regional

development to argue that these infrastructures were necessary to the economic survival of these regions.

Has the secretary of state looked into these demands and when does he intend to take follow-up action?

Canada Labour Code November 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour recently said, and quite rightly, that the best collective agreement is still one that has been negotiated.

However, the media have informed us that Air Canada is now hiring strikebreakers in case of a strike. The company is brazenly placing job ads offering $10 an hour, $1,400 for a training program, and an $800 bonus for crossing picket lines.

When he tabled his reform of the labour code, the minister said that an anti-scab provision was unnecessary, given that he was convinced of the parties' good faith.

The Bloc Quebecois feels that there needs to be an amendment to the Canada Labour Code prohibiting replacement workers. The situation shaping up at Air Canada proves our point beyond all doubt.

Bank Act November 28th, 1996

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this debate on Bill C-335 introduced by the member for Don Valley North.

The aim of this bill is to amend the Bank Act in order to require, as it says in the summary of the bill, the minister to consider commitment to serving small and medium size enterprises in Canada as a factor in a decision whether to grant letters patent to a foreign bank to operate in Canada.

In other words, so the ordinary folks may understand, the intent of this bill is to add another condition to those already governing foreign banks wanting to do business in Canada, a sort of requirement to provide more help to small and medium businesses.

I would first like to point out that there are already, as I have just mentioned, conditions governing the entry of new banks into the Canadian market. They should be identified, before we discuss the relevance of the condition added by the member for Don Valley North.

Section 27 of the Bank Act provides a number of conditions foreign banks must satisfy in order to receive their letters patent, and they are as follows: the nature and sufficiency of the financial resources of the applicant or applicants as a source of continuing financial support for the bank. They want to know whether the bank will be viable once it is operating in Canada.

The second condition is the soundness and feasibility of plans of the applicant or applicants for the future conduct and development of the business of the bank.

The third is the business record and experience of the applicant or applicants.

The fourth condition is whether the association will be operated responsibly by persons who are fit as to the character, competence and experience suitable for involvement in the operation of a financial institution.

Finally, the fifth and last condition, the best interests of the financial system in Canada.

The purpose of Bill C-335 is to add one of these conditions, and, again, this is to require, or to encourage, the banks-this is not made clear in the various clauses in the bill-to assist small and medium sized businesses. It would be hard not to be in favour of this. Of course we recognize the good intentions of this bill and, as far as its principle is concerned, we have no objection to such a condition being added.

It would, however, be a good idea to clarify a number of points. Perhaps it is a printing error, or merely an error in the French version, but since I am a former French teacher, these are matters of interest to me.

In clause 2 of the bill, where small and medium enterprises are defined, a medium size enterprise is defined as follows in paragraph ( a ), and I quote:

"moyenne entreprise" Entreprise qui, avec les entreprises qu'elle contrôle et celles qui la contrôlent:

(a) soit compte au plus cent, mais moins de cinq cents, employés-

There seems to a problem with the wording. My understanding of this section is that a medium size enterprise is an enterprise that has more than 100 employees and fewer than 500. That is what is meant.

In paragraph (b), there is also a reference to a medium size enterprise that has an activity other than manufacturing, an enterprise that has more than 50 employees but no more than 500 employees. We should say fewer than 500 employees. I therefore suggest that the hon. member check the wording of clause 2 and perhaps make appropriate corrections that would improve the clarity of his bill.

A few moments ago I said we had no objections to the purpose of this bill which is to ensure that the banks serve small and medium size businesses, especially at this time of the year when most banks

file their financial statements and we see fantastic, even excessive profits being made by Canada's chartered banks.

This week, the Bank of Nova Scotia announced profits of over $1 billion. Last week, it was the Bank of Montreal announcing profits of more than $1 billion. We can expect that next week, at the latest, the Royal Bank will confirm a substantial increase in its profits.

When we look at the profits banks make on the backs of the little people, it stands to reason they should care about small and medium size businesses. We should not have to tell them so.

I also want to take this opportunity to point out the work done by the hon. member for Portneuf. Last week, together with colleagues from the other parties in this House, he presented a request to Canada's chartered banks, asking them to reduce the interest rates charged on credit card balances. We all know these rates are extortionate, and this is not an overstatement. In some cases, we would call it outright robbery. I think the banks will have to examine their consciences. If this debate does no more than recall these facts, it will have achieved something.

As for the bill itself, I would like to add a few comments. I said earlier that the wording of the sections defining small and medium size enterprises was not entirely satisfactory. And I think defining a small or medium size business on the basis of number of employees alone also creates problem. There should be other criteria such as turnover.

The bill gives the impression that it is up to the minister to grant or not to grant letters patent to a foreign bank to operate on the Canadian market. I think there may be a conflict of interest if the minister alone is responsible for the decision. There should be more details in the section that deals with the decision to be made by the minister.

In concluding, I wish to point out that this bill is not a votable item. We in the official opposition support the purpose of the bill, but we want to take this opportunity to point out to the members of this House, and especially to the government, the need for a broader debate on the activities of banks in Canada and especially on how their enormous profits are used.

Constitution Act, 1867 November 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, as our colleague, the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville, has mentioned, this is the third time the House has had an opportunity to debate property rights. On each occasion, we have heard the same arguments from both sides of the House.

I listened very carefully to the member for Yorkton-Melville, and the least one can say is that our colleagues in the Reform Party are consistent and persistent, because, as I said, we are now looking at the third bill or motion concerning property rights. On each occasion, the Bloc Quebecois, the official opposition, opposed this kind of motion and was even more strongly opposed to a bill, although the bill now before us is not votable.

Why is the Bloc Quebecois, the official opposition, opposed to a bill with a purpose like that of the bill brought forward by the member for Yorkton-Melville?

In his speech, our colleague mentioned two or three of the reasons he introduced this bill. First of all was the fact that recognizing property rights makes society richer and also provides better protection for the environment. In the same vein, he pointed out that these rights are not protected by existing legislation.

I will show, in the few minutes available to me, that property rights are recognized by both our federal and our provincial legislation, and I will refer to the situation in Quebec.

In his speech, our colleague also mentioned that it was not the purpose of his bill to amend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in other words to introduce a constitutional amendment.

I want to say right away that this argument will not wash. Unless I misunderstood or misread clause 6 of Bill C-284, it is clear that the purpose of this bill is among other things to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 to reinforce property rights so that, as provided in clause 6, every time a bill would have the effect of modifying property rights, its passage would require the support of two-thirds of the members of this House. Clause 6 also proposes to amend the Constitutional Act, 1867 so as to recognize the principle to which I just referred.

I think it is quite clear, although I am not a constitutional expert, that what my Reform colleague wants is a constitutional amendment with all its troublesome implications.

That being said, the real issue in this debate is whether in our society, in Canada and in Quebec, property rights are recognized. Can individuals across Canada acquire property or goods and dispose of them as they wish, always with due respect for the law? Is this actually the case?

When we look at the situation in Quebec, the answer is an unqualified yes. The Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically recognizes property rights. Section 6 of the Quebec Charter Rights and Freedoms says that every person has the right to peaceful enjoyment and free disposition of his property, within the limits provided by law.

In other words, in practice this section means that yes, every person has a right to property which allows him to purchase goods, movable or immovable, and to dispose of them as he sees fit, always within the limits of the law. That is what we must remember in this debate. The Bloc Quebecois is opposed to adopting this legislation but recognizes property rights as a basic right that is currently protected by our statutes, both federal and provincial, and which in our view does not need additional protection.

Another point. If by some misfortune this kind of bill were adopted by the House and if by some even greater misfortune, a constitutional amendment were tabled to recognize property rights in the Constitution, in the charter of rights and freedoms, this would have far reaching consequences for the way our institutions operate in each province, and especially in Quebec.

It would mean that all legislation passed, previously, now or in the future, with the aim of limiting or circumscribing the right to property must come under our basic law, which is the Constitution.

I have a few examples of potential consequences. The Secretary of State for Justice mentioned a few earlier, but I think it is important to repeat some of the basic ones.

Quebec has agricultural lands protection legislation, which was passed nearly 20 years ago by the PQ government of René Lévesque. It naturally limits property rights. It circumscribes the right by limiting the acquisition of agricultural lands and by preventing any change in their status in agricultural terms when they are sold.

If there were an amendment like the one proposed by our colleague, could people challenge this legislation right up to the Supreme Court and risk, essentially, the revocation of legislation sought by all Quebecers, which still today despite difficulties in applying it meets with everyone's approval?

The scenario is the same in the case of legislation on income security. Under this legislation in Quebec, known as the Loi sur l'aide sociale, an individual may not own a building worth more than $50,000 without his social security being affected. Such a provision, clearly, limits the right to property. Does this mean that the Government of Quebec or another province wanting to keep such a provision could find itself stymied before the higher courts if a bill such as the one proposed by our Reform colleague were passed?

Other provisions also lead us to conclude that existing legislation, or provincial powers to legislate on property matters, is quite adequate to permit both enjoyment of the right to property and to offset this right with all of our social rights.

Speech From The Throne November 7th, 1996

You will hear the truth now.

First of all, I would like to say that I only have three or four minutes left until the end of this sitting. I will resume speaking on the next day of debate on the Throne speech. I do not have time to get into the main part of my speech, which was supposed to be about the government's record on dealing with the disabled, but I will get back to this later on.

For the time being, I will merely refer to some statements by my colleague from Simcoe North who, I think, is a reasonable man who is usually able to make a fairly correct assessment of a political situation, but when he talks about the situation in Quebec, I should remind him of certain facts, just to fine tune the facts he already has. He said, if I am not mistaken, that about 65 per cent want a new and improved Canadian federation, that is, improvements within the Canadian system.

I do not know to which poll he is referring but, depending on the questions asked, you can get the results you want. It is like the Prime Minister, who at his convention about two weeks ago gave himself a score of 78 per cent when referring to his government's achievements. If we dig a little further, we get far different results.

I just want to take one poll as an example, since my colleague from Simcoe North was referring to polls to support his own figure of 65 per cent. A poll published today in the daily papers found that the level of satisfaction with the Prime Minister and the government has been dropping since the beginning of the summer. It now seems that 35 per cent of Canadians support the leader of the government, the Prime Minister, while in April this was 39 per cent and a few months ago it was 44 per cent.

We see there has been a major drop in the level of satisfaction, which is a strong indication, before an election, of the kind of support a government would get if there was an election tomorrow morning.

So figures can be made to say what we want them to say. The fact is that if we want to get involved in a constitutional debate, we are looking at something that is impossible within the Canadian federation. Federalists with the federal government or in the provinces who, over the past thirty years, have tried to change the system in response to the legitimate demands of Quebec and also of the other provinces, have always come up against a dead end. We were always faced with an impossible situation following negotiations, and the hon. member was referring to Charlottetown, when the people spoke for the first time.

But apart from this exercise, we always came up against the situation where Quebec was isolated, having come away disappointed from discussions. And I think it important to repeat this. I have said it I know not how many times in this House, and I will say it again. This was after discussions between federalists, not discussions between federalists on the one hand and separatists on the other, as my colleague for Simcoe North mentioned just now, when he said that it would never be possible to satisfy the wishes of the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois.

I know that the period provided for debate has expired, so I will close by saying that, if political partisanship were put aside, and the proposal made by sovereignists and almost approved by a majority of Quebecers read carefully, it would be understood that sovereignists in this House and in Quebec basically want two things: first, recognition of the people of Quebec, the means we have and the means that go with this recognition in order to be able to affirm ourselves; and second, a partnership agreement with our preferred partner, Canada.

That is what we want and that will be the key in the future to resolving our present problems. I will continue these thoughts another time.

The Senate October 30th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate. But first, allow me to congratulate you on your election to your position. I know that it was arduous but, nevertheless, I think the majority of the members of the House have recognized your qualifications, and I am happy to join with my colleagues in wishing you every success in your new duties.

That being said, I repeat that I am pleased to take part in this debate. I know this issue is of great interest to you, Mr. Speaker, since, together with some of my colleagues, I have already had the opportunity to debate with you in this House the appropriateness of maintaining the institution we call the other place, the Senate.

I listened very carefully to the remarks made by some colleagues from the Liberal Party, the hon. member for Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle, whose remarks I will get back to later, and the hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury. Incidentally, in the case of my hon. colleague for Fredericton-York-Sunbury, with all due respect I have for him in certain circumstances, if a rule of relevance applied in these debates, I think you would have interrupted him very early in his speech to call him to order because, from what I understood of his remarks, except for blaming the Bloc for putting forward the motion that is before the House, he confined himself to masking the facts with regard to the reform of our institutions, the reform of federalism.

He set out a series of measures that, according to him, would have the advantage of improving the efficectiveness of our federation. The reality is altogether different.

However, I want to get back to the issue we are debating now, the motion put forward by my hon. colleague for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup that, in essence, asks for the abolition, the end of the Senate. First I want to congratulate my colleague on this initiative, since, contrary to what our Liberal friends may suggest, it answers an often repeated wish by all our fellow citizens in Quebec, for sure, but also in the whole country.

When we talk to people back in our ridings, there are tens and hundreds who ask us to demand that the Senate simply be abolished. Why? For several reasons.

First, the Senate's provincial counterparts-everybody remembers the legislative councils that existed in each and every province with basically the same role as the Senate-the legislative councils were abolished one after the other in all the Canadian provinces. The legislative council was abolished in Quebec in the late 1960s.

What happened after the legislative councils were abolished in the provinces? There was no revolution, at least not in Quebec. Nobody started fights on buses or got in a state because the legislative council had been abolished. On the contrary, nobody, maybe with the exception of the members of these legislative councils and their entourage, realized in the end that these institutions had disappeared. We can also question the usefulness of that institution of the Senate.

If we were to go back to the time when the Liberal members were in opposition and read their speeches, we would certainly find that some of them shared our point of view on the usefulness or lack thereof of the Senate.

In the last years, the auditor general criticized repeatedly the workings of the Senate. He criticized the fact that some funds go to the maintenance of this institution.

Last May, I rose to speak on a motion by one of my colleagues who criticized the use of tens of millions of dollars to this end. Year in and year out, the institution of the Senate has a budget of over $40 million.

There are now in our society people who cannot afford to feed their children or clothe them for school or other activities. Every-

day in Montreal, in all of Quebec's and Canada's major cities and even in the smallest ones, we see people having to go to food banks, to organizations which will feed them at least a minimum. Everyone acknowledges that the economic situation we are living in at the present time is a difficult one.

This very morning in Quebec, as we speak, yesterday rather, marked the opening of a summit bringing together all those involved in the socio-economic sector in Quebec. They will be spending three days discussing how to improve the situation of all of our fellow citizens, particularly those who are the least well off, in order to find ways of getting them jobs, in order to provide them with quality government services. During this exercise, which is being held in Quebec right now, but could be held anywhere in Canada, efforts will also be made to find ways of doing less harm to the disadvantaged during the process of putting our public finances on a better footing.

Meanwhile, the unemployed and people on welfare are being asked to tighten their belts even more so that we can have a zero deficit, but when these good people come home at night and watch television, when they watch the newscast, they will realize that, at the federal level, we are maintaining an institution that although there are some senators who are competent and have experienced, and are trying to do a good job for our country, nevertheless, the most vulnerable in our society who watch this debate will realize that we are maintaining an institution which the vast majority of the population feels is completely useless.

So the hon. member's motion is a very important one. And when we in the Bloc Quebecois ask for the abolition of the Senate, we do not want to renew federalism, we do not want to get involved in a process to renew the federation, we are simply making the point that money are spent on this institution could be better spent elsewhere.

That is what we are saying to the federal government. Instead of cutting payments to the most vulnerable in our society, as we have seen in the last three budgets of the Minister of Finance who, year after year, has cut unemployment insurance and transfer payments to the provinces for welfare, post-secondary education and health care, we say again to this government: clean up your act and do something about your own institutions.

So the motion moved by the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup is a piece of advice to the government on how to save money, and they can do that by abolishing the Senate. Take this money and let it be used to help the people who need it most in our society. That is how we should understand my colleague's motion.

If hon. members would set aside partisan considerations and go to their ridings and listen to their constituents, they would hear from them, day after day and week after week, that this motion makes sense. I sincerely hope that the government will take this into consideration before the next election.

Persons With Disabilities October 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, still more rhetoric but no action. Rather than giving itself a nice passing grade like the Prime Minister did on the weekend regarding the fulfilment of his red book promises, will this government finally take action and follow up on the recommendations of the human rights committee, before the end of its mandate? Enough promises: we want action.

Persons With Disabilities October 29th, 1996

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

Yesterday, the government released the report of the Liberal task force on disability issues. This committee, which did not include any member of the opposition, in essence reiterated the recommendations already made in 1995 in the unanimous report tabled by the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, following months of consultations.

How can the Prime Minister justify such a duplication of time, money and effort, except, once again, to try to buy time and to let organizations calm down, while financing, with taxpayers' money, his platform concerning people with disabilities?

Industries Manufacturières Mégantic October 24th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, this week being small business week in Quebec, I am happy to inform the House that, recently, a man from my riding, Gilles Pansera of Industries manufacturières Mégantic, was awarded the Grand Prix de l'entrepreneur du Québec for 1996 in the business recovery category.

Mr. Pansera is well known in the Eastern Townships for his dynamism and his keen sense of entrepreneurship.

Efforts made since 1990 by management and employees of Industries manufacturières Mégantic have not only helped this business recover, but it has ensured its success for the future.

This is another concrete example of the positive results that can be obtained, particularly in the area of job creation, when all the partners work together to ensure the economic vitality of a region.

Congratulations to Mr. Pansera and to all his associates who gave us another good opportunity to celebrate the pride of the Eastern Townships.

The Municipality Of Martinville October 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, 1996 marks the centennial of the municipality of Martinville and I invite the public to take part in the celebrations under way until December 7.

Like Daniel Martin, the municipality's founder who, around 1838, built a dam, a sawmill and a bridge on the rivière aux Saumons, the people of Martinville are known as people who are not afraid to innovate. This fact is evidenced by the exceptionally balanced make-up of the current council, comprised of three aldermen, three alderwomen and the mayor, a position also held by a woman, namely Arlette Champagne-Lessard.

Once again, Martinville has distinguished itself. Smaller than Montreal, maybe, not as well known as Quebec City, granted, but in the hearts of the people of the Eastern Townships and anyone who has ever vacationed there, the municipality of Martinville is nonetheless a pillar of our region's historical heritage.

Long live Martinville.