House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Terrebonne—Blainville (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Highway 16 April 19th, 1994

Madam Speaker, as my hon. colleague just noted, the motion calls on the federal government to enter into an agreement with Ontario to widen Highway 16 between Highway 401 and Ottawa.

At present, Highway 16 links Ottawa to Highway 401, passing through the Brockville area. The stretch of highway in question is approximately 65 kilometres long. Traffic along this stretch of roadway is heavy, but not excessively so. I have been told that on average, between 15,000 and 30,000 vehicles travel this highway every day.

The road is relatively straight and the danger lies in the fact that drivers frequently pull out to pass other vehicles.

The posted speed limit on this highway varies between 50 and 90 kilometres per hour. However, most traffic travels at a speed of 90 kilometres per hour. Improved highway control would no doubt enhance safety.

I have also been told that the Government of Ontario is considering a project to expand this highway and that roughly $15 million has already been spent on a study of the proposed new route. It would seem, therefore, that Ontario has already given considerable thought to this project. As my hon. colleague noted, the timetable for completion would be rather long, perhaps as much as 20 years.

Highway 16 runs through a portion of the riding of Leeds-Grenville, which obviously explains my hon. colleague's interest in the project. As he indicated, as far as the northern stretch of the highway is concerned, costs would be divided into two stages.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transport, construction costs would total $200 million, while the price tag for the remainder of the four-lane highway would be $180 million.

I gather the federal government's assistance is being requested because there is no four-lane highway linking the Nation's Capital to the capital city of the largest province in Canada. A four-lane highway would cut 30 minutes off the travel time. However, Madam Speaker, if we go along with this reasoning, then the federal government should be entering into a similar agreement with Quebec to expand Highway 50 into a four-lane highway linking Ottawa to another provincial capital, namely Quebec City. A four-lane highway would knock not 30 minutes, but 45 minutes off a five-hour trip. Ottawa would then be only four hours or so away from either Toronto or Quebec City.

If the motion carries, I would also call upon the federal government to stop dragging its heels on participating in the extension of Highway 13 so that Mirabel and Dorval airports can finally be linked.

All things considered, I question why Canadian taxpayers should have to pay for building four-lane highways in Ontario. Ontario should use the money from the infrastructure program if it wants federal funds to complete this project. My hon. colleague explained that he was not seeking additional funds, although this is not clear from his motion. I ask that the general rules of the infrastructure program be applied without exception and that no precedents which could be invoked later by other ridings be set.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 April 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the sudden flare-up of interest rates could kill the economy which was slowly starting to recover.

To help it recover, to really put it back on its feet again, the government should have given it a helping hand, but instead it gave it a punch in the face.

We were waiting anxiously, but full of hope, for a recovery of the job market. But it is more unemployment that we will have because of rising interest rates. Has the Bank of Canada gone crazy? No, it is only trying to cope, as well as can be expected, with 10 years of mismanagement of this country. I will not pass judgment on its present policy.

In the United States, France and Canada, we are now hearing the old economic debates are coming to the fore once again. How can we revitalize a sick economy, particularly with monetary policy? Galbraith, Sorman and others have, I am told, opinions on this subject which are as clear-cut as they are divergent. People also talk about neo-Keynesianism. I will not venture into this subject because whatever I said would surely contradict one of these prominent economists.

You know what the argument of the Bank of Canada is, Mr. Speaker. For Canada to stay competitive on the loan market, Canadian rates must be higher than American rates. That is the result of our enormous debt. However, American rates have been increasing this past month to quell the risk of inflation there. Consequently, we are told, Canadian rates must also go up. Q.E.D., what perfect logic.

The problem, as you know, is that the American economy is expanding rapidly. We are told that it will not be hurt by this dampening measure. The American economy has a little fever? Put an ice pack on its head. This therapy is quite defensible.

The problem for us is that our central bank thinks it has to apply automatically the same medicine to our economy, which is anemic and needs a tonic. If we cannot raise our rates higher than the American rates, how will we find investors for the debt

securities that we have to issue because of our enormous debt? Is that the financial independence advocated and promised in the famous red book which will meet the same fate as Mao's little red book and be thrown in the garbage with its promises of a brilliant future?

Do you know what it says in the Canadian red book under the promising title of "independence"? I will tell you right now that the red book does not talk about the independence of Quebec, but about the independence of Canada from other countries. And I quote: "A Liberal government will end the Conservatives' junior-partner relationship with the United States and reassert our proud tradition of independent foreign policy". It is mind-boggling! In terms of financial independence, Mr. Dubuc, an editorial writer at La Presse , pointed out earlier last week our complete dependence upon our creditors. The way things are going with this government, our policy will be dictated to us by the International Monetary Fund tomorrow, and the pill will not be easy to swallow. Will Canada, which is ironically the most indebted and potentially the wealthiest country on earth, become part of the Third World?

This is the result of a decade of unacceptably frivolous public management in this unfortunate country. We have accumulated the heaviest per capita external debt in the western world. The time has come to pay the piper. And we do not want to hear this government claim that it has inherited this situation and that it has no choice but to face the music. When did our external debt begin to rise really? The 1970s. Who was in office at that time? The same party as today. And back then, where was our present Prime Minister who takes such pleasure reminding our leader that he was once a member of the Conservative cabinet?

He was the President of the Treasury Board in 1974 and Minister of Finance in 1977, 1978 and 1979.

I shall now come to the heart of the problem, the icing on the cake. The increase in interest rates will jeopardize the recovery and who is going to pay the price? The unemployed. However, who or what is being targetted by the pitiful attempts of this government budget to at least slow down the growth of our debt? The wealthy? Those who benefit from tax shelters? The federal civil servants who are responsible for duplication and overlapping? Ministers' air travel? Not at all! It is always the unemployed who must foot most of the bill we now have to pay in order stop the deadly increase in the public debt.

If we are to go by what Pierre Fortin and his colleagues from the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the Université de Montréal say, the Canadian unemployed workers will have to pay for half the predicted new drop in the federal deficit, even if we take into account the budget for social reintegration.

As mentioned in the same study, since the unemployed end up depending on social security, we are once again witnessing a transfer of the deficit on the provinces. We are talking of at least one billion dollars. The provinces, in turn, will pass a part of it on to the municipalities, which will have no other choice than pass it on to whom? To Canadian taxpayers. We are back to square one. I know what I am talking about because I was a mayor for sixteen years.

It is far from being decent, Mr. Speaker, it is most cynical and unbearable. Only the legendary patience of our two peoples can explain why no angry outburst has yet occurred among unemployed workers and welfare recipients as it would surely have been the case in other countries.

Social peace and the most elementary sense of fairness both call for a fair distribution of the sacrifices imposed by the situation. Since Bill C-17 completely fails to meet those conditions, I will not support it.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the bill before the House gives me an opportunity to introduce my constituency to the House at last.

Most people know where my constituency, that is Blainville-Deux-Montagnes, is located. It extends from the Mille-Îles River, in the south, up to but excluding Mirabel, in the north, and many of us have gone through it to reach Mirabel Airport or to spend a relaxing weekend in the Laurentians.

People who travel through the riding would be well advised to stop once in a while to enjoy its special attractions.

As for electoral redistribution, the problem in my constituency does not come from big distances as it does in the constituency of my colleague who spoke before me and who told us about its huge territory. On the contrary, mine is mainly a very densely populated urban constituency, and I can easily get around the riding by bike, as I often do. Small distances have their advantages.

Our problem does not stem from big distances but from the rapid population increase, so much so that an electoral redistribution based on the current population would probably be outdated at the time of the next election.

This rapid population growth in my constituency is due to several factors which I will now enumerate.

First of all, there is residential development which is growing extremely fast. Many people from Montreal and Laval choose to come and live with us because of the advantages of this semi-rural and urban riding, where we are both close to leisure activities and occupations in Montreal and leisure activities in the Laurentians. Because of these advantages, the population is growing very rapidly. Cities such as Lorraine and Rosemère have mostly very high-standard houses. Other cities in the riding have a wide variety of dwellings that attract people. Thus, a city such as the one that I know best since I was its mayor for a long period of time needs a new primary school every year to deal with this population growth. So, we do not know what the distribution figures for the new population will be in three or four years. The fact is that a division that would be decided today would be outdated by that time.

Apart from that very rapid residential development advantage, there is also the fact that our riding is the location of several industries, from a giant company such as GM, in Boisbriand, to many small and medium-sized businesses created by the strong dynamism of the people, and medium-sized industries such as Stablex, Novabus or Hyprescon.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that part of the riding is covered by provincial Bill 90 which protects agricultural land and that agriculture in the riding is on a very high level, especially market gardening, since we are close to Montreal, which means that the riding's economy is expanding despite the recession and will continue to expand, which in turn makes it attractive to investors.

In the riding, we have autoroute 13 and autoroute 15 running north-south and autoroute 640 running east-west. The riding is very conveniently located in terms of its distance from Dorval Airport and Mirabel Airport. It is also 20 kilometres from the Port of Montreal, which means it has an ideal infrastructure. It has a number of very modern, well-situated industrial parks set up very recently, especially Boisbriand and Blainville which are along one of the major highways, and we are very proud of our labour force whose skills are very attractive to investors.

We have a number of educational institutions of very high calibre, including the Institut d'ordinique which is well-positioned to help develop high-tech industries, and also Lionel Groulx CEGEP and other institutions, so that we are able to provide a quality labour force.

Another aspect which may be interesting for people who go to the Laurentians for recreational purposes is that we have a number of recreational resources but are much closer to Montreal. Of course, we still have a lot of green space. There is still a lot of countryside in the riding. For instance, we have the "Domaine vert", a protected area where no construction is

allowed, a huge expanse that has equestrian trails, bicycle paths, hiking trails, and so forth.

We also have a large number of golf courses. Then, there is the Blainville Equestrian Park where every year two international events are held, as well as a very impressive fireworks display.

We also have an historic event which has become a tourist attraction. There is a church in Saint-Eustache that still bears the marks of shots fired at Quebec's patriots by the British. Fortunately, those shots hit the stones of the church and we have carefully preserved those stones to remember this extremely important event.

This being said, I will now conclude by saying that, since our riding offers some advantages that stimulate its demographic growth and since the makeup of its population changes constantly, any decision made today regarding the distribution of electoral districts would likely become obsolete tomorrow. In a nutshell, this distribution would divide our riding into two ridings that would include three cities that are not part of the existing riding. On one side, we would have Sainte-Thérèse, Boisbriand, Saint-Eustache, Deux-Montagnes and Sainte-Marthe, for a total of 130,000 people, and on the other side we would have Blainville, Rosemère and Lorraine, which already belong to our riding, plus Bois-des-Filion, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines and Terrebonne, which would be added to our riding to the detriment of neighbouring ridings.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I support this bill to postpone the decision regarding the distribution of electoral districts.

Rail Transport April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would have preferred my question to be answered by "yes". Perhaps I will get an affirmative answer to my supplementary question.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to reconsider government plans that are liable to further emphasize disparities between Eastern and Western Canada?

Rail Transport April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. The future of rail transport is being compromised by current government plans. Yet, rail freight remains a major development tool in several regions.

As far as the Official Opposition is concerned, a moratorium must be declared on the elimination of further sections of railway in eastern Canada to allow true consultation to take place with those affected.

Here is my question: Will the Prime Minister agree, first of all, to declare such a moratorium and, second, to hold regional public consultations before taking actions that could prove to be extremely harmful to the economic future of several regions?

Supply March 22nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, to emerge from its economic doldrums, our country needs a large-scale collective project, one which will generate our enthusiasm and mobilize us. Such a project exists, but an act of government good will is needed to get it off the ground. I am referring to the project to build a high-speed train to service the Quebec City-Montreal-Laval-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor corridor. Several studies have already concluded that this project would be economically viable.

The minister is waiting for a new report to be released this summer. However, based on the information he already has, he should be able today to say, without jeopardizing the terms of the venture: "Yes, we will proceed with the high-speed rail project". If the minister were to make this statement now, he would not be hurting the authors of the expected report in any way.

This kind of statement would pleasantly surprise us and would show that our government can at least boast of the three things that my hon. colleague for Laurentides criticized it earlier for not having, namely vision, vision and more vision to create "jobs, jobs, jobs", as promised in the red book.

There are so many reasons to support what could become the major project of this decade that I hardly know where to start, or should I say, I hardly know what I should leave out, to finish my speech on time. In any case, first of all, studies have shown that the market is large enough to ensure the project's economic viability. According to information released by Bombardier, the

company's pre-feasibility study has shown that this railway service would serve a population of eight million and attract nearly 5,300,000 travellers annually, an increase of 3,700,000 over the current ridership.

We now have information that emphasizes the benefits of HST connections for travellers in terms of security, travelling time and cost. According to the study, travelling time from station to station, calculated with a top operating speed of 300 kilometres per hour, would be 1 hour and 35 minutes between Quebec City and Montreal, 1 hour and 5 minutes between Montreal and Ottawa, and so forth. The time saved, even compared with flying, is considerable.

Furthermore, as is the case in Lyon, the HST could provide a very efficient way to solve the problem of transportation to and from Mirabel and Dorval and could also provide a quick connection between these airports by adding a loop where the train would run only at certain times.

Another reason to support the HST is, of course, the environment. Per passenger, the HST consumes half as much energy as the automobile and one-quarter as much as a jet aircraft.

If the line could be fully electrified, as is the case all over Europe, there would be even less impact on the environment, because there would be no emissions and the train would consume energy that is abundant in Ontario as well as Quebec, a province that is trying to export surplus energy.

I will now discuss job creation, since that is the purpose of this debate. The HST would create a total of nearly 120,000 jobs annually. This initiative would reduce government spending under the Unemployment Insurance Program. I say this in connection with the expected loss of hundreds of jobs as a result of the merger between CN and CP. Ideally, the HST would absorb these workers.

Without a plan for the future, Quebec's railway industry is doomed. The HST would give VIA Rail a second lease on life and a chance to finance railway lines operating at a loss, as the SNCF does in France.

The cost, and I have not had much of time to discuss this aspect, is evaluated at $7.5 billion, but there would be revenues-

Supply March 22nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, how much time do I have remaining?

Publishing Industry March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would have thought that a transparent policy means not having anything to hide and answering the questions that are asked. We asked for a name. We did not get it.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is trying to hide his abdication of responsibility in this affair behind the changes to the Baie-Comeau policy made by the Tories in 1992. To avoid repeating that mess, can the Prime Minister make a commitment today to fully restore the provisions of the Baie-Comeau policy protecting Canadian ownership of cultural industries?

Publishing Industry March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. The takeover of Ginn Publishing by the American company Paramount continues to stir up controversy. In the meantime, the government persists in concealing the identity of the person who made the verbal commitment allowing this transaction to take place.

Under his great transparency policy, does the Prime Minister not find it disturbing and even unhealthy that Parliament cannot know the identity of the person behind the verbal commitment that derailed the established policy on ownership of Canadian cultural industries? Who is the government protecting in this affair?

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the 800,000 people I was referring to are over and above this 5 per cent.

Why did the minister choose to target middle-income seniors rather than making sure that all corporations pay minimum tax or doing away with outrageous family trusts?