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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

Budget Implementation Act, 1999 April 14th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, with your permission I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

I am pleased to take the floor to cast light on what I consider to be some of the most troubling aspects of the federal budget of last February 16. Although my time is too short, I will begin by addressing the underlying trends of this budget, which are evidence of a growing desire by the federal government to invade areas of jurisdiction defined by the constitution as provincial.

Then I shall attack the myths being spread by the federal government about Quebec's receiving its fair share of Ottawa's spending, every year in every budget. To do so, I merely need to refer to the insufficiency of job-creating spending by Ottawa in Quebec on the one hand, and on the other the orgy of spending on federalist propaganda in Quebec, spending that is anything but job-creating.

The Martin budget confirms the Ottawa government's strong tendency to use its spending power to gradually centralize all power within its hands. The federal budget for 1999-2000 fits within a continuing trend which is most revealing of the long-term political objective of the Liberal Party of Canada. Some editorials have rightly described this as a political budget.

Once again this year, the federal government's spending power is being used as a Trojan horse in order to sneak into areas of provincial jurisdiction. After education, this year it is health care, and this time there is no attempt at disguise.

The Canadian Constitution ensures that health is an exclusively provincial responsibility. Yet this budget is taking away funds the provinces need to administer their health systems so that it can create bureaucratic monsters that will usurp provincial powers and duplicate programs. The obvious purpose of this is federal exhibitionism.

I was amused to hear my colleague from St. Paul's say ,in response to a question from my Bloc Quebecois colleague on social union, that health services were certainly a provincial matter, but the establishment of standards was a federal matter. I find that revealing. My hon. colleague considers therefore that the establishment of standards is a federal responsibility, while carrying them out is a provincial one. This is an original view of an area of jurisdiction.

In invading the health care field, the government did not trot out a single Trojan horse, it released an entire stable of them. These Trojan horses are the national health surveillance network, the Canada health network and the Canadian institute for health information. This last one is the most insidious, since it amounts to putting Quebec and the other provinces under guardianship in the area of health care.

The Canadian institute for health information will monitor, diagnose and provide treatment to these health care networks, unilaterally and against their wishes.

Furthermore, programs such as the research and evaluation fund for nursing staff, prenatal nutrition, rural community health and the telehealth pilot project represent very costly and totally useless Canadian flags planted beside Quebec government programs in these areas.

On the political level, it is remarkable that this slow job of sapping provincial responsibilities has produced no major reaction from the provincial governments, except that of Quebec. Despite the commitments the provinces made in Saskatoon, they signed the social union agreement without balking, selling the birthright of their jurisdiction for a plate of federal largesse lentils.

I come to the second part of my remarks. Ottawa has for years claimed that Quebec receives more than its share of federal budget spending. We must take the wind out of this statement once and for all.

First, let us talk about equalization. What is the equalization program? It is a federal initiative designed to compensate the relative poverty of certain provinces. Sure, we get money under that program, but why are we poorer in the first place? It is easy to find at least one reason. It is well known that, given its demographic weight, Quebec receives much less than it should when it comes to productive investments and the procurement of goods and services by the federal government.

Indeed, while Quebec accounts for 24% of the Canadian population, it always gets less than 15% of the federal money for research and development. By comparison, beloved Ontario, which accounts for 37% of Canada's population, gets close to 60% of that money.

This lack of productive spending is a fundamental cause of Quebec's relative poverty. Now, Ottawa is trying to justify its reduced social transfers to Quebec with this compensation under the equalization program. However, by its very nature, that compensation is absolutely not guaranteed in coming years. This strange calculation clearly sets a precedent which might later be used to justify the reduction of overall federal spending in Quebec. This will happen as soon as our province's economic situation changes, at which time Quebec will become a contributor instead of a receiver under the equalization program.

Like me, members probably wonder how Ottawa hopes to impress Quebecers with this budget. While we do not have the federal government's recipe to promote its visibility, we know those who are trying to use it.

We also know of some of the ingredients used in that recipe. There is the Canada Information Office, a propaganda tool with some $21 million to spend this fiscal, the Treasury Board, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, which have explicit instructions to bury Quebec deep in directives and programs all sporting bright red maple leaves.

How are we to explain that Ottawa spends close to 60% of its Canada Day budget in Quebec every year? Flags, flags, and more flags. They are the only thing the federal government gives us way more than our share of.

In conclusion, I would say that the reaction, or non-reaction, to this new federal budget in other provinces once again proves that there are two incompatible visions of government in Canada: Quebec's, calling for decentralization, and the rest of Canada's.

Quebec being in a minority in Canada, about the only option left for Quebecers is to choose sovereignty or go along with a vision of government at complete odds with what they believe in.

Kosovo April 12th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is easy to criticize, but hard to act. This is very true in the case of the people, organizations, countries and parties that condemn NATO's air strikes in Yugoslavia.

It is easy to point out, as they do, what should not have been done. But they should tell us what, in their opinion, should have been done. Of course they will say that we should have continued to negotiate.

Really? Continue to negotiate? Let us look at the facts. On February 6, the members of the contact group, including Russia, gave two weeks to the two sides to agree to a peace plan. To that end, their officials were locked up in Rambouillet, with an excellent chef. It is said that meals taken together are a good way to get closer.

On February 23, since there was still no agreement, the UN secretary general extended the period to March 15. At the end of that period, the contact group realized that not only was there still no agreement, but Milosevic had taken advantage of those six weeks to continue his ethnic cleansing operation. Only then did NATO decide to strike. What else could we do to save the Kosovars?

I will not repeat what was said by those who spoke before me to defend the legitimacy of the strikes and to support the idea that, should the air bombing not produce any result, we will surely have to send in ground troops, but with parliament's approval.

Let us first take a look at the past to see what history has taught us, so as to have a better perspective in the context of this debate. Then, looking to the future, I will speak of the hopes and the problems too arising from this precedent in which a multinational organization has taken upon itself to intervene militarily for humanitarian reasons on the soil of a country that has committed no foreign aggression.

Let us look at the lessons of history first. In 1755, Acadians, British subjects against their will, refused to swear allegiance to King George II, a foreigner to them. England deported them and scattered them in its other colonies, leaving only English colonists in the country.

In 1999, the Kosovars, Yugoslav subjects against their will, subjected to the Serbs, revolt against their domination. Milosevic savagely drives them toward the border.

The great dispersal of the Acadians, the forced exodus of the Kosovars: two and a half centuries apart, two ethnic cleansings, the second being the most brutal, I agree. British pilots involved in the air strikes in Serbia are trying to prevent Milosevic from following the example of their king, George II.

Second, on January 8, 1918, in a famous speech, Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, announced a people's right to self-determination as one of the 14 principles to underlie the peace treaties concluded at the end of the war. Honoured in part at Versailles, this principle presided over the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Yugoslavia, however, born of this break-up, remained a mosaic of peoples. It took the collapse of communism to in turn break up the new Yugoslavia, which continued to comprise various peoples, including primarily Serbs and Kosovars. And we know what happened.

Perhaps the lesson to be drawn from the situations in Yugoslavia and in Canada is to allow nations their own governments.>

Third, on March 7, 1935, Hitler moved his troops across the Rhine, reoccupying the Rhineland and thus violating one of the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. France and England could legally have used force to oppose the Germans and drive them out. At the time, Hitler's army was very small. The human cost of this operation would have been very low, but pacifists were against it.

Three years later, on March 14, 1938, emboldened by this lack of reaction, Germany annexed Austria. On September 30 of that year, France and England, still in the grip of pacifist movements, abandoned Czechoslovakia to its fate. The country was immediately occupied by the Germans.

It would have cost very little to nip the German dictator's ambitions in the bud in 1935. Because people refused to pay that price, it took a world war that went on for five years and cost 30 million men and women their lives to finally overthrow the tyrant.

A French journalist recently declared that he hated war, but was afraid of people who are too afraid of war.

Let us take our inspiration from this remark and remember the German example when deciding what to do in Serbia. There is nothing like dogmatic pacifists to set off wars.

Now, for what lies ahead. NATO's intervention in Serbia sets an historic precedent. It could give the world community the right to send military forces into third countries for humanitarian reasons. There is no doubt that this is a large incentive to leaders of countries to improve their treatment of the populations under their control. I have three comments.

First, let us make sure that, if the right to intervene is ever recognized, it will be sufficiently well defined to ensure that humanitarian grounds cannot be invoked to abusively attack a country.

Oka amply showed how an internal military operation could be blown out of proportion, exaggerated and misrepresented by foreign media. During the Oka crisis I remember meeting in Dorval a dozen of European MPs who had been sent by their parliaments to look into what had been reported as our barbaric treatment of Indians.

Let us make sure the door we rightly opened to military interventions on humanitarian grounds cannot be abused in the future by aggressors claiming some minor trespass against political ethics, which would be exaggerated of course.

Second, let us suppose—purely hypothetically of course—that what the Serbs are doing today to the Kosovars, the Russians or the Chinese will do it tomorrow to one of their minorities eager to shake off their yoke. Would one country or a group of countries go and bomb Moscow or Beijing? Of course not. The only chance the precedent created by NATO in Serbia will succeed in establishing the principle of international military intervention on humanitarian grounds is dependent on the guilty country being weak.

Third and last comment: some are taking offence at the fact that the strikes are probably illegal, since they were not authorized by the UN, the only body empowered to do so. But we should not forget that often the law comes after the fact, if the cause is just.

In Quebec striking was illegal for a long time. It took workers in Asbestos and elsewhere to legitimately defy the law for the law to be struck down because what they did was just. Let us not be moved by criticisms to the effect that not only pacifists, but also legalists could oppose our actions in Serbia.

Division No. 360 March 23rd, 1999

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have just arrived and I too would have voted with my party.

International Cultural Forums March 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us then whether the federal government intends to honour the consensus in Quebec expressed by the premier and the Liberal opposition on negotiating an administrative agreement to establish Quebec's place in international forums?

International Cultural Forums March 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, even the very federalist Liberal opposition in Quebec City is reminding the federal government of the need to accord Quebec its rightful place in international organizations where language and culture are concerned.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us whether the federal government will continue in its isolation as it has since the start of this matter or will it heed the consensus in Quebec and listen to basic common sense?

French Language March 18th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, in this week celebrating the French language, I wish to express my pride in my mother tongue, a prestigious vehicle of freedom since the start of the millennium.

Magna Carta, the cornerstone of English democracy, was signed in 1215 on an island in the Thames by a king and barons who spoke French.

French was the language of the 18th century texts enshrining the freedom of nations and of individuals: the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen and, earlier, the immortal works of Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, and many others.

Quebec demands the right to defend the interests of this noble language at all international forums.

If this right were not absurdly denied by this government, the two founding nations of this country would work together harmoniously for the international defence of the equally prestigious French and English languages.

But that is obviously a pipe dream. Only through sovereignty will we be able to fully exercise our right to defend our own language throughout the world.

Social Transfers March 5th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, once upon a time there was an ogre named Canadosaurus. He shared his cave with ten dwarfs who were bound in servitude to him. The fattest was called Ontariette, and the prettiest, Québequine.

To reward them for their loyalty, the ogre gave each of them 100 crowns a year to help them feed their children. He called these social transfers.

One day, in order to pay off his debts, the ogre decided to reduce their annual stipend from 100 to 50 crowns each. Soon forced to feed her children nothing but bread and water, Québequine made known her indignation, but her sisters submitted without complaint. That, of course, was because they loved the ogre.

One day, tired of the protests of Québequine, the ogre announced that the dwarfs' stipend would now be 70 crowns. “See how kind I am”, he said, trying to look sincere. “Seventy crowns?”, exclaimed Québequine. “You are a thief and a robber. I want my 100 crowns”. “Ungrateful wretch”, shouted the ogre. “I give you an extra 20 crowns and you cannot even say thank you”.

Supply February 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I can hardly believe what I have just heard. My colleague opposite was lamenting the fate of sick people waiting on stretchers. He has the gall to do that after his government has made deep cuts in transfer payments to the provinces, which had no choice but to cut services. He dares to cry over their fate. That takes the cake.

But that is not what I want to talk about. Let me get back to the issue at hand. We are being presented with a motion requesting three things. Here is the first one:

That this House urges the government to respect provincial jurisdiction over health care management—

In other words, we want the government to uphold the Constitution, which is its sworn duty. Here is the second request:

—to increase transfers to the provinces for health care unconditionally—

This means the government should restore the level of transfer payments to the provinces. With this second point, we are asking the federal government to be honest. Here is the third point:

—to avoid using budget surpluses to encroach upon the health care field.

With that third point, we are urging the federal government to abide by the Constitution.

I am flabbergasted that we should even need to move such a motion, as if it were not just natural for a government to be honest and uphold the Constitution, which is its sworn duty. I am surprised that any political party in the House should have to move a motion urging the government to be honest and uphold the Constitution.

This really takes the cake. I am really anxious to see how our motion will fare with members opposite. If they oppose a motion urging the government to be honest and uphold the Constitution, our system is even more rotten than I thought.

Aviation Safety December 8th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, for some time now, an increasing number of airplane and helicopter accidents have been reported by the media.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says that the aviation industry, Nav Canada, and the regulatory agency must take action before a collision involving a large passenger airliner occurs.

The public is worried. Can the Minister of Transport assure the House that deregulation and the privatization of Nav Canada, together with cuts in the number of employees responsible for safety, have no effect on—

Division No. 298 December 3rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-43 shows that what the government has in mind is a long term project, of which this bill is but one step, the third one if I am not mistaken. To illustrate my point, I will refer to the establishment of two other independent agencies, ADM, the Montreal airports administration, and Nav Canada.

Bill C-43 seeks to establish the Canada customs and revenue agency, which will enjoy, under an illusory control, the excessive and even kingly power to collect taxes. It is a power that, until now, was the state's exclusive prerogative, although there was a time when such was not the case.

During the middle ages, until the 14th or 15th century, there was in Europe an institution called farmers general. These individuals were despised by the public, because they were mandated by the king to collect taxes. So, we are going back to the middle ages in this area. This is clearly a step backwards.

I want to say a word about ADM, because of the obvious similarities between that agency and the one that the government wants to establish now.

ADM was given the power to manage Montreal's airports, without any government control. Seven people decided the future of Dorval and Mirabel airports. We all remember ADM's decision to transfer international flights from Mirabel to Dorval. So, seven individuals were given the power make a decision that turned out to be disastrous for a region of Canada called the greater Montreal.

At the time, I asked a question about this in the House and was told that it was not the minister's responsibility, that it was up to ADM. In other words, the minister told me he was washing his hands of the whole affair, in this case Mirabel airport.

Nav Canada, which is responsible for navigation aids, was another similar creation. It too is almost completely autonomous. If Nav Canada were to decide tomorrow—and it could—to shut down a control tower, and we were to ask the minister about it, the minister could easily tell us that it was up to Nav Canada, not him, and that he was washing his hands of the whole affair, so to speak.

The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is more of the same. It is part of a deliberate and long-term plan by the government, which is once again creating an agency behind which it can hide.

From airport management and navigation aids, we have moved on to tax collection. In creating these agencies, the government is looking for two benefits. The first is to be able to reward its political friends with plum jobs not governed by public service pay rules. The second is to create a buffer zone from which the government can safely blame the agency for anything that happens.

This is scandalous, but I am objective enough to point out that there is one benefit to creating this agency, and that is that it will provide one more argument in convincing Quebeckers that there is only one way out of this rotten regime and that is sovereignty.