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

Fédération Des Agricultrices Du Québec November 27th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, recently, the Fédération des agricultrices du Québec announced the recipients of its 1998 regional awards.

The women who received these awards were: Abitibi-Témiscamingue, dairy and cattle operation, Lise Gélinas; Bas-Saint-Laurent, greenhouse operation; Yvette Trépanier; Beauce, dairy operation, Fabienne Roy; central Quebec, dairy operation, Lucie Talbot; South Shore, sheep operation, Gisèle Nadeau; Estrie, beekeeping operation, Carole Huppé; Lanaudière, goat operation, Carole Johnson; Mauricie, cereal and market gardening operations, Françoise Béland; Montérégie, cereal operation, Monique Lecours; Montérégie, seed operation, Marie-Anne Marcoux; Outaouais-Laurentides, cereal operation, Nathalie Malo; Québec, ornamental horticulture, Lorraine Bélanger; Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, dairy operation, Suzanne Larouche.

Our sincere congratulations to all these women for their initiative and their competency.

Railway Safety Act November 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, on September 3, 1997, a train derailment in Saskatchewan led to one fatality. This moved the government to speed up the introduction of a bill to bring up to date and enhance railway safety by amending the legislation dating back to 1989.

A committee of experts was appointed to prepare this new legislative text, and this is what we are now looking at.

Obviously, it is regrettable that it took an accident and a fatality to move the government to speed up introduction of a bill that had been needed for some time. Nevertheless, if it is a good law, one that improves railway safety, who could be against it. There is, however, one point on which we do not agree, and on which we will be introducing an amendment. I will come to that later.

I will start with a brief summary of the objectives of this bill. First of all, to enhance the government's ability to get the railways to remedy nuisances and hazards relating to safety and to the environment.

Second, it also improves collaboration between the various parties involved in railway transportation, namely the companies, the government, the municipal authorities, the railway unions, and those who own or lease railroad stock.

Third, the bill is aimed at reducing harmful emissions from locomotives for the good of the environment.

We fully support the objective of this bill. I am also quite pleased with clause 18, which should address something that bothers people in our region and in many other regions too. I am talking about train whistles. In my region, there is a passenger train that goes by around 6 a.m., and most people do not appreciate being woken up so early in the morning, except of course if it is a matter of safety, which is not always the case, and municipalities are in the best position to determine if it is. Therefore, we fully agree with the proposed clause I am about to read.

It states, and I quote:

No person shall use the whistle on any railway equipment in an area within a municipality if a ) the area meets the requirements prescribed for the purposes of this section; and b ) the government of the municipality—which is the best judge—by resolution declares that it agrees that such whistles should not be used in that area and has, before passing the resolution, (i) consulted the railway company that operates the relevant line of railway, (ii) notified each relevant association or organization, and (iii) given public notice of its intention to pass the resolution.

Notwithstanding this clause, the train conductor may of course use the whistle in an emergency. This way, my fellow citizens will be able to sleep more soundly in the future.

I now come to our concern, which will be addressed in an amendment we will be introducing. The existing legislation states:

24.(1) The governor in council may make regulations f .1) respecting the construction, alteration and maintenance of roads for the purpose of ensuring safe railway operations.

Our amendment will ensure that the costs associated with such alterations imposed on municipalities are borne by the federal government, and not by the municipalities on which these alterations are imposed.

These are my remarks on this bill, which we will support, but only after introducing the amendment I just mentioned.

Supply November 19th, 1998

Madam Speaker, the hon. member opposite waxed eloquent, but he missed the point, the point being transfer payments.

In his torrent of words, I caught a few which were insulting for the provinces in general and Quebeckers in particular. He said something to the effect that we were begging the noble and generous Canada for more money.

Is it begging to ask that what was taken from one's wallet be returned? This is what we are doing. We want the federal government to restore the level of funding of transfer payments to the provinces; the cuts to those transfers forced the provinces to cut spending for education and other essential services.

What did they do with that money? They created their millennium fund, which gives them visibility. They traded essential services for a millennium fund in order to get recognition. They did not fool the students, at least not the Quebec students. Those students did not take the bait.

Now, they want to do the same with health care. They forced us to cut essential services in hospitals and they hope, one day, to come up with a nice, big project which, they hope, will fix everything and give them visibility.

Their premise is wrong. They think people are fools and will swallow their story. They have cut transfer payments to force provinces to cut services. And now they want to act like a saviour, handing out money and services.

The premise is wrong, we are no fools. People are no fools. We are not going to fall for that. I do not have a question. This is a comment.

Remembrance Day November 6th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., armistice was sounded along the hundreds of kilometres of trenches in France and Belgium separating the two enemy camps.

As they came out of the mud where they had been living for 50 months, millions of men, thousands of whom were Canadians and Quebeckers, breathed the fresh air of the fields without fearing they had drawn their last breath.

Then, in millions of homes, millions of women, including the woman that would become my mother, could watch the postman arrive without fearing he was bringing the fatal missive “Your husband, your fiancé, your son, died in combat”.

These men returning from hell were convinced this war was the last. However, much later, they were to see some of their sons descend in turn into hell between 1939 and 1945, others in Korea, all defending the same causes—freedom and democracy.

May we never forget or let our children forget that what we take so much for granted, like the air we breathe, we owe to the sacrifice of these men and women.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency October 23rd, 1998

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

Because it runs a public service, Aéroports de Montréal is accountable to no one. It is the same with Nav Canada and the millennium scholarships. The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency would also be almost completely free of parliamentary control and unaccountable.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister think it is acceptable to limit Parliament's control when it comes to issues so important to the public interest?

Canadian National October 22nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, 3,000 CN employees read in the papers that they were about to lose their jobs. This is a rather disrespectful, not to say improper way to make such an announcement. In the meantime, the federal transport and finance ministers expressed their compassion not for the employees about to be laid off, but for the company, stating that they understood the financial reasons behind this decision.

The Bloc Quebecois virulently decries the loss of these jobs at CN and is shocked to see Paul Tellier, as president and CEO of CN, let go of 3,000 workers just to please the market, 3,000 workers who have to take care of their families who will now be facing insecurity and instability.

To quote the Quebec director of the Canadian Auto Workers, this announcement is worse than a baseball bat. He is right, because as we all know by now, swinging a baseball bat is the government's way to show compassion.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency Act October 21st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is not the first agency the federal government has set up to take over its responsibilities. There have been a number of others, and we end up wondering why exactly Ottawa created these agencies.

To get to the bottom of the matter, I would like to cite a number of other recently created organizations Ottawa has delegated its responsibilities to, and by trying to find out what these creations have in common we may perhaps discover the profound reasons for the government's creating them.

One of them is Aéroports de Montréal. ADM, we will recall, decided to move international flights from Mirabel to Dorval, thus shelving a public investment of $2 billion and throwing the regional economy into chaos. The status of ADM is such that it has never had to publicly justify its decision.

I asked the minister about this, and he said, in substance, although not in these terms, naturally, “I wash my hands of the matter”. This is the Pontius Pilate type response so perfectly offered by the Prime Minister when he said “We can drop one of the two airports, this is not going to cause me to lose any sleep”. Obviously, had ADM not been created, the Minister of Transport would not have been able to treat the matter so offhandedly.

Nav Canada, another creation by Ottawa, is another private organization, which manages aids to navigation. Nav Canada does not have to justify its decisions either. If, some day, Nav Canada decided to remove the control tower at an airport, it would not have to justify its decision, even though public interest would be involved.

Again, in that particular case, if the federal government had retained its powers, it would not be so flippant in its answers and it would have to justify its decision.

Another good example is the millennium scholarship fund. As we all know, the federal government reduced its transfers to the provinces, including those for education, and it used the money saved to establish this millennium scholarship fund, obviously for political visibility. Here again, the body that will manage the $2 billion in public money will not have to justify any of its decisions.

These three initiatives are similar in that the federal government can act like Pontius Pilate, not provide any explanations and avoid the obligations it had in the past.

The customs agency seems to be structured along the same lines. It will not be accountable, even though we are told the minister will remain in charge, or that he will at least have the right to question its management.

The fact is that, by creating this agency, the federal government is avoiding responsibilities that it would otherwise have, as evidenced by clause 8 of the bill. Under this provision, public servants will not be governed by framework legislation such as the Public Service Employment Act. This means that 40,000 public servants, or 20% of the federal public service, will be at the mercy of the agency's board of management. The directors of the agency will certainly earn more than the department's senior bureaucrats currently do, but who will pay for this? It is the support staff, the record processing workers and others, in fact the majority of employees. The government is privatizing part of the public service.

When the minister is asked about this, he will say “I wash my hands of this. It's the agency, not me”. It is all very well for the minister to say he will retain a degree of control over the agency, but the same bill also states that the minister may authorize the commissioner or any other person employed or engaged by the agency to exercise or perform on the minister's behalf any power, duty or function of the minister under any act of parliament, with the exception of making regulations. In other words, this is an agency within the hands of a super-bureaucrat who is neither elected nor accountable.

We cannot really see what the public stands to gain from the creation of this agency. We do, however, see what those in power hope to gain from it. Once again, an opportunity to wash their hands of something. Once again, an opportunity to slough off any obligations for transparency they would have otherwise.

Once again, as well, an opportunity to play their favourite game of finding jobs for cronies, because clauses 15, 22 and 25 create a 15-member board of management. These, with the exception of the chair, the commissioner, a deputy commissioner, are appointed for three years from a list of recommendations. The chair, commissioner and deputy commissioner are appointed by the governor in council for a term of five years. Great jobs for political staff.

There are no longer any limits to the Liberals' arrogance. They are side-stepping obligations which any normal government assumes and preserves, since they are almost royal in nature. This federal government, however, is side-stepping them for the reasons I have given.

To be objective, however, I must state that there is one advantage to this bill. That advantage is that it will be even more help than ever in convincing Quebeckers that the only solution for getting out of such a rotten regime is sovereignty.

Discrimination October 7th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, here we thought the fight for equality had been won. We thought discrimination in all its forms was a thing of the past. Men and women were equal before the law. Long before that, race equality was established in our country. And before that, the poll tax was eliminated.

Indeed, rich and poor, white and black, men and women, we thought we were at last all equal, not only before the law, but in the eyes of our employers. That is, until another head of the hydra of inequality appeared, in the form of the so-called orphan clauses in collective agreements under which, in situations where skills, seniority and education are equal, children will earn less than their father.

So we will fight this latest battle too, to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sex, race and income is not followed by the latest incarnation of the monster, discrimination on the basis of age.

Gm Plant In Boisbriand October 1st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the GM plant in Boisbriand is threatened with closure in 24 months because the models produced there are not selling.

If the plant were to close down, this would be a disaster not only for the 1,500 workers and their families, but also for the entire region, where thousands of indirect jobs depend on the $100 million a year in wages generated by their work.

Starting tomorrow, 700 GM workers will have to register with the employment insurance program because the plant will be operating with only one shift. Tomorrow, at dawn, these newly unemployed workers, their former co-workers and other workers showing solidarity, as well as government officials will gather in front of the plant in Boisbriand for a peaceful protest.

The Bloc Quebecois sends its brotherly regards and add its voice in solidarity with these GM workers and former workers. We want to assure them of our support in their fight to ensure that their plant, on which the prosperity of the Basses-Laurentides depends, remains in operation.

Air Transport June 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, according to the minister, it was necessary to help Canadian restructure.

Using that same argument, will he not admit that it would be only right to also help Montreal, which has paid dearly for past federal government decisions relating to airports?