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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament November 2009, as Bloc MP for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs February 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is responsible for international treaties to which Canada is a party, is refusing to demand the repatriation of Omar Khadr, the child soldier being held in Guantanamo and the only westerner still imprisoned there.

Since the Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for Canada's signature at the bottom of the protocol on child soldiers, can he provide us with the definition of a child soldier?

Business of Supply February 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated the speech by my colleague from Trois-Rivières, who is as clear as ever. I have one brief question to ask her. Is it not a little surprising that it has been decided to include in Bill C-10 implementing the budget a clause establishing a securities commission?

Is this not the vengeance or influence of the Ontario lobby, which will have the support of the Conservative members from Quebec? In the end, there was no connection to the economic crisis, as was recognized by the OECD and by the person responsible on the committee that introduced the bank papers solution. Are we not faced here with a situation where the federal government, both Conservatives and Liberals, has decided to take advantage of a budget implementation act to propose a centralizing motion? Is this not a very concrete example that here only the Bloc Québécois is defending the real interests of Quebec?

Foreign Affairs February 23rd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, a British national detained in Guantanamo for four years was released from the prison and repatriated by his government.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to meet with the American secretary of state soon. Why not use that visit to ask that child soldier Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen still detained in Guantanamo, be returned to Canada?

Foreign Affairs February 12th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions comes into effect on March 18, 2007. Guided by Quebec, Canada signed that convention along with 95 other countries.

Since the United States has not yet signed, does the Prime Minister intend to put this on the agenda when he meets with President Obama, in order to convince him to sign the convention?

Foreign Affairs February 12th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, despite endless urging from the opposition parties and members of all sectors of civil society, the Conservative government is still stubbornly refusing to repatriate young Omar Khadr to Canada. Worse yet, the Prime Minister refuses to even raise the matter with President Obama when he visits, according to one of his spokespersons. We are talking here of a child soldier, imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for more than six years now and subjected to acts of torture.

Does the Prime Minister understand that he has a moral duty to discuss with President Obama the arrangements for repatriating this young Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr?

Will he do this or will he sink—

Foreign Affairs February 9th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Prime Minister said, article 4 of the UN protocol defines a child soldier as someone who is 18 years old or less and recruited into an armed group that is distinct from a national army. Canada has signed this protocol.

Does the government intend to abide by its signature and immediately demand that the United States send Omar Khadr home? Have the experts in the department told him that the Prime Minister’s position is unacceptable?

Foreign Affairs February 9th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, we are 10 days away from President Obama's visit to Ottawa. The president has promised to close Guantanamo prison where Omar Khadr has been held for many years. William Kuebler, his lawyer, is in Ottawa today to find a way to bring his client back to Canada.

Will the Prime Minister raise this issue when the American president comes to visit and ask for Omar Khadr to be repatriated?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 9th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, my answer, simply, is that Percy Crawford, who established the rescue plan in connection with the whole issue of banking papers, said that the impact of the system would have been no different had it been a centralized system. The OECD considers the Canadian system second in the world in terms of its reliability.

In the financial crisis, however, this is not where the problem lies. We must establish how those responsible made the investments. The bottom line is that the brokers accepted a product that was unacceptable. This situation was repeated worldwide, where there were centralized systems and where there were decentralized systems.

Still, in this matter, Mr. Crawford, the person who succeeded in coming up with a solution to avoid a totally negative fallout, a leading light in Canada, said that a centralized system would not have improved the situation in any way.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 9th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, those who feel abandoned are Quebeckers and it is the Conservative government that has abandoned them. For example, the request concerning the waiting period in employment insurance is a unanimous one in Quebec. The Conservatives ignored it completely.

There has been criticism throughout Quebec of the measures in this budget vis-à-vis the crisis in the forestry and manufacturing sectors. We are realizing that the Conservative government, especially because of the weak representation by the members from Quebec, has failed to put forward measures that will benefit the economy of Quebec.

On the matter of credit—it is all very complicated—the amount involved is $200 billion. The problem with the banks is not the amount the government is releasing, but the imposition of conditions on them to ensure that the money will reach consumers. And, in this regard, more effort is required.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 February 9th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, we are studying the budget implementation act. What is this really about? These are the legislative changes made necessary by the passage of the budget.

The budget passed thanks to Liberal support for the Conservative government. That is how the government got a majority to support a budget that is not at all in the interests of Quebec.

The proof is in the motion passed unanimously by the Quebec National Assembly asking for help for its manufacturing and forestry sectors, as well as for some other important things to help Quebec overcome the recession. The federal government just ignored this unanimous motion of the National Assembly. With the help of the Liberals, it decided to pass the budget anyway.

So we are dealing today with this legislation to implement the budget. It is important to understand there are all kinds of very different things in it. For example, there is a change to the Navigable Waters Protection Act to reduce the amount of time needed for environmental studies, especially when municipalities have projects they want to develop. The environmental groups that will come to testify before us will say whether this is satisfactory, but it strikes us as interesting. It is not sufficient, though, for us to vote in favour of the bill.

In regard to the changes to the Competition Act, the Bloc Québécois has long asked that the competition commissioner be given more power to intervene. The bill seems to go a long way in this direction and we are very pleased that they have finally listened to our recommendations.

As a whole, though, the bill still has a lot of problems, for example the personal income tax cuts. Everyone knows that what is needed now is a real plan to boost the economy and everyone agreed that tax cuts were not the best way to get a multiplier effect. The Conservatives are doing this for electoral reasons, even though it has nothing to do with the real needs.

In addition, some things that should be in the bill are missing. For example, the Customs Act should be amended to lift the tariffs on imported manufacturing equipment. However, if companies are not helped to buy this equipment, we will only be continuing to help those that are already profitable and can pay the taxes, while the forestry and manufacturing sectors in particular will not have the means to take advantage of this kind of measure, which seemed quite attractive at first.

With respect to changes to employment insurance, my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé just mentioned that the government did not do anything about the waiting period. The day after the budget was tabled, I got an email from a young woman who works in tourism. She thought that increasing the number of weeks from 45 to 50 might be a good way to help people cope with the recession, but it does not help her because she works seasonally in tourism. Every year, she works between 20 and 25 weeks, depending on how business in the sector is doing. Year after year, she goes through two weeks without any income. The government could have improved the employment insurance system by eliminating the waiting period, or at least reducing it. That would have removed the penalty and increased spending power for people who need it badly. It would have been nice to see a measure like that in this budget.

The budget also includes the creation of a single securities regulator. That measure will just irritate Quebec. I do not understand why the Conservative government thought it had to include that measure in the budget and the budget implementation bill. Canada has one of the best securities systems in the world, according to the OECD. These days, we have to make sure that every economic development move we make packs a punch, that we are investing our time and energy in the right places. The government could not have made a more useless move than this one, which will mess up the securities system.

Purdy Crawford, the expert who dealt with the credit crunch at the root of the current financial crisis, said that replacing the current securities system with a single regulator would not improve things for Canada at all. This measure will only upset Quebec and the members from Quebec, prompting them to vote against this bill. We had hoped that the Liberal and Conservative members would share the Bloc Québécois' perspective on this issue and demand that it be removed from the bill.

As for equalization, Quebeckers are used to seeing the rules change constantly. It has always been that way. As a result, the governments of Quebec and the other provinces—we have seen this with what is happening in Newfoundland—are finding it hard to predict what will happen. They never know whether the federal government is going to keep its promises. In this case, the government is not keeping its promise.

If I were the Minister of Finance of Quebec, I would feel that things had changed a great deal in the past month or two. Even last fall, we knew these figures reflected reality. The leader of the Parti Québécois mentioned them during the provincial election campaign. Now, the Conservative government is going to carry on the sad tradition of playing with the amounts available for Quebec and the provinces. That is not the right way to do things.

This bill also amends the Investment Canada Act. Even though deregulation has proven to be an utter failure all over the world, the government is moving in that direction. The threshold for a foreign investment review is currently $250 million, but the government is going to increase it to $1 billion. We saw this in the case of Rio Tinto, a huge company that was covered by the process in any case. Secret agreements were even reached. The decision was made not to set any requirements in terms of a minimum number of jobs, and we can see the results today. In many regions of Quebec and Canada, thousands of jobs disappeared.

In this case, to avoid having to answer for this sort of situation in the future, the government has decided simply to raise the threshold. Instead of investigating the appropriateness of purchases of $250 million or more, the government is going to increase the figure to $1 billion. Many transactions will no longer be covered by the act. In a few years, we could have the same record as we do now on deregulation. The effect is the same. In a few years, many companies will have been purchased by foreign companies even though it was not necessarily a good idea. With this amendment, such purchases are made legal, with no checks or controls.

This budget implementation act falls short on a number of counts. It would also have been important to include more specific measures for access to credit. People in our ridings, including owners of car dealerships, have told us that although the Bank of Canada prime rate is very low, there is a gap between that rate and the bank lending rate. In short, car salesmen find the situation to be unacceptable because it contributes to the slowdown of the economy and the fuelling of people's worries. The government should have gone much further to ensure that credit is truly accessible and to stimulate economic activity.

Like the budget, this bill contains a number of components opposed by the Bloc Québécois, not just because we are in opposition but because they do not reflect Quebec's priorities. It does not contain what we hoped for in a federal budget that would serve as a tool for economic development. There are discrepancies with regard to assistance. It was evident in last week's egregious example. There is a great deal of assistance for the auto sector but not much for the aerospace industry, which is concentrated primarily in Quebec.

This budget really is not a budget that will stimulate the economy. It is a budget that responds to the unfortunate situation in which the Conservative government found itself last fall, when it was called on the carpet by this House. This time, it was able to take advantage of the Liberals' renewed soft stance on adopting the budget. However, the Bloc Québécois will not aid and abet this position in any way. To defend the interests of Quebec, it is important that we oppose this bill. We shall see, in committee, when witnesses are called, whether or not we will be able to have the government make a certain number of changes so that we can at least mitigate the negative effects of such a bill.