House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for Abitibi (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health Care April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health, who cares so much about the health of Canadians and Quebecers, as she keeps saying, in my opinion deserves the gold medal for cynicism.

How can the minister denounce provincial governments forced to reduce health services or allow extra billing when her own government has extended the freeze on transfer payments until 1995?

How can the provinces maintain the quality of health care when her government is constantly reducing its share of health-care expenditures?

When she was in opposition, the Deputy Prime Minister said that federal financing was on a slippery slope and was creating a crisis in the Canadian health care sector.

The crisis is here and the responsibility for prolonging it falls squarely on her own government.

Louvicourt Mining Project April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, according to the Commission de la construction du Québec , the Louvicourt mining project in Abitibi is the largest industrial project in the province of Quebec.

The Louvicourt project near Val-d'Or is on its way to becoming the largest underground copper mine in Quebec. Roughly $300 million will be invested until the construction phase is completed. Testing of the concentrator will begin next July, while underground systems will be operational in October 1994.

On behalf of all the residents of my riding of Abitibi, I want to congratulate the Aur-Novicourt-Teck partnership and all those involved in this venture which will employ hundreds of workers and stimulate our region's economy.

Questions On The Order Paper April 13th, 1994

Has the Federal Infrastructure program made provision to allocate funds to the federal-provincial-territorial co-operative program entitled Canada's SchoolNet and, if so, how many Quebec schools will participate in this program and what are the names of the Quebec schools or school boards concerned?

Mining Industry March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the "Mining, an industry to support" campaign launched by the mining industry last September has received massive public support in over 150 mining communities in Canada and Quebec as well as from many other Canadians and Quebecers who are concerned about the future of this industry.

The mining industry is one of the driving forces of the economy and as such requires more serious attention from the government as well as urgent action.

Canada's mineable reserves keep decreasing. But this country cannot afford to lose an industry which contributes so much to the national economy and to regional development. The government must take steps to revitalize this industry. Time has come, for example, to look at the possibility of giving preferential tax treatment to mining flow-through shares as well as at the need for a definition of "research and development" in the Income Tax Act that would include mining exploration.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95 March 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity today to voice a different opinion on the last budget and on the impact it will have and not have on people in Canada in general and in my riding in particular.

The Canadian budget exercise is something extremely serious and we cannot speak about it lightly. It very often means life or death for projects or economic activities on which individuals depend. For example, in my riding mining is very important and generates income for the whole country.

Some people have criticized the budget because it does not do enough to create jobs for Canadians. Others have criticized it as well because it does not deal strongly enough with the national debt. Very often, deluged by figures, Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen, do not know who to believe and why they should trust anyone. A budget should inspire confidence.

Although the budget is an accounting tool which allows the government to evaluate its financial capabilities for the coming year, it is often perceived by Canadians more as a means of taking more money out of their pockets than a tool for improvement and progress.

With an accumulated debt of over $500 billion, and consistent deficits, year after year, how can Quebecers and Canadians have any confidence in their government? What should we do so that this exercise, which is so important to the country's economy, does not always, or nearly always, end up being a source of frustration but rather a tool of choice to fire up the country, if not bring it back to life?

Canada's economic situation does not allow the finance minister to give presents to taxpayers, they understand that, but to give the budget a positive image does not necessarily require presents.

Following the last budget, I heard many Canadians say on open-line shows how disappointed they were with it. I am not going to say whether they were right or wrong. Obviously, the Minister of Finance cannot please everyone, but he must try to correct inequities.

When listening to these people on the radio, one realizes that the budget could have a much more positive image if people could see in this accounting exercise the promise of some changes for themselves and people around them.

During one of these open-line shows, a lady gave her opinion of the budget saying that even though she was personally affected by it, she agreed to pay more taxes, as a retired senior, to improve the country's financial situation. But she also said that, with a deficit still that big, and despite her willingness to pay more taxes, it might be an exercise in futility.

Another caller, who introduced himself as a federal civil servant, said that he was also obliged to do his share for the country, without being asked to, by accepting a further wage freeze, but added that he would have hoped that major companies would also have done their bit.

I only gave the example of two citizens in the Hull-Ottawa area who, even though they were disappointed, accepted to support the last budget, knowing probably that their efforts would help control the deficit.

I am certain that there are other members in this House who could give as many if not more examples of Quebecers and Canadians who agreed, willy-nilly, to support the fight against the deficit. Faced with such examples of courage among our fellow citizens, I wonder if the government is really trying as hard as they are to control the deficit.

How are Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public to believe that the government is truly making an effort to curb the deficit when year after year, the Auditor General of Canada tables a report rife with examples of waste and mismanagement and when no serious attempt seems to be made to reverse the situation?

How are we to believe that things will change and that people will put their trust in this new government and in the new budget?

In its recent budget, the Liberal government indicated that it would be considering ways of replacing the GST with another tax, one that would not, of course, be less expensive since the government still needs revenues, but one that would be more efficient. Unfortunately, people heard the same song and dance from the Conservative government when the GST was introduced. Yet, it cost more today to administer the GST that the former tax, besides which the GST does not really generate more revenue. All this after taxpayers were forced to spend millions of dollars to meet GST requirements.

How are we supposed to trust the government once again when it speaks of a new tax, when all of the experts are saying that we should wait until this same GST is improved before we think about bringing in a new tax. How are we to restore the public's trust in its institutions? The steady increase in taxes gives the public all the more reason to turn to the underground economy and to contraband. The government has to start by finding a way to make legal work viable.

High levels of public expenditures and government indebtedness impede economic growth to the same degree as the underground economy and smuggling.

If it is to enhance the government's credibility, the budgetary process must be transparent. High-income earners would be willing to make additional sacrifices provided, of course, they

saw in the budget that the government was prepared to do likewise.

In the past, governments have always favoured tax increases or taxing target groups, the aim being not to hit everyone at the same time. The preferred approach seems to be: divide and conquer. With the result that those who are penalized are frustrated with those who are not and vice versa the following year, except that we remember only of those years when we are personally affected.

Such a policy may be profitable for a government in want of a new mandate, but this is not the kind of policy which promotes solidarity among fellow citizens or confidence in their elected representatives, if they think that taxation policies are often arbitrary and selective if need be.

The Canadian people would agree to make an effort if the government was demonstrating by its actions the firm will to tackle its pattern of expenditures instead of cutting a little in this or that item.

The Liberal government could have shown a great deal of openness and transparency to restore the confidence of taxpayers by accepting that the committee requested by the Official Opposition on many occasions be set up to review all government programs as well as their budgets.

I think it was easier for the government to say that we already have the Standing Committee on Public Accounts than to accept to be faced with questions from the public through the Official Opposition.

The Minister of Finance himself said in his budget speech that it was not enough to cut here and there, that fundamental changes were required. Does this means that the government intends to do as much to reduce its own spending as it is asking from the taxpayers?

On the subject of joint efforts to reduce the deficit, would the taxpayers not find that the thing to do on the part of the government, when they are facing a drain of over $14 billion in taxes over the next three years, would be to cut government spending further instead of announcing that it will increase by another $4.4 billion during the same period?

Taxpayers would be proud of their government if it took the initiative of streamlining government structure not from the bottom up, but the other way around and reviewed its programs, because only 12 per cent of government programs are actually assessed and, even then, not always with regard to performance but only to ascertain that funds are well administered, that is to say that they are going to the right place. Savings of only a few percentage points on a budget of $123 billion-without taking interest into account of course-resulting from a review of operating budgets and the rationale of certain programs, would put a very substantial amount back in the public purse, and the taxpayers would appreciate that.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada as well as those of Quebec have the right to require from their government more transparency in its budget, more fairness, more self-assessment and that its make as much of a sacrifice as it asks from the taxpayers.

When that has been achieved, the vast majority of Canadians will trust their government more and certainly accept to make all necessary efforts to fight the deficit.

Mining Exploration February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the mining sector, one of the most important in terms of jobs and economic benefits, is currently in a very serious situation. In 1987 the federal government decided to reduce its fiscal effort regarding flow-through shares, which were designed to boost mining exploration. This unfortunate decision, which was denounced among others by the Quebec government, is a major cause of the serious problems experienced by this sector.

My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Does the minister agree that a recovery of the mining exploration sector can only occur by increasing flow-through shares to 133 per cent?

Defence Policy February 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleague from the Reform Party for his excellent and very instructive speech on the work of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Since he did not say why he had decided to support the government's proposal to create an ad hoc committee for this review and since there is already a parliamentary committee on National Defence, could he tell me why he thinks this committee is necessary? And how can he justify these additional expenditures? There is no doubt that with the creation of this ad hoc committee the regular committee will be free to study other issues, but why this ad hoc committee? Why would we allocate special sums of money for travelling across the country? It seems to me that the Reform Party has repeatedly asked that we cut spending. Why does the hon. member think that we should put extra funds at the disposal of this group of parliamentarians and senators to consider a new approach, a new Armed Forces policy? How can he reconcile this with his party's position?

Regional Development February 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, regional economic recovery is an absolute priority for all Quebecers and Canadians.

I would like to mention two cases in my region of Abitibi, where companies are acting responsibly in this regard. They are Forpan and Agnico Eagle, in Val-d'Or. Forpan will invest $8.3 million to increase the capacity of its particle board plant by 25 per cent. Through this investment, the company will increase its competitiveness on the international market and preserve jobs in the region.

Agnico Eagle will invest $13 million and provide jobs for some 40 workers during the next two years in mining exploration.

These are two concrete examples of economic recovery activities undertaken by energetic entrepreneurs capitalizing on the region's potential.

International Year Of The Family February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, 1994 is the International Year of the Family. This should be the opportunity for parliamentarians to become aware of the many difficulties Quebec and Canadian families are faced with, and for the government to respond to the crying needs of today's families. It goes without saying that the economic difficulties we are experiencing take a terrible toll on families.

According to Statistics Canada in 1990, 1.1 million Canadian children lived below the poverty line. No one can be indifferent to such alarming figures. Another international research organization estimates that 29 per cent of single parent families live below the poverty line, putting Canada in seventh place among industrialized countries.

It is high time we give back their dignity to Quebec and Canadian families so they can fully develop on a personal level and find total fulfilment worthy of a truly modern society.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

I would like to ask the hon. member a brief question. I also have mixed feelings regarding this issue, and since I also represent a riding which is bordered by the far North, I want to ask the member this question: Since our country and his region have never experienced war, if we had to go to war some day and had not learned how to defend ourselves, either alone or with the help of allies, would the hon. member still think that he made the right decision today?