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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

Department Of Industry Act December 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member who spoke before me for recognizing his government's clear identification of the need for a strong central government with an unshakeable desire to impose its will. Such a federal government, as proposed in the Meech and Charlottetown accords, was rejected not by a minority but by the majority of Quebecers, including federalists unhappy with the status quo.

I rise today in this debate on Bill C-46 so that some key amendments will be made to Clauses 8, 9 and 10 to make them acceptable. As I explained at length on October 17 during debate at second reading, I am against this bill as it stands because it does not recognize Quebec's jurisdiction over its regional development.

Granted, regional development is a complex issue. Identifying the regions to be developed is a major challenge in itself, all the more so if we try to do it from afar, without knowing each region's particularities.

This federal tactic of trying to develop regions by centralizing policy-making is not new and was not always successful. As early as September 1982, the Senate Committee on National Finance said this in a report: "Designating the least developed regions for special status to ensure that regional disparities are not forgotten is not an easy task. As DREE discovered, a political system generates enormous pressures to extend the boundaries of programs that generate cash flow. As a result, DREE ended up including more than half the geographic area of the country in the designated areas, and the purpose became hopelessly diluted".

Why these lamentable effects? Quite simply because the federal government is unable to understand that, with general policies, it cannot meet the specific needs of each province, much less the specific needs of each region.

It is utopian to pass a bill at the national level to meet particular local objectives. Instead, we need legislation that is appropriate to the development of the province concerned, with the flexibility to respond to regional requirements.

Quebecers see their needs for regional development very differently depending on which region they live in. I suppose that is why previous legislation created different development agencies for western Canada and for the Maritimes. That is why we believe that Bill C-46 must be related to Quebec's regional particularities and to Ontario's as well.

The need to develop a region is often related to its unemployment level. Unemployment is higher or lower in some regions for various reasons. For example, high unemployment may be due to lack of education in a region and the solution will be to train the workers there.

A second possible reason for the lack of jobs is a shortage of capital to modernize industry. This can be corrected by investing in industrial or tourism infrastructure.

A third possibility is lack of natural resources, for example, over-exploitation of forests in the past. This is what happened in my region and it must be corrected by diversification to stabilize regional development.

However, the solutions are sometimes hard to find. For example, take the price of metals on the international market. For example, if the price of copper drops, this reduces employment in the affected mining region, but the solution is not to keep mines open at all cost.

How can we protect or develop a region where companies have a harder time to survive in the context of international free trade? For example, in the case of Montreal's textile industry, the solution could be found by that industry and its workers, with the help of regional development consultants.

These examples show that, for optimum results, solutions to regional development issues must be found in the region itself. This is why we insist that federal bills reflect a will to co-operate with the provinces.

Quebec developed its development tools and these tools are close to the stakeholders. Consequently, we feel that the federal government should also adopt this cost-effective approach, by increasing development tools instead of reducing them.

Lines 21, 22 and 23 of Clause 8, on page 4 could provide a good example of efficient co-operation between the federal government and the provinces. That clause currently reads as follows: "The Minister shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned by subsection 4(2) in a manner that will-", but it should say: "With the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council of Quebec"-we could also say Ontario, since this bill concerns both provinces-"when it is a field related to regional development in Quebec, the Minister shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned by subsection 4(2) in a manner that will-".

We want to link regional development to the power of Quebec to decide and the power of regions to select priorities. The amendment to clause 8 is intended to reflect respect for the strategic development plans of the regions in Quebec and should apply to all regions in Canada. We have had enough of this competing by various levels of government at the expense of the regions, because we want to eliminate waste and inefficiencies.

In my own region, considering the unemployment rate and the exodus of our young people, there is a very clear case for making proper use of any instruments we are given and for avoiding federal products that are not adapted to the needs of the region.

In the past few months I talked to senior officials at the Federal Office of Regional Development about the need for reviewing the agency's 1994-95 priorities for our region.

Their new focus is to promote entrepreneurship that will use new technologies to create jobs. There is nothing wrong with that, but this should not be done in total disregard of the choice made by our region, which wants to focus on infrastructures for tourism. The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region wants to acquire the basic infrastructures that will attract tourists to our region for more than a few hours. People have to travel long distances to get there, and we could sell our region if points of interest were sufficient to make a stay of several days worthwhile.

Tourists will not drive 600, 700 or 1,000 kilometres just for the sake of driving. The FORDQ previously subsidized tourism facilities which, it felt, contributed towards developing the economy, but now its focus has changed. Other priorities may be acceptable, but the region's decision to set a priority on the tourism industry should be supported by the federal government and the regions should not be saddled with priorities that are not often acceptable.

People in the community of Radisson near James Bay do not see how the new focus of FORDQ would fit their situation. The only development they could sustain is tourism. They have neither the population base nor the industrial environment for these new development priorities and new technologies. Let us be practical and use the tools we have.

The people of Radisson want to use the far north as a tool to attract adventure tours and other types of tourism. The federal government should realize that the intent of our motion to amend clauses 8, 9 and 10 is to maximize effectiveness by focussing on the needs of the community and thus promote regional development. The gap between developed and undeveloped regions is widening, because in the past, these regions did not have the right development tools.

Quebec has approved a policy to decentralize regional development. Ottawa should also agree to decentralize and consider the particular needs of each region. Regional development councils in Quebec, which include of the mayors of MRCs and regional intervenors, have already designed their own development scenarios. They know what their needs are, and the federal government should consult them so as to harmonize its projects.

I think this brief presentation has sufficiently clarified the intent of the amendments to clauses 8, 9 and 10. Failure to support these amendments will reflect the present government's reluctance to co-operate with the provinces and spend the scarce amount of funds available more effectively.

Department Of Natural Resources Act November 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, we are presently on third reading of Bill C-48, which will unfortunately end up in the bill being passed as is by the Liberal majority in this House.

Relevant suggestions were made by my colleagues and myself at second reading to bring it more into line with the spirit of the Canadian Constitution, but our efforts have been in vain.

In committee, we tried again to have certain clauses of Bill C-48 changed, so that the leading role of the provinces with respect to natural resources would be recognized. But again, the Liberal majority systematically rejected any proposal along those lines.

Hon. members are well aware by now of all our reasons for not supporting this bill, but it is important to repeat what these are for the benefit of those who are watching the proceedings on television. The public must understand what this debate is really about and why the Bloc Quebecois is against Bill C-48, which is not flawed in its structure, but in its very essence.

On behalf of the people of Quebec, who have elected us to look after their interests, I would like to go over once again the reasons, albeit obvious, why we are asking that the bill, as it stands, be purely and simply withdrawn.

As my hon. colleague from Matapédia-Matane said earlier, anything having to do with natural resources is affected by this bill. The bill does not recognize the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces over natural resources and, therefore, is in contravention of Section 92( a ) of the Constitution Act, 1867, which clearly states that mines and forest fall under exclusive provincial jurisdiction, and this was confirmed by the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982.

Such interference maintains redundancy among all natural resources ministries and departments in this country, hence the risk of contradiction, duplication and overlap in many regards.

We must conclude that the federal government's lack of co-operation is not a healthy way to manage this country, because it does not look for ways to eliminate overlap and duplication at the Department of Natural Resources and is unwilling to recognize the provinces' predominance by staying in the background and letting the provinces design their own programs.

The issue of mining and the environment is a good example. Contrary to common sense, the federal government is set to proclaim the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and will soon table amendments to this 1992 act. It wants to create a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to replace the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office.

As usual, this environmental bill is not bad per se, but not bringing it into line with the various provincial programs will cause often unjustified delays because it will be cumbersome to

deal with two administrations instead of one. The only acceptable administration is that of the province concerned.

In this regard, the mining industry is very worried about possible delays in processing mining licence applications. Decisions already take too long-often more than one year-and jeopardize projects because of the amounts involved that must be frozen over long periods of time, thus reducing profitability.

For example, the Grevet mining project in my riding, which involves potential investments exceeding $100 million, was put in great jeopardy by the wait for the mining licence, in particular for the environmental permit. This example shows that Bill C-48, by failing to recognize provincial predominance, opens the door to interference that could seriously harm the industry, thus endangering jobs we all need.

The federal government knows that the provinces have long had their own natural resources strategies. The provinces already carry out environmental assessments of projects, and the process that the federal government wants to put in place will increase overlap and duplication. The federal government refuses to recognize the provinces' legitimate rights; its assessment and review process is outrageous. It will cost everyone very dearly and will continue to do so if we do not find ways to have a "single window" where industry will be able to obtain information and where the projects will be accepted in as little time as possible.

Unfortunately for the industry, which wants to be efficient and profitable, the federal government has new requirements. It wants new regulations. It wants more projects to be subject to a thorough review. Clearly, this means a waste of time and money, confusion and long delays in approving and implementing these projects.

As an aside, I would like to give a specific example of the slowness of government bureaucracy, in particular in the Department of National Health and Welfare, to which I wrote on May 24, 1994 on behalf of several of my constituents; I received a reply only on October 27, 1994. If it took five months for a department to answer something relatively simple, Mr. Speaker, imagine the delays that more complex issues, like environmental assessments, will involve.

In the present economic environment, we must streamline, and Bill C-48 would have been a good chance to do that. Increasing the number of structures and the amount of duplication must stop before it is too late. In our work on the parliamentary committee studying Bill C-48, we could with simple amendments have made several clauses reflect the provinces' primary jurisdiction over their natural resources.

For example, in clause 5 on the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Natural Resources, it would have been enough to say that these powers, duties and functions are subject to the principle of provincial predominance in the field of natural resources. This would not have reduced the powers, duties and functions of the minister, but it would have reasonably put them in relation to provincial priorities.

As regards clause 7, the Bloc Quebecois wanted an annual report to be tabled by the minister, so as to make her department accountable for its mandate and objectives. In his most recent report tabled yesterday, the Auditor General of Canada states clearly, on page 8 of the booklet on main points: "7.1 Two years ago we called for government to reform its departmental reporting to be more transparent. We suggested that Parliament should expect and receive a regular accounting for the exercise of the entire business of government: in a phrase, global stewardship. This year, we continue this theme of transparency by following up on our 1992 Report, and extend it to the sectoral activities of government".

"7.4 We believe that there should be better sectoral reporting. This means that when a sectoral activity is identified, one department has to be given the lead responsibility to provide a summary-level report to Parliament for the entire sector".

I should point out, Mr. Speaker, that we did not ask for an extensive report: we simply wanted an internal report on the quality of services.

Here is one last excerpt from the Auditor General's report: "7.5 But in the end, reporting of any kind will not change soon unless Parliament is explicit in letting government know that current reporting is inadequate and that it wants it changed". The Auditor General's report seems to confirm that it was not such a bad idea to ask that Bill C-48 be amended so that a clear and concise report be submitted at least once a year.

It was certainly legitimate to table this amendment so that parliamentarians and Canadians could monitor the usefulness and the efficiency of the programs developed by the Department of Natural Resources.

As regards clause 27 of Bill C-48, we wanted the minister to have the authority to enter into agreements only with the provinces and not with any person or body of her choice, since only the provinces can define their policy on natural resources. Clearly, overlapping and duplication could resurface if, for some reason, the minister decided to promote a specific policy.

Finally, clause 35 of Bill C-48 not only suggests overlapping and duplication but also federal interference in a field of provincial jurisdiction, as stated in the Canadian Constitution.

Indeed, through clause 35, the minister is giving herself the power to enter into agreements with any person or body in a province, without that province having any say. As I mentioned earlier, the issue is not the quality of the federal government's action. The member who spoke just before me noted that it is sometimes necessary to have a national policy as, for example, in the case of nuclear energy. No province has a concrete

nuclear energy policy, although many provinces have policies in terms of forestry and mining.

The issue here is not to control the quality of federal measures, but to ensure that the federal government acts within its jurisdiction and respects the agreements and policies elaborated by the provinces.

In fact, Quebec has never signed the National Forest Strategy nor the Whitehorse Work Group Agreement concerning the mining industry. Quebec wants the federal government to recognize the predominance of provinces in the area of natural resources before signing any document appointing the federal government as the national director whose decisions provinces would have to follow in order to get tax money.

This is why Quebec wants the right to opt out, that is to withdraw from a federal program with full financial compensation.

Given the financial crisis we are going through, we are entitled to ask politicians and legislators to focus on efficiency. It is possible.

Right now, all the members sitting on the Standing Committee on Natural Resources are examining briefs concerning the mining industry which were submitted by witnesses from various provincial governments and the industry. Their goal is to prepare the most accurate report possible on the tools needed to promote the mining industry and job creation in this area. This type of co-operation is a credit to the members. Efficiency could have been the main concern during the drafting of Bill C-48, as in the case of any other bill.

In concluding, I would like to mention the position of the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources, presented by Mr. Jacques Robitaille at the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forestry Ministers on October 4 and 5, 1994, and I quote:

Regarding the main point on the agenda, Quebec's position is as follows: We will not be a party to preparing and ratifying a framework agreement whose purpose would be to assign a role to the federal government in an area over which the provinces have exclusive jurisdiction.

Both Constitution Acts are perfectly clear on the forestry sector, in that management of forest resources is the exclusive jurisdiction of the legislatures of the provinces. In this context, we could not consider approving any intervention in this sector by the federal government.

Furthermore, as far as financing is concerned, Quebec favours bilateral agreements that identify funding procedures for programs based on the priorities of the provinces and administered and delivered by the provinces.

This position is clear and ought to be reflected in the spirit of Bill C-48. Considering that the principle of provincial priorities is not reflected in Bill C-48, we will vote against the bill.

Department Of Natural Resources Act November 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to seek my colleagues' support to amend two clauses of Bill C-48, which, I believe, distort the very nature of this department by not explicitly recognizing the overriding authority of the provinces over natural resources.

First, clause 27.(2) is theoretically aimed at allowing the Minister of Natural Resources not to seek the approval of the Governor in Council when entering into contracts or agreements. This change is said to be in the interest of streamlining public service operations. Keeping in mind this laudable intention, let us look at the effects of the following few words included in clause 27.(2), page 9, line 13:

-government of any province or with any person for forest protection and management or forest utilization-

The words "or any person" cannot be legitimately included since only the provinces have the authority, the right to define their own forest policy.

Therefore, even though the legitimacy of the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources is very much in doubt, it is still important to correct those clauses having an impact on the provinces' authority in matters of exclusive jurisdiction. Under subsection 92( a ) of the Constitution Act, 1982, natural resources are described as exclusive provincial jurisdiction, in particular with regards to development, conservation, and management of non-renewable and forestry resources, including laws in relation to the rate of primary production therefrom.

These few words open a wide door to interference by the federal government in the area of forestry which could be perceived by provincial governments as contrary to their policies or discriminatory towards some provinces.

The issue is not the value of the federal involvement, the point is to make sure that the federal government remains within its areas of jurisdiction. The federal Minister of Natural Resources must consult and obtain the consensus of all provinces before promoting a so-called national policy. For example, Quebec never signed the National Forest Strategy, therefore, the federal government cannot, unilaterally, intervene on its territory with policies, however well intentioned, actions or agreements not endorsed by Quebec.

Quebec has its own forest management strategy, like many other provinces. Trying to harmonize the different policies is the responsibility of the provinces themselves. Any interference on the part of the federal government, if it is not the result of a unanimous request from all provinces can only be a source of duplication and waste.

The people of Canada, like the people of Quebec, should not have to pay twice because of the squabbling between the two levels of government since the rules are clear: natural resources belong to the provinces.

The provinces have precedence in the area of natural resources, yet, it is quite clear that the words "any person" put the provinces on the same level as any given person selected by the minister. It is obvious, therefore, that such equality between a person and a province cannot stand: these words must be deleted.

To continue with this same motion, I now move on to the explanatory notes on clause 35, section 6, which state that the new section 6( a ) provides clarification by allowing the Minister of Natural Resources to conduct or co-operate with persons conducting applied and basic research programs instead of only conducting such programs.

The word "co-operate" seems quite appropriate in a piece of legislation requiring the federal government to co-operate with the provinces in areas of provincial jurisdiction. It seems quite appropriate that this clause should reflect this willingness to cooperate by incorporating the proposed amendment, which merely states that, at the provinces' request, the minister may recommend, promote or co-ordinate a Canada-wide policy or any basic research program needed.

These few added words clearly show who should give directions and identify needs so that the federal government can be instrumental in helping the provinces in these fields instead of taking the lead.

This clause should clearly reflect the federal government's willingness to co-operate by recognizing the provinces' supremacy in identifying their needs, the openness to receive provincial requests as an established fact, as well as the minister's ability to honour these requests in the provinces' interest depending on available resources.

I do not want to elaborate needlessly on this amendment, but the federal government's willingness to co-operate should allow it to accept this amendment. I do not want the amendment to be redundant either.

On the last point, namely clause 35, lines 21 to 39, I want to talk about something that reflects very well Canada's constitutional problems. Clause 35.7( 2 ) proposes that in carrying out

any plans coming under the Department of Natural Resources, the minister may-repeat, "may": a ) cooperate with the provinces and with municipalities; b ) enter into agreements with any person or body, including the government of any province or any department, branch or agency of such a government, respecting the carrying out of those plans; and

And third: c )make grants and contributions and, with the approval of the Governor in Council, provide other forms of financial assistance.

I think that these three proposals contain the seeds of federal-provincial disagreements on many issues.

First, the federal government, through its Department of Natural Resources should, and not just may, co-operate with the provinces. The federal government has no legitimate authority over the provinces' natural resources. If it absolutely wants to be involved in provincial fields, it should do so with their consent and for the greater good of all, of course. However, where their resources are concerned, the provinces would certainly want to discuss what is good for themselves in order to have the program that suits them.

Second, the federal government must not conclude any agreement to implement federal programs with anyone in the provinces unless the provinces are informed and have agreed. Provincial consent must be required for any private agreement to take effect. It is hard to imagine anyone changing a province's natural resource management policy without the province's consent.

So, any agreement between an individual or group and the federal government can only be made with the agreement of the province concerned. Again, why duplicate and risk wasting money, despite good intentions?

Third, in the same vein, if the federal government, through a joint policy, wants to promote a particular sector or project, it should do so with the consent of the province concerned, so that the federal government can make the grant or contribution.

Nothing in clause 35 says or indicates that the provinces have priority when natural resources are involved. As the Official Opposition in this House, we can only call attention to this fact, which is not something the provinces are demanding but a basic agreement of this Canadian federation. Under these circumstances, how could we not insist that many federal bills or laws lack legitimacy?

Several federalist members point out that the federal government must do this or that for the general welfare, without hurting the provinces. These members may be in good faith, but imagine what the federal government would say if provincial legislators intervened in federal programs and set conditions for them. The federal government would be the first to talk about interference and want to put them in their place.

The Canadian system defines the roles of each level of government and changing them requires reopening the Constitution and new negotiations. That may not be a bad idea. The Canadian Constitution needs many adjustments. Quebec's idea of "opting out", that is, the provinces' ability to withdraw from a federal program with full financial compensation, is one that could meet its particular needs and show the ability of this federal system to adjust.

For these reasons, we believe that putting our terminology in clause 35 7(2) would much better reflect the provinces' needs and the federal government should consider it an improvement and support it. I think that my motion as a whole justifies the necessary amendments to the clauses previously mentioned and Bill C-48 would correspond more closely to the reality of Canada as a result.

Department Of Natural Resources Act November 21st, 1994


Motion No. 6

That Bill C-48, in clause 35, be amended by replacing lines 25 to 33, on page 12, with the following:

"plans under subsection (1), the Minister a ) shall cooperate with the provinces;

(b) may enter into agreements with the government of any province or any department, branch or agency of such a government; c ) with the agreement of the concerned province, may make grants and contributions and''.

Department Of Natural Resources Act November 21st, 1994


Motion No. 4

That Bill C-48, in clause 27, be amended by replacing lines 13 and 14, on page 9, with the following:

"government of any province for forest protection and manage-".

Department Of Natural Resources Act November 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a few comments to the speech made by my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois. The hon. member referred to a quantitative report, that is a document which would contain sufficient data to inform every Canadian.

I also want to say that this report should also be more qualitative, or more specific. In the past, as the Reform Party member just pointed out, a very thick document would often be released but would not include truly relevant information on the appropriateness and the efficiency of the department's operations.

Through clause 7 of this bill, the government indicates that it might be sufficient for a minister to table Part III of the Estimates, to demonstrate the good work of the department for which he or she is responsible. This is not good enough and that is why, through its motion, the Bloc Quebecois is asking that that clause 7 be amended to require that an annual report showing the department's operations be laid before the House.

That department must have a specific mandate as well as defined objectives; it must demonstrate its usefulness and show that the budget allocated to it was well spent. Many Quebecers and Canadians question the role of various departments.

Indeed, the role of too many departments is being questioned and, at a time when the Minister of Finance wants to cut $9 billion from the federal budget to make ends meet, one cannot help but think that other departments, not the Department of Human Resources Development but others like the Department of Natural Resources, should do their part and at the very least justify their expenditures.

Quebecers and Canadians have a right to ask if the budget of that department was really spent on valuable projects, and they have a right to demand that the minister make sure the money goes to the right place; after all, it is his duty to do so.

The public also has the right to know if the programs which the Department of Natural Resources wants to develop, and which are the very reason for such spending, are useful and efficient. Consequently, we could obtain from that department, every year, a report on its programs and objectives, on the way it has tried to achieve these objectives, as well as on the money spent on each project. It will be possible to determine whether the department provides a worthwhile service to the people of Canada and Quebec.

At the present time, the advisability of cutting certain social programs is a frequent topic of debate, and such discussions are entirely appropriate, considering what we want government to do. In the end, however, perhaps a cost-benefit analysis of each program, and not only of the Department of Natural Resources, should be done for the benefit of the public.

I think it is appropriate to require that in Section 7 of the bill, to minister produce, in future, an annual report to inform both Houses whether his department did what it set out to achieve and whether its budget takes into account the interests of all Quebecers and Canadians.

There are people, including other members, who may see this as an additional expense. I do not agree. I think that a report on operations fills a need. In most cases, this kind of report is already produced for departmental use, in other words, senior executives review their programs and make recommendations for improvements. The same report could be made available to us, which means we would no longer have to wait for months to get information on a particular subject or project, as the hon. member just said.

Releasing this departmental review to Parliament would enhance the quality of management in the department and increase much needed transparency in government. I realize that such action may take some political courage on the part of the minister, but citizens have a right to demand this kind of forthrightness of their minister, especially considering the national debt and our annual deficit.

In concluding, I want all members of this House to realize that we do not necessarily want a detailed and wide-ranging report, because the departmental reports we get at our offices are often terribly discouraging for the person who has to read them. All we want is a report that gives us some insight into the government's activities and a chance to evaluate its performance. I think that any department that has done a good job of identifying its objectives and managing its current programs has no reason to be ashamed of publishing this information and should even be proud to do so.

It is therefore entirely appropriate to amend this clause, and I hope that the majority in this House will agree.

Standing Committee On Industry November 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to motion No. 16 standing in the name of the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs, and I quote:

That this House take note of the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Industry ("Taking Care of Small Business").

I should point out that an analysis of the recommendations of this report and the dissenting report of the Bloc Quebecois to this committee provided an opportunity to ask some important questions about SMEs in general and SME funding in particular which is largely the key to economic development in Quebec and Canada.

I agree the report contains some much needed changes in the way SMEs are financed, to raise them to the level of productivity and competitiveness required as a result of globalization. In my opinion, the number of SMEs should continue to rise, and their production capacity and ability to diversify should be improved, all of which will not be possible unless SME financing helps them expand from a small to a medium sized business and, if possible, to a very big company.

Unfortunately, according to the statistics, between 1978 and 1986 only 1 per cent of Canadian small businesses graduated to the rank of medium-sized businesses, compared with 15 per cent, over the same period, in the United States.

It is very important to find an explanation for the unsatisfactory growth of our businesses, but in the short term, for many regional businesses, financing is often the problem.

This report contains some positive reports concerning SMEs and SME financing, but I feel that some recommendations lack real substance and innovative spirit.

I would support the committee's recommendation that the Federal Development Bank be confirmed in its role as complementary lender to small and medium-sized businesses. However, it must be understood that this role should be redefined so as to avoid duplication and overlap, since all provincial governments have their own government policies. The Government of Quebec is no exception, with its new policy for regionalizing development programs.

Instead of changing the name of the Federal Development Bank, which would mean spending a lot of money with no direct benefit, the federal government would be better advised to give this agency a new philosophy, that is, let it act as a complementary lender of venture capital to businesses, the role formerly played by the Federal Office of Regional Development, which has seen its mandate crumble as a result of the absence of budget allocations.

While on the subject of funding and risk capital, I would like to say a few words about the Small Business Loans Act my Bloc Quebecois colleagues referred to in their dissenting report. I would have liked the committee to show more vision, more understanding in its consideration of small and medium sized business funding. Small business loans are very popular tools among small and medium sized businesses and essential ones too, resolving a number of problems in terms of productivity, market strategy, job creation, by making the necessary funds available.

To be eligible to funds under the Small Businesses Loans Act, SMEs must perform well in management and other areas considered important. These are the conditions essential to their success.

In the committee proceedings, we note that the Liberal members of the committee completely disregard or do not understand the first thing about the basic needs of Quebec and Canadian entrepreneurs desperately seeking a way out of the slump.

This government is proposing that small business groups be divided up in categories based on economic priorities. The Liberals want a new short range program to be put in place to support small business working capital financing just for export businesses.

We can see once again that Liberal lobbyists have successfully looked after their own interests at the expense of other SMEs who also need financial assistance to increase their productivity

in order to become more competitive, and they too are exporting.

Innovative ideas are often required. To boost the economic growth in regions such as Abitibi-Témiscamingue, in my riding like every other riding in the region, small businessmen have to be able to rely on regional development funds created by local investors, for local investments, with the input and/or assistance of both levels of government naturally.

The report deals with similar ideas and I hope that they will be considered by the ministers.

By establishing a regional fund, we could avoid unfortunate situations like that of a woman who came to see me in my office after she was refused a $15,000 bank loan for working capital under the SBLA to start her business. The reasons given for the refusal were her lack of experience and the risky nature of the business, when she herself had already invested nearly $45,000 in equipment. This money had come from her family to help her start her business and create jobs.

By cutting funds for small businesses, the banks prevent them from investing and facing the globalization of the economy. One may wonder whether the small-business programs benefit only the banks, because they have rigid discretionary criteria for funding small businesses, as in the case I just mentioned. They only lend to low risk enterprises, although their mission should be much broader. If these banks cannot do the job, then we should find a government agency such as the Federal Business Development Bank which could do it.

We should all know that if some of the committee's policies were reflected in the government's next budget, small businesses would unfortunately decline considerably, especially in Quebec but also in the rest of Canada. Testimony heard by this committee would seem to justify the Bloc Quebecois's apprehensions.

It is harder and harder for some small businesses to obtain loans because the present government favours those that export. This shows beyond any doubt that the government has no job-creation policy that applies to all small and medium-sized businesses. It has not kept the promise that it made in its red book to help all small and medium-sized businesses. It was supposed to promote employment and its slogan was "jobs, jobs, jobs", but the reality for many small businesses now sounds more like "bankruptcy, bankruptcy, bankruptcy".

The policies of this government are disgusting. The Liberals have the nerve to tell us they will create jobs when in fact they provoke the closure of businesses which did not get the financing they desperately needed, this after being told they would get it. Without access to adequate capital, even the most gifted managers and the best commercial strategies can fail.

I want to give an example, from my riding, where federal support helped promote the development of a business. If the government would only continue to provide this kind of support, we would be in a position to create jobs instead of changing policies. The company I am referring to is called Préci-Bois, in the small village of Barraute. New technology would allow the use of trees with a diameter of less than four inches to make small wooden blades, which are sold and exported to the United States.

The owner personally invested over $500,000, was able to borrow one million dollars from a chartered bank but still had to find $500,000 in risk capital, for a total of $2 million. The Federal Office of Regional Development took eight months, almost a year, to make a favourable decision, but after a lot of representations and explanations federal officials probably realized this was an excellent project. Consequently, more than 30 jobs will be created, which means that the same number of people will leave the welfare or unemployment rolls.

This is a good example where, instead of having the government spending money, jobs are being created for the benefit of the whole country.

Unfortunately, many other projects did not get sufficient funding. This government had promised financing sources to the residents of these communities-I named one village, but representatives from many other ones came to see me because they have developed projects but will not have the necessary funds to complete them-so that they would be able to implement projects which enjoyed unanimous support in their communities and which would have created new jobs.

These people were willing to take the risk and to create companies to diversify local economies. By changing its policies, the government broke its promises without offering any alternative financing. For its part, the Bloc Quebecois wishes to broaden the application of the Small Business Loans Act to include businesses' working capital for all SMEs, because this often makes the difference between success and failure for a given project, whether for export or for the local market.

To implement this financing of SMEs' working capital, the Bloc proposes concrete and realistic solutions in its dissenting report, Appendix F of the report. I agree, of course, that the government should gauge all suggestions in the context of fiscal responsibility, and weigh the costs and benefits of all loan applications. SMEs must assume part of the technical responsibilities, that is to say they should have well structured, profitable and sustainable plans.

Clearly, if the government accepts the suggestion of the Bloc Quebecois or any other positive suggestion on small business capital financing, there will be social and economic benefits, in particular in remote areas like my riding of Abitibi, in Quebec.

In 1988, the FBDB, a major agent of development in our regions, gave more than $8.9 million to 86 manufacturing projects in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. The money was allocated under the Enterprise Development Program-Industrial, the EDP-I. This program allowed a number of businesses to acquire equipment and to upgrade their facilities, thereby improving

their productivity and preparing themselves for an economic recovery.

I could mention a number of examples of companies who benefited from this financing and have, today, the means to export wood byproducts from our area. Presently, with a budget of $ 1.5 million last year instead of eight million which could drop to zero, FORD-Q is targetting small and medium-sized businesses with, as I mentioned before, a strong export potential, which is not bad per se, but other small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism industry, for instance, should not be neglected. More importantly, new services provided by FORD-Q will no longer be in terms of investment but in terms of technical support, that is to say feasibility studies review and so on.

With such a small budget, it is going to be difficult for small and medium sized businesses in the Abitibi area to find funding in order to diversify their production since they depend mainly on mining and forestry as a source of funds for regional development. It is urgent to establish secondary industries in the region, which will result in more jobs, lower unemployment insurance expenses and, therefore, lower government expenditures and higher revenues.

The facts speak for themselves. Given the new orientation, the $1.6 million investment by FORD-Q in a tourism project in Val-d'Or will be the last one of this size. I do hope that with respect to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Industry, budgets will be sufficient to stimulate all small and medium-sized businesses, without any discrimination.

To conclude, I would like to quote Mr. Alain Garneau, president of the Northwest Quebec prospectors association, Val-d'Or sector. It should be noted that, in our community, mining is one of the most important economic sectors. He said: "-most jobs are created by small and medium-sized businesses. They train most of the people employed in their own sector. They are economically and socially extremely important, a fact which is unfortunately too often forgotten by our governments-".

Human Rights November 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, would the Minister of Foreign Affairs agree that this excuse of allegedly raising the matter of human rights in private will cause Canada to lose all international credibility in this respect?

Human Rights November 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

During his trip to China, the Prime Minister avoided any public reference to the question of human rights violations in that country. He said he raised the matter privately. However, the Chinese Prime Minister said that the Prime Minister of Canada made no reference to human rights.

How does the Minister of Foreign Affairs account for this obvious contradiction between what was said by the Prime Minister of Canada and by his Chinese counterpart?

Veterans November 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have just returned from a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands organized by the Department of Veteran Affairs as part of the Canada Remembers Program.

In connection with Remembrance Day, I wish to draw the attention of this House to the respect and gratitude expressed by the people of Belgium and the Netherlands at the various ceremonies I attended, which were held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of their country by Canadian soldiers in October and November, 1944.

The Bloc Quebecois is proud to take part in events of this kind and, in so doing, ensure we will never forget the Quebecers and Canadians who gave their lives to defend and liberate these countries from the Nazi yoke.

May the memory of their supreme sacrifice help us avoid further armed conflicts and renew our attempts at reconciliation and peace.