House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

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

Won his last election, in 1993, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Immigration Act October 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion tabled in the House on September 23 by the hon. member for Calgary Northeast. This motion, which clearly targets prospective immigrants who are HIV positive, is, by the same token, discriminatory.

To argue that their admission would put an excessive burden on our health care system is very one-sided, since that is certainly not the case. The motion discriminates particularly against people claiming refugee status, since it would make them inadmissible even before their case is heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

This motion should therefore be interpreted as barring immigrants, certain classes of visitors and persons claiming refugee status from entry into Canada.

Detection of the virus in these people would make them inadmissible and, as a result, prohibit them from proceeding with their visit to Canada, from immigrating to Canada, and from claiming refugee status.

Today, the Canadian government intends to take advantage of its statutory review of immigration policy. In an article published in La Presse on April 26, 1994, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship was already setting the parameters for this review. He said the government was looking at the list of diseases for which testing is compulsory, to decide whether the list should also include HIV.

Under the current Immigration Act, individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada are subject to admission criteria that do not discriminate in any way that is incompatible with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Tests are currently carried out on a routine basis and are compulsory for a number of diseases, including tuberculosis and syphilis.

The minister went on to say that screening for HIV was not on the list. However, Canada could deny entry to individuals who were HIV positive and who had AIDS.

If a physician suspects that an immigrant is HIV positive or has AIDS, a screening test is done. At the present time, if the applicant is HIV positive, the application is automatically rejected.

In a study by the Library of Parliament, Law and Government Division, we read that in a study on admissibility finished in 1992, it was recommended that the whole issue of routine testing for communicable and other diseases that are a burden on the health care system be reviewed.

But, for the time being, there is no indication, as my colleague from Drummond said, that universal HIV screening would save more money than targeting other diseases. Furthermore, according to a study conducted by the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, the economical impact of HIV infection among immigrants is similar to the impact of coronary diseases. Finally, researchers at the McGill Centre believe that mandatory AIDS testing for immigrants would be purely arbitrary.

That is why I endorse the position of our party which asks the government to create a committee that would review phase II of the Canadian strategy on the fight against AIDS. This position differs considerably from an outright fight against the admissibility of immigrants. Let me remind the House of some of the criteria we use to determine medical admissibility; these criteria are given in section 22 of the regulations related to the present legislation.

"For the purpose of determining whether any person is...a danger to public health or to public safety...or might cause excessive demands on health or social services, the following factors shall be considered by a medical officer in relation to the nature, severity or probable duration of any disease, disorder, disability or other health impairment from which the person is suffering, namely: any reports made by a medical practitioner with respect to the person; the degree to which the disease, disorder, disability or other impairment may be communicated to other persons; whether sudden incapacity or unpredictable or unusual behaviour may create a danger to public safety; whether the supply of that the person may require in Canada is limited to such an extent that: the use of such services by the person might reasonably be expected to prevent or delay provision of those services to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or the use of such services may not be available or accessible to the person; whether medical care or hospitalization is required; whether potential employability or productivity is affected; and whether prompt and effective medical treatment can be provided".

In 1993, 54 persons were refused for that reason. Therefore, as written, the present legislation contains all the provisions required to admit or refuse any applicant for visitor, immigrant or refugee status. I believe that this motion is, for the moment, premature to say the least. Moreover, it opens the door to discrimination towards would-be immigrants by reinforcing insidiously prejudices against them.

This motion would also be in violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act, a legislation which is the basis for several federal and provincial commissions on human rights. Several decisions and judgments confirming discrimination have been passed by these commissions under Canadian legislation on human rights.

That study summarizes the position of the commissions: "Discrimination against HIV or AIDS infected individuals is a proscribed ground of discrimination because it is based on a deficiency or handicap as defined by human rights legislation". However, for refugee claimants who must submit to a medical examination within 60 days of their arrival in Canada, the minister recognizes that the question is sensitive. "On the one hand there are medical considerations and on the other the real fear of persecution".

As my colleague from Calgary Northeast was saying in this House, on September 23: "The risk of admitting immigrants with HIV who likely do not even know that they are infected is one we cannot tolerate". These are alarmist words, although I recognize the seriousness of the situation and the pandemic character of the disease. However, are we going to systematically screen for AIDS all Canadians coming home from a trip abroad on the off chance that they might not know that they have been infected by the virus? Why then specifically target visitors, immigrants and convention refugee status claimants?

Since this terrible disease is a global health problem, how else can we stop anyone, be it healthy Canadians or healthy immigrants, from contracting a HIV-related disease, if not through an efficient national awareness and prevention policy? The solution does not lie in screening only, but mostly in a vigorous awareness and prevention campaign. This disease is not circumscribed to immigrants.

The way this disease is spreading, healthy landed immigrants and permanent residents may get infected by the HIV virus even in Canada.

Compulsory screening for visitors, immigrants and refugee status claimants is neither a cure nor a way to slow down the spread of the disease.

In fact, routine screening is a dubious argument which raises several questions regarding the Reform Party's position on the Immigration Act.

On October 25, the Reform member for Calgary Northeast said in this House, and I quote: "-today the Financial Post reported on a memo from the government's finance department which concluded that this government's immigration policies are worsening the unemployment crisis.

Is the Minister of Immigration going to act on the finance minister's conclusions or on those of the Reform member and drastically reduce immigration levels?"

The real aim of this motion is a drastic reduction in immigration levels.

As my Liberal colleague from Thunder Bay-Atikokan did before me, I want to say again that the danger of HIV infection does not come from foreigners but rather from specific practices such as sharing drug needles, unprotected sex, transfusions involving tainted blood, and not mere physical contact.

This is why the Canadian Haemophilia Society, the Red Cross, the European Parliament, and the British Medical Association all believe that visitors are not a public health threat.

Therefore, I will vote against this motion.

Department Of Canadian Heritage Act October 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the proposed amendment to Bill C-53, an Act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage. This amendment calls for the bill to be withdrawn and the subject-matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I would like to say at the outset that the fears the hon. member for Outremont wants to dispel have been reaffirmed by this bill. There is no place for Quebec or for the distinct society. It is always surprising, not to say sad, to see the illusions of timid nationalists reaffirmed after fighting in vain for 30 years.

When we look closely at the sectors, the functions and the people targeted by this new department, we quickly realize that this is a "grab bag" department, a hodge-podge of programs which clearly show either the Canadian government's inconsis-

tency or its less than transparent strategy in dividing up responsibilities, in bringing together parts of the following federal departments: Environment Canada; Multiculturalism and Citizenship; the part of Health and Welfare responsible for amateur sport; part of the Canadian Secretary of State, namely official languages, Canadian studies, Native programs and state protocol; the part of Environment Canada responsible for Parks Canada and historic sites; the part of the Department of Communications responsible for the arts, heritage, culture and broadcasting.

Later, they will add the Registrar General of Canada from the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. The new Department of Canadian Heritage, whose creation was undertaken by the Conservative government, brings together for the first time all of Ottawa's cultural policy instruments, namely the Canada Council, the CBC, the National Film Board, Telefilm Canada, national parks and museums, National Archives, etc.

This department will have a budget in the order of $2.8 billion, compared with a $425 million budget for Quebec's Ministry of Culture. In addition, several responsibilities assigned to the Department of Canadian Heritage must be fulfilled in co-operation with other departments, thus reducing the heritage minister's actual power and political say in administering his own department. After this morning's statement by the minister, we can conclude that even his moral power is affected.

Moreover, responsibility for telecommunications policy and programs was transferred from the Department of Communications to the new Department of Industry. All this with little or no staff or spending reduction in sight. So what is the real purpose of this reorganization? The real powers granted to the Minister of Heritage are like jam: the less you have, the more you spread it around. In this case, the new department's responsibilities are well spread out.

The culture portfolio has undergone two major reorganizations since June 1993; things are getting more and more complicated, the number of players keeps increasing, and jurisdictional overlap is getting worse. The government must have followed an increasingly popular rule: Why simplify when you can make things more complicated and a little more expensive? A highly centralizing Canadian Heritage.

To say the least, the Canadian government has obviously decided to make this Department of Canadian Heritage the main instrument to promote Canadian values and it will also encourage the whole country to fully participate in that exercise.

But what about the distinct character of Quebec's culture and what about the sectors which are under exclusive provincial jurisdiction according to the Constitution of 1867? The bill is totally silent on that. The government is deliberately trying to hide that reality. The old centralizing reflex of the federal government is still just as strong. The government persists in

trying to fool Canadians and Quebecers. Obviously, this new department tries to bury the specific character of Quebec's culture by progressively diluting it in a hypothetical Canadian culture which is, would you believe, unique and multicultural.

Make no mistake about it: The mandate of the Department of Canadian Heritage is twofold. Indeed, it must create from scratch an artificial Canadian identity based on Canada's multi-ethnic mosaic and, consequently, that identity must be multicultural. However, that identity and that feeling of belonging based on bilingualism and multiculturalism sounds hollow to Quebecers.

That double mandate goes totally against Quebec's fundamental interests, since it rejects the distinct and specific character of Quebec's culture. The hon. member for Outremont talked about complementarity, but he should have used the word overlapping.

Such is the new federal cultural policy: A policy aimed at levelling out everything with a steamroller!

On June 21, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata said in this House, and I quote: "The concept of Canadian identity does not include the Quebec identity. In fact, its purpose is to assimilate or even deny it".

The new Canadian multicultural identity which the government is trying to impose is in fact a ploy to acculturate Quebecers. Even worse is the fact that it will not slow down the growing assimilation of French speaking people who live outside Quebec.

In the promotion of this glorious Canadian multicultural mosaic, the government is rather quick to forget the concept of two founding nations. The Liberals, both as party and government, recognize the first nations but do not recognize the Quebec nation. As I said: If there is an Acadian community, there is also a Quebec nation. In June, the current Prime Minister stated, regarding the operations of CBC, that there is an act regulating these operations and that he would ask the corporation to comply with it.

Among the requirements contained in this legislation, there is an obligation to inform people of the benefits related to our country. However, Canada is not the only one financing CBC. Quebec also pays its fair share, but has hardly any say in the administrative decisions of that federal institution.

Let us not forget that, in recent years, numerous regional TV stations in Quebec, including Rimouski, Matane and Sept-Îles, had to shut down their operations. In addition to being underprivileged in terms of resource allocation, Quebec is about to absorb more than its fair share of budget restrictions. For example, Prime Time News , the 9 p.m. TV newscast on the CBC, has an annual budget of $15 million, or $60,000 per show. By comparison, the SRC budget for Le Téléjournal and Le Point in Quebec barely exceeds $8 million.

In a brief submitted yesterday to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Mrs. France Dauphin, from the Coalition for the Defense of the French CBC network, the raised a number of issues. For example, investment in programs per hour of broadcast time has increased by approximately $7,000 as far as the English network is concerned, but only marginally in the case of the French network. In just five years, from 1987 to 1992, investment rose from $30,500 to $37,500 at the CBC while rising from $17,500 to $18,300 at SRC. In other words, a mere five per cent increase for the French network, as compared to a 20 per cent increase for the English network. What does this mean? It will become obvious later.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has made strategic choices that favoured the English network programming over that of the French network. These choices were made in spite of the objective the CRTC had set for the CBC in February 1987, i.e. to strike a fair and equitable balance between production, distribution and the scheduling of regional and network programs, on both networks.

In addition, over $380 million were recently invested in building new headquarters in Toronto. Jean-François Lisée wrote in Le Tricheur that we can see how, in spite of Trudeau's efforts to attach a Canadian identity to Quebecers, the inclination to go the opposite way is strong and resists the hazards of election policy. In 1990, 59 per cent of the people of Quebec perceived themselves as Quebecers first, 28 per cent as French Canadians and nine per cent as Canadians.

In fact, it is normal for Canada to describe itself more and more as an English-speaking multicultural entity in an attempt to differentiate itself from its American neighbour.

At the same time, it is not considered either normal or legitimate by this centralizing administration for Quebec-a clearly defined nation, the cultural vitality of which is recognized around the world, a truly distinct nation on the basis of its specific culture and its language among other things-to promote its own culture and specificity. It does not require a constitutional amendment to do so.

Finally, the multicultural Canadian identity. The issue of multiculturalism, which is to say the least debatable, must not be overlooked.

Professor Claude Corbo, dean of the Université du Québec in Montreal, concludes it is a failure. According to Corbo, the solicitude shown by the federal government for ethnic communities is suspicious. He says that such a policy could well exacerbate the minorization or the trivialization of the Quebec identity.

The fact of the matter is that, in Quebec, the principle of ethnic diversity must center around the French dimension of our culture which is present in all of our institutions and serves as a basis for Quebec's specificity. Above all however, structures are required to facilitate the integration of immigrants into their host society.

So, I intend to support the amendment put forth by my hon. colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata, asking for the bill to be withdrawn and deferred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Social Security Programs October 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would very much like to make senior citizens feel more secure. But this measure was taken on the spur of the moment, without any strategy. As mentioned in the UQAM's document, the government wants us to believe that we are being consulted. First, it threatens us with cuts, no matter what the consultations result in. Then, it fails to link its reform with other issues such as Old Age Security, the national health policy, or a concrete and comprehensive reform of the tax system, which are all important points. The government is only looking at the problem from a cost standpoint without giving itself the means to solve it through taxation. It is only going to review the tax system six months down the road.

Social Security Programs October 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. In Creating a Healthy Fiscal Climate , released last week by the Minister of Finance, the minister said that major structural changes had also been made in the Unemployment

Insurance Program, in this budget. However, these changes are only a first step. The document entitled Improving Social Security in Canada contains proposals that would further change the structure of various programs and lead to major additional spending cuts, the objective being two-fold: to reduce premiums and reinforce job development services.

Of course, it is the government's job to be positive about these proposals. There are others who question the consistency of the Liberal government. For instance, today we read in The Citizen , in an analysis by Mark Kennedy, and I will quote the passage in English:

In 1990 the Mulroney government changed the unemployment insurance program so that people had to work longer to qualify for UI and if they did their benefits expired sooner. The Liberal report at that time said the measure had led to dramatic increases in the number of people being forced from UI to welfare. The party urged the government to rescind the change.

In 1990 the Mulroney government froze transfer payments to provinces for health care and post-secondary education. The Liberal report condemned the action. In opposition the Liberals said funding limits for welfare programs would just hurt those who had nowhere else to turn. In government the Liberals have not repealed the Tories' funding formula. Rather, they want a new formula that means even less federal spending on basic welfare.

In opposition the Liberals said a freeze on health care funding runs counter to the fight against child poverty. In government the Liberals have not ended the freeze and the Prime Minister warned last week that health care funding will need to be cut or medicare will be destroyed.

In opposition the Liberals said cuts in federal support for post-secondary education have led to higher costs for education which include higher tuition fees and that led to higher unemployment for youth.

In government, they do the same thing.

Social Security Programs October 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity today to participate in this debate on the proposed reform of social security programs put forth by the minister of social program cuts.

Let me tell you right away that this long-awaited reform proposal finally laid before us in a discussion paper will not be translated into actual legislation before next fall at the earliest, and perhaps not before 1996, as Chantal Hébert indicated in La Presse on October 5.

This use of public consultation to forestall objections by the provinces and pressure groups gives credence to the contention that this government intends once again to go it alone, by-passing the provinces as it recently did at the National Forum on Health.

It is always the same thing. "This recipe for income security to reform sounds like one Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney or Joe Clark would have cooked up", writes Chantal Hébert.

The minister's document presents this reform proposal as a magic recipe to boost the economy as well as job creation. Make no mistake, the primary objective of the federal government is to make cuts in social programs to bring the deficit and the national debt down.

References made to compassion and fairness in this document have a rather conservative flavour to them, while the real face of this reform is rather hideous. Especially when we already know that, as indicated in a secret document submitted to Cabinet and published by the Toronto Star on October 5, this government plans to make another $7.5 billion in cuts over five years on top of the $7.5 billion announced in the last budget. So much for compassion!

On the subjects of job creation and unemployment insurance, I will only touch on a few aspects of the proposal dealing with job creation and changes to the Unemployment Insurance Program.

The proposals made in this document rest, in fact, on a misdiagnosis of the current situation. The problem facing Canada and Quebec is job scarcity. The reform proposal deals exclusively with employability, while what we really need is a real job creation policy.

A group of professors of social law at the University of Quebec in Montreal wrote recently: "They talk about employability, adapting individuals to the labour market and training people for jobs that do not exist, instead of adopting a real job-creation policy". The group adds: "It is incorrect to postulate that the unemployment problem is due to individuals not being adapted to the market, as though they were merchandise [-]To put people back to work, they first need something more than insecure, underpaid jobs".

As for the employment situation, the employment/population ratio is the most reliable indicator of the actual employment situation. In Quebec, this ratio is now 54.7 per cent, while in April 1990, just before the last recession began, it was around 58.6 per cent. This statistic shows that we are still very far from the pre-recession employment level and that the employment recovery is very slow.

Considering population growth, 800,000 jobs would have to be created in Canada, more than 200,000 of them in Quebec alone, to return to the level of April 1990; at the present rate of job creation, assuming that there will be no slowdown before the end of 1995, it will take at least three years to return to the pre-recession level.

This shows how anemic the recovery that the federal government tells us about is. In fact, this recovery is due more to increased productivity than to increased employment. Statistics for September 1994 show that following a large rise in the previous month, unemployment stabilized in Quebec at 12.2 per cent, while in Ontario it continued to fall, reaching 9.2 per cent.

In particular, employment in the Montreal market is growing a little more slowly than in the first quarter of 1994. The annual rate of growth in the metropolitan area went from 4.8 to 2.6 per cent. Moreover, Montreal continues to lag behind the rest of the country and has not recovered one fifth of the jobs lost during the recession. This is taken from L'économie de Montréal for the second quarter of 1994.

The jobless rate for residents of the City of Montreal is three points higher than for the metropolitan Montreal census area.

As for the proposed reform recommendations, one of the options favoured by the government is to introduce a second class of unemployed for those with precarious jobs. We know full well that such jobs are mostly held by young people, women and artists. These second-class unemployed people would be subject to "compulsory" employability measures and forced to participate in community work. They would also have to pay higher premiums in return for lower benefits.

Proposing such measures takes a certain amount of cynicism, as they clearly show that this government sees the unemployed as lazy people-beer drinkers, as the Prime Minister said-whom a very paternalistic government must force to take the necessary steps to find jobs.

We can only conclude that the federal government has no job-creation policy as we know full well that coercive measures do not generate employment. Yet, the term "employment" can be found throughout the discussion paper. They even talk about employment insurance, which is misleading, as it would be more accurate to refer to poverty insurance or social insecurity reform.

By attempting to reduce the debt through arbitrary cuts in social programs, the government will only manage to increase the number of welfare recipients.

The first thing this government should do about unemployment is to allow interested provinces to implement a coherent manpower training program, as it just did in the case of Quebec's Mohawks. "This is truly a double standard", said Quebec's employment minister, Mrs. Louise Harel, to the daily Le Devoir , adding that, from the federal government's perspective, what is good for the Mohawks is bad for Quebecers.

But let us go back to that system with two types of unemployed workers: those who hold precarious jobs and those have seasonal jobs. Bureaucrats use a very politically correct expression in reference to these people, calling them frequent claimants.

One of the most disturbing aspects of these recommendations is that women would be the first to be affected, given the family income criteria.

"Taking the family income into account transforms the UI program into a more selective program, somewhat like the social assistance program. [-]Such a measure would put an end to the universality of the right to work. Once again, women are the ones who will be affected", added the UQUAM task force.

Several other questions remain unanswered. For example, what does the reform recommend for workers aged 50 and over? These are people who have held the same job for 20 to 25 years. Training? Retraining for a year or two and for non-existent jobs? What will happen to the very limited Program for Older Worker Adjustment, POWA, which is unfair to Montreal workers precisely because of the federal criteria being applied?

All this, finally, to follow the finance minister's orders: cutting assistance to the poor rather than taxing the rich. Thus, new and even more arbitrary cuts will be hardly surprising, since the government wants to reduce its deficit by $25 billion by 1997.

The Minister of Human Resources Development tries to sound compassionate and alarmist when insinuating that:

if we do not carry out this reform-that is, if we do not cut social programs-the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the international financial establishment could do it in our place.

There are other ways to reduce the deficit and to put into place a real job creation policy, and we have indicated some of these to the government. Cutting social programs will certainly not rid us of the unemployment plague.

Bloc Quebecois Fundraising October 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a headline in La Presse today suggests that the Bloc Quebecois is refusing to release its financial statements and the names of its contributors.

The Bloc Quebecois wants to clear up these inaccurate allegations. We are now barely halfway through its first fiscal year as a recognized political party; next spring, the Bloc will submit its first financial report containing the list of donors for the period from the 1993 election to the end of 1994.

The list of donors who have given over $100 to the Bloc Quebecois is now available on request from the party's Montreal office. The Bloc accepts donations only from individuals and limits their contributions to $5,000 a year. It respects the spirit of the Quebec law, which was the basis of a motion that the Liberals refused to pass last week.

Young Offenders Act June 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak on Bill C-37 to amend the Young Offenders Act and the Criminal Code, and the amendment put forward by the Bloc. This bill has been introduced at this time only in response to the pressure exerted by certain radicals and a certain press thirsty for sensationalism which revels in fuelling the common perception that crime is on the increase among young people.

Passed in 1984, the legislation has been amended twice, in 1986 and 1992. Really, can the situation have already deteriorated to such a point that it now warrants introducing this bill?

In his final report called "Beyond the Red Book", a workshop on recommendations for amendments to the Young Offenders Act, Mr. Doob of the University of Toronto said: "We do not have a youth just crisis that requires immediate fundamental change in the Young Offenders Act. Members of the public, especially those in the media who purport to represent public opinion about crime, have for centuries expressed the view that youth crime is out of control. Youths commit a disproportionate amount of crime in society. They always have and always will. But changes in the Young Offenders act are not likely to have any measurable impact on crime".

In Quebec, a compromise has been struck between the principles of youth protection and societal protection.

I would like to remind hon. members that a motion on this subject was adopted on May 5 last by the Quebec National Assembly. It read as follows: "That this Assembly demand that any amendment to the federal Young Offenders Act respect Quebec's laws and policies with regard to youth protection". The motion was unanimously endorsed by Quebec's two main political parties.

In Quebec, youth protection workers help the young offender and his family discover the best options for reintegrating into society and the community. Of course, the system in place is by no means perfect, but at least it places equal emphasis on prevention programs and on rehabilitation and reintegration programs.

The bill now before us does not provide this kind of balanced approach. On the contrary, the emphasis here is on repression in that the preferred option appears all too often to be referral to the courts, while no provision seems to be made for rehabilitation. With the passage of this bill, 16 and 17 year olds would have their cases proceed in adult court. For the purposes of the Young Offenders Act and the Criminal Code, the term "young person" now includes 10 to 16 year olds. Furthermore, depending on their age group, young persons will be treated differently by the courts.

Although the legislation does not distinguish between 12 to 15 year olds and 16 to 17 year olds, it is clear that as a result of these amendments, these two groups will be treated differently in the case of offences involving serious bodily harm. Some lawyers will argue that this flies in the face of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees equal treatment to all under the law.

While public safety demands that young offenders be sometimes kept in secure custody, rehabilitation should always be our overriding concern. Young persons who are in contact with other offenders are exposed to influences which fuel their delinquent behaviour.

In an article published in La Presse on June 8, Mr. Trépanier, a criminologist and researcher at the Université de Montréal, reminded readers that: ``Quebec compares favourably with the rest of Canada. Quebec is the province where the number of

young people in drop-in and rehabilitation centres is the lowest, about half the Canadian average".

According to research done on crime rates in American states relying on punishment as a deterrent against crime, there is no significant difference as opposed to states having a different approach based on the fight against crime. In this regard, the Ame

Getting back to the report "Beyond the Red Book": "Few saw any serious problems with the act that could not have been remedied by proper and creative administration of the act. Repeatedly the view was expressed that the most serious problem in the Young Offenders Act was the way in which it was administrated in some provinces. Most cases involving violence that come under the control of the Young Offenders Act can be dealt with under the present legislation".

So much for the necessity of new legislation. What about increasing the severity of sentences?

In the same report Mr. Doob noted:

With adolescents, increasing the severity of dispositions has no real impact on offending behaviour; either for the youth before the court or other youths. That is, despite its apparent logic and appeal, increasing the severity of dispositions has neither specific nor general deterrent value-The data supports the conclusion that rehabilitation is more likely to be accomplished in non-custodial settings-It was suggested that if the federal and the provincial governments were serious about protecting the public, then the governments should invest money in prevention and in educating the public about youth crime. It is cheaper and more effective to prevent crime than to put kids in custody when they commit offences.

Therefore, this bill is premature. We do not have a long enough experience, here in Canada, to assess the effects of the amendments introduced in 1992. I should remind members that, in 1992, the sentence for murder what extended to five years. However, such a sentence should also be imposed. At the present time, considering the lag time in the availability of statistics, we cannot determine the impact of this amendment. How can we justify what we are doing now? Why not wait for the results of the previous amendments before taking more repressive measures?

Crime, lest we forget, is an extremely complex issue. Generally speaking, criminologists recognize that the causes of crime are many. Violence and crime are interconnected and it is therefore important to address the root cause of crime by impressing on young offenders at the earliest opportunity that they are responsible for their actions. Sanctions or penalties directly tied to the offence must be enforced. Automatic incarceration or isolation in secure custody have no rehabilitative value. The deterrent effect of these measures can even be called into question.

Getting back to the question of public perception, last February, Jean Trépanier of the University of Montreal spoke at a symposium on crime and shared some statistics on the subject. According to Mr. Trépanier, only one in every six persons who commit an offence is a minor whereas the public's perception is vastly different. It is commonly believed that nearly 50 per cent of crimes are committed by young persons.

The February 3, 1994 issue of La Presse reported that youth crime had even declined by 7.6 per cent in Quebec over the past 15 years. The same is true for Montreal. The number of juvenile delinquents was reported at 10,145 in 1979, compared to 6,679 in 1992. This represents a decrease of 34 per cent in 13 years.

More recently in the June 8 edition of La Presse , Mr. Trépanier stated the following: ``According to Statistics Canada, the delinquency rate in Quebec per 100,000 residents is the second lowest in Canada after peace loving Prince Edward Island''.

Over the past decade, the number of serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault has either remained stable or declined.

"The increase noted in the number of violent crimes is due to a large extent to a 127 per cent increase in minor assaults from 1986 to 1991. According to national statistics on crime, a minority of young offenders are involved in crimes of a violent nature. In fact, only 13 percent of charges laid in 1991 were in connection with crimes of violence. However, nearly half of the charges laid against young offenders in 1991 involved first level assaults, which means that the offense was committed without the use of a weapon and that no bodily injury was inflicted upon the victim".

Tim Weiner from the Ottawa Citizen reported in March 1991 that ``one Canadian out of three is under the false impression that violence is as widespread in Canada, if not more, than in the United States.'' The fact of the matter is that a far greater number of violent crimes are committed in the United States than in Canada.

The Americans have doubled their police forces and the size of private police forces has increased fourfold over the past 30 years. Their inmate population has doubled over the past 10 years to a record high of four per 1,000 residents, which is at least four times higher than anywhere else in the Western world. Yet, violent crime rates in the U.S. are three times higher than in other industrialized countries.

As for the transfer to adult court, the amendments to the 1992 act clarified the applicable criteria to determine if a young offender must be transferred to adult court. Youth court must now take into account society's interest, in particular the public's protection and the teenager's reintegration into society, and determine if it is possible to reconcile these two objectives by keeping the teenager under its jurisdiction. If the court thinks

that it is impossible, society's protection prevails. The required mechanisms seem to be in place but the stakeholders refuse to use them.

I now come back to the June 8 article in La Presse , which quotes Normand Bastien from the youth division of Montreal's community legal centre. He said: ``The real problems come from the fact that the average waiting periods before sentencing are too long-266 days on average in Valleyfield, 180 days in Montreal, 163 days in Joliette-and that only 29 per cent of problems are resolved''. So why this bill, since the current act already has adequate provisions to deal with young offenders?

I repeat, a repressive law without rehabilitation measures and left to the discretion of various stakeholders will not bring the violence phenomenon under control. Current documentation does not support the argument that longer sentences act as a deterrent. As I said before, the American experience demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these coercive measures.

To conclude on the transfer to adult court issue, it seems that the burden of proof will now rest with the young people themselves. Too bad for the presumption of innocence. All this is intended to silence some people who will never be satisfied. It makes light of the balance between deterrence and rehabilitation which has proven itself in Quebec. Above all, it encourages laxity in certain provinces.

In the reading I have done on this bill, how does one explain some particularly troubling statistics concerning cases in youth court that resulted in a guilty verdict? In Quebec and the Maritime provinces, guilty verdicts were rendered in over 80 per cent of cases; in the Western provinces, barely 70 per cent; and in Ontario and Manitoba, 55 and 59 per cent. How come in Alberta, 34,372 people are accused and convicted out of a population of 1.2 million, compared to 16,000 in British Columbia? One province convicts half as many people as its neighbour. Are we not justified in thinking that we should pay more attention to the administration of justice instead of drafting new laws?

Program For Older Worker Adjustment June 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us if he agrees with his colleague, the member for Saint-Léonard and government whip, that POWA should be universal and have no eligibility criteria for laid off workers?

Program For Older Worker Adjustment June 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. On June 3, the House was presented with a private member's bill to modify the program for older worker adjustment. This bill was intended to make companies that lay off more than 20 workers eligible, thus ending the discrimination against Montreal textile, clothing and retail workers in particular.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development tell us why his department refuses to modify POWA to benefit Montreal workers, when he presented a bill extending eligibility for fishery workers? What justifies this double standard?

Supply June 2nd, 1994

No question was asked. Comments were made on the Meech Lake Accord and the member who has a unitarian view.

Canada is composed of regions. Quebec is a society made up of all its citizens. In this society, a francophone nation has developed and acquired an identity. These people call themselves Québécois. There is a Quebec nation just as there is an Acadian nation. It is very clear to me, and when I speak, it is mostly for Quebecers.

My ancestor is of Italian origin, and his name was Davia. He was a mercenary for the king of France. He liked this country, and stayed. This country is mine. We were French Canadians. We are now Quebecers. We tried to get an agreement, we really did. Now the big question has to be put. The federal government does not want to make any new proposal. Sovereigntists want to take another road, and Quebecers will have to decide.