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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was cultural.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Laval West (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

Infrastructure Program April 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, not so long ago, the minister responsible for the infrastructure program announced the federal government's offer to continue the program for a year. Provinces have been signing agreements for a number of weeks now.

Could the minister tell the House how negotiations are going with Quebec?

Black Community March 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the human resources development minister and the hon. member for Mount-Royal attended the opening of the black community resource centre in Montreal.

This centre, which will receive funding from the Canadian government of more than $1 million for the next three years, is desgined to promote social integration of young black anglophones in the Greater Montreal area. The activities are aimed at a clientele from 0 to 25 years of age. In co-operation with the qualified staff and the many volunteer organizations that will be involved, the centre will try to develop an awareness of the psychosocial, health, education and economic needs of the youth from that community.

This is another example of our government's interest in working, in partnership with the stakeholders in the sector, toward improving living conditions for our young people.

The Late Father Guy Pinard February 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to the family of Father Guy Pinard, who was tragically killed Saturday while celebrating mass in his parish of Kampanga, in Rwanda.

This news has caused great sadness in the whole country and particularly in Quebec where Father Pinard was well known. We have lost a man of exceptional courage and dedication.

His assassination is even more tragic considering that it happened in the country to which Father Pinard had dedicated a big part of his life. He was so attached to that country and to its people

that he had gone back there last year in spite of dangers he was fully aware of.

We deplore this barbaric act which has aroused indignation everywhere. The people of Rwanda, who knew how good a man Father Pinard was, share our feelings.

I ask everybody to pay tribute to this missionary, for whom a commemorative service will be held next Wednesday at the White Fathers' chapel, in Montreal.

Semaine Nationale De La Francophonie March 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me, as member for Laval West and former Minister of Canadian Heritage, to stress that this is the Journée internationale de la Francophonie, which marks the beginning of the Semaine nationale de la Francophonie.

I often had the opportunity, when visiting French speaking communities in western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, to see that they are dynamic and full of vitality. I also had the opportunity to talk with many Canadians who speak this beautiful language and who are proud of the French culture to which they belong.

I also met many fellow Canadians who adopted French as their second language. The 1996 edition of the Semaine nationale de la Francophonie seeks to pay tribute to the valuable contribution made by French speaking people, both in Canada and around the world.

Speech From The Throne February 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, to start with, I would like to clarify something. Our colleague mentioned the budget; the budget will be presented next week. Today, we are dealing with the speech from the throne and he should not expect me to comment on the content of a budget which the finance minister said will be delivered in a few days.

Also, I would like to mention that when I referred to areas such as tourism, mining, and forestry, I took care to specify that they were areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. There is no doubt about that, it is a well known fact. Therefore, from what is the Canadian government withdrawing? What is the meaning of this new step it is taking?

It is responding to the request of provinces which have been asking for years that it withdraw from certain areas by not using its spending power in those areas. Provincial governments found it offending that the federal government exercises its spending power in areas under their jurisdiction. The federal government is complying with their request. But you have to be logical, you cannot, on the one hand, ask the federal government to withdraw its spending power from these areas which are acknowledged as areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and, on the other hand, ask that it spend money in those very same areas. This is one of many contradictions.

Transport is certainly a major area and I have no hesitation in recognizing that we need to provide assistance to small airports, which I have myself used on many occasions.

The federal government owned them. It was responsible for all the work. Pressure was put on it to privatize, because municipalities and private groups asked the federal government to let these properties go, put them up for sale and put them back in the hands of the local communities, which claimed to be better able to manage them.

This is what the government is doing. However, it is extremely difficult here as well to tell the government to withdraw from the management of these investments, these assets, but to continue to help pay for them and the management of them. So, we have to accept the consequences of what we ask for when we get it. I think the policy of the Government of Canada is a good one. It responds to requests at the local level and by private industry, and we have to live with the consequences. I hope, however, that these new owners will invest enough to make these vital communications centres cost effective and useful.

Speech From The Throne February 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to your attention that I am sharing my time with the member for Halton-Peel.

There are two issues I would like to focus on in this debate on the throne speech.

The first one deals with the openness shown towards Quebec, and the second one with the way cultural issues are addressed. The two are similar in that they are equally important for the future of our country.

When one listens to Quebecers, it does not take long to understand their concerns, their confusion and even their anger, if I may say so, when faced with the problems the Quebec society has to deal with.

Quebecers are concerned about job insecurity and job loss. They are worried about the way the major social services are deteriorating, whether it is the unemployment insurance program, the health system, education or the social safety net.

They are concerned about the future of the regions and the price they will have to pay for the excessive debt incurred by the governments. They complain about the very few tangible effects brought about by the business restructuring and the new high tech industries whose merits they hear so much about. They express their frustration through their strong will to change things.

Quebecers are all the more anxious to change things since they have the talent, the entrepreneurship and the adaptability to catch up with the front runners. They are asking for change so that they can resume their place and take advantage of the social and economic benefits stemming from dynamic growth. Quebecers have had it with double talk, gimmicks, scapegoats and so-called winning questions. They do not like politicians who avoid talking to them about what they cherish most, that is their quality of life and their opportunities.

Faced with these challenges, the Parti Quebecois government, so far, has only come up with a policy resembling the squaring of the circle. On one hand, the supposedly inescapable road to separation from Canada and, on the other hand, the recovery of the Quebec's economy and finances in partnership with that same Canada.

The inherent contradiction in that policy creates a climate of uncertainty that paralyses economic growth in Quebec. Moreover, that policy, which is based on an irreversible break with Canada, causes division among Quebecers. In turn, this division fosters uncertainty. One day, Lucien Bouchard sings the praise of separation and promises yet another referendum, and the next day, he is calls for economic recovery and fiscal consolidation in Quebec which, in turn, require stability and confidence.

We know that it is this squaring of the circle that caused Jacques Parizeau's political demise. We must get out of this dialectic before Quebec itself is destroyed by it.

The speech from the throne offers an alternative to Quebecers, a partnership that affects not only economic and social issues, but also the method of government.

Let us not be mistaken, this speech speaks to Quebecers in a language fraught with consequences; that may be the reason why the opposition rejected it offhandedly, fearing that the message would get across.

Basically, the speech proposes to modernize the Canadian federation, together with the provinces, to meet the needs of the 21st century. It invites the government of Quebec to participate in this process so that Quebec's interests are better served. The message is clear: this adjustment will not be done by increasing the powers of the federal government to the detriment of the provinces. The federal government will limit the use of its spending power, obtain the consent of the provinces and create joint management systems if necessary.

It will withdraw from areas under provincial jurisdiction such as tourism, mining, forestry and recreation and will continue to withdraw from transportation and manpower training. The speech from the throne does, however, propose increased partnerships with the provinces and a common effort to ensure our security by strengthening our economic and social union and preserving the quality of our environment.

These new partnerships are possible without these endless constitutional debates that have taken up so much of our energy. This is possible without the trauma of Quebec's separating. Nothing would be better for eradicating the uncertainty than this new beginning in an atmosphere of confidence and co-operation. This is the opening now available to the people of Quebec.

If we wish to work together to create a Canadian society for the 21st century that can serve as a model for the rest of the world, clearly that society cannot be anything but pluralistic, with each part recognizing and respecting the distinct identity of the others. In this we are no different than any other large country in which different languages, ethnic groups and religions live alongside each other.

But we are far advanced over most of these because of the common values of open mindedness, understanding and generosity which have characterized our history and still prevail. Such values are diametrically opposed to the parochialism and intolerance which lead to division, fragmentation and weakness. For these reasons we can rejoice in the fact that the Throne Speech confirms the government of Canada's desire to recognize the distinct character of Quebec society and to have it acknowledged.

I would like to conclude with a few comments on the commitments to the cultural sector expressed in the speech. It can never be repeated too often that cultural creation is essential to our identity. We abound in creative talent and enjoy a widely diverse cultural industry, but there is still need for further development in this area.

Our biggest challenge in the years to come will be to ensure a strong Canadian presence on the information highway. We are already facing competition from foreign products, mainly American. In the future, regulations protecting the Canadian audio-visual market will gradually lose their effectiveness, and our political will will be undermined by American threats of punitive measures. We will have to create our own high-quality products to maintain control over our own space and even better, to export these throughout the world. This strategy has a better chance of success than a protectionist strategy. It will, however, require increased financing for Canadian content.

In addition to fiscal measures encouraging the investment of private capital in our cultural industries, few options open to the Government of Canada will be as effective in their impact on the cultural sector as creating a consolidated fund of audio-visual productions. Thanks to this initiative, the consumer will be able to choose from foreign products, which are always available, and domestic products which, without this new financial support, would never see the light of day. Cable companies and satellite-television distributors already contribute considerable amounts of money as a condition of operating their services. This type of contribution could be used to provide better financing for the production of Canadian content.

In the past, we have always opted for strategies that would support our artists, our creators and our cultural industries and provide a buffer against the tide of American culture. We are aware that this sector, which is critical to establishing our distinct identity in the world, would not come into its own if market forces alone were allowed to prevail. That is why we have put in place policies and institutions that serve to maintain a balance between our own identity and foreign perspectives.

The throne speech is in line with a tradition that has confidence in the talent of our own citizens.

Radio-Canada International December 14th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the CBC has made its position known with respect to RCI in the context of budgetary restraints.

The government, however, is waiting for the mandate review committee to report. The report will make decisions both on the future of international activities of the CBC and on the future budget of the CBC.

Radio Canada International December 14th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, how can we do an about-face when no decision was made? Once a decision has been made, our colleague will be in a better position to comment.

Radio Canada International December 14th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have already told this House that no decision has been made about Radio Canada International. The government is waiting for the mandate committee to table its report, which will contain recommendations on the future of the CBC, including its international operations. Then, we will be able to make a decision.

Radio Canada International December 13th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, Radio Canada International is open until the end of March, that much is certain. What remains to be decided is the financial future of the CBC in its entirety, and that future will be determined by the next federal budget.