House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Saint-Henri—Westmount (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Raoul Wallenberg December 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, January 17, 1995 will be the 50th anniversary of the arrest of Raoul Wallenberg by the Soviet army.

In 1944 Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and businessman, persuaded his government to send him to Budapest where he rescued thousands of Jews by sheltering them in protected homes, flying the flags of Sweden and other neutral countries.

After his arrest Wallenberg disappeared in the Soviet prison system. Over the years various human rights groups have acted on his behalf and tried to get from the KGB information about his whereabouts.

No one knows definitively whether he is alive or dead. The Government of Canada should persist in its efforts to obtain from the Russians the real truth about what happened to Raoul Wallenberg and a pubic acknowledgement of his contribution to humanity.

As Elie Wiesel has written, Wallenberg will forever testify for man's need to remain human and his ability to succeed.

Department Of Industry Act December 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member how he can speak on industry for about 30 minutes without even mentioning small and medium size businesses or even mentioning the word business.

His whole speech concerned the administrative structure. Does he not recognize that the Government of Quebec is quite free to structure itself as it wants, to create regional county municipalities, which have already existed for many years under the federal system, to set up its own decentralization plan, to plan as it wants? The federal government has absolutely nothing to do with these internal decisions of a province.

Does he not admit either that almost all government subsidies were or will be abolished for budgetary reasons and because we recognize that these subsidies are ineffective?

Once again, I am amazed that his speech dealt only with the administrative structure and that he did not even mention business; his speech was almost a Marxist treatise. His approach contrasts sharply with what the Minister of Industry said here earlier this week, when he said that the Canadian government recognizes that it is up to the private sector and not the government to create jobs. What the government can do, however, is to make the climate favorable for job creation by business.

I think that the member has absolutely no idea that it is business which creates jobs and not all the wonderful structures which he would like to set up.

Department Of Industry Act December 7th, 1994

On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I wonder if there would be unanimous consent to let me ask the member a short question.

Department Of Industry Act December 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am glad to have the attention of the minister while I speak and I thank him for being here. I am also happy to see that the spokespersons are here for the opposition parties.

I am pleased to participate in the debate at third reading of the bill to establish the Department of Industry. Those who have followed the debate know that this bill concerns the organization of the Department of Industry. The minister and the department have been given a broad mandate: industry, science and technology, consumer and commercial affairs, communications and investment. All are brought together under the responsibility of a single department and a single minister.

The bill, as I was saying, concerns the organization of the department and the responsibilities it has been given. It is a housekeeping bill, if I may use that expression.

It is perhaps more important to know what the department will be doing. What is the minister's vision with respect to economic development? He made an important statement earlier this week that answers this question and gives us an idea of where he is headed. In his statement, he says that the government does not accept that Canadians must choose between high unemployment and stagnation of their incomes. Nor does Canada want to accept the American approach of low unemployment and a large number of low-paying jobs. But neither do we want to adopt the European approach, which is characterized by a relatively low number of low-paying jobs and a rate of unemployment that is chronically very high. The government believes that we can move forward on both fronts, employment and income, at the same time. In other words, the government would like to create good jobs that pay well. This is an objective to which all Canadians would give their approval. But you will agree that it is not so easy to put into practice.

In his statement, the minister observed that although Canada is a large trading nation, it has not yet acquired a large trading mentality, particular with respect to small and medium size business.

The report of the Special Joint Committee reviewing Canada's Foreign Policy, which was also tabled in the House a few weeks ago, is even blunter. It reads: "Canada is a trading nation but has not yet proved itself to be a nation of traders".

We are reminded in this report that only one in ten Canadian manufacturing companies exports and that automotive, natural and energy resources trade account for three quarters of our total exports. The picture is brighter for trade in services and high-tech products, but 25 per cent of total trade in these industries is done within three companies. Furthermore, exports to the rest of the world, outside North America, account for less than 10 per cent of our exports.

In short, the natural resource industry is doing well. It has its ups and downs, but for the time being, it is doing well. The current price of resources on the world markets is high. The automotive and automotive products industry is also faring well, in southwestern Ontario in particular, but in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, as well. While high technology is somewhat successful, we have a substantial trade deficit in that area. This means that we import far more high-tech products than we export.

To sum up, we have not managed to put in place the fully developed structure of an industrial economy. As everyone knows, the wealth of Canada comes mostly from its natural resources. So, if we want to get somewhere, we need to know where we stand so as to determine where we need to go from here.

I think that we will also have to take a realistic view of the role of small and medium size businesses in the Canadian economy.

While it is true that many jobs have been created by small and medium size businesses over the last 10 years, they are not the be all and end all of our economy. Many small and medium size businesses exist because of the existence of large companies. They are suppliers to these large companies.

Second, as I have already noted, few Canadian small and medium size businesses are exporters. Small and medium size businesses contribute only 9 per cent of total exports and less than 8 per cent of manufacturing exports.

Third, the contribution of small and medium size businesses to manufacturing in Canada is anaemic. In 1990 manufacturing firms with less than 100 employees were responsible for only 32 per cent of manufacturing employment.

In Japan I understand that small and medium size businesses account for 75 per cent of manufacturing employment. That is quite a difference, 32 per cent in Canada of manufacturing employment accounted for by small and medium size businesses versus 75 per cent, over twice the proportion in Japan.

In the report that the industry committee tabled several weeks ago on financing small and medium size businesses, we referred to the role of such businesses in today's economy. We referred to the significance of these businesses. We remarked that globalization requires a rapid response capability in design, production, marketing and other activities. We added that flexibility, innovation and technological capability are critical. This applies to all firms regardless of their research intensity or the nature of their product. It applies just as well to firms in the traditional sectors of our economy.

As a result, finely subdivided, highly specialized linear production processes are no longer advantageous and the large, traditionally structured firms do not achieve the best results. We noted that small, knowledge intensive firms are moving into the vacuum.

However, we noted that in Canada we have few new competitors. New competitors are the firms which are characterized by managerial and technological capability, by flexibility in their production processes, by the emphasis that they place on developing and nurturing their human resources. We need more new competitors if we wish to maintain our high standard of living.

The industry committee made a number of recommendations which relate to such new competitors, to those Canadian firms that have set themselves national and international goals. Our whole focus on venture capital is the solution only for firms with growth potential. Therefore, our focus on venture capital is directed to those firms.

We also made, for example, a recommendation that the government establish a limited working capital guarantee for small and medium size business exporters, again because of the importance of exports to our economy and because of the fact, as I mentioned earlier, that so few Canadian businesses and small and medium size businesses are exporters.

Recently, two young men came to my riding office and asked me to help them find work here in Canada. They are both doctoral students in the same field, engineering. One of them wants to do research in robotics. They approached me independently a few months apart. One came to see me in September, perhaps, and the other more recently, in October. By coincidence, one of these students is from Saint-Henri and the other from Westmount, the two parts that make up my riding. I must say that the riding also covers all of downtown Montreal, but those are two important parts of my riding.

These two young men applied to the Canadian Space Agency, but unfortunately opportunities are limited now. They have looked all over. They applied for work in the private sector, in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. Unfortunately, they have not had the desired success. One of these young men recently

accepted a job in Philadelphia and I was told that the other might go to Detroit.

I was told that many of their engineering classmates from Concordia and McGill universities had to go to work in the United States.

I firmly believe that the Canadian government is on the right track by emphasizing employment and growth. However, it is regrettable that the Government of Quebec does not have the same priorities. Once again, we will waste so much energy debating existential questions instead of dealing with the real needs of Quebecers.

The Canadian government must stay the course. We must continue to emphasize the economy and growth with the policies which have been announced since the last election, following the direction taken by the industry committee and with the same priority for growth and jobs that underlies and is in fact the main theme of the action plan tabled this week by the Minister of Industry.

Tragedy At L'École Polytechnique December 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, five years ago today, Canadians were shocked and horrified to learn that 14 young women had been killed at l'École polytechnique, in Montreal.

Last week, the Minister of Justice announced a series of proposals for better control of firearms. These proposals were well received by the families of the victims, which leads me to believe that this is a step in the right direction.

Today, let us remember the victims. I ask members of this House and all Canadians to remember Hélène Colgan, Annie St-Arneault, Maryse Leclair, Geneviève Bergeron, Annie Turcotte, Maryse Laganière, Barbara-Maria Klucznick Widajewicz, Anne-Marie Lemay, Michèle Richard, Sonia Pelletier, Nathalie Croteau, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Daigneault and Anne-Marie Edward.

Committees Of The House November 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Industry on Bill C-46, an act to establish the Department of Industry and to amend and repeal certain other acts.

The committee has examined and agreed to report the bill, with amendments. I would like to thank witnesses, members and staff for their contribution to the committee's proceedings.

Trade November 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

The Prime Minister is the first to acknowledge that deals are done by businessmen and women, that they depend on their abilities and those of management and workers. Yet every team needs a leader.

Considering the positive tone set by the Prime Minister and the doors he opened, can the minister inform the House what results were obtained in Canada's largest ever trade mission abroad?

Social Program Reform October 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

The minister said that the eligibility criteria for the Program for Older Worker Adjustment are in part arbitrary. An older worker in need will only receive benefits if he was laid off along with several other workers. Under some circumstances, it could be along with a hundred other workers or so.

Does the minister intend to address the needs of the older workers within his social reform?

Economic Recovery October 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, almost a year after the election of a Liberal government, the economic recovery is well under way and Canadians are regaining their confidence. This recovery is being acknowledged by consumers. According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, consumption this year had gone up almost 10 per cent. More than 240,000 new jobs have been created over the last year, 60,000 of them in Quebec. Exports are on the rise, and so are company profits.

Confidence is spreading to the whole country, and this is proof that the Liberal government has fulfilled its electoral promises. I urge my colleagues in government and in opposition to co-ordinate their efforts to continue giving Canadians equity, expertise and leadership.

Committees Of The House October 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Industry entitled "Taking Care of Small Business" or, in French,

Pour financer le succès de la PME.

This report contains 24 recommendations aimed at creating a financial climate more favourable to the development of small business in Canada.

The report could not have been done without the tremendous hard work and non-partisan co-operation of all members from all parties of the industry committee. I wish to thank everyone who participated in the report.