Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

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

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 1% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Private Guillaume Ouellet April 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Private Guillaume Ouellet of the third battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment of Valcartier, born in Saint-Marc-du-Lac-Long and a resident of the riding of Rimouski-Témiscouata.

Haiti is his second posting as a UN peacekeeper. This time, he is going there for a six-month period to protect the democratic system. In 1995, when he was a militia corporal, he served in Croatia.

I would like to draw your attention to Private Ouellet's courage. While being a leader, he remains compassionate and sensitive to the suffering of people who have been left to fend for themselves.

Although the Canadian Armed Forces are having trouble with their image, we must not forget that most members always perform their duties to the best of their ability.

That is what Private Ouellet does every day on the job, without making a big thing of it. I want to congratulate him and his battalion. I also wish him a happy life and a successful career.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act April 7th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you consider that I voted with my party. I was in my seat. Pardon me.

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise today and speak to Bill C-72, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. As you know, I represent an agricultural riding in Quebec, but it has no wheat or barley producers.

To be frank, the area governed by the Canadian Wheat Board covers the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. However, as a member of the official opposition, to the great displeasure of our colleagues in the Reform Party and, naturally, of the member for Calgary Southwest, I must take part in the debate, as will my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois later on, concerning this bill of such importance for many producers.

I know that we are here in this House to defend the interests of Quebecers. We are in this august place for the purpose of promoting sovereignty, but we must also use this forum to which we have access through our functions as members of the official opposition to speak to other nations. This also includes the nation of Canada. There is a lot of talk, with the Bloc Quebecois leadership race, about partnership between equals.

It is very simple: with 52 members, we are the representatives of the nation of Quebec, whether the members for Saint-Maurice and Sherbrooke like it or not. In addition, I must add that, for as long as Quebec is paying taxes to the federal government, it will be our duty and our right to find out how this money is spent. I would add that we must claim our fair share.

The bill before us was tabled following a clear and urgent recommendation for change by the panel of experts. The Liberal government stepped in in order to serve its own interests. Of course, it wants to see a democratic approach. It wants to give general responsibility for managing the Canadian Wheat Board to a board of directors.

At first blush, the Bloc Quebecois can only be pleased with the government's proposal by which this board of directors would henceforth be composed of a majority of producers, instead of three to five commissioners appointed by the minister. This shows a wonderful spirit of democracy. Perhaps we will influence the Liberal members with our fine example of democracy. I refer to my party's leadership race, and if that is the case, fine.

I am, however, still sceptical about the attitude and the real motives of the Liberal government, and here is why. According to the bill, future members of the board of directors will be elected by their peers or by the grain producers. The Liberal government, however, is taking care not to specify how many of these producer-elected members will be on the board.

In the documentation on this bill, care is taken not to set out a number of elected farmer members. It is stipulated that the majority of the new board will be composed of elected farmers, but there is no indication of when this will happen. What is more certain is that we are proposing an interim board for 1997.

Obviously, never a day goes by on this Hill without talk of the possibility of a 1997 election. It is certain that we will be having byelections at least, in Jonquière and Calgary West. That I can announce, if we go by the established rules, but as for a general election, I will leave it up to the hon. member for Saint-Maurice to tell us when that will be held.

I am making reference to a possible election so as to clearly situate ourselves in a pre-election context. You will understand that, when the Liberal government speaks, through its minister, of appointing an interim board in 1997, it would be a real temptation for them to make political appointments, what we call patronage appointments. This would not be the first time, and it is a pretty sure bet that it will not be the last, either.

I always find it scary to see one or another minister making appointments. It is not very reassuring at all, frankly. It was not reassuring with the Canadian food inspection agency, so why things be any different a few weeks later? Now the minister confirms that a majority of members of the CWB board of directors will eventually be elected producers, which assumes that there could be some members selected by the minister. The minister would always be tempted to appoint friends, partisans of the

regime, or financial backers. There is nothing new under the sun-a well-known, and unfortunately very true, saying.

My party, the Bloc Quebecois, can only support the federal government's principle of finally giving grain producers a voice on the Canadian Wheat Board. One cannot help but be pleased to see such a change taking place. We know that the government is not doing this willingly. It is prepared to make changes, not as an unselfish gesture or out of a sudden desire for a more democratic approach but because it has been pressed to do so. By whom? By farmers who keep telling the government that the system is obsolete and does not meet their needs. Why do you think the panel recommended changes in the executive? Why would they want to switch from a board of three to five commissioners to a board of directors consisting of duly elected farmers? Because the latter will be in a better position to respond satisfactorily to their needs.

It does not take a genius to realize this. It is plain common sense. Now, western farmers have some very specific complaints. Transborder farmers are demanding a double grain marketing system, in other words, to be able to choose between a free system or working through the Canadian Wheat Board.

It was high time the government decided to look into this. You will recall that not long ago, the hon. member for Wild Rose presented a motion demanding a two-year opting out right. This did not come out of the blue.

I commented on this motion as follows: "Producers could be granted more control over the board's operations, or the board could be given more room to manoeuvre". It is true that a number of producers know there are some good business opportunities out there. I know why they want to market their grain without going through the Canadian Wheat Board. In the present situation, the board, through its sales on the American market, is taking advantage of rising prices.

In any case, the board has been around for more than 60 years. Its job is to sell a quality product, to offer customers outstanding service and to maximize returns for western farmers. Here again, the system is not perfect. There is always room for improvement. Does this mean government will have to forego these opportunities for patronage in order to adopt a bill that provides for more flexible operations and improved cash flow? No, hon. members. I see the benefits, but I also see the opportunities for patronage.

They will have to get people from the agricultural sector, people who know this area, and who better than farmers, grain farmers, as members of the board of directors of this Canadian Wheat Board?

And then they will have to be elected. I think this is an excellent decision, but wait, let us see how this works. The government wants to make the rules. I do not think it will call on an outside firm as they do for the 6/49 draws or ask Mr. Kingsley, the chief electoral officer.

That being said, in spite an apparent willingness to make changes, the federal government wants to maintain its control over the Canadian Wheat Board with this bill. How? You will not believe this. Did you notice that in subsection 3.6(2), our government reserves the right to remove all elected members of the board of directors, including the farmers?

Earlier I mentioned how they could be elected, but I forgot to point out that the chairperson of the board is still appointed by none other than the minister. He is appointed by the Governor in Council on the minister's recommendation, so we might as well say he is appointed by the minister.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act February 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-60. The federal Liberal government is giving the minister the power to appoint the president, the vice-president and the 12 members of the advisory board. In addition, the president has the right to review the direction and policies of the agency.

If the minister is allowed to appoint the agency's president, its vice-president and the 12 members of its advisory board, he can also control the agency as well, by influencing its overall policies. None of this is very reassuring when it comes to the transparency of our federal government.

The Bloc Quebecois's amendment quite rightly suggests leaving it up to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, a committee of this House, to appoint the 12 members of this advisory board and to see that the agency is run properly.

This will ensure impartiality and transparency, since this committee, like the others, is made up of members of the various parties.

In addition, our partners would be invited to recommend appointees, our partners being the provinces, or representatives from the agricultural sector, in short people for whom agriculture is paramount and who have a stake in the sector.

While we are on the topic, why do we not think the advisory board would be representative of the weight of each province? Democracy means one person, one vote. But in the Canadian confederation, one province does not necessarily mean one vote. Not all provinces carry the same weight. Since the province of Quebec represents 25 per cent of the population of Canada, ought it not to have three representatives out of the twelve on the advisory committee? It would be common sense for there to be proportionality, and therefore greater fairness. Let us not forget that Quebecers who make up this 25 per cent pay 25 per cent, or some $30 billion, to the federal government.

For as long as we are part of Canada, I will defend the interests of my fellow citizens of Quebec. We will come here to seek what is due to us, to demand what is ours. In short, then, Quebec is fully justified in calling for three representatives on this advisory committee and in demanding to be consulted on the other appointments. In business terms, some would say Quebec is a major shareholder, with at least one-quarter of the shares.

I would like to draw your attention to another aspect of Bill C-60: allowing the minister to approve the business plan. Again, why would this not be submitted to the members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food? This would lend more vitality to that committee, which plays a lead role in drawing up government policies. I say this without a great deal of enthusiasm, since we all know that what Liberals want is to pull a fast one on us. The Liberal government is in a hurry to get its bills passed, so that it can then do favours for its friends.

What we want to see, obviously, is for the positions of president and vice-president, and the others jobs in the agency, to go to those who are best suited for them. Provinces and organizations representing the interests of the farming community should submit candidates for these positions to the committee, and be consulted de facto.

Unfortunately, in this area, as with the Constitution, the approach is unilateral. That is the lesson to be drawn from this. I trust that historians, when dealing with the reign of this current Liberal government, will speak out on this.

We are fed up seeing the federal government use its constitutional prerogative, royal prerogative even, to make appointments. This is not always a good thing. One needs only to look at the unsavoury situation resulting from the appointment of Jean-Louis Roux as Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec. Now we know the disastrous results of that decision, and I shall say no more on the matter. I am not using examples from the time of Sir John A. Macdonald or Sir Wilfrid Laurier, but from the current term of the Liberals. Wait and see the critical analysis of the Liberal years historians will be making a few years from now. It will be a real hoot to read them on

screen, for nothing will be on paper any more by that time. We are entering the era of the information highway, McLuhan's global village.

Still in the same vein, the purpose of our amendments is to give more power to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. We want the committee to advise the minister on all matters relating to the mission of the Canadian food inspection agency. We also want the advisory board to respond to all questions submitted by the standing committee of this House.

We think it is very important that not only the minister but also the committee be able to examine the agency's action plan. If two heads are better than one, why rely on what one minister has to say? This is no reflection on the minister, and I am sure he understands that.

To achieve maximum transparency in what the agency does, it is imperative to involve the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Why is the government afraid to give this committee a say in the agency's appointments, its business plan and what it does? If we want transparency, if we want everything to be crystal clear, we must be prepared to do what is necessary to achieve this. It is all very well to preach, but we must also practice what we preach.

Consider also that putting the agency's plan before the members of this House may make the public more aware of the meaning of democracy. It is often said that people are losing interest in public affairs, and the result is a lack of involvement. Did you ever wonder why? Could it be because we fail to tell our fellow citizens what we are doing? Because we keep them out of the decision-making process? Because we want to go too fast and consulting them or delegating authority would slow down the process? Sometimes when a decision has to be made by a group, everyone in the group tends to look after his own interests.

Briefly, in addition to its insistence on transparency, the amendment we are seeking is quite straightforward and logical: the corporate business plan is to be submitted to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and not only to the minister. Second, the business plan should come before the House of Commons so that the people's elected representatives can give their final approval.

Regarding Motion No. 25, the Bloc's amendment suggests that, before submitting its plan to the minister, to the agriculture and agri-food committee and to this House, the agency should consult its partners, that is to say the farming industry, the provinces and the appropriate unions. This will give a better product, or business plan.

I do not have to remind you that, this way, we will ensure that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's corporate business plan will have a much better chance of striking a consensus. Without these consultations, the public and those who use these services are likely not to be well served.

After all, we are here to serve the public and, furthermore, the agency will reassure Quebecers and Canadians about compliance with food safety regulations and, to a point, about their health.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act December 12th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the last time I spoke in this House on the bill establishing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, I spoke of reducing costly overlap and advocated harmonizing and simplifying standards so as to reduce the burden of regulatory requirements and promote competition in business.

I concluded my argument by saying that the focus had to be on co-operation between partners and respect for legislative jurisdictions. I even invited my colleagues to reread sections 91 to 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which apparently they did not do.

The Province of Quebec combined its food inspection activities in 1978. Now it is the federal government's turn, and it is proposing the same thing. It wants to harmonize. That is all very well, but there is no need to upset the established order. The rules must be obeyed.

I want to direct your attention to the lack of compliance with the Constitution and the lack of respect for our partners, the provinces and the employees. The present government finally decided, in 1996, to standardize food inspection.

In his latest budget, the Minister of Finance announced his financial game plan for this new agency. I would remind you that that was on March 6. Here we are, a few days away from

Christmas, and the federal government is pushing members of Parliament to pass their bill.

And I mean their bill, because there was no serious consultation. Although the briefs submitted to the Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture contained some very sound remarks, they remained on the shelf like dead ducks, in my opinion. The government apparently did not take them into consideration, because it continues to propose the same bill at the various stages of the process, with very few amendments.

In my first speech, I denounced the fact that, as presented by the government, this agency might become a real patronage haven, and this is an understatement. The Liberals want to use the new Canadian Food Inspection Agency to reward their friends. At first, it will have only a few members like the president and board members. But two years later, the agency having moved and the employees having lost their permanent status, new appointments will be made. Who knows what the future holds. There might be a few Liberal candidates here and there who will have bitten the dust in the election.

Subtlety is not our Liberal friends' strong suit. It is obvious that, through this bill and clause 5, the minister is trying to give himself the power to appoint the president and the executive vice-president. The odds are he will probably designate a friend or an old classmate, as is so often the case.

Then, under clause 10, the minister wants to appoint an advisory board of 12 members. Have you ever seen a cowboy movie with only one bandit? There is always a gang, is there not?

Also, the minister will choose individuals who share his vision. Like-minded people do business together, belong to the same party, help one another. Unfortunately, the Liberal fraternity is still very well represented in this House.

Worse yet, under section 22, the minister will approve the agency's corporate or five-year business plan. Can we let that happen? It is understandable, under the circumstances, that the minister wants to retain a degree of flexibility just in case. If that is not remote control, it certainly is acute interference. The government is trying to control the agency and turn it into a club for its friends.

Under clause 11(4), the Chrétien government, through its health minister, will be able to establish policies and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of food. That is exclusively the prerogative of the provinces. As in the case of raw milk cheese, the government is interfering in something that does not concern it.

All this is far from reassuring in terms of our government's transparency. Some will say there is nothing new under the sun, and they will be partly right, as far as this government is concerned. As you know, I am a straight talker and I like to see people get their due.

I often say that we have to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. However, in the case before us today, Quebec could end up indirectly subsidizing the inspection services of other provinces, under clauses 20 and 21, which provide for the establishment of federal-provincial corporations. There is a real possibility that Quebec could end up paying for this. Looking at how the federal government deals with the other provinces-and I am thinking of the GST harmonization process-you realize that "la belle province" is heavily penalized.

The Bloc proposed many reasonable amendments, to make sure the agency is immune to discrimination and patronage, so it cannot be misused by the Liberal government. But the Liberals refuse to make the necessary changes, because these changes would adversely affect their plans. The fact is that the agency will become a real haven of patronage.

The Liberals are in a bit of a hurry to pass certain bills before Christmas. This is not good.

There is something suspicious. Given what the Liberals are trying to do with this legislation, nothing should surprise us any more. It is easy to figure out that the Liberal government is trying to score political points, to win votes, with this bill. An election will be called in the spring. That is why the government is in such a hurry.

We in the Bloc Quebecois have proposed amendments designed to protect our fellow citizens. We want transparency. We believe the House of Commons committee should monitor or be otherwise involved in the process.

The bill, as presented by the Liberals, is a step backward, not forward.

This government did nothing to promote debate. I am talking about a meaningful public debate on the quality of Canadian and imported foods.

What type and level of services are we going to provide in order to protect our fellow citizens? Would you believe the government restricted consultations with the producers, provinces and unions concerned. Members of this House are the only ones left to block this legislation. Any hope for transparency in the establishment of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency now depends on the will of the members of this House to vote according to their conscience and for what is reasonable.

I am thinking of the bill to create this agency, because it is necessary and it is important. But it should be amended to eliminate the possibility of patronage appointments.

Furthermore, are they afraid to hold a serious debate on the quality of our services? One could think so, given the fleetingness of the consultation. There was no consultation, because the Liberals are in a hurry to ram their bills through.

In conclusion, the government is locating the agency in the National Capital Region, but for how long? Here again, we must be vigilant, for they could be tempted to move the head office around, depending on where they want to score political points. That is their long term escape plan. This will be a blow to many honest employees in the National Capital Region. Their rights will be disregarded.

The Liberals are masters of patronage and political intrigue. In all sincerity, I must oppose the government's Bill C-60. I urge my colleagues to vote against it.

In addition, I urge Liberal members to vote freely and join us in rejecting this bill. In the past, a member of this House stated, not without attracting attention, that patronage was a political fact of life. I, for one, say that we must stand up and condemn this manner of operating. If bills leave the way open to patronage, they should be rejected.

International Trade December 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, last week, a NAFTA panel ruled that the Canada's supply system for dairy products, eggs and poultry did not violate the rules of that treaty, nor those of the World Trade Organization. This decision is an important victory for Canada over American claims.

However, we should have no illusion about the spirit that drives our neighbours to the south. Just last week, U.S. farmers asked their government to amend NAFTA if the panel did not rule in their favour.

It is very likely that this lobby will continue to put pressure on the American administration to get the changes it wants. Consequently, the Minister for International Trade must remain firm on this issue.

The Bloc Quebecois remembers very well the mess created by this minister regarding the softwood lumber issue. We hope that, this time, the minister will show determination and will protect our fellow citizens.

Agriculture November 18th, 1996

I welcome this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to speak on the motion put forward by the hon. member for the Reform Party, who persists in advocating a provision that would allow producers to opt out of the Canadian Wheat Board for two years.

What baffles me, however, is the fact that my hon. colleague still does not understand plain common sense. I recall speaking on this issue in this House on June 19. The hon. member for the Reform Party was probably away on that day. And he obviously does not read Hansard .

For the last time, I sincerely hope that the Reformers will realize that it is not a good idea to allow Canadian wheat and barley producers to opt out for a period of two years. This is not the first time that the Reformers have taken a stand against the Canadian Wheat Board. I talked about this on June 19. This is starting to look like sheer stubbornness.

The Reformers are at such a loss for new issues to make political hay with that they are rehashing an old matter that has already been debated in this House. It was discussed last June. Why are they coming back with this two-year opting-out proposal or provision for western producers? I can understand that the Reformers feel that a general election is coming and realizing that they are not very popular. They are trying to make political hay with this clause.

The Canadian Wheat Board is the institutional embodiment of a marketing system developed to help producers. The pooling of resources through the Canadian Wheat Board ensures that producers receive the same initial payments year round. As for the final payment, it is designed to reflect the value set by the market during a given crop year. This means that the pool price is representative of the price variations.

There is a whole system in place to calculate prices depending on the grain category, thereby easing-fortunately for western produc-

ers-fluctuations, some of which are linked to foreign competition. The hon. members of the third party have short memories. In the 1980s, western grain producers definitely benefited from the Canadian Wheat Board.

After certain pools accumulated huge deficits, the federal government came to the rescue. Now some producers are smelling business opportunities. I realize that some want to market their products themselves, outside the board's jurisdiction, because they want to get more. However, when times become hard again, they will be happy to be part of the Canadian Wheat Board.

In a way, Reformers want to eliminate a system which works relatively well, for the benefit of a small group of western producers. Producers that would elect to take advantage of this opting out provision would be allowed to leave the Canadian Wheat Board for a period of two years. However, after this two-year period, will producers be able to rejoin or, for that matter, will they have to rejoin the Canadian Wheat Board? Who will monitor the process and how? This new system would make it very difficult for the board to fulfill its mandate.

The objective is to stabilize prices and set a median price, in spite of market cycles. Everyone is looking for stability, but the Reformers would turn the whole thing into a big mess. It would indeed be the case, should the Canadian Wheat Board disappear, because western producers would suffer major losses of income. They would no longer have any protection.

As you know, no one can predict the future. Who can say what the supply and demand in a given region of the world will be? The proposal of the hon. member for Wild Rose would undermine the principles of price pooling and risk reduction, while creating a parallel marketing system.

The Reform member and his colleagues will probably insist that they are following up on the producers' request. In my opinion, this is only a small group of producers who are either dissatisfied or who want to make more money. It is tempting for producers located along the Canada-U.S. border to sell their crops directly to the Americans and to get paid immediately.

Indeed, it is very tempting and this is why some producers want to go it alone. However, the wind might turn. Economic conditions, fluctuations and many other factors can, at any time, change the whole situation. Going that route would be tantamount to playing Russian roulette, and the consequences could be just as tragic.

The Canadian Wheat Board must be maintained, because it is a good instrument for western producers. The board has already demonstrated its usefulness. It may not be perfect, but nothing keeps us from improving it. For example, producers could be granted more control over the board's operations, or the board could be given more room to maneuver.

The proposal by the member for Wild Rose would undo many years of work by the industry towards maximizing profits from the sale of wheat. The introduction of a provision allowing producers to opt out of the marketing system for two years would seriously undermine the Canadian Wheat Board.

The board has been in existence for 61 years. Over that period of time there have obviously been many changes and marketing has undergone a considerable transformation. However, the fundamental task continues to be one of selling a quality product and offering clients outstanding service, while maximizing profits for western producers. One thing remains unchanged, and that is that grain marketing is just as risky a venture today as it was in 1935 when the Canadian Wheat Board was set up.

Back then, producers had to contend with price fluctuations caused by World War II, while today's producers, like all their fellow producers, have no influence over world prices.

The Canadian Wheat Board continues to provide producers with a means of managing risk and a system for ensuring equity among grain producers. The approach is the same as that used in other agricultural sectors.

Once again, the motion by the member for Wild Rose must be rejected, and I hope members of the Reform Party will change their minds.

I think it would make more sense if we talked about creating jobs. Has any thought been given to the jobs that could be created with the money that would be saved by abolishing the Senate? I hope that my colleagues in this House are finally going to talk about the real problems, and about job creation. The dignity of thousands of the young and the not so young is at stake.

Many of the inhabitants of my riding are looking for jobs. Many have looked in vain. As recently as yesterday, November 17, one of my constituents said that his unemployment insurance benefits had melted away like snow on a warm day, leaving him with little choice but to go on welfare, although he is in good health and wants to work.

I am sure I am not the only member who hears from people looking for work. This is a situation affecting a good many Quebecers and Canadians.

I trust that we will move on to the topic of jobs in this House in the very near future. In the meantime, I thank you for your attention.

Agricultural Marketing Programs Act October 31st, 1996

Madam Speaker, you have played a little trick on me, because you told me there would be a Reform Party member going ahead of me. I therefore had 10 minutes to prepare, but no matter, I will give my speech anyway.

As you know, the riding of Lotbinière, which I have the great honour to represent, is one of the largest agricultural ridings in Quebec. It is therefore with great interest and a sense of duty, Madam Speaker and dear colleagues, that I rise today to speak to Bill C-34, the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act.

First of all, I am pleased to note that the bill tabled is intended to combine four acts into a single act that provides support for the marketing of agricultural products.

This bill affects the Advance Payments for Crops Act, the Prairie Grain Advance Payments Act, the Agricultural Products Cooperative Marketing Act and the Agricultural Products Board Act. It also takes in the Cash Flow Enhancement Program.

My party, the Bloc Quebecois, is generally in favour of the objectives of Bill C-34, because it is essentially consistent with what the industry is calling for and seems more in line with our values and agricultural development models in the province of Quebec.

Nonetheless, I would point out an important budgeting inconsistency. If clauses 25 and 30 are financial in nature, the government hopes to be able to pay farmers under the advance payments program and the price pooling program.

We have learned that $40 million a year for three years have been set aside under the advance payments program. In other words, there should be $120 million after three years. Where it all goes badly wrong is when Agriculture and Agri-Food starts to take money for marketing programs out of the envelope reserved for the income protection program.

This transfer, this misappropriation frankly, of envelope funds means an equivalent reduction in the money available for protecting the incomes of farmers. By acting in this manner, the federal government is unfortunately once again cutting into Quebec's share.

Like it or not, Quebec's share of income protection programs for farmers is already, yes already, lower than what it is entitled to, given the relative weight of agriculture for Quebec.

There is a distinct feeling that once again, Quebec gets the short end of the stick. It is the same old story: Quebec does not get its fair share, on a per capita basis.

You will remember what my colleague, the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie, said in the House last week when he named various sectors in which Quebec did not receive its fair share.

Remember the case of raw milk cheese, where more than 50 per cent of the producers were from Quebec. A ban on this product can have a very serious impact on Quebec producers. My point is that when the government introduces measures, as in the case of raw milk cheese, it often does so at the expense of Quebecers.

To get back to the bill on agricultural marketing, we should insist that the budget for advance payments programs not be taken out of the budget for income protection programs. I think that is a major irritant for farmers in Quebec.

When that happens, the farms in my riding and throughout Quebec will at least be treated fairly under this program.

The budget envelope for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada income protection programs in 1997-98 is $600 million. This represents a drop of $250 million or 30 per cent from the prebudget level of $850 million. If the federal government goes ahead and siphons off funds from the budget for income protection programs, $120 million will have been taken out of this envelope over a period of three years.

To be perfectly frank, it is unconscionable to use part of the budget for protection of farm incomes to finance the advance payments program which, I may remind the House, is a program for the marketing of agricultural products. What connection is there between the advance payments program and income protection programs? None at all.

When the Minister of Finance tables his budget, does he do so fully intending to deceive taxpayers in Canada and Quebec? Should the budget not do what it is supposed to do? That would make sense. However, if we follow the logic of this government, should we infer that the existing figures do not mean a thing since they no longer correspond to the envelope they were supposed to cover? I am sorry but this is outrageous.

The budget for the income protection program is already inadequate, so there is certainly no reason to take money out of this budget, unless the government wants to penalize Quebec farmers. If the federal government, through the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, takes money set aside for income protection programs to finance the advance payments program, which is a program for marketing agricultural products, why did it not make those changes right now?

First of all, it would take real political will to change the situation and ensure that the money used for advance payments comes directly out of the funds set aside for the agricultural products marketing programs. I think the government should invest more money in the budget for marketing programs and stop cutting and siphoning off funds from one budget envelope to another. The solution is simple, but it is also vitally important.

As a result, in the future, the incomes of farmers in Lotbinière and throughout Quebec would be better protected. They could also take $120 million from the budget allocated to income protection plans, but we would not be any better off than today in that there would be less money for Quebec farmers in this area and distribution would be even more inequitable for the other nine provinces in the Canadian federation.

Another possibility mentioned by some would be for the government to inject new money into programs aimed at marketing agricultural products and transfer money from the budget earmarked for income protection programs.

In my opinion, this is a partly acceptable solution. That is why my party, the Bloc Quebecois, is asking the federal government to make the changes required to correct the situation and ensure that Quebec farmers are treated fairly.

In clear, simple terms, we are asking the government to take the money for the advance payments from the budget set aside for income protection programs. This is a major irritant for agricultural producers in Quebec, including, of course, those in my riding of Lotbinière.

The government tells us this bill will have no impact on Quebec producers receiving advance payments, except that it would be much harsher on those who do not repay their advance payments. We can only conclude that this bill will have a much bigger impact on Quebec producers.

Furthermore, with its new eligibility rules, Bill C-34 would exclude any kind of co-operative marketing. In fact, one of the eligibility requirements for producers must be rejected, especially the one about their being able to decide when to sell their crops. This requirement would exclude crops marketed co-operatively. One of those most affected would be the VEGCO Group of Quebec.

In closing, I agree that the federal government should use taxpayers' money efficiently by rationalizing its programs so that farmers receive the same benefits and meet the same obligations. But there is a major inconsistency in the way the budget is allocated and, if the government were left to itself, it would reduce Quebec's share of income protection programs even further.

I feel I have a duty to defend the interests of the farmers in my riding of Lotbinière and those of Quebecers.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act October 10th, 1996

Madam Speaker, Bill C-60 proposes the creation of a public agency called the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. As its name indicates, this agency will be responsible for providing federal food inspection services, and related services, such as recalls and food poisoning investigations, as well as managing food safety-related emergencies.

In the government documentation, we are told that this new agency will "make it possible to eliminate duplication and overlap and to consolidate resources, while increasing efficiency and decreasing by approximately 10 per cent the overall federal costs relating to food inspection".

What is, in fact, involved is consolidation and rationalization. The overall objective of this measure is to create a more efficient and more effective inspection system.

The fusion of federal activities will facilitate implementation of an inspection system that conforms to the HACCP-hazard analysis at critical control points-approach to food inspection. The motto of the new agency would be "protecting the Canadian consumer".

Already, a sizeable number of Canadian food processing firms have adopted some elements of the HACCP approach. While, at present, this represents a preventive approach, it has some obvious advantages: first, a guarantee of exceptional safety for the consumer; second, an internationally accepted standard for export sales; third, an economical means of reducing recalls and waste.

The HACCP approach involves a hazard analysis at critical control points. In other words, we must identify risks, list preventive measures and express criticism as the situation unfolds.

To get back to the idea of creating the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we agree there should be a single federal food inspection authority in the future. On the other hand, we cannot support this bill in its current form, and I will tell you why.

Note that there are 94 clauses in this bill. As presented by the government, this bill might become a real patronage haven. Since clause 5 allows the governor in council to appoint a president and an executive vice-president of the agency to hold office during pleasure for a term not exceeding five years, the minister might be tempted to appoint a friend.

And if that were not enough, clause 10 enables the governor to appoint an advisory board of 12 members.

Worse yet, clause 22 allows the minister to approve the agency's corporate or five-year business plan. As we know, as soon as possible after it is established and at least once every five years after that, the agency must submit a corporate business plan.

In fact, if we let the minister choose the president and vice-president of the agency as well as the 12 members of the advisory board, he can also control the agency by directing its key policies. All this does not put the government's transparency in a very good light.

That is not all. Under clause 17 in the bill, the government gives the agency and its executives the power to license, sell or otherwise make available any patent, copyright, industrial design, and so on. In this regard, I did not see any sales or allocation criteria. Would the cost be lower to a contributor to the Liberal campaign fund? As

I said earlier, the government is trying to control the agency and turn it into quite the patronage haven.

With Bill C-60, the government is looking to consolidate inspection activities relating to food as well as animal and plant health, and related activities including food recalls, the investigation of instances of food poisoning and the management of emergency situations related to food safety. To fulfil its mandate, the agency will have a staff of approximately 4,500 and an initial budget of $300 million. It should be operational early next year, in 1997.

Its 4,500 employees will come from three departments: some 3,900 from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; 400 from Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and 200 from Health Canada. The jobs of these 4,500 employees will be secured for two years. One wonders now what will happen to them after. And where it says that the new agency will look into the need to introduce voluntary leave incentives, I hope the agency will reduce its staff through attrition only, that is to say, as people retire.

At present, the federal government spends approximately $340 million per year to fulfil its duties and responsibilities regarding food inspection across the country. This figure is taken from schedule B to the working paper on the federal food inspection system-organizational choices of July 1995. This expenditure is shared three ways between Health Canada, Agriculture Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Under Bill C-60, total costs will be reduced by approximately 10 per cent or $44 million annually as of 1998-1999. With such a reduction of the food inspection budget, the status quo is not in the least guaranteed as regards cost recovery.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture supports the establishment of one food inspection agency, as proposed by the Minister of Agriculture in this bill. It did express some reservations, however.

It gives its support on the condition that this reorganization not lead to new cost recovery measures. Moreover, it expresses the strong desire to see producers represented on the advisory council. In this regard, I think the proposal is excellent.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture also strongly hopes that, as far as compensation to be paid for costs incurred with respect to treatment is concerned, clause 71 will include "and for other measures". Thus, additional costs will be included, such as with respect to quarantine, cleaning, replacement of damaged or ruined property, restocking, etc.

The impact of such an addition to the legislation would ensure farmers do not lose out because they have reported a disease. As we all know, the riding of Lotbinière, which I am honoured to represent, is Quebec's largest agricultural riding.

Quebec supports the establishment of the agency because it amalgamates the inspection services. From now on, there will be only one interlocutor. But it would be contrary to Quebec's position if the federal government, through this agency, unilaterally established national standards. It would be a very good thing to have a new sharing of administrative responsibilities in the food inspection sector, while making sure no one has to give up its own fields of jurisdiction, and no change is made to the division of powers provided in the Constitution.

The Union des producteurs agricoles, the UPA, agrees with the Quebec government. It does not want the provinces, particularly Quebec, to have a say regarding the activities of the future agency.

The Bloc asks that the provinces, including Quebec of course, be consulted and listened to regarding the agency's activities in the coming years. It makes sense and it is only normal for the federal government to act with the agreement of the provinces in the food inspection sector, since consumers' health and interests are at stake. However, the federal government must respect the existing fields of jurisdiction.

Costly overlap must be reduced. Grouping together the inspection services of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-food, Health Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada is a step in the right direction. We must promote harmonization and streamline standards so as to reduce the burden of regulatory requirements and promote the competitiveness of our businesses.

In closing, we must, I repeat, promote joint action, but according to the partners' respective fields of jurisdiction. In this regard, I refer government members to sections 91 to 95 of the Constitution Act of 1867.

Cranberry Interpretation Centre October 8th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to salute the management and employees of the Centre d'interprétation de la canneberge, or cranberry interpretation centre, which opened its doors last week in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford. This event, unique to Quebec, will fill with wonder those who visit the centre.

Since the centre is built in the middle of a cranberry production facility, visitors will be able to see how this fruit is harvested. Under a huge tent, many charts and pictures will help them get to know everything about this fruit.

The cranberry in a small wild fruit from North America. Natives had called it atoca.

At present, in Quebec, some 1,000 acres have been set aside to grow cranberries.

In fact, 95 per cent of Quebec's cranberries are grown within a radius of 20 km around the municipality of Saint-Louis-de-Blandford. Furthermore, the neighbouring municipality of Villeroy hosts an annual cranberry festival.

Consequently, the riding of Lotbinière is the best location for the production of cranberries in Quebec.