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

Dairy Industry March 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that eliminating this subsidy without any kind of compensation compounds the unfairness in federal spending in Quebec, where his department will spend a mere 8 per cent of its budget this year?

Dairy Industry March 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Contrary to what the Secretary of State for Agriculture said, the dairy subsidy was not eliminated with the industry's consent. The Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec condemned this measure, which will lead to losses of up to $8,000 for the average farm.

How can the Minister of Agriculture-who, after the referendum, made promises of fairness and equity-justify this measure hurting dairy producers, nearly 50 per cent of whom live in Quebec?

Privilege March 13th, 1996


Regional Economic Development March 13th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to salute my riding's local investment association for employment development, which is doing a remarkable job in co-operation with the Lotbinière economic development corporation and the regional county municipality of Lotbinière.

The Lotbinière investment association is very profitable and helpful; by approving 11 applications for a total amount of $495,000-in venture capital, I might add-it has helped maintain 132 jobs and create 73 new ones. In total, 205 jobs were directly affected in my riding of Lotbinière.

To the investment association and the regional county municipality of Lotbinière, I say: "Well done!"

Supply March 12th, 1996

This is unacceptable.

Tribute To Jacques Villeneuve March 11th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, saturday evening, the eyes of all sports fans in Quebec and Canada were riveted to their TV sets. Even sportswriters who were at the Montreal Forum to cover the game between the Canadians and the Senators were watching TV. All of them wanted to see Jacques

Villeneuve perform in his first Formula 1 race in Melbourne, Australia.

Jacques Villeneuve started from the pole position. Already this is a feat for a beginner in Formula 1. He led throughout the race but, because of mechanical problems, he had to leave that position only 5 laps before the end. He has shown everybody that he really is to be taken seriously in the Formula 1 racing. He still has to run several races before this summer, but he will be in Montreal on June 16 and we will be very glad to see him race on the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit. Congratulations, Jacques, on your performance.

Petitions March 6th, 1996

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure of presenting a 200-page petition.

The petitioners are calling for the grandfathering of Québec Téléphone. Québec Téléphone has always been a key figure in the economic and technological development of the regions it serves.

Employment Insurance Act December 11th, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. An impact study by the federal government demonstrates that people whose income is under $25,000 will be those hardest hit. This shift in policy by a supposedly Liberal government follows the lead of the Ontario and Alberta governments. It is hard to come to grips with the fact that the people opposite are not Conservatives.

The government resorts to policies that smack of the Reaganism of the 1980s, and are still being advocated by the American right wing. Apparently, some Canadians have been contaminated.

It is an understatement to say that the most disadvantaged among us will be affected. Women, young people, and part time workers will be subjected to a treatment that is far from benign. Considering that 1.5 million part time workers are women, that women make up 70 per cent of the part time working force, that one third of them would prefer to work full time, that 40 per cent of part time workers are under 24, you can tell which groups the Liberals are targeting. Eligibility criteria will drive them onto welfare.

The qualifying period will be increased from 12 to 28 fifteen hour weeks, or from 180 to 420 hours. Part time workers working from 15 to 35 hours a week will be hardest hit. This new eligibility criterion will impact most on women, young people and new UI claimants, that is those asking for assistance for the first time.

These people will have to work 26 thirty-five hour weeks, or 910 hours. In fact, eligibility requirements will triple for those who are filing their first application. As I said, this will greatly impact on women and young people, whether at the end of their schooling or when they return to the job market after a long absence.

Moreover, while the government is trying to make us believe it is ready to withdraw from any direct commitment in manpower training, it is in fact ignoring the consensus reached in Quebec about the transfer of federal resources and powers.

The minister and his leader claim they are withdrawing from manpower training, but in fact they are once again suggesting what the then Quebec premier, Daniel Johnson, a Liberal, had described as a bargain agreement back in 1994. Under the bill introduced last Friday, if there is no agreement with a province, the money invested in training could be given directly to individuals.

How can Quebec adopt an efficient manpower policy- which is what everybody wants, even the National Assembly, unions and employers-when Ottawa could go over its head and get away with it?In the previous legislation, the minister did not have the power to make agreements with one province or a group of provinces. From now on, it will deal with anybody it chooses. Provinces will be considered in the same way as municipalities or local organizations. Previously, under the national legislation on training, the minister had to consult with provinces before launching a program in this area of jurisdiction. Now, no limit is placed on federal actions. The sky is the limit.

If we look at the way the federal government does things, it seems highly improbable that it will eliminate overlap and duplication in the area of manpower training. The 1994 offer provided for the withdrawal of the federal government with financial compensation.

Under the Training Loans and Grants Program, Ottawa will bypass the Government of Quebec by giving directly to the unemployed funds that used to be transferred to the provinces. André Bourbeau, the Quebec employment minister in 1991, has condemned this tactic, declaring that what was unacceptable was that this approach was a total improvisation despite the fact that more than ever before government actions regarding manpower training must be planned and based on priorities.

Two years earlier, the Forum for employment had been a decisive step in the claims of Quebec regarding the transfer of responsibilities in manpower training.

As I said earlier, it was at that time that partners in the Quebec labour market, namely unions, employers and the government, agreed to ask that Ottawa hand over all of the responsibilities regarding manpower training.

No later that last week, the National Assembly of Quebec unanimously passed a resolution asking for the withdrawal of the federal government and repatriation of funds invested by Ottawa in manpower training.

Yet, both governments agree that changes are needed to manpower training programs. Minister Axworthy did declare, on page 30 of his discussion paper on the social program reform, the following, and I quote: "However, the system now is too hit-or-miss. That's why the results have been inadequate-There are too many mismatched programs, with inconsistent rules and too much red tape-Programs offered by different levels of government are often not coordinated. In short, the system must change."

In fact, the control that the federal wants to keep is only a pretext. Ottawa wants to use the $5 billion UI fund surplus to meet its deficit reduction targets. This clearly means misappropriating premiums paid by employees and employers, nothing more and nothing less.

Last Friday, the Conseil du patronat du Québec, whose members are definitely not sovereignists, asked Ottawa to leave manpower training to Quebec. So, if one considers what has been happening in the past few years, one realizes that men and women from all parties, of all political stripes, are demanding control over manpower training. I say it once again, I believe that Quebec or the Yukon, or any Canadian province, is in a better position to really know what is needed.

So, I wish that one day the federal government, as well as the hon. members opposite, will understand that not only manpower training, but also all related areas should come under Quebec jurisdiction. Money should not be given directly to the unemployed, but, for the sake of a consistent policy, we should be given all necessary tools and levers. When I say tool chest, of course I mean all the tools we have inside it as well. Not just the box, but the contents, are needed for the thing to really work. Like the tools in their chest, people too need to find a fit within a province, whatever the province.

Whether that province is Quebec or one of the maritime or western provinces, I think we are all grown up enough to do our homework on our own. Only this past week the Conseil du patronat du Québec submitted a document, the stated purpose of which was to prove that federalism can work very well with decentralized manpower training. I am not worried in the least; over time the federal government will learn, and our friends across the way will realize that there is a place for everyone. Let us give to each his due. Then those with jobs, those without jobs, everybody will be happy.

Employment Insurance Act December 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I feel that it is my duty to take the floor today to support the motion put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Mercier.

We are now seeing the aftermath of the Martin budget presented last February. As we feared, and it is even worse in the opinion of many, the unemployment insurance reform hits the most vulnerable among us.

The people in my riding, Lotbinière, already have an axe to grind against the Minister, Mr. Axworthy, who, with his reform, has

deprived them of the services of the Victoriaville employment centre. In the middle of July, thousands of my constituents were by my side in an effort to save personalized services near their homes. We got the assurance that that minimum would be maintained.

However, since then, the minister has been avoiding me and any opportunity to meet with me in order to settle the issue. I can tell you this was a prelude to the harmful effects of the Liberal government's reform.

People were afraid, and rightly so, that their employment centre would become a mere booth, which would have forced them to drive over 100 kilometres to get person to person services; you can imagine their reaction now that the reform is truly coming to light.

Before dealing with manpower development, I would like to warn people against the series of measures that, for the most part, are to come into force on Canada Day, the 1st of July. It is already a sad day, the government chose the date well. The Axworthy reform will hit those most in need hardest-

Recognition Of Quebec As A Distinct Society December 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's motion about distinct society takes me back to 1992, the year of the Charlottetown accord. It was also at that time that I decided to pursue my career standing up for Quebec's interests here in Ottawa, as eight other Bloc members were already doing, seated at the back of the House, isolated, but undeniably efficient.

I usually examine offers made to me. I never dismiss anything out of hand, without giving it at least some thought.

Of course, Quebecers have the same attitude. Thus, after having heard and read the Prime Minister's motion, I can say that it is the nicest turnaround that I have seen since going into politics. The Prime Minister botched his work. The referendum results made him panic.

During the week preceding the referendum, he felt that he had to promise some changes, and this is what we have now: an empty shell, a black hole, a total blank. Distinct society my foot. This carbon copy of the Charlottetown proposals, which Quebec and Canada rejected, as we recall, does not recognize the people of Quebec in any way. Where on earth does the Prime Minister live to think that Quebec is now prepared to accept less than Meech 1 and 2, less than Charlottetown, if you can imagine?

The motion says that we speak French in Quebec and that we have a civil law tradition. How nice. This resolution is nothing but wishful thinking. The 1982 patriation of the Constitution was a denial of the existence of the Quebec nation. Since then, there has been only one nation: the Canadian nation. Thankfully, no Quebec government, not even the Liberals, put up with that rebuff. Meech 1 was entrenched in the Constitution. Some legal and political aspects in that accord allowed Quebec to keep its head high.

The current Prime Minister, along with his friends, managed to render that agreement meaningless. Quebec rejected a proposal, as did English Canada, but not for the same reasons, of course. How can the leader of the government dare take a step backward and seriously think that his resolution meets Quebec's historical and legitimate aspirations?

His ally in the no camp during the last referendum, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Daniel Johnson, demanded that Quebec's distinct nature be entrenched in the Constitution. The Prime Minister knows full well that his motion is meaningless. He only introduced it to be able to say that he is fulfilling the promises for change he made at the last minute, when the yes side seemed dangerously close to winning.

As we saw in 1992, with the referendum on the Charlottetown accord, it is no longer enough to say, affirm, or wish that Quebec be recognized as a distinct society. At the time, the distinct society clause only had a symbolic value, so much so that most French-speaking observers in Quebec were convinced that this concept no longer had the same meaning as it did in the Meech Lake accord. It was so watered down that even Clyde Wells felt there was no risk that this clause could serve as a stepping stone towards the affirmation of a special status for Quebec. Yet, this is what the Prime Minister is proposing.

As a member representing a Quebec riding, I cannot support a motion which proposes much less than even the minimal claims made by Quebec over the years. The Quebec members who support that resolution will show that, as far as they are concerned, there is no nation in Quebec. There are only people who speak French, in a given region of Canada, period.

We all know that this resolution is just that: a mere resolution. With all due respect to this House, this resolution has no legal effect, even if it is supported by a majority of elected representatives. It merely reflects the will expressed by parliamentarians, and it would not be binding on any court in Canada. It is meaningless.

In his attempt to propose changes to Quebecers, the Prime Minister also included manpower training, as well as a veto power. Let me briefly say that, as regards manpower training, I am still looking for the change. Actually, there is one change. We now know that, when the Prime Minister talks about decentralization, it means that the federal government keeps control over the distribution of money.

The federal government prevents Quebec from implementing a true manpower training policy. Yet, everyone in Quebec agrees that all powers related to that sector should be delegated to the province.

It seldom happens that everybody agrees on one thing, in Quebec or elsewhere. As for the veto, let us not delude ourselves, what is being proposed amounts to allowing regional referendums with terms and questions developed in Ottawa, where Quebec representatives are in minority as you know. Flexible federalism means Ottawa making the decisions and the provinces living with them.

Three weeks ago, I heard the Prime Minister say that he was a Prime Minister from a Quebec riding, a francophone and a Quebecer, and that his government should be trusted.

For my part, I was willing to trust him a little. I said to myself: "Listen, mistakes have been made, he made mistakes in 1982. But sometimes, a guy who made a mistake can get back on his feet. I will therefore go half way and trust him".

In the motion he put forward, Motion No. 26, I thought I would find a recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, and that this recognition would also be enshrined in the Constitution. That was not the case. A few moments ago, I heard a member opposite say that we wanted separation and this and that. I will tell you that my father is a well known businessman in Quebec and in Canada. He has traded in all ten provinces of Canada. When my father returned from the west, the first question I used to ask him was: "Dad, how did it go out west?" And he would answer: "Jean, it has been very hard, very difficult. I have the feeling that the west will separate before Quebec does".

When we look around in this House, we see that Quebec has rejected this proposal from the Prime Minister, Mr. Chrétien, who represents the constituents from Saint-Maurice, and that even the English Canadians who make up the third party, the Reform Party, said no to this proposal. There must be a problem when both French speaking and English speaking Canadians agree to reject a proposal.

So, we have to recognize what Quebecers have been asking for for the last 25 years. It is not asking too much to want to be recognized as a distinct society. The federal government has done it for the Indians, why can it not do it for Quebecers? They gave the Indians some land. We are not asking for land, we already have some. We only want to be recognized.

Frankly, I must say that, after fighting for 25 years, Quebecers, the French speaking citizens of Quebec, really thought this time would be it. However, the Prime Minister told us: "Dear friends, wait until 1997, wait until April of 1997, when we will reopen the Constitution". I have to tell you in all honesty that, as a politician, when I decided to come to Ottawa, I told myself: "The only way to succeed is to be on the spot, to go to Ottawa and mingle with my English speaking friends". Because I must say in all honesty that the people from western Canada are my friends.

It is not because we have a different point of view that we cannot get along with people from western Canada or the maritimes. Of course not. What is important is to be on the same wavelength and to get support for a society, for people-the men and women of Quebec who want to be recognized some day.

I trusted the Prime Minister. I am a bit disappointed, because I would have liked for the resolution to say that our distinct society will be enshrined in the Constitution. It was not asking too much, as I said earlier, but it was not done.

This was his last chance. I remind the House that three days before the referendum thousands of English speaking Canadians came to Montreal. I was proud, because these people came to visit our region. To say they love us is one thing, but to prove it is another matter.

So, as far as I am concerned, I would like all this to be enshrined in the Constitution and I will continue to reflect on this issue.