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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Independent MP for Richmond—Arthabaska (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Victoriaville Postal Outlet December 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I wish to point out the excellent results obtained by the Victoriaville postal outlet, located on Saint-Jean-Baptiste street.

Under the Mystery Shopper Program, 505 postal outlets were in competition across Canada and eight of them did particularly well in Quebec, including the one in Victoriaville. This is the second award of excellence for the employees of this outlet in my riding.

The Mystery Shopper Program, which has been in place for a few years, is designed to recognize excellence among postal outlet employees, in terms of sales and customer service. An impartial mystery client, who only makes one visit per outlet, shows up as if he were an ordinary customer. He determines whether customer oriented sales techniques are being used. The staff at the Victoriaville postal outlet passed the test with flying colours.

I congratulate all the members of the team at the Victoriaville postal outlet, namely Luc Bergeron, Alain Côté and Guy Cullen, and I invite them to continue on the path of excellence.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, we have no choice but to criticize, when the government is so insensitive. That is the problem. Obviously, it is not because we criticize that we cannot make constructive suggestions. That is what we are constantly trying to do. However, I have the impression that our suggestions have not been heard.

The member opposite asks me what could be done concretely. I have said it in my speech, but I can repeat again. We ask for more money for the livestock and cull producers, targeted actions to indemnify cull producers and the extension of existing programs, at least until the reopening of the American border.

I do not think the criticism was directed at the minister's or the government's efforts. They are doing their duties. This is what we are proposing and demanding. We did not invent that today. We have been talking about that for 18 months. Quebec farmers producers have been demanding that for 18 months. If the minister had done his homework, as the member suggested, we would not be here today, on December 2, one year and a half after the outbreak of BSE in Alberta, discussing this terrible issue which is causing major problems to our producers. The problem would have been solved and farmers would have received financial aid to help them survive until the Americans finally reopen their borders.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very relevant question.

Indeed, the supply management system is very important for Quebec farmers. However, there was terrible concern from the federal government's side of things over the past few years. In Cancun, in 2003, we came very close to losing the supply management system during negotiations.

Thankfully, we made it. There was, however, a very strong agricultural lobby during the last election campaign. In my riding, they had to twist the Liberal candidate's arm to get her to sign the famous GO5 on the supply management for the five agricultural sectors.

This all boils down to the fact that there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done on the federal government's side. However, this system is very dear to our hearts and we will fight tooth and nail to maintain it in Quebec.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

No, it was a cheque for 57¢ for one calf. That is what someone in his riding got. A producer from Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton in my riding told me this past weekend that he would rather keep his animals than give them away or, worse yet, have to pay to dispose of them. But you can imagine what it costs to maintain stock that ought to have already gone to the abattoir.

How a producer who loses $500 a head each time he sells a cow is supposed to survive this crisis? The best he can get for a cull cow is $250, and the meat of that cow sells for $1,200 on the retail market. This has been going on for 18 months. Packers are the only ones making money with this crisis.

Debt and distress often breed despair. Some producers auction off their hard earned assets. Others even take their own life, as we saw recently on Radio-Canada's Le Point . This is not a soap. This is real life. For 18 months, the federal government has let down producers who have been working hard for many years, sometimes up to a hundred hours a week, to the point their situation is intolerable.

Let me conclude with this. The minister and the government have been repeating for 18 months that millions have been spent, and we should quit raising this issue. This is not the way it works. Liberals are asking us for concrete solutions. Here are some: a direct assistance program to compensate for the low prices and an interest free loans program. This is what we are asking for and insisting on. This is what is being asked for also by the UPA and the Quebec government, both of which have tried to do something since the beginning of this crisis, as my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord explained.

I ask the federal government to assume its responsibilities and do the same.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

It was 57¢, so one cent more.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. I thank him for agreeing to split his time with me. Like me, he comes from an area where there is a lot of agriculture, a lot of milk producers. We know that it is also in his area that a very unfortunate event occurred. Indeed, a cow was killed in front of television cameras. We do not agree with such a thing, but we understand it.

The situation is now very critical for farmers and milk producers in Quebec. The minister did not even deign to go meet them today in Quebec City, where the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec is holding its convention.

This is a truly important motion. Maybe they should listen to it on the other side. I come from the communications sector, so I know that through repetition we can get our messages across. Maybe if I read the motion once more, the government will do something about it. The motion reads as follows:

In light of the inadequacy of current federal assistance, that this House call upon the government to implement specific measures as soon as possible to help the cattle and cull cattle producers who are suffering the impact of the mad cow crisis.

It is as simple as that. The situation has not been resolved. Fortunately, the UPA and the Quebec government announced today an agreement with the Colbex meat packing plant so that cattle producers can finally own up to 80% of a plant, according to the information we obtained. We know, however, that the federal government is not part of this agreement. It is dragging its feet once again. Fortunately, Quebec worked things out. This does not mean that there is no demand or need for assistance.

Normally, we rise in the House to say that we are pleased to speak about or debate a certain subject. Since my election, that has been my practice. However, today, I am not pleased, far from it, to rise to debate the mad cow crisis yet again. I did so on October 12, in a take-note debate that began on October 5. At the time, I did it to demand assistance for producers in our regions and in Quebec. Over one month later, we are forced to demand once again this very important financial assistance.

What Quebec producers are asking for is more money for producers of cattle and cull cattle, targeted measures to compensate cull cattle producers and the extension of existing programs at least until the U.S. border re-opens. Despite President Bush's visit, this matter is yet to be resolved. He spent more time talking about the missile defence shield than the softwood lumber problem or the mad cow crisis, unfortunately.

Eighteen months after a single case of mad cow was identified in Alberta, we continue to debate it here today. However, just a few days ago, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food recognized that there was a problem with cull cattle. Subsequent to and despite such assistance packages, he repeated today, during his speech, that he recognized that the problem was ongoing. That is what he said during oral questions. So, why are we still here today discussing the problem, this crisis, and arguing?

While the minister is hiding behind false pretexts to avoid meeting the agricultural producers who are gathered today in Quebec City, the situation is about to explode. The producers, who are angry, and rightly so, are besieging the slaughterhouse of Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover. Perhaps that blockade will cease, now that the agreement in principle has just been signed, fortunately. That slaughterhouse is not located in my riding, but it is very close; it is in the Centre-du-Québec region where I come from. Let me remind you that the region is a very large dairy production area, counting more than 1,500 farms, or 16% of the dairy production in Quebec.

Those producers are asking for a minimum price. Incidentally, the Union des producteurs agricoles and the minister of agriculture of Quebec have asked that the federal government invoke the Agricultural Products Marketing Act and impose a minimum price of 42¢ a pound. The minister has refused, forcing the dairy and beef producers to fend for themselves. Nevertheless, they have all agreed on a minimum price to be reinstated, since the federal government has refused to do so. We managed on our own, as we often have to in Quebec, unfortunately.

Their lot: a price of 17¢. This is what we have known, from 15 to 20¢ a pound, until very recently. On the other hand, prior to the embargo imposed by the United States, producers could charge up to 60¢ a pound.

In the wake of the blockade, the slaughter of a cow, live on television—I mentioned it a moment ago—and of President Bush's fruitless visit, what is the federal government waiting for to institute real targeted aid measures?

Despite the minister's fine words, these programs will not take us to the day the border might reopen, that is six long months from now. Some of these support programs have already expired and the last of the federal programs will come to an end on February 28, 2005.

Where is the direct aid to make up for the drop in the price of cattle? Where is the interest free loan program? These are two measures Quebec producers have been waiting for. The president of the UPA Centre-du-Quebec, Mr. Denis Bilodeau, whom I know very well, has said that they were ready to spend the whole winter in front of the Colbex plant if they had to. That was before the agreement in principle we spoke about was reached. That shows how desperate these people were. They were so frustrated they were ready to do anything to be heard. Quebec listened to them, that is all. We wonder if anyone on the other side is listening. I do not think so.

Does the minister realize that there is a crisis and will he take his responsibilities?

Yesterday, I read an article on the Internet site of the L'Express/La Parole , a Drummondville newspaper, where a producer from Saint-Rosaire--that is also in my riding--drew a pretty alarming picture of the situation, and I quote:

We no longer sell our cows, we give them away. The income from cull cows can usually make the difference between a good year and a bad one. We are more than fed up.

I do not know if écoeurantite is translatable. It means we are totally fed up, that we have had it, that we can't take it any more, that we have had it up to the eyeballs. It should be obvious how fed up we are.

I am asking the minister to listen to this cry from the heart from the 25,000 agricultural operations affected in Quebec and thousands of others elsewhere in Canada. Regardless of what some may say, the sovereignists are fully aware of what goes on elsewhere, and the mad cow crisis did of course first hit Alberta and then all the other provinces. That was because Canada was not capable of regionalizing health practices, as in fact it still should today.

In Quebec, the losses add up to $241 million, even with the financial compensation that has been paid out so far. The minister is coming up with a figure of millions and millions, but what has to be kept in mind is that we in Quebec are still $241 million in the hole.

So we do not want to keep hearing from the minister about his plans. Laurent Pellerin, the head of the UPA, has said the following:

Ottawa keeps on dishing up one inappropriate program after the other, and these do not reflect the specific nature of agriculture in Quebec—

This is part of a November 30 press release from the UPA.

What the producers are calling for, in addition to a base price for cull, is an assistance package to compensate for the price drops for all classes of cattle and other ruminants, to be kept in place until the borders reopen.

Today, stock is selling at ridiculous prices, as has been said, up to 87% less than before the crisis. We have all heard of the case of the cow that went for 7¢, not 7¢ a pound but 7¢ for the whole 2,000-pound cow. My colleague from Montcalm has also shown me a cheque for just over 50¢, 56¢ I think it was—

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member. Earlier, the minister's parliamentary secretary said, concerning the crisis, that members of other parties should find specific ways of solving this crisis. My colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue spoke earlier. He is very familiar with the region of the NDP member who just made a speech about the slaughterhouse in North Bay. We learned, through my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, that it is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that is interfering with the use of this slaughterhouse by northern Ontario and northern Quebec.

I would like to ask my colleague to tell us a little about this situation. To answer the minister's parliamentary secretary, this is an example where we found specific solutions, but the federal government, through one of its agencies, is throwing sand in the works when we are going though a real crisis. I would like to know why he thinks the federal government is acting in this way and what should be done to prevent this from happening again.

Department of Social Development Act November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have listened very carefully to what the hon. member had to say. Of course this new department would have a great deal to offer many people, seniors in particular.

That is not where the problem lies. The problem lies mainly with the encroachment into areas of provincial jurisdiction, and the jurisdiction of Quebec in particular. We have all understood it: what we want is for the federal government to respect its jurisdictions as set out in the 1867 Constitution.

My hon. colleague has just been referring to the guaranteed income supplement. We know that this is a battle that the Bloc Québécois has been waging tirelessly for some time. The hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain can testify to that, as he has put a great deal of effort into it. In Quebec, 68,000 seniors have been deprived of the GIS, and in all of Canada , 270,000.

I would like to ask the hon. member why his government, despite all its fine words and expressions of good intentions, will not agree to make the GIS fully retroactive. That way, it would be able to go back. not 11 months, but 11 years. As a result, all the people who have been deprived of the GIS since 1993 could now be getting it. It must be made retroactive, and retroactive back to 1993. I would like the hon. member to explain to me why they are passing off the creation of this department as a cure-all, when there are still people in need, still people whom this government has deprived of the guaranteed income supplement and full retroactivity of that supplement

Department of Social Development Act November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I do have a question for my hon. colleague, who made an excellent speech. The parliamentary secretary claims that this government has an excellent relationship and fruitful discussions with the Government of Quebec. Even if the current government in Quebec is a federalist one, I have news for her.

Quebec's employment, social solidarity and family minister, Claude Béchard, who is a cabinet member in the federalist government in Quebec, had a motion put before the National Assembly to make sure he had the support of all the members in negotiating with the federal government. This motion was introduced on November 3, 2004, that is to say, very recently. I will read what it says, if I may. It is very short:

That, in the negotiations with the federal government on the implementation of a new Canada-wide child care program, the National Assembly support the Government of Quebec in its efforts to obtain funding with no strings attached and in the respect of Quebec's constitutional jurisdictions.

Try as they may to have us believe that there is agreement, that is not true when it comes to respect for jurisdictions. That is what I would like to ask of my hon. colleague who made an excellent speech on this bill which is, once again, another example of encroachment.

I would like my hon. colleague to elaborate on all these encroachments by the federal government in the case of the provinces, and Quebec in particular, which are the source of so many problems.

World Trade Organization November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question of my colleague. First, I would like to congratulate him on moving such a motion. This was a very important issue during the last election campaign. I myself come from a rural riding. The Arthabaska RCM, which is part of my riding, is the largest milk producer in Quebec. Consequently, this issue was very important and still is.

We deplore the Liberal government's failure to defend supply management as it should have. It is thanks to a motion such as the one moved by my colleague from Montcalm that we will succeed in getting things done.

I would like to ask him one thing, since he was a mayor and also a reeve in a rural region and is very familiar with this issue. How will this motion alleviate the concerns of our milk producers, who are under supply management?