House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Environment June 17th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the issue of fighting climate change illustrates the Conservatives' bias in favour of Canadian oil companies to the detriment of Quebec's green economy. By refusing to implement an effective plan to fight greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government is protecting the oil sands but damaging Quebec's economy, which would benefit from having a carbon exchange in Montreal.

When will the Conservative government realize how much harm it is causing to Quebec and its economy by refusing to address climate change?

Federal Sustainable Development Act June 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Bill S-210. It is a bill, as we were saying earlier, that originated in the Senate, was introduced in the Senate, and is today being studied in this House.

This bill is quite simple. It amends two acts, the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act. It makes two amendments, including one that simply would have the commissioner table reports not only in the House of Commons but also in the Senate. That is the first amendment in the bill we are studying today.

The second amendment would give the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development the possibility of tabling reports more than once a year on the progress made by the government in matters of the environment and sustainable development.

We will support this bill. Why? Because these amendments are quite simple. This is part of what we might call a new environmental governance that leaves more room for independence and assessment. Why? Because Canada has given itself a number of tools and instruments in the past few years.

For example, Canada now has environmental indicators it can use to assess the government's progress in a number of sectors from water to forestry. These tools are available to us.

We have to ensure that there is more accountability and more independent auditing, and that the commissioner can play an increasingly significant role.

I remember when a sustainable development bill was passed a few years ago. It was a Liberal member, John Godfrey, who introduced the initiative. He received the support of all political parties, with a few amendments of course. Why? Because it was high time we responded to all of the big international summits, all of the Earth summits from Johannesburg to Rio, by coming up with a sustainable development strategy.

However, a few months ago, after the government decided to respond to the passing of the bill, we realized that it had introduced its own sustainable development strategy. A close look at that strategy reveals that it contains no quantitative or numerical targets that would make it possible to really assess the government's progress. It does contain targets, but they are not clear and quantitative targets. They are just qualitative targets.

We have to give the auditor more tools to assess sustainable development progress.

This is not the first time we have wanted the Commissioner of the Environment to pay a larger part in various laws. Among others, I am thinking of Bill C-288, which was introduced by the member for Honoré-Mercier. That was a bill to implement the Kyoto accord and to get the Commissioner of the Environment involved. There was also Bill C-311, the climate change bill, which was a response given at the end of the Kyoto accord and an attempt to follow up on it.

Once again, parliamentarians tried to give the commissioner more tools to assess the government's progress.

This is important, because the Commissioner of the Environment has already looked at how the government carries out and applies its sustainable development policy.

I remember a report from the Commissioner of the Environment, when the government was examining the application of the strategic environmental assessment as part of its sustainable development policy. There is a directive from the Prime Minister's Office, dating back to 1994, which requires all departments to carry out impact assessments. Those are what we refer to as strategic environmental assessments.

These ensure that all departments' three Ps—policies, plans and programs—are consistent with sustainable development. Each policy, plan and program must be assessed by the department, looking not only at sustainable development, but also at environmental protection and social development.

What did the Commissioner of the Environment observe a few years ago? I remember the title of one of the chapters from the commissioner's report. It had to do with assessing the application of sustainable development within the Department of Finance. Talking about strategic environmental assessments, the commissioner at the time, Johanne Gélinas, titled the chapter, “Greening the tax system: Finance Canada dragging its feet”. If there is one fundamental department within a government, it is the finance department. And the tabling of the budget is a crucial time for parliamentarians, because the budget makes it possible to guide policies and utilize the tax system to bring about social and environmental governance.

What the commissioner basically indicated was that the Department of Finance was not applying the strategic environmental assessment to its policies, programs and plans. What are the consequences? The Canadian government tells us that it is important to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, at the same time, the finance minister provides tax breaks to the oil industry. On the one hand, the government says we must protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change but, on the other, it uses an available tool, taxation, to give breaks such as depreciation deductions to an industry that is a major contributor to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Had the Department of Finance respected the 1994 directive from the Prime Minister's Office requiring the Department of Finance to conduct an environmental assessment of its policies, governance would probably be quite different.

That is why we have to give the Commissioner of the Environment a bigger role to play. We have to make sure that we really get independent audits, independent being the operative word because that is what will be used to guide all sectors in Canadian and Quebec society. I am talking about independent audits, but also independence for the media and scientists. The point is that we have to make sure policy is not influenced by vested interests.

That is why we have to amend the Sustainable Development Act to give the commissioner more powers, and at the same time, the government has to be aware that when the so-called environmental watchdog sends out clear messages and strongly recommends that the government do something different, the government has to listen. The more reports the Commissioner of the Environment produces, the better governance will be, as long as this government decides to listen to independent advice and respect the people's wishes to build a sustainable society for the future.

Climate Change June 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, people everywhere are sounding the alarm and calling for solutions to climate change problems. Just recently, six Nobel laureates called on the Conservative government to put climate change on the agenda for the G8 and the G20.

As the host country, why is Canada refusing to take action?

Climate Change June 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the most recent report by the Ouranos group of 250 Quebec scientists looks at the negative impact that climate change will have on Quebec. Among the problems, the report mentions shoreline erosion, warming cities and change in river flow.

Is it not time for the Conservatives to wake up, open their eyes and realize that siding with the oil companies will have disastrous consequences to the economy of Quebec?

Points of Order June 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, first, I did not ask a question in the House. Therefore, it was not in response to a question that I asked.

When the minister claimed that there was a monitoring plan for oil drilling, I stated, but not in the debate, that the plan did not exist, and I continue to believe that. Nevertheless, I withdraw my remarks.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will use my two remaining minutes. There is a risk with Bill C-9. What does it do in terms of oil and gas drilling projects, especially in offshore areas? It transfers responsibility from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to the National Energy Board. It means that an economic department is going to conduct environmental assessments. That is the current risk. It is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. We must remember the events in the United States. When an economic office is responsible for the environmental assessment of projects, the ecosystems will definitely be in danger.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will begin with the first question.

We have learned from the Environment Canada report released last Friday that the measures introduced by the federal government in recent years have not actually led to any greenhouse gas reductions. That is the Canadian tragedy. That is the federal tragedy. The approach presented by the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions does not produce any results. For a government that has been in power for a few years now and wanted to maximize every dollar invested in the fight against climate change, the truth is, it has failed.

As for carbon capture and sequestration, the Conservatives are asking us to finance an oil industry that is making huge profits. Now they want to use tax measures to finance their carbon capture and sequestration project. It is completely unacceptable. Instead, we must reinvest in renewable energy sources and not give huge incentives—nearly $64 billion since 1970—to an industry that is making huge profits.

It does not make sense. It goes against sustainable development practices and is not the way to achieve a greener economy in the next 10 or 20 years.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill, but I am also deeply disappointed. This bill to implement one of the most important aspects of the parliamentary cycle—the budget—and to formalize this defining moment is something of a lost opportunity. The government had a golden opportunity to reposition Canada's economy as a 21st century economy that focuses on the future and will outstrip the past 30, 40 or 50 years during which our economic activity was heavily dependent on the oil industry.

The government decided to shelve the green revolution that Canada needs to restructure the economy and create the value-added jobs of the future, many of which are green jobs. Instead, the government chose to remain in the stone age of economic development and cling to its reliance on the oil industry, which is located primarily in the west, as is its political base.

Today's initiatives concern the budget presented a few months ago, which proved that the government's economic choices were essentially political, partisan choices made in the interest of the party's political base in Saskatchewan and Alberta, choices that penalize most other regions of Canada, especially those that rely on manufacturing. Manufacturing, this country's second economic driver, particularly in Quebec and Ontario, has been penalized over the past few years by Canada's policy of promoting fossil fuels, thereby causing the Canadian dollar to rise. Canadian manufacturing exporters have been victims of what is known as the Dutch disease, a phenomenon that Holland experienced and that Canada is going through, too.

Canada's dollar rose largely because of choices about natural resources. Canada and Quebec are being penalized by the government's economic choices made at the expense of the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

Instead, especially when Canada will be hosting the G8 and G20, we would have expected our country to answer the call that came from the UN on October 22, 2008, asking the G8 nations to come up with a green new deal by developing initiatives to promote investment in clean technologies and natural resources.

This green economy initiative was designed to create green jobs and to develop policies and market instruments that could expedite a transition to a sustainable economy. Moreover, the UN has given countries 24 months, until October 22, 2010, to come up with a plan. But judging by the discussions at the UN, the Prime Minister is refusing to give the fight against climate change a prominent place on the agenda for the G8 and G20. Yet climate change is one of the most important issues of the century, because it is causing other crises, such as food and financial crises.

One day, we are going to have to understand that as long as we do not tackle climate change head-on, the food crisis in developing countries will escalate. Canada's lack of leadership on climate change at the G8 summit is disappointing, and it shows that as soon as the Conservatives came to power, they decided to give up on the fight against climate change. We know what happened. We found out last week when Environment Canada released a report stating that by the time the Kyoto deadline arrives, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will have increased by 30% over 1990 levels.

That is the problem. Canada could have included a number of initiatives in its budget. Moreover, we had made pre-budget proposals calling for Canada's economy to be converted to a sustainable, greener economy. What did we propose? First, we did not propose reinventing a number of programs. We said that existing programs, programs the government had cut and programs that were underfunded should all be enhanced.

That is the case with the ecoauto program, for example, which gave financial incentives to citizens wanting to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. What did the government do? It refused to agree with us and use an existing tool, taxation, to encourage greener forms of transportation. We also said that the government, again using this fiscal instrument, could give financial incentives to a number of businesses. That is the case with renewable energy. We proposed improving the wind power production incentive program under which, in the past, the federal government would pay 1¢ for every kilowatt hour of energy produced by wind. It was a federal contribution, using this fiscal instrument, to help the economy shift towards a carbon-free economy. Once again, the government turned a deaf ear.

And what is happening now? We have learned that in Quebec, for example, businesses in Bromont's wind-energy sector are closing down simply because the government decided against offering tax incentives. But things south of the border are booming. And American President Barack Obama has decided to invest in energy sources of the future, to pursue this new economic revolution—the clean technology revolution—and use his federal budget to invest more than 10 times more per capita in energy efficiency and the fight against climate change. While the American economy is transforming itself, the Canadian economy is killing time and, when it comes to economic development, has decided to stay in the stone age. But at what expense? At the expense of economic sustainability. And this will ensure that the jobs of tomorrow will not be value-added jobs. We have to use what I call the fiscal instrument to convert our economy.

However, the government has another instrument at its disposal, and that is regulation. The government could adopt regulations that force our economy to be more sustainable. It started to do so by regulating motor vehicles. For 10 years, we have been calling on the House of Commons to amend motor vehicle manufacturing standards to match the ones that exist in California. We are happy to see that the government is going along with our proposal. Quebec initiated this harmonization a few months ago. Quebec was criticized by the Minister of the Environment.

All of a sudden, the minister is saying that Quebec was right. The standards will now be harmonized with those in California.

In conclusion, I want to say that it is possible to present a federal budget that aims to make our economy carbon-free. If we do not do it, our neighbours to the south will. And our competitiveness will be the first to suffer. At the end of the day, it is the workers who will see new jobs created, but they will be so-called carbon jobs with no added value.

Petitions June 4th, 2010

Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition signed by people in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie who feel that Bill C-516, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (application for supplement, retroactive payments and other amendments), which was introduced in the House of Commons on April 22, 2010, would correct the many problems associated with the guaranteed income supplement by increasing the amount of the supplement by $110 a month.

This is an important issue for seniors in my riding, and I am happy to present this petition.

The Environment June 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the scientific consensus is clear. To avoid catastrophe, we must hold the increase in global temperature below two degrees, which requires a 25% to 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990. Reaching these objectives requires a co-ordinated, credible and effective plan.

To control the climate crisis, does the government intend to make the environment a priority at the G8 and G20 meetings, in order to set the stage for the Cancun summit, which is quickly approaching?