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Conservative MP for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 29% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House June 7th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would like to share with the House something that happened to me last week, if I may.
Last weekend, I was in my riding after having issued a press release the week before stating that I support supply management. I had supported it in the past and I promised to continue supporting it in the election campaign.
I wanted to issue the press release in order to clearly make the distinction between that and a visit to my colleague's riding, Beauce, for the kick-off to his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. I attended the event as the Quebec caucus chair.
If five candidates from Quebec ran for the party leadership, which I would love to see, by the way, I would attend all five events, regardless of the policies the candidates proposed, as the candidate from Beauce did on supply management. Indeed, I would be there regardless, because I think it is important to support our colleagues who want to run in a contest to represent Quebec in Canada.
That being said, I was at an event this PAST weekend where I happened to meet quite a few farmers who were also there for Relay for Life. Those farmers are part of our everyday lives in the regions. They are part of our regional realities because they participate in everything. They sponsor events and are very involved in our communities. We started talking about this and that, and naturally, we ended up talking about diafiltered milk, an issue that is having a serious negative impact on those farmers, especially dairy farmers, most of whom are in Quebec.
We promised to address the diafiltered milk issue if we were elected, but unfortunately, that did not happen. The Liberals are the ones in power now, and they made that same promise to address the issue quickly.
Seven months have passed, and it has been 30 days or more since they got the consultations they were after. They consulted a whole lot of industry stakeholders. Now, according to the resolution they themselves put forward, they want another 18 days.
It is truly incredible to see what this motion says. The government is saying it has a problem in its own motion. This motion was not drafted by the Conservative Party, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, or the Green Party. It is a motion in which the Liberals are telling themselves that things are not going well in agriculture. We do not need for a motion to see that there is a problem. I honestly do not know where we are going with this, but it does not look good.
Life is tough for these farmers these days because they are losing income. They invested in equipment and in their farm to increase productivity. They did not anticipate having to compensate for a loss because of something else, a problem that the government is not fixing. They made those investments to increase their farms' productivity, to have a bit of extra money in their pockets and to be able to reinvest.
Farmers know they have to constantly reinvest. It is impossible not to invest. A farmer who does not invest in his facilities or his productivity is bound to fail and possibly lose his farm.
When farmers invest $100,000, $200,000, $300,000, and even more in their own farm to ensure that they increase productivity, they are not trying to make up for their losses.
At present, diafiltered milk is costing them tens of thousands of dollars. As recently as April 13, the president of the Union des producteurs agricoles said that farms are losing between $15,000 and $18,000 a year. That is a lot of money for a dairy farm with 40 or 50 cows. That is a lot of money for these producers, who have to invest in relatively short periods of time.
As a business person, I know that the reality is that any investments should be amortized over the shortest possible period because technologies change very quickly.
That now also holds true for agriculture. When farmers invest in milking machines, the amortization period must be as short as possible because the machines will inevitably become outdated, just like the methods they replaced. Technology is constantly changing and therefore being replaced.
I spoke to a woman who said she was tired of fighting. Dairy producers have been fighting for decades against all sorts of things like the climate, changes, the increase in farm productivity needed to ensure their financial viability, and environmental constraints that are imposed on them.
They have to constantly invest in their own farms. When a problem arises, such as that of diafiltered milk, which has become a huge problem in recent months, the financial losses are discouraging for producers.
I sincerely believe that the human aspect, which we have not discussed today, is important. In the past five years, in Quebec and Canadian rural areas, there has been an unprecedented number of suicides in farming communities. This is the result of the pressure on the agricultural sector in general.
Producers are being asked to produce more and more and to find more environmentally friendly ways of doing so. They are being stretched to the limit. They are under unbelievable amounts of pressure. Many producers who would like to hand down their farm ultimately decide to shut it down or sell it.
Just last week, a woman was telling me that the president of Les Producteurs de lait in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region said that there had never before been as many active farm sales in Quebec as there have been in the past two years. That is because producers are exhausted.
They are not able to cope with governments that do not keep promises, especially the current government, which promised during the election campaign to fix the problem quickly but is still conducting consultations seven months later.
As my colleague said earlier, there is a lot of blah blah blah, but there is also a lot of meh. Nothing happens. The government does not understand farmers. Unlike what the Liberals have been saying since this morning, they are way out in left field. They could fix this problem very quickly and they committed to doing just that. I do not think that seven months is very quickly. This problem could be fixed in two days. I do not know why they will not do it, but it should have been done a long time ago.
Agri-food research is being done in La Pocatière, in my riding, and there needs to be a kind of balance. Farms do not increase productivity simply by purchasing equipment. Research and development in processing and in the dairy industry are important as well. Everything is important.
The Liberal Party seems to be defending only the processing industry, but this industry needs the milk in order to process it. If there is no milk to be processed, where will it get the milk from? We want Canadian products and we want people to buy local.
People in Kamouraska have been talking to me about this for 20 years. I was mayor of La Pocatière from 2005 to 2009 and an RCM of Kamouraska councillor. People talked to us about processing and buying local. If people want to do that and make it possible for farmers to process food locally, they have to be able to make a living at it. Right now, they are definitely having a hard time making a living at it.
Farmers are having a hard time coping with and justifying this reality. Once again, these people are having a hard time getting through this. The government's delays are costing them $10,000, $12,000 or $20,000 per year, and at the end of the month, those losses make it hard for them to balance their budgets. The added pressure makes them want to quit farming. The government has to give farmers every possible advantage, and some impossible ones too, especially dairy farmers who are going through tough times because of diafiltered milk.
The government must understand that it needs to fix this before the summer. Today is June 7, and I think it is important to deal with this before the summer so that farmers can go work in their fields with a load off their minds. Right now, all farmers are having a terrible time getting by. The government has the answers and needs to act. As my colleague said earlier, the government has to walk the talk.
Committees of the House June 7th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the farmers in our region know that during the election campaign we promised to resolve the issue of diafiltered milk in the first days and weeks following our election, if we were elected. My colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable, I myself, and many of my colleagues in the Quebec caucus all agree. We will do what it takes to stand up for supply management.
People came to the Hill on behalf of the entire industry to urge the government to take action now that it has been in power for seven months. The Liberals also promised to resolve the issue of diafiltered milk. However, they have yet to do anything about it other than listen and talk without really saying anything at all. As my colleague just said, that is all we have been hearing in the House for weeks.
I would like my colleague to share what he heard on the Hill. The farmers are saying that they just want to earn a living from what they do. Is that what my colleague heard?
Committees of the House June 7th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague for her opinion on the following issue.
During the election campaign and last week, when farmers came to demonstrate on Parliament Hill in order to have and preserve the right to produce, they told me very clearly that they did not want any compensation.
All they want is the right to produce. They do not want compensation. They do not want anything more from this government than they did from our government when we were in office. They want the right to produce, and that is why we protected supply management and our policies always sought to protect supply management.
Could my colleague give us her opinion on that?
The reality is that dairy farmers want to contribute to the Canadian economy, not by getting government contributions that take money out of taxpayers' pockets, but by simply producing and reaping the fruits of their labour.
Privilege May 19th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, after you spend years in politics, you start to see that cynicism is everywhere. People question whether we are doing good work. Many politicians cannot avoid cynicism in their political life.
Cynicism can sometimes get quite bad, especially in the form of caricatures, even though we never asked for that to happen to us. There have been pictures of the member for Berthier—Maskinongé circulating on social media since yesterday that do not show any semblance of respect for her. The member certainly did not ask for something like this to happen to her. Unfortunately, today, she is suffering the consequences of a completely irresponsible and cavalier act on the part of the Prime Minister.
No one can predict the indirect consequences of this act, as is evident today, given the completely inappropriate things on social media. Once again, she did not ask for this.
Can my colleague talk about what kind of consequences she has seen in the current political debate in Canada?
International Trade May 12th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, times are tough for the forestry industry. Major issues, such as job losses and the renewal of the softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the U.S., are creating uncertainty in this industry, which accounts for least $20 billion of Canada's economy.
All regions of Quebec and Canada would be affected if the agreement were not renewed, especially my region of the Lower St. Lawrence.
Why is the minister taking so long to finalize an agreement that is so important to our country and to all regions in Quebec?
2016 Leucan Shaved Head Challenge May 11th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, have you noticed my new haircut? As you can see, I am as bald as can be.
Today, I participated in the 2016 Leucan Shaved Head Challenge. I did so of my own free will, but Canadian children with cancer do not have a choice. They do not ask to lose their hair to cancer treatment.
I would like to thank my leader, my colleagues, and all members of the House who will open their wallets to help me achieve my goal in the shaved head challenge. I invite all of my fellow members, everyone else in the House, and you, Mr. Speaker, to meet me after question period in the foyer of the House to support my efforts with a donation. Every little bit counts.
Tomorrow, in my hometown of La Pocatière, more people will do the same to show support for families coping with childhood cancer. Children are our most precious treasure. This year, I got involved as a father, grandfather, and parliamentarian, and I thank the entire community for supporting me.
Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, with respect to time, let us go back to the moment when Quebec legislators decided to introduce a bill. If they had decided to work faster because people could not have access to end-of-life care, I do not think that would have been the right approach.
The right approach is to take the time to get this bill as close to perfect as possible. That is not the case right now. In answer to my colleague's question, I think we should take as much time as we need. Time is a space. We need the opportunity to discuss this with each other and with Canadians because we know that people's opinions about this bill vary widely across Canada.
Quebec was very innovative in its approach to this kind of legislation, and it is important for us to enable openness around this law and understanding across Canada.
Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with my colleague.
The Quebec law was thought out over a period of six years. During those six years, there were studies and discussions between the parliamentarians and with the public, and working groups were set up. We have roughly six months to do as much here in Canada.
The legislation as presented has some extremely dangerous grey areas. We must review this legislation properly to ensure that we have it right. Our responsibility as legislators is to take every precaution to ensure that the legislation is the best it can be.
Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, if I may, before beginning, I would like to join my colleagues in sending my thoughts and prayers out to the people of Fort McMurray, Alberta, and all Albertans. We know that a number of Quebeckers are working in Alberta. The media are reporting an incredible tragedy that is taking place as we sit here in the House. I want everyone there to know that we are thinking of them.
I thought long and hard before speaking to this important issue tonight, not because I did not want to talk about it or because the subject was not important to me, but because this is a hugely complicated issue. It took Quebec more than six years of work, thought, and study to reach a consensus, and even after all that work, it was not unanimous.
The proof is that most of the palliative care facilities in Quebec have not begun offering this option to their clients within their facility. I am going to focus on that in my remarks.
The joint committee recommended making more resources available for palliative care to improve access across Canada. I agree with that recommendation.
I had the opportunity to tour a palliative care centre last year when I visited my brother-in-law, who was dying. This evening, before speaking to the House, I also called an acquaintance who sits on the board of directors of a foundation that helps fund these types of homes in my riding. This person confirmed what I had noted last year. The mission of these homes is to take care of the dying and not to take their life. These homes support patients in their final weeks, days, and hours of life. The services and support that the individuals themselves and their families receive at these homes are essential so that they can live their final moments in dignity.
I believe it is important, as we prepare to pass such a law, to have the time to study it and put it in place. I do not believe that it is appropriate to move so quickly on such important issues as life and death.
My acquaintance also told me that she had lost a colleague a few weeks earlier. Her colleague knew that he was sick and that she was connected to the administration of the home. He told her that he wanted the opportunity to make use of the new Quebec law on end-of-life care and that he very much wanted to have access to such care. The weeks passed, and it came time for him to enter the home, where he could end his days in peace, with the idea of making use of the new Quebec law.
My acquaintance had the opportunity to visit him before he passed, and this man told her that he no longer wanted that option because he appreciated the care and attention he received from the staff and volunteers in the home so much that he wanted to live until his last breath. He probably talked about that option because he was afraid of suffering, of losing control, of making his family suffer. All of his fears were legitimate.
This example shows that it is possible for someone to live with dignity, surrounded by family members, in settings tailored to their needs, with attentive and, above all, competent people around for this extremely important stage in any human being's life.
I am giving these examples, not because they are something I experienced, but because they illustrate some of all the different possibilities and situations that could arise.
My colleagues who sat on the joint committee worked very hard to ensure that certain provisions would be included in the bill, and I would like to talk about those provisions now. They are all equally important and they represent an essential minimum in the bill before us today.
We identified five important points and we insisted that they be included in the bill. The first is that medical assistance in dying should be available only to adults. It should not be made available to minors. Medically assisted dying should not be made available to people who are mentally ill. The conscience rights of doctors must be protected and consent to the termination of life may be given only at the end of a person's life. Finally, palliative care needs to be improved.
In my opinion, that last point is an important aspect of the bill. Services like those offered by Maison Desjardins in Rivière-du-Loup, which is in my riding, should be available all across Canada, given how important these facilities are to those who work there and those who use them. The government should therefore invest in these types of services and facilities across the country. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the government has no plans to do that at the moment.
Another person I know in Montmagny has been receiving cancer treatment for many years. She decided to start up a palliative care facility in the Montmagny and L’Islet region, where she has been working tirelessly for many years. An army of volunteers are helping her and supporting her in her illness and in setting up the facility. My hope is that when her time comes she will be able to benefit from all of the effort she put into that facility. In order to ensure that these types of facilities are available, the government needs to create the proper conditions to help communities take matters into their own hands and offer places across Canada where people can live out their final days with dignity.
What we are really talking about in the House tonight is human dignity. It is crucial that all future decisions be made in a way that ensures that end-of-life care is available all across Canada. That is crucial.
In closing, in my riding next Friday, my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent and I are organizing an evening of discussion to promote a better understanding of this very serious issue. Knowing that we were elected on October 19 and given how quickly everything is happening right now, I feel as though we are caught in a trap and working against the clock, which means we cannot make informed decisions. In spite of everything, I will be voting in favour of this bill at second reading, so that the bill can go to committee and we can examine the committee's recommendations.
This does not mean that I will vote in favour of the final bill. I am committing to making a decision after listening to my constituents. I think this is a fundamental decision. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind: as the representatives of our constituents, we must listen to them and allow them to share their views. We do not have much time to respond to this bill. I was listening to my colleagues earlier and it occurred to me that June 6 is an arbitrary date. There will be a June 6 in 2017, a June 6 in 2018, and so on. I think we should be taking the time to really think about this legislation and make it as complete as possible.
Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to talk about palliative care. I will have a chance to address the House in a few moments, and I will really be emphasizing that option.
How does my colleague think that government investments or support might be provided to improve palliative care facilities and put more of these facilities in place all over Canada?