House of Commons photo

Track Bernard

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is languages.

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

Taxation September 29th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am going to try to get some answers from the Minister of Finance's pet parrot.

A car dealership in Rivière-du-Loup is planning to invest $5 million in the coming year to expand its services and its client base. That investment could not have happened if the owner had not been able to grow his long-term investment returns, which the Liberals now want to tax more heavily as part of their unfair reform.

Why do the Liberals want to penalize businesses all over Quebec, including in my riding, while leaving the Prime Minister's fortune and that of the Minister of Finance untouched?

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, speaking of transparency and openness, the Prime Minister, when he was only the member for Papineau, promised that ministers' offices and the PMO would be open and transparent and that the bill would provide for access to information. That is not the case. It is really quite simple: the Liberals did not keep their promise.

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

Today's debate is not about the appropriateness of the measures we have taken in the past, but rather about the appropriateness of the ones the government has included in the bill before us. When a government makes a promise, it must keep it. It is not rocket science. It must keep its promises. The government promised that ministers' offices and the PMO would be open and transparent, that that would be in the bill. Well, it is not in the bill. Promises made should be kept. It is not rocket science.

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi, but he just left himself wide open.

We are talking about openness and transparency. My colleague is the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Last spring, we witnessed the worst possible debacle around the appointment of a commissioner of official languages. There was no openness or transparency. Everything was done in secret. We found out from journalists who had conducted investigations that the candidate, Ms. Meilleur, had donated $5,000 to the Liberal Party. That is a prime example of what this government did not do and what it should do with regard to openness and transparency.

I thank the member for Brome—Missisquoi for making my job so enjoyable.

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to oppose Bill C-58. That is about as clear and transparent as it gets.

This is about yet another broken Liberal promise. My colleague just listed off at least 20 broken Liberal promises. The Liberals made promises during the campaign. In fact, when he was just an MP, the Prime Minister himself introduced a bill promising openness and transparency, but we see none of that in this bill. It seems to me that our friends in power have developed a nasty habit of breaking their promises, and Canadians are clearly getting sick of it. This is not the first time, and it will probably not be the last.

I get the feeling that the sunny ways are about to be gone.

One of those election promises was electoral reform. That was no minor Liberal promise; it was extremely important. However, when the committee finished its work and tabled its report, the Liberals realized that Canadians clearly saw through their charade. In other words, the Liberals' real objective was to bring in a preferential ballot system, which would put them at an advantage. In the end, given that the committee report did not support the Liberals' position, they decided to abandon that promise. When you abandon a promise as important as electoral reform, how Canadians vote for their elected officials, basically you are telling them that they cannot be trusted. That is what we heard from Canadians.

The government struck an independent committee, but it had to be changed because initially, it had a Liberal majority. Pressure from the four opposition parties, including the Green Party, made a difference. From that moment on, the Liberals dropped the whole thing and the promise changed. In the case of Bill C-58, once again, the Liberals are reneging on an election promise and doing the opposite now that they are in power.

Earlier, my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable and I counted the broken Liberal promises. We got to 20 broken promises, but there are more yet. By breaking all these promises, the government is sending a message to Canadians that fuels cynicism. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised they would inform people better and increase transparency in ministers' offices and the Prime Minister's Office. However, two years later, that is just another broken promise. This is unacceptable. That is why I am voting against this bill.

Over the past few weeks, a number of people have spoken out against this bill. Some organizations that were rather tough on the Conservative Party when it was in power are now being just as tough on the government in power. They are making statements worth noting. For example, when the government promises clarity and transparency, then it has to live up to that, but the Liberal Party that is in power is really not up to the task.

The Liberals said they would make all of the information exchanged within ministers' offices and the Prime Minister's Office accessible. What kind of information are we talking about? At what point did that information become irrelevant to the people? The moment the Liberals introduced this bill.

Let me make sure we all understand what is going on. When the government came to power, it decided to take a close look at an act that has been around since 1983 and modernize it. That is all well and good, but earlier, I heard parliamentary secretaries say that they had covered a substantial portion of it. A substantial portion of it? Why not modernize the whole thing? It looks like they have a problem with disclosing information or making any information public that could come back and bite them. That is my conclusion based on what I heard today.

I have been listening to the debate since early afternoon, and every time an MP or a parliamentary secretary talks about the bill, we get the feeling that they deliberately left out the obligation to make the information clear and transparent so they would not get trapped by the information that is circulating, especially within the Prime Minister's Office.

If the journalists who defend the democracy that these MPs serve each and every day here in the House cannot have access to the information that is relevant to Canadians, how can they do their jobs properly? It is essential that the bills we put forward not be half measures. That way, we can ensure they meet their stated objectives. The Liberals are saying very little yet again, and the answers they give are all the same.

Sadly, after promising Canadians the world in 2015, the government is keeping neither of these promises. There are organizations that act as watchdogs of Canadian democracy. Most of them are non-profit organizations and are totally independent from any government, like Democracy Watch, for example. These organizations are very critical of the work we do, and rightfully so. They spend an enormous amount of time analyzing everything we parliamentarians do on a daily basis in order to strengthen our democracy, to increase transparency and to improve communications with Canadians. They were very outspoken, to put it mildly, about the current government. They said that the bill represents not one step forward, but two steps back.

A sentence like that says a lot about the relevance of the bill and how it was designed and drafted. I can imagine being the Prime Minister, who in 2015 promised to be open and transparent and to allow all Canadians to see everything that happens in the ministers' offices and in his own office. Once in his office, however, he realized that not everything that happens in ministers' offices, and especially the Prime Minister's Office, can be disclosed to the public.

What information does he not want to make public? That is a very relevant question, and one that we should put to the Prime Minister. We will be sure to do so. A government does not introduce legislation for no reason. A government introduces legislation because it really wants to keep a promise. I say again, 20 promises have been broken so far; my colleague listed them earlier. Bill C-58 is definitely not the first broken promise, and it will not be the last.

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, obviously, my colleague is playing semantics and making completely obsolete assertions. It is incredible that he just said—

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, there are no drawers in my telephone or my computer. Last week, I received an email from the minister in English only, with no attachment. There is no hidden drawer or a drawer underneath, on top or to the side. Emails are the only things exchanged on the Hill.

Obviously, my colleague is taking the matter lightly by saying that I did not find the right drawer. This is not about drawers, but it is extremely important, because the Liberals claim to be an exemplary government. Therefore, if that is the kind of example they set, we have a serious problem, a huge problem.

I will ask my colleague again: after 150 years of history—which we will be celebrating a week from now—how is it that even now this government is unable to send emails from its ministers’ offices in both official languages? How can that be?

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated my colleague's presentation, but he will have to answer a simple question. After all the money the government is in the process of investing in official languages, all the improvements and all the bells and whistles, how is it that his colleague, the environment minister, sent me a unilingual email in English just last week?

Can you explain that to me?

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, last week, I received a letter from the Minister of the Environment that was solely in English. It was sent to me shortly after the minister appeared before the Standing Committee on Official Languages, where she once again patted herself on the back, saying that the Liberals were wonderful, they were doing a good job, and they were happy to make sure that everything was going well when it comes to official languages. As she was saying those words, my office received an email from her written solely in English.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, and our country is officially bilingual, a minister’s office is still sending communications in English only. What does my colleague think about that?

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would ask my colleague to set the record straight. In committee, we heard all sorts of witnesses and experts about the Translation Bureau. We came to the conclusion that the Portage software was supposed to assist, not translate. Everyone realized that rather quickly.

This tool was not created to replace interpreters. From the start, it was agreed that the software was created to support them. It is a working tool. Since parliamentary language is highly specialized, this tool was not intended to replace interpreters or translators, but instead help them so they did not have to use Google Translate, for instance, which is what ordinary people use. It was shown to us rather quickly that this could not happen.

Does my colleague agree? He must appreciate that it was introduced to help translators and interpreters.