House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Brome—Missisquoi (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fairness for Military Families (Employment Insurance) Act May 6th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-13. The only thing I did find a little curious was that the minister is using the same arguments in favour of Bill C-13 that she rejected regarding the bill to eliminate the employment insurance waiting period. I find that rather strange.

I would like to know if the minister's bill will include retroactivity. In other words, will this apply only to Canadian Forces members who need it once the bill comes into force, or will there be any retroactivity for members who have already returned but also need it?

Criminal Code May 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. He gave a wonderful explanation of how the Bloc Québécois see this bill. I would like to ask him a question about judges.

In every piece of legislation, the Conservatives seem to be questioning the judges' judgments. And that is no redundancy, that is reality. The judges are there to judge and to render judgments. Does he not think that this is contempt for the justice that is meted out by these great people we have in Canada?

Employment Insurance Act April 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that only five minutes remain for a bill that is so important for workers throughout Canada and Quebec.

When the government, through the parliamentary secretary, said that people will not accept the truth, what truth was it talking about? Was it talking about its own ideological truth that fails to help workers? Eliminating the two-week waiting period has nothing to do with ideology; it has to do with necessity and need.

I very much appreciated the fact that my colleague spoke up and pointed out that David Dodge is not someone who needs money. What does David Dodge have to do with it? No one asked the unions; no one asked the food banks. Instead, they asked David Dodge.

The Conservatives are saying they conducted prebudget consultations. Who did they consult? The minister told us: they consulted heads of banks. They did not conduct any prebudget consultations with grocery store owners or the people who would receive that money.

If we were to eliminate the two-week waiting period, people would not be saving that money for a rainy day. That money would return to the economy immediately because those people need it. That money would generate GST and other taxes.

The parliamentary secretary is saying that this measure would cost $1.3 billion. He increased his estimate, since last time he said it would cost $1 billion and now he is talking about $1.3 billion. We better hurry up and vote on this bill, or soon he will put the cost at $1.6 billion.

Our researchers old us that it could cost nearly $900 million. But most of that money will come back to the government.

He says that this is inefficient. Inefficient compared to what? We think it is efficient for workers. It may not be good for their reputation. He says that this is unnecessary spending. What does he know? Has he ever been unemployed? To say that this is unnecessary spending is an insult to people who lose their jobs. These people need this money. As my colleague said, they are the ones who paid into the program, not the government.

We cannot really expect the Conservatives to change their ideology, because there will be no royal recommendation for this bill. But as my colleague said, this money does not come out of the government's budget. I want to say that again, because it is important. It is important for the unions to hear and for the workers to hear. We will refuse the royal recommendation for this bill if the government should ever decide to grant it, because it should not apply. I believe that the government should listen to us and not apply the royal recommendation.

I therefore call on all parliamentarians to do the right thing and be sensitive to workers who fall victim to the neo-liberal crisis and globalization. That is why plants are closing without notice. We must correct this injustice.

The Conservatives are saying that this measure will not fix everything. We know that. We want to put forward a whole slew of measures to make employment insurance more equitable, and I used the word equitable deliberately. This measure may be modest, but it is very important to workers who lose their jobs without notice. This is something very real we are asking for.

The Conservatives still have time to think about this and admit that they had not realized how much workers across Canada needed this, even workers in Alberta who sometimes lose their jobs. They had not realized why people lose their jobs or how great their need was. I hope the Conservatives will come to this realization tonight and agree with us tomorrow morning.

Employment Insurance Act April 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order. The member is starting up again. He is not speaking on topic. He should be talking about Bill C-241 and not another bill that has already been passed.

Employment Insurance Act April 29th, 2010

I rise on a point of order. I would like the member to have the courage to talk about Bill C-241 and not about what else they are doing. He should be talking about the bill, please.

Employment Insurance Act April 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his extremely interesting question. We have never been against the five weeks. In fact, we should add even more. Five weeks is not a lot.

The waiting period is hard on the unemployed. The government does not want to eliminate it. It will not agree to this because, as my colleague said, seasonal workers would have immediate help. Consequently, the government does not want to do that, even though we feel it would be fair and reasonable. I do not know what kind of morals they have, but we believe that, morally, it is fair and reasonable that workers who lose their jobs, seasonal workers or otherwise, can have their two weeks as usual and not go hungry just when they need immediate help.

Employment Insurance Act April 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am hearing the propaganda from the member opposite to the effect that we voted against certain things. But does he tell us in which document the government hid that measure? We agreed with the five additional weeks, but the government included that measure in a budget that we could not support. The member does not mention that, even though he is well aware that it is the case. He knows full well that we supported the idea of providing five additional weeks. We did not vote against those five weeks: we voted against the rest of the budget. You know that. You are almost being dishonest when you say that to the House. You know why we voted—

Employment Insurance Act April 29th, 2010

moved that Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (removal of waiting period), be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that this bill must be accepted by the current Conservative government. I begin my remarks with that comment because we have been talking about this for a long time. The two-week waiting period is a critical issue. This is not a minor bill designed to keep senators in the red chamber for a longer or shorter period of time. It is an act that can help all workers who lose their job.

That injustice has been around for too long. I am going to give some numbers. In 1989, 83% of Canadians and Quebeckers were eligible for employment insurance. Now, it is less than 50%.

What did the government do? It passed a law to add five additional weeks at the end of the benefit period. And how many people benefit from this initiative? Currently, it applies to 28% of those who are eligible for EI benefits. However, 28% of 50% does not make for a large number of people. The fact is that few workers are entitled to these five additional weeks.

If the two-week waiting period was waived, all workers who lose their job would benefit. I am not talking about workers who resign or who lose their job because they failed to perform, but about workers who are laid off because their plant shut down, because there are fewer orders in the books, because the plant is relocated, or because of a bankruptcy. These people are laid off through no fault of their own. They are the most affected by these two weeks without benefits.

Waiving the two-week waiting period would have a much greater impact on financial security than the five additional weeks at the end of the benefit period. Indeed, this situation affects the most vulnerable workers in our society. The two-week waiting period is a glaring injustice: these people lose their job through no fault of their own, yet they are penalized. It seems as if the Conservative government likes to punish workers who get laid off. I just cannot understand that.

In Quebec, this situation puts pressure on the Quebec government when these people turn to social assistance. Social costs increase, even though the federal government is responsible for looking after those people who lose their job through no fault of their own.

There is an urgent need for action, but the government does not seem to understand that, and it would appear that the Conservatives are not going to let us get this bill passed. Abolishing the two-week waiting period would not mean extending the employment insurance benefit period. All it would do is allow people to receive their EI benefits two weeks earlier, so that they would not have to go without money for two weeks.

Often, people do not even know they are going to lose their jobs. They get a warning and lose their jobs the same week, because the employer did not want anyone to know in advance. What is more, most of the time, these people do not have any money set aside. They even have debts. Liberalism encouraged people to go into debt in an excess of consumerism.

These people are just like everyone else. Workers also have a culture of borrowing. Then, suddenly, they have no money coming in for two weeks, so they go deeper into debt and they cannot afford to pay the mortgage or rent or feed their families. It is that serious.

If the waiting period were eliminated and the five weeks at the end left intact, the cost to the EI system would not be much more. In any case, only 28% of people receive the five weeks of benefits at the end of the period. Presumably, everyone would receive the two weeks at the start.

These two weeks are a question of dignity for our workers. It is scandalous that people who lose their jobs cannot get help from employment insurance right away.

Does the government want to punish workers for losing their jobs? We have to wonder. We could even say that that is what the government is trying to do. It is trying to punish workers for losing their jobs through no fault of their own. They will have to spend two weeks without benefits.

Generally speaking, the government is not criticized very much. It thinks that, as with every type of insurance, a premium must be paid. However, employment insurance is not a public or private insurance. It is a social measure that should apply to everyone, and people should not be punished unfairly.

Unfortunately, this unfair punishment has been around since 1971, and it is high time to abolish it. The current government should realize that it will not be defeated tomorrow if it eliminates this injustice. On the contrary, we will appreciate it more.

This measure is supported by all Quebeckers and Canadians. Unions, community groups, women's groups, anti-poverty groups, food banks, retailers, all support this measure, except the people that the government consulted. These people include business leaders, economists, banks and probably some hand-picked professors, who are at the source of this neo-liberal ideology.

The Bloc Québécois believes that this bill is necessary. It should be looked on favourably by the government, and I am asking it to reconsider its position.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits) April 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the fact that my colleague from Vancouver Quadra wondered whether this would improve democracy. That is a very good question, and that is why I would ask her whether, now that the government has recognized the existence of the Quebec nation, but is refusing to act accordingly, she believes that Bill C-10 could lead to greater democracy and full recognition of Quebec as a nation.

She could perhaps talk about the famous peace march in Quebec. In her opinion, is this openness to the Quebec nation?

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, my colleague is asking a question pertaining to a subject that I know very little about, that is, consultants on the periphery of government. I will therefore not respond, but I would like the committee to hear his question because I believe that it needs to be answered.