House of Commons photo


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

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I agree with the minister that visas are not a solution. It is true that the same law exists in Europe, but we do not enforce it in the same way. This is a fundamental difference.

Canada's parliamentary system is British. The minister, who is elected—we do not know for how long—makes the laws and instructs civil servants to enforce them.

However, in Europe, and particularly in France, the deputy minister remains, providing continuity, and he is the one who creates the regulations. Governments change, but the deputy ministers stay the same. That is a common saying in France. Regulations are not changed based on a minister's ideology.

It is fundamentally different. Even though the law seems to be identical, it is enforced is a completely different manner.

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-11 on immigration.

The Bloc Québécois sees problems with the refugee appeal division. It has always insisted on a mechanism to review refugee decisions.

At first glance, this bill unfortunately leads us to believe that it is based on the typical Conservative ideology whereby we have the good on one side and the bad on the other. This raises concerns about things working properly in future, especially since the bill contains a number of elements governed by regulation. To govern by regulation means that the minister of the moment—not necessarily the current minister—could want to influence decisions.

This bill makes it look like we are attacking the problem of false refugee claimants. This reform is based on a discriminatory principle and one that is fundamentally detrimental for refugees.

I would like to remind the House that people have a right to refugee status. It is a fundamental international right based on the solidarity among peoples and countries. Refugee status is not something to be considered with a certain amount of paternalism. Because our country is richer, it can start distinguishing the genuine claimants from the false ones? That is rather frightening.

Countries often benefit from the refugees they take in. For example, the refugees in France, England, Spain and Italy have made tremendous intellectual contributions and helped these countries broaden their horizons. There have been some major waves of immigration. Refugees left Russia to go to France and England. They made an enormous contribution to their chosen lands. Refugees are often very talented people. We are not talking here about minor immigration. Refugees are people who had to leave their countries because their lives had become untenable.

There were some Chileans who had to leave their country. Would we have considered Chile a good country or a bad one when some people had to leave because of the dictatorial regime that took over? Even some members of the Chilean parliament had to leave and seek refuge in Quebec. We had an extraordinary colony of engineers, writers and musicians, who were all refugees.

Would a bill like this one, but with regulations, have been able to distinguish between false claimants—because there were some—and genuine ones? Can a piece of legislation draw this distinction? I do not think so.

The committee should work very hard on this issue. We should not exclude people who come from countries like Chile. When the dictatorial regime overthrew Allende, I think we would have concluded that Chile respected human rights—not at the very time of the coup but a few months later—and that people there were treated fairly.

In fact, though, people were harassed in the exercise of their duties. They were harassed psychologically because they did not support the new ideology. As I said earlier, some of these people were very talented members of the previous government, while others actually supported Pinochet but were taking advantage of the situation to move to a country where life was especially good.

I provide this example because even though I know the minister is well intended, he will not always be there. There will be other ministers. How will they be able to decide which of the immigrants from a particular country are the good ones and which are the bad? That will be a major problem if we try to distinguish the good immigrants from the bad ones solely on the basis of their country of origin.

I would like to raise another problem, the borders. This bill gives the Canada Border Services Agency 100 additional officers who would conduct investigations, issue arrest warrants and detain unsuccessful claimants. Naturally, we are not opposed to the idea of increasing the number of officers. However, I find it strange that we are not trying to reassign the members of the RCMP who held these border positions. At every border post, the RCMP used to mafia refugees from crossing into our country. Yes, there are mafia refugees, and where I come from, it is a significant problem.

When the Conservative Party was in opposition, it was in favour of maintaining that force. When it came to power, we thought it wanted to restore it, since it was always against removing it. But no, it has never put it back. Since 2006, this has been a taboo subject that it does not want to talk about.

I think we have to divide these new positions up between border services officers and the RCMP. For the bill as a whole, we are in fact talking about $540 million. It seems to me they could have thought about that, since this is part of the immigration we do not want. We do not want the mafia here. We do not want people who belong to the cartels passing themselves off as refugees. We are in complete agreement, we do not want those people.

Why not hire , as was the case before, RCMP constables, who are well-armed, well-informed and well aware of the situation? I am not saying that the border officers do not do a good job, but to each their own job. One group is prepared to deal with false refugee claimants who belong to organized crime groups, and the other group looks after refugees who also may not be welcome for other reasons, but who are not part of the mafia and who are not known cartel members.

Those two issues in particular should be examined in committee. They are important points because we have to be able to tell the difference. Once again, it benefits our country to grant refugee protection to people who need it. We have to reduce waiting times, we completely agree. In my riding, there are people who have suffered unspeakable things. They waited 19 or 20 or 22 months before getting answers. We have to cut that time, I agree completely. But if they had not waited so long to introduce this bill, the problem might not be so serious.

It is nonetheless a bill that we really want to examine in committee, because its principle is worth considering.

Earth Day April 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today, April 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Forty years of climate change, biodiversity loss and deterioration of the environment, but also 40 years of efforts, protection and survival.

A number of projects have been implemented to fight climate change, including the Sauvons le hockey event, an outdoor hockey game on the Toussaint-L'Ouverture rink in Montreal; the Hometown Heroes 2010 program, which recognizes environmental achievement; the Fonds Écomunicipalité IGA, which encourages communities to carry out sustainable development projects; and Une oasis dans le béton, the first exterior green wall in Montreal.

Let us all become eco-citizens. Let us take action for the planet; it needs our help. This April 22 can be an opportunity to launch our promising biodiversity and sustainable development projects.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act April 22nd, 2010

Madam Speaker, in reference to the beginning of the speech by my colleague from Jeanne-Le Ber, I would like to ask him whether he thinks that the title of the Keeping Canadians Safe Act should also include highway traffic acts, the National Building Code, transportation standards, fire safety standards, dangerous goods, nuclear power and pretty much everything else.

Does the member think that this government is trying to weaken the political class and undermine the place of politics in society? They are coming from a neo-liberal ideology holding that the less politics, the better.

Is giving fancy titles to micromanaging legislation just one more way to chip away at the powers of the people's representatives?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Outremont. Does he think it is a good idea for the Minister of the Environment to have the power to make unilateral decisions on environmental assessments? How can it be a good idea to give decision-making power to just one man, a man who cares more about developing the oil sands than anything else in Canada?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona for her truly wonderful work on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

According to the Conservatives, Bill C-9 is both extraordinary and fantastic, but at the same time, they have slipped some poison pills into it. One of the pills they seem to have included in the bill—and I would like to hear my colleague's opinion about this—would now give the Minister of the Environment the option of whether or not to hold public hearings. They have included this in what they say is a budget implementation bill. What will the minister do? Will he stand up for the oil sands or fish?

What does my colleague think the minister will do once he has discretion over public hearings?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I fully agree with the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

Of course, the Conservatives will say that it is thanks to them, but what did they do to achieve that result? Nothing, zero, niet. Therefore, they should not take credit and pat themselves on the back. The economy has weakened. As the hon. member pointed out, mills were closed, including some that produced electricity from coal. My colleague is right: in Bonn, last week, Canada received a third fossil award because greenhouse gases have increased in Canada. This was demonstrated by international groups. There has been no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 but, rather, a 3% increase.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his two questions.

I do think the government is currently engaging in a diversion. First, it mentioned a certain number for education. We did not pay too much attention to it because that is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec, of our province and eventually our country.

However, if we look at the environment and the way the bill has been worded, in Part 20, the decision will now come from the minister. What does that mean? If we look at it, the minister will always be deciding everything. It will no longer be groups saying it needs to be done. It will no longer be Parliament, but the minister.

That means that the minister can very well follow the policy issued by cabinets: to promote the development of the oil sands to the exclusion of other things. Whenever an environmental impact study might block a project, it will not be taken into account. We saw the situation two weeks ago with the big Keystone pipeline. Now, we have a Baker train going by. Will an environmental impact study be done? We think not, because that might block the development.

So I agree entirely with my colleague when he says that a lot of things are being concealed. They chose their words carefully to make people happy. People are going to think this is wonderful, but in reality it is so the government will be able to decide as it likes.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I was not expecting it to be my turn to take the floor, but I am happy to speak to Bill C-9. This is not a very attractive bill because it relates to implementation of the budget, a budget which the Bloc Québécois finds very disappointing.

While I find this bill to be disappointing, I would like to say that the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona has indeed given a very good statement on part 20. That was the subject I wanted to address today, but I will not do so since she has handled it very well.

All the same, I shall speak on the environment, because I find that this budget implementation is truly contemptuous, particularly of the forestry sector. In Canada and Quebec, the forest is truly a key component in the reduction of greenhouse gases. The members opposite say that greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced. It is bizarre for the Conservatives to say this, given that they won the third fossil award in Bonn last week. They won this award because greenhouse gases in Canada have risen 3% over 1990 levels. I do not see how they can claim to be happy with an alleged reduction.

All that was only an aside, and I shall continue now to speak of the lumber industry. Many people speak of this industry as if it simply involved paper mills and mills that cut softwood into two by fours, but it is much more than that.

There is one thing I want to say. The money that should have been invested in the forestry sector would have been used for much more than just cutting down trees and shipping them to the United States. It would have been used to develop engineered wood, something that is now being done, in fact.

Engineered wood is bonded with glue and assembled to make immense spans or big fire-resistant pieces. It is interesting to note that one sawmill employee creates five jobs. One mill employee who cuts two by fours or two by sixes creates five jobs in the lumber industry. It is my impression that the members opposite think that only wood cutting is involved, but it is far more than just that. We have to invest in the forest. Proper forest management is important. This is called stewardship. It means increasing the potential of our forests by managing them so that trees grow larger, there are more of them, and they are in better condition.

It is important to invest in private forests and not just in public forests. It was the government’s responsibility to do so, but it did not. In addition to better quality lumber, more forests are created and greenhouse gases are reduced. It is self-evident.

The more trees we have and the bigger they are, the more greenhouse gases are reduced in the atmosphere. That goes without saying. It is also essential to increase incomes in the regions in the short and long run. Our forests are managed very well and are of major importance.

So what do we find in the budget in this regard? Nothing. There is nothing about the management of private forests and the forests that are the future of our regions. There is absolutely nothing about this in the budget. It is not just the future of our remote regions that is at stake but of our less distant regions as well. As I mentioned, a job in a sawmill creates five others in related factories.

The budget dwells on the automobile sector, as if we were going to live or die by it alone. We are going to die with our trees, and they are what is important. If we take that approach, it is possible that one day we could be autonomous in our construction industry and in our biomass from one end of the country to the other.

That is vital. They always take the short-term view, and that shows real contempt.

They treated the automobile industry like a god of some kind and gave it 57 times as much as the forest industry. For every employee who works in a sawmill, five others work in related plants or have a job maintaining our forests.

Trees grow. They are like money in the bank that earns interest. They are something we can give future generations. Unfortunately, we have a government that looks at the future in the rear-view mirror and sets nothing aside for our children.

We will all pay for the numerous tax breaks the government is giving the oil companies. They cost money and are a way of taxing people. These tax breaks amount to $2.7 billion, and every province and city will have to pay its share.

If green industries had been given the billions of dollars in tax breaks handed out to the oil companies, jobs could have been created. Instead of giving this money exclusively to shareholders, we could have created jobs in healthy work environments, for the future of our country and the future of our young people. The government thinks that oil companies are the future because there will be a shortage of oil. But there is enough in Alberta for a very long time.

There is no overarching vision of our strengths and no strategy for helping the younger generation. Creating green energy means creating an economy that could be exported and could replace fossil fuels. Unfortunately, that is not what they did. They always favour fossil fuels.

The budget increases funding for nuclear energy. Some governments think that nuclear energy is clean, but that is a farce. We have not even found places yet to store the waste. So long as these places have not been found, nuclear energy will remain dirty. In addition, it produces plutonium.

Recently, an agency of the Canadian government produced a report stating that the CANDU reactor might overheat and explode. This is a real sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, but we still keep promoting the reactor, because we know we will make a profit from it. They tried to build a reactor in Ontario. At the end of the day, a kilowatt hour generated by nuclear energy was so expensive that they abandoned the plan. Nuclear energy is starting to be compared to green energy. We are realizing that green energy creates a lot more jobs and is much safer. A windmill will never explode, and the same is true for solar and hydraulic energy.

Getting electricity from deep geothermal energy is also something that will not explode and that will last for years. We might say forever. So why not invest in green energy instead of investing in polluting energy? I know there is a very strong lobby. Nuclear energy has a huge organization lobbying the Canadian government.

We know that our government is very sensitive to lobbying. In fact, that is why there was not much money for forestry. The steel lobby is very strong, as is the cement lobby. So they want to keep wood for small houses only and build them out of two by fours, when we know that engineered lumber could be used to build rooms much bigger than here. So the environment and climate change have been completely ignored in the budget.

We could have changed tack and said now is the time to put money into the green economy. They did not do it and I am very disappointed. The Bloc considers this to be a major reason not to vote for the budget or for this Bill C-9, precisely because it is not looking to our children’s future. In this kind of bill we are looking to the past.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act April 14th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to help my colleague on Bill C-429. I am an architect by profession, and I have always worked in the wood sector.

People say that working with wood is new, but wood was used in the past, and people are starting to use it again. I remember a time in my very long career when wood was used in large spaces. Huge beams 125 or 150 feet in length were made. All we are doing is going back to that. It is nothing new, just something that was forgotten.

I would like to thank the member for Madawaska—Restigouche for pointing out that although the current government boasts about having done great things for the forestry industry, it has actually done nothing. He and my NDP colleague talked mainly about sawmills.

Now, working in wood means using more than just 2x8s. How could a 250-foot structure—a structure much larger than this space—be built from 2x8s or 2x6s? You would glue lengths of wood together and nail together large wooden trusses. Often, lengths of wood from B.C. can be glued together to make laminated beams. This is engineered wood. These beams can be used to create huge spaces.

But I would like to come back to what the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière said. He said shamelessly that domestic government contracts would not let us do that. He compares construction specifications to specifications for office paper or something you have to ask everyone to bid on.

How do you construct a new building or renovate an existing one? You determine the requirements and decide on the materials you want to use in the construction. That is what is done. If another parliament building like this one were built, we would say this one is in stone, so we want the new building to be built of stone. That is what we would say. We would not let the builders use what they want to build this parliament.

There are vinyls that can be glued to gypsum. No one would guess. The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière believes that buildings are constructed without indicating in the design phase what the walls and floors will be made of. Come on. When someone asks for carpeting, it is not vinyl they want, it is carpet, and they will specify they want carpet. Why would anyone not specify they want wood? Here, for instance, we see that someone specified that they want wood. That is why the galleries are made of wood. Otherwise, they would be made of concrete or steel, or some other material.

We are not against specifications, but that is how a building is built. He has probably never in his life seen how a building is constructed, if his absurd comments are any indication. It makes no sense.

There are windows up above. According to him, one could not ask for windows. One would have to say they want any kind of glass, because something has to be put in the window frame, and that is all. Come on. If one does not say they want stone, they would get brick. If there was no brick, they would get something else. We can specify the materials we want when constructing buildings. So we can say we want a wooden structure. We can say we want wood siding and that will not harm any industry.

I apologize to the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, but that is how it works in construction. It is not like the automotive industry.

We are told this will be difficult. Come on. At present, non residential building construction in Canada is worth $4.5 billion.

Research groups have studied the issue and have found that 85% of these buildings could be made of wood. Right now, only 10% to 15% of them are. We really need to start promoting the use of wood again.

The Bloc introduced Bill C-429 because the government is not a typical client. It is responsible for paying attention to struggling economic sectors. It is also responsible for reducing greenhouse gases—everyone is talking about that—and for boosting a struggling sector: the forestry industry.

When the government decides to build a building, it is free to decide which materials to use. That is what it does now when it says that a particular building would be better built of steel. It is in writing and I can prove it. That is what the government does when it asks architects how they plan to build a building.

That is why past experience convinced the Bloc Québécois that legislation is the best way to provide clear direction to officials in charge of projects. In other words, whether officials are in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal or Ottawa, if they want to build or add to a building, they can set out the requirements in the initial specifications and call for the use of wood. They can say they want stone walls or sculptures. In fact, they have to specify what they want, or the architect will have absolutely no idea how to design the building. That does not violate any laws of the market. That is how buildings get built. There is no other way to do it.

I would like to point out that there have been some major advances in the lumber sector in the past few years. We have the Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois, which supports the use of wood in commercial construction, in other words, non-residential buildings. This group is working with new standards. Even though wood is not new, a lot of progress is happening right now. The goal is to increase the use of structural wood products and its presence in federal buildings because the government builds and renovates a lot of buildings. We see that here on Parliament Hill.

The CSA has created a new standard. This organization sets Canada-wide standards, and it just created a new one, standard 08609, for wood. Wood is being addressed.

I would like to point out that one cubic metre of wood absorbs one tonne of CO2, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere. That is very significant. Therefore, to fight climate change, we must sequester carbon over the medium term. We must also give ourselves a chance to actively manage our forests.

I could say much more, but what I think is most important to remember is that 90% of government buildings are three storeys or less, and could easily be built out of wood, with no restrictions. At four storeys, we put in sprinkler systems. That is what the code recommends. Of these buildings, 75% are less than 2,000 square metres, which also allows for the use of wood.

We can see that there are a lot of possibilities with wood. I would have liked to talk about wood compared to steel and concrete, and the amount of energy required to build these structures. Wood requires much less energy. It is really a solution for the future, and we have plenty of wood here.

Instead of always trying to export it, we should use it, and the federal government must set an example.