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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Saint-Jean (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I want to sincerely thank my NDP colleague for his question, for this is a part of my remarks I forgot to read, and he is giving me the opportunity to do it.

The answer is easy. When complaints were filed, the RCMP and Elections Canada raided the Conservative Party headquarters. And now, the Conservatives would have us believe it is just a minor administrative issue. If the RCMP came into my place, at 439 Casavant Street in Saint-Jean, with its cavalry and Elections Canada to search the premises, and if I was charged afterwards, I would hardly be in a position to try to convince my neighbours it was just a minor administrative mistake. This is not what you would call a daily occurrence.

If the Liberal Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP are not in the same situation, it is because Elections Canada does not think there is any problem. We are not the ones being targeted. It is the Conservative Party’s headquarters that was searched and it is the Conservative Party that was charged. The latest development is that the Federal Court has just ruled that Elections Canada and the RCMP were right. I hope this will end up before the Supreme Court of Canada. If it does, Louis XIV will probably proclaim that he is the government, he is the state and he will not bow to the Supreme Court of Canada. I can hardly wait for his reaction.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to inform you, as I begin, that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

I have prepared a few notes, as is my habit when making a speech. I wondered what title I would use if I were to present a dissertation on the Conservative Party and democracy. I have decided to entitle my speech, “Conservative ideology is incompatible with democracy”. I will have only 10 minutes to try to defend my point of view. I will give six examples.

I will start by saying that we must never take democracy for granted. We are supposedly in the shrine of democracy here, where parliamentarians can express themselves freely. But since the Conservative government came to power we have seen a rather draconian shift in the importance of democracy. The Conservative Party gives us daily examples of how it deliberately sidesteps democracy. As I was saying, I have six examples to give.

First, let us talk about circumventing the rules on election spending limits. We have adopted certain rules in Canada, which are very different from those elsewhere in the world. I go regularly to the United States, where there are almost no rules. An American congressman is elected every two years. If he does not have $1,000,000 in his account at the start of the election campaign, he is considered beaten. But who gives the congressman his $1,000,000? Usually it is big corporations. This is an attack on democracy, because once the money has been received, and there is no ceiling there, people call and request favours. If someone has given us $100,000 or $200,000, it is hard to say no.

Here, we have established a different system, and it is important. We cannot spend more than so much for a party and for a candidate. When ways of circumventing that are found, that is an attack on democracy. That is precisely what the Conservative Party did with its scheme, its sleight-of-hand, in sending money from the national party to certain constituencies, which was then sent back to the national party. This scheme allowed the Conservative Party to spend $1.3 million more than the maximum permitted. That is playing with the rules of democracy, and it is unacceptable.

Now, I would like to talk about the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who, using the property and services of Canadian taxpayers, sent a letter on his own letterhead to immigrant groups to ask them to contribute and be generous with the Conservatives. Who does he think he is, the pope of immigration? Does it mean that without him, you could be excommunicated? It is as though he has the last word on immigration. As though the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP have no say on immigration. This kind of racial profiling is dangerous, because the minister knows full well it can have an impact on these groups. And for them, he is a sort of authority. Not only did he use his own letterhead, but he also used his office: his staff, paid for by taxpayers, participated in the operation. That is another attack on democracy. When a minister blurs the line between his role as a member of the party and his government duties, it becomes dangerous for democracy. The minister has been criticized, and he should understand that when he is caught doing something like that, he should not make an assistant take the blame. He has ministerial responsibility. He must take responsibility and hand in his resignation to the Prime Minister.

Now, I would like to talk about a minister who alters documents. We have the minister responsible for CIDA, who signed a document granting the funding requested by KAIROS, and who then, a few days later, had the word “not” added. This word was written in by hand on the letter. It is very clear to us that the minister signed the letter to grant funding.

Then, probably under pressure from the Prime Minister, she wrote “not” on the document, or someone close to her did. Once again, it is a matter of ministerial responsibility. This is an example of how they play with democracy.

First they say they will give the money, then they say the opposite. On top of that, they come out with all kinds of theories, all very confusing, to defend themselves, so confusing in fact, I would remind the government, that the Speaker of the House issued a ruling yesterday that said it is impossible to do that and that it does not work.

They are trying to mislead the House. In particular, they are trying to mislead members of the opposition. In a democracy, how are we supposed to do our job if the government is always trying to hide things from us and mislead us?

This minister should also tender her resignation to the Prime Minister, but she refuses do so. She is sticking to her guns and others have come to her defence. Every so often, regarding issues that have nothing to do with her case, she stands up to reply, to try to restore her reputation, but if you ask me, her reputation is beyond saving.

Let us turn our attention to the federal government that must now call itself the Prime Minister's government. That is a good one. Louis XIV said “I am the state”. The Prime Minister is saying “I am the government”. That might fly with Conservative backbenchers, but for the opposition, that is definitely unacceptable. Who does he think he is, this Prime Minister? A monarch? A king?

I would remind the House that although “monarchy” and “democracy” nearly rhyme, a monarchy is the antithesis of democracy. In a monarchy, a group of courtiers surround the king, and the people have no say. The Prime Minister must not think that such behaviour will be accepted. In my dissertation entitled “Conservative ideology is incompatible with democracy”, those are some examples.

While we are dealing with the costs of the proposed measures, perhaps I should talk about the Afghan detainees issue, because I sit on the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. We spent months asking for the documents, but the government refused to provide them on the ground that they included state secrets. Later, the law clerk of the House conducted studies and said that if the House of Commons is to fully assume its democratic role, the opposition must do its work. However, if the opposition is not allowed to do its work, there is a problem on the legislative side. That view was expressed by Mr. Walsh, the law clerk.

So, we kept pressing the issue and we eventually compelled the Speaker of the House to make a landmark ruling. Moreover, yesterday, the Speaker also ruled on the minister's behaviour and on the documents that are required to estimate costs and to determine whether the budget is sound. There again, the Conservatives got caught by the Speaker of the House of Commons regarding democratic issues.

The king, who sits to the right in front of me during question period, decided, on the issue of Afghan detainees, in seigneurial and royal fashion, to suspend our proceedings, to prorogue the House and to tell us to go home, this in the midst of an economic crisis. And we had to be content with that.

Incidentally, in the days and weeks that followed, the polls reflected the undemocratic decision made by this government. We are not a monarchy. We are a democracy, and the Conservative government must realize that.

The last example is the one to which I just referred. Indeed, opposition members are asking for studies that support the political choices that are going to be made in the budget. How much do prisons cost? Why is the amount set at $30 billion? How much will the F-35 cost? How does the government come up with that figure?

Finally, since I only have 15 seconds left, I am going to repeat the title of my essay, namely that the Conservative ideology is incompatible with parliamentary democracy.

Again, the title of my essay is “Conservative ideology is incompatible with parliamentary democracy”.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. He maintains that the Bloc does nothing in the Canadian Parliament, that our party has no logic and no legitimacy. I will take myself as an example. This is the sixth time that the people of Saint-Jean have voted for me. Does the member consider that the 30,000 people of Saint-Jean who elected me and who represent 50% of the constituents of the riding are fools who vote for someone without logic or legitimacy? This is my question.

Afghanistan March 7th, 2011

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, NATO allies are growing impatient and want to know Canada's plans for the training mission. The Minister of National Defence has still not submitted his plan to cabinet.

Is the minister's delay not explained by the fact that he is looking to buy time so that the public does not know the scope of the deployment before a potential spring election?

Afghanistan March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives, with the Liberals' help, decided to extend the mission in Afghanistan, we were told that the mission would be centred around Kabul. But now the Minister of National Defence is saying that he hopes to open training centres in Herat, Mazar-E-Sharif, and Jalalabad, a city on the border with Pakistan. That is nowhere near Kabul.

Why has the government hidden the truth from us yet again, if not to try and get the public to blindly accept that the military mission in Afghanistan is being extended?

Afghanistan February 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan has learned that the Canadian government has awarded a contract of $1 million a year to a warlord in order to ensure external security for Camp Nathan Smith. This is beginning to look a lot like a protection racket.

How could this government resort to such an unacceptable practice? Do similar contracts with other warlords exist?

Postal Services to Deployed Troops December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, for the fifth consecutive year, Canada Post is offering free delivery of letters and parcels to troops deployed in war zones overseas.

Until January 7, 2011, Canada Post's 6,600 post offices will offer free parcel service for family and friends of Canadian Forces members currently in Afghanistan and other overseas theatres of operations.

It is particularly hard to be separated from loved ones during the holiday season, which is filled with festivities and visits with family and friends. This is why receiving mail can be comforting.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to salute the efforts and especially the courage of our men and women in the service. May the new year bring them peace and serenity.

Afghanistan December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is not what Lieutenant-General Lessard said this morning. He said that they will be stationed elsewhere.

Former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier said that it is heresy to consider training the Afghan army without going into combat with them. That is what he said in the newspapers.

Does the decision to have troops serve outside Kabul not confirm exactly what Rick Hillier said? The government cannot say that it is training the military and, at the same time, say that it is not going into the theatre of operations with them. That is just not done, according to General Hillier. What is the government's response?

Afghanistan December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, when the government announced that the mission in Afghanistan would be extended, the November 16 press release stated, and I quote: “The Canadian Forces will support training of the Afghan National Security Forces by providing up to 950 trainers and support personnel...at facilities centred on Kabul”.

But Lieutenant-General Marc Lessard contradicted that information this morning, saying that a number of Canadian soldiers will have to work outside Kabul.

Are they trying to hide something from us? How many military personnel will be deployed outside Kabul and what will their role be?

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act November 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his insight.

The minister has created a new category of immigrants, which will allow him to designate an arrival as irregular. That is what will probably end up in the bill. This irregular arrival will trigger all of the restrictions and enforcement mechanisms that I mentioned earlier. This is what the Conservatives did with the arrival of the Sun Sea. They immediately thought that there were terrorists or Tamil Tigers aboard. So they created panic across Canada to justify a bill that takes things even farther than usual and that is in line with their law and order approach.

My colleague is absolutely right. The government has managed to demonize these people. That is why it has introduced such a tough bill.