House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament June 2013, as Liberal MP for Bourassa (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resignation of Member May 29th, 2013

And well we should applaud them. They must have had smoke coming out their ears at times.

I have enjoyed sitting in the House of Commons, whether as a member or as a minister. I would also particularly like to thank the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien, who allowed me to make a real difference in the world of sport in Canada and to stand up for our country’s values at Citizenship and Immigration, especially after the events of September 11. I also want to thank former prime minister Paul Martin for appointing me to the position of minister for La Francophonie and special adviser for Haiti.

I am especially proud to have negotiated the agreement to bring the World Anti-Doping Agency to Montreal, to have created a meaningful policy on sport in Canada and to have assisted our Olympic and Paralympic athletes and their coaches.

I am proud to have taken action to ensure respect for the languages spoken by all of our athletes, be they anglophone or francophone. Thanks to the body that came to be known as the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, athletes are no longer at the mercy of their federations.

In immigration, the agreements I signed made regionalizing immigration a priority. I salute my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

The one I am the most pleased with was the one we signed with Manitoba. This was a historical agreement that allowed Manitoba to pick up its own immigrants. It was good for the economy and the people.

I promoted francophone immigration across the country, simplified the points system and started major debates on issues such as creating a national identity card and using biometric data offline.

Since I have been sitting in the House for 16 years now, I will take the liberty of sending a few messages to the government and to my colleagues as a whole, regardless of political party.

Canada is a magnificent country, and its wealth derives from its diversity, from its variety. Let us never forget that Canada has two official languages and that no one should be considered a second-class citizen. French exists across the country, and the Government of Canada must ensure by its actions that francophones are respected.

It also means that judges of the Supreme Court should be bilingual.

Multiculturalism is an important Canadian value, and we should never have to choose between that value and bilingualism. They are two complementary values that must not be forced to compete with each other.

Let us respect the public service and stop using it as a scapegoat or cannon fodder. Public service employees do an incredible job. They are professionals and part of the solution.

Let us stop pitting the regions against each other. Canada is strong when we respect the uniqueness of every province and territory.

Quebec is a nation, and it must be respected. Let us make sure we do not constantly throw fat on the fire just to provoke flare-ups. Instead let us use this great diversity to strengthen our connections.

Lastly, Parliament needs more transparency. Democracy is fragile, and it is our responsibility to protect it.

My only regret is that I was never able to do justice to Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba and a father of Confederation. The man is innocent, and we must put right the mistake that was made.

In closing, I quote the Greek philosopher Epictitus, who said, “Do not expect events to unfold as you would wish. Accept them as they occur and you will be happy.”

As for me, I am going home to Montreal, as Ariane Moffatt says in her song. I will stand as a candidate for the mayoralty of Montreal, Quebec's magnificent metropolis.

Be forewarned, however: if anyone thought I acted up in the House just to make myself heard, know that my voice will travel from Montreal to Ottawa. Learn the word of the day: “unavoidable”.

Mr. Speaker, I have loved sitting in the House. It has been an honour to be among you. There is nothing nobler than to enjoy the public's trust. However, we do not own the right to be here; we borrow it, and for varying lengths of time. Let us all remember that.

Thank you, my friends. It has been an honour.

Resignation of Member May 29th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it seems that your life is going to be easier starting on Monday. You will have just a little more peace and quiet in the House. A familiar voice you have occasionally had to call to order will no longer be here.

I rise before the House today with great emotion to address my fellow Canadians and my colleagues for the last time as the member for Bourassa.

I am announcing my departure from federal political life as of June 2—16 years to the day from the first time the people of Bourassa gave me the privilege of representing them, a privilege they have given me on six consecutive occasions.

I would like to express my appreciation to my constituents, who have placed their trust in me year after year, in good times and in hard times. Thanks as well to the members of my executive and the thousands of volunteers who made it possible for me to be here for all these years.

I would also like to thank all of my staff: Maurice, Joe, Lise, Sylvia and Rolande, who have always served the people of Bourassa with the greatest professionalism, in both Ottawa and Montréal-Nord. Not only did they carry out their duties, but they did so with enormous sensitivity and effectiveness in the most difficult cases. People often come to us as a last resort, and believe me, my staff worked miracles. Thank you, my friends. Thank you, Maurice.

Obviously, 30 years in federal politics and 16 years as a member have forced my family to make many sacrifices. To my wife, Chantale, and my children, Geneviève and Alexandre, go all my appreciation and gratitude for their understanding and sacrifice. I thank my family for always being there for me. I am sorry that I was not always with you, but know that I love you beyond measure.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish a happy birthday to my mother, Lucie, who is watching us today. Happy birthday, Mom! Thank you Mom and Dad for being here with us.

I would like to thank and salute my colleagues in caucus and on both sides of the House. It has been a privilege to work next to them. Of course, we have had fights a few times because we do not understand each other or they do not understand my French expressions. Nevertheless, it has been a privilege to sit with them.

Thanks also to the House of Commons employees, and the security guards whom I greeted every morning. They have all my respect. Thanks to the pages, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Clerk and her staff and the other officers of Parliament. My gratitude goes also to the House interpreters—we do not call them translators, we call them interpreters—for their courage, professionalism and determination, as they tried to understand the homegrown expressions I used in the House.

Canadian Museum of History Act May 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, this is the first time in 16 years that I have seen a point of order during a vote. If members seem a bit crazy, they will pull themselves together in the end. I think the Chair should wait until after the vote to deal with points of order.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think do not I see a quorum.

Foreign Affairs April 24th, 2013

Thank you for recognizing me, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Prime Minister. I would like to touch on ICAO again. Qatar is clearly mounting a shameless offensive. They are obviously willing to do whatever they can to get ICAO out of Montreal.

Has the Prime Minister struck an interdepartmental committee to address this situation? Who is really in charge of this file? Has he worked with his ministers—immigration, revenue, finance, foreign affairs—to fix this? There is too much at stake for Montreal.

Combating Terrorism Act April 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, but I would like to remind him that we are talking about Bill S-7 today. He does not need to talk about anything else. This matter is complex and serious enough.

Taxation April 16th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, if the member does not want to lose his credibility, then he should call a spade a spade.

An increase in import tariffs is an increase in taxes. The worst thing is that the middle class will have to pay. Montrealers are going to have to pay more, whether they are buying a coffee maker, a bicycle or children's shoes. It is as simple as that.

Can the government be honest here? Will the government admit that this is a new tax and agree to cancel it in order to prevent the cost of living from going up?

Business of Supply April 16th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, of course we will not react to what the Conservatives are doing.

Not only is this an important program, but we need to be pragmatic and recognize certain realities, particularly in the agricultural sector. I wonder if my hon. colleague from Malpeque, who was our agriculture critic in another life and knows this file very well, could explain how important it is to support this motion. The program works. It is a good, much-needed program, but we need to prevent abuse. I would like him to explain exactly why this program is so important, especially for our farmers.

Business of Supply April 16th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, as former immigration minister, I was very pleased to contribute to the program. Some groups that come to mind are farmers and meat packers, particularly in Manitoba.

The government is spouting nonsense.

The motion raises the awareness that there is a situation. We do not want, like the NDP, to give the impression that we want to kill the program. We like the program. We invented it. However, I have a serious question. Did the member just say that all the temporary foreign workers will have to speak one of the two official languages? When we have those meat packers and people from Mexico and I remember our government signed an agreement with Guatemala, does it mean that if they do not speak English or French they cannot work? They are coming here for a temporary timeframe. I would like to understand what the member meant by that.

Questions on the Order Paper March 28th, 2013

With regard to advertising by the government during the broadcast of the Academy Awards on February 24, 2013: (a) what was the total cost for advertising; and (b) what was the cost for each advertisement shown?