House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was infrastructure.

Last in Parliament August 2017, as Conservative MP for Lac-Saint-Jean (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resignation of Member June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have always respected both official languages of our country, but I will give my speech in French as it will be easier for translation. However, I want to tell everybody in English that I was proud to speak both official languages in the House.

Life is always good when you give yourself time and time can do its work. Given the schedule that was originally planned, according to which we were to adjourn a few days ago, I never thought I would have the opportunity to speak to the House as I am doing today. I want to thank everyone and all parliamentarians for what has happened in the last few hours. I also want them to have as many great moments as I have had here in the wonderful House of Commons.

I came here in 2007, after having been mayor. My first political life began in 2000. I have now been in politics full time for 17 years. I arrived here in September 2007 after winning the first by-election for the Stephen Harper government. At the time, I had an office on the sixth floor of the Confederation Building. I had just arrived here when my neighbour to the left knocked on my door. I did not have staff, I did not have a team and I was alone. The House had been prorogued, and nobody was in Ottawa. This person invited me to knock on his door if I needed anything, and he would be there. That person is you, Mr. Speaker. I thank you again.

Of course, I am sure everyone has heard by now that I am leaving politics in the next few weeks. I will use the coming weeks to honourably finish the work that remains, as I hope I have done for the past 17 years. I need to close my four offices, transfer files to the proponents that submitted them to me, do the summer festival circuit in my riding, meet with people, thank them, and help prepare the next by-election to make sure the Conservatives win, of course. That is how I will be spending the next few weeks. Today is simply an opportunity for me to say thank you.

I want to thank everyone in this beautiful place, the House of Commons, and the rest of Parliament Hill. We all need to make a point of thanking the people who help us do our jobs without too many headaches, from the person who washes the floor to the one who serves us our meals, from our security officers to the person who cuts the grass. The pages are there for us for every little thing we need, as we saw earlier. We can all be satisfied and proud of those individuals.

I first came here in 2007, and one year later, I became a minister because someone put his trust in me. A great man, a great prime minister, Stephen Harper, someone I will never forget as long as I live, did me the honour of entrusting me with considerable responsibilities.

Recently, the Minister of Transport was talking about how much work he had, and I joked that when I was the transport minister, I was also the minister of infrastructure, communities, and intergovernmental affairs, as well as the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions, so he had no business telling me he had lots of work because he was practically on vacation.

I owe all that to Stephen Harper, a great prime minister, who had faith in me and led us to a balanced budget. He gave me mandates. When I got to Transport Canada, the new Champlain Bridge was not even on the radar. There was nothing going on with it. Just 140 days later, thanks to former finance minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Harper, we made an announcement about that major project for the Montreal area. We also announced the Windsor bridge project. In fact, it was my honour to announce the Windsor bridge. Given what I am seeing now, maybe I should have appointed the board of directors too. I would have made different appointments, but that is another story.

I had the honour of developing this country's biggest infrastructure plan ever with a balanced budget. That is an important distinction. I could go on and on, but I will stop here. Mr. Harper put his trust in me, and I will be forever grateful.

After the election, another great woman gave me the opportunity to become deputy leader of the official opposition. The member for Sturgeon River—Parkland asked me to be her right-hand man, and I am still grateful for that honour.

I have a lot of confidence in the young member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

One of the reasons why I can leave today with peace of mind is all of the people behind me. We have a new leader, who will demonstrate how empathetic he is and how in touch he is with people's feelings, while having a great economic vision and a lot of respect for Canadians.

Of course, I want to thank all the members of the Quebec caucus, past and present, who have always supported me. Today, they allowed me to leave. There were five of us, then 12. Now there are 11, but I am sure there will be more.

Canada's public servants are among the best in the world. When I was a minister, I had the opportunity to work with many great public servants from all departments. I have a soft spot for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions. A Quebecker who comes from one of the regions loves being in the regions of Quebec. Every public servant I had the opportunity to work with showed me how qualified they are. I thank them from the very bottom of my heart.

I have had different families. There was the Conservative political family, made up of all the Conservative members that I had the opportunity to work with here in the House, caring and committed men and women. There was also the House of Commons family, made up of all members of the House. All members, regardless of their party, are here to work for the good of Canadians, and we need to continue to be accessible to them and to be respectful and open-minded. Behind all the political posturing are men and women with families and children. When someone attacks the person they love the most in this world, often their father or mother, it affects the whole family. Let us think about that when we engage in parliamentary sparring. Let us show respect for all members of the House.

I also found family in the various departments I have headed, with up to 42 employees. A few of them are here today. They became my second family. Some of them became my sons and daughters, and I thank them for that. Those were often very turbulent years, when we had to handle several files at once. There is never anyone more important than the team. In life, when we realize how lucky we are to be at the top of a pyramid or a group of individuals while respecting those below, that always makes things much easier. I have long and often said that I would be Denis much longer than a minister. It was just a job. Later, people will remember Denis, not my job.

I have often said that it was very nice to be important, but it was much more important to be nice. When someone is not nice, people remember. I will continue living my life that way and working to make things happen.

I thank everyone who has worked for me. I want to pay special tribute to my former chief of staff, Mr. Yan Plante. He has done an exceptional job, and he provides me with valued advice even today.

I also thank all of the constituents in my riding, where I was the mayor. I thank them for putting their trust in me.

Obviously, I would like to close by thanking my family. When public life is forced on our spouses, children, and grandchildren for 17 years, it is not always easy.

I would like to share a story. My granddaughter was in grade 4 at the time. She was told by her teacher, a political opponent, that her granddad was going to lose the election. It is hard to imagine a child of nine or ten being told that by someone, but these things happen. When we decide to get into politics, our families get dragged into it as well. We must remember to always protect our families and to help them protect themselves.

My life philosophy has always been the same. I have always said that we are all human, and no matter the colour of our skin or our political, religious, or sexual orientation, we should work together to build a better future and a better world for those around us. I am proud to call the Lac-Saint-Jean region my home, and I always will be.

I hope that I will be remembered as someone who gave of himself, as does everyone else here.

Infrastructure June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of being the mayor of Roberval, a small town in Quebec with 10,000 residents, for seven years before I came here. Small towns also have a right to be heard. Big infrastructure announcements are being made regarding $1-billion or $1.4-billion projects. The government is giving $100-million projects access to an infrastructure bank.

How does the government intend to give greater consideration to the country's small municipalities, who are coming to talk to us about this? The minister has said that the infrastructure bank will help everyone, but that is not true. How will the government's plan help small communities across Canada? Canada is not just made up of Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto.

Regional Economic Development June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I face the difficult task of addressing something rather unpleasant.

In recent years, I had the honour of occupying a role that allowed me to effectively represent Quebec and its regions. I had the honour of being the longest serving minister of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. I also had the honour of being the political lieutenant for Quebec for former prime minister Stephen Harper. Both of those roles have been eliminated. Now the Liberals like to claim that their 40 members from that province are standing up for Quebec's regions, but what I am hearing is that we did more with five members than they are doing with 40.

Why did the Liberals take away the Quebec regions' right to be heard through those positions?

Government Appointments June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Meilleur demonstrated that she has better judgment by acknowledging that she was no longer credible.

We did not pick Mr. Fraser because he was on the list of the donors of our party. We did it because he was able to do that, and he proved to everybody in the country that he had the ability to do it.

Can the Prime Minister show some leadership, and assure Canadians today that the appointment process for the future government commissioners, who will be the watchdogs of the Canadian population, will be non-partisan, transparent, and not just a way to reward Liberal donors?

Government Appointments June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I can imagine the conversation that took place in the Prime Minister's Office between Katie and Gerry, who must be thinking that they have plenty of cushy commissioner positions to hand out, including official languages commissioner, lobbying commissioner, and the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner.

Who will get them? I think they had a little chat and decided that it would take some good Liberals to fill them.

It is absolutely crucial that those positions be filled by people who are beyond reproach, because their role is to protect Canadians from bad decisions.

Will the Prime Minister commit to ensuring that the process will be entirely non-partisan?

Presence in Gallery May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, earlier, in an answer, the Minister of Canadian Heritage said that there were 10 people on the short list, the final list, of candidates for the position of official languages commissioner. If I understood the minister correctly, Ms. Meilleur must be on that list, along with the names of nine other candidates.

Will the government table the list of the 10 finalists for the position of official languages commissioner?

Government Appointments May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will ask my question again. If the committee is independent, why did Ms. Meilleur meet with people from the PMO?

In this so-called independent and non-partisan process, did Ms. Meilleur meet with people from the PMO, yes or no?

Government Appointments May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals could have used that $13 billion to help the families of Canadians with autism. That would have been a good idea.

During the campaign, the Liberals cultivated a squeaky-clean image. They were going to come in here, clean everything up, and make sure all appointments were absolutely spotless, and above all, transparent, and non-partisan. Now the minister is telling us the committee is independent.

Did Mrs. Meilleur meet with people from the PMO during the process?

Softwood Lumber May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the agreement expired in October 2015, while my colleague, like the rest of us, was on the campaign trail. What he is saying is not true, and everyone in Canada knows it.

Now the Liberals are messing around with the employment insurance fund. The last Liberal government helped itself to $56 billion of that money. The Liberals have done that in the past. Forestry workers want to work, not collect employment insurance. Giving them more employment insurance cheques will not create jobs. Signing an agreement with the Americans will.

It is time to stop talking and settle this issue.

Softwood Lumber May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about leadership.

Over the course of my nearly four years in the House, I have had the great honour of sitting beside two great leaders. For the past 18 months, I have had the good fortune of sitting next to the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Prior to that, I had the honour of sitting next to former prime minister Stephen Harper for more than two years.

Stephen Harper sealed a 10-year softwood lumber deal in a single meeting with President Bush. Not only did he settle the softwood lumber issue, he signed an agreement called the pulp and paper green transformation program, the black liquor program, and took the forestry industry to the next level.

When will this Prime Minister show some leadership—