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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

Business of Supply October 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

It is nice to hear that, over the past 21 months, we have made progress on this issue, considering that, for 13 years, hardly anything was done with the provinces and municipalities.

For years, municipalities in Quebec, including the one I was representing, wanted the fiscal imbalance affecting the provinces and municipalities to be recognized. However, the previous government never moved forward on this issue. Even now, it is strange to hear the hon. member almost admit it implicitly, by putting his question to us.

We have worked for 21 months to improve relations with the provinces and their components, and we are going to continue to do that.

Business of Supply October 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I am new in this House, but I am not the only one, because other members have also been at one time. As the full time mayor of a municipality that had huge needs, I was able to see the importance of money transfers to help our communities. When, as mayor of a municipality, I received a gasoline excise tax transfer to improve municipal infrastructures—I will only refer to this aspect—I was able to see how important it is to have a cooperating central government that is working with all the provinces.

I am taking this opportunity to say that some are quick to claim to know what is perceived in Quebec as being the thing to do. On October 17—which is not long ago—minister Benoit Pelletier said:

How can we, on the one hand, urge the federal government to invest in single industry towns and, on the other hand, ask for the complete elimination of the federal spending power?

The fact is that if we completely and bluntly eliminate the federal spending power, we are also eliminating at the same time all the payments and all the transfers, including equalization payments.

I strongly object to being told that Bloc members are the only ones who can represent Quebeckers. I can represent the interests of Quebeckers just as legitimately as them.

Business of Supply October 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to take part in this debate on the motion by the Bloc. I want to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

A little over a month ago, I stood as a candidate in the byelection for the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean against the Bloc candidate. The Bloc had held this riding for 14 years. That election was a direct struggle between the platform of the Bloc, which is one of separation and impotence, and the platform of my party, which is one of equity, unity and openness.

The voters of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean voted on September 17 for openness over impotence. They preferred our federalism of openness. They saw what our government, led by our Prime Minister, can accomplish for Quebec, which is real results. That is why they gave us their support. So it is with a great deal of emotion that I rise today in this House to oppose this motion by the Bloc.

Our government is committed to practising a federalism of openness that recognizes the strength and the contribution of each of the regions of our great country. We are committed to respecting the fields of jurisdiction that are exclusively provincial and ensuring a proper accounting by clarifying roles and responsibilities. In a little over a year, we have kept our word. We have done what we promised to do.

We have taken action by restoring fiscal balance in Canada, by basing fiscal arrangements on principles and by making long term funding predictable. Indeed, thanks to the restoration of fiscal balance, federal support to the provinces and territories has reached unprecedented heights.

In the Speech from the Throne, we presented other measures promoting our concept of a federalism of openness. We made a commitment to introduce legislation that will place formal limits of the use of the federal spending power for new shared-cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. At the same time, the legislation will allow provinces to opt out with reasonable compensation if they offer compatible programs.

It is not a case of disparaging the federal spending power, as the leader of the Bloc did when he spoke in this House in reply to the Speech from the Throne. He called for the elimination of the federal spending power as one of the five conditions for his party’s support of the Speech from the Throne. Today, we have before the House a motion from his party in support of his proposal.

The federal spending power has been an important factor in social development throughout our history. It has made it possible to set up national social programs, such as health insurance, in concert with the provincial and territorial governments. It has played a vital role in promoting equality of opportunity for all Canadians. It has also helped ensure that Canadians have access to basic social services of comparable quality, wherever they live.

For our government, the debate is not to eliminate the federal spending power, but to define new rules for its judicious use. Total elimination of the spending power without exception would be contrary to the interest of Canadians, Quebeckers included, for it would prevent the federal government, for example, from allocating funds to education and to health transfers.

I personally know what the result of eliminating the federal spending power would be for my electors in Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. It is clear: elimination means separation. A party that proposes such a motion in this House should be aware of the contradiction in what it is asking. One cannot on the one hand demand an end to the federal spending power and on the other call for the federal government to invest in communities that are experiencing economic difficulties.

Unfortunately, that is the spirit of the Bloc: the spirit of contradiction. That is why the electors of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean voted for real change on September 17. They voted for real results. They voted for a party that understands the problems of Quebec and knows how to solve them. They voted for the party that has the will to strengthen the Canadian federation by recognizing the strength and the contribution of each of the regions of this great country. They voted to build a stronger Quebec within a better Canada.

A solid federation and a dynamic democracy make Canada strong and united. Our practice of federalism enables us to establish a fair balance. We can pursue national objectives while taking account of the various local and regional concerns.

In reality, the Bloc should acknowledge the wisdom shown by our founders, the Fathers of Confederation, in opting for open federalism. For this is the formula best adapted to the changing needs and aspirations of Canadians. The flexibility of the Canadian federation is well suited to seeking solutions to public policy issues, and helps us to meet the challenges before us.

The success of the Canadian federation is admired throughout the world. Some see us as a model of effective governance. Other see us as a model of respect and recognition of diversity, and others still as a model of the search for a pragmatic consensus. This is the model country that the Bloc Québécois wants to destroy. As I said earlier, the voters of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean realized this. They recognized all the other advantages of our federation and what our government can do for Quebec, and this is why they voted against the Bloc Québécois and for our party on September 17.

When we took power in 2006, it was clear that federalism was not working as it should. It was a federalism based on the old dynamic of federal-provincial conflict. It was a centralizing and domineering style of federalism, which wanted Quebec to stay in its place. It was chequebook federalism and was not based on principles.

Since unexpected federal surpluses were used to spend huge amounts of money in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction, often without much consultation, some government initiatives were implemented without stable, long-term federal funding.

The days of this style of paternalistic federalism are long gone. Our government practises an open federalism, which is based on the notion of a strong national government working with strong provincial and territorial governments.

The key to the future that we see for Canadians is a federalism of openness in which all Canadians, whether they live in Roberval, Moose Jaw or Nunavut, can participate.

Our open federalism is one that recognizes the maturation and evolution of the provinces and territories within the federation. It is one that respects the important role that the provinces clearly have to play in the development of national policies. It is also a federalism that respects the areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and limits the federal spending power.

Our government honours its commitments to its provincial partners: that is just as true of Quebec as of any other province. We have taken concrete steps to do so thanks to the leadership of the Prime Minister. We will continue to play a leadership role in order to promote national interests in collaboration with the provinces and territories.

We will continue to affirm the importance of maintaining an open, honest and respectful relationship with the provinces and territories.

We will continue to affirm the vital contribution of the Quebec nation within the Canadian federation.

As set out in the throne speech, our government will table its bill placing formal limits on the use of the federal spending power for new shared-cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. And as further set out there, this bill will allow the provinces and territories to opt out with reasonable compensation if they offer compatible programs.

I can tell the hon. members from the Bloc that our policy on the federal spending power reflects our will to strengthen our federation and make it more effective, in a manner that fully respects the areas of jurisdiction of each member of the federation.

Our will to establish a more effective federal-provincial partnership is resolute. As the electors of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean have indicated, Quebeckers, like all other Canadians, want to see their governments working together, cooperating to advance the progress and prosperity of all.

Inspired by this desire of the people, our government is pursuing the mission with which Canadians entrusted it in January 2006. Our government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, shall not stray from this policy. And that is to the full advantage of Quebec, Canada and Canadians.

Agriculture October 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government supports our supply management. However, in the past several months, Bloc Québécois members have taken their disinformation and fearmongering campaign on the road in Quebec's countryside. They are trying to make farmers believe that we are not committed to maintaining supply management.

Will the Secretary of State for Agriculture confirm that the Conservative government will fight to protect this system so essential to the regions of the Quebec nation and Canada?

Riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean October 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, in the recent election campaign, my adversaries maintained that I would not represent the entire riding, but that I would only represent one city, because I was that city's mayor.

Yesterday, I announced the opening of two riding offices: one in Roberval and the other in Dolbeau-Mistassini. I also announced that I had hired four people from all parts of the riding.

Ms. Marjolaine Doucet was born in Saint-Eugène-d'Argentenay, grew up in Dolbeau-Mistassini and lives in Saint-Félicien. Ms. Sarah Drolet was born in Saint-Gédéon, raised in Alma and lives in Saint-Nazaire. Mr. Dominique Genest was born in Albanel, grew up in Normandin and was a municipal councillor in Dolbeau-Mistassini where he lives today. And Mr. Pascal Mailloux lives in Roberval and has solid work experience with citizens from all areas.

With our solid training and extensive experience, we will be present and proactive for the entire population of the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. Once again, a member of the Conservative team has turned words into actions. I am the member for the entire riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I will simply say that politics is for people to allow us to represent them. Let us continue to be close to the public, to those who allow us to represent them. The experience that the hon. member and myself share at the municipal level, along with many others in this place, provides us with a good understanding of people's needs, and also allows us to be close to them. This is how we will continue to move forward, for the good of those people who allow us to be here.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has been in the House of Commons for 6,000 days and has asked 4,000 questions.

It has introduced 288 bills and promised one in my riding's election campaign. It has had two bills passed concerning name changes for ridings. I was forced to talk about the forestry sector throughout the campaign, which is natural given the region I am from. This is yet another of the many bills that would never have been passed.

The Bloc will never have a bill passed because it is stuck in the opposition. I am proud to be a member of the Conservative Party. We have announced that we will fix the forestry problems. We will work to help forestry workers in Quebec as in the other provinces. That is what we will do.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, we recognized the existence of the fiscal imbalance and we continue to work to ensure that the Canadian federation works effectively, unlike some who had always refused to acknowledge the existence of that imbalance. This is very important for us.

As regards infrastructures, I will not say what should be put forward in the negotiations to limit the federal spending power. In a previous life, I had the pleasure and the honour of serving as a full time mayor and of dealing with municipal infrastructures for seven years, in Quebec. I was a member of the Infrastructures-Québec committee. Clearly, there will always be needs, but the important thing is to continue talks with our provincial partners to make life easier for everyone in Canada. That is what our government is committed to doing, and that is what we will continue to do.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to give my maiden speech in the House of Commons. Naturally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made it possible for me to be here: my family, friends, colleagues, organizers and, most of all, the citizens of the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jeanwho placed their trust in me.

I am pleased to take part today in this debate on the throne speech. Our speech lays out for Canadians the intentions of our government with regard to the future of the country and the legislative agenda that will make them reality. Our Conservative government kept its promises with respect to the five priorities established in the 2006 election campaign, and I feel very proud of it and of the man who perfectly embodies the leadership sought by Canadians, our Prime Minister. I feel this same sense of pride in reading the Speech from the Throne, which mirrors the expectations of Canadians who voted for change in 2006.

I have chosen to focus on one aspect of the speech that was a promise in the 2005-2006 election campaign, and that our government has reiterated, restricting the federal spending power. This issue represents a challenge to be faced in order to strengthen our federation, one of the five themes of the throne speech. Our government will introduce a bill to impose specific restrictions on the federal spending power in new shared-cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. This legislation will allow provinces and territories to opt out with reasonable compensation if they offer compatible programs.

It is important to observe and recognize the advantages of the federal spending power, which has played a role as a factor of social development over the course of our history. It led to the creation, in cooperation with provincial and territorial provinces, of national social programs such as medicare. It also played a leading role in promoting equal opportunity for all Canadians. Finally, it helped guarantee that all citizens would have access to basic social services and programs of comparable quality no matter where they live.

By acting to limit federal spending power, our Conservative government has done something that illustrates the benefits of the type of federalism we practise, open federalism, as opposed to the centralist vision of power embraced by the previous government, which preferred conflict to solutions. Open federalism respects the provincial and territorial jurisdictions while taking Canadians' aspirations into account.

I am proud of the open federalism practised by our government, because it avoids the old dynamic of conflict that characterized the former Liberal government of the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, the Leader of the Opposition. Canadians have had enough of scandals and bickering. They are fed up with the quarrels between centralists and separatists. That is why they chose our Conservative government, to bring real change to Ottawa.

Canadians want governments that get along and work together. Our Prime Minister wants the future to be marked by optimism, trust and respect. The throne speech given on October 16 paints a promising and inspiring picture of that future for Canadians. The direction in which our government wants to take Canada reflects families' priorities and hopes and what they expect of us.

What we want for Canada is in direct contrast to the vision of isolation and perpetual conflict that the official opposition embraced when it was on this side of the House. Our open federalism is a federalism that all Canadians can identify with, no matter where they live. They can all share this vision of the future.

This has long been an important issue in the evolution of the Canadian federation. Until the 1960s, most provinces, aside from Quebec, accepted this federal influence. After a new government was elected in 1960, Quebec's objections grew even stronger. In the years that followed, other provinces began to object to the federal government's presence by way of its spending power. In subsequent decades, there was a great deal of public debate over the political and legal ramifications of federal spending power.

Our government has already demonstrated that it advocates openness and fairness toward the provinces, especially when it comes to the fiscal balance. Our government can boast that it was the first to recognize the need to restore the fiscal balance in Canada. The federal Liberals always denied that there was a fiscal imbalance, and the Bloc was powerless to correct it. We have taken real steps to do so, thanks to the Prime Minister's leadership.

Let us not forget that our government is the one which, in budget 2007, introduced historic measures to restore fiscal balance in Canada by investing $39 billion over the next seven years; by ensuring that our financial relationship with the provinces and territories are based on principles; and by increasing equalization payments and transfers to the provinces.

Naturally, general agreement for this approach of openness to foster Canadian unity cannot be found in this House. One of the five conditions for the Bloc leader's support for the Speech from the Throne is the elimination of the federal spending power, and what elimination means to us is separation.

There is one aspect of the current political debate which some members of this place tend to overlook, and that is the fact that this government delivers on its commitments to its provincial partners, and this is true for Quebec as for any other province.

Our government promised Quebeckers that Quebec would be invited to participate fully and formally in UNESCO so as to reflect Quebec's tremendous contribution to our collective heritage. Our government has delivered.

Our government is the only one in Canadian history to have recognized the Quebec nation. The Liberals form the party of centralization, and the Bloc members, the party of separation, while the Conservatives form the party of the nation.

Our government has already done a lot to reconcile the legitimate aspirations of Quebec with our objective of strengthening the Canadian federation. These two realities are not incompatible. In fact, they are mutually beneficial. We have upheld our commitments to Quebeckers, since we are truly defending their interests and will continue to do so. Honouring these commitments is a good example of a principle at the heart of our approach to governing. Once again, we will do what we promised.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, the objective of a Speech from the Throne is to establish the overall objectives for the government in a new session of Parliament. It is neither the time nor the forum for introducing a bill or discussing, in minute detail, each bill that will soon be debated. At this stage, I will simply say that our policy on the spending power will reflect our desire to strengthen our federation and increase its effectiveness, and to respect our partners, while still respecting their fields of jurisdiction.

Quebeckers, like all other Canadians, want to see their governments work together to encourage progress and prosperity in the community. With this in mind, our government is pursuing the mission Canadians entrusted us with in January 2006. Our government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister will not deviate from this course.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean October 18th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak in this House. I want to thank all the people in the electoral district of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean who placed their trust in me. For the first time in 13 years, they can count on a member who will not be stuck on the opposition benches, but will be able to act in their interests.

The nation of Quebec knows that it is impossible to score when you are a spectator. My victory belongs to the Conservative team and to a certain Albertan who has demonstrated openness and leadership. For the past 20 months, the Prime Minister of Canada has been putting words into action, keeping his word and delivering the goods.

In the Speech from the Throne, we promised to take measures to support workers in the forestry industry and we will keep that promise. The Bloc opposes these measures and even thinks Ottawa is hindering Quebec's development. The opposite is true. The Bloc is a real political catastrophe that is hindering the economic development of the nation of Quebec within a strong and united Canada.