House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was missisquoi.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Brome—Missisquoi (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Death Of Robert Bourassa October 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, Robert Bourassa was both a proud Quebecer and a proud Canadian.

Throughout his life, he strove to find ways to express this dual commitment that most Quebecers share with him.

Despite the defeats and constitutional failures he experienced, he never stopped believing that Quebecers were better off within the Canadian federation.

One day after his death, we join with all the people of Canada in expressing our gratitude and admiration for his outstanding contribution to the development of Quebec and Canada.

Interprovincial Job Exchange September 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the young students from British Columbia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Brome-Missisquoi and elsewhere who took part in the interprovincial job exchange this summer join with me in thanking the people at Human Resources Canada and Heritage Canada for their enthusiastic support, Nancy Beattie, the co-ordinator for her exceptional work, and especially the host families and the employers who took them in.

The students and I would also like to thank Canadian air carriers, as well as VIA Rail, not to mention Ontario Northland, who allowed the students to travel for free. These young people earned a

few dollars, improved their second language, and, above all, learned to know and appreciate a culture different from their own. A big bravo.

Jobs For Young People September 24th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, some 30 young people from Brome-Missisquoi spent the summer working in other ridings across Canada, while young people from those other ridings came to Bedford, Cowansville, Magog, Farnham, Bromont and the Champlain Lake region.

This was an extraordinary experience for these young people, and I will have the opportunity to elaborate on this in the coming weeks.

But for now I would like to thank my colleagues and their staff for taking care of our young people from Brome-Missisquoi, starting with Pat in Edmonton, Marc in Victoria, and Paul in Montague.

I also wish to thank my colleagues: the hon. member for Edmonton Northwest, the hon. member for Victoria, the hon. member for Timiskaming-French River, the hon. member for Cardigan, Prince Edward Island, the hon. member for Oxford, and the hon. member for Hamilton East.

I join with the people of Brome-Missisquoi and especially these 60 young Canadians in expressing our deep gratitude.

Supply September 18th, 1996

First of all, Mr. Speaker, it is true-and I cited Montreal, and the stretch of de la Montagne street between Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke in particular, as an example-that every second business is closed down, but let me tell you about Brome-Missisquoi.

In terms of jobs, there are two main areas around the two largest cities of the riding, the first one being the Cowansville-Bromont area, which is doing well, with its IBM plant, General Electric, research and development facilities and so forth.

At the other end of my riding is Magog, with its textile industry and plans for a 20,000-foot expansion in that industry and another 20,000-foot expansion in the plastics industry. That is the situation in Brome-Missisquoi in a nutshell. That is what is going on in this riding where, must I remind the hon. member for St. Albert, the population is made up of 20 per cent anglophones and 80 per cent

francophones and we are all living in perfect harmony, somewhat shielded from the winds of separation.

I have the honour of representing the riding of Brome-Missisquoi in this Parliament, while Pierre Paradis, a relative of mine, represents the same riding at the Quebec National Assembly.

Supply September 18th, 1996

Not only the people of Brome-Missisquoi- The hon. member for Bellechasse was on the same committee as I was the other day and we had a chance to discuss this.

But we should get rid of this mental block. As you know, Mr. Bouchard attended the first ministers' conference. The first thing he said was: "No discussion whatsoever on constitutional amendments". In the meantime, our friends here, our colleagues, are saying the Senate should perhaps be abolished, but this would require a constitutional amendment. Mr. Bouchard does not even want to broach the subject, so I have trouble understanding whether or not he continues to issue orders from Quebec City. This is something I have trouble understanding.

Supply September 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, if I understood correctly, the first point had to do with the UI fund surplus, the need for jobs, and the new economy. Those are the words my colleague used earlier.

As for the Quebec economy, we are having a hard time these days. Let me give you an example. The other day, I was walking on Rue de la Montagne in downtown Montreal, between Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke Streets. You should try it. Every second door was a boarded-up shop or restaurant. The economy is dying. But, as Mr. Dumont said, there is something really simple that could be done. Economic prosperity cannot be founded on uncertainty.

The former leader of the Bloc Quebecois, who is now in Quebec City, is holding a sword of Damocles above our heads. Will a referendum be held in one, two or three years? How reassuring can it be for an investor to be told: "We do not know what will happen in one, two or three years"? This makes no sense. What we need is a truce. Mr. Dumont is absolutely right. We need a truce that would last at least 10 years. As members of the Bloc Quebecois, you should speak to your former leader and ask him to call a truce so that the Quebec economy can pick up again.

If Mr. Bouchard had seen former U.S. President Harry Truman's desk, he would have read the sign saying, "The buck stops here".

My colleague's second question concerns the Senate. It is a totally legitimate question on cost effectiveness, but we must keep in mind that we are debating the main estimates. If we wanted to do something else like abolishing the Senate, we would need a constitutional amendment. The Senate is in the Constitution. I am asked if people in Brome-Missisquoi and in other ridings would like-Indeed, some would, but we would still need a constitutional amendment. This is not something that can be done through the main estimates, because our institutions must be able to operate.

Supply September 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1997.

The session has just begun once again and I must tell you at the outset that, as the member of Parliament for Brome-Missisquoi, and like many other members in the House, I took advantage of the summer months to travel a little around my riding and its municipalities to meet people and discuss with them the problems that concern them.

I think it is somewhat the role of a member of Parliament to come to the House and to show the colours of the people he represents, that is, to relate their concerns and to ensure the government responds to these concerns, and that is what the government is doing.

I will say first of all that the main concern of people is employment. We hear about "job creation" everywhere. Employment is the main concern of people. I would say the second one is taxes. People have had it, they are sick and tired of taxes.

The third concern is paperwork, bureaucracy. The next one is duplication. I will come back, in relation to the main estimates, to what we are doing as a government to deal with these issues.

The public also wants public administration, at the federal as well as the provincial level, to be closer to the people. I am listing these concerns in the order in which they were submitted to me. Another concern is the need for Quebec's distinctiveness to be recognized.

Before dealing specifically with the main estimates, it may be useful to look back at what the finance minister said when he tabled his budget on March 6, 1996. He stated, on behalf of his government, the principles for securing the future.

First principle for securing the future: governments created the deficit problem; now, governments must resolve it. I will come back to this later and try to demonstrate that the deficit problem is in the process of being resolved.

Second principle for securing the future, according to the estimates tabled last March for the fiscal year ending next March: we must provide hope for jobs and for growth. This is important, and it is precisely what we have heard and what elected representatives travelling around to meet their constituents have heard.

Third principle: we must be frugal in everything we do. This means spending less money. Simply put, waste is simply not tolerable.

Fourth: no new spending. We must avoid additional spending and reallocate instead. Fifth: we must always be fair and compassionate.

Those are the principles on which the finance minister's last budget was based. In terms of the goals and objectives pursued through this budget, we were told that the government should to be more responsive and that certain government activities should be more focused and affordable.

Let us look at some examples, starting with a problem I mentioned earlier, namely duplication. Here are two areas where we should try to eliminate duplication through legislation. First, agriculture. Just for food inspection, you have the Ministry of Agriculture and marketing board involved at the provincial level, in Quebec, as well as Health Canada and Agriculture Canada at the federal level. For a restaurant operating in Montreal, the City of Montreal's department in charge of monitoring restaurants in terms of public health is also involved.

As we can see, a single place can easily be visited by four or five different inspectors for the same purpose or for similar purposes. The government has introduced a bill respecting the national food protection agency. We must look for ways to do better, to improve coordination by avoiding duplication. That is what the people want and how they expect us to run the country.

Here is another example. We can talk about revenues. As you know, taxes are collected at about every level. At the federal level, there are all kinds of taxes, including customs duties. At the federal level, taxes are collected in several areas.

It is the same thing at the provincial level. That is why the government proposed the Canada revenue commission. I think the vast majority of Quebec citizens, who are part of Canada, would prefer not having to fill out two income tax returns. So it would be nice if both levels of government could come to some sort of agreement and establish a common, efficient mechanism for collecting taxes without resorting to a war of flags.

If they could agree, for example, that the federal Deputy Minister of Revenue and his Quebec counterpart would sit on this or that commission, people could send their money to one place and part of this money would go to the federal government while another part would go to Quebec. What we want is something simple and effective. I think this is important.

We said earlier that we must also keep a sense of fairness and compassion in all this. In this regard, I would remind the House that, as far as social programs are concerned, the Minister of Finance has given the provinces guarantees that cash transfers would never fall below a certain level in the next few years. So, under the new Canada social transfer for health and social programs, the federal government has made a commitment until the year 2003. For example, in 1999-2000, it will give the

provinces $25.1 billion, which should rise to $27.4 billion by 2002-2003.

This is important, because there are poor people in our society, as we recently saw on the news, especially in Quebec, where the cuts hurt. It is hard to understand-and the federal government's generosity is not in question-but it is hard to understand how some people do not have access to basic health care.

I mentioned earlier the importance of these transfers, whether it is money or tax points, in the health, education and welfare sectors. The federal government will continue to fulfill its obligations, as it undertook to do in the last budget speech.

Another issue which I want to discuss and which people have raised is that of job creation. If I refer to the main estimates in relation to job creation, it is because of the student summer employment program. You will recall that such a program was announced and the monies earmarked for young Canadians were increased from $60 million to $120 million.

I should tell you that, for the young people whom I met this summer, not just in Brome-Missisquoi but in other ridings too, this initiative worked perfectly well. Let me give you an example. Thanks to this program, and every member in this House can do the same, I arranged for a group of some 30 young students from Brome-Missisquoi to work in other Canadian cities. Five were from Cowansville and went to work in Victoria, B.-C. Similarly, five students from Victoria came to work in Brome-Missisquoi. The same arrangement was made for students from other cities in my riding, who went to work in Edmonton, Prince Edward Island and three ridings in Ontario.

These young people found this to be an extraordinary experience. It was a learning experience, and I will get back to this later on, to learn or become more proficient in the other official language. It was an experience to live with a family and to develop a better understanding the other Canadian culture. This is important. Then there was the work experience.

It is a fact that students have difficulty making ends meet. They struggle with increasing tuition fees and maintenance expenses. The program's first goal is perhaps to make sure that they get a summer job. This is for our generation of tomorrow.

Employment, as this example shows, is very important. With regard to job creation, I would like to deal with another small issue, that of research and development. In Canada, the government is currently spending, one way or another, some $7 billion on research and development, $2 billion in tax credits for corporations doing research and development and $5 billion in federal programs or federal agencies, whether in agriculture, in research centres or the National Research Centre, and so on.

There again, in order to do better, the government announced early in the summer the creation of a committee that will report on how to better commercialize the findings of research and development. That too generates employment.

All along, however, we must keep in mind the need to restore fiscal order. That is being done. When the Liberal government came to power, the federal deficit stood at $42 billion for 1993-94. A year later, it had gone down to $37,5 billion, and down to $32,7 billion the year after. In 1996-97, according to the Minister of Finance's budget speech, the deficit will have been reduced to $24,3 billion, and will get down to $17 billion in 1997-98. Thus, the deficit will have gone down from $42 to $17 billion. Over the last few years, we will have seen the annual deficit decrease by at least $7 billion every year.

As you can see, at that rate, we should get very quickly to a zero deficit situation and see what we can do when we have a zero deficit.

Another tool that is very useful to the members of this House is the public accounts committee. This is an important House committee that reviews the operations of various departments and hears from senior civil servants and deputy ministers who have to explain how they manage public funds.

Let me give you two examples where the committee, made up of a majority of government members, but chaired by an opposition member and with representatives from every party of this House, reviewed last year's budget, based on the auditor general's report. At one point, we realized that in the maritimes, about a hundred million dollars were spent on transportation. We were told quite plainly that subsidies under the program amounted to about 50 per cent of all transportation costs. Some people told us that they found out the bills were "boosted" or "inflated", that is how they put it, but the civil servants who manage the program said: "Checking the bills is not part of our job description. It is not part of our duties. We only issue cheques for 50 per cent of the total amount".

I think elected members of Parliament have to ensure that such things do not happen again. Let me give you another example.

When we looked at the moving expenditures for civil servants, we realized that the total amount for all departments put together exceeded something like $100 million dollars a year. That is how much the federal government has to pay to move civil servants from one end of the country to the other, from one province to another, from one city to another, and so on.

When I talk about moving civil servants, I mean moving their furniture, their dining room sets, their bedroom sets, etc. It is a lot of money. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has examined these matters so that these things do not happen again. All that under the guidance of the auditor general. This is the role members of this House have to play.

I could give other examples, but I just added the concept of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to the concept of sound management exercised by the present government. Sound management in terms of deficit reduction and in terms of expenditure review.

I realized something a few weeks ago. There was a meeting of public accounts committee representatives. The federal government is not the only one that has a public accounts committee. Every province is supposed to have a public accounts committee chaired by an opposition member to examine expenditures and management in a somewhat independent fashion.

Do you know there is one province in Canada that does not have such a committee with the same characteristics as the ones that exist at the federal level and in the other provinces? That province is Quebec. Quebec does not have a public accounts committee.

I take this opportunity to salute the courage and the open-mindedness of the two Quebec representatives at that national meeting, Mr. Baril, MNA for Arthabasca, and Mr. Chagnon, MNA for Westmount-Saint-Louis, who both said in front of their colleagues from the rest of the country that it would be important for Quebec to have a public accounts committee, particularly today.

There is an important example in all this. I will take the example of the heritage department. When we talk about the Main Estimates, yes there is a large budget for the heritage department, and part of that budget is set aside for official languages. This is important.

After visiting the students in Brome-Missisquoi, who travelled to various parts of the country this summer, I saw how important it was for students, families, everyone, that children, this future generation in the making, be able, if they wish, to learn our country's second language.

In this regard, the official languages program that provides assistance for French as a second language in the other provinces, and for English as a second language in Quebec, is a very good thing. It is important to ensure that our francophone communities outside Quebec, the one million francophones outside Quebec, can count on the federal government as they do.

And does Quebec get its fair share in all this? Yes, it does. The federal system is much more than a large book of account. In addition to a mathematical fair share, it must be remembered that Quebec benefits from a fair share that is difficult to quantify. NAFTA, the G-7, Canadian influence within the G-7, and the Commonwealth are also important and cannot be assigned a dollar value.

Mr. Landry claimed that the Quebec economy did not represent 20 per cent of the Canadian economy. In fact, Quebec's gross domestic product constitutes 22.4 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product.

I would like to add that Quebec receives much more than its fair share. Quebec was responsible for 21.4 per cent of federal government revenues, but was the beneficiary, in 1994, of 24.5 per cent of federal government spending.

In all this, there is a good place for Quebec. In all this, the government must go ahead and pass the main estimates, and I can tell you that I will be voting in favour.

The Late Stéphan Brodeur September 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the House has resumed sitting but there is one person missing from our Brome-Missisquoi team.

One month ago, my assistant Stéphan Brodeur died of cardiac arrest. He was 32 years old. He was working in my riding but was supposed to move to our Ottawa office in September. A tireless worker, party man and team player who was always cheerful, Stéphan left us much too soon.

I join with the whole Brome-Missisquoi team, his family and friends and Benoît Corbeil in paying him the posthumous tribute he deserves.

On behalf of all members of this House and of all Canadians you served so well, I wish to pay homage to you, Stéphan.

Economic Development June 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Degussa multinational corporation announced that it would build a hydrogen peroxide plant at the Port of Quebec. The governments of Canada and Quebec each agreed to pay 50 per cent of a $10 million refundable contribution to help carry out this project.

This $140 million investment will provide work for 1,000 people every year during construction and create 150 direct and indirect jobs once the plant is up and running.

It should be noted that the process that will be used at the Quebec plant to produce hydrogen peroxide is non-polluting and that it will also reduce the toxicity level of the waste generated by pulp and paper mills during bleaching.

The hon. members representing the Quebec City region will surely join me in citing this as additional evidence of the benefits resulting from intergovernmental co-operation and consultation designed to promote economic development and create jobs.

Interparliamentary Delegation June 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report from the meeting of the permanent council of the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association that took place in Paris, from May 20 to 23, 1996.