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

Dunblane School Tragedy March 14th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the world was shocked and horrified upon hearing about the terrible tragedy that occurred in Dunblane, Scotland. A gunman opened fire on a group of youngsters in a school, killing 16 children and their teacher, and injuring 16 others.

This unspeakable act affects all of us at a very deep level. We feel powerless when such a display of violence occurs. Beyond the pain that we feel, we must, as parliamentarians, work even harder to build a peaceful and non violent society. We must step up our efforts to ensure the protection of our children and to provide for their education.

Today, all Canadians are joining the residents of Brome-Missisquoi to offer our Scottish friends their sincere support in these difficult moments.

Canadian Unity December 14th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, it will be seven weeks since Canadians from all the provinces came to Montreal to show their support for Quebecers on the eve of the referendum. Only seven weeks.

Today, we are proud of the message the government has sent to Canadians by having this House adopt the motion on distinct society and the veto bill, and all this less than seven weeks after the referendum. This is a very important step.

Quebec members of the federal Liberal caucus have already advised the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs of their thoughts on future changes. The minister, who chairs the Committee on Canadian unity, is to make his recommendations to the Prime Minister two weeks from today.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I hope 1996 will be a year of peace, prosperity and unity for all members of this House, for all my constituents in Brome-Missisquoi and for all Canadians who want to build the Canada of tomorrow.

National Unity December 13th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, let us take advantage of the momentum we have gained to present Canadians with a rapid overview of the greatly changed Canada of tomorrow. Let us do so in conjunction with all of the social, economic and political strata of society, focussing on only one goal: the public interest. The government has already shown its colours in relation to recognition of Quebecers, and that is one important step taken.

Members representing all parts of this country have just given recognition to Quebec as a distinct society. Let us continue to focus constructive efforts on entrenching that recognition in the Constitution of our country when the time is right. It is more important than ever for us to pool all of our talents, all of our minds, but most importantly all of our hearts to make our country, Canada, a country fashioned in the image of its peoples, into a united yet diversified country, a country characterized by generosity and equality of opportunity. Such a near-paradise is close at hand.

National Unity December 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in every province, Canadians are wondering what they can do to help keep Canada united.

All residents of Brome-Missisquoi, the Carons in Frelighsburg, the Gaudets, the Barabés in Farnham, the Bergerons and the Landrevilles in Magog want to see proposals for change on the table very shortly.

The demand for change is strong in Quebec. And in this connection, Mr. Speaker, allow me to congratulate the hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury who, last Sunday, organized a forum for Canadian unity in Fredericton. This kind of forum which brings together people from all political parties is a way to promote discussion on the changes that are necessary.

I urge all members of this House, whatever their political affiliation, all those who believe in the Canada of the future, to work hard to keep Canada together. As for our differences regarding the administration of this country, we will have plenty of time to express them during the next election campaign. Canada counts.

Constitutional Amendments Act December 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-110, which I will refer to as the veto act. First, let us ask ourselves this basic question: Who speaks for whom, in Quebec? Let us look at that question in the context of the House of Commons.

Members of the Bloc Quebecois keep saying: "We are the ones speaking for Quebecers". I am sorry, but there are also Liberal members representing Quebec ridings. There are 20 of us here who speak for Quebec. Furthermore, an independent member, who sits next to me, as well as a Conservative member, also speak for Quebec. Therefore, Bloc members are not the only ones representing Quebec's interests in this House.

Let us not forget that Quebecers voted no in the referendum. Consequently, it is the Quebec Liberal members of this House, not the Bloc members, who won the referendum, albeit by a narrow margin. As member for Brome-Missisquoi, I can certainly speak on behalf of the majority of Quebecers who voted no.

It is true that those who voted no also expressed a strong desire for change. Not a desire to separate, but a desire for change. Even a leader of the yes side, Mr. Dumont, says so in today's issue of La Presse : ``If Quebecers had said yes, we would be in the process of implementing the plan that had been drawn up. However, this is not the case. The no side won by pledging to make changes. Let us see what they have to offer. This is not my first choice, since I was on the opposite side during the referendum campaign''.

The Leader of the Action Démocratique does not think that his party members will reject his position. He adds: "Our post-referendum strategy is simple. We must look after our economy and our public finances. As for Ottawa, it must define the changes promised during the campaign. We will let them work and, if they make a proposal, we will look at it". So, the desire for change expressed during the referendum campaign is definitely not a desire to separate.

The changes that people are asking for from their federal elected representatives are changes that affect them. They are not changes that would make Ottawa or Quebec bigger, but changes that reflect people's needs. This is what is important. Those who count are those who sent us here. We are accountable to them. But what changes do these people expect from us?

As I see it, there are two types. One year ago, I was campaigning to represent my party in Brome-Missisquoi. Then the by-election took place, followed by the referendum. In that one year, I spent more time campaigning in Quebec than I did in this House.

I talked to a lot of people during the past year. What kind of changes do people want? There are two kinds. First, a change in the way we do things and second, recognition of our way of life.

First, the way we do things. When you go out and meet people, they tell you: "We are fed up with taxes. We are being taxed out of existence. We are fed up with bureaucracy and red tape. So why not let Quebec and Ottawa get together and see whether something can be done about getting rid of all this duplication? Why not give a little more power to the private citizen?" People want to be involved.

As for recognition of our way of life, I think that is what people want, along with recognition of Quebec's language, culture, legal traditions and institutions.

A resolution was presented in this House to recognize the people of Quebec as a distinct society. A bill was introduced more or less at the same time-the bill we are debating now-that gives veto powers to Quebec and other regions in Canada. It is not perfect, but is perfection possible in this world? Is it be better to entrench this in the Constitution than to have a bill? Yes, it would be better.

Soon, in 1997, there will be a meeting of provincial premiers. Yes, it is better.

Would it be better to have more rather than fewer regions? I am not sure. But I do think the government has made a very good start by putting something on the table quickly after the referendum.

So what do we do now? What do we do? After the veto bill we are debating now is adopted, we will see if by 1997, we can reach a consensus within this country, within Canada. We will see whether we can constitutionalize, perhaps by 1997 or whenever, the concept of distinct society.

But, as I said earlier, the citizen comes first. We will have to prepare a package of changes, changes that are crucial and thorough, and we will have to do it now, but we should keep it simple: look at duplication, decentralize administrations and standardize paperwork. I think we should go for solutions that have a direct impact on the public.

We must also make the citizens of this country proud to be Canadians. And part of that is teaching Canadian history in our schools. Part of it is young people knowing the words of our national anthem. Part of it is flying our flag everywhere. Part of it is encouraging Quebecers to meet people and travel in other provinces and vice versa.

The veto powers we are discussing today are like the oil I put in the hydraulic system of my backhoe so I can raise the shovel.

It is important that all of us in this House, irrespective of our political affiliations, have only the interests of the citizen at heart.

Renewal Of Canadian Federalism November 30th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, this is the dawning of a new age. During the referendum campaign, the government promised change. Now, change is under way. First, the members of this House are to vote on recognizing Quebec as a distinct society with its own language, culture and legal tradition.

Also, we have before us today a bill granting a veto to Quebec, to the people of Quebec, and to the other regions of Canada. This makes for a great start. That is what I call delivering the goods. And we must continue to ensure that the changes contemplated also apply to our way of doing things. In the context of these changes, I urge all hon. members of this House, regardless of their political

affiliation, to work at making this country of ours, Canada, the country of all Quebecers and all Canadians.

Tribute To Sergeant Arthur Boucher November 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, all across Canada, we will be celebrating Remembrance Day. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to sergeant Arthur Boucher, who lived in the village of Magog until his death.

Heroism, courage, dedication, honour, such are the words which come to mind when thinking of sergeant Arthur Boucher. His sacrifice must not have been in vain.

Similarly, the referendum which took place in Quebec 10 days ago will not be in vain. We can draw three main lessons from it, as stated by the MLA for Brome-Missisquoi who said: "that, first, we can never take our country for granted; second, patriotism must be practised and taught daily; third, Quebecers want the federal system to change, and fast".

Together, we can do it.

National Unity November 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the day after the referendum, 23 spokespersons for the federalist side in the region around Saint-Hyacinthe had a meeting to analyse their contribution to the campaign and decide what their future action should be.

They decided unanimously that it was advisable to continue their action within a group without any political affiliation and that they would concentrate for the time being on two main objectives.

This group wants to foster the message for change that was apparent from the results of the referendum; it also wants to promote the national pride of Canadians, as its members did throughout the referendum campaign.

Tomorrow, they expect to introduce their group at the national level to create a snowball effect across Quebec, and perhaps across Canada. There is a very clear demand for profound and rapid change today in this country.

To Jacques Sylvestre from Saint-Hyacinthe, André Gauthier from Sept-Îles, Yves Mailhot from Saint-Lambert, to my friends in the Bloc who believe in sweeping changes and in the Canada of the future, I say: Do not give up, things are starting to move.

Studies On Duplication November 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in the wake of the Quebec referendum the message from Quebecers could not be any clearer. Quebecers want sweeping and rapid changes. I have made a promise to my constituents in Brome-Missisquoi to bear the torch of change to Ottawa.

From the floor of this House, I would humbly request that the Government of Quebec provide us as quickly as possible with the studies on duplication and overlap in their possession, so that we may set to work immediately.

Let us get moving right away, so that very soon, from one end of the country to the other, we can all together tell the people of Canada: Here is the Canada of change you have demanded.

National Unity October 31st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, after the referendum yesterday, the Prime Minister of Canada said, and I quote: "It is up to us in Ottawa and Quebec City to respond to their expectations. Mr. Premier of Quebec, I reach out to you, sir".

The people of Canada now echo what was said by the Prime Minister. After a week spent demonstrating their love and affection for Quebec, Canadians are ready to join Quebecers in responding to the pressing needs of our country.

I earnestly hope that the Premier of Quebec will respond to this gesture and thus send a genuine message of reconciliation to all Quebecers.