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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

Supply June 1st, 1995

Madam Speaker, my first comment would be to say that Canada is a country that works. Maybe that is why our colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois do not know which way to turn. Canada is a working proposition. A moment ago, they were talking about dismantling something that works just fine in order to set up a new partnership. That is exactly the word used by colleague from the Bloc.

If we are to have a partnership, mutual respect is a prerequisite. Hurling insults at people or at a system will lead us nowhere. Canada already has a structure to accommodate co-operation and partnership between the provinces and the federal government. Scores of agreements have been signed by both levels of government. That structure has been designed to let Canada as a whole and the provinces, reach for a better future.

My second point concerns the Canada social transfer, which demonstrates the flexibility of federalism.

Supply June 1st, 1995

Madam Speaker, I thought I had risen on questions and comments. For the debate, I intend to share my time with the member for Durham.

The motion of the opposition suggests, among other things, that the legislation implementing the Agreement on Internal Trade is aimed at reducing Quebec's powers to the benefit of the federal government. First of all, I would like the member for

Shefford, the mover of the motion, to become familiar with the bill.

The preamble reads as follows:

WHEREAS the Government of Canada together with the Governments of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory have entered into an Agreement on Internal Trade;

AND WHEREAS the reduction or elimination of barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments is essential for the promotion of an open, efficient and stable domestic market to enhance the competitiveness of Canadian business and sustainable development-

This is the preamble to the bill.

Clause 5 is not too complicated. Clause 7 says: "The Agreement is hereby approved".

This is an agreement between the provinces and the federal government. This agreement between the federal government and the provinces shows once again how efficiently Canadian federalism can accommodate differences and produce concrete, practical results.

For example, in Brome-Missisquoi and particularly in the Estrie region, there is an very high degree of co-operation in labour matters between the Monteregian and Estrie manpower associations and Human Resources Development Canada. We sat down together and signed an agreement, a document looking at job opportunities in the next five years.

This is another example of the co-operation between the federal government and Quebec.

Canadian federalism requires a high degree of consultation and co-operation between the federal government and the provinces on a wide range of issues. Federal-provincial relations are doing very well in Brome-Missisquoi. I must say that the relations are quite friendly.

Our federalism is based on a series of intergovernmental mechanisms that allows us to overcome difficulties. That is why, over the years, we were able to work out various arrangements between the two levels of government.

This approach is successful in our federation because the Prime Minister, the premiers, ministers and public officials all work in close co-operation to achieve concrete, practical results.

These arrangements are an essential component of the Canadian federation and provide flexibility.

These various mechanisms and this great flexibility associated with our kind of federalism enabled us to achieve the following in co-operation with our partners: the signature of infrastructure program agreements with all the provinces.

This program was implemented quickly with the co-operation of the federal government and all the provinces, is working very well and has created jobs from coast to coast, which is what Canadians want.

We also signed action plans to reduce overlap and duplication with eight provinces and two territories. We set up Team Canada. As you may recall, the Prime Minister travelled to Asia and South America for the purpose of making inroads on new, promising markets. Again, for the purpose of strengthening the economic union, we signed an agreement to reduce interprovincial barriers to the free movement of goods and people.

Consultations on interprovincial barrier elimination in Canada is a fine example of co-operation that lead to a practical agreement, which reflects the flexibility and vitality of this federation. The Government of Canada engaged in consultations with the provinces and territories, and together they agreed on a process that resulted, once again, in an agreement which is fair and just for all concerned.

Specifically, the agreement lays the basis for preventing the creation of new barriers and eliminating existing ones in nine areas of economic activity. It increases transparency and puts in place a dispute settlement mechanism available to individuals as well as businesses to ensure government compliance with the agreement.

It provides for the development of action plans in a number of areas, so that standards are harmonized. It covers major areas like transportation and consumer protection. In addition, great emphasis is put on the environment in this agreement, thereby setting it up as a modern-day concern.

Finally, the agreement takes Canadian diversity into account by ensuring a fair balance between trade objectives and government objectives.

This is the first agreement of its kind in Canada. It represents a major victory for all Canadians. It proves conclusively that the federal, provincial and territorial governments can work together, provided there is good faith.

This agreement is a key part of this government's strategy for promoting strong economic growth in Canada and getting Canadians back to work. The Internal Trade Agreement, complete with concrete changes, implementation schedules and thorough process, will reinforce the Canadian economic union and promote freer movement of people, capital, goods and services within it. It is the exact opposite of the separatist option, characterized mainly by self-centredness and a fascination with one's navel.

Contrary to what the hon. member opposite suggests, the act to implement the Internal Trade Agreement is not designed to take powers away from Quebec or any other province, but to ensure that we all grow stronger.

Supply June 1st, 1995

Madam Speaker, I would like to make a couple of comments on what we have just heard.

First, a reminder regarding the Canada social transfer. Could it be that what the Bloc members do not like in this is the word "Canada"? They might like it better if it were called the Bloc social transfer. Indeed, it is the word "Canada" that irritates them the most in the expression Canada social transfer.

It must be pointed out that the Canada social transfer includes education, health care, and social assistance. From now on, under the Canada social transfer, Quebec will receive block funding, as will all the other provinces, each one of them; the Quebec government will be able to allocate this block funding as it sees fit. It will decide how much will go to education, how much to health care, and how much to social assistance. This is important.

The federal government is only setting the following two conditions; this is extraordinary decentralization and flexible federalism. First, the health care system will have to remain Canadian, and accessible to all Canadians. As our Prime Minister has said on several occasions, the health care system must allow people to be admitted to the hospital when they are sick, not because they have money.

Therefore, a universal health care system is the first condition, The second one is that there be no minimal residence requirements. This is simple, this is not complicated, this is what the Canada social transfer is all about, whether you like it or not. Furthermore, the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup mentioned earlier that this system was centralizing.

I would like to go back to something I said earlier using FORD-Q as an example. This is something I discussed with several of my constituents-I am fresh out of an election campaign and have been in this House for close to three months-and people in Brome-Missisquoi want to keep FORD-Q. Not only do they want to keep it but, as I mentioned earlier, at a forum recently held in Trois-Rivières on the future of the regions in Quebec, people demanded that Quebec do its share with regard to regional development. To this day, Quebec has done nothing. The federal example is convincing and I believe that we must continue along the same line.

To conclude, I would like to ask a question to the member.

Supply June 1st, 1995

Madam Speaker, I just heard the hon. member for Trois-Rivières speak about the Federal Office of Regional Development in Quebec. I would like to remind him that the Office's presence in Quebec was requested by the social and economic stakeholders in the regions.

In my riding, as in most ridings, people have asked for a regional economic development policy. A few days ago, we heard the Minister of Finance say in the House that he had written several times to his provincial counterparts inviting them to co-operate on matters related to regional economic development. He has received no answer to date. This is an important point that we must not forget during our debate.

A few weeks ago, a seminar was held in Chicoutimi on the future of Quebec and its regions. At the seminar, the Quebec government was asked to do something along the same lines as the federal government in the area of economic development. I think this is important. The federal government is a leader in the field of economic development in Quebec, and, through the Federal Office, it is responding to people's needs, as Quebec should do. It is very important that the federal government continue its efforts, but with the provinces' co-operation.

Finally, I have a question for the member for Trois-Rivières. In his riding, some forty economic development projects have been approved by FORD-Q. Would he deprive his constituents of the federal government's economic presence in his own riding?

Quebec Finance Minister's Budget May 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, with or without sovereignty, taxes will go up next year, said Jean Campeau, according to today's headline in La Presse.

Quebecers do not want taxes to go up, no matter who collects them. They want a responsible finance minister, someone who, like his federal counterpart and those in several provinces across Canada, works hard to reduce spending and the deficit without raising taxes.

The Canadian government has reviewed all government programs and proposed measures to reduce spending and the deficit. Its approach was logical, involving a great deal of consultation and skill and none of this rushing around to close down hospitals, for instance.

Quebec's budget is important to all Quebecers. The Government of Quebec should be less independent and listen to Quebecers.

Dr. Réjean Ménard May 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the College of Family Physicians of Canada just named Dr. Réjean Ménard, who is from Granby, the family physician of the year.

This is the first time that this prestigious honour, sought by the 12,500 members of the college, is awarded to a physician from Quebec.

Dr. Ménard's dedication to his patients, his availability, as well as his interest in medical training and in teaching, make him a role model. We are very proud of him.

Dr. Ménard deserves our admiration and our gratefulness for his remarkable work, and I invite all the members of this House to join me in conveying our most sincere congratulations.

Quebec Finance Minister's Budget May 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in a way I was glad that for once the Quebec government was talking about figures instead of their everlasting refrain about separation.

However, the Péquiste finance minister simply had to make a connection between tax increases and Quebec's constitutional future. Quebecers know perfectly well that separation may cost us a lot of money in taxes. They also realize that the spectre of separation creates an uncertain economic climate.

Let us look with optimism to the future and to the day when the Government of Quebec will be rid of this uncertainty and those who cause it and will consider taxing company profits, not payrolls, in an economy that works.

Quebec Sovereignty May 2nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in Le Journal de Montréal this morning, the Bloc leader is quoted by Martin Leclerc as saying that the solution to poverty issues lies in a sovereignty plan. The things you hear.

The Quebec separation plan creates pervasive uncertainty and aggravates the problems confronting us, including poverty. With its plans to separate, the Bloc Quebecois will do anything to win its ideological war, even sacrifice an entire generation of young Quebecers.

Let us try to convince the Leader of the Opposition that we should work together to win the real war, the war against poverty.

Quebec Sovereignty April 26th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in a document entitled La souveraineté, des réponses à vos questions , the Parti Quebecois says: ``No new structure, nor a superstructure. There will be no need for a new political organization governed by another elected parliament. This is demonstrated by the increasing number of customs unions and free trade agreements throughout the world''.

After listening to the comments made on Monday by the Parti Quebecois leader, Quebecers find it difficult to understand this about-face by sovereignists. Indeed, this is not just a change of direction, it is a complete about-face which can only lead to a massive pile-up on the road to separation.

Let us not forget that we live in an extraordinary democracy and that changes are possible because of the flexibility of our Canadian political structure. That structure is based on dialogue and harmony. Let us work safely together to reach many new agreements.

Supply April 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, as concerns going out into the field, I remind my hon. colleague that I have just returned from an electoral campaign during which I met a lot of farmers in Brome-Missisquoi. Afterwards I also met farmers from other regions. I thank the farmers from Brome-Missisquoi for having voted Liberal in the last election. I feel very grateful for the confidence they placed in their humble servant. I thank them sincerely.

I want to go back over the issue of research and development that the official opposition mentioned a few minutes ago. Several Bloc members mentioned R & D in relation to this debate. It would be a good idea to check if the Quebec Minister of Agriculture, a good friend of theirs from their PQ head office, heard what the Bloc members said. In fact, this provincial minister just tabled a budget in the Quebec National Assembly. In the tabled documents, it is mentioned, under "Education, Research and Development", that funding in this area will drop from $45 million to $41 million. They are cutting $4 million from research and development.

The Bloc's friends in the head office cut funding for research and development by $4 million. We should at the very least send forthwith a copy of Bloc's remarks about research and development to their head office as well as to the Quebec Minister of Agriculture.