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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 April 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Durham.

I rise today to participate in this debate on the motion of the hon. member for Frontenac which was no doubt prompted by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot. For these two members, agriculture is to Quebec what federalism is for the Bloc. They understand nothing about it, they simply do not believe in it, they are blocked.

The budget was tabled in February and the reaction was good on every front. If we want our country to continue onward and if we want to maintain all the services we are so attached to, we must put our financial house in order. Mr. Martin's budget does just that. It is focused on reduced expenses, not on tax increases. For each additional tax dollar, expenses are reduced by $7. We are striving for healthier finances by trying first to ensure growth and create jobs. Some very difficult decisions had to be made and this government had the courage to make them. This is what responsible government is all about.

Good common sense prevails now, at least on the Liberal side. We have chosen to head towards better control of the deficit and we are on the right track. We made some tough choices in order to save our social programs, our social security and our standard of living.

The impact of the 1995 budget will be no greater for Quebec's agricultural sector than for any other province or sector. I would like to adopt a slightly different approach here and explain what exactly is the importance of Quebec's agricultural sector within the Canadian agricultural and agri-food sector as a whole.

The latest data on agriculture in Quebec are very impressive and show a very dynamic, sustainable and promising sector. For example, the agri-food industry generates 5 per cent of the Quebec GDP and 4 per cent of all the jobs in Quebec, which is approximately 130 000 direct jobs.

The most important primary industry in Quebec is the agricultural and agri-food sector. It is first among the manufacturing industries.

As for the data comparing Quebec to the rest of Canada, the province of Quebec is doing very well. In fact, the Quebec agri-food industry accounts for 22.4 per cent of Canadian agri-food GDP and 25 per cent of manufacturing shipments. Moreover, 19 per cent of agricultural revenues, 37 per cent of the milk produced in Canada, including 47 per cent of industrial milk, also come from Quebec's agricultural sector.

If we add to these figures the fact that 33 per cent of Canadian exports of pork and 9.6 per cent of total Canadian exports are also from Quebec, it is obvious the province of Quebec has a very prominent place in the agricultural and agri-food industry in Canada.

Within the Department of Agriculture and Agri-food, it is a well-known fact that the success of the agricultural sector is due mainly to the efforts made by all the stakeholders.

However, no one can deny the contribution made by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in many initiatives aimed at, first, ensuring the viability of agriculture and the prosperity of the agri-food industry; second, ensuring long-term financial security; third, promoting growth and diversification, as well as employment in the rural areas; fourth, ensuring the viability of the resources and protecting the environment; and fifth, maintaining a supply of top-quality wholesome foods.

It is to be noted, among other things, that the interests of the Quebec agri-food industry were very well represented by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in international trade and in the discussions on the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA which followed and the GATT. Moreover, Quebec producers and processors have already begun to take advantage of the numerous opportunities and things should develop faster in this era of market globalization.

And what about the four research centres established in Quebec for the benefit of the Canadian agricultural community, the natural resource conservation programs and the participation of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in initiatives aimed at reducing nonpoint source pollution, like Vision 2000.

I would like to remind members in the House that since joining the cabinet the current agriculture minister has always worked in close partnership with provinces, the private sector, educational institutions, farmers associations, processing sectors and Canadian producers as a whole.

Co-operation and consultation will continue. The agricultural sector will continue growing very rapidly in Quebec and in Canada. Constituents from Brome-Missisquoi are proud to have elected a Liberal member of Parliament who is ready to act in the interests of all farm producers, from Brome-Missisquoi as well as elsewhere. They chose to go with the dynamism, the transparency and the consultation I offered them as opposed to the consistent blocking by the Bloc. Only a flexible federalism will allow us to continue developing in a secure environment within Canada.

Dairy farmers, hog producers, grain producers, apple growers and others, the whole processing industry are and will go on experiencing great changes in the vast world of international trade.

Instead of griping, instead of blocking the interests of the farmers, let us help them.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I reply to my colleague. During the election campaign, farming was, of course, one of the topics, particularly in a riding such as ours, which borders the United States. Given its location, the new GATT and NAFTA international trade rules are important at this time.

I am on the point of creating a sort of advisory committee with all the farmers in Brome-Missisquoi to look at how we can adapt as quickly as possible to the new international trade rules, including those of NAFTA. The State of Vermont is across the border from the riding of Brome-Missisquoi and I think that together with the farmers not just in my riding but throughout Quebec we will find ways of adapting to the rules of the new world economy.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. First, I must say I have just been through an election campaign in Brome-Missisquoi where I met many citizens. The citizens of Brome-Missisquoi, as those of other regions in Quebec, have asked for a budget that would not increase personal income taxes and that would trim the fat.

This is exactly the kind of budget that minister Martin presented. When we speak about putting our financial house in order, and that is what trimming the fat is all about, I think that Mr. Martin's budget does just that. The other part of the member's question deals with the new Canadian social transfer program.

The minister announced that this new transfer program would be implemented only a year from now in order to give the provinces the opportunity to adapt to the new realities. This new Canadian social transfer program gives Quebec a global envelope where budgets for universities, health and social programs will be consolidated and the province will be free to manage them as it pleases. This is what we mean by new, progressive, flexible federalism.

As for the amounts mentioned by my colleague, I must say that the global cuts in federal programs account for a decrease of 7.3 per cent for all federal programs here in Ottawa.

But, for a year, the cuts in provincial programs will mean a reduction of 4.4 per cent only. The federal government is much more severe with its own programs than with the provinces and this is very important. It would be important also that Bloc members go back to their ridings and meet with their constituents. They would see that this is the type of federalism they want.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying earlier, the residents of Brome-Missisquoi will be glad to know that they can still depend on their hon. member and on the federal government for help if they want to start a small business.

The people in Brome-Missisquoi are known for their entrepreneurship and their capacity to develop new niches and to adapt quickly to new sets of rules on the world market.

I want to get back to spending. Expenditures at National Defence will also be drastically reduced. Business subsidies have been cut by 60 per cent. Because of the deficit and our current financial situation, we can no longer afford to maintain subsidies introduced ten years ago, which are now eroding our capacity to adapt, to diversify and to remain competitive.

We will also transfer certain programs to other levels of government and privatize some of our operations. For example, airports and marinas will be transferred to local authorities and CN will be privatized this year. Moreover, and this is very important, departments will have to prepare three-year business plans, which will be subject to parliamentary and public scrutiny.

The federal government is cleaning up its backyard, but other levels of government must do the same. The provinces will have to review their programs also.

Speaking of cleaning up, I urge the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot to do some cleaning-up in his own mind. During his remarks this morning, I heard him criticize the way some Quebec members have voted. This is the budget of a responsible government that knows exactly where it is going. Does the Bloc know where it is going? They are preparing to hold a referendum so that they do not have to sit here anymore, but at the same time they are trying to ensure that Quebec will have 25 per cent of the seats in the House. This is hypocrisy. Do they want to stay or do they want to leave?

I believe in a flexible federalism, a federalism based on dialogue and consensus, not on hypocrisy. Members of the Bloc know full well that it takes a constitutional amendment to change the rules of the game between the various levels of government, but they are still trying not only to confuse people, but to provoke them. We had an opportunity to see, when the vote on the Bloc's motion was taken, the kind of contempt that members of the Bloc feel toward those who do not share their views. It bodes well for the referendum. The remarks made today by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot show once again that, for the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois, it is just «believe it or die».

The constitution of our country, Canada, guarantees a minimum of 75 seats for Quebec. I hope that Bloc members, after their defeat in the referendum, will have the decency to separate themselves from this House and go back to Quebec to work real hard at helping Quebec population grow. I might indicate to them that there are many ways to go about it, one of which is certainly not to maintain a political and economic climate contaminated by the Bloc, but rather to foster job creation in a strong economy. Then, Quebec will be strong in the true sense for Canada and within Canada, and we will no longer remember the hypocritical tactics devised by the Bloc members and their cousins in the PQ.

To get back to the budget, there is also the new Canadian social transfer. Globally, the major transfers, including equalization payments-which, for that matter, are not affected by this budget-will be 4.4 per cent lower than what they are now. At the same time, the other spending reductions the federal government is imposing on itself will reach 7.3 per cent, almost twice as much.

To summarize the budget, it proposes to reduce spending by $7 for every $1 increase in revenue. The in-depth reorganization of the machinery of government announced in the budget confirms the faith of the people of Brome-Missisquoi in a flexible federalism evolving in a secure environment for all the classes of citizens, young people, students, families and seniors, and also in a secure environment with regard to our political and trade relationships with all our neighbours, who are well aware of the rules of the game here in Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I would like to tell the Chair that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Cumberland-Colchester. On behalf of the constituents of Brome-Missisquoi, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Finance, who lives in my riding, for the courageous budget he tabled on February 27, 1995, five days after I was sworn in and became an official member of the House.

In the February 13 byelection, one of the mandates I was given was to ensure the good management of public finances. That is what we in the Liberal Party are currently doing. Canada is on the right track. We kept on having visions of a deficit out of control. We absolutely had to review the federal government's activities. The result was that we introduced a series of cuts, and I believe that the government made wise choices. The thousands of people I met during the election campaign told me that the government should trim the fat, not increase income taxes for individuals.

That was what it did in the budget. The support that people have given to the Minister of Finance's budget proves that Canadians want to eliminate the deficit as quickly as possible and that the remedies he is using are fair.

The Liberal government set realistic and firm objectives for itself during the election campaign, which we are now in the process of attaining. It is important to keep the momentum going. We will reduce the deficit to $32.7 billion in 1995-96 and then to $24.3 billion. By 1996-97, the deficit will have sunk to its lowest level since 1974-75.

The measures in the budget will fundamentally change the size and structure of the government machine. Program spending will be reduced from the level in last year's budget, $120 billion, to close to $108 billion in 1996-97. The size of government will be substantially reduced over the next three years. Compared to 1994-95 amounts, departmental budgets will be reduced by close to 19 per cent. The budgets of some departments will even be cut in half. All told, these measures will create savings of approximately $17 billion over three years. As a result of this vast reform of federal programs, 45,000 jobs in the public service will be cut over the next three years.

Of course, it would have been unreasonable to cut program spending without trimming the public service. We will never rid ourselves of the deficit unless we trim the fat in government and improve management and efficiency.

These are but a few of the specific measures in the 1995 budget allaying the concerns of my constituents and all Canadians. The role of regional organizations, for example the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec, will change, as they will be called on to help small and medium size businesses by means of loans and repayable contributions, not grants. My constituents will be happy to know that they will still be able to count on their MP and the federal government when it comes time to open up a small or medium size business.

Member For Rimouski-Témiscouata March 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in making her comments about the City of Hull, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata probably got carried away. She apologized and we thank her for that.

It is unfortunate that the radicalization of political options compels some elected officials to make such comments or take that kind of attitude when people-and, in this case, a whole region-do not share their vision of the future.

Must we remind Bloc members that not only local residents but the whole region take pride in the city of Hull.

The hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata was wrong. The region does not come under the responsibility of the national commission on Quebec's future but under the mandate of the National Capital Commission.

I proudly salute its chairman, Mr. Beaudry, for his commitment to his city, his region and his country.

Federalism March 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, according to a recent headline in Le Devoir , Quebec is hiring lobbyists to explain sovereignty to the Americans. Alain Dubuc, for his part, wrote in La Presse : ``If there is one theme that invariably surfaces in every report from every regional commission on Quebec's future, it is that Quebecers want more information on the sovereignty project''.

All the PQ and the Bloc Quebecois have done so far is to create uncertainty among Quebecers, and they now want to export this uncertainty to the U.S. The people in Brome-Missisquoi have just reaffirmed their faith in Canada and I salute them for that. Canada will continue to evolve within the context of flexible federalism, thus allowing us to better manage our economy and increase our real exports.

Rail Transport March 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is as follows: What immediate consequences will this work stoppage have for Canadians?

Rail Transport March 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Labour.

Madam Minister, I think it is pretty clear we are all very concerned about the railway strike. Could you tell us what the consequences-

Leader Of Action Démocratique Du Québec March 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Parti Action Démocratique in Quebec had announced that his party would participate in the regional commissions by saying, and I quote: "We can only rejoice over the fact that our conditions have been agreed to. We are happy to contribute to an improvement of the process. We are taking a constructive approach. We hope that many people will take part in the consultation".

Three months later, he said and I quote: "I think that it is not necessarily clear in the minds of all the citizens who came to participate, because if they had been told at the beginning of the consultation that they were wasting their time and that everything had been decided in advance, there might not have been 55,000 participants". The leader of the Parti Action Démocratique is experiencing a rude political awakening. He has realized, but too late, that he has been manipulated by the Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois.