House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present today a petition signed by 586 people calling for improvements to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors. We saw what the Liberals did with this program and the crumbs the Conservatives allocated to it in the latest budget. The people of Berthier—Maskinongé want real improvements to the guaranteed income supplement.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent question. I know he defends his territory, Lac-Saint-Jean, impeccably. Recognizing francophone language and culture is of crucial importance in his region, since a majority of people there are francophone.

Reducing Quebec’s political weight means increasing the political weight of the rest of Canada, and that means, as I said in my speech, that our ability to defend our interests, our needs and our aspirations in the rest of Canada is reduced.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, to answer his question, I will say that there is unanimous consent in the Quebec National Assembly to oppose the bill introduced in this House.

We are here to defend the interests of Quebeckers and we believe that the Quebec nation is different in terms of its culture and its language, and that it needs a basic democratic representation, in light of the fact that it is different as a nation, within the institution of the House of Commons.

I am happy to see the member rise in defence of the interests of Manitoba. I would have liked to see members of the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party rise to defend the interests of Quebec.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is not necessarily talking about Prince Edward Island, which has a much higher representation than Quebec in the House of Commons.

We know very well that the situation reversed as of 1965. Quebec's political weight has been decreasing up until now, and this bill would bring it down to 22.4%.

I maintain my position. There is a reason we are sovereignists. We are always faced with these types of situations: Canada uses all kinds of strategies and tactics to swallow up the Quebec nation, to wipe it out and to assimilate it.

This is another kind of intrusion. If the Conservatives truly wanted Quebeckers to remain within the federation, they would not introduce a bill like this because Quebec is a nation with its own culture, language and identity.

I urge the members here, in this House, to vote against Bill C-12.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I was listening to my colleague talking about the contradictions in the Bloc Québécois position on the bill before the House. The greatest contradiction that we have here, in this House, is that the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are voting in favour of Bill C-12. I will explain.

In 2006, the Conservative Party moved a motion recognizing the Quebec nation. If you recognize the Quebec nation, you should strengthen this nation and give it more rights. The opposite has happened, and that is the contradiction.

From that point forward, the Conservatives have voted against any bill that sought to ensure respect for the French language, to ensure that the French language would be used in federal institutions. They rejected the bills introduced by the Bloc Québécois. Here, in this House, they recognized the Quebec nation. The major contradiction is that they now want to diminish the political weight of Quebec in the House of Commons. That is the fundamental contradiction.

The parliamentary secretary should admit that he is wrong, or at least think about what the recognition of the Quebec nation means. If you recognize a nation, then you ensure that it is given rights.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will continue with my speech. Our opposition to this bill is also based on the consensus in Quebec. The only people who do not agree with the general consensus in Quebec are the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec who sit in this House.

Quebec's National Assembly unanimously voted on three occasions, and again in May 2010, to ask that this bill not be passed in the House. Members from the Liberal Party, the ADQ, Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois unanimously voted against Bill C-12. Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec who vote in favour of this bill are voting against the interests of their constituents as well as the National Assembly.

All of the members in the National Assembly unanimously demanded that this bill be withdrawn, and all of the Bloc Québécois members condemn, without hesitation and without compromise, the reduction of the Quebec nation's political weight in the House. There seems to be a lack of representation from the other parties.

It is important in this debate to emphasize that the House of Commons or any other democratic institution can never be a purely arithmetic reflection of various proportions of the population. One criterion, which should be central to this debate, is that the recognition of the Quebec nation means that it should get the political clout necessary in federal institutions to make its voice heard.

Bill C-12 is a step in the opposite direction. Its effect will be to increase the number of seats in the House of Commons for representatives of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, while leaving nothing for Quebec, which is now a distinct nation within Canada, so long as it is not sovereign. In 1867, Quebec had 36% of the seats, but in 2014, it would have only 22.7%. Quebec’s share of the seats in the House of Commons would be even less than its demographic weight would suggest. We think that the standard should be a minimum of 25% of the members from Quebec so that they can defend its interests in the House.

We should all agree on that. What we have here, though, is very far removed. For the Bloc Québécois members of this House, recognizing the existence of a nation is more than a symbolic gesture or fine words, like what the Conservative Party has offered since it was elected in 2006. The Quebec nation should not be at the mercy of the election strategies of Canadian governments that want to increase their share of the vote in Quebec. We are more than that. We are a people, a nation, a culture. We are different, and we deserve to have our differences recognized. Nations have basic rights, like the right to control their own social, economic and cultural development. This bill is an insult to all the proposals made by the Government of Quebec and the National Assembly.

I would remind the House that the members of the Bloc Québécois and of the National Assembly are all opposed to Bill C-12, as was previously stated by the hon. member for Quebec.

The vast majority of members are opposed therefore to this bill, just as they were opposed to the previous Bill C-56.

More than 85% of Quebec members, whether of the National Assembly or the House of Commons, are opposed to this bill. How can the other parties explain the fact that under the current setup, a voter in Prince Edward Island has three times the political clout of a voter in Quebec? How can the Conservatives and Liberals explain that?

The Bloc Québécois is fighting to ensure that at least 25% of the seats in the House of Commons go to Quebec. For a nation like ours, 25% of the political weight is still not very much. It is not enough. What we need is 100% of the political weight. Until that day, we will content ourselves with 25%. That is what is called political freedom, or in a word, sovereignty.

There are Quebeckers who have not chosen the path of sovereignty. Nevertheless, Quebec is entitled to this substantial amount of political representation.

After a lot of pressure, Quebec was recognized as the Quebec nation by the House of Commons. However, the fact that this House now refuses to recognize the need for Quebec to have a special status regarding its political weight shows that the Conservatives, like the Liberals, care very little about this recognition.

The previous rejection by the House of the Bloc's motion and the support for this bill illustrate the adverse impacts of federalism for Quebec.

These federal parties want to increase the number of seats for Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia in the House, but they do not provide anything for the Quebec nation.

This Conservative legislation will marginalize the Quebec nation within Canada by reducing its political weight in the House. Indeed, back in 1867, Quebec held 36% of the seats, but by 2014 that percentage will be down to a mere 22.7%.

Lastly, the proposed legislation shows that federalist parties get along extremely well on at least one issue: they will stop at nothing to make the recognition of the Quebec nation meaningless.

The Prime Minister promised us open federalism, but with this bill he is proposing a token federalism. It is obvious that Quebec is perceived as the guest spoiling the party for Canada, because it has its own set of values and interests, which are not recognized by the House. This nation and its culture, its language, the specificity of its social, economic and political development, as well as its institutions, are not recognized by federalist parties.

The Bloc Québécois continues to maintain that the government must immediately withdraw its legislation and guarantee Quebec 24.3% of the seats in the House of Commons. That is a minimum, given the repeated concessions made by Quebec over the past 150 years, and particularly because it needs the tools that will enable it to protect its distinctiveness, its culture and its language.

I conclude by asking all members of this House to vote against Bill C-12.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in opposition to Bill C-12.

From the outset, I would like to say that this bill on democratic representation is a deliberate affront to the Quebec nation. The bill is an attack against the Quebec nation launched by the Canadian federalist parties because it is an attempt to reduce the Quebec nation’s political weight in the House of Commons. Reducing the Quebec nation’s political weight in the House of Commons is unacceptable to Quebeckers.

When the Canadian federation was created in 1867, Quebec held 36% of the seats in the House of Commons. I remain hopeful that Quebec will leave this federation. I am a staunch sovereignist and when I see a bill like this before the House of Commons, I feel an even greater urgency. I believe that it is even more pressing for Quebec to leave the Canadian federation. That day will come, I hope, and that is what I am fighting for.

This bill is unacceptable to Quebeckers. In 1867, Quebec held 36% of the seats in the House of Commons. If Bill C-12 were passed, that proportion would decrease to 22.4%, which is less than the Quebec nation's current demographic weight within Canada. There is an attempt to lessen our political weight within the Canadian federation. This is another great contradiction from the Conservative Party; a party that boasts that it has recognized the Quebec nation. And yet, it is quite clear that it does not recognize the Quebec nation, Quebec’s identity, Quebecker’s culture or their language. The Conservative Party even wants to see Quebec’s political weight diminished. That is a pity. It is an unacceptable step backwards in light of the current representation we enjoy in the House.

Many people will say that it is a Conservative Party strategy aimed at attaining a majority. That may well be true, but this bill is not democratic and in no way respects the Quebec nation. As a number of my Bloc Québécois colleagues have already stated in the House, the Bloc Québécois unanimously opposes this bill. We will do everything in our power to prevent it from passing.

This is a minority government and an election may be triggered within days or weeks. Our objective is for this attempt to further marginalize and diminish Quebec’s culture and identity to become an issue in Quebec in the coming election. Imagine every Conservative and Liberal member of Parliament and candidate for election telling Quebeckers that when there was an attempt to reduce Quebec’s political weight in the House of Commons they sat on their hands and went so far as to vote in favour of a policy to diminish the political weight of the Quebec nation. I am referring here to the Conservatives and Liberals from Quebec. It is truly shameful.

Make no mistake. This bill is a direct assault on the fundamental rights of the Quebec nation. That is why we moved the following motion in the House on April 20, 2010:

That the House denounce the fact that the government seeks to marginalize the Quebec nation by introducing a bill to decrease Quebec’s political weight in the House, and that it affirm that Quebec Members of Parliament, who represent a nation, must hold at least 25% of the seats in the House.

This motion was our response—the response of Quebeckers—to Bill C-12. It was defeated by the Conservatives and by the Liberal Party of Canada, a party that continues to oppose Quebec, as evidenced by all the action it has taken against Quebec for generations.

On November 22, 2006, the Conservative government tabled a motion of which it was very proud. Clearly, it was an attempt to win votes. They wanted to win seats in Quebec. The Conservatives wanted Quebeckers to believe that they recognized the specificity of the Quebec nation, its language, culture, identity and differences. The Conservatives therefore tabled this motion that recognized the existence of the Quebec nation. Our nation does not need this recognition to exist but it was still a kind gesture and it was interesting to see the House of Commons vote on the existence of this nation and to officially recognize it.

However, everything went downhill from there. The government should have followed through on this recognition and should have walked the walk by introducing a series of measures to respect the language, culture and identity of the Quebec nation. Clearly, Bill C-12 does not walk the walk when it comes to recognizing the Quebec nation. On the contrary, this bill denies the existence of this nation and marginalizes its representation in federal institutions and here in the House of Commons.

The Bloc Québécois then tried many times to introduce bills that would solidify the recognition of this nation, for instance, to have the French language charter apply to federal institutions. Once again, Quebec was recognized as a nation but everyone in the House voted against the bills. These bills would have solidified the recognition of the Quebec nation and ensured that the nation, as well as its language, culture and identity, were respected. Now Quebec's political weight is under direct attack. It is shameful.

Our opposition to this bill is also based on a consensus in Quebec. All elected members of the National Assembly of Quebec oppose Bill C-12. What are the elected Conservative representatives for Quebec doing? They are not even here in the House. None of the Conservative members for Quebec are here to debate a specific issue—

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate because this is an attack on the institutions that are there to ensure that elections are decent, fair and equitable for all candidates who are running and for all voters.

What the Conservatives did is clear in the judgment. The Conservatives deliberately transferred money from the national level to pay a national advertising invoice in ridings where the candidates had not reached their spending limits or who had little chance of reaching their limits, as set out in the Canada Elections Act. A riding may raise money from donations it receives from the public in order to participate in a campaign. But the Conservatives did the opposite, which clearly and directly violates the Canada Elections Act. That is shameful and appalling. And now they are once again taking taxpayer money to sue Elections Canada, the same institution—

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

The Conservatives' lack of integrity and transparency is astounding. Take, for example, their message to the Canadian and Quebec people that they do not want an election and that they would prefer to manage the economy. We know very well that they spent more than $250 million to promote their economic action plan. They have also spent a great deal of money on pre-election advertising, and yet they continue to tell people that they do not want an election. That is a lack of transparency and integrity. I believe that the people deserve better. The people deserve a government that tells them the honest truth. That is not the case at present.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois.

It is clear to us that the Conservative Party does not like to abide by democratic rules and that it sees Parliament as an obstacle to be circumvented. We see that again today in the speeches made by the Conservatives on the motion moved by the Bloc Québécois. We saw the minister and other Conservative Party MPs make speeches on the economic action plan of Canada. This motion makes no mention of an economic plan. We are denouncing situations that have come up over the past few months in the House showing this government's lack of transparency and democracy.

Three times in one year, this government has been found guilty of having abused the privileges of parliamentarians and Parliament. In one case, it was demonstrated that the government refused, before the Standing Committee on Finance, to discuss and disclose the costs of the measures it was proposing. Not only did the Conservative government try to prevent the members of the Standing Committee on Finance from accessing the information they needed to do their work properly, but in addition, they tried to hide this by tabling documents in the House of Commons that were in no way what hon. members had asked for. This is virtually adding insult to injury. In fact, it is hypocrisy. They take us for fools here, but we are not wearing dunce caps.

We are seeing here in the House that this abject behaviour is becoming a trend, an operating guideline for the Conservatives. They are playing hide-and-seek. Yet when this government was elected in 2006 it promised transparency and improved exercise of democracy to replace the former government, which, as we recall, was dealing with the sponsorship scandal, one of the biggest scandals in Canadian history. The Conservative government took over and, since it was elected in 2006, it has begun playing the same game of hypocrisy and lack of transparency, and I would even say using public funds for partisan purposes, as the Liberal Party had done previously.

The Conservatives are trying to undermine and subordinate this parliamentary institution with their dishonest arrogance. They claim they are not obliged to respond to Parliament about the costs of the bills, decisions or measures they put forward. They are not accountable to this Parliament. They are a minority government. Imagine what things would be like if this were a majority government. We would have a major scandal, probably as big as the one we had before, the sponsorship scandal.

The government is, in fact, obliged to provide certain information to Parliament, and the Speaker confirmed this yesterday in his decision. Parliament must be permitted to fill one of its fundamental roles. It is therefore time for hon. members to tell the Conservatives that enough is enough, and that is the motion tabled here by the Bloc. We are telling the Conservative government that enough is enough, and the government’s lack of ethics and transparency has to stop. I believe that Quebeckers and Canadians deserve better.

The purpose of this motion is to denounce the Conservative government’s failure to respect the rules of democracy and of Parliament.

Many examples have occurred, and my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois and the other opposition parties have mentioned many of them. The time when the government refused to transmit documents to the committee is one example among many others. I could also talk about the case of the Minister of International Cooperation, who is accused of having falsified a document to refuse a grant to the KAIROS organization and then misleading Parliament when she was asked for explanations. Did she have a choice? I do not know. I do not think she was alone in doing what she did. It was based on Conservative ideology. However it has affected an important group, KAIROS, which unfortunately had a somewhat pro-Palestinian position. The government is one of the first Canadian governments to have proclaimed with conviction that it is somewhat pro-Israeli. As a result KAIROS did not receive a grant to carry out its humanitarian activities.

In his ruling yesterday, the Speaker confirmed that there is sufficient reason to conclude there is a prima facie question of privilege. Since this story came out, what has the Prime Minister done? He has approved, agreed with and defended his minister. He has failed to tell Canadians the whole truth and has refused to take full responsibility for her decision, trying to make Parliament think that public servants were somehow involved. The Prime Minister’s behaviour is malicious. He has not said a word about the minister’s lie or half-truths. What credibility can the Minister of International Cooperation still have with the NGOs and the many volunteers who manage humanitarian programs?

This too shows the government’s and the Prime Minister's lack of respect for Parliament and the voters. Quebeckers and Canadians have a right to truth and transparency. The taxes they pay are managed by Parliament, and they have a right to know the figures. This is further proof that the Prime Minister thinks everything is permissible in his attempts to impose his aims. What arrogance, what contempt.

Let us look more closely at the whole issue of the Conservative Party’s 2006 election expenses, which Elections Canada has deemed fraudulent. The Conservatives got elected by promising transparency and more ethical government. But even before they were elected, they were engaging in illegal activities. They now stand accused of illegalities by Elections Canada.

Just recently, the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed Elections Canada’s view that the Conservatives violated the Canada Elections Act through their in and out financing system. That is what the Conservatives did before getting elected in 2006, and that is what the judgment clearly says. They intentionally transferred money from their national offices to have national advertising paid for by ridings and candidates who had not reached their spending limits, established by the Canada Elections Act, and were unlikely to do so.

In conclusion, the Speaker’s two rulings yesterday have further tarnished not just the image of the Conservatives but everything they do. These people are brazen liars, who have nothing but contempt for the House of Commons, democracy and the people of Canada. That is why—