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

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking today about Bill C-46. This debate has been lively because of the divergence of opinions among the various political parties as well as their different values. The debate about these free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama is a debate about conflicting values.

I am speaking about this bill today because it deals with an agreement that I have been following for a while, having sat on the Standing Committee on International Trade for a few years.

To begin, I would like to say to the House that we, too, will be supporting the proposed amendments, even though they would void this bill. The fact remains that we think that is a good thing. In fact, this bill would allow Canada to sign an agreement with a tax haven, that is, with Panama. While the government is saying that it wants to fight against tax havens, it is now ready to sign a free trade agreement with a country that is on the OECD's tax haven blacklist.

We are against this free trade agreement. We now know that this tax haven, Panama, denied Canada's request for more tax information. In exchange, the two countries agreed on double taxation. That is nothing like our request for more tax information from each country once the agreement is signed.

The Bloc Québécois is not against all free trade agreements. We were against the one with Colombia, clearly, as well as the one with Panama. However, we were the first party in this House to call for a free trade agreement with the European Union. And we believe that agreement is more fair and reasonable for Canada and Quebeckers.

And we, the sovereignists, orchestrated the free trade agreement that was signed in the 1980s with the United States and Mexico. We are in favour of a free trade agreement when it is fair to workers and the economy and when it complies with environmental or labour standards or standards that make investment as prosperous for Quebec and Canada as for the country signing the bilateral agreement.

In the case of the free trade agreement with Colombia, I participated in the mission to Colombia and Panama in order to meet with different people affected by the agreement. I remember very well that the unions, women's groups and labour groups were opposed at that time to the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement for all sorts of reasons. There was the corruption, even within the Uribe government, and the role of the paramilitary, who protected some mine operators who exploited workers. We were against the agreement. It was unacceptable to Quebec and Canada.

Justice and fairness are values held by Quebeckers. We meet the standards of the International Labour Organization, as well as environmental standards. It is hard for us to imagine signing agreements with countries that do not respect these fundamental values.

As a leader in labour, environmental and economic relations, we should set an example and sign agreements with people and countries that respect our values. The opposite is true in the case before us. We are signing agreements with countries that do not respect our values. There is a lot of talk about drug dealers in Panama. It is a country where drug dealers launder money, a country that has many tax shelters. This agreement could allow some companies to avoid paying taxes, which would further reduce Quebec's and Canada's tax base. Our tax base equips us with more health and education services, social policies and social programs.

By signing an agreement with this country, the government would certainly encourage some companies to export, but there is a risk that these companies could take advantage of very low taxes and tax opportunities in Panama, which would lead to the loss of considerable revenue.

The situation in Panama is not as serious as the situation in Colombia, but it is still rather worrisome. First, there is the issue of workers' rights, which are not very well protected in Panama. Members will recall an announcement that made international headlines on June 30, 2010. The government of President Ricardo Martinelli passed Law 30, which was deemed to be anti-union legislation. This law included a reform of the labour code that was considered to be repressive because it would criminalize workers who demonstrated in defence of their rights. The Government of Panama recently agreed to review this law, but we have every reason to be concerned about the government's true willingness to comply with international labour conventions.

As parliamentarians and in the name of international solidarity, we must take action and speak out against bilateral free trade agreements that violate workers' rights.

Unfortunately, the Conservative government, with the support of the Liberals, is claiming that this kind of bilateral free trade agreement will generate revenue, create jobs and improve our competitiveness. I do not believe that the Canada-Panama free trade agreement will benefit workers in Berthier—Maskinongé or the rest of Quebec.

We must not forget that Panama is still considered to be a tax haven and a place that does not comply fully with international labour laws. The Conservative Minister of Finance told us that he was currently negotiating a tax treaty with Panama in order to tighten the rules on banking transparency to better combat tax evasion. We recently learned that Panama has no interest in signing this type of treaty. Furthermore, nowhere in the Minister of Finance's records do we see any evidence that such a treaty with Panama currently exists or is under negotiation.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate our colleague on his excellent speech, in which he recounted the story of the unilateral patriation of the Constitution and the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We proposed an amendment to the House. We deplore the negative repercussions that the charter provisions have had on Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, particularly its power to protect the French language. Basically, we asked the Liberals to try to correct the mistakes of the past. We saw the Liberal Party's immediate reaction, which was to reject our amendment.

I would like my colleague to tell us how he interprets the Liberal Party's rejection of the Bloc's proposed amendment on this opposition day.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When we look at the Conservative Party in action over the past few years, it is not the charter that bothers that party so much, but the issue of rights and freedoms. For example, when the Conservative Party attacks francophone minorities and abolishes the court challenges program, it is attacking rights and freedoms. When the Conservative Party attacks homosexuals regarding the possibility of same-sex marriage, it is attacking right and freedoms. When the Conservative Party attacks women's right to abortion, it is once again attacking rights and freedoms.

I would like our colleague to explain why the Conservative Party's positions are often inconsistent with our rights and freedoms. How can he defend the charter so fiercely?

National Defence December 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we do hope that this ombudsman will keep his job.

While the government is telling us that it is allocating all possible resources to veterans, Pascal Lacoste, a soldier who served in the Royal 22nd Regiment, testified in committee that he was treated condescendingly and that his requests for care were refused repeatedly.

Does the minister think it is normal that this former soldier is still waiting for services he is entitled to?

National Defence December 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Canada’s military ombudsman is extremely frustrated. He is troubled that grieving families often do not get the support needed and that the federal government does not have a policy to take care of these families. The ombudsman is very disappointed by the Minister of National Defence's evasive answers and refusal to act.

When will the government take concrete action for the well-being of military personnel, starting by giving family members standing at boards of inquiry convened into the death of a military loved one?

Infrastructure December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, several municipalities in Quebec could lose all of their funding because it will be impossible to complete all work before the deadline. In my riding, that is the case in the municipality of Sainte-Élisabeth, which will not be able to complete a major paving project.

Will the government finally listen to the Quebec municipalities and push back the March 31, 2011, deadline, as called for by the municipality of Sainte-Élisabeth in particular?

Sainte-Élisabeth and Sanankoroba Communities November 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak about the twinning between the municipality of Sainte-Élisabeth and the Malian community of Sanankoroba. For 25 years, these two communities have been working together on various strategic projects. This venture has resulted in friendly relations based on mutual respect.

On November 6, I attended a rally in Sainte-Élisabeth. More than 200 people, including the mayor, Mario Houle, attended our gala where we celebrated this 25th anniversary of the collaboration with emotion and mutual admiration, and also raised money to buy a tractor for Sanankoroba.

A few years ago, the village was going through some tough times, but things have turned around since then. This shows how beneficial twinning can be and how the people of Sainte-Élisabeth have helped improve the situation.

Congratulations to the Des Mains pour Demain committee, the municipal authorities and the entire population of Sainte-Élisabeth.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we know this government's problems with human rights and justice in Afghanistan. There is a great deal of work still to be done. It could have formed part of a diplomatic or humanitarian mission to support efforts by the Afghan government. The mission could have been an opportunity to strengthen the justice system and promote and protect human rights. That is work that could have been done as part of a non-military mission. But it is not being done. The government does not seem to be concerned about that.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, then I would just like to ask him to respond to a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The people who are watching will at least be able to draw their own conclusions. He said:

We have made it clear that the military will not be [in Afghanistan] post-2011 and in that regard there is no need to have a debate in the House.

That was a statement made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I do not know whether or not he was lying or whether his statement should be called into question, but that is what he said here in March 2010.

The House is not voting on this mission. The Liberals and the Conservatives made a secret agreement to avoid a debate about the mission. Today, on this Bloc Québécois opposition day, we have a unique opportunity to hold a debate, albeit a short one, unfortunately, because the party in power does not want to talk about the mission.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I do not have a clear idea of what Canada will be doing on this military mission, and the reason is that this government has been lying to us since we started voting on the mission here in the House. I am thinking of the government, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who made the following statement:

We have made it clear that the military—