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

Veterans Affairs October 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the government has announced that it will fully refund the GST on Remembrance Day poppies in order to help veterans. The Bloc commends this initiative. However, at 1¢ per poppy, this is a mainly symbolic measure.

Veterans are calling for more than just symbolic measures. They would like the government to amend the veterans charter to restore the lifetime monthly pension for injured soldiers as compensation. When will this government take action?

Region of Lanaudière October 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to announce that a book titled Contes, légendes et récits de Lanaudière will be launched tomorrow in La Visitation-de-l'Île-Dupas. This is a significant event because this book brings together, for the first time, documents showing how men and women over the centuries have viewed the region and how these reflections have shaped the region's birth and growth.

The public is invited to an evening that will include a unique multimedia show in which the characters from these tales, legends and stories of the Lanaudière region will meet the audience and celebrate their pride in being part of this region.

Congratulations to the organizing committee, which includes Réjean Olivier, Réal Chevrette, Cajetan Larochelle and Gérard Héroux. We thank them for helping share this legacy that reveals what Lanaudière was and is.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for his excellent speech.

Could he tell me why, although all Quebec governments have agreed for decades that the federal spending power should be limited, we will still see members—elected to this House by Quebeckers—vote against the Bloc Québécois motion?

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Madam Speaker, with its management of young offenders and its innovative social services and health care system, Quebec is showing that it can do an exemplary job of taking care of its own affairs.

All the parties in the House and all the other provinces often look to Quebec when introducing intervention models, whether for youth or in the areas of heath care and child care.

If Quebec were a sovereign nation, it would take back all the economic and social levers a nation should have. I am certain that it would do an outstanding job and that it could serve as a model for all the other provinces.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for that excellent question.

I was in the House and I heard the NDP speech. I was not very surprised, because the NDP considers itself a very progressive party. We saw that it was very aware of Quebec's need to opt out of social housing programs. We also saw this when the vote on gun registry was held. A very progressive party would have taken a stronger unanimous stand on that issue.

All the federalists—the NDP, the Liberals and the Conservatives—are against giving the Quebec nation the right to make its own choices and determine its own future. They have also opposed all the governments of Quebec since 1970. Even earlier, Jean-Jacques Bertrand, a former premier of Quebec, did the same thing. So it is not surprising to see the attitude of the NDP and the other parties in the House toward Quebec's needs and interests.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Madam Speaker, in today’s Bloc Québécois opposition day debate on federal government spending power, there is nothing new.

We have been calling for limits on federal government spending since 1993. Successive Quebec governments, from the time of Robert Bourassa through to the era of Jean-Jacques Bertrand—not to mention every member of the Parti Québécois—have consistently called for limits to be set on the federal government’s power to spend.

In fact, allow me to quote a former Quebec premier. He said, “Quebec continues to believe that this power to spend in solely provincial areas of jurisdiction should quite simply not exist, and that the federal government just needs to let it go.”

And it was not a sovereignist who said that. Robert Bourassa, a federalist, made the statement in 1970. So this is nothing new. One certainly cannot label Mr. Bourassa a sovereignist, and yet I hear the Conservatives, Liberals and even occasionally the NDP saying that the Bloc only moved this motion in order to promote Quebec sovereignty. Of course we are sovereignists. However, this motion is simply about limiting the federal government’s spending power.

When the time comes to vote on Tuesday, I hope that members, and in particular members from Quebec, will realize that this request to limit federal government spending power has been made repeatedly by Quebec for many years.

It is also important to remind members of this House—particularly Quebec members on the government side and those in the Liberal party who, when power appears to be within reach, seem to once again favour highly centralist positions—that there is a strong consensus in Quebec that Ottawa must stop interfering in areas of jurisdiction that are not its own.

I would also like to mention something that I failed to indicate at the start of my speech: I will be sharing my time with the member for Joliette.

Now, back to the debate. As I said, all governments—from Jean Jacques Bertrand’s to Robert Bourassa’s, right through to Jean Charest’s, as well as all the sovereignist PQ governments—want control of all the tools they need to better meet the needs of Quebeckers; there is unanimous agreement that federal spending power must be limited.

Over the years, Ottawa has cheerfully gone about spending money in areas of jurisdiction that are not its own, areas that are the responsibility of Quebec and the provinces. And yet, this spending power that Ottawa has appropriated for itself across all of these areas, which are supposed to be the exclusive purview of Quebec and the provinces, causes problems and raises numerous obstacles.

The result is that Canada dictates to Quebec much of what it should or should not do in all its fields of jurisdiction. That is the big problem. That is an issue because in Canada there is more than one nation. There is the Canadian nation and the Quebec nation, recognized here in the House, symbolically of course, not to forget the aboriginal nations.

Through the spending power, the Canadian nation imposes its views on the Quebec nation. Every time Ottawa creates a program or spends in a field of Quebec jurisdiction, it is Canada deciding how Quebec society will be organized and structured and how programs will be implemented in Quebec. In many cases, whether in regard to health, regional development or education, there is all kinds of duplication.

Sometimes we have debates here about big national mental health programs, but in Quebec, all the regions and local community service centres, as well as the provincial health and social services department, have their own programs. The result is duplication, which costs huge amounts of money, instead of investments in improving health. All kinds of money is wasted. Every time Ottawa sets conditions before making transfers to Quebec, it forces the Quebec government to implement Canadian priorities rather than Quebec priorities. That is the problem that always arises.

Here is a case in point. Parental leave is a major issue that the Bloc Québécois debated in the House for many years. Nearly 20 years ago, the Government of Quebec wanted to institute a suitable parental leave system. The problem was that Ottawa was already using its spending power to intercede through employment insurance. To create its program, Quebec therefore had to get the money already being used by Ottawa. At the time, Ottawa refused. In 1996, the Quebec National Assembly voted unanimously in favour of these parental leaves. Still Ottawa said no. We all remember the Liberal government of the time cutting social programs. Unfortunately, the Liberals apparently still embrace this centralizing approach because the signs are all that they will vote today against the Bloc motion, although I hope not. So the Liberals have learned nothing. The Conservatives made false promises, and the New Democrats have centralizing policies, a little like the Liberals, and are prepared to poke their noses into jurisdictions that are none of their business.

To come back to parental leave, five years later, the National Assembly unanimously passed the bill creating parental leave. As you will have guessed, Ottawa, true to form, again said no. We had to be patient, at that time, and wait five more years to see legal action by the Government of Quebec and the election of Paul Martin’s minority government, with the Bloc Québécois at its heels, for Quebec, after 23 years of hard-fought battle, to finally achieve its parental leave program. All of the members from Quebec who are present here can confirm this. That program is very popular and it is no accident that the number of births has been rising since it was implemented. This is one example, but let us not forget that there is not a single area under Quebec’s jurisdiction that has not been invaded by Ottawa.

The Conservative member made me laugh when he talked about family policy. He said that if we limited the federal spending power, we could say good-bye to the child tax benefit. We are only talking about transfers. That money, which is paid by Ottawa, would be better managed by Quebec in a family allowance program, for example. The Conservative members turn a deaf ear and act like hypocrites when they say they are in favour of limiting the federal spending power, as their leader said during the election campaign and in various speeches since then, with which the member from Beauce seems to agree. We see here that the Conservative government could take advantage of all the positions it has taken in recent years and vote in favour of the motion by the Bloc Québécois.

We are talking about areas under Quebec’s exclusive jurisdiction, family policy, health, education, or regional development. These are examples of mistakes made by the federal government. In 2008-2009, the federal government spent over $60 billion in areas that are within the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. That figure is quite telling. It also shows that the fiscal imbalance has not been resolved. As the Séguin report said, the problem of the federal spending power is closely connected with the discussion of the fiscal imbalance.

In closing, I urge all members in the House to vote in favour of this motion, which Quebec has been calling for for many decades.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Madam Speaker, I was surprised to hear our NDP colleague veer so far off topic in his speech. He did not talk about the Bloc Québécois motion, but instead indulged in what we call Quebec bashing or Bloc bashing. I was very surprised at that, coming from the member for Outremont.

It is clear from his speech that when it comes to giving Quebec the freedom to make its own choices, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP all feel the same way.

The member for Outremont is a former Quebec Liberal MNA and minister. All the governments of Quebec, whether Liberal or Parti Québécois obviously, have called for limiting the federal spending power. Why is he talking all about federalism, which once again runs counter to the unanimous will of the National Assembly—

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer will be voting against the Bloc Québécois motion. That does not surprise me since it is clear that the Liberals have made no progress since Confederation in 1867.

I would like to ask the hon. member who he votes for in Quebec. Whether we are talking about the Liberal Party of Quebec, Robert Bourassa or Jean-Jacques Bertrand, they all always asked for limitations on the federal spending power. Of course, all Parti Québécois governments have also demanded the same thing. But Quebec members of the Liberal Party of Canada have been opposed to the unanimous will of all Quebec governments for a number of decades.

Is this House another planet for them; do they have any direct link with Quebeckers? First and foremost, they represent Quebec in the House of Commons and they are elected by Quebeckers.

Could the hon. member explain further the position of the Liberal Party, which always goes against the will of Quebec?

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, my question continues with the same theme. On October 29, 2007, following a statement from the member for Macleod's party leader concerning federal spending power, the Bloc Québécois moved a motion in the House of Commons, demanding that:

...the bill on federal spending power that the government will introduce should, at a minimum, provide for Quebec to have the right to opt out with no strings attached and with full financial compensation from any federal program, whether existing or not and cost-shared or not, which invades Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.

After making such a statement, this leader—who in the election campaign and after the Speech from the Throne said he was in favour of eliminating federal spending power—voted against this motion. Can the member explain these contradictions and the government's hypocrisy?

The government is trying to make Quebeckers believe that it is against eliminating federal spending power in the areas of jurisdictions under the province and Quebec, but it continues to invest more than $62 billion in these areas of jurisdiction.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague what his leader recently said about spending power, and I would like to hear what he has to say about this.

This is what his leader said:

I have said many times, even since the election of this new government, that I am opposed and our party is opposed to federal spending power in provincial jurisdictions. In my opinion, such spending power in the provinces' exclusive jurisdictions goes against the very spirit of federalism. Our government is clear that we do not intend to act in that way.

In light of this, why does the government continue to invest in regional development and to duplicate and intrude into Quebec's jurisdictions that are not set out in the Constitution? The Conservative party continues to invest in jurisdictions such as health, education and other sectors.

Is my colleague contradicting what his leader said, or does he agree with his leader and with the member for Beauce?