House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was position.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Progressive Conservative MP for Sherbrooke (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am a little surprised by the comment. I have a lot of friendship for my friend from Broadview-Greenwood, but I think it would be the reverse. We could form the government pretty fast and continue the agenda. I look forward to sitting with the member for Broadview-Greenwood and forming a new Progressive Conservative government who knows?

I know the member for Broadview-Greenwood will acknowledge that I sat on that side of the House for a period of time. I would be curious to know whether he shares the view that things are a little different, the perspective on fund raisers and other things.

I heard the Prime Minister yesterday make a very good explanation on using government aircraft. Why did he not give that explanation when he was on this side of House? I look forward to working with him in this Parliament.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is always comforting to see that in our democracy people have choices to make and that they can make them freely, albeit for different reasons. There are some in the hon. members ranks who claim that he was elected to achieve the independence of Quebec. Others will say that maybe his mandate was a bit wider and that many people who voted for the member from Shefford also wanted a change of government. It is hard to judge after the fact, but time will tell.

I want to say to the member from Shefford, while thanking him for his advice, which is always useful, that he has just arrived here. I too know what it is to be elected with the wind at my back and on a wave. When you arrive here in those circumstances, you are always full of confidence and very happy. Here is what I have to say to the member from Shefford for what it is worth, since I do not seem to have the benefit of his vast experience. If he is forecasting our demise, the swan's song, he surely knows things that I do not. I do not know him very well, but he must have a lot of parliamentary experience to be able to say that.

In any case, I can say to the member from Shefford in all humility that like him the member from Sherbrooke was once elected with the wind at his back and that the member from Sherbrooke has also been elected with the wave running in the opposite direction. When he has lived both experiences, maybe he will share with us his thoughts and his great wisdom.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, allow me to return the compliment to my friend from Carleton-Gloucester. I know him well and have great affection for him, but I hope the showering of my affections on him will not be quite so painful as his on me.

I can accept the member's reproaches. I do believe the Canadian people passed judgment on October 25, as I recall, and that judgment was quite harsh. I do not know how long the hon. member intends to rehash the fact and harp upon it. There are two members left in the House representing the Progressive Conservative Party. My colleague still feels the need today to rise and strike another blow. What can I do? Such is human nature.

All I can say is that I have also seen that feeling. The member's comments, when he says that I am the leader of nothing, border on scorn. I heard him clearly. That is his point of view. About 16 per cent of the Canadian population would disagree with him. I do not need any advice from my colleague about going door to door or about winning people's faith. I wish to remind him where he is. He is in a Parliament in which each person present has been elected by his or her riding. I was thus elected and I defer to the good judgment of the citizens of my riding. I leave it to them to decide if my presence here has any less value than his own, as he seems to think.

If this is an example of his feelings and attitude to come during his tenure in government, I can only wish him luck. I have seen it before, and I have also seen the results over time.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Our friends in the Bloc and the Reform Party are consistent in their refusal. I will therefore use up the minute that is left to finish my comments, to tell briefly how worried I am by the new turn taken in this House, by the accent that is being put on regional views as a result of the elections when Canadians democratically made their choices.

We end up with, on one part, an official opposition party dedicated to breaking up Canada-it has the right to represent this view, I do not object-and on the other part, a Reform Party which just as legitimately represents a view, but a view that is not national. It did not field candidates in all ridings in the last election.

Facing them, we find a government seemingly determined to let events run their own course. I am worried. This country and this Parliament must squarely face this challenge to our future. Our duty requires that we better stress what unites us as a people. That is what a country is all about, not this expression of narrow viewpoints which tends to blame others for everything that goes wrong.

I do not agree with this type of nationalism, this rather narrow and simplistic view which has nothing in common with my own vision of our country. Canada is badly in need of a sense of its future and of a shared project.

In the next few years, I will be fighting to preserve this country's integrity and to bring out what exactly we have in common.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

The government differs in key areas. How jobs should be created in this country is one example. That is an issue that the government campaigned on but that is where there are a few disappointments in the speech from the throne. The best question is where is the meat?

Where this government seems to have made a commitment is for the infrastructure program. It was going to build sewers and roads. What we are finding out is that the money is now going to convention centres. I do not have any problems with that but the municipalities wanted the money for roads and sewers.

Who exactly is going to make the decisions and how will that happen? Is there going to be an infrastructure program or not? Or is it going to be a slush fund, as seems to be alluded to in this secret memo I made public two days ago? The ministers of public works and human resources were fighting not only for direct control over the program as stated in the memo written to the Prime Minister by the Clerk of the Privy Council, but they also wanted federal control over all projects.

There was a question on this in the House yesterday and the Prime Minister did not answer. We know they are responsible for ACOA and western diversification. The Clerk of the Privy Council does not have to write to the Prime Minister to ask him whether they were responsible for ACOA and western diversification. They know that. We know that. He felt this issue was so important that he had to write to the Prime Minister to find out whether their mandate was to have control over all federal

projects. We have yet to know whether it is the minister from Nova Scotia who will decide whether New Brunswick gets this money there or elsewhere, not just for infrastructure but for other programs as well.

I have to admit I may agree on some things but there is a discrepancy between what was said during the campaign and what seems to have happened behind closed doors since this government was sworn in.

I was disappointed about a few things in the speech. There was no mention of agriculture or very little. I have concerns also about natural resources. I am very concerned this government may be considering taxes on petroleum products or a carbon tax. It may be tempted to go that route, but it would have to think very carefully because we already tax our resources in this area. We do that now. Any thought about such an initiative has to be very closely looked at.

On the deficit and debt there is a general statement but I guess we will have to wait until the budget comes forward to really find out where the government's mind is on this. What I do know and what I can say is that the government up until now has not been very forthcoming in the way it has masqueraded or camouflaged the numbers. There is quite evidently a deliberate move to increase the amount of the deficit for this year, to pump it up, to make the previous government look bad and make itself look better. That move is quite obvious.

I ask hon. members to take a second and think about one thing. Let us assume the situation is as the government says it is. We have had these situations before. I remember when we were in that same position as a government. What did we do? We froze spending for the rest of the fiscal year. That is what we did. Why is it that this government has not frozen spending, if not because it wants to pump that number up for political reasons?

Where does the Canadian interest lie in all of this? Where is the interest of the taxpayers?

I see the member for Chicoutimi. Let us ask him where lies the interest of Chicoutimi voters in all this if the government, instead of freezing expenditures, lets the deficit run unchecked as is the case right now. This is nothing new, I am not imagining it.

There is no need to worry that I will spring some new theory on him. The concept is simple enough. All the government needs to do is declare an immediate freeze on expenditures for the rest of the fiscal year, instead of letting the deficit grow to astronomical heights. This, however, it has chosen not to do. Why, do you ask? For political reasons.

Mr. Speaker, you are signalling that I only have one minute left. With your permission and leave of this House, I will end my comments promptly so as not to omit anything important, after which I will be pleased to answer questions and respond to comments. With your consent, I will then take five more minutes to discuss other subjects.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

I suspect the same public servants who wrote our speeches from the throne with us probably shared their notes with the new government because on August 23, 1993 would you not know it, the previous minister of health announced that she would put forward a new bureau for the health of women. This was before the campaign and there is exactly the same commitment. I cannot disagree with that.

The last one I want to point to is the overlap in government. On September 2, 1993 the same commitment and type of initiative was put forward.

I am not going to quarrel with the government on those issues. I will support the government. On NAFTA, GATT, Latin America, Pacific Rim, all those issues, let us go right ahead. I will be happy to support the government in any way I can.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

The NDP has not changed its view on NAFTA. The paragraph reads: "Job creation and economic growth also require Canadian firms, especially small and medium sized businesses, to adopt an aggressive trading mentality to take advantage of export markets". I know my colleague does not agree with that. Mike Wilson has said that very often, in fact. Then it goes on to say: "With the successful conclusion of the Uruguay round and the implementation of NAFTA, the government will assist Canadian companies to translate improved market access into greater export sales". Well those were stock Tory speeches for the nine years I was in government and now they are taken on lock, stock and barrel by the new government.

To all those people who during the election campaign were told by their Liberal and NDP candidates that they were opposed to NAFTA, that they would renegotiate NAFTA and would change NAFTA, ladies and gentlemen, they were just kidding. They adopted NAFTA lock, stock and barrel. Not a paragraph, not a word, not one single dot was changed in the law that was passed in this place. The new Liberal government adopted the whole thing.

Do I disagree with that? No, I do not disagree. I support the government members in their change, in their transformation on the road to Damascus. What I find extraordinary is how little time it took them to do it. What a feat to be able to fight this in the House of Commons for years. Some members were not here at the time but I can tell them because I was on that side. They fought this. There were screams in the House. It was extraordinary. How many days did it take them? Was it 10 days, 20 days? Twenty days after being sworn in, NAFTA was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The conversion was extraordinary.

I want to be honest about this. Our colleagues from the NDP, although I disagree with them, did not change their minds. They have been consistent. I am sorry, I cannot say the same for the government side.

The same speech talks about internal trade. Internal trade is an important issue. I wish the government well because quite frankly it really points to the fact that this country is doing better at trade with other countries than it is within its own borders. In the end it does not make sense because Canadians are paying the price for unfair and unreasonable trade barriers in this country.

The new government proposes to deal with that issue in its speech from the throne. It meets exactly with the commitment we made during the campaign. It builds on what the previous government had done to complete negotiations of a committee of ministers of internal trade to eliminate trade barriers, to free the movement of goods, services, people and capital within Canada by June 30, 1994.

Last week I was delighted to hear the Minister of Industry, after meeting with his colleagues, reiterate and take up that commitment. It is a good idea. I agreed with it when we were the government. I still think it is a good idea.

To get back to trade, there is allusion to the Pacific Rim and Latin America. We had announced we were going to establish a foundation for the Pacific Rim and Latin America. It is the same thing.

It just goes on. We had also announced changes to the Young Offenders Act.

There is another very interesting paragraph: "A centre of excellence for women's health will be established to ensure that women's health issues receive the attention they deserve". I am sure many members from the Reform Party agree with that. Probably totally.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment to the Chair and wish you every success in your new duties. The very fact that you were elected shows the admiration and esteem in which you are held by members of this House.

I would not want to miss the opportunity, during this reply to the speech from the throne, to thank the men and women of Sherbrooke who, for a third time, placed their confidence in me under circumstances in which the outcome was rather uncertain. I was elected for the first time in 1984, carried by a Conservative wave. This time, I was re-elected on the undertow, with the wind blowing in the opposite direction.

To new members of this House, I have to say, and my colleague from Beauséjour knows exactly what I mean, one has to go through both experiences to fully appreciate the privileges, the rights accorded to members of Parliament.

To the people of Sherbrooke of whom I am so fond and for whom I work relentlessly, I say thank you.

I am speaking also on behalf of a political party that occupied a different place in this House before October 25. Some members may have noticed our circumstances were quite different.

I want to speak very frankly and honestly about that because it is important for us to recognize and acknowledge the magnitude of that defeat. On October 25 a lot of Canadians went to the polls with a very clear determination to put aside the government and a political party that had been there for the last nine years.

I do not need to expand on the fact that they did it with a great deal of determination and with very little equivocation on October 25. That being the case it puts us now in a position is which even though we had 16 per cent of the vote, we have only two members in this House.

I do not quarrel with that. Those were the rules before the campaign. We did not complain about them then and I am not going to complain about them now. It also means that we have found a level of freedom that we had not anticipated.

I am the first to recognize that how we deal with that as a political force in this country and as the political force that founded Canada will determine our own future.

It is now up to us as Progressive Conservatives throughout Canada to live up to the high expectations that Canadians have set for us in the past and into the future. It is up to us to rebuild our party and to present ourselves as a national-I want to stress national-alternative to the governing party by the time the next election campaign comes around.

What I do know, having spoken to Canadians across this country, is that a lot of them, whether they are Progressive Conservatives or not, do feel it is very important that there be a national alternative to the governing party. They are concerned about the way Canadians view their country and that is something I feel very strongly about.

It means that our party will continue to stand on the principles it has always lived by. One is fiscal conservatism. We are a party that will promote fiscal conservatism because we do want a country that is able to afford social programs and continues to have a strong social conscience and also a flexible view of federalism. We think it is critically important in this country. We proved in our last nine years that we were able to practise a method of governing in the area of federalism that responded to the different needs of the regions of this country.

It was far from being perfect. I want to be clear on that. Anyone who would pretend that certainly would not meet with the approval of most Canadians, but there are real accomplish-

ments there and this new government will build upon many of them.

As I looked at the speech from the throne, and in responding to it today, I have to admit I had mixed feelings, very much so. I was a bit surprised.

I want to start by congratulating the members on the other side for their election and their success, in particular the Prime Minister. I do not share his views on a lot of issues, but beyond that I think a lot of Canadians have gained a certain admiration and respect for the fact that in difficult times he held tough. He made it through and won the confidence of Canadians. I want to congratulate him sincerely for that success. From a personal point of view I think that is quite an accomplishment.

As I read the speech from the throne I had mixed feelings for the following reasons. There are a lot of things in it that were left over by our government and were taken up by this new government, things that quite frankly the Liberals were not very enthusiastic to support when they were on this side of the House.

I went through the speech from the throne and had mixed feelings as I read the things the government was putting forward. In the seventh paragraph the speech reads: "In order to achieve this agenda integrity and public trust in the institutions of governments are essential". In the next paragraph the speech goes on to say: "My ministers will insist upon integrity, honesty and openness on the part of those who exercise power on behalf of Canadians".

This House has not sat for very long and already this commitment has been put to a very strong test. We have heard the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has been using government flight services and it has met with some controversy. We find today that the Minister for International Trade is in some difficulty over a fund raiser and the way it was presented. We also know that another member of that caucus has run into some difficulty regarding things he had done in the past.

I am not passing judgment on any of them, but is it not unusual that after only about 10 days I can stand in this place and recite three different areas in which the government has run into difficulty and with this in the seventh and eighth paragraphs of the speech from the throne?

I am not passing judgment but let us be very clear. Is it not very different sitting on that side of the House dealing with these matters from what it was sitting on this side? I see members on the other side nodding, admitting that is the case. Well, it is.

I hope that Canadians who are now going to look at this government will maybe see the previous government in a different light. I am not in any rush for that. I just know that the passing of time will deal with a lot of those issues.

Let me rapidly go over the things proposed in the speech. The second page refers to lobbying. On August 9 the then Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Kim Campbell, made a speech and in it promised a lobbyist registration act. How could I disagree with any action in that area?

The paragraph that follows talks about the credibility of Parliament and how we have to reform Parliament. In the same speech the same Prime Minister also made a commitment to parliamentary reform and the things we had to change. She gave a very detailed list of things we had to do. We have yet to see what the details of this government will be in this area, but I look forward to hearing what this government has to say, so I cannot disagree with that.

The third measure was about reform of MPs' pensions. Would we not know that on August 9 the previous Prime Minister also made the same commitment? However, she went a little further and said that we would change the pension system not only double-dipping but also pensions being taken before the age of 55. Therefore, we will wait to see what the new government proposes in this regard.

On the same page of the speech from the throne there is some allusion to small business and the Canada investment fund. In a speech given on August 27 by the then Prime Minister there was also an announcement made of the venture capital fund.

A venture capital fund was announced by the previous government on August 27 and later established. The Small Business Loans Act was also changed at that time.

There is a paragraph in the speech from the throne that really made me feel good, the paragraph relating to trade. I know my colleague from the NDP will appreciate this one because he has his views on trade and I do not think he has changed them. The hon. member has indicated he has not changed his views. Has he changed his view on NAFTA?

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to also join colleagues who a few minutes ago remarked on the very high level of debate in this place with regard to this motion.

Yes, I have been here for some time and I want to corroborate that and say I am equally very impressed by the quality and the contribution of members on all sides of this House. In fact, it is very impressive to hear some of the new members of this place who are making very thoughtful contributions to an issue that is not an easy one.

I do not want to dwell on the history of all of this. Today, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other members of this place have talked about how important peacekeeping and now what we call peacemaking has been for Canada.

It is truly a hallmark of our country. It is related directly to the contribution of a great Canadian who was our Minister of Foreign Affairs and went on to become a Prime Minister of this country. It is something that to members and citizens of this country is a matter of pride that we all share in that accomplishment and to the fact that this role that Canada has played has enabled our country to take an important place in international affairs.

Mr. Speaker, Canada plays a very important role in several international forums. It is something that defines us as a nation. Canada is a member of the Commonwealth, the Francophonie, the Organization of American States. Our membership in the OAS is quite significant in terms of our participation in efforts to resolve the Haitian conflict. Our involvement in all these forums reflects our view of the world and the role we hope to play in it.

Today's resolution is about Bosnia. I would like to briefly state our party's position on the main issues we are facing at this time, not only because we will have to make a decision regarding our participation as early as March 31, but also within the wider context proposed by the government.

Generally, there have been three issues raised with regard to our participation in peacekeeping, now peacemaking, efforts not only in Bosnia but around the world. The first one is the risk factor which has become greater than we have previously known it to be.

The second issue is whether or not we are doing our fair share. That has been raised many times today in this House. The third one is whether we can afford to continue to do it.

On the risk question, let me offer a quote by a prominent Canadian, General MacKenzie, who was the first person to go into this theatre for Canada leading our efforts there. He was asked, before a committee, whether Canada should restrict itself to chapter 6 traditional peacekeeping only. His answer was quite elegant. He said: "You could do that, sir, but as a professional soldier I would be mightily embarrassed if you did".

The context of that reply is a view that I share. When we started with peacekeeping we experienced great birth pains through that period. We tend to forget them, but it was also a very high risk proposal back then. However, we persisted and Canada led the way. We forged a place for ourselves and we developed a concept that went on to serve the world. I say that because my sense is that today peacemaking is also experiencing its birth pains.

Yes, the risk may be different and greater, but, as General MacKenzie has said, if it is our commitment and our destiny to take this on and to forge that concept, then we must accept the fact that the risk is there and we as a country are willing to meet it.

In fact, when we look at Bosnia it is important to appreciate that we have accomplished a lot. Yes, I join with other members in this place in speaking about the contribution of all the men and women who have been active in that theatre. Some of them have been from my home riding.

Our previous Secretary of State for External Affairs, Barbara McDougall, wrote an article recently for the Globe and Mail on what this contribution has been about. I take from her comments some of the things that we should recognize and some of the successes we have had that have been quite significant. ``The strategic objective of preventing the spillover of hostilities into other regions, such as Kosovo, has so far been achieved''.

Second, "UN peacekeepers, including Canadians, have helped hold together an uneasy truce between Serbs and Croats in the disputed areas of Croatia". I do not want to seem to diminish the risk in what is happening there, but we have been fairly successful.

Third and most important, "lives are being saved in the humanitarian effort".

Here are three areas of real successes for us in this effort. I think we need to keep a perspective these.

As we move on to this risk that is truly greater, I think we will want to work toward continuing the efforts that others have started.

There are very few countries in the world that can take credit for developing the command, control and supply solutions to inherent problems of operating a multinational mission in the field such as multiple languages, cultural differences and different command structures.

If there are very few countries in the world Canada is among those few. For that reason I would like to think that we will continue in that area.

In a document, "Agenda for Peace", the Secretary General laid out the issues and proposed possible solutions.

The Secretary General's "Agenda for Peace" draws a picture and proposes ways to intervene: preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, the establishment of conditions favourable to a durable peace.

In the document, "Agenda for Peace", put forward by the Secretary General of the United Nations, there was also some discussion about a standby force that the United Nations could put together. In this same document, it is not held as being one of the solutions that they would like to contemplate.

After the experience in Bosnia, I would think that maybe we would want to revise that position. My party believes that, if anything, we would want to think very carefully about our experience there and whether or not the United Nations, as it contemplates its 50th anniversary, would want to revisit this matter and consider it very seriously.

We also know from our experiences that what we will need is a very strong commitment to multilateralism. The experience of other countries in Somalia, for example, seems to indicate that there is some way to go. I am thinking in particular of our American friends who have had some difficulty in making and adapting to this new context of multilateralism-and we know that from our experiences in the gulf war-that is a reflection of what has happened over the last few years with the decline of the superpowers and the change in the structure around the world. That challenge is also very relevant to peacekeeping.

We believe the United Nations should contemplate the reforms that are going to be important in this area. In fact there are about eight reforms. Let me first stress that these reforms happen around the UN as a cardinal instrument in this new world order that we hear so much about.

We must rationalize UN operations and rethink its role in promoting peace and security.

Our party thinks that the United Nations must implement a number of changes. First, create a permanent strategic headquarters to enhance the management, planning and operational capacity of the UN. Second, improve its preventive diplomacy capacity and undertake an independent policy analysis of volatile situations. Third, obtain from the member states formal commitments to put at the disposal of the UN troops ready to intervene if necessary, just like Canada does. Fourth, set up a training program aimed at high-level officers who will be commanding the troops in complex, difficult and dangerous situations. Fifth, introduce a code of conduct and common method of operation for all soldiers serving under the UN flag. Sixth, rationalize UN institutions wherever possible to streamline them and make them more efficient, more concentrated, more responsible and more attuned to needs. Seventh, secure a commitment from member states to pay the full amount owing to the UN on time. And eighth, enforce more stringently the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and impose harsher sanctions on violators.

Mr. Speaker, I see you signalling to me that my 10 minutes are up. Very quickly, in conclusion there was a second point I wanted to comment on, namely whether Canada was paying its share. Very briefly, I would just like to make the following comment.

On the old issue of fair share, it is worth reflecting just a second in relation to our contribution to NATO where traditionally we have not been the highest contributor. However, if we weigh that against our contribution to peacekeeping, Canadians may find a perspective, as is the case on the world scene with other countries, a pretty fair contribution by Canada to this effort.

On the issue of affording it, we have to be very creative in how we deal with this and be mindful of it. The 10 per cent share may be something we would want to reflect on, but I would certainly encourage the government, the minister and this Parliament to support our efforts there.

I have no simple answers on whether we should continue or not, but our party is inclined to continue our support as long as the international community is also living up to its commitment. We could then set reasonable objectives to be met in regard to what our contribution is, when and how we should be there and when we should be pulling out.

Infrastructure Program January 25th, 1994

My question for the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, in relation to this secret memo written to him, is whether or not he has clarified the mandates of the ministers of human resources and public works as they attempted a power grab in their own regions in relation to all federal undertakings as written in this secret memo?