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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

Iraq February 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, for more than a week now my party has been calling for a proper debate to be held in the House of Commons on the Iraq question, not a group therapy session but a debate based on the known position of the government and the information it is prepared to give to the House.

I want to know why the government has waited a whole week and why the President of the United States is the one behind a debate in the House and not the members of the Canadian Parliament, who are entitled to the respect of this House and to an opportunity to hear the government's position, not group therapy.

Tuition Fees February 5th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, when I met today with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, they had the same thing to say as all other student groups. The tuition fees have never been higher and funding for post-secondary education is lower because of the savage cuts by this government to the tune of $6 billion.

Yesterday the Prime Minister compared himself to a bad NHL hockey player. We know he can skate but the Liberals cannot score. I would like to know what this government is going to do to diminish student loan debts in this country. If the millennium fund is the answer, then it is on the wrong track. We want to know what the government will do to diminish the heavy load of debt that students are carrying in the country.

Tuition Fees February 5th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, today I just met with representatives from the Canadian Alliance of Students' Associations.

Every time I meet students, I come to the same conclusion. Tuition fees have never been so high, while funding has never been so low, following the Liberals' savage cuts to health and post-secondary education.

I would like to know if the government intends to increase the former Deputy Prime Minister's salary, as she requested yesterday, or if it will first take measures to reduce the debt load of all students in Canada?

Ice Storm 1998 February 4th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the hon. member for Shefford.

This evening, I hope to make a useful contribution to a debate that will enable us to not only thank many people who deserve it, but to also reflect on the lessons to be learned from these events.

When the hon. member for Shefford wrote to you to ask that an emergency debate be held, she did so primarily to remind the House of Commons that this tragic disaster is not over yet. Indeed, there are thousands of people who are still without power and who are suffering tremendously from the effects of this terrible ice storm.

However, we also wanted to remind people that this disaster wreaked havoc not only in Quebec, but also in Ontario and New Brunswick. In fact, the riding of Saint John, which is represented by my colleague, was also hit by the storm, as was part of Nova Scotia. In recent times, other regions were also hard hit, including Manitoba, the Saguenay region in 1996—in fact, the hon. member for Chicoutimi lives close to the famous white house that we saw so often on television. Albertans, particularly those living in the Peace River region, also had to face major floods.

We felt that, by joining the other political parties that requested this debate, we would have an opportunity to discuss these tragic events.

First, I would like to make a comment which may seem somewhat unusual. These events remind us that a country is shaped by its history, its culture and its language. A country is shaped by people's memories and common experiences. And hardships are part of these common experiences. It is so true that, when we try to define Canada's history, our common experiences, the two world conflicts are often mentioned first. People talk about major operations such as Dieppe. Vimy Ridge is one of these experiences that shaped, if you will, our common identity.

Unfortunately, the same is also true of natural disasters, when Canadians have an opportunity to demonstrate the values they believe in. The positive thing in all of this is that, when facing an ordeal, Canadians remember the country they adopted, the country their parents built, this vast land over which we have no control when it comes to nature. We are governed by forces that go way beyond the means of this Parliament. And, from time to time, we have to bow to these forces and admit that we are not as important as we think we are.

Fortunately for us, our solidarity saves us each time something like this happens. Manitobans found in other parts of the country neighbours they did not know they had. People from the Saguenay region also discovered these extraordinary neighbours who lived in British Columbia, in Alberta and in Sherbrooke. And all Quebeckers and Ontarians who experienced this recent tragedy also discovered these distant neighbours. To me and to others who witnessed this solidarity, it was a great moment. These people went through tough times, but they were not alone. They had support.

I want to thank all those who took on responsibilities during this crisis because I was impressed by what I saw when I toured the region. Sherbrooke, Fleurimont and Lennoxville, in my riding, were not affected by the storm, but neighbouring communities, like Richmond, in the riding of my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska, were. The ridings of my colleagues from Shefford and Compton—Stanstead were also affected.

I was very impressed to see the importance of local leadership in a natural disaster such as this one. This leadership has to come from people like the mayor, the Knights of Columbus or other people in the community. All of a sudden, the natural leaders among us step forward and take control of the situation. And there was no shortage of leaders in any of the affected communities and in other places where people wanted to lend a helping hand. Leaders were there to organize things and take control of the situation.

The other thing that impressed me was the degree of poverty that we do not always see in our society, even though we suspect it exists. I will give you a concrete example. I think this disaster helped us realize how some people around us live from pay cheque to pay cheque.

In the normal course of events, some people rely on the pay cheque they get on Thursday or on Friday to buy groceries for Saturday and the following days. If there is no cheque, there is no food on the table.

Many of us and of our fellow citizens were probably stunned to see how many people live under such circumstances. When a natural disaster strikes, these people are destitute. They do not have anything. Without a pay cheque, they cannot buy groceries, period.

This brings up questions about the wealth distribution in our society, the measures we take to help these people out and the day-to-day lives of these people.

I want to thank the public officials concerned and the people who work for the government services. We talked about the premier of Quebec who did, I think, some good work. I also want to mention today that Prime Minister Chrétien also did well, in my view. I think of some of my colleagues. I saw on television members from the Liberal Party as well as the NDP, the Bloc and the Reform Party who volunteered to help victims.

At the risk of sounding somewhat partisan, but because of the stronger ties between members of the same party, we tend to think about our own colleagues.

The hon. member for Shefford got a lot of help from the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche. They knew each other, he called his colleague et sent her I do not know how many cords of wood, a dozen truckloads.

They sent wood from Chicoutimi to every community. I visited several communities. It seemed that every one I went to was receiving wood from Chicoutimi. Do not ask me where they got their wood from in Chicoutimi, but they kept on sending it.

The member for Tobique—Mactaquac was asked to locate a generator, which he did. Again, I am talking about our own members.

I saw the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell with his colleague for Ottawa-Centre. I saw Reformers, Bloc members, NDP members. They all pitched in, and they should be recognized and thanked.

I also want to thank the media. We seldom have the opportunity to do so. But I want to tell them tonight that I do not intend to go overboard. Neither do I intend to make this a habit.

I am thinking about radio stations, especially the CBC and Radio-Canada, and private broadcasters. With TV, it was a bit more complicated. You could see that it was a bit more complicated to cover events. The print media too. I believe that the media in general did a splendid job. They recognized their responsibilities. They deserve our thanks and I take this opportunity to say congratulations, bravo, we recognize the tremendous job you did.

I also want to thank the Canadian armed forces. I met young men and women who naturally and spontaneously came to their country's rescue. They did it without any second thoughts. The prime minister said it well: they did everything and anything. They did not come with a list of things they would accept or refuse to do. They did all the work. I think we are greatly indebted to them.

Mr. Speaker, you are telling me I have about one minute left if I want to share my time.

I just wanted to draw some lessons. First, we should be able to draw some lessons from these disasters in Manitoba, in Alberta, in Peace River, in the Saguenay, to point out, at the federal level, assistance and emergency problems.

There are lessons we must draw from the ice storm and from the disasters in Manitoba, the Saguenay and in the Peace River area of Alberta. The Government of Canada should establish a task force or assign this issue to a parliamentary committee to draw some important lessons from what has happened. Surely we have learned a number of things. We should take advantage of this opportunity to learn in order that we may do things more effectively in the future.

Second, if there are going to be programs to help companies, as a condition of receiving that help, those companies should tell us or include some help for their own employees. In certain circumstances their employees suffered a great deal.

If a company wants to receive some kind of assistance, why not give it on the condition that it does the same for its employees? No one expects to be fully compensated for everything that happens, but this would be useful for the company and for its employees, and I think the government would be well justified in saying “If you want the government to give you a hand, we ask you to meet this criterion”.

The third thing would be the role of the Canadian armed forces. They played a very useful role. Why not examine that role?

Fourth, I humbly make a suggestion to the Government of Canada. An inquiry will proceed in Quebec on these events. Perhaps there will be others in Ontario or elsewhere. I think the federal government should offer right away its co-operation and its assistance to these commissions of inquiry.

I want to thank the member for Shefford, the member for Richmond—Arthabasca and the member for Compton—Stanstead, who were in the centre of the storm. Congratulations to our colleagues who gave a helping hand. I also want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, as well as the House. I hope to have the opportunity to return and relive these events to draw some lessons from them.

Request For Emergency Debate February 4th, 1998


Request For Emergency Debate February 4th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I make this application pursuant to Standing Order 52 to discuss an important matter, otherwise known as an emergency debate.

Mr. Speaker, you will find in the communication that I delivered to you, that the argument is based on the following. Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 52, I hereby give notice of my intention to move a motion for the adjournment of the House to provide the House with an opportunity to debate an urgent situation developing in Iraq and the response thereto of the Government of Canada.

It will be well known to you, Mr. Speaker, that the Iraqi government has refused to co-operate with the inspection teams mandated by the United Nations to eliminate the Iraqi ability to produce and use large quantities of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction.

In a statement to the British House of Commons on February 2, 1998, only a few days ago, the foreign secretary confirmed that Iraq “has developed the know how and equipment to produce biological and chemical weapons on an industrial scale” and that “without effective UN monitoring, Iraq could produce enough anthrax every week to fill two missile warheads and could within weeks be producing a large volume of nerve gas”.

To date, ministers of the crown, ministers of the Government of Canada, have failed to provide the House of Commons with a statement of its policies on this urgent and life threatening situation. As participants in the previous United Nations military action against Iraq, Canadians could very well be targeted by this action.

The Government of Canada has a duty to inform the House of Commons of its policy, and the House of Commons in return has a duty to consider and comment on that policy.

In light of the continuing refusal of Saddam Hussein to accept diplomatic intervention and the increasing possibility, Mr. Speaker, of a military intervention, it is appropriate, in fact urgent, that you use your discretion to permit the House of Commons to decide whether or not it wishes to debate this question under the procedure authorized by Standing Order 52.

This is an emergency situation. I do not have to remind you of the statement made today by the President of Russia, who said that a global conflict was a possibility. Some tried to pretend that his comment was meaningless. If so, it is even worse. The comment is from the President of Russia.

Given the importance of holding an emergency debate to sound out the opinion of the House, the rules provide that you can take this into account. I urge you today to make good use of your discretionary power and to allow an emergency debate.

In conclusion, after consulting the other parties, I believe our colleagues from the Reform Party, the Bloc Quebecois leader and NDP members also feel that it is important to express their views on this issue, and I think you would get the unanimous consent of the House to proceed in this fashion.

Trans-Canada Highway February 4th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the minister also said yesterday and I quote “It was never envisaged that a province or a private company would profit”. That is an exact quote from the very same minister.

Patronage is taking its toll on the Liberal benches. I would like to know from this Prime Minister whether or not he is going to stand up for the Canadian taxpayer and demand that the $32 million be returned to where it should be? It should be returned to the Government of Canada rather than taken from the taxpayer of Canada.

Trans-Canada Highway February 4th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport said that, when the amount of $32 million was allocated for the highway in New Brunswick, he did not know that a toll highway was planned.

Can the Prime Minister tell us whether it is the policy of his government to charge for highways twice, or whether he does not instead intend to ask the Government of New Brunswick to return the $32 million taken from Canadian taxpayers' pockets?

Trans-Canada Highway February 3rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the government acknowledges today that something is terribly wrong about this deal.

We now know that a previous minister of transport who signed over the money himself is now partly in charge of a highway that he is going to toll.

I would like to know from the prime minister directly whether he agrees with this highway robbery now put on by Doug Young.

Trans-Canada Highway February 3rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the prime minister.

In 1995 the federal transport minister of the day, Doug Young, signed on behalf of the Liberal government a $50 million cost shared agreement with New Brunswick to provide funding to improve the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Riverglade. Since then the New Brunswick government has sold this highway to the same Doug Young to put in a toll.

Could the prime minister tell us whether or not this sale is consistent with the cost shared agreement his government signed in 1995?