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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was leader.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Saint-Maurice (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Constitution January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my answer is yes to the second part of the member's statement.

Health Care January 20th, 1994

Canada's health care services are administered by the provincial governments, and we contribute to the financing of these programs. The provincial government's own administration may decide what its priorities in this area will be, and that is each government's responsibility. Federal transfer payments are for us a way to ensure that health care services are available and universal across Canada. However, each provincial administration is responsible for its own budget priorities. The Constitution, in fact, gives the provinces jurisdiction over this area.

Health Care January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there are some universal health care services existing, for example, in Europe where they spend less than Canada in relation to their GNP. In the United States they do not have universal medicare and they spend 14 per cent of their GNP. In Canada we spend 9 per cent.

I know of some countries in Europe that have universal medicare which applies to all their citizens and they spend 7 per cent to 8 per cent of GNP. If we could be as good as them everybody would be saving money.

Health Care January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, it is in the interests of all levels of government to try to reduce spending in all sectors, including health care. If governments were able to reduce spending in this area, both the provincial governments and the federal government would improve their financial situation. If they do not succeed, expenditures will remain at the same level.

However, I want to try. In fact, this House wants the entire public sector in Canada to reduce spending levels, and all sectors should be examined, including health care.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

The Leader of the Opposition talked about progress and about preparing for the 21st century. I agree with him. I look around this House.

I see these members of different colours, religions and languages who are all members of the same family in my party and of the same country of Canada.

If we know how to capitalize on our strengths and our potential, if we look for new solutions, and if, while facing the tasks awaiting us, we can communicate our hopes and our energy, we will restore the confidence of Canadians in their government. A country which was able to overcome its problems, which is competitive and which becomes more powerful and more independent, is a country which will be a model and an inspiration throughout the world.

In short, what Canadians want is a country to be proud of and to believe in. That is the challenge not only for this government but for this Parliament.

It is in that spirit that I invite the men and women of all parties in this House to join us in this national effort. I invite them to put aside old tactics that have so frustrated and embittered Canadians. I invite them to work with us in improving this country.

I am convinced that the new spirit that men and women elected to this House are bringing with them makes it possible for us to enter a new constructive era together. We all have an obligation to uphold the confidence Canadians have invested in each and every one of us.

Together we can prove that their confidence was not misplaced. Together we can do what every generation of Canadians did when put to the test and that is to meet challenges head on, beat the odds and build the country.

It is our mission to take this country and prepare it for the 21st century, to make sure that we will give our children and our grandchildren this land of freedom, opportunity and justice which is an example to the world. Today, as Prime Minister of this land, I tell everyone that the world needs the understanding, tolerance and justice that this country has been able to prove over the years. For me Canada is and will always be number one.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

The hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria, in New Brunswick, rose in this House to second the motion in reply to the speech from the Throne.

I have had the great honour of being the member for Beauséjour and to rise in this House to represent francophones, francophones from New Brunswick, and Acadians who were deported and who came back. And those one million francophones outside Quebec are part of my country.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

I also want to mention that it is true that we did not get as many votes as the Bloc québécois. We will change that next time, but it is the reality now.

But I have something to say to the hon. members who were elected in Quebec and who are French-speaking Canadians like me. Something happened this week in this House, something which they should have noted. First, we chose a Speaker. Two French-Canadians from Ontario got the same number of votes in the fifth ballot, which means that, at one point, all the members of this House voted for a French Canadian. One won and one lost. But in a sense it is very telling that a person like the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier who, throughout his career, has always been proud to be a francophone and has always said it loud and clear, got such support.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, before anything else, let me congratulate you on your election last Monday which was exceptional in a way. As you know, your role is a fundamental one in our democratic institutions. Let me assure you today that my government and the members of my party will support you at all times and will try to facilitate your work in every possible way.

I would also like to congratulate the two members who moved the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, the members for Bruce-Grey and Madawaska-Victoria. Although they are new at this, they showed us how wise their constituents were in choosing them as their representatives in this House.

I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that they will enjoy a long and outstanding career in this House.

There is no greater honour than standing before you in this House as Prime Minister of Canada. I will do my best to make a contribution to this great work in progress we know as Canada. In fact, each of us in this House has a role to play and a responsibility in that area.

I want to salute and welcome the men and women from all parties whom Canadians elected to the House of Commons on October 25.

This session of Parliament has an unprecedented number of new members. More than two-thirds of the women and men in this House are new to Parliament. It is the biggest injection of new energy in the history of this institution. I look forward to the new spirit that will come from this fresh Parliament. Canadians are looking for members of all parties in this House to work together in a very constructive way and I am confident that we can work together on many issues of importance to the people of our constituencies and of our country as a whole.

If there are a record number of new members in the House, there are also a few well-known figures such as the Government House leader who has been part of our political scene for 31 years, I am told, and other veterans such as the members for Ottawa-Vanier and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce who have been present in this House for so long they should serve as models for many of us. I would also call upon the many new party members to consult them occasionally as they could be of service. They are familiar with this House and have made some very positive contributions throughout their successful career.

I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the people of the constituency of Saint-Maurice, a region that knows me and understands me very well. I want my constituents to know that I will work hard for them and that I am deeply honoured to serve for the ninth time in my life as the honourable member for Saint-Maurice, a responsibility which gives me the greatest pleasure of all. I will always be very grateful for this opportunity.

The people of Saint-Maurice want the same things as their fellow Canadians across the country. They want their government and their elected representatives to begin the much-needed process of healing the country. They want them to set aside old grievances and debates and to focus on building a country that we will be proud to leave to our children.

What kind of country do the constituents of Saint-Maurice want? What kind of country do Canadians want? They want a country full of hope instead of fear, a country where each person is an equal partner and can make a contribution, rather than be a burden to society. They want a country where adults can find a decent, interesting job, a country where children can dream of a happy future. They want a country that recognizes our communities as the pillars of social stability and economic strength, a country with a dynamic economy, one which fosters the entrepreneurial spirit and which is on the cutting edge of technological progress and change.

They want a country where the government listens to them and respects them. Finally, they want a competent, honest and fair government, one that keeps its promises and helps them achieve their potential. That is what Canadians want and that is what this government will endeavour to give them.

Everything we do during this Parliament will be aimed at healing the deep wounds in our country, at restoring the bonds of trust and respect between Canadians and the government. It will be aimed at rebuilding our economic vitality to ensure that every Canadian is able to realize his or her full potential.

Canadians voted for that kind of government on October 25. Above all, Canadians voted for a government that follows through on its commitments, that keeps its word and lives up to its promises.

From the moment we took office a little more than two months ago we have been working to keep the pledges we made to the Canadian people. We have done what we said we would do.

For example, on November 4 we cancelled the $5.8 billion helicopter program, a luxury we did not need and could not afford. The same day we introduced a 23-member cabinet, the

smallest ever. We cut $10 million from the offices of ministers and we reduced the size of the Prime Minister's Office.

Last Sunday the whip introduced a program to give a good example of where this institution has decided to cut by $5 million the expenses that we have to incur as a Parliament. In the week since then we moved immediately to implement the national infrastructure program. In fact this month we will sign infrastructure agreements with every province and projects to put people back to work will get started in a matter of days and weeks.

We sought and received improvements to enable Canada to sign NAFTA. We helped to negotiate a GATT agreement that opens new horizons for increased exports abroad and increased jobs at home.

We reviewed the Pearson airport deal and cancelled it because it did not serve the interests of taxpayers.

We appointed a new Governor of the Bank of Canada.

We levelled with Canadians about the size of the deficit that we generated and about the huge debt that we will have to carry and we set up a new consultative process for the next budget.

In our first meeting with provincial premiers we began work on such issues as eliminating interprovincial trade barriers, ending duplication between levels of government and reforming the tax system, including replacing the GST.

We have done all that in a little over two months. Each of these measures is linked to a specific promise made during the electoral campaign. And now, in the Speech from the Throne, we are continuing to keep our promises. In fact, I was quite pleased to read the headline in La Presse this morning; there had been others like it during the campaign that had been just as positive.

The Speech from the Throne, like this government's mandate, originates from the red book, the title of which is Creating Opportunity: The Liberal Plan for Canada . We have provided Canadians with an action plan. We have run the risk of submitting a complete and detailed plan of action. We have done what no other party had ever done before.

Canadians are not afraid to go off the beaten path. They were not expecting miracles either. What they want and deserve is a government capable of taking up difficult challenges.

During the campaign I called it realistic hope for a better future for themselves and their children, for a prosperous economy in which they can contribute, for a society that is compassionate and caring, for communities that are safe and decent, for a government that represents them, that believes in the same things they do.

Canadians opted for realistic hope for the future and they invested their hopes in this government. On behalf of the men and women who were elected to form this government I would like to tell the Canadian people we will not let them down. What we will do is work to respect what we said to the Canadian people we were going to do.

This throne speech marks an important step in renewing the faith of Canadians in their institution. The agenda is ambitious but it is doable and it is the agenda Canadians have chosen. We must build on the goodwill and the renewed confidence in institutions that the government's actions have created among Canadians. The people of Canada said loudly and clearly during the election that they want to return integrity and honesty to government.

The government understands that desire and will act on it with concrete measures early in this session. We have already sent very important signals. The work of the Hon. Mitchell Sharp is a powerful message to Canadians that government can be a force for good in society, that public life is a very honourable calling and that we are here to serve others, not ourselves. That is how we intend to conduct ourselves throughout our mandate.

However it is not enough to clean up the system. Canadians voted for something more. They voted to return power to the elected representatives here in the House of Commons. We made commitments to the Canadian people to give the House and members of Parliament new relevance so that it once again becomes the focus of political debate and decision making in our government.

The government House leader will bring forward changes to the rules and practices of this place. We will give a much greater role to parliamentary committees.

I have asked the finance committee to come up with alternatives to the GST. Later on in the year, I will ask that they be closely associated with pre-budget consultations. The government will ask the parliamentary committees to submit our strategic policy as it relates to foreign relations and defence to a thorough examination.

This government is serious about the need for real political debates to be held in this House before decisions are made.

Earlier, during question period, the Minister of Finance suggested that a pre-budget debate be held in the House of Commons to allow the members to express their views on the coming budget, and I wish to commend him for that initiative.

We will also have a debate in this House on the role of our peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia because, as you know, difficult decisions will have to be made when the time comes to renew mandates, in March and April. And I want the hon. members to have an opportunity to debate the issue.

I would like members to have the occasion to debate it before, including the members of my party. I would like everyone to speak very frankly. After that we will make a decision knowing what everyone thinks. Particularly for my party it will be unusual because some members may take a position that is not in accordance with what we will eventually decide. However in a democracy we go along with the majority view, the decision of the authorities. I hope the opposition parties will realize this is a new opportunity we are giving to this Parliament so that we can know exactly what members think before, rather than us making the decision. I have been there. It is a terrible job to be in the opposition and I do not want to go back there.

I want members to speak first. Of course they will criticize after that, but we will compare their first speech and the second one.

These reforms are part of our efforts to bring government closer to the people and to restore trust between them.

A government must act in the best interest of all members of society, mainly by promoting job creation, fostering economic growth and creating opportunities.

The economic policy of this government can be summarized in two words: jobs and growth.

During the course of this debate the President of the Treasury Board will speak about the national infrastructure program. The Minister of Industry will elaborate on government policy with respect to small and medium sized business. The Minister of Human Resources Development will speak about the youth corps and programs to help the transition from school to the workplace. The Minister of Finance has begun a consultative process across Canada before presenting next month's budget. He is committed to getting the economy moving and to creating jobs.

Through a combination of expenditure restraint and economic growth we will succeed in reducing the deficit. We are determined to achieve our goal of 3 per cent of the deficit in relation to the GDP.

We will not throw people out of work simply to be able to say that the deficit has come down. Yesterday the member for Madawaska-Victoria said it very clearly in a way we on this side believe it should be said, as do some on the other side too. He used a phrase all of us should keep in mind: the government should be lean but not mean.

In fact our approach to economic policy will be guided by the need to prepare Canadians for the jobs and economic opportunities of the 1990s and the 21st century.

We will invest in Canadians, in training programs and programs to improve literacy and other basic skills.

Our agenda for job creation and economic revival is an ambitious one and, as everyone knows, our resources are limited. A government cannot do everything and, in 1994, it should not try to. This is why we are going to count on partnership to boost growth and job creation.

We will work in partnership with other levels of government to implement our infrastructure program, to reduce internal barriers to trade, to replace the GST and to reform our social programs.

We will work in partnership with the private sector for job training and the youth service corps and for helping-and this is very important-financial institutions to better recognize and better meet the capital needs of small and medium-sized businesses.

This partnership will also extend to our work in knitting together a stronger social fabric in Canada.

Our number one focus will be the economy, but a strong economy is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end, to better lives for Canadian families, to healthy caring communities, to a decent quality of life. This is the essence of what being a Canadian is all about.

Canada's social security system was created by successive federal governments. A cornerstone of our philosophy is the principle of shared social responsibility. We are extremely proud of the Liberal legacy in social policy. In fact, the father of our Minister of Finance was one of the fathers of this great system. I was here in this House to vote on many of these measures.

We believe that people experiencing economic difficulty must have income support available to them through social assistance. But it is our goal to help people on social assistance who are able to work to be able to move from dependence to full participation in the economic and social life of Canada.

We know that the jobless do not want to be unemployed. Canadians want to earn their living honourably. They want the

dignity of a job. We must therefore design programs which will help them find work.

We know that the poor do not want to live in poverty. Canadians who are able to work do not want to collect welfare. Our programs must therefore help, for example, a single mother who does not have access to child care services; otherwise, she will be forced to remain dependent on the state for many years.

We must admit that Canadians have never faced so many social and economic challenges since the depression of the 1930s.

The structure of our economy is changing and the family unit has been deeply transformed. We must therefore reform our social security system to meet the needs of Canadians today.

The minister of human resources will announce a process to rethink our social security system and to modernize it, in co-operation with the provinces and for the greater good of all Canadians.

During the course of this debate the Minister of Health will speak about the commitment of this government to health care and to women's health issues. The Minister of Justice will speak about measures we will take to protect individuals from crime and violence in their homes. He will speak about measures which enhance our commitment to the fundamental equality of Canadians.

These are areas in which a society is judged. This government wants to play its role in ensuring the fabric of Canadian life continues to be tolerant and generous and that the quality of life we all cherish and which is so distinctively Canadian improves and benefits all Canadians.

The agenda is full and it will require co-operation and a sense of a shared mission which our country has not seen for a long time, the kind of spirit we saw at the first ministers meeting in December. Canadians are ready for this national will. They want those of us who are in responsible positions in government and the private sector to work together toward those worthy national goals.

I wish to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his speech. It is a first in the House of Commons, in a quite unprecedented situation, as he said himself. I do not intend to respond to all the arguments he put forward, because I think the debate would be rather sterile. In the election campaign, we talked a lot about jobs, we talked a lot about the deficit in Quebec and we maybe talked a little about independence and separation, but not much. I know that if I got into that subject, I would not be fulfilling the mandate which I received from the people of our country.

Besides, my convictions are well known. I have been here for many years. I would just like to tell you that my convictions about Canada are based perhaps on a text which describes our country very well. A hundred years ago, one of my predecessors, Laurier, spoke thus, as the twentieth century approached:

We are French Canadians, but our country is not limited to the territory around the Citadel in Quebec; our country is Canada. Our fellow citizens are not only those who have French blood in their veins. They are all those, regardless of race or language, who have come here among us as a result of the vagaries of war or the whims of fortune or by their own choice.

These words are just as appropriate today, on the eve of the 21st century, as they were at the beginning of the 20th century.

Human Rights January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reply that in the red book we had a very definitive program regarding the need for the improvements to NAFTA before we signed. We managed to get the improvements that we wanted so we were in a position to sign.

Of course as the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, we are following very closely what is happening at this moment in Mexico. We are putting pressure on its government to respect human rights. We will keep pressing.

However, there are a lot of hypothetical questions in the question the member has put to which I am not in a position to reply. We have to see how the situation develops there. We have confidence that the grievances that exist in that society have no relation to the signing of NAFTA.

The Economy January 19th, 1994

The questioners through the leader of the Reform Party should know that only $2 billion of the $6 billion is coming from the federal treasury, so it will have reduced only the deficit of the federal government. This infrastructure program is a big success.

The mayor of Calgary is very enthusiastic about this program, as are the mayors of Hamilton, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, and Shawinigan, Quebec.