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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservative.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Madawaska—Restigouche (New Brunswick)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture April 6th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I thank you for giving me a few minutes to talk about the crisis in agriculture. But first I would like to congratulate you on your new position. I think it is important to take a moment to thank you.

The agricultural crisis affects a number of sectors: beef producers and grain producers, and some others as well.

It will be apparent a little later what I am getting at. I want to talk about a situation that arises in my riding, in a part of the agricultural sector we should look at and pay particular attention to.

The Speech from the Throne announces the plans of the new government and the priorities it has set for its term in office. When a Speech from the Throne has only a few things in it, this means that some groups, some industries and individuals, will be left out. According to the throne speech and what we have seen over the last few days, many needs will not be met. Supply management is very important for the chicken, egg and turkey industries and the dairy industry. The entire supply management question was overlooked.

I ask myself some questions. We are debating agriculture this evening. But what the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London said in the House this afternoon during the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne was very worrisome. He indicated that his government had certain priorities to address before anything else. For the people in my riding, agricultural issues and supply management are priorities. These are priorities not only for Madawaska—Restigouche, but also for all of New Brunswick and for rural regions across the country.

It is hard for me to understand how agriculture and supply management are not priorities for this new government. It can say what it wants, but as I said, a Speech from the Throne should outline the government’s priorities and intentions.

This is definitely not the way to help the agricultural industry nor help it in regard to supply management. Madawaska—Restigouche is a riding in northern New Brunswick, a rural riding—like all of New Brunswick—for which economic diversification is very important. We are not just talking about an industry that produces plastic or gasoline, we are also talking about the farmers.

Total economic diversification can strengthen a region and turn it toward the future. That is the direction it must face, and economic diversification makes it possible. A number of firms in our regions have decided to diversify in order to improve their situation and develop. They did so as well in order to help the people they employ. Thanks to this diversification, families can remain in their community rather than move to urban centres.

Supply management is vital in egg, chicken and dairy production. These three types of production enable the people of this country to eat daily in both the city and the country. We often forget the importance of our rural areas and their contribution to the economy, above and beyond feeding people.

My riding of Madawaska—Restigouche is a special case. It produces 80% of New Brunswick's chicken. You will agree, Mr. Speaker, that in my first term as an MP, this matter was vital to me. It remains a matter of the utmost importance.

Today, I am in my second term. During the latest election campaign, I promised the people of my riding that I would defend their interests in issues of importance to them. You will understand and agree as well that, since 80% of chickens raised in New Brunswick come from my riding, this issue is very important to my electors.

We must also look a little further and consider the question of negotiations and of the WTO. Perhaps there should be some discussion of supply management, since I am not sure everyone in this country is aware of it. The beauty of supply management is that the government does not need to help finance the industry. However, it does need to support the industry and supply management. Crises occur when they are not supported.

This is what my constituents have told me. Every time chicken, egg and dairy producers have come to Parliament Hill, I have met with them. I took the time to talk to them to be sure I understood their situation.

Clearly, as members of Parliament, we do not know everything. We cannot know everything about everything. Yet, when we seek to serve the people we represent, we make the effort to consult with them and understand their needs.

I must emphasize that supply management does not cost the federal government anything. The industry manages its own production; it manages itself. This cannot be overemphasized. In this regard, we must protect producers, the people who need supply management.

A closer look at supply management reveals that it is all about negotiation. These negotiations do not happen only in Canada; they happen worldwide. Nevertheless, supply management itself, as practised in Canada, is not negotiable. We have a supply management system for our producers, and they want us to support them, as I mentioned earlier. However, we must take care not to negotiate what should not be negotiated. We must not make compromises where there should be none.

We have negotiated and made compromises for too long. We have told our American and European friends that they can sell to us in return for a certain percentage, and that we can do the same. This enabled all of us to export our goods. But exporting goods is one thing. If we respect our agreement while our friends do not, we must put an end to negotiations and compromises.

With regard to many other issues, we have negotiated and made compromises. We know today that we are experiencing difficulties in other areas. As I mentioned, supply management is not negotiable and there is no possible compromise. We must promote the existing system and protect it in its entirety, in order to protect our industry.

Here are some very convincing figures that show the importance of supply management. In Atlantic Canada alone, the value of supply-managed products--chicken, turkey, eggs--totals $440 million. Just think about it--this represents only four provinces that are not very big. However, it is important to the economy of our regions. Even more important, this represents over 15,000 jobs.

If the government begins to soften its stand on supply management, and to negotiate and accept compromises, this will jeopardize an entire industry in the Atlantic provinces, as well as the diversification of our economy.

We must continue to support the people who elected us. I will definitely do so. I am very proud to represent the people in my riding and those who need supply management.

Young Canadians April 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the House today in recognition of some young students in my constituency.

On March 27, 2006, I was invited to speak with two sixth-grade classes at the Ecole Saint-Jacques as part of their social sciences unit. During my visit, the young students asked me many questions about the life and role of a member of Parliament.

I was asked many questions, all of them very interesting. This experience also showed me that we must spend time with our youth.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, today's youth have many questions to ask, but rarely do they receive any answers. It is our duty to take the time to speak with the young people of our society and answer their questions, for they are our future.

Once again, I would like to thank all of the students and both teachers, Martine Martin and Michelle Gaumont, for their warm welcome. As I indicated to them, I am always willing to meet with school groups.

Social Development November 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities who recently signed two agreements on sharing gas tax revenues with communities in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

It seems there is more good news for these provinces. Will the Minister of Social Development outline how recent agreements with these same provinces will benefit Canadian families?

Les Jardins Inn November 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to two entrepreneurs from my riding, who recently won a prestigious award.

Last weekend, Francine Landry and Valmond Martin, the owners of Les Jardins Inn, in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, received the New Brunswick Economic Council Business of the Year Award.

Francine and Valmond have been involved in the community for a very long time, and they make a significant contribution to our region. This is to say that the award they received last weekend was fully deserved. I want to congratulate them on this honour.

Again, my congratulations, Francine and Valmond.

Aboriginal Affairs November 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first nations across Canada are increasingly developing plans for large scale commercial and industrial development projects. We now have Bill C-71, a first nations led initiative that would enable first nations to increase the number of major commercial and industrial projects on reserves.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House how Bill C-71 would improve the quality of life on reserve and help first nations communities build a brighter future?

A. M. Sormany High School November 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, during the recent week of parliamentary recess, I visited two classrooms at A. M. Sormany High School, in Edmundston, during a course on political, economic and legal institutions.

The students of teacher Simon Nadeau had invited me to meet with them to discuss my role as a member of Parliament and the work that is being accomplished here, in the House of Commons.

I must say that these courses given to New Brunswick's young people are essential to prepare tomorrow's leaders and to ensure that our young people fully understand the issues surrounding our country's governance system.

I was surprised by the quality of the comments made by these students, who closely follow political life.

In conclusion, I wish to thank Angie Bonenfant and Eric Therrien for welcoming me at the school, and teacher Simon Nadeau and his students for giving me this opportunity to meet with them.

A. M. Sormany High School November 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet a group of business students from A. M. Sormany high school in Edmundston, New Brunswick, to discuss my role as a member, the role of government and the services provided by my constituency offices.

I always enjoy these meetings, since they are an opportunity for me to discuss issues of interest to young people and share my parliamentary experience with them.

I want to thank student Julien Pitre for the invitation to address his class, all the students and their teacher, Debbie Martin, for their warm welcome.

Social Development November 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, there have been reports in New Brunswick newspapers that the Premier of New Brunswick wants an early learning and child care agreement just like Quebec and that the federal government is simply playing politics with an early learning and child care agreement.

Would the Minister of Social Development please tell us about the deal with New Brunswick.

Privilege November 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the member for Wild Rose for his question. We are not trying to hide the truth or to set anything aside.

I can, however, tell you something that will shed some light with regards to my colleague's question. We must not always be finger-pointing or trying to identify the problems or the situations caused by so and so. We could do the same thing with what happened before 1993. I am convinced that the member would have an interesting time trying to explain some situations from that period.

We must bear one thing in mind. In this case, we had a government and, better yet, a prime minister who decided to get to the bottom of things. We can therefore ask ourselves who set up the judicial commission of inquiry to clarify the situation that came about following the sponsorship program. The three opposition parties did not set this up. We did and we did it for a simple reason: we wanted to get to the bottom of things to find out what happened in some programs. We had the courage to move things forward.

Some things occurred that may have been negative or perhaps should not have happened, but we have to move on, find solutions and improve things for the future. That is how we will advance Canadian society. It is certainly not by pointing the finger at anyone that we will resolve the situation or improve life for Canadians.

As far the use of this householder is concerned, I have a hard time explaining the situation. I use my householders, my 10 percenters to inform the public on important matters, the achievements I have made on behalf of my constituents. I also use them to inform Canadians on all the good things going on in the Canadian government, things that they should know, and to explain them.

You have no idea how happy the people in my riding are to be informed. It is not always easy for the public. If I am sending out a householder, I think about it first.

A householder like this contains no information, which begs the question. Are the Bloc Québécois members really able to do anything positive for their constituents? Are they able to inform the public on concrete things that are important to them? The answer is no.

As I was saying earlier, the only purpose of a householder like this is to put someone down in order to make oneself look good. It is a cheap shot. This is certainly not the way to engage in proactive politics to advance matters for your constituents.

In this situation, including certain things in a householder instils doubt in the reader and we certainly do not expect the reader to think this does not hurt anyone. No way. This householder harms the reputation of members of the House. I certainly would not accept that in my riding, nor do I accept it in the ridings of my colleagues.

Privilege November 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the Chair that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. She will have the opportunity to make her comments in a few moments.

I want to discuss the motion presented by my colleague, the hon. member for Bourassa, and express my outrage and disgust following what was done to him and to some other colleagues of mine.

When I was elected, in June 2004, it was for the purpose of working to improve the well-being of my fellow citizens. It was certainly not to adversely affect it. I remember, in 1998, when I was elected city councillor in my hometown for the first time, watching MPs and politicians in general, and telling myself that more needed to be done to gain respect. We must show Canadians what we have to do to earn its respect.

Members of Parliament, like officials from all levels of government, are in office to serve the public. We are here to ensure that what we do is for its well-being. One thing is sure: denigrating others will not make us automatically look better. The role of an MP is to work to improve things. We should not hit each other on the head, thinking this will improve our image and help us do better come the next election. That is definitely not how Canadians and Quebeckers see things. Later on, if I have the opportunity to do so, I will explain my position clearly by showing that Quebeckers do not think like that.

We have to look at the situation and show respect for our institution, the Canadian Parliament, but, more importantly, we must show respect towards each other. There are two very important aspects. The first one has to do with Canadians. If we look at the national polls, if we listen to the comments made by the public about politicians, we see evidence of cynicism. I think it is largely because of us, politicians, if Canadians have a problem of sorts.

When I ran in the 2004 election, it was to improve Parliament, to show the Canadian people that we were capable of working for them and of being honest. Certain members of the House are having some difficulty.

When we look at these leaflets that were widely distributed, it is easy to say, as certain members have mentioned, that asterisks are used to refer readers to explanations. You know as well as I do that when we buy an insurance policy or get a mortgage, there are often notes or asterisks that refer us to some other section. We all know that most people will not read these explanations. We are not much different from one another. That is what we will do.

However, doubt is put in the people's mind. Was that done in a spirit of malfeasance or really for the improvement of the politicians of Canada? This is what we must ask ourselves. That issue must be cleared because we cannot continue to create situations such as these forever and ever.

These leaflets were not distributed in my riding. I am convinced that the members of the Bloc Québécois will certainly not send leaflets to New Brunswick. However, if they do, I will say clearly that I do not believe that they should do it. All they want to do is sow doubt in the minds of Canadians. A doubt is not the same thing as reality or the truth.

We must be extremely careful with this. I have always said that the problem is not necessarily a matter of conflict of interest, but rather of what is perceived as a conflict. Sowing doubt in people's mind may hurt those who defend the interests of Canadians, including the 308 members of the House of Commons.

I was talking earlier about respect and I must say that, when I was elected, I said to the people who were working around me and to my constituents that, what they see on television is not very edifying. People look at the politicians in the House of Commons. I was looking at them before I was elected. Before and after the election, voters, my friends and constituents told me that the debates in the House of Commons were certainly not the best way to enhance the image of a federal member of Parliament.

When people from my riding come here, I always wonder if they really deserve to see what is going on in the House. When a member asks a question, he certainly wants an answer. I am pleased now to be able to make my speech and to express my opinion without any noise in the House. This is important, but it is not always the case. It clearly shows people that the most important thing is respect toward other politicians. I just made the comment and already I hear voices getting louder. Hopefully at least some members present try to do things the right way. When they express their opinion, they express it and, when others express their opinion, they listen. I wanted to point out this important fact.

When our constituents come here to see our debates and question period, they are certainly not going home with a good impression. As federal members of Parliament we must show respect. Respect must be reveal itself through what happens not only in the House, but also in our ridings. The image of federal members of Parliament or of the Canadian institution that the House of Commons is cannot be restored with negative messages. We are all here with the same objective, which is to move things forward for our fellow citizens. I can never insist enough on that. We are here to make positive things happen and to improve the quality of life of Canadians. No more, no less. That is what is really important to us.

In 1998, the second time I was elected as a city councillor, I put that into practice to show people how important respect is for a politician, even at the municipal level. I had to be a model of respect for the population of my community. That is how we can be sure to make things happen. One thing that is clear in this whole issue of propaganda—perhaps that is not a strong enough word for it— is that during elections, candidates are entitled to say their opponent's vision is right or wrong. They can explain their position on the issue and put their own vision forward. The pamphlet that was sent out is certainly not a way to advance things. And neither is sowing the seeds of doubt in the public mind.

I could go on all day long, but I will conclude to allow my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine to speak. The act of using our privileges and the taxpayers' money to disseminate propaganda in random ridings, with the goal of questioning the credibility of some of my colleagues is unacceptable. I think that is something our friends from the Bloc should be aware of in future.

It is important to have a conscience, we all know that. It is also important that parliamentarians and elected officials be respected. However, one must not forget that they have been elected by the population. Respect is a two-way street in the House. Attacking the integrity of individuals will in no way improve our image or enhance our value.