House of Commons photo

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

Suzie Bernier November 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the hon. members' attention the recent passing of a great lady, a resident of my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, Suzie Bernier of Connors.

Mrs. Bernier was always concerned for the well-being of others. She and her family were actively involved in, and committed to, the development of their community. A staunch defender of our heritage, she preserved numerous artifacts in her own home.

I invite hon. members to join with me and the people of Madawaska—Restigouche in expressing sincere condolences to the Bernier children, Armand, Lionel, John, Robert and Margot, and to all her other relatives and friends, in the loss of their loved one.

Saint-Joseph-de-Madawaska Fire Brigade October 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, today I want to take advantage of this opportunity to address the House to mark the 25th anniversary of the Saint-Joseph-de-Madawaska fire brigade in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche in New Brunswick.

I wish to acknowledge the important contribution to the community made by the members of the Saint Joseph fire brigade. Thanks to the dedication of these brave volunteers the community is protected and given the peace of mind it needs. These firefighters do not hesitate to lay their lives on the line when there is a fire and that deserves to be recognized.

I call on hon. members from across Canada to pay tribute to our firefighters. I want to thank all the members past and present of the Saint-Joseph-de-Madawaska fire brigade for 25 fine years of service to the community.

Seasonal Workers October 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, workers in seasonal industries have been calling on our government for help in coping with cyclical unemployment. I know that the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development will soon be announcing measures that will increase our government's support to seasonal workers in the regions most affected by this situation. It is regrettable that the Conservatives are showing their disdain for seasonal workers by publicly downplaying the impact of these new measures.

Can the minister reassure the seasonal workers on how important this issue is to the government?

Softwood Lumber October 25th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak briefly tonight on a matter of the greatest importance, to this government of course, but also to all Canadians: the softwood lumber dispute.

It is all the more important for my region of Madawaska—Restigouche, in northern New Brunswick, where the economy is very much linked to the forest industry.

Members of Parliament are never off duty, when it comes down to it. Representing one's fellow citizens has no time limits. I note that it is 1 in the morning in my riding in New Brunswick.

It is very important to ensure that our fellow citizens' interests are defended. That is why I decided to speak to the House tonight about softwood lumber. This is, of course, a very important issue in my riding, where there are paper mills and hardwood sawmills, as well as many, many softwood lumber mills. Softwood lumber is, therefore, a very important element in our area.

The Americans are our neighbours geographically, and our friends. Where I was born, there is nothing but a bridge between my town and the State of Maine. Other parts of my riding are also separated from the U.S. by nothing more than a bridge. So the Americans are considered not just neighbours and friends, but also family. Even so, we have to ensure that the agreements signed in the past are respected now, and will be in the future. We have to get that important message across to the people in our ridings. It is important for Canadians to be heeded and respected. I feel it is essential to see that people understand that clearly.

Last month, I became a member of the Liberal forestry caucus. We Liberals can be proud of taking the initiative to strike such a committee.

We saw a need for it and we created it, because we knew how important forestry is to all Canadians. Certainly, I joined this committee to stand up for my constituents and all Atlantic Canadians.

Initially, I wondered how I could best serve my constituents and the people working in the forestry sector. Clearly, there are businesses involved, but it also consists of people, human resources, the individuals who help keep it going.

As the saying goes, a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. Of course, the softwood lumber crisis facing the forestry industry was not something I was extremely familiar with. But I knew that it was important to go and meet the representatives of the forestry industry in each business, in order to understand the situation. Having done that and having talked with business people, entrepreneurs and factory managers, I had considerably improved my basic understanding of the importance of the forest industry, its situation and the various challenges involved, as they related to my riding, Madawaska—Restigouche.

I was asked to face various challenges in light of the current situation. People said to me, “Please, as our representative, pay careful attention to what your government is going to do. Do not put us at a more of a disadvantage than we are at already”. Obviously, this is related to the softwood lumber mills. People are asking us to be careful, because, clearly, we in the Atlantic provinces are in a unique position and we do not want to end up in a worse situation in the future.

I must mention one more thing. I belive that it is not talked about enough. I was extremely proud, over the past few weeks, to hear people in my riding say they really believed that the Prime Minister was truly defending their interests when he was in New York.

My constituents have commented that the Prime Minister stood up and said what needed to be said to defend the interests of the people of the riding.

When I heard about that, I thought it was fascinating. Often, as members of Parliament, the feedback we get tends to be more negative. It was therefore fascinating to see that people took the time to come and see me to say that our Prime Minister had done an outstanding job in defending the interests of both the industry and those who depend on it for their livelihood.

The people who work in the forestry industry have really felt included in the position taken by the Prime Minister. And this was not true only for the riding that I represent. I am convinced that, across the country, the reaction was the same: this was very good and the Prime Minister deserved to be praised for what he had done, for having so clearly and so directly defended the interests of our great country.

I touched on the subject earlier but signing agreements and resolving issues are not one-sided processes. We have to come to an agreement with another person or group of persons, or even several groups or persons. To make additions to an agreement, everyone has to agree and sign off on it. One cannot just come out and say, one year, two years or five years after the agreement came into force, that the agreement no longer suits them. Agreements are signed knowingly and willingly. It is also knowingly and willingly that the parties have to comply with the agreements they have signed.

The Liberal government is complying with agreements like NAFTA which it has signed in the past. Efforts also have to be made to ensure that our trade partners do the same. That is very important. This is one way of evolving in our society, by ensuring that each party complies with the terms of the agreement.

If we look at the export situation for a riding like mine, or for the entire country, we see that we may have made a mistake by putting all our eggs in one basket. Some 89% of our wood exports goes to our friends the Americans. Perhaps in the future we should do things differently. We may be too dependent. It would be good to do things differently and to seek out new markets.

North America is certainly quite vast and its population is large. We certainly have friends elsewhere and business opportunities available to us in other countries. One fine day, we should diversify our clients and the different companies we could do business with. That way, in the future, we will limit the impact of situations like the one we are in now.

The people in my riding have suffered. In other ridings, this may not be the case. Nonetheless, the entire softwood lumber situation should make us question the stability within the forestry industry. In the future, we must position ourselves differently and look at diversifying our markets. That way, we could certainly guarantee a better future for our constituents.

What is more important, we must respect our agreements.

In closing, I come back to the fact that the Prime Minister rose and clearly indicated the position of the government and the citizens of Canada. We should all be proud. We are showing our friends, our American neighbours, that our position and the agreement we have signed over the years must be respected

We are asking our neighbours to respect the agreements, just as we have.

United Nations Charter October 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, 60 years ago today, when the world was picking up the pieces after the war, the United Nations Charter was ratified and the cornerstone of the modern-day bilateral system was implemented. The Charter begins with the famous preamble, “We the Peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.

Today the United Nations is faced with the complex challenge of a changing world. Canada is working relentlessly in helping to reform the United Nations.

The 2005 Summit marks a forward step in that a need was recognized for a peacebuilding commission, for a response to health challenges and for ways to address the root causes of poverty, ignorance and fear. It is worth noting that it fully supports the responsibility to protect individuals from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

I remind hon. members that in March 2004, Secretary General Kofi Annan said in the House of Commons, “It is hard to imagine the United Nations without Canada and, I might even say, it has become hard to imagine Canada without the United Nations”.

Unesco October 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, recently, Canada was elected to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, whose mandate involves the identification, protection and conservation of natural or cultural heritage sites around the world. This is the committee that approved Quebec City for inscription on the World Heritage List in 1985.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell the House whether Canada intends to campaign for Quebec City to host the World Heritage Committee's annual general assembly in 2008?

Edmundston Regional Hospital Foundation October 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, today I want to acknowledge the contribution of volunteers and community members who recently took part in the 8th benefit luncheon for the Edmundston Regional Hospital Foundation in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche.

This year, the event raised $28,900, which will contribute to improving the quality of services provided at Edmunston's regional hospital.

There is no doubt that without the foundation, this health care institution could not buy the latest technology required to give our citizens the best of care.

I want to thank all the volunteers and donors who made this 8th fundraising breakfast for the Edmundston Regional Hospital Foundation such a success. Such events cannot take place without them.

Finally, I want to thank everyone from the Edmunston area who attended and showed their unconditional support for the work of the foundation.

Kedgwick Vocal Music Festival October 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, I had the chance to attend the Kedgwick vocal music festival in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche in New Brunswick.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at the talent of the participants at this event and I want to acknowledge the remarkable performances of all those who, despite their stage fright, sang during this festival.

I am also quite pleased to have been able to attend this event, which helped me discover all this talent from my riding and elsewhere. I want to thank the organizing committee for its dedication and commitment to culture and the arts.

Canada abounds with talented artists. My region and all of New Brunswick are no exception. I am sure we will soon see some of these performers make a name for themselves.

Transport October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, transport ministers recently agreed to designate new highways as part of the national highway system. Two highways in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche were included as collectors, namely highways 11 and 17. A few months ago, the Minister of Transport of Canada visited my riding to meet with groups calling for these highways to be upgraded.

Could the Minister of Transport summarize briefly for us the meeting he had with his provincial counterparts on September 22 in Calgary?

Firefighters September 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, the fire brigade in Saint-Jacques, New Brunswick, celebrated its 50th anniversary of loyal service to the community.

Today, I want to recognize the brave work of firefighters in Saint-Jacques, and all firefighters in my riding and across Canada. They keep our communities safe through their actions and they do not hesitate to put their own life on the line to save the life of someone else.

Without our firefighters, our communities would not be as safe. We must not forget the work our firefighters do in our schools and communities to promote prevention. In short, these people dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their communities.

I encourage all my constituents to recognize what our firefighters do and, once again, I want to thank the Saint-Jacques fire brigade for 50 years of service.