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

The Environment December 9th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment will be in Buenos Aires next week to take part in the Conference of the Parties, COP 10, on climate change, of which the Kyoto protocol is the first step.

I want to ask, what is the minister's objective for this meeting?

Polyvalente A.M. Sormany December 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the opportunity to meet two groups of students at the Polyvalente A.M. Sormany, in Edmunston, New Brunswick, to discuss with them my role as member of Parliament and the role of the government. I can attest to the interest these young people have in Canadian politics.

The questions asked by these students were surprisingly relevant, and I am convinced that such meetings should take place more frequently to stimulate the interest of young Canadians in Canadian politics.

I wish to thank teacher Simon Nadeau and his students for inviting me to their class. I hope that this experience proved as profitable for them as it was for me.

Huguette Plourde November 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the dedication of someone who is very involved in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche.

Recently, Huguette Plourde of Saint-Léonard received the Racine provincial and regional award as intervener of the year in the field of cultural development.

The Racine award in the intervener of the year category is awarded to professionals or volunteers from a member organization who stand out for their exceptional dedication to cultural development within their community. The recipient of the provincial title of intervener of the year is selected from among the recipients from each region.

Huguette Plourde is actively involved in the Association culturelle du Haut-Saint-Jean and works tirelessly to promote cultural development.

Obviously, any individual who is as involved as Ms. Plourde plays a key role in the development of our communities and deserves our most heartfelt congratulations and our support.

This is why I wanted to acknowledge in this House today the valiant efforts of Huguette Plourde.

Department of Social Development Act November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, last December, the Government of Canada established the Department of Social Development to provide a centre of expertise for social policies and programs, thereby enabling Canada to maintain and strengthen its reputation as a nation that cares about the well-being of its population.

In the past 10 months, Social Development Canada has taken bold steps in support of its mandate. Now, in introducing a bill to provide a legal basis for the department, we are building on the work accomplished and laying the foundation for a more aggressive approach to social issues at the federal level.

With its 161,000 non-profit organizations, the Canadian volunteer sector represents both a social and economic force in our country. Once again, I want to stress that, when we say that there are 161,000 non-profit organizations across the country, we have to pay attention to this great force.

The basic purpose of volunteer work and non-profit organizations is to ensure that we can help not only our region, our city or our province progress further, but the whole country. It is therefore extremely important to work with and support these organizations which, in practice, make a useful contribution, very often, in more specific ways than the government or other institutions could.

Non-profit organizations, including charities, provide a full range of services to meet human needs: child care, elder care and youth recreation.

Many organizations focus their efforts on the members of groups which are often marginalized, such as persons with disabilities, aboriginal people and new immigrants. They provide services such as education and training, housing and shelter, and places of worship. In so doing, they improve the quality of life of millions of Canadians.

While providing essential services, non-profit organizations also give Canadians an opportunity to reach out to their fellow citizens. Newcomers to Canada, for instance, get acquainted with their adoptive country through volunteer work, not to mention that this is an opportunity for all these newcomers to gain valuable and fulfilling work experience.

All in all, more than six million Canadians give their time to non-profit or community organizations. This is a donation of more than deux billion hours of work every year. I want to say that despite my full schedule, both in the past and the present, I have taken part in voluntary activities many times. I thought it was very important, not for myself, but like those millions of other Canadians, in order to help and encourage the rest of the population. In fact, when we belong to an organization that provides assistance to the public, we are certainly not doing it for our own personal good.

The assistance provided to these organizations is often dismissed as marginal. Nevertheless, we must never forget that without the concern of the people who keep voluntary organizations and volunteerism going, it would be even more difficult to ensure that everyone in our country is very well taken care of.

Two billion hours of work is a great deal. The Canadian people give many hours of their time so that everyone in Canada can benefit. Two billion hours of work per year is quite a contribution for the entire population of Canada and for its well-being.

Whether they are delivering meals to seniors in their homes, coaching in minor league sports or offering respite care for families in need, our volunteers are doing essential work that reflects well on Canada's dynamic communities.

When we talk about delivering meals, I would just like to point out that in my home region the Canadian Red Cross offers this service. But the service does not appear simply by saying, “We will do it”. It can only be provided by hundreds of volunteers all over Canada who donate their time and energy to help those who need it most.

Our volunteers also contribute to community life outside Canada's borders. They give their time to organizations that create awareness of the need for pollution controls, that establish bridges of hope and understanding between cultures, and that increase the ability of developing countries to help themselves.

These actions show compassion and well-understood personal interest. Once again, I have been aware for a number of years of the importance of working with these organizations and with the people who are attracted to them. It makes it possible for us, in our communities, to ensure that we can help others with needs greater than ours, and contributes to social progress in this country.

At the end of the day, what is given comes back. In other words, as sustainable development takes root in these countries, the entire Canadian population will benefit from the emergence of a safer world that is more stable and more prosperous.

The not for profit and community organizations in Canada are important allies in creating solid and dynamic communities. Not only do they fill a real and growing need, but they speak on behalf of the most vulnerable in Canadian society. Since they are close to ordinary people, they give the government valuable information that can help improve social policy.

When I say they give the government valuable information, I believe that it is important, as parliamentarians, to take some time to talk to these people and get involved in these organizations in order to have a better understanding. That is not to say we do not understand. Nonetheless, we have to make sure we have a better understanding of the needs and the benefits of the not-for-profit organizations that work in the volunteer and community sector. This will facilitate the establishment of a link to provide information to the government so that we can move closer toward really good social policies, as we are doing today.

The volunteer and community sector is at the heart of what is most often called the social economy. It includes all the not-for-profit companies and activities utilizing people and companies to benefit communities across the country.

In Canada, some 10,000 social enterprises and organizations employ roughly 100,000 people and produce $20 billion in annual revenues. This is extremely significant in terms of revenues, but even more significant in terms of the number of people who have the opportunity to work at these social enterprises. Some 10,000 people working at 100,000 companies is significant, and it is extremely important to recognize and promote these companies.

The government is determined to foster the social economy. In fact, it has already started to reach its budget commitments of 2004 in this regard. The funding has been allocated to three priority areas. First, there is $100 million over five years in support of financial initiatives that will increase lending to social economy enterprises. As I mentioned, we can see that this contribution is important to help these social economy enterprises move forward and prosper in the country.The funding in the second initiative includes $17 million over two years for a pilot project for strategic planning and capacity building of community economic development organizations. Finally, in the third initiative, $15 million over five years will go to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in support of community based research on the social economy.

It is extremely important to recognize these social economy enterprises and the importance of social economy in this country. It is important to recognize them because, often, they do not get the attention, but people need a little help that is often more moral than financial.

This investment in the social economy will total $132 million. However, funding is not enough. The government is committed to helping foster the environment that supports social economy enterprises. To this end, as the Speech from the Throne said, the government introduced a new Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, an initiative of Industry Canada.

The new legislation will modernize the regulatory framework, increase public confidence and streamline rules for charities. It will help create the necessary conditions so that social economy enterprises can prosper. In principle, everyone will benefit, since these enterprises put their surpluses back into the community.

Committees of the House November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Bill C-5, an act to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education savings.

Foreign Affairs November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

At the Francophonie summit, the Prime Minister referred to the responsibility to protect. What is the Government of Canada doing to promote this concept?

Employment Insurance November 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the constituency that I represent, Madawaska—Restigouche, has a large number of seasonal workers who are making a significant contribution to the economic and social successes of our communities, as is the case in many other ridings in the country.

In fact, seasonal work is very important to the economy of Madawaska—Restigouche, since it includes industries such as forestry, tourism, construction and agriculture, which are key components of my region's economy.

I want to ask the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development if he intends—

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 22nd, 2004

Madam Speaker, I want to ask my hon. colleague a question for various reasons.

But first, I suppose that my hon. colleague made a mistake when she said that the Liberal members voted against the formation of the Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds. As far as I know, Liberal members voted in favour of forming this subcommittee. We had a disagreement about a particular amendment, but not about the existence of the subcommittee itself. We will see what the hon. member says about this. In my view, it is important to set the record straight on this matter.

One thing must be clear, and this is where I am getting to my question. One must not think that the situation with employment insurance is limited to Quebec. In New Brunswick and in many other provinces and ridings of this country, there are problems with employment insurance. In fact, we can say there is a will to improve things.

There is one thing my hon. colleague will be able to say. In my case, as a member of this committee, I work extremely hard to make sure that we can work on improving the situation with employment insurance, seasonal work, and so forth.

I would like the hon. member to explain to us why, when the formation of the Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds was being discussed, they did not agree that the whole Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities should discuss this issue?

I thought it was extremely important to talk about employment insurance because my riding is in a critical situation. Why is the hon. member suggesting today that we voted against the formation of the subcommittee?

Also, does she perhaps not remember that she did not want all the members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to discuss this issue? She decided that it should be discussed by a few members only, one member per party, and she worked hard with the opposition to have her position prevail.

I thought it was very important to talk about the EI program, and I did not get the opportunity. But I was very lucky to be named to the Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds. Otherwise, I would not have been able to say a single word on this issue. I would like the hon. member to explain that to me.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Davenport.

I am very pleased to take part in this debate today on Bill C-23, which legally establishes the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.

The new legislation will provide the necessary power and tools for the minister and the department to achieve their mandate and to contribute to the government's ultimate goal of strengthening our social foundations.

By splitting the former Human Resources Development Canada, the government has given itself a structure that will help it focus its efforts on further helping Canadians acquire the tools they need to develop and prosper in their workplace and community and on providing Canada with a highly skilled workforce that can meet the needs of the job market in the 21st century.

It is a tall order, we agree. Canada has many assets for competing on the global market, but it has to address the important issue of the disparity between emerging jobs and the skills of its workforce. Today fewer jobs do not require a high school diploma and in five years an estimated 70% of jobs will not be accessible to people without a high school diploma. Gone are the days when a young person could get a job in a factory for the rest of his life without a diploma.

Furthermore, technologies are advancing quickly and workers have to update their skills constantly. Just think about your computer: you buy the latest model and before it is even delivered a more powerful one comes out on the market.

Workers can expect to change jobs at least three times during their working life, and will often end up in fields that are very different from where they started. They have to adapt and be very flexible.

Canadians have proven time and again that they are able to adapt to change and we are sure they will stay above the fray in this new century. However, to do so it is important for citizens to be in a continuous learning environment in a country that is advanced in skills development.

Together with the other levels of government, including the provinces and territories, the business community and trade unions, the Government of Canada seeks to do just that, namely build a lifelong learning culture. It goes without saying that to build such a culture, the government is taking action and putting in place structures such as the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Thanks to its many partnerships with the provinces, territories, private sector, trade unions, non-government and native organizations, the department delivers a wide range of programs to help students wishing to pursue post-secondary education, young people seeking work experience, people looking for work, businesses needing to hire and train workers, employers and unions striving to improve the work environment here in Canada.

I will now quickly list a few of the many programs delivered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, in cooperation with its many partners. The Canada students loans program helps students with recognized needs access post-secondary education while the Canada education savings grants encourage parents to invest in their children's education. The Youth Employment Strategy is another component that helps young people get relevant information on careers and the job market to guide them in their choices regarding their future. It provides young people with practical work experience and learning opportunities that help them find and keep a job, and delivers programs and services to young people who have trouble finding work.

Another element is the EI benefits and support measures helping unemployed Canadians go back to work. The various sectors analyze the situation in their own areas and develop strategies accordingly.

The department is also taking a leadership role with other federal departments and agencies on numerous projects, including the recognition of foreign credentials.

As you can see, the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development has a impact on all Canadians at one point or another in their life. In 2003-04 for example, employment benefits and support measures alone have helped close to 700,000 Canadians. During the same period, and thanks to the department's programs, close to 56,000 Quebeckers have re-entered the labour force.

Moreover, during the summer of 2003, more than 480,000 young Canadians benefited from the help of the 330 human resources centres for students in Canada. In short, many Canadians rely on Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

The minister obviously has an important role to play in the management of this important department. He can fortunately count on two colleagues, the Minister of State (Human Resources Development) and his colleague the Minister of Labour and Housing. Together, they manage one of the departments that has the greatest impact on the daily life of Canadians and on their common future. Together, they are working to build a lifelong learning culture to help meet the challenges of the 21st century and ensure Canada's prosperity.

Criminal Code November 15th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I am happy to see Bill C-16 before this House. I will be speaking in favour of sending the drug impaired driving bill to committee.

This bill would enable police to demand physical roadside tests. If an officer were to have a reasonable belief that a driver is committing an impaired driving offence, the officer could demand that the driver participate in a drug recognition evaluation by a trained officer back at the station.

If the drug recognition expert concludes that the person is impaired by a drug, the peace officer can demand that the driver provide samples of bodily substances to confirm the presence of the type of drug which, in the opinion of the peace officer, is the cause of impairment.

It would be a criminal offence to refuse to comply with any of these three demands. These new offences would be punishable in the same way as a refusal to provide a breath sample by a person who is suspected of being impaired by alcohol.

Clearly, members will want to be assured that the tests are based on solid science and will reliably detect drug impaired drivers. I am pleased to assure the House that the DRE program has been highly successful and has been validated by research.

Although the bill provides for the test to be set out by regulation, there is no secret about what those regulations would contain. The DRE program is now more than 20 years old. Since the early 1990s it has been operating under the aegis of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The IACP has a drug evaluation and technical advisory panel composed of scientists who are constantly working to refine the tests and make them more effective. The IACP holds a conference annually so that police forces and prosecutors can exchange information and hear directly from the scientists.

I understand that the regulations which will be developed when the bill is passed will adopt the IACP standards. By putting the standards in regulations, it would be easier for Canada to remain abreast of developments around the world. It would be simpler to amend the regulation than to have to put a bill through Parliament.

What are these tests? The standardized field sobriety test is a battery of three tests administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain validated indicators of impairment and establish probable cause for arrest. These tests were developed as a result of research sponsored by the national highway traffic safety administration and conducted by the Southern California Research Institute. The three tests of the SFST are: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn and one-leg stand.

In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer observes the eyes of a suspect as the suspect follows a slowly moving object, such as a pen or small flashlight, horizontally with his or her eyes. The examiner looks for three indicators of impairment in each eye: first, if the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly; second, if jerking is detected when the eye is at maximum deviation; and third, if the angle of onset of jerking is within 45 degrees of centre. If, between the two eyes, four or more clues appear, the American national highway transportation safety administration research found that this test allowed proper classification of approximately 88% of suspects. Besides impairment by alcohol, HGN may also indicate consumption of seizure medications, phencyclidine, a variety of inhalants, barbiturates and other depressants.

In the walk-and-turn test, the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel to toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the suspect must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. The examiner looks for eight indicators of impairment including whether the suspect stops while walking to regain balance or does not touch heel to toe. NHTSA research indicated that 79% of individuals who exhibited two or more indicators in the performance of the test will be impaired by alcohol or a drug.

In the one-leg stand test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousandths, one-one thousandth, two-one thousandth, et cetera, until told to put the foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. The officer looks for four indicators of impairment, including swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance and putting the foot down. Again, NHTSA research indicated that 83% of individuals who exhibited two or more such indicators in the performance of the test will be impaired.

The battery of tests is accurate in identifying 94% of drivers who are impaired by alcohol or a drug. Therefore, these tests are not subjective impressions by the officer who proceeds at random. The officer is making the suspect perform tests that have been scientifically validated.

I believe members will agree that this is sufficient accuracy to justify the officer in demanding that the person who has failed SFST and who does not have a blood alcohol content in excess of .08 participate in the DRE tests.

The process followed by the officer trained as a drug recognition expert involves 12 different steps that must be followed and recorded. I will not get into a comprehensive review of this process, but I am convinced that, when they review this legislation, committee members will want to get the opinion of scientists and RCMP officers who have been trained as drug recognition experts.

The officer trained as a drug recognition expert will make general observations on the condition of the suspect. He will ask him questions about his health problems, examine the size of his pupils and conduct an eye-movement tracking test. If, at this stage, the officer is of the opinion that the person has a medical problem, he will end the tests and the person will be taken to a medical establishment to receive medical attention.

If the person does not seem to have a medical problem, the drug recognition expert will check three vital signs, namely blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and he will conduct other visual examinations, including tests to measure reaction to light in a dark room and ability tests relating to the person's attention.

It goes without saying that the drug recognition expert will put all his observations in writing. Once the tests are completed, the officer must form an opinion as to whether the person's ability is impaired by the effect of a drug and, if so, determine the type of drug involved.

Different drugs have different effects on the human body. Scientists know that certain drugs increase a person's pulse, while others slow it down. Some drugs have an effect on a person's eyes, while others raise blood pressure, among other changes.

Drug recognition experts can identify seven families of drugs: central nervous system depressants, better known as tranquilizers; inhalants, volatile solvents, aerosols and anesthetic gases; phencyclidine, which is a dissociative anesthetic; cannabis; central nervous system stimulants, better known as “speed”, for example cocaine; hallucinogens, including LSD and ecstasy; and narcotic analgesics, including morphine and heroin.

Drug recognition experts can also identify the use of several drugs.

The DRE officer must certify which drug is causing the impairment. A bodily fluid sample is then taken and is sent for analysis. If the analysis finds the drug that the officer certified was present, the prosecution will proceed. If it does not, the prosecution will be stayed.

Members will be reassured to know that research conducted in the United States on the effectiveness of DRE has been uniformly supportive of the program. In the original NHTSA study of the DRE program as it was operating in California in the 1980s when the DREs claimed drugs other than alcohol were present, those were detected in the blood in 94% of cases. Since then the program has expanded dramatically in the United States. In Arizona, DREs successfully identified 91% of cases; in New York, 92.4% of cases; and in Minnesota, 94% of cases.

I urge members to support referring this bill to committee.