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

April 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I know I do not have much time, but today there is proof of what I said. The parliamentary secretary cannot even use all his time to show that the Conservatives are going to save jobs in my region. He has had to talk about all sorts of other things, but in reality, he has said nothing about job losses or relocations here.

Here is an example. Seven of the nine people in the Edmundston employment insurance office will retire in the next few years. These seven positions will not be filled. The people in the two remaining positions will have to take positions currently held by temporary employees, who will lose their jobs. The permanent positions in the EI office will be moved to another region. That is clear.

Will the parliamentary secretary promise this evening that the jobs of people who retire will be filled by people in the same region, and will still be attached to employment insurance operations, so that jobs are kept in the region? Yes or no?

April 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about rural regions. Members will recall that I asked a question a few weeks ago about Service Canada job losses in my riding, Madawaska—Restigouche. These job losses were in the regional offices in Edmundston and Campbellton.

I had very clear reasons for raising the issue in the House. We know that every job counts in the country's rural areas. The minister responded that the government had made many investments in New Brunswick. I was not talking about investments. I was talking about job losses.

Federal jobs are just as important as any other job. However, during periods of economic recovery, every job in a rural region is important. Federal government jobs contribute significantly to a region's recovery.

Let us not even talk about creating more federal jobs until we have protected the existing jobs. The Conservatives have a tendency to eliminate jobs in the regions, which hurts rural communities. All I asked the government to do was take two steps to stop the bleeding.

First, when a person retires, that vacancy should be filled in the same region, not elsewhere. Second, employment insurance office employees were told that they would have to move to Moncton to keep their jobs. Those positions will be moved.

The minister said that he did not cut any jobs in New Brunswick. That may be true, but he is moving jobs out of rural regions. When people retired, he took those jobs and filled them elsewhere.

I am talking about 28 well-paid federal jobs that would allow some young people in rural regions to find a job when one becomes available. Young people who move away to go to university or college would have the opportunity to move back to their home region. The Conservatives want to take both kinds of jobs and fill them elsewhere.

Before moving on to something else, the Conservatives should take a look in the mirror and admit that they do not respect the rural regions. They do not believe in the rural regions. Their lack of investment proves it. What is more, they eliminate positions in the regions and transfer them elsewhere. It is great that Moncton has jobs. However, I do not want my region to lose jobs.

The sun shines down on everyone and I hope the parliamentary secretary will give us good news today and tell us that the government is reversing the announced cuts and centralization of jobs in employment insurance offices. I hope that federal jobs in Madawaska—Restigouche will stay in the region.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 19th, 2010

With regard to the Community Adjustment Fund of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, up until November 18, 2009: (a) what amount has been allocated to each Atlantic province; (b) which projects have benefited from this funding, by province; (c) how much have these projects received, by province; and (d) in which city and constituency are these projects being carried out?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 16th, 2010

With regard to the transitional measures for Employment Insurance economic regions: (a) will the economic regions change after April 10, 2010; and (b) will the transitional measures for the economic regions be completely eliminated after April 10, 2010?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 15th, 2010

With regard to Service Canada offices in the riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, specifically Edmunston, Saint-Quentin, Campbellton and Dalhousie: (a) how many positions were there in each of these offices in 2006; (b) how many people held these positions; (c) how many positions were there in these offices as of November 18, 2009; and (d) how many people held these positions as of November 18, 2009?

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act April 14th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak this evening to Bill C-429 introduced by my Bloc Québécois colleague from Manicouagan. Before I begin, I would like to tell people what this bill is all about.

—before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, the Minister shall give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood, while taking into account the cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

Before going any further, it is also important to comment on what the parliamentary secretary has said in the past few minutes. It is clear he was unable to convince anyone in the House and I am sure he was unable to convince anyone in the country either, even those who do not make their living from the forestry industry. The parliamentary secretary has his own conclusions and is trying to tell us that we cannot do this or that. The Conservatives have tried to introduce various little programs in the past few years. At the end of the day, he is not even talking about Bill C-429.

The parliamentary secretary came up with some odd conclusions to the effect that he could not establish rules within the tendering process. On the contrary, a call for tenders is there to define the parameters within which people and companies should make their bids. Imagine the federal government issuing a call for tenders for the construction of a new building without establishing any rules. What type of building would they end up with? Rules are there to set limits on precisely what we want. It is rather ridiculous to say that we cannot establish rules within a tendering process.

We must also look at another reality. The parliamentary secretary says we cannot show bias. Imagine the windows in our buildings are made of plexiglas instead of glass. The fact is that we expect windows to be made of glass. Certain rules have been established. When the parliamentary secretary says that we cannot show bias for one product or another I think he is not being very realistic.

I am speaking in favour of this bill because I live in a riding where forestry is the primary industry. We have to consider how we can help regions like mine, like many others in the country. There are a large number of sawmills throughout the country, in many ridings. So we are also talking about economic development.

Tonight we want to do something about the environment, and we also want to ensure greater economic development for the regions and get people working. This bill involves only one department, Public Works. This department represents a mere 1% of buildings belonging to the federal government. How can such a small percentage completely wipe out all other jobs in other sectors, as the parliamentary secretary would have us believe? Such a small percentage would never put all of the other industries out of business.

I am sure that my colleague from Manicouagan does not want to eliminate all of the other industries. He just wants to ensure that softwood is one of the materials available for construction and renovation of federal government buildings. He rightly said that certain rules must be followed. This contradicts our Conservative colleague, who said that rules cannot be established. Not only can they be, they must.

Of course we want to help the forestry industry, which includes lumber, but we do not want to be limited to just that. It is only one factor.

Take the Building Code, for example, which already imposes limitations. I am not an engineer, so I cannot say what is or is not required in order to be up to code.

This will dictate that not just wood is chosen as a building material. We must respect the laws and regulations of Canada.

The Conservatives said that they have done a number of things. We have to determine the real impact of their measures on our regions. The Conservative members who spoke about this bill did the same thing. They never took the time to explain why Bill C-429 would be so bad for Canadian society and other industries. They just said that they did this and that and that they want to do this and that.

Today, we must examine the bill. The Conservatives have done absolutely nothing for the forestry industry. In 2005, when the Liberals were in power, and well before the economic crisis hit, we had decided that the forestry industry should be given $1.5 billion in aid. We made that decision in order to bolster the industry.

The Conservatives defeated the Liberal government in 2005 and took the reins of power in January 2006. What did they do with the assistance that we wanted to provide to the forestry industry? They abolished it. At a given point, the crisis was so significant that they had no choice but to propose some measures. Naturally, these measures were not enough. Today, we wonder what is happening with job creation efforts and assistance for the industry. Had they kept the $1.5 billion and invested it in the forestry industry, I believe that this industry would not be grappling with the current crisis.

The Conservatives have forsaken the forestry industry, whereas we, the Liberals, wanted to help it. That is still our goal. I would like to share a few examples. There used to be 2x4 mills in Baker Brook, Saint-Léonard and Kedgwick, as well as in other parts of New Brunswick. Other sawmills have also disappeared, including those in Saint-Quentin, Saint-Arthur and Balmoral, to name but a few.

The loss of a sawmill has a devastating effect on a region. In the short and medium terms, communities are in danger of losing their pulp and paper mills because they get their raw materials from the sawmills. If the government does nothing and all of the sawmills disappear, communities will lose even more in terms of economic development.

We cannot ignore the reality of the situation. Why are the Conservatives so opposed to helping the forestry industry? As I said before, it is good for the environment. We are not asking the government to use wood to the exclusion of all else. That is the what the Conservatives would have everyone believe, but it is not true. The goal is for the federal government to consider using softwood lumber in its construction projects. If the people in charge and the engineers determine that, according to the National Building Code, they cannot use lumber for certain parts of the project, we can trust them because they have the necessary training to make that call. But why does the government not want to consider this option?

The Conservatives have always shown that they have no desire to help rural regions or the forestry industry.

I believe that members should strongly support this bill even though the Conservatives want nothing to do with it.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 13th, 2010

With regard to the Community Development Trust Fund, up until November 18, 2009: (a) what amount has been allocated to each Atlantic province; (b) which projects have benefited from this funding, by province; (c) how much have these projects received, by province; and (d) in which city and constituency are these projects being carried out?

2010 Speed Skating Championship March 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, March 26, the city of Campbellton in my riding welcomed the Canadian Age Class Short Track Speed Skating Championship 2010.

The Canadian Short Track Speed Skating Championship welcomed over 150 young athletes from across the country. This competition enabled each of these athletes to do their very best and to achieve a feeling of pride and self-fulfilment.

I wish to congratulate all athletes who have worked very hard to get to this level of competition.

I would also like to sincerely thank the organizing committee for its dedication and tireless efforts. In particular, I would like to thank Yves Gagnon, Roger Ouellette, Nadine Ross, Jamie Leblanc, Carol Savoie, Rick Hutchinson and John Leblanc.

I want to thank and congratulate everybody who took part in this important event.

Thanks to everyone and congratulations.

The Environment March 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, five environmental groups in New Brunswick may have their budgets cut and no longer be able to implement certain programs if the Conservatives do not provide funding for the Atlantic coastal action program.

In my riding, the Société d'aménagement de la rivière Madawaska et du lac Témiscouata may have to scale back its conservation programs. Six months ago, the provincial government gave it $60,000, whereas the Conservatives gave it nothing.

Why did the Conservatives decide to end this partnership after 17 years, when so much remains to be done? Why make more cuts to environmental programs?

Supreme Court Act March 19th, 2010

And a francophone from outside Quebec no less, who should understand that francophones outside Quebec are also entitled to be served in their language, especially in the highest court in the land.

I am getting worked up, which might make things more difficult for the interpreters. It is insulting to hear such comments. We have to keep fighting to make the Conservatives understand the reality of things.

Bill C-232 introduced by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, requiring Supreme Court judges to be bilingual, is a good move for a good cause.