House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Saint-Maurice—Champlain (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is part of the problem with Canada. In any case, it is not by reducing the representation of some in order to improve it for others that we can succeed in ensuring that everyone is well represented.

The hon. member said there is a problem with the representation of the more populous ridings. We do not think the solution is to reduce Quebec’s political weight. They should find other solutions.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there were major historical agreements going back to the very beginning, to 1867. This bill breaks these agreements despite the disapproval of 87% of the Quebec members of the House of Commons and the National Assembly. This bill is an assault on a very strong position held by all elected members who represent their constituents.

The federalist parties that support this bill do not want the Quebec nation to prosper. They do not want us represented any more. Instead of helping us to emerge and become an even more productive nation, a bill like this smothers us.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that there would be disastrous consequences. When a nation loses its political weight in a place like Parliament, where Quebeckers send half their taxes, when it is deprived in a single stroke of a certain amount of balance in its representation, and when its weight is not recognized in Parliament, it is being told that it is not important and decisions can be made without it. That is the very negative message that Quebeckers are getting. According to the polls, the vast majority of Quebeckers totally disagree with a bill like this.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member just proved our point. Judges recently confirmed sections of a Constitution, which Quebeckers never signed. This decision only demonstrates to Quebeckers that the Canadian Constitution was not written with them in mind and that all it does is set roadblocks in their way.

When the government recognized the Quebec nation, it should have made sure that that also meant it would give Quebec the tools it needed to flourish. Bill C-12 does quite the opposite.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I will answer the second part of his question about how Quebeckers would react to the passage of Bill C-12. I think that people are starting to open their eyes. The government says that it is going to practise open federalism. Over the course of the 2006 and 2008 election campaigns, the government said that it was open to the notion of the Quebec nation and that it had helped pass a motion to recognize this nation. But the government says one thing and ultimately—through its actions and its bills—does quite the opposite to what is meant by recognizing a nation. Quebeckers actually expect the government to pass legislation that strengthens their culture and their language; they do not expect it to pass bills such as Bill C-12, which reduces Quebec’s political weight.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Bill C-12 and more specifically to the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Joliette.

The amendment states:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation), because the Bill would unacceptably reduce the political weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons and does not set out that Quebec must hold 25 percent of the seats in the House of Commons.”

When we look at this bill from the angle of the amendment proposed by the Bloc Québécois, it is very clear that every MP from Quebec, whether they are Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Bloc, is going to vote in favour of the amendment, at least I hope so. This is a fundamental issue for Quebec society and for the nation of Quebec.

It was almost five years ago, on November 22, 2006, that the Conservative government moved a motion calling on the House to recognize the nation of Quebec. This motion was adopted. Since the House of Commons recognized that Quebec formed a nation, we thought this motion would be followed by other positions or policies to strengthen this concept, for example by strengthening culture and communications. Furthermore, a bill was introduced on the matter. I was the sponsor of the bill to recognize that Quebec could control its own culture and communications and could create a Quebec radio-television and telecommunications commission. The federalist parties voted against that bill and made themselves perfectly clear on the matter, even though this decision was in direct contradiction to their vote recognizing the nation of Quebec.

We also expected more support for the French language, the language of Quebeckers and the official language of Quebec. French is a language that must be protected, since Quebeckers are a minority within Canada. The culture and language of that minority must be protected.

We might have thought that the Conservative government would introduce bills that would strengthen this protection. For example, it could have recognized Bill 101, which has protected the French fact in Quebec since 1977 or 1978, since the first Parti Québécois government came to power. We would have thought that the government would introduce a bill to do that.

Far from introducing a bill to strengthen the French language, the government and the Liberals voted against the bills we introduced that put in place a structure that would have brought people in establishments where there are workers under federal jurisdiction, like banks and airports, under Bill 101. That was rejected.

In addition to not taking the initiative themselves to strengthen the recognition of the Quebec nation, every time we gave the federalist parties an opportunity to support us, they did not do it and they sidestepped it.

Today, Bill C-12 proposes to change the democratic representation. This bill could have been acceptable if it had been to strengthen the idea of the Quebec nation, but the opposite is true. They are presenting a bill that reduces the political weight of Quebec, of the Quebec nation. This is completely unacceptable.

Since that motion was passed, in November 2006, the Conservatives have systematically attacked the Quebec nation. They recognize the Quebec nation, but they attack it. They have rejected any proposal that was intended precisely to give tangible expression to the recognition of the Quebec nation, whether in terms of language, culture or communications. By introducing Bill C-12, which will marginalize the Quebec nation even further within the broader whole of Canada, the Conservative government clearly intends to diminish the political weight of Quebec in the House of Commons.

In 1867, 36% of the seats were assigned to Quebec. With Bill C-12, Quebec’s representation will fall to 22.4% of the seats in 2014. We have before us a government that recognizes the Quebec nation and that promised open federalism, but in fact it practises a muzzled and closed federalism. This is the complete opposite of what it says.

In Quebec in particular, this bill, this measure, this intention has never been, is not and never will be a matter on which there is consensus; the opposite is true. Twice, all of the members of the National Assembly of Quebec have passed motions calling on the federal government to withdraw bills that reduced Quebec’s political weight. If we add the 125 Quebec members of the National Assembly, all parties combined, to all of the Bloc Québécois members of Parliament, who account for nearly two thirds of the seats representing Quebec in the House of Commons, that makes 175 out of 200 Quebec representatives who reject that position. The Conservative and Liberal members and the New Democrat member from Quebec absolutely must support our efforts and the amendment brought forward by the Bloc Québécois, to have this bill completely withdrawn. That is the form in which our amendment is presented.

All elected representatives from Quebec, in both the National Assembly and the House of Commons, represent 87% of the elected representatives of the Quebec nation and are calling for the bill to be withdrawn. That percentage must be increased, and it is up to the other members to make sure it is. They absolutely must take up the defence of the Quebec nation, starting now.

The former Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs of Quebec, Benoît Pelletier, in fact stated his government’s position on May 17, 2007:

I appreciate that the House is based on proportional representation. But I wonder whether there might be special measures to protect Quebec, which represents the main linguistic minority in Canada, is a founding province of Canada and is losing demographic weight...Why could Quebec not be accommodated because of its status as a nation and a national minority within Canada?

That is the question. In their speeches, my colleagues were saying that it was not simply a matter of numbers or proportion.

This bill seeks to raise the number of MPs in those provinces where the population is increasing more significantly than elsewhere. However, Parliament also has a duty to assess all the factors. The number of people living in a riding is not the only criterion to determine how many MPs a province should have. For example, if I am not mistaken, Prince Edward Island has four ridings. However, the population in these ridings is less than one quarter of the national average. In Prince Edward Island, we apply a principle whereby a province with a somewhat smaller population should still be represented by a minimum number of MPs. A certain degree of strength is necessary. However, the government refuses to grant this protection to Quebec, which is one of the founding nations of Canada. Political weight is important to Prince Edward Island, but it is also important for the Quebec nation.

Other bills have been introduced regarding this issue. In fact, after the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against the Bloc Québécois' motion, the Quebec National Assembly passed a third motion on April 22, 2010, almost one year ago, reaffirming that Quebec, as a nation, must be able to enjoy special protection for the weight of its representation in the House of Commons. In that motion, elected members from all political parties in Ottawa were asked not to enact any bill that would diminish the weight of the representation of Quebec in the House of Commons.

That is basically what I deemed important to point out. We should not look strictly at the numbers and figures when the time comes to establish a degree of proportionality with the number of members in the House. We must also be mindful of other commitments made by the House of Commons, including those that have to do with the representation of certain provinces. We must not look merely at the numbers, but also at the moral aspect of the decision and ensure that it is consistent with the fact that the House of Commons has recognized Quebec as a nation.

Relay for Life March 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the first winter Relay for Life took place on February 26 in Hérouxville, which is in my riding. The cold weather did not prevent 300 walkers from participating in this relay organized to support cancer research. This is a first in Quebec and in Canada.

Emotions were running high during the traditional survivors' victory lap, which started off the relay. I was very impressed by the organized way the community, the municipality and the hundred or so volunteers were mobilized to look after the walkers all night long.

The organizing committee managed to collect $56,638, or more than double its initial goal of $26,000. I am very proud that this very first winter Relay for Life took place in my riding. It was an honour to attend and encourage these dedicated and hope-filled people.

Spurred by this great success, the organizing committee is already making plans for next year. I will be there and I invite all my colleagues to come along.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the wonderful speech given by the member for Chambly—Borduas, which included extremely relevant arguments. He said that the tax breaks given to companies will affect the middle class. As the Liberal member who defends the middle class on the Standing Committee on Human Resources asked earlier, how is it possible to justify the tax breaks given to companies that are already bringing in large profits when the middle class is paying the price?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague on his excellent speech, which was an excellent summary of the Bloc Québécois's position regarding this free trade agreement with Panama, which, as he was saying, is a tax haven.

In response to questions at the Standing Committee on International Trade, government officials clearly stated that companies that do business in Panama will be able to bring profits back to Canada tax-free. We could not even get an answer from the Canada Revenue Agency regarding the amount or the value of the tax evasion this will bring about. I find that absolutely appalling.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague if he thinks it is right that such an agreement, even with the supposed fiscal arrangements, should exist and that the middle class will ultimately pay for the tax leakage that Canada will suffer.

Petitions February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to present a petition signed by 237 people in my riding. They are asking the Government of Canada to provide the public funds needed by the Société d'habitation du Québec to complete its low-income housing renovation plan and to cover the accumulated maintenance deficit.

The federal government obviously has an important responsibility to fulfill in maintaining and making major renovations to these buildings. These people want to make this clear to the government. I am therefore presenting this petition.