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

Canada-U.S. Relations February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois believes that a security perimeter would be desirable to facilitate the movement of goods and people. However, we need to find a balance between security, trade and fundamental freedoms. These issues are much too important to be talked about behind closed doors.

Will the Conservative government show some transparency, reveal the mandate of the Canadian negotiators and commit to holding a debate and a vote on this issue in the House?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, in response to my colleague, I would say that we do not need a free trade agreement to define some clear rules. We could very easily start by creating a tax information exchange agreement and then negotiate a double taxation agreement, if necessary. We do not need to sign an agreement first.

The main problem now is that we are doing things backwards. When a country is recognized as a tax haven, we should sign a tax agreement before signing a free trade agreement. But that is not the case here.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the hon. member raised two points. She spoke about the testimony that the representative of the Panamanian government gave in committee. Although she was there too, I do not share her opinion that the representative clearly stated that it is not in the Panamanian government's interest to sign a tax information exchange agreement. To me, it seems obvious that a tax information exchange agreement associated with a double taxation convention, or no taxation for one of the countries, is much more comprehensive. When one of the two parties involved in such an agreement refuses to exchange tax information, it is because the party in question has something to hide. It is obvious. A tax information exchange agreement would allow both countries to know the value of the investors' assets and investments. Panama has rejected this completely. To me this is obvious.

With regard to the hon. member's second question about farmers and business people, clearly, postponing an agreement gives everyone the opportunity to adapt and it puts pressure on Panama. However, that does not mean that farmers cannot continue to profit from the situation.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois at this stage of Bill C-46.

Amendments have been proposed, and some of our colleagues have claimed that they gut the bill. It is exactly for that reason that we support these amendments.

This bill would implement a free trade agreement with Panama, which is not a good agreement. Many people, both Conservatives and Liberals, have spoken about the economic advantages. However, we cannot deny, and I believe we must acknowledge, that Panama continues to be a tax haven in the eyes of the OECD. Panama has not been taken off the OECD's grey list of tax havens.

Apparently, Panama has taken steps to be removed from this list, but that has not yet happened. Panama still has to conclude agreements and tax treaties with certain countries. Canada would be able to verify or monitor tax evasion by Canadian citizens if it signed a tax information exchange agreement with Panama.

When the bill was being studied, we heard that the Minister of Finance or the Minister of International Trade, I do not remember which one, had written to his counterpart in Panama about negotiating and signing such an agreement. The committee asked different witnesses on a number of occasions if Panama had agreed. To date, we have not been given an answer. We even heard a representative of the Government of Panama tell us, at the Standing Committee on International Trade, that it was not in the interests of his government to enter into a tax information exchange agreement with Canada.

If it is not in the interests of the Government of Panama, why is the Canadian government so intent, despite everything, on going ahead with this free trade agreement and passing an implementation bill, when that would mean giving away all our bargaining power with respect to Panama?

It is because we have given in to Panama. We have given in and will allow it to have free rein so that Panama can tax Canadian businesses. It has said that it wants to sign a double taxation agreement, which really means a no tax agreement. Canadian businesses will be able to repatriate profits to Canada, tax-free, and pay minimum tax in Panama. That is absolutely unbelievable.

The Canada Revenue Agency cannot even say estimate how much tax revenue it will lose because of such an agreement, how much tax leakage the middle class will have to make up through their work and their own taxes.

It is absolutely incredible that we are moving forward with such an agreement. That is why the Bloc Québécois is in favour of the proposed amendments. At least some attempts have been made to improve the bill. In committee, it was proposed that Canada and the Republic of Panama ratify a tax information exchange agreement, based on the OECD model agreement on the effective exchange of tax information, that would not cause Canada to lose tax revenue.

The Conservatives and the Liberals voted against that idea. They could at least have said they want to conclude a free trade agreement with Panama. As many have pointed out, such an agreement might not be such a bad idea.

However, if we end up losing revenue and promoting tax evasion and money laundering, I think that ethically speaking, we have to ask ourselves some serious questions.

Should we continue to move forward with this? The Bloc Québécois says no. We absolutely must wait and see whether this possible agreement could be used as a negotiating tool and as a way to put pressure on Panama to get off the OECD's grey list of tax havens and sign a tax information exchange agreement with Canada. That would be fairer for Canada.

I want to come back to the testimony of Richard Montroy, a Canada Revenue Agency senior manager who testified at the Standing Committee on International Trade on November 17. We asked him whether companies could still bring tax-free profits back to Canada when there is a tax information exchange agreement in addition to a free trade agreement. He said yes.

In other words, there will always be companies bringing money back home no matter what. However, if we had all the tax information on Canadians and their investments in certain countries, we could recover some of the money that is eluding the Canada Revenue Agency.

That is not the case. The government has given up. The Bloc Québécois thinks we absolutely must support these amendments, go back to the drawing board and wait until Panama does its homework before moving forward.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech made by my NDP colleague. I think that he highlighted the problem with this free trade agreement. He talked about money laundering, whether it is being done by drug dealers or people who launder illegally obtained money. The public often wonders why our laws are not harsh enough for cases like that. But here we are talking about an agreement with a country that is a tax haven and that encourages such practices. These examples show the public how it is possible for regular people and criminals to do this right in front of the police, because it is allowed. These people can do this in countries like that.

I would like my colleague to expand on that.

International Trade December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the same goes for the free trade agreement with the European Union: the government is refusing to be transparent. The Bloc Québécois was the first federal political party to call for such an agreement. We recently met with the Quebec government's negotiator during caucus. The problem is that we got more information about the negotiations with Europe from Quebec's negotiator, Pierre Marc Johnson, than we are getting from the Minister of International Trade.

Does the minister not find that unusual?

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to understand why the member is asking this question when we are currently talking about the importing of used vehicles from Mexico.

The purpose of this bill is to have Canada, which signed the NAFTA documents, comply with the provision that allows used vehicles to be imported into Canada from Mexico. I believe that we are not necessarily talking about other free trade agreements today, or about anything else in agreements with Mexico, but we are always very open to discussion. I thank the member who asked the question.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, if I have understood correctly, I am being asked to answer a question that the parliamentary secretary was unable to answer.

I completely agree with the member. If the Department of Transport—the government—has research data on the approximate number of used Mexican vehicles that will enter Canada in the future, it should provide them to us. We would then be in a position to inform parliamentarians and the general public, as well as all those who are affected—car dealerships, car resellers and mechanics—so they would be prepared for the arrival of these vehicles even though, right now, very few of these vehicles will be entering the market.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill S-5. It is rare for us to say such a thing about a bill. Given its importance, we want to say that we are having a hard time understanding why the government took so long to introduce this bill, which has delayed the implementation of some provisions of NAFTA.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that used vehicles from Mexico can now be among those imported to Canada. There was already an agreement in place for vehicles from the United States. Under NAFTA, used vehicles from Mexico must also be eligible for importation. This is important since we know that the Mexicans react a certain way.

I am drawing a parallel with the fact that we are requiring Mexican workers to have visas, particularly when they come to work in Quebec in the summer. Parliamentarians and former parliamentarians of Canada are being turned away at the Mexican border in retaliation. Mexico is taking a fairly tough stance. Its position is understandable since it does not believe that Mexican workers should have to have visas. However, a number of parliamentarians are leaving soon for Mexico and they may run into problems. Last year, former Liberal minister Hélène Scherrer was turned away at the Mexican border as retaliation by the Mexicans, who were applying the same rule.

It important to fix that situation, especially since it is still only a small problem. Vehicles coming from Mexico may be in good shape. The climate in Mexico is obviously very different from Quebec and Canada. So used vehicles may be in very good shape. This could mean good deals for people here, as long as automobile regulations and Canada's safety regulations are respected, obviously. There probably are not a lot of them, but we do not want to import clunkers that will endanger those driving them and those sharing the roads with these vehicles. Safety and environmental standards must be met.

Will these vehicles be well equipped to deal with the rigorous winters in Quebec and Canada? Will their heating systems be good enough to defog the windows and defrost them in really cold weather? It is important to ask and address these questions before the vehicles get here.

As I said before, this could quite possibly lead to good deals for people here, and that is why we are supporting this bill, as long as the standards are respected.

From a more technical aspect, the primary purpose of Bill S-5 is to upgrade and comply with a NAFTA provision that is being phased in. But, as I said earlier, we are already two years behind because it should have been implemented on January 1, 2009. It is almost January 1, 2011. That is a delay of nearly two years.

Until very recently, Appendix 300-A.1 of NAFTA allowed Canada to prohibit imports of used Mexican cars. However, this restriction will be phased out, as the wording in the fourth paragraph of the appendix indicates.

According to the wording, Canada must allow imports of used vehicles from Mexico that are at least 10 years old beginning January 1, 2009. Then Canada has to allow imports of newer vehicles—those that are at least eight years old beginning January 1, 2011, then at least six years old beginning January 1, 2013, and so on until all used vehicles are allowed as of January 1, 2019.

Bill S-5 amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which both govern the use and importation of used vehicles from the United States, but not from Mexico, which is why there is some confusion between Canada and the United States, and Canada and Mexico.

In the amendments, Mexican cars have been added and described as “prescribed vehicles”, since the phasing in of the NAFTA appendix allows Canada to regulate this import by restricting the age of the cars imported. In all cases, the used American or Mexican cars will have to comply with the requirements set by Canada. This is what I was emphasizing earlier. It is important to ensure that safety standards are respected, as well as standards regarding emissions and overall state of repair. We do not want any old clunkers; there are already too many on the road.

Failure to comply with NAFTA could result in economic retaliation by Mexico and therefore it is preferable that we conform to NAFTA quickly. That is why the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill S-5.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in my riding of Saint-Maurice—Champlain all the best of the season.

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I think the parliamentary secretary did not hear my comment in reply to the question from my colleague. I said that the provinces are not included in the negotiations as a whole.

My colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska told me that there are even situations in which the provinces end up out in the hall. Certainly we want to trust the negotiators, but our own negotiators, particularly for Quebec, who would be present at all of the bargaining tables and who could report exactly the same thing to us as Canada’s negotiator hears at all the bargaining tables.