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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

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, yes, that is for sure. After asking the negotiator some questions, we learned that there are 22 bargaining tables or areas under negotiation and the provinces are involved in only about 10 of them. The provinces are not involved at all in the negotiations on important subjects such as financial services. And yet very clearly each of the provinces has jurisdiction over financial services. But the provinces have been excluded from those bargaining tables, and that is completely unacceptable.

We are in the Supreme Court regarding the single securities commission, but in the meantime, the free trade negotiations are excluding the provinces de facto when these are subjects that affect them. I therefore agree entirely with my colleague: if Quebec were represented as a country, it could benefit a lot more and defend its interests a lot better, particularly when it comes to supply management, which is a subject that is really better defended by the province than by the Conservatives at present.

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, earlier I quoted the Government of Canada’s chief negotiator who testified in June before the Standing Committee on International Trade. He mentioned at the time that one of the most important considerations for the Europeans, and something they focus on more than anything else, is intellectual property. This has been largely clarified since then.

It has become apparent that the Europeans want to go much further than the protection that is currently offered in Canada when it comes to pharmaceuticals. The Bloc Québécois believes that a balance must be struck between what generic drug companies are doing on the one hand and what companies launching new products are doing on the other. Checks and balances, and an enhanced assessment process, must be put in place in order to ensure that any move in a direction that benefits one group will not come at the expense of other companies, and cause them great angst, when new measures are adopted.

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, in answer to the parliamentary secretary’s question, we are very aware that there are agricultural sectors other than those under supply management. However, when he answers in this way, when he says they will defend supply management but there are other sectors as well, is he not setting the stage to some extent to protect the other sectors? The government might just be forced to make a few concessions in the area of supply management. He says it is a sector where farmers can earn their costs of production plus a bit of a profit. That is supply management. However, it seems to me that they need to state this much more clearly and say frankly that everything was on the table at the beginning of the negotiations, but now the Europeans need to understand that we do not want supply management touched. Why wait for the very end of the negotiations if they have no intention of making concessions in this area?

Economic Negotiations with the European Union December 14th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I would like to voice a number of concerns on behalf of the Bloc Québécois. From the outset, the Bloc Québécois has stated that it agrees that there should be negotiations with the European Union. Our party was in fact the first party to propose such negotiations.

The Minister of International Trade stated earlier that it was the success of the free trade agreement with the United States that gave him reason to believe that it would be beneficial for Canadians to enter into a similar agreement with another large country or large political structure, such as the European Union. If the minister were truly responsible, he would be receptive to the various proposals that have been brought before him in an effort to improve any new free trade agreement with a structure as large as the European Union. It cannot be said that the agreement with the United States is all positive. The size of the US market as compared to the Canadian and Quebec markets has caused a number of problems.

I would invite the minister and the Conservatives to pay heed to a number of the misgivings voiced by the opposition parties. I could speak about culture, but I will leave that up to my colleague, the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, since that is her specialty and she masters it quite brilliantly. The member for Richmond—Arthabaska spoke about agriculture, but I will touch on it again.

The Bloc Québécois believes that this kind of agreement is important to Quebec's export-driven economy. The free trade agreement with the European Union is important because it will help to diversify what are largely export-driven markets that focus on the United States, and that are facing hard times.

I just said that the minister should pay heed. This is quite important. The Conservatives have served us up a culture of secrecy across the board, and in particular when it comes to negotiations. It is understandable that the negotiation process has to be somewhat confidential, but the fact remains that parliamentarians should be better informed regarding potential issues and the process itself. The current practice is deplorable to say the least.

As I was saying, there are various aspects that are cause for concern, and I would like to state them. First, there is the question of government procurement. At the request of the European Union, the various provinces have been invited to take part in the negotiations with Canada’s chief negotiator. The European Union asked that the provinces be involved because it knew that they are in charge of government procurement, in particular procurement by provincial governments, municipalities and various institutions such as school boards, colleges, universities, and so on.

This raises a number of concerns. What limits will be imposed? The chief negotiator has indicated that there would very probably be a limit below which there would be exemptions. For example, all contracts for less than $8 million could potentially be exempted from the free trade agreement, including procurement by municipalities.

We have no assurance on that, however. I think it is important that we have a little more information, and that the government listen to what the provinces and municipalities are calling for.

There are already rules within the European Union, among the 27 member states, and it would be very desirable for the same rules to apply between the European Union and Canada and the provinces in respect of government procurement.

With respect to supply management, I heard the parliamentary secretary and the Minister tell us that the Conservative government has defended supply management since it came to power. I am nonetheless going to reiterate the arguments presented just now. Why is this issue still on the bargaining table if the Conservative government is so committed to defending supply management? How is it that after saying that everything is on the table they have not yet resolved this situation, if they absolutely want to protect it to the very end?

In fact, a question was put to the chief negotiator, Mr. Verheul, at a meeting of the Standing Committee on International Trade held on June 15 of this year: what are the main points on which the Europeans are being most demanding, and what are the main points on which we are being most demanding? His answer was particularly disturbing, because he did not clarify anything. He said:

Both countries also have sensitivities in the general area of access for agricultural products, or at least some agricultural products. This will be the subject of discussion further on in the negotiations.

If, on the one hand, we are saying we want to protect supply management, why is the negotiator saying that will be negotiated later? It would be so simple to say we are not touching it, period. It seems to me that this would be much clearer. If the Conservatives want to be clear, they only have to say it. In fact, on that point, there are also other disturbing aspects. An article about the various sections on the preliminary talks for the negotiations is even more problematic since it relates directly to supply management as a domestic support measure. In English, it says:

The Parties agree to cooperate in the WTO agricultural negotiations in order to achieve a substantial reduction of production and trade-distorting domestic support....

Collective marketing mechanisms definitely distort the domestic marketplaces of those countries that implement them. In fact, quotas and tariffs end up determining supply. There is therefore reason to believe that supply management is being targeted by this provision.

It was signed by both parties, which agreed on the issue. On the one hand, it constitutes a general commitment to co-operate under WTO rules, not a concrete undertaking to do away with supply management. That much is quite clear. On the other hand, since supply management is always taken off the bargaining table when it comes time to negotiate free trade agreements, one wonders why it is still there at all. In the current agreement with the European Union, Canada is currently incapable of clearly stating that supply management will not be affected by the agreement because the government has said that “everything is on the table”.

Supply management is crucial to the development of agriculture in Quebec, human-scale agriculture based on the principle of food sovereignty. Danger is at our doorstep, and the Conservatives must reveal their intentions.

There is a lot more to be said on other matters, such as labour standards. The Bloc Québécois wants a truly binding mechanism put in place in order to guarantee that minimum labour standards will be upheld across the board under this agreement and in all related areas. Environmental protection must be considered. Globalization must go hand in hand with environmental protection so that our communities develop in a sustainable manner.

I will stop there and take my colleagues’ questions.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in the Standing Committee on International Trade, the Conservative and Liberal members refused not once, but twice to have a tax information exchange agreement signed before implementing the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.

How can the Conservative government continue to promote an agreement that will contribute to decreasing its tax revenue but increase the profits of white collar criminals who evade taxes?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Modernization Act December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on her excellent speech that clearly explains the Bloc Québécois's position on unionization, especially for this group of people who work for the government and enforce the law across the land.

The issue of unionizing members of the RCMP comes up often. The last time it came up, it was studied by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. We were told of a problematic and distressing situation for many members of the RCMP. Senior officials had been involved in an embezzlement scheme. Several years ago, they had taken money out of an insurance plan and put it into a retirement plan, or vice versa. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts made a number of comments and recommendations on the matter. According to one of the recommendations, unionizing RCMP members would diminish the risk of such situations happening again and would correct them before they ever happened.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about this situation in particular.

International Trade December 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, according to other witnesses the committee heard, a free trade agreement with Panama without any exchange of tax information will make Canada complicit in shady tax dealings by the international mafia in that country.

What is more, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes has just decided to keep Panama on the grey list of countries that do not comply with the G20 rules.

How can the Conservative government propose a free trade agreement with a tax haven that refuses to co-operate?

International Trade December 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Panama's deputy minister of international trade negotiations said yesterday in the Standing Committee on International Trade that it was not in the economic interest of Panama to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Canada.

Will the government move forward with the free trade agreement with Panama, knowing in advance that this country does not want to sign a tax information exchange agreement?

Eliminating Entitlements for Prisoners Act November 16th, 2010

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about the misleading title of this bill. The Conservatives are introducing a bill that says it would amend the Old Age Security Act. My colleague explained to us the anomaly between the content of the bill and its title. With such a title, the Conservatives could have included a measure to make good on a promise, such as automatic registration of all people entitled to receive the guaranteed income supplement. They promised to do that in the 2005-06 election campaign, but they have not done it yet. Because it is not automatic, there are still many people, many seniors, who are not receiving the guaranteed income supplement even though they are entitled to it. It would be very easy for the government to make it automatic. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

International Trade November 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, access to government contracts is a key issue in the discussions with the European Union. The European Union already has exceptions to allow member countries to protect their government contracts. Defence, public monopolies and disadvantaged regions are protected.

Can the minister assure us that the exemptions that apply to members of the European Union will apply to Quebec and Canada?