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

International Trade September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, within the European Union, internal regulations allow countries to protect their government procurement and exceptions already exist in the areas of security and energy.

Does the government plan to demand that the same exceptions apply to the future free trade agreement between Canada and Europe?

International Trade September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, UNESCO has adopted the principle of cultural exception, whereby cultural products are excluded from free trade commitments. The Minister of International Trade has not been very reassuring regarding his government's desire to maintain the principle of cultural exception in the Canada-European Union free trade agreement.

Can the government assure us that it is making cultural exceptions a priority, because any compromise in that regard could give the United States the pretext to dispute our cultural protection measures?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will refer to the answer that I gave earlier. From what I understand, it was a matter of technological support—in Jordan, or perhaps other Middle Eastern countries—by Quebec and Canadian experts. They would help these countries find water. It was not a matter of exporting water from Canada or Quebec. That was never what I was referring to earlier. I said that we had people who had been working on this for a long time. There is research being done at universities. The expertise is there, and we could help other countries find water and conserve it over a longer period. But I never talked about exporting water.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would say to my colleague that I heard the point raised by the NDP member. He was contrasting the need for diplomacy in general and the fact that we enter into bilateral agreements. From what I understand, in terms of diplomatic efforts, Canada or any country that must come to an agreement with other countries must do so in a very general context.

Diplomacy means that we can talk to more than one country at the same time and come to an agreement with them all. What he was pointing out is that entering into bilateral agreements sometimes perhaps creates—and I did say perhaps—some difficulties with a third country. In fact, we may sign an agreement with a country that is in conflict with another country with which we would like to sign a separate diplomatic agreement. That perhaps undermines—again, I said perhaps—some diplomatic efforts when the government focuses on entering into bilateral agreements even though multilateral agreements are probably more suited to diplomatic efforts.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is important that these types of questions be answered in committee. We agree, it must be ensured that the side agreement on labour will protect all workers in Jordan, not just permanent residents and Jordanians. It is important that this issue be addressed.

Earlier, I said that a side agreement is never as powerful as an integrated chapter within a trade agreement. We have some reservations and this only aggravates them.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of my speech, I said that Canada has already negotiated and signed a free trade agreement with Israel and that signing an agreement with another of its neighbours in the Middle East could somewhat balance the decision or desire of both Quebec and Canada not to simply line up with either Israel or other Middle Eastern countries. I think that we need to maintain a balance. This agreement will allow us to diversify our trade agreements as well as demonstrate our desire to help all countries in the Middle East.

Canada, and Quebec in particular, has significant expertise in terms of water. We have a lot of water and they have very little. We have expertise in terms of large quantities of water. Perhaps we could encourage trade that would allow these people, through various technologies and ideas submitted by universities in Quebec and Canada, to develop some concepts to improve their access to adequate quantities of water.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C-8, currently before us. Like one of my colleagues who spoke earlier, I would like to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois supports this bill, which is identical to Bill C-57 that was introduced before the House was prorogued.

There is no doubt that in the case of a bill to implement a free trade agreement, it is important to assess both the scope and the quality of the trade that already exists between the two countries. Of course Jordan's market is small. Canada exports to Jordan and vice versa, but those exports are relatively minimal. It is important to bear in mind, however, that although people may also object given that this is, once again, a bilateral agreement—and I will come back to that in a moment—concluding an agreement like this one does send a message to other Middle Eastern countries that want to improve their trade relations with western countries. Canada and Quebec will benefit from this agreement. This sends a clear message that entering into agreements can improve trade. This also means that products subject to the free trade agreement can be introduced into and produced in each country.

Jordan is in the process of modernizing its government apparatus and must rely on international trade to support its economic growth, especially since it has few natural resources.

From Quebec's point of view, since we already export a lot of pulp and paper products, I think that this is an excellent opportunity because this free trade agreement will further facilitate trade by eliminating tariff barriers on most products.

A free trade agreement with Canada may help this emerging economy. It will certainly help Canadian and Quebec businesses. The international relations aspect is also important. Establishing this relationship with Jordan will be beneficial.

I heard yesterday on Tout le monde en parle that Denis Villeneuve's film Incendies, which will represent Canada at the Oscars, was filmed mostly in Jordan. While that does not necessarily prove anything, it is a sign that Jordan is a country worth setting up long-term, balanced trade relations with.

Canada has already signed a free trade agreement with Jordan's neighbour, Israel. Signing an agreement with Jordan after signing one with Israel signals our interest in balancing our trade relations with countries experiencing political tension, such as that between Israel and its neighbours. Signing an agreement with another one of those countries after signing one with Israel balances power to an extent, or at least shows that we want to sign trade agreements and engage in trade with all Middle Eastern countries.

In free trade agreements, it is important to protect Canada's and Quebec's supply-managed agricultural production. Jordan's agriculture is not very well developed and poses no threat to Quebec producers. Jordan's forestry resources are also very limited. Therefore, this is a wonderful opportunity for our forestry industry, which is primarily located in Quebec. The pulp and paper industry is facing serious challenges because of the lack of support from the Conservative government, which did not want to provide the same support as it did to the automotive industry. Once again, had there been support for the forestry industry in Quebec, we could have avoided plant closures and maintained research and development in order to have the plants switch to new products. A free trade agreement with Jordan will make it possible, on a small scale initially, to increase our pulp and paper exports.

I was listening earlier to the question and speech by my NDP colleague, who stated that Canada is unfortunately focusing on bilateral agreements. I will repeat that overlooking multilateral agreements narrows the overall vision of Canada's foreign trade policy. We enter into agreements with different countries and try to get the most out of them while supporting the countries with which we have signed agreements. The failure to consider a multilateral agreement for a number of sectors makes it impossible to establish broader principles. In fact, it forces us to sign individual agreements with given countries, without any interrelationship. A multilateral agreement, however, would provide an overall vision and make it possible to establish broad principles that would apply to all agreements.

The free trade agreement between Canada and Jordan is a relatively small one. It could be divided into a few main parts, such as the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers. What is interesting here is that the agreement on labour cooperation between Canada and Jordan is not integrated into the free trade agreement; it is not a separate chapter. There is an agreement on the environment and a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement between Canada and Jordan. The fact that these agreements are not included as chapters in the main agreement is somewhat irritating. The government is negotiating side agreements instead, and we know from experience that these are never as strong as ones that are integrated into the main free trade agreement. In a way, they show that the Canadian government is not as willing to truly protect the things addressed in these side agreements. These things are not completely neglected, but not including them in the full agreement diminishes their importance.

I would like to speak a little more about different side agreements. With respect to the agreement on labour co-operation, which is a side agreement, we know that the structure and design of this agreement between Canada and Jordan are rather similar to those of the agreements on labour co-operation between Canada and Colombia and Canada and Peru. I will not get into the agreement signed with Colombia that the Bloc Québécois was completely opposed to, for other reasons. But we can still see the similarities between the agreement we have in front of us today and the agreements that have been signed in the past.

These agreements commit both countries to ensuring that their laws respect the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Regarding the agreement on labour cooperation between Canada and Jordan in particular, according to the assessment that was done, each party commits to respecting and enforcing internationally recognized labour principles and rights. The Bloc Québécois will be very vigilant in watching that Canada ensures that the principles of these agreements are respected.

As I said earlier, the fact that these agreements are side agreements undermines their power. It is therefore especially important that we look at them through a very critical lens and analyze such side agreements regularly in order to ensure that they are being respected. When we speak of rights and principles, we mean the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of discrimination in the workplace, and minimum acceptable employment standards including workplace safety and compensation for workers who are sick or are injured in accidents.

Thus, as in the case of other labour co-operation agreements Canada has entered into, this agreement with Jordan contains a non-derogation clause whereby neither country may waive or lessen existing labour standards in the hope of attracting foreign investments. As I said earlier, we plan to be extremely vigilant in that regard, in order to ensure that these principles are respected from the very beginning, if this agreement is approved by Parliament.

In addition, the Canada-Jordan labour cooperation agreement also includes a dispute resolution process that includes monetary penalties similar to the process included in the Canada-Peru and Canada-Colombia labour cooperation agreements. If a special review panel established through the dispute settlement mechanism determines that either of the parties is not complying with the labour co-operation agreement and the parties cannot agree on the correct course of action, or if the non-compliant country fails to implement the agreed-upon course of action, a monetary penalty can be imposed.

According to our analysis, the text of the agreement provides that these financial penalties can be deposited in an interest-bearing fund, the profits of which will be earmarked for implementing the action plan or any appropriate compliance-related measure. The size of the financial penalty is one of the major differences between the Canada-Jordan agreement on labour cooperation and Canada's agreements with Colombia and Peru. The latter two agreements provide for a fine of up to $15 million U.S. per violation, but there is no maximum in the Canada-Jordan agreement. We think that this is still a good measure because the fact that there is no maximum penalty will provide an even greater incentive to respect this agreement on labour cooperation to the letter. We will keep an eye on how this plays out.

There is also a Canada-Jordan environment agreement. Once again, this is a side agreement, just like the Canada-Jordan agreement on labour cooperation. Its scope of application and content with respect to the environment are largely similar to what was in the agreements signed with Peru and Colombia.

Under this agreement, both countries commit to ensuring a high level of environmental protection and to enforcing their environmental laws effectively. There are several provisions, but I will mention just a few of them.

The countries, Canada and Jordan, cannot violate their federal environmental laws to encourage investment. According to the agreement—and we hope that both countries will comply—Canada and Jordan may not lower their standards to encourage foreign investment. For example, a company that wants to invest in Jordan may say that environmental standards prevent it from doing so. This provides good protection. The same would apply to a Jordanian company wishing to do something similar in Canada or Quebec.

Information on environmental laws, rules and administrative decisions must be made available to the public. All information on the tools for monitoring environmental protection, in relation to the various investments, must be made public.

Appropriate environmental assessment procedures must be implemented and must allow public involvement. We will not go so far as to say that there needs to be public consultation or a public hearing. We are saying that there must be public involvement. In other words, the environment ministry in each country or whosever is going to manage these agreements, whether in Canada or in Jordan, will find an appropriate way to ensure that the public is consulted and can have a say.

Another important aspect of the agreement on the environment is that the parties have to ensure that procedures are in place to sanction or rectify environmental law violations. It is all well and good to say that we do not want to lower environmental standards to encourage new investment, but the appropriate measures need to be in place to oversee such regulations. Penalties also need to be in place. The parties are committing to implementing strict measures. The parties should also encourage the voluntary use of exemplary practices with regard to corporate social responsibility by the corporations in their respective countries.

Earlier, a comparison was made of the free trade agreement between Canada and Peru and the one between Canada and Colombia. The Bloc Québécois completely disagreed with the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia because of the lack of monitoring over corporate social responsibility, leaving the corporations to set strict standards to monitor and reduce the number of abuses of power that occur in Colombia. We expect the agreement on the environment between Canada and Jordan to respect the workers and the environment of both countries. There is no need to follow the bad example of the agreement with Colombia.

I have a lot more to say about this, but I will stop here.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague's speech on the bill before us, which is obviously connected to the free trade agreement negotiated between Canada and Jordan.

A number of times, he mentioned that the Bloc Québécois was in favour of this bill because it would implement an agreement that was negotiated. It is still a bilateral agreement, though. It was clear from his speech, and we have seen on other occasions, that the government lacks an overall strategy when it comes to free trade agreements. In a way, the lack of an overall strategy when negotiating each agreement sometimes makes it difficult to have a vision that ensures that everyone comes out a winner.

I would like him to comment on whether I understood what he was saying.

International Canoe Classic in Mauricie September 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the internationally renowned sporting and cultural event known as the Classique internationale de canots de la Mauricie has been part of the Mauricie region's heritage for 77 years. This competition gives us the opportunity to welcome canoeists from all over and charm them with our hospitality and the astounding scenery all along the majestic Saint-Maurice River.

This 77th edition was a very special one for me as I was proud to be named the honorary president of the event. I would like to call attention to the excellent work of Jacques Bellemare, director general, and Daniel Héroux, president, as well as officers from the Sûreté du Québec who ensured the safety of the canoeists and the public with true professionalism. I must also mention the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make this event a success year after year.

However, I am disappointed by the overly strict criteria of the federal programs that keep an event such as this one, which combines sport and culture so wonderfully, from receiving the financial support that would be immensely helpful.

Denise Tremblay June 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale has given the Colette-Breton award to Denise Tremblay, the general director of La Séjournelle women's shelter in Shawinigan, for her extraordinary contribution in the area of domestic violence. Ms. Tremblay is an exceptional woman who has been the director of La Séjournelle for 26 years, and decided to dedicate her life to women's issues, at both the regional and national level.

This forward-thinking and visionary woman initiated a pilot project called Carrefour Sécurité en violence conjugale. Convinced that shelters could not single-handedly ensure the safety of all women who are victims of domestic violence, she proposed partnerships within the legal system, which has brought about significant advances in preventing assault and homicide. Now that is what I call a real model for effective crime prevention.

Congratulations, Ms. Tremblay we thank her for her willingness to give women an empowering experience that gives them the confidence to use their collective strength to change the world and make things better for all human beings.