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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

International Trade May 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, according to Canada's chief negotiator, negotiations toward a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe are progressing quickly and talks have reached the halfway point of a schedule that ends in 2011. Yet no information on the content of the agreement has been made public.

Does the Minister of International Trade not agree that it is time to make public the preliminary documents and the negotiating mandate of what he himself considers the most ambitious trade agreement ever considered?

Citizenship and Immigration April 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, by requiring visas of Mexican nationals, the Conservative government is assuming they are all fraudsters. And, I might add, it is not afraid to compromise our privileged relationship with this economic partner.

Instead of blaming Mexicans for the backlog in the refugee claimant system, why does the government not establish a real refugee appeal division for all nationals, regardless of their country of origin?

Foreign Affairs April 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, former minister Hélène Scherrer is another victim of the diplomatic conflict between Canada and Mexico with regard to visas. She and her husband were turned back at the border because the Mexican authorities require holders of Canadian diplomatic passports to present a visa. This measure was implemented after the Conservative government decided to require visas from Mexican nationals.

Rather than launching a diplomatic war that is harmful to tourism and trade, why does the Conservative government not stop requiring visas from Mexican nationals?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, how could the minister say to a Liberal MP that he did not believe that the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement would have a negative impact on human rights in Colombia?

This agreement will allow a significant increase in investment in mining companies in Colombia, namely Canadian mining companies. Over the years, the mining companies' activities have been detrimental to human rights in Colombia. Thousands of people have had to move away from their usual surroundings to large cities and they have lost their autonomy. A number of unionists defending the rights of those people have also been killed.

I do not understand how the minister can say that the bill on the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement will not affect human rights.

Canada Post April 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in the budget implementation bill, the Conservative government is trying to slip in a provision to make outgoing international mail accessible to the competition, thereby attacking Canada Post's exclusive privilege and opening the door to full deregulation of the crown corporation.

Does the government realize that by avoiding debate on the issue, it is being anti-democratic? Will it agree to remove this provision from Bill C-9?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague from the NDP, who said that, sadly, the Conservative government had ignored the unemployed in its budget and had once again failed to improve the employment insurance system.

I would like to hear him on the misappropriation of $57 billion initiated by the previous Liberal government and continued by this Conservative government at the expense of the unemployed and businesses.

I find it appalling. They do not even have the decency now to give the money back to the people who have worked. Not even a portion of the money is given back to these people at a time when they need help. They are facing financial difficulties, and workers are losing their jobs left and right. Now is the time to give back the $57 billion, but the money has been squandered.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, yes, absolutely. I understand my NDP colleague's question. In fact, this reminds me of the proposals the Bloc Québécois made to the Conservative government before it tabled the budget. We told the government that it was important to include measures for people who have just gone through this crisis, for communities and for businesses. We said it was important to support them. However, the Conservative government, ever ideology-oriented, continued focusing its efforts and assistance on the banking sector and the oil industry, which is one of the biggest polluters. It is completely ignoring people who have lost their jobs, who are having difficulty just getting by, and who are going through serious hard times.

As we know, in all single-industry environments, especially in the forestry industry, people are having a very hard time. Proposals have been made, such as eliminating the two-week waiting period for EI benefits. That would have helped. Everyone we meet tells us that when two people in the same family lose their jobs, the worst part is that there are no measures to help them during the first two weeks of unemployment. This is completely unacceptable and the Conservative government should have introduced such a measure.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I could answer the member's question by referring to the whole issue of the initiative launched by the government in last year's budget introducing a program to extend high-speed Internet access to many remote areas of Quebec and Canada. This year, the Conservative government missed a great opportunity.

From what we have gathered so far from the answers we have been given, there was a demand totalling almost $1 billion, or $900 million, but only $75 million or $80 million a year was provided in the budget. This would have been a great opportunity to move these areas forward, help them and promote their economic and cultural development. Funding should have been provided to meet the demand. This way, everyone in Canada and Quebec could have been connected and could have developed very equitably. But once again, we can see that $10 billion was invested predominantly in Ontario regions for the automotive industry only, while all that was required to meet the needs across Canada and Quebec might have been $1 billion. That was not done, and that too is unacceptable.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this budget implementation bill. All Bloc Québécois members were opposed to the budget because they think it is a bad budget, particularly for Quebec.

The Conservative government had an opportunity to send a true message of support to Quebec, which is experiencing serious problems related to the last financial crisis, which is not over yet. That crisis began long before the financial crisis that has affected the other provinces. The decline of the forestry industry over the past number of years was the prelude to this crisis. Once again, the Conservative government did not include anything in its budget to correct this most unfortunate situation for Quebec.

In that budget, on the same page, the government agreed to give in excess of $10 billion to the automotive sector, which is primarily located in Ontario, while allocating a measly $170 million for the forestry industry in all of Canada.

It is completely bizarre and it is a slap in the face to Quebec. For that reason alone, it is absolutely inconceivable that Bloc Québécois members could come out in support of this bill. We had proposed several very specific and very concrete measures to eliminate the deficit and the debt in the long term.

This budget implementation bill confirms the desire of the Conservative government to protect rich taxpayers at all costs. One thing we had proposed was to impose a surtax on people earning over $150,000 and another on people earning over $250,000, but we found nothing like that in the budget, even though that could have brought in nearly $4 billion a year for the government’s coffers. The government has ignored those proposals, and, once again, has chosen instead to put all the problems on the shoulders of the middle class. As well, the banks and big corporations are still not being asked to pay their fair share in this budget.

This morning, I was reading in La Presse that the Minister of Finance in the Conservative government is even rejecting proposals made by other members of the G8 and the G20 to tax the profits of the big banks, which are in large part responsible for the financial crisis we have gone through and the effects of which we are still feeling. By refusing to make the ones that are responsible pay, we are automatically making the middle class and working people pay for the consequences of the mistakes they have already had to endure.

The measures set out in this bill clearly illustrate that desire, since corporations are not being asked to pay their fair share in order to increase government revenue. The Bloc Québécois submitted precise recommendations to the government and suggested options worth considering. The finance critic held consultations all over Quebec, with the entire population, in order to propose concrete measures, but the Conservative government did not accept them.

Once again, it has opted to protect the wealthiest, the banks and corporations, at the expense of working people and the middle class.

Tax loopholes are another major point. The government is engaging in double talk. On the one hand, we hear the Minister of Finance, or other ministers, saying that they make no sense. The Minister of National Revenue said that, for one. He said he wanted to tackle tax havens, but essentially, with the bill we have before us, he is opening loopholes in the Income Tax Act to allow corporations that are not registered in Canada to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

There are a lot of examples like that one, where the Conservative government is engaging in double talk. It says it is acting in good faith, it says it wants to face the facts and try to get back all the taxes that should be paid in Canada, and yet on the other hand, it is putting in place measures that preserve the loopholes. We are hearing considerable discontent among the public on this issue. People are disillusioned. We know what is going on in the government of Quebec. It has been hit with a major credibility crisis.

At the same time, I think this affects the federal political class as well because the general public realizes that when the government tables a budget like this, it is not ordinary people who benefit. The public knows that, once again, the government did not take into account the people who pay their taxes every day. It simply carried on with measures to protect the rich. It protects people who are powerful and busy making their money grow. The public is fed up with hearing this and seeing these kinds of things perpetuated year after year. It still continues today.

We could point as well to the Telecommunications Act, which was amended to allow foreign companies, the owners or operators of certain transmission facilities, to function as telecommunications companies in Canada. This does not help our companies. They talk about helping companies. We are against the government doing too much for companies, but when they adopt measures like these to help foreign companies, it is doubly nonsensical. Once again, there is a double meaning. They say they want to help both companies and consumers. However, the companies already established in Quebec and Canada will have to pay for decisions like this.

We also saw in this budget and in Bill C-9, ensuring the implementation of the budget, that the government will not even shrink from looting the employment insurance fund. A kind of independent fund was created two years ago. I say a kind of fund advisedly because many people criticized it and said it was not large enough. At least the government made a start on an independent employment insurance fund. Now it will fall back to zero. All the fine principles used to justify its creation have been jettisoned and the government will not shrink now from pillaging it. It will fall back to zero and be replaced with an employment insurance operating account, which will start from zero.

When this fund was established two years ago, both businesses and big banks said it was a good idea to create a fund like this. However, it should have $15 billion in it instead of the $2 billion the government injected. Now the government is even coming to get these $2 billion. That money was there as insurance, in case of difficult years for employment. Now all is lost. The Conservative government and its Liberal predecessor pillaged a total of $57 billion from the employment insurance fund—money that belongs to employers and employees.

It is totally absurd. I have mentioned only a few examples which make it absolutely impossible and unacceptable for the Bloc Québécois to vote in favour of this bill.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, my colleague gave an excellent speech. She said that the Bloc Québécois cannot vote in favour of the budget. She gave the example of the more than $10 billion provided to the automobile industry, which is highly concentrated in Ontario. She added that a measly $170 million was given to the forestry industry, which is a fundamental part of the Quebec nation.

The Conservative government has recognized the Quebec nation, but not in a concrete way. It was recognized, but only in words. It is absurd that the budget does nothing for the numerous single-industry municipalities and villages that depend on forestry. The budget does nothing to help this industry either.

I would like my colleague to comment on this.