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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 7th, 2010

With respect to contracts awarded by the government since January 2006 for procurement of military airplanes and helicopters, valued between $5 million and $100 million and including Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) requirements, for each contract: (a) what is the name of the principal contractor; (b) what is the name of the Canadian company that concluded a partnership agreement with the principal contractor under the IRB policy; (c) briefly, what is the project's description; (d) where will most of the project be carried out; (e) how long will the project take; and (f) what is the project’s IRB value as defined by the IRB policy?

Aphasia Week in Quebec June 3rd, 2010

Madam Speaker, with June 1 marking the end of aphasia week in Quebec, I would like to bring the members' attention to this disorder, which may affect as many as 40,000 Quebeckers.

Aphasia is a language disorder that can result in difficulty speaking, understanding, reading or writing. Those with aphasia may be unable to name objects or people or even to respond to a simple question. The disorder is usually the result of a stroke or head injury.

According to the Groupe de relève pour personnes aphasiques des Laurentides, close to 20% of stroke victims will suffer from serious communication disorders.

I would like to pay tribute to the work of organizations such as the Groupe de relève pour personnes aphasiques des Laurentides in my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, which offer support, activities and services to those afflicted as well as their families.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague. Instead of paying $1 billion for new infrastructure that we know exists elsewhere, we could have let them use this site, which is ideal, and they could have seen our Parliament.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the member realizes that we are talking about $1 billion for security at the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto. The costs have soared to $13 million an hour. We all know that other summits have cost much less and that, in the current context, this money could be spent elsewhere, as I said earlier.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Conservative government made the worst choice. It is obvious that the $1 billion city was a partisan decision. The Conservative government could have chosen existing locations, like Kananaskis, where the costs would have been much lower, and which is accessible by only one road. We could have invited leaders to the G8 and G20 summits there, but instead the government chose the city with the $1 billion price tag.

In light of the current economic situation, I think that was a bad choice and was poorly planned. The government knows very well that this money could have been used to meet Quebec's health or education needs, or to combat poverty. It is quite clear right now how big the gap is between the rich and the poor. This money could have been used for other things.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague from Sherbrooke.

It is my pleasure to speak to the Liberal motion about the mind-boggling costs associated with providing security for the G8 and G20 summits. I will read the motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, while Canadians are justifiably proud of Canada’s upcoming hosting of the G8 and G20 summits and determined to provide effective and efficient security for the visiting world leaders, they are outraged at the reckless partisan choices and financial mismanagement that have caused the security budget for the summits to skyrocket to over $1 billion which is more than six times the original budget and more than was spent on security for the 2010 Winter Olympics which lasted for 17 days and therefore the House calls on the government to provide a detailed breakdown to Canadians of how the money earmarked for security is being spent and an explanation of how the security budget was permitted to spiral out of control.

The obsequious wording of the motion belies the Liberals' perpetual fear of offending their voting base, which is melting away like snow in sunshine. The motion opens with a reminder that Canadians are justifiably proud of Canada's role as host. Come on. I have no doubt what Canadians would say if we were to ask them whether they would prefer to pay $1 billion for the G8 and the G20 or to set that money aside for something else and have the summits held elsewhere.

Of course the Bloc Québécois supports this motion and, to be clear, we support these events, but not at all cost. A thousand million dollars is crazy.

If we were to send all of the people planning to demonstrate to Varadero, Cuba, for seven days all-inclusive with no bulk discount, we could send a million demonstrators on vacation and still have $500 million left over for security.

The government is spending $1 billion, and not at some random moment in time. This money is being spent after the Vancouver Olympic Games, which cost the federal government $650 million.

This begs the question: was there not anything that was used for security at the Olympic Games—metal barriers, highly sophisticated metal detectors, surveillance cameras—that could have been loaned to the G8 and the G20?

Security is starting to become expensive in 2010.

Obviously, it is imperative to have a secure site to hold international events in Canada. We must not cut corners when it comes to ensuring the safety of the world's major leaders. However, of all the locations in Canada to host the G8 and the G20, they chose one that costs $1 billion.

The government's budgetary documents show that the security bill for both summits has gone from $179 million to $930 million and now more than $1 billion.

The budget has increased fivefold in a matter of months without any debate or justification. The only thing the Minister of Public Safety has said about the $933 million budgeted for security is, “This is what the experts tell us is required. I don't think people understand exactly how many people are at these summits”.

No, people do not understand why security for the G8 and the G20 costs $13 million an hour, nor do they understand why such an expensive location was chosen.

Security for the G20 in London cost $30 million and for the G20 in Pittsburgh, in 2009, $20 million. The costs can be higher, of course. The G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, cost $110 million, the summit in Japan, in 2008, cost $381 million, the two-day G8 summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, cost $190 million. But there has never been a $1 billion price tag.

They are spending $1 billion for a G8 and yet the Prime Minister brags about his government's extraordinary management of the financial crisis. He cannot even manage a summit.

The truth is that when it comes to brute force, security and defence, the Conservatives happily sign the cheques, but when it comes to solidarity, fairness and compassion, they are nowhere to be found. Oops, all of a sudden, there is no more money.

This billion dollar government is opposing proactive legislation on pay equity. That is the billion dollar government for you. I just cannot get over it. It is the same government that refuses to give older workers an income support program that would cost just $55 million. What? That represents no more than four hours of the summit. With $1 billion, we could improve employment insurance, fund the Francofolies, the Festival International des Rythmes du Monde, the Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France for the next 200 years.

I was on Le Devoir's site reading the comments of an Internet surfer who, in light of the staggering amount spent on security for the G8 and the G20, suggested that they conduct the meeting by telephone conference in future to save a little bit.

Apart from the billion dollars, there is the question of ideology. These Conservatives have no problem spending money to increase the defence budget, or to put snipers on rooftops in Toronto, but they are indifferent to misery.

One of the subjects that the G8 will focus on is maternal health—a critical issue, if ever there was one. This is what it says on page 42 of the World Health Organization report titled Women and Health:

Unsafe abortion causes a significant proportion of maternal deaths. Nearly 70,000 women die each year due to the complications of unsafe abortion. The evidence shows that women who seek an abortion will do so regardless of legal restrictions. Abortions performed in an illegal context are likely to be unsafe and provided by unskilled persons in unhygienic conditions. Poor women and those affected by crises and conflicts are particularly at risk. Where there are few restrictions on the availability of safe abortion, deaths and illness are dramatically reduced.

The use of modern contraception has reduced the need for induced abortion, yet young women, especially when they are unmarried, often face difficulty in obtaining contraception and may resort to unsafe abortion. Globally, women of all ages have abortions but in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest burden of ill-health and death from unsafe abortion, one in four unsafe abortions is done on adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.

How much is the Conservative government, which determined that maternal health would be a priority at the next G8, willing to invest to help these women in developing countries who die as a result of an abortion? Not a cent.

This $13 million-an-hour government does not want to reopen the abortion debate, as if the other G8 countries would play along with the idea that this topic, which is inherent to women's health, should not be debated. Hillary Clinton was very clear about this.

And that is why we will be supporting the Liberal motion. We will continue to maintain and support Quebec's wishes. Here in the House, we will argue against poverty, and support health, education and women's groups, whose funding has been cut. We have a gun registry that costs $4 million a year. This $1 billion, or the $500 million left over for security, is significant. And we could list many more examples. That is why we will be supporting the Liberal Party motion.

National Patriots Day May 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on May 18, 2003, the Parti Québécois government established Journée nationale des Patriotes, a day to commemorate the men and women who fought and died for freedom, for the national recognition of our people and for democracy.

Whether we are talking about the patriation of the Constitution in 1982 in spite of Quebec's wishes, the federal government's violation of Quebec's democratic rules during the 1995 referendum or, more recently, the Liberals and Conservatives agreeing to reduce Quebec's political weight within the Canadian federation, all of these events—and the list goes on—simply remind us of the need to fight for our independence and defend the interests of Quebec.

I am proud to represent the Bloc Québécois, a party that, in its own way, is carrying on the fight of the patriots.

To close, I would like to echo Lorimier: Long live freedom, long live independence!

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act May 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-471 regarding pay equity, just a few days after we celebrated International Workers' Day on May 1, even though there are not many reasons to celebrate in Canada with this current government.

I would first like to state our party's position. The Bloc Québécois fully supports the bill introduced by the Liberal leader, although, if the Liberals had taken action as soon as we received the report of the pay equity task force ordered by their own government, we would not still be stuck in this debate, which will ultimately show two things: the Liberals are progressive only when they are in the opposition, and the Conservatives are misogynistic all of the time.

When he was with the National Citizens Coalition in the fall of 1998, the current Prime Minister made his view on pay equity clear. He said that, for taxpayers, pay equity was a ripoff and had nothing to do with gender. According to him, both men and women taxpayers will pay additional money to both men and women in the civil service, and that was why the federal government should scrap its ridiculous pay equity law.

That is what the Prime Minister said, and that is what he was quick to do in the 2009 budget.

Part 11 of the 2009 budget implementation bill has to do with “equitable compensation” and it enacted the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act. The term “pay equity” is nowhere to be found in the bill, which instead refers to “equitable compensation” without ever defining it.

The act applies strictly to public sector employers: the Treasury Board, the RCMP and certain agencies and crown corporations. Businesses under federal jurisdiction are not covered, including some crown corporations, like Canada Post and CBC.

I think it is important to hear what is in the preamble:

Whereas

Parliament affirms that women in the public sector of Canada should receive equal pay for work of equal value;

Whereas Parliament affirms that it is desirable to accomplish that goal through proactive means;

And whereas employers in the public sector of Canada operate in a market-driven economy;

So, what does that mean? Clause 3 states:

An employer shall, in respect of its non-unionized employees, take measures to provide them with equitable compensation in accordance with this Act. In the case of unionized employees, the employer and the bargaining agent shall take measures to provide those employees with equitable compensation in accordance with this Act.

Of course the Bloc Québécois voted against this bill, which made pay equity a negotiable right and part of a collective agreement. Instead, the Bloc Québécois asked that sectoral committees on pay equity be created, as has been done in Quebec.

We also denounced the fact that the bill created a third category of workers in Quebec consisting of those who fall under Quebec pay equity legislation, those under federal legislation on equitable compensation, and those still subjected to the ineffective complaint system under the federally regulated private sector and certain crown corporations.

So we had to ask ourselves this: If the Conservative government believes that equitable compensation is necessary in the government, why would that not also be the case for private businesses under its jurisdiction, unless it believes that this principle is costly and harmful to private enterprise?

The Liberals and their party leader have gone to the trouble of introducing Bill C-471 on pay equity in order to show women how important they are, and yet the Liberals voted in favour of the budget.

In his speech introducing the bill, the Leader of the Opposition said, “To come right to the point, hidden in the 2009 budget was a measure that undermined pay equity.” The truth is, pay equity is worth nothing more to the Liberals than a couple of seats. The truth is, they voted in favour of the budget and in favour of driving pay equity backwards, knowing very well what they were doing, and too bad for women.

The pay equity issue is all but solved in Quebec. It is not complete yet because some female workers in Quebec are under the Canada Labour Code.

It is clear that the principle of equity, which is fundamental in Quebec, is not fundamental here. The federal government announced that it will cut $1.7 billion in spending and chances are that during collective bargaining, because they will obviously have to negotiate pay equity in the future, the government's negotiators will say that it is necessary to decrease the operating budget or that a collective effort is needed. If nothing concrete happens concerning pay equity during collective bargaining, it will be blamed on the union.

People will say that I am a pessimist, a cynic. However, this is the government that rejects anti-scab legislation, this is the government that goes over the heads of federal-level unions and that even repudiates its own collective agreements. This is the government that is risking the health of workers covered by the Canadian Labour Code, as was shown in a study last week. This government is even going so far as to vote against a Bloc bill that would exclude labour disputes from the employment insurance qualifying period. The truth is, the Conservatives do not like workers and never take their side.

At the same time, this government is questioning the right to abortion. It is cutting funding to women's rights groups and it is against a preventive withdrawal program. The truth is that the Conservatives have no concern whatsoever for women.

They want nothing to do with pay equity, this “ridiculous legislation”, as the Prime Minister called it a few years ago.

The Bloc, however, cares and has always supported the creation of proactive legislation.

On May 4, 2004, the pay equity task force published a report of more than 500 pages titled Pay Equity: A New Approach to a Fundamental Right. It recommended that the federal government put in place proactive pay equity legislation, and it presented a detailed plan outlining the best way to undertake this.

During the Pay Equity Task Force's consultations, stakeholders agreed on several key issues. Among other things, they agreed that they were committed to the principle of pay equity; that pay equity was a human rights issue; that employers had a positive duty to take steps to eliminate wage discrimination; that any new system must be available to unionized as well as non-unionized workers; that the new system must provide additional guidelines on how to comply with pay equity standards; that a neutral body responsible for providing information and support and ensuring compliance with pay equity standards should be set up; and that an independent agency with the power to settle pay equity disputes should be set up.

That all seems reasonable to me, and it is hard to see how anyone could be against this, yet the Conservatives are. They plan to silence anyone who speaks out against their equitable compensation scheme. They claim that they are making things better for women in the public service. They know that is not true. We all know that is not true, but the truth holds little sway with the Conservatives.

The theme for this year's workers' day was “For a fair Quebec”. This bill can help make both Quebec and Canada more equitable places.

Successive federal governments have done a poor job of defending Quebec's values of fairness and equity, so I believe, as always, that sovereignty is the best way for Quebec to become a fully equitable society.

Workplace Safety April 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the lives of employees under federal jurisdiction are being jeopardized by inadequate funding and a lack of safety inspectors. Between 2002 and 2007, the rate of disabling injuries increased by 5%, while Quebec and the other provinces managed to cut their average by 25%.

Will the minister show some concern for workers for once and allocate adequate resources for their health and safety?

National Day of Mourning April 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the National Day of Mourning, marked every year on April 28, originated with the Canadian labour movement. The Canadian government declared this day the National Day of Mourning in 1991 to commemorate those whose lives have been lost or who have been injured in the workplace.

Despite sustained efforts and the successes we have seen in workplace health and safety, there are still too many people killed or injured, or who become sick, because of their jobs.

Between 2002 and 2007, the rate of disabling injuries in federally regulated workplaces increased by 5%, while the provinces managed to cut their disabling workplace injuries by an average of 25%.

Today Bloc Québécois members are paying tribute to the men and women who lost their lives and those who were injured or became sick because of their jobs, and calling on the government to work actively to improve the safety of workers under federal jurisdiction.