House of Commons photo


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

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act September 30th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

We could draw a parallel between what happened here in Canada and what could happen in Colombia if we were to apply this kind of agreement to investors. Indeed, there was a time when workers here in the mining industry were terribly exploited. That was the genesis of unions, which helped secure decent working conditions in our mines.

Right now in Colombia, it would be impossible to ensure similar improvements to the working conditions, because the people are not allowed to unionize or to negotiate. Workers who choose to oppose something are systematically excluded from working, or even worse, killed instantly in some cases, especially when it comes to labour activists. I am not afraid to say that this practice is still a common occurrence in Colombia.

These are things that we denounce here at home, although the situations we face are much less severe. It is completely unacceptable that a government like the one across from me in this House would dare ratify this kind of agreement.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act September 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. Earlier, I said that the Liberal member was hallucinating. Parliamentarians are not the only ones talking about these paramilitary groups. A number of civil society groups in Canada, Quebec and Colombia are still condemning paramilitary activities in Colombia.

As I said earlier, paramilitary groups are no longer known by that name. Instead, some such militias are now known as the Black Eagles. The Colombian army, which I now consider to be a paramilitary group, has been told to make sure that Mr. Uribe can pursue this kind of trade agreement with Canada in a way that prevents the Colombian people from benefiting from it.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act September 30th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I would like to focus on the current social, human and political situation in Colombia, so as to explain why the Bloc Québécois opposes Bill C-23, Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.

It is important to consider the impact and repercussions that the terms of this agreement will have on the people of Colombia. We must ensure that the rights of Colombians are respected and that their opinions will be taken into account before we ratify such an agreement.

Civil society and the people of Colombia are opposed to a free trade agreement that enhances the rights of foreign investors and exporters, but does nothing to take into account local issues in terms of development and human rights.

Yes, trade can support development and the realization of human rights, if it brings benefits to vulnerable populations and allows those states that are willing to do so to promote development and protect the environment.

The uproar against this free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia is only growing in strength, in Canada and in Colombia. According to the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement and the two side agreements—one on labour rights and the other on the environment—will only exacerbate the problem of human rights violations, and the legislative provisions meant to guarantee those rights and protect the environment will not work.

We cannot enter into a free trade agreement with Colombia without looking at the human rights situation in that country. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to life, security of the person, freedom of expression and freedom of association. It is therefore incomprehensible that the Canadian government should ratify a free trade agreement given the Colombian government's deplorable record of violating human and workers' rights.

Can the Canadian people, who consider themselves a democratic society and stand up for workers' rights, sanction a free trade agreement with a country where people put their lives at risk just by demonstrating or wanting to join a union? It is regrettable that the Canadian government is supporting a regime that is heavily involved in human rights violations and mired in a huge political scandal because of its ties to paramilitary groups.

Those responsible for the crimes against union members and civilians are very seldom found guilty in court. Only 3% of the crimes committed have led to a conviction and in the meantime, the paramilitaries are reasserting control over the territory, and the government is doing nothing to stop them.

In Colombia, it is easier to organize an armed paramilitary group than a union. The anti-union culture prevailing in Colombia makes it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for union members. A number of groups are targeted. The Liberal member who said that everything is great in Colombia must be hallucinating because when we examine what is happening we see that major groups such as teachers, those involved in labour disputes, those against privatization, women, children, prison guards and farmers are being targeted. Furthermore, thousands of people are being displaced.

I would like to cite just a few statistics: 2,685 union members have been killed in recent years, 474 of them since President Uribe came to power. Thousands of men, women and children have been threatened and even kidnapped. In 2008, 41 union members were killed and in 2009, 29 were murdered, as mentioned by the NDP member. More than 300,000 people were displaced in 2007 and more than 380,000 in 2008. That is unacceptable. Such displacement occurs more frequently in rural areas.

These people are being displaced with the support of mining companies and large agricultural companies, making this a major humanitarian issue, bigger than what is going on in Sudan. That says something.

Why is Canada, and especially a government like this one, acting like this? The Prime Minister has said:

I will sign trade agreements with parties who respect the rights we respect in Canada; fundamental values like democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance.

How can the Prime Minister and the current government sign, or try to sign, an agreement with Colombia?

Earlier, we spoke about paramilitary groups, and I said that it was easier to form this kind of group than to form a union. It is true that they are now called something else. We call them militias, the Black Eagles. They go by many names, but they continue to systematically kill unionists and/or civilians who speak out against the Uribe government, which is also trying to finally sign this free trade agreement that only gives rights to investors and has nothing to do with trade.

Bill C-23 contains a chapter on investments. As the agreement contains a chapter on investment protection, it will make life easier for Canadians investing in Colombia, especially in mining.

Judging by all the investment protection agreements Canada has signed over the years, the one that would bind Canada and Colombia is ill conceived. All these agreements contain clauses that enable foreign investors to sue the local government if it takes measures that reduce the return on their investment. Such clauses are especially dangerous in a country where labour and environmental protection laws are uncertain at best. By protecting a Canadian investor against any improvement in living conditions in Colombia, such an agreement could delay social and environmental progress in that country, where the need for progress is great.

Canadian mining companies have to be careful not to become complicit in human rights violations or cause forced displacement of any populations, since regions that are rich in minerals tend to become theatres of violence, paramilitary control and displacements.

This chapter pays mere lip service to corporate social responsibility. Its “best efforts” provisions are purely voluntary and completely unenforceable.

As mentioned earlier, a parliamentary group studied the issue and submitted a report that was completely ignored by the current government. We made some important recommendations in that report.

As members of the Bloc Québécois, we cannot condone such stubbornness and such disdain for parliamentarians. Such behaviour stems from an authoritarian trend that is completely unacceptable and cannot become a precedent. This is not how we would like democratic institutions to operate in the future.

Point of Order September 18th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, in response to the point of order raised by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, I wish to inform the House that I am not a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, that I was not present at the August 7 meeting, and that I am the Bloc Québécois labour critic.

Concerning the sale of Nortel assets, my constituency office has received numerous messages from Nortel employees—retirees and current workers, both unionized and non-unionized—and from unions. As such, I merely reported what those people told me.

Nortel September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, on August 7, members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology met to assess the economic repercussions on Quebec and Canada of Ericsson acquiring Nortel's wireless division. During the meeting, executives provided assurances that they would respect their investment and employment commitments.

Unfortunately, both the Liberals and the Conservatives refused to meet again, so the committee could not hold additional meetings to hear from Nortel workers and retirees. The Minister of Industry also declined to meet with them.

The Bloc Québécois believes that they have a legitimate right to express their concerns and ask questions about the future of their retirement fund. Our party will ensure that the Nortel sell-off respects the rights of workers and retirees.

Petitions September 16th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by more than 550 workers from the Nova Bus plant in Saint-Eustache, in my riding. This plant is a leading manufacturer of intercity buses.

In this petition, the workers are calling on the government to set a Canadian content requirement for all of its purchases, such as intercity transportation purchases that fall under its jurisdiction, and also military buses, like the ones the government purchased in Germany a few months ago.

This would ensure that these workers can keep their jobs and avoid finding themselves among the too many unemployed workers in Quebec.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 14th, 2009

With respect to military contracts of over $100 million awarded since January 2006 that include industrial and regional benefit (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 in terms of the IRB Policy?

Georgette and Gaston Legault June 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to a remarkable couple from my riding, and to highlight an extraordinary event. On June 18, Georgette and Gaston Legault will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

It is always a great pleasure for me to send heartfelt congratulations to couples, like this one, who are fortunate enough to be celebrating 60 years of married life, and indeed Mr. and Mrs. Legault are a wonderful example of understanding, tolerance and love.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I wish them many more years of happiness and health together.

Congratulations and happy 60th wedding anniversary.

Laurentian FADOQ Games May 15th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, from June 2 to 4, the City of Boisbriand will host the 12th edition of the Laurentian Quebec senior citizens' games for people over the age of 50. Participants will challenge each other to games of beanbag baseball, mini-golf and military whist, as well as to cycling, badminton and tennis competitions. Several thousand people, all of them members of one of the 40 FADOQ clubs in the region, will participate in the games.

The games will be hosted by the Boisbriand Pioneers club and its president, Michel Bossé. Many of the club members will be among the 65 volunteers working to make the event happen.

The Bloc Québécois strongly believes in the importance of sports and recreation activities adapted to those over 50, and in all social and cultural activities that get them out interacting with others and help them stay in good physical and mental shape.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police May 8th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, on April 6, the Ontario Superior Court issued an important ruling declaring that section 96 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Regulations was unconstitutional. According to the judge, section 96 substantially interferes with the freedom of members of the RCMP to engage in a process of collective bargaining.

Yesterday, the federal government once again turned its back on members of the RCMP when it said that it would appeal this decision.

This is the same government that, in the last budget, tried to take away, wholly or partly, federal public servants' right to strike and to cancel their wage increases. So it is not at all surprising that the government is once again interfering with the rights of workers.