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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

Energy Efficiency Act May 7th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for his excellent speech on the important role of the federal government in developing green energy. Unfortunately, the government is not forward thinking, as my colleague was saying, and it continues to look through the rear-view mirror. Americans have embraced the green shift and this will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs—the jobs of the future. As my colleague pointed out, oil is a non-renewable energy source and, in the not too distant future, there will be none left. That may be the fate of the Conservatives. They may not be around to see the disaster they have caused.

We did not support their last budget because there were not enough measures in support of sustainable, green energy. I would like to hear what my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has to say about developing these energy sources and the jobs that would be created.

Energy Efficiency Act May 7th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his excellent speech. Along the same lines, we have to look at the opportunities and at what the government can do to usher in a more sustainable economy and create jobs in that sector.

Recently, the government has made a lot of major purchases, such as conventional gas-guzzling military trucks and buses. All of the trucks here on the Hill are conventional. The government has shown no sign of working toward a more sustainable economy that includes hybrid vehicles. I would like the member to comment on how this government might use its influence to change things.

International Workers' Day April 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, May 1, is International Workers' Day, celebrating those who, through their hard work and social commitment, built Quebec.

The economic crisis is causing severe hardship, the worst we have seen since the 1930s. In Quebec, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, and the manufacturing and export industries are taking a nose dive.

In order to find a way out, we must target what caused the crisis. It began on Wall Street, in an environment in which deregulation and a lack of government intervention became common practices. As a result, millions of workers are now the victims of this flawed economic approach. In order to recover, we must rethink the economy and start putting people first.

Human Pathogens and Toxins Act April 30th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Verchères—Les Patriotes for presenting arguments on this matter with conviction, passion and clarity. The arguments regarding consultation show that researchers, scientists and the provinces are being flatly ignored. My colleague also read a letter from Mr. Bolduc in Quebec. Without an impact study having been done on this, how can the opposition parties support this bill so easily?

I would like my colleague to tell us about what the repercussions might be for education, for health services buildings, for health care and for the research and development industry.

Goods and Services Tax April 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Liberal Party attempted to woo Quebec on March 22 with such sweet nothings as, “I need you, I have seen the nation reflected in you, I promise to defend your aspirations”, but he quickly returned to the same old lines of his predecessors.

When Quebec's interests are contrary to those of Canada, federalist leaders have never gone to bat for Quebec. Harmonization of the GST is one of the best examples of that.

How can the leader of the Liberal Party accept that, for harmonization, Ontario receives $4.3 billion whereas Quebec, which led the way, is deprived of $2.6 billion? How can the leader of the Liberal Party explain that the Liberal government, in 1997, gave $961 million to the Maritimes for harmonizing the GST, while refusing the same thing for Quebec? Liberals, Conservatives, they are all the same.

Public Works and Government Services April 3rd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Canada is in the middle of an economic recession, yet the government is giving big contracts to foreign companies. They have ordered 1,300 military trucks from Navistar in the United States and 30 military buses from Germany.

Now the government is thinking about ordering five more buses from Setra in Germany, even though it is well aware that companies like Paccar and Prévost Car in Quebec have experience manufacturing these kinds of trucks and buses.

Can the Minister of Public Works and Government Services assure the House that when it decides who gets the contract for the five buses, it will consider—

Official Languages Act March 31st, 2009

Madam Speaker, I am proud to have the pleasure of rising here in the House on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to talk about the language of Quebec, a majority language that is widely spoken in economic, cultural, social and political spheres. It is used in most of our institutions and businesses. Yet that language needs protection.

As I mentioned earlier, Quebec has seen some important struggles, including that of GM workers in Boisbriand. They went on strike for three and a half months in order to protect this language in the workplace, because they were being forced to work in English. Some workers were even dismissed because they did not understand English. Since they were receiving instructions in English, this did cause some major problems. The union had to defend them and initiate strike action to ensure that the French-language collective agreement would guarantee respect for workers, in matters of labour relations, communications and workplace documents. The workers were given only an English version of the documents telling them how to assemble a car. Imagine how hard it must have been for workers who do not speak English to defend themselves in a situation like that.

There is no doubt the French language is important. This bill will affect private companies in Quebec. Either the Liberal Party member forgot part of the bill or she misread it. This bill targets large multinational corporations operating across Canada, whose employees are forced to use English as the language of work. These corporations include banks, airlines, rail lines, NAV CANADA, and all such companies. Take inter-city transportation, where Quebec truckers transporting goods from one province to another or from one town to another have serious problems doing their work in French.

The purpose of this bill is to prevent this kind of discrimination. Earlier, my colleague said that some 200,000 to 250,000 workers are not currently subject to the Charter of the French Language, so they have no way of ensuring that their employers respect their language—French, which is protected under the Charter of the French Language in Quebec—in their own province. Without that charter, we would still be where we were in the 1970s when people were striking. Things could be even worse.

People in Quebec are proud to speak French. Quebec has been recognized as a nation. All we need are some small changes to the legislation that governs the promotion of French and English in Canadian society, changes to sections 7 and 9, to the Commissioner of Official Languages' mandate. All we have to do is insert the Charter of the French Language and enforce its provisions in all of these major institutions.

Consider certain companies, those operating in the interprovincial marine transport sector, for example. Quebeckers who go from one lake to another—people in Quebec use all kinds of waterways—are subject to the English language, the dominant language. Often, they cannot use their own language.

This is simply a question of respect and non-discrimination. The same applies for air transportation, for the workers travel across the country and are often forced to speak English only.

Consider the banks. We have several banks in Quebec, including the Royal Bank of Canada, the Laurentian Bank of Canada and the National Bank of Canada. Every day, the workers speak only English with their bosses: they get their orders in English and they carry them out in English, even though we know for a fact that the entire clientele of these banks in Quebec do business in French. In the end, it is simply a question of respect.

Consider private firms as well. I am thinking among others of Bell Canada, which my colleague mentioned earlier, of Telus, Canwest, Cogeco and Astral Media, which are not subject to the charter. Those persons who have never visited them should take the time to do so. They will see that, indeed, English is dominant there.

For us, this bill is seeking nothing but justice for the workers, and respect for the French language. French has been protected all these years by the Charter of the French Language, thanks to which that language continues to be commonly spoken in Quebec today.

I would also point out that, in Quebec, people often speak two or three languages, but the French culture and the French language are protected. As I always say, we are surrounded by 250 million anglophones. Yet we have succeeded in preserving and protecting French, and in making it dominant. French is increasingly spoken in Quebec, even in economic affairs. Whether it be the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, solidarity funds or equity funds, all important economic tools of the financial sector, French is the language used. Today it is possible to build in French in Quebec. This is not because we want to be different, but only because French is our language, and we are proud of it.

The Bloc Québécois is asking the federal government to recognize and respect Quebec’s Charter of the French Language in the Official Languages Act, and to respect the spirit of the charter in matters relating to language of signage and language of work in related legislation.

Official Languages Act March 31st, 2009

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his fine speech. This bill shows how important it is to protect the French language in the workplace. We are left in Quebec facing a discriminatory situation with two kinds of workers: those who are protected by the charter and those who are not.

Historically in Quebec, the charter arose out of a major labour dispute when the workers at General Motors fought to work in French in their workplace. There was a long strike strictly over language because French was not spoken in the plant and no documents were available in French. Nowadays of course, there are many companies that show respect for the French language.

I would like to know what my colleague has to say about the two classes of workers we have now in Quebec and the lack of protection under the Charter of the French Language.

Anti-scab Motion March 13th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, for the Bloc Québécois, the best way to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of all those who contribute to Quebec society on a daily basis is to show true respect for their rights, starting with the right to strike, by preventing the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout.

Therefore, it is imperative that workers governed by federal labour legislation have the same rights as those governed by Quebec legislation, including a true right to strike.

The example of Quebec, which adopted legislation more than 30 years ago, speaks volumes: the number and duration of labour conflicts has diminished. A fair balance of power is advantageous for everyone.

Therefore, I hope that the motion tabled in this House by the Bloc Québécois will receive the support of all parties.

Replacement Workers March 11th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Motion M-294, tabled by my colleague from Vaudreuil-Soulanges, which reads as follows. It is important to read it:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should introduce in the House, no later than October 15, 2009, a bill to amend the Canada Labour Code to prohibit the use of replacement workers in labour disputes falling under the jurisdiction of the federal government while at the same time ensuring that essential services are maintained.

It is worth reminding hon. members that Quebec and British Columbia have legislative measures which ban the use of scabs. Work is already underway in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to develop this type of legislation, with the hope of eventually having a similar law.

In Quebec, the adoption of anti-scab legislation in December 1977 and its implementation under the René Lévesque government in 1978, to all reports constituted an impressive leap forward in terms of the respect of workers' rights. Coming as it did on the heels of a particularly long and tumultuous strike at United Aircraft , now Pratt & Whitney, this legislation seriously hindered the possibilities open to employers to restrict the rights of unionized workers and placed Quebec in the vanguard in North America in this area.

For 30 years, in Quebec, an employer has not had the right to hire replacement workers for employees on strike or locked out. This prohibition, included in Quebec's labour code, prevents the employer from hiring, after the start of negotiations, management or workers to perform the work of an employee on strike or locked out. When a strike is called, it also prevents the use of staff of another employer. The employer is also prohibited from using the services of workers from other establishments in companies affected by the strike or lockout.

In an effort to have true respect for the rights of employees on strike, only management of the establishments on strike and workers not part of the bargaining unit on strike can continue to work during a strike or lockout on condition that they were hired prior to the start of negotiations. Only management can carry out the duties of employees on strike.

These are the provisions that the Bloc Québécois would like to see in the Canada Labour Code.

The following examples, and others, clearly demonstrate the need for urgent action.

First of all, there is the case of Vidéotron. After obtaining the approval of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in May 2001, Quebecor acquired the cable operator Vidéotron with the help of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. In order to clear up some financial problems related to the acquisition, Quebecor undertook a significant downsizing process that was supposed to produce annual savings of $35 to $40 million. Everyone knew that Quebecor was looking for a confrontation with the 2,200 employees and technicians of the cable company. Some thought that this was the last major step by Vidéotron in the downsizing. The 2,200 Vidéotron employees were on strike and locked out from May 8, 2002 until March 2003. Many acts of vandalism were committed during this conflict. It was a lengthy dispute.

In the case of Radio Nord Communications, the union members, who were governed by the federal code, represented the employees of three television stations—TVA, TQS and Radio-Canada—and two radio stations in northwestern Quebec. These unionized workers went on strike on October 25, 2002. Even before the strike began, Radio Nord had eliminated almost 50 positions in Abitibi.

Since the last labour contract, 10 other unionized jobs were abolished, including two journalist positions covered by the CSN. Centralization was the main objective of Radio-Nord, and to achieve that, strike action and lockouts were used. There again, it lasted a very long time. Scabs were used to ensure that the workers were tossed onto the scrap heap, since the work was being done by replacement workers, by scabs. The strike lasted more than 20 months.

These disputes have several common features. In all cases, they were long disputes in sectors where the workers come under the Canada Labour Code and where the use of strikebreakers is permitted.

These disputes were all marked by significant provocation, violence and vandalism. The feeling of being powerless—this is important—and of not seeing the end of the strike or lockout inevitably drives some workers to reprehensible and illegal acts, and the families end up suffering considerably.

For the Bloc Québécois, this is a worrisome situation which finds its solution in the measure proposed today. Despite the negative effects of the Canada Labour Code, which tends to exacerbate labour disputes and make them last longer, Ottawa has always refused to correct the situation through anti-scab provisions. When I say “Ottawa”, of course I am referring to the Conservatives and the Liberals.

The Bloc Québécois is the party that defends the interests of those workers in Quebec who are governed by the Canada Labour Code, who live in Quebec and who are being seriously discriminated against when it comes to the application of Quebec's anti-scab legislation, which does not apply to federal employees.

The best way to acknowledge the exceptional contribution of all those who are involved every day in building our societies is to provide them with the guarantee that everything possible will be done to pass a bill that would eliminate the outmoded practice of using strikebreakers during strikes or lockouts. There are numerous advantages to anti-scab measures. For one, they foster industrial peace by avoiding confrontation between striking and replacement workers. As well, they help employers realize that there are advantages to settling disputes by negotiation rather than suffering through a strike or lockout.

These measures are the cornerstone that ensure a level playing field for employers and employees. They will make it possible to eliminate the existence of two categories of workers in Quebec, as I mentioned earlier: those under the provincial code and those under the federal code. The Canada Labour Code includes the necessary measures to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public. The Canada Labour Code calls these essential services.

To finish, I would like to list the advantages of anti-scab legislation: reducing violence on the picket lines, fostering a fair balance in the negotiations between employers and employees, civilizing labour relations and the bargaining process, and mitigating the bitterness felt by all when employees return to work. There is also a very broad consensus among different unions about the importance of anti-scab legislation. It is essential in the current workplace because it provides greater transparency in case of labour disputes.

Bloc Québécois motion M-294, which would prohibit the use of strikebreakers, is one solution to the problem. Quebec passed this type of legislation more than 30 years ago and has since seen a reduction in the number and length of conflicts. As well, violence on picket lines has been drastically reduced. As well, labour relations between employers and workers have improved. Today there are no large conflicts, as happens in the federal sector. A fair balance of power is beneficial to everyone.