House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Verchères—Les Patriotes (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Patent Act January 31st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn, after the member for Halifax, to speak to Bill C-393, which would amend Canada's access to medicines regime. Before I speak directly about Motions Nos. 1 and 2 moved by the member for Halifax and Motion No. 3, which I moved, I would like to talk about the study we did in parliamentary committee.

When the parliamentary committee was studying this bill, I informed the committee chair that it would be important to take a closer look at Canada's access to medicines regime because it had been used only one time. We wondered why this regime, which was meant to provide ongoing access to medicines, particularly antiretrovirals, for African countries and all disadvantaged countries, was used only once and what kinds of changes would have to be made to it. More generally, how could we change how the different partners involved in this regime acted so that it was used more? Some witnesses told us that the regime worked, yet many people had used it only once. My colleague spoke about groups that had written to her and that came to tell us in committee that they would like to see the regime used more.

I told the committee chair that we needed to hear as many witnesses as possible and that the study needed to be broadened to include the entire regime, not just the bill that had been introduced by the former member for Winnipeg North. The study began and we heard from many witnesses. Unfortunately, I did not get the feeling that my colleagues around the table wanted to go beyond the bill and study Canada's access to medicines regime in its entirety.

When it comes down to it, all members of the House should hope that a regime put in place by Parliament in 2004 is used and that countries in need of low-cost medications have greater access to them, especially when witnesses told the committee that, in the case of antiretroviral drugs, many of these disadvantaged countries need access to second- or even third-generation drugs, which are not currently available in generic form.

This is why it was important to go beyond the bill and study the regime. However, because other members clearly refused to do so, we had to stick to Bill C-393 and study its merits, hence the analysis of the various motions before us.

As the member for Halifax mentioned, the Bloc members who sit on the committee voted in favour of all of Bill C-393's clauses, including those that referred to the one-licence solution.

Basically, when examining a bill like Bill C-393, we need to look at what it is all about and what is at the core of the bill. When we looked at Bill C-393, it was clear that its key element was the one-licence solution, which is why the hon. member for Halifax had to reintroduce that element. Motions Nos. 1 and 2 reintroduce clauses that the Bloc Québécois has already voted to support.

Now I would like to move Motion No. 3, which I had placed on the order paper on December 15, 2010, and which is in fact a sunset clause. I will not take the time to reread the motion, since the Speaker already read it when introducing the motions under consideration.

Why do we feel that a sunset clause is necessary? Quite simply, to sum everything up and to connect, in a way, all of the testimony we heard in committee. Many witnesses said they wanted to improve access to medications, that is, facilitate the sale and production of drugs in order to make them more accessible, which is what Bill C-393 is all about. Keeping this bill intact would serve to address the concerns expressed by this group of witnesses, since the sunset clause would not affect the other clauses of the bill.

Witnesses also pointed out that by changing Canada's access to medicines regime, Bill C-393 might be in violation of WTO rules. No one in the House would want to introduce or enact legislation that would violate WTO rules. In fact, Canada is calling on its trade partners around the world to comply with these very rules; we therefore would not want the legislation we are passing to violate those rules.

What is more, some fear that the changes made to the regime will simply make it a vehicle for exporting drugs on a large scale, which is inconsistent with the very spirit of this humanitarian regime. They fear that the fundamental purpose of the regime—to provide help—will be lost, and they want the regime's core purpose, namely to aid countries in need of inexpensive drugs, to be preserved.

Officials told us that nothing would change and that even amending the regime through Bill C-393 would change nothing. There need to be concrete examples and facts proving that Bill C-393 can indeed work and that the regime it is amending is an effective regime that is not breaking any rules.

The purpose of the sunset clause is simply to reassure everyone and to ensure that when the four years are up, we have solid examples and can resume the debate calmly with much more on the table than just the example of Rwanda with the current regime. Then in the House and in committee, we can base our discussions on reality, on concrete evidence and on the advances that will have been made through the changes Bill C-393 is making to Canada's access to medicines regime.

Patent Act January 31st, 2011


Motion No. 3

That Bill C-393 be amended by adding after line 22 on page 3 the following new clause:

“18. (1) The provisions of this Act that amend the Patent Act shall cease to apply on the day that is the fourth anniversary of the day on which this Act comes into force unless, before that day, the application of those provisions is extended by a resolution—the text of which is established under subsection (2)—passed by both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the rules set out in subsection (3).

(2) The Governor in Council may, by order, establish the text of a resolution providing for the extension of the application of the provisions that amend the Patent Act referred to in subsection (1) and specifying the period of the extension, which may not exceed five years from the first day on which the resolution has been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

(3) A motion for the adoption of the resolution may be debated in both Houses of Parliament but may not be amended. At the conclusion of the debate, the Speaker of each House of Parliament shall immediately put every question necessary to determine whether or not the motion is concurred in.

(4) The application of the provisions that amend the Patent Act referred to in subsection (1) may be further extended in accordance with the procedure set out in this section.

(5) In the event that the provisions that amend the Patent Act referred to in subsection (1) cease to apply, applications that have been granted an authorization under section 21.04 of that Act shall be concluded if they were submitted before the day on which those provisions cease to apply.”

Petitions December 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition signed by 592 people calling for improvements in the federal guaranteed income supplement program, the spouse's allowance and the surviving spouse's allowance.

Like the tens of thousands of other petitioners who support the demands of the FADOQ network, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to implement automatic registration for the guaranteed income supplement, the spouse's allowance and the surviving spouse's allowance, to increase the GIS by $110 a month for people who live alone, to increase the surviving spouse's allowance by $199 a month, to provide full retroactivity with no strings attached and, finally, to extend the GIS and the spouse's allowance by six months when one beneficiary in a couple dies.

I am calling on all hon. members to support these requests made by the petitioners.

Gateways December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question asked by the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities said that to help Quebec, we need to build a bridge in Ontario. That is outrageous. The numbers disclosed by my colleague with regard to the gateways and border crossings fund are clear: out of a $2.1 billion envelope, only $10 million has been allocated to Quebec. That does not include the $1 billion already allocated to the Asia-Pacific gateway. Quebec is getting swindled, and the Conservative ministers from Quebec are complicit.

They should instead be adhering to the principle whereby Quebec's development hinges on structural investments in Quebec. A number of projects, including increasing the number of containers coming through the port of Montreal, depend on the will of the government to grant Quebec its share of the gateway development envelope. It is a matter of fairness and creating wealth for today and tomorrow.

Gateways and Border Crossings December 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, significant investments must be made so that the St. Lawrence Seaway remains a true gateway for goods from the Atlantic. The Port of Montreal alone is asking for $450 million to $650 million in federal funding, mainly to strengthen its strategic position in terms of cabotage and intermodal transportation.

When will the Conservative government finally understand the importance of the St. Lawrence Seaway and give Quebec its fair share of the gateways and border crossings fund?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 3rd, 2010

With regard to the Ontario-Quebec gateway issue, since the 2004–2005 fiscal year: (a) how much money has been invested, broken down by project; (b) which projects have received funding; (c) which projects have been completed; (d) at what stage of completion are the unfinished projects; (e) what have been the yearly budgets, up to and including the present fiscal year; (f) were all the funds allocated in the budgets spent; (g) what are the projected budgets for the coming years; (h) what factors explain why the budgets were not fully spent; and (i) what criteria needed to be met for a project to receive funding?

Health December 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health continues to state that the federal government is open to the idea of compensating the provinces for the additional expenses caused by the medical isotope shortage that resulted from the closure of the Chalk River reactor in the spring of 2009.

Can the Minister of Health tell us if she intends to compensate Quebec before the next Bachand budget?

HIV-AIDS December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the face of HIV-AIDS has changed dramatically in 20 years and, although treatment, particularly triple therapy, now allows those suffering from this disease to live longer, this epidemic is not yet a thing of the past.

According to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, 18,000 people in Quebec are infected but 25% of them are unaware that they have an infection. In addition, one quarter of newly infected individuals are between the ages of 45 and 54, and, according to the Clinique médicale l'Actuel in Montreal, newly infected individuals over the age of 50 could represent close to 50% of its clients by 2017.

In order to change society's perception of this disease and reduce the isolation and stigmatization experienced by those suffering from it, phenomena that are only accentuated by the fact that these individuals are aging, this week, COCQ-SIDA launched a campaign entitled “And if I were seropositive?” involving four Quebec celebrities. The organization thus invites us to think about whether we would question the talent of these celebrities if we knew that they were seropositive.

The battle against HIV-AIDS is far from over. On World AIDS Day, it is more important than ever to raise awareness and focus on prevention of this disease so that we can finally put an end to prejudice.

Estelle Desfossés November 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to pay tribute today to Estelle Desfossés, who is this year's recipient of the City of Gatineau award for her contribution and dedication to culture.

On November 10, at the Culturiades 2010 gala of excellence, the Fondation pour les arts, les lettres et la culture en Outaouais recognized Ms. Desfossés for her outstanding contribution to the development and advancement of the Salon du livre de l'Outaouais.

Ms. Desfossés, who is passionate about the arts in all their forms, was honoured for her integrity and her outstanding commitment to making this event a success year after year. The Salon du livre de l'Outaouais, Quebec's third-largest book fair, attracted some 31,000 book lovers to its 31st edition, which ran from February 25 to 28 this year.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues join me in congratulating Ms. Desfossés on her award, and we thank her for being so actively involved in the cultural life of the Outaouais region. We are also glad that she is part of our team on Parliament Hill.

First Nations Financial Transparency Act November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I am proud to speak to Bill C-575, An Act respecting the accountability and enhanced financial transparency of elected officials of First Nations communities.

First of all, the Bloc Québécois is opposed to Bill C-575, even though we completely agree that every elected official must be held accountable to the public.

In our opinion, the bill goes much beyond that principle. It asks first nations to increase accountability by submitting new reports to the federal government, when the government already has all the information it needs, as stated in the Auditor General's 2002 report.

The Auditor General asked the federal government to meet with the first nations to improve the procedures that are already in place and to ensure that the many reports produced are useful to the community.

When one community submits over 160 reports a year to obtain operational funding—over 100,000 reports per year across Canada—it is a bit simplistic of the federal government that manages these reports to look only at the reports deemed useful for the first nations by the Auditor General.

Bill C-575 does not honour past agreements and past efforts to respect the principle of nation-to-nation relationships. The federal Conservative government prefers to go ahead with a private member's bill that imposes an underlying principle instead of taking into account the work that has already been done.

As the chief of the Assembly of First Nations pointed out in October 2010, Bill C-575 flies in the face of the Auditor General's reports and agreements with the federal government to explore new approaches to accountability in order to achieve better results for first nations. To quote the chief:

In 2005 and 2006, the AFN and the Government of Canada agreed to jointly explore new approaches to accountability to lead to better results for first nations. This work was grounded in our nations’ priorities and mirrored the principles of accountability that guide the Auditor General: clear roles and responsibilities; clear performance expectations; balanced expectations and capacities; credible reporting; and reasonable review and adjustment. Canada’s involvement in this work ended in 2006 with no explanation.

According to a 2002 Auditor General's report entitled “Streamlining First Nations Reporting to Federal Organizations”, 168 reports are submitted every year for each reserve so they can receive funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

It seems that the number of reports to be submitted has not really changed since 2002 and that the federal government has ignored the observations, conclusions and recommendations of those reports. A wealth of information can be found in those millions of pages, including the salaries of chiefs and elected officials, information uncovered during audits carried out by various departments.

It is important to understand that funding agreements and report submissions constitute transfer agreements that are subject to departmental controls. They are in fact agreements based on accountability.

Reports prepared by the communities are not always useful to them and generally do not reflect their priorities. According to the Auditor General, this is because the reporting requirements are dictated to them, and not determined through consultations.

The report concluded, and I quote:

While reporting requirements need to be streamlined, the underlying program structures are an obstacle to a more effective system. Instead of information on narrowly-defined program activities, reporting needs to provide meaningful information to First Nations and to the federal government. Fundamental change is required, and we suggest criteria to guide future assessment of the reporting system.

The report also recommended consulting the first nations in order to target their needs and ensure that the reports prepared by communities are not only useful to those communities, but are not constantly duplicated.

It is clear to the Bloc Québécois that there are a lot of problems with the Conservative government's approach to dealing with first nations communities. What the government is trying to do looks like a campaign to discredit all the first nations chiefs and their communities.

With Bill C-575, the government is trying to distract us from the chronic underfunding of the first nations. We have only to think of the 2% per year cap on increases in education funding, even though first nations population growth is over 6%. Yet the government has fiduciary responsibility for the first nations and manages their assets.

The chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo, had this to say in an October 2010 press release:

What is needed is support for First Nations governments and recognition of First Nations authority. Further, we need an approach that will move accountability forward in meaningful ways including ensuring stable and fair funding practices between Canada and First Nations ensuring equity and fairness. These together will increase responsibility and the capacity to deliver good government, effective services and hope for our people....

Let's use this opportunity to kick start a discussion that will deal with the real issues to better ensure that First Nations can be accountable to their people and the government can be accountable to First Nations for its spending and results. Together we can and must chart a path that begins with respect, settles and upholds long outstanding obligations of the federal government, and moves forward to build strong First Nation governments.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the future rests in a partnership that is constructive as well as respectful of each party's legitimate interests. On the federal stage, the Bloc Québécois has made aboriginal issues one of its priorities.

And we are not the only ones. The World March of Women is calling for respect for aboriginal women's rights and is asking states to implement measures to ensure that aboriginal women and children are fully protected against all forms of violence.

I would like to take advantage of this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to acknowledge the work done by two organizations in my riding to raise awareness about this issue: Contact'L de Varennes, a women's network, and the Entre Ailes women's centre in Sainte-Julie. On November 12, together with those organizations, my National Assembly counterpart, Monique Richard, and I launched the 12 days of action to end violence against women. And I am wearing a white ribbon in support of that cause.

These two organization are leading the noble fight to eliminate all forms of violence against women. They respectfully and compassionately offer support and comfort to women who really need it.