House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was nations.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Abitibi—Témiscamingue (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am not going to give a lecture in law but if my colleague is talking about the Campbell vs. Canada decision, I would tell him that I have read it. We will discuss that outside the House between poker games.

Indeed, proportional representation must be respected. We want it to be known that Quebec is a founder of this country and has to be respected. Ways must be found so that Quebec is not put at a disadvantage if it is necessary to increase the number of seats for provinces that need more. I can understand that, but Quebec must maintain its weight. This is what we want and it is the only thing we are asking for. This is why we cannot vote in favour of Bill C-12.

However, we understand the position. The only thing we want is respect for the fact that Quebec was a founding nation, together with the anglophones from England. Quebec was one of the two founding nations of the country called Canada. We have to work to find ways to do this.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Excuse me, Madam Speaker.

I will say one thing: it is not true that we want to destroy Canada. This is false. However, the Conservatives are succeeding in doing it. By the way they are acting, they will achieve this goal and we will be there to thank them.

We do not want to destroy Canada. We are here to defend Quebec's interests. This is why we were elected and this is why we will be re-elected, whether you like it or not, if the Conservatives have the gall to call elections.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the minister will not be pleased by my response. It is not true: I do not want to destroy Canada.

Canada is a lovely country for Canadians. I am a Quebecker and my country is Quebec. If the majority of Quebeckers were to decide that Quebec should become a country, then we could talk, nation to nation, something you dare not do with the first nations—and yet you call yourselves defenders. It is not true that we want to destroy Canada.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, you will rarely see me speak to a bill that has not been debated much, in this case Bill C-12.

Usually I speak to matters involving justice and aboriginal affairs. But I had to speak up to denounce what this government was preparing to do in Quebec. I am glad I was in my seat to hear the question by the Minister of State for Democratic Reform. He knows absolutely nothing about the situation. In Quebec, we talk about two solitudes and I can say that the minister responsible for this matter belongs to a very large solitude. I hope he will be the only one in the House to vote in favour of this bill, but unfortunately that will not happen.

The idea behind Bill C-12 seemed interesting at first. Some of the provinces are out of balance. Some have a larger population now and should be given more seats in order to have slightly greater representation in the House of Commons. Perfect. So far, so good. But things go downhill from there. The minister should listen and understand this: he forgets that there are two founding nations in the country called Canada and Quebec was one of them. This bill is a vehicle for reducing or even destroying Quebec's contribution to the founding of Canada.

Obviously aboriginal peoples were here first, but two nations took part in founding what is called Canada and those nations are France and Great Britain. However, when I read the preamble of this bill, it is clear that the purpose is to reduce the role or presence of Quebec in the House by increasing the number of MPs from the other provinces.

You have to have done a bit of reading. You have to read about the history that led to the Constitution of 1867, the creation of the provinces, and what was said. It is odd. Some have forgotten what it means. I am not the one who put in section 52. It was there in 1867; it was not written last week.

The Number of Members of the House of Commons may be from Time to Time increased by the Parliament of Canada, provided the proportionate Representation of the Provinces prescribed by this Act is not thereby disturbed.

The minister did not read this. I did not put it in. I will repeat it because I believe that the minister did not understand: “provided the proportionate representation of the provinces prescribed by this Act is not thereby disturbed.” That is not what will happen with Bill C-12. The proportion is not perfect—that is clear—but what the government is preparing to do is to reduce the weight of Quebec.

I will also repeat what Benoît Pelletier said because I believe it is important to point it out. I hope no one opposite or in the federalist parties will think that he is a sovereignist. I will repeat what my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska said because it is important. Benoît Pelletier said:

But I wonder whether there might be special measures to protect Quebec, which represents the main linguistic minority in Canada, is a founding province of Canada and is losing demographic weight...Why could Quebec not be accommodated because of its status as a nation and a national minority within Canada?

There is something that we find to be of key importance. It was not me; it was the federal government who, through the Prime Minister, tabled a motion to recognize the Quebec nation, except the Conservatives refuse to recognize our language. They refuse to consider the existence of our national culture in the administration of all laws. They refuse to recognize the continuity of our national culture, which depends on our ability to ensure that newcomers embrace it. They refuse to recognize that our society, because it was developed by a different nation, is also different. They refuse to even consider the possibility that Quebec could have a radio-television and telecommunications commission, etc.

What the minister does not understand and what he must understand is that Bill C-12 would indirectly cause the weight of one of the founding provinces of Canada to become reduced. Maybe that is what the Conservatives want. On the other hand, whether the minister likes it or not, this will likely increase support for sovereignty. We do not have any objection to that. If they want to take Quebec's 75 seats, they can take them. It is perfect. We will create our own country next door. That is what we want. So let us go. Stop buying votes at referendum time. Stop renting buses and planes to invite people to come tell us that they love us. As soon as possible after this, at the first opportunity, we will try to pass a bill to this effect.

Being the nice people that we are, we proposed an amendment:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation), because the Bill would unacceptably reduce the political weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons and does not set out that Quebec must hold 25 percent of the seats in the House of Commons.”

It is not complicated: it is what is provided for in section 52 of the so-called British North America Act. Let us respect section 52 and let Quebec continue to have the same representation as it does at present. Is there no way to find other accommodations for other provinces in their current situations? It is up to the minister to find them.

The minister says that for 20 years the Bloc Québécois has served no purpose in the House. I would respectfully remind him that we supported his first budget, and if we had not, he might not be here. In a few moments, in about half an hour, we shall see what we shall see with a minority government. When something is good for Quebec, we vote in favour of it; when something is not good for Quebec, we vote against. That is precisely the situation. I know that is not what the federalists want, but that is our job here. Over 45% of the population of Quebec has the right to be represented by members, and those members have but one thing to do here, and that is to defend the interests of Quebec. That is what we shall continue to do, whether the minister likes it or not.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, how many members from Quebec, who represent Quebec in Canada, voted in favour of withdrawing Bill C-12, which is not in the best interests of Quebec? That is my question.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I hope the hon. minister responsible for this bill will have the opportunity to ask me the same question he just asked the member for Richmond—Arthabaska. He probably would not like my answer. It is time he read something other than newspapers from the west.

Public Safety March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, leaders of various first nations communities and police chiefs are speaking out about the proposed cuts to police services. The Conservative government intends to cut funding for police services in Quebec by 19% when this essential service is already underfunded.

Why is this government, which claims to be tough on crime, refusing to shoulder its responsibilities in aboriginal communities?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. They might seem to be tough on crime, but they only needed to amend subsection 494(2). They did not need to touch sections 34 and on. That is what irritates me. Bill C-60 was introduced to deal with a specific problem and that is fine. But at the same time, they are trying to meddle in every court decision ever made on self-defence. My colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has said before that bad laws make good lawyers rich.

If Bill C-60, which amends sections 34 through 42, is passed as-is, lawyers will be laughing all the way to the bank just because they can exploit the wording of this incomplete bill. Let us fix section 494 now and deal with the rest later.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is correct. There are two things. First, there is no need to touch sections 34 to 42 on self-defence. The courts in all of the provinces and the Supreme Court of Canada have issued rulings; there is jurisprudence. Lawyers who have even the briefest introduction to criminal law in the first year of law school learn the definition of self-defence. There is no need to amend these sections.

Second, there is defence of property, which is less clear. Defence of person is self-defence, but I agree with my colleague that when we talk about defence of property there are some grey areas in section 494. At least we will have focused the debate on subsection 494(2) of the Criminal Code. I admit that it is not clear.

If I had had to defend that individual, there would have been a trial, even though we know that you can arrest without a warrant a person you find committing a criminal offence, as is written in the bill. A citizen must witness the offence; he must be there. He has the right to arrest someone he finds committing an offence. The rest, only peace officers may do. But if they do not come, even after being called three times, what does someone do when the thief is drinking a beer on the corner? That is where the public is right. When the committee studies section 494, it will no doubt find a solution. However, we must not be touching sections 34 to 42 on self-defence.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is the $1,000 question. I thank my colleague for his question, and I will try to be brief in my reply.

If we remove sections 34 to 42, Mr. Chen would not be able to benefit from the presumption of self-defence because Mr. Chen was not attacked. That settles the matter of sections 34 to 42. I do not understand why these clauses are being proposed; they should not be there.

Let us now discuss the heart of the matter, section 494. I concur with my colleague that we have to find a solution to the problem. This section states that a person authorized by the owner—we are talking about the man in question—“may arrest without warrant a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property”.

We need to find a way to say that he may make the arrest, within a reasonable time, after the offence is committed. This has not been studied or analyzed. If someone leaves the convenience store with a case of beer without the owner or clerk seeing him and, in the next few seconds, that person realizes that a case of beer is missing, goes outside and sees the perpetrator, then I believe that he could make the arrest, even though he did not see the offence being committed. We must find a way to rewrite section 494.

My colleague is quite right to say that we have to avoid such legal mistakes, if we can call them that. Above all we must not introduce piecemeal legislation that addresses individual issues.