House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

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

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I hope that my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles is listening to what I am saying to him. I would like to tell him that the comments he—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice—made about the Bloc Québécois were unspeakable. He made these comments during an interview with GoFM RadioX in Abitibi—Témiscamingue on November 10, I believe.

The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles made statements completely unworthy of his role. He is supposed to be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. He should have been more respectful of us but he dared to say that the Bloc Québécois does not support Bill C-22 and that the Bloc members—especially the members for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou— need a swift kick in the you-know-what because they do not stand up for children.

I believe that the parliamentary secretary should be immediately relieved of his duties. And I hope this message goes all the way to the Prime Minister's Office.

I invite the public to read Vincent Marissal's blog from November 10, 2010. He writes for La Presse and he is not a federalist and definitely not a sovereignist. He said that the parliamentary secretary, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, is nothing but an overblown orator and that the follies on the Internet need to stop. On his blog, he repeated the disrespectful comments—which is the only way I can think to describe them—made about the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou and me, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

I want to tell the member, the parliamentary secretary, the real story. He should listen and be more attentive at the meetings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which he is supposedly a member. He is there regularly; I see him. Maybe he is sleeping or recuperating from an illness, but we are working. And the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-22. Not only does the Bloc support Bill C-22, but it has already told the government, through its revered House leader, that this bill needs to be brought back quickly and passed because the police have been asking for this for a long time.

I have here Bill C-58, which is exactly the same as Bill C-22. Bill C-58 was introduced a year ago, in November 2009. If Parliament had not been prorogued, which is what the Conservatives do when things do not go their way, the former governor general would have long since given royal assent to Bill C-22. It is not the opposition members' fault; quite the contrary. I hope the parliamentary secretary will correct his remarks and at least apologize to the Bloc Québécois members, who are very concerned about child protection. When we look at Bill C-22, we see that the amendments do not reflect the will of the committee. That is why we will vote against this amendment, which would restore the short title. We will do so quickly.

The title of the bill is “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.” That and only that is the objective of Bill C-22. But with all due respect, Mr. Speaker, because this does not apply to you, the Conservatives do not understand anything. Unfortunately, some of your colleagues do not understand anything.

They do not understand that that is not what the short title says. The short title is the “Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act”. But this is not the purpose of the bill. I will explain for the benefit of the parliamentary secretary, who does not understand anything either. The bill would force Internet service providers to report people who may be using the Internet to distribute all sorts of pornography, not just child pornography. That is what the bill says, and that is what our Conservative colleagues do not understand. I am sure you understand, Mr. Speaker, but they do not.

At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we tried to explain this to them, but they did not get it. So we will be voting against the amendment, and the short title will disappear. That is clear. We want the public to understand that the idea is to force Internet service providers to make a report if their Internet service is used to distribute any pornography, not just child pornography. Unfortunately, all the people who appeared before the committee told us that in fact there was more child pornography on these sites. So obviously there is a need for tools.

Now I would like to talk about real things. I challenge the parliamentary secretary and the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, and even the anglophone parliamentary secretary, whom I cannot name, who spoke earlier. I challenge them to tell us how much money they are prepared to invest, for that will be the main issue. We asked them if they were prepared to implement this extremely important bill that police forces have been calling for for some time.

Special squads to track down these sexual predators will have to be created. This includes the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec, the RCMP, the Montreal police and so on. Squads will have to be created within all police forces. People who appeared before the committee told us that is what it would take. Accordingly, the government needs to provide the necessary funding immediately. There is no doubt that the House will pass Bill C-22 very quickly and very soon, probably either today or tomorrow. It is very important.

This bill is being called for not only by police forces, but also by Internet service providers, who have indicated that they are currently under no obligation. Often when they discover something, it is too late. Indeed, we know how it works and it is extremely complicated. Some people explained that now is the time to fight this.

I am nearly out of time, for 10 minutes go by very quickly. I would simply like to tell those watching us that we will do everything we can to ensure this bill passes quickly, because we need to give police forces the means to fight the crimes that are unfortunately committed in cyberspace using 21st century tools. For that reason, and that reason alone, I urge all members here to vote in favour of this bill, so it can come into force immediately.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

The title of Bill C-22, which is the former Bill C-58—I will get back to this later and I hope that the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles will stay where he is, because we have some business to attend to—is “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.” This title seems perfect to us. But the government wants to call it by the short title, the “Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act”. In committee, we felt that this short title did not properly describe the objective of the bill. The Liberal Party agreed, and I believe that is also the case with my colleague. I hope that is what she understood.

I would like to know if that is why the Liberal Party and the other opposition parties will vote against the proposed amendment.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we will vote against one of the proposed amendments that would change the title of the bill and has nothing to do with the substance of the bill. This amendment was already rejected in committee. I will come back to this when it is my turn to speak.

I would like to know why the government keeps on coming back to this short title, which was rejected in committee at the request of the members. This title seems more like populism than anything else.

Témiscamingue Green March November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Témiscamingue is a big part of my riding. Its primary economic activities revolve around forestry and agriculture. It goes without saying that the people of Témiscamingue have been hit hard by the economic crisis. For the past few years, socio-economic organizations in the sector have been working to implement economic recovery projects, but without government support these projects have not succeeded.

People who want to make themselves heard and who want a better future for Témiscamingue will be participating in a huge demonstration, the green march through the streets of Ville-Marie on Monday, November 8, between 10 a.m. and noon. I will be participating in the march, which is being held to demonstrate that the people of Témiscamingue are fighting together in solidarity for their region's survival.

When will the Conservative government start listening to the regions of Quebec?

Northwest Territories Act November 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if you remember, but I believe you were chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development when we first started talking about a study on the economic development of the north and on the constraints and difficulties that entails. We are just finalizing that study, which began almost two years ago. Like the hon. member for Yukon, I admit I was extremely surprised at the reaction of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance to the request from the New Democratic member for Western Arctic, a request that seemed perfectly legitimate to us.

The advantage of private members' bills is that they require us to do some research, to analyze and try to understand the problem. There is a difference between a government bill and a private members' bill. A private members' bill is introduced to solve a problem to the satisfaction of the party concerned.

In the Bloc Québécois, when we read Bill C-530 for the first time, we wondered what it was all about. We did not know this problem existed. We now realize that one of the main challenges involved in the economic development of the north is the fact that the inhabitants of that region are not autonomous. They cannot develop and have a vision for the future without the government's permission.

It is pure paternalism. Have we had gone back to the days of colonialism? The state steps in and tells the people how to develop the region. It says it cannot lend them a lot of money and that it will wait and see. If we want these territories, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, to take control of their own destiny, then we have to at least give them the chance to develop. One way to do so is to increase their borrowing capacity.

Let us draw a parallel. We have a credit card that we pay off on time every month. The bank or financial institution that issued the card writes to us after six months to say that, because the balance has always been paid, our credit will be increased. It is done automatically.

In a modern society, companies write to us to increase our lines of credit. That is usually what happens. Not only do the Northwest Territories pay their debts, but they also even have a small surplus at the end of the year. In the 2010-11 budget, their projected surplus is $35 million. Their projected income is $1.357 billion and their projected expenditures are $1.293 billion. If that is not an administration that respects itself, takes responsibility and looks after its own development, then I do not know what is.

In short, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of sending this bill to committee to be studied.

I would very much like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance to come to the committee to repeat what he said today. I do not think he would dare do so. It is not possible. It is paternalism in the extreme. How can—I was going to say nation, and I will say it—a nation, a territory like the Northwest Territories develop? They have mines. I looked into that because that forces us to work. We have worked. We have done our homework. They have not done their homework. It is clear that the parliamentary secretary has not done his homework.

We just have to look at the expansion plans for the Taltson hydro project. A power plant like that produces electricity. Of course to build it, money must be borrowed. We thought about our own dams in James Bay, in Quebec. We borrowed money to build them, but we have since seen a return on our investment. The Taltson power plant was explained to us. It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric plant. It uses water that flows through the river. This hydro development on the Taltson River could replace 114 million litres of diesel and 320 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Now I understand why the Conservatives oppose the bill. They might no longer be able to sell their oil in the north. If that is why, they should say so. Imagine that. When we hear things like that and read things like that, it does not make sense.

The purpose of the bill is to promote the economic development of Canada's north. The Northwest Territories want development. They want to stop having to come to Ottawa to beg the government, under section 20, for the opportunity to borrow a little more. They will be able to pay it back, but they have to ask permission from their grandfather, their big brother, their great-uncle or someone in Ottawa. I hope this government will understand. That is not the way to develop these lands.

If we want Yukon to address this issue, we need to do exactly what the member for Yukon said in the House. If the Northwest Territories want to develop, they need to do something about it. We will answer questions. We will go to committee. We will bring witnesses forward. We understand that anything can happen, but we cannot refuse and say that we do not want to hear anything about it from the outset. I think that this is an interesting bill. It allows us to put a finger on one of the major problems of economic development in the North. One of the problems that has been mentioned by nearly everyone in the North, including people in the Northwest Territories, is that no one is capable of long-term planning. This bill, if it is passed, will allow them to develop.

We have studied this bill. We said it today and we will say it again. We hope that this bill will go to committee. With all due respect for my colleagues in the governing party, I hope that they will not come before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with the same opinion that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance expressed today because they will find their hour before the committee to be very long.

That is why we will make sure this bill is studied in committee.

Northwest Territories Act November 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague and I will have a chance to come back to that during my floor time. However, I am impressed and I would like my colleague to talk about revenues.

I take a close look at all bills that are introduced, especially those relating to Indian affairs and northern development, because I am the Bloc Québécois critic for that portfolio. I was surprised to learn that the Northwest Territories' 2010-11 budget was $1.357 billion. That is more than many countries, yet they have to come to Ottawa for authorization to borrow money.

That does not make sense. Can my colleague explain?

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act October 19th, 2010

Madam Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. That is exactly it.

The Conservatives' problem is that they think that once an individual goes to jail to serve a minimum prison sentence, the problem is solved. Believing that is the biggest mistake the Conservatives have ever made, because that is when the problem starts.

Once people are arrested and imprisoned, we must ensure—and that is the problem—that they will not reoffend when released into society. We must put programs in place. It is all well and good to build prisons, and it will probably help some Conservative members get a prison in their riding. But there will be some big surprises, because having a prison in one's riding is not as fun as it seems. I know because there are prisons in my riding, and it is the same thing. It is not fun, because you need programs so that the people sent to jail do not reoffend when they are released. That is the challenge of sending people to prison, and that is what the Conservatives do not understand. They think that once people are sent to prison, the problem is solved. That is not true.

I agree that we must look after the victims, but the Conservatives are in no position to tell us about how much they have invested in the Fonds d'aide aux victimes d'actes criminels, that is for sure. In fact, it is quite the opposite—they have not invested at all. They think that by putting people away and isolating them from society, the problem is solved. But no. One day, those people will return to society, and we will have to see whether we are ready and whether we have done everything we can to prevent them from reoffending. If they unfortunately do reoffend, it is because we currently do not have any programs to make people understand that parole is something to be earned. That is exactly what this bill should do, but we will have to amend it to make that possible.

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act October 19th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague and immediately reassure her. Indeed, police forces have been waiting for Bill C-22 for almost 10 years. I recently went over this bill again because we will be studying it this afternoon when the hon. Minister of Justice appears before the committee. We have asked the minister to hurry up and not waste time.

The problem with Bill C-22, which deals with fighting pornography, is whether the government will grant any funding. I should warn my colleagues across the way that if I get a chance to ask the Minister of Justice a question this afternoon, it will be this: Will the government provide funding? It takes specialized squads to deal with this crime and that is precisely the current problem. We will need to create squads, like the ones for fighting organized crime. We have to do exactly the same thing to deal with pornography, a crime that is much worse and even more insidious. Nevertheless, now we have the services and the systems.

Yesterday, we were looking at what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is implementing in terms of a system that will allow us to move forward. However, the RCMP needs money. Bill C-22 is indeed a bill that the government claimed it was introducing to protect victims, but the bill has not been implemented yet. Neither has Bill C-30. The Conservatives campaigned in two elections on a promise to implement this bill. The time has come for that party to put its money where its mouth is.

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act October 19th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill, which comes at a very bad time. We will try to deal with this methodically. I want to respond to my colleague who just spoke. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is currently studying six bills, including Bill C-4 on young offenders. The review of this particular bill is not complete because the government has not yet tabled the necessary documents, as it should have done in June 2010. The bill we are discussing today could also die on the order paper because it may be some time before it is studied in committee.

I do not know whether my colleague, the member for Ahuntsic, is studying as many bills that affect the public in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. If she is, then we have a serious problem. This government is playing politics and taking a piecemeal approach to justice issues, doing a little bit here and a little bit there. It has introduced a bill that I would say is extremely worthwhile and has been a long time coming. The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this bill, and we would like to send it to committee as soon as possible.

Let us look at the dates of this bill. On June 16, 2009, we were examining Bill C-43. Summer arrived, the House adjourned, and then MPs returned. In October 2009, we were examining Bill C-53. Then, the government—not the opposition parties—decided to prorogue. This bill died on the order paper on December 30, 2009. Now, the government has re-introduced the bill as Bill C-39, which is the same as the previous bills C-43 and C-53. I hope this one will not die on the order paper, because it is very important.

The government is accusing the opposition of not looking out for victims, of not caring about them or being interested in them. According to the government, the only thing that the opposition cares about is criminals, and getting them out of jail as soon as possible. I never hear so many blatant lies from the other side of the House as I do when they talk about victims. We absolutely care about victims. The best example is that the Bloc Québécois has been calling for the abolition of the one-sixth of the sentence rule for two years now.

I will give a little legal lesson, more specifically on criminal law, for my colleagues opposite. It is a problem with criminal law that comes up when an individual is sentenced. The best example is the case of Colonel Williams. We can talk about him now, because he will probably be sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. We can get back to that, because the government just introduced another bill. Let us take the example of someone sentenced to jail time. Bill C-39 applies only to someone sentenced to more than two years. That is extremely important. We are talking about sentences of more than two years in prison. The problem is that in provincial prisons, in Quebec in particular, this service already exists. However, even if the individuals are sentenced to two years less a day, they are still eligible for release after serving one-sixth of their sentence.

In terms of criminal law, let us look only at sentences of at least two years, for example, someone in Quebec who is sentenced to three years in prison. This person is sent to the regional reception centre in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, in the Montreal region. Regardless of where that person is from, that is where they are sent.

It takes between three and four months for the case to be dealt with. If the person was sentenced to 36 months in prison, after six months, or one-sixth of the sentence, that person is already eligible for release, and no one will have dealt with the case.

There is a gap there. We have long been saying that parole must be earned and that release after serving one-sixth of a sentence should not exist. I have 30 years of experience as a criminal lawyer. Some of my clients were released after serving one-sixth of their sentence. After having been sentenced to three years, they were released after six months and no program had been established for them, which made it far more likely that they would reoffend.

My colleague, the member for Ahuntsic, who is a criminologist and has worked with these types of people, probably knows what I am talking about. This is exactly what is happening in prisons. They cannot even begin to work with an individual who has one foot out the door if he was sentenced to two or three years in prison. He has practically left before he has arrived. Why? Take the example of one of my clients. We decided that it was better for him to be sentenced to 24 months in prison instead of two years less a day because it would take longer to serve a sentence of two years less a day in a Quebec prison than a 24-month sentence. One-sixth of 24 months is four months, and so he was released after four months. There was not even enough time before he was released for them to deal with his case and have a meeting to discuss a plan for his return to society.

That is the worst possible mistake. As I have been saying in this House for nearly six years now, the problem with the Conservatives is that they do not understand. So, I will try to explain it again. The Conservatives think that minimum prison sentences will solve everything. Nothing could be further from the truth, so far that even the Americans are beginning to realize it. Canada—and especially the Conservatives—seems to be a few years behind. In two or three years, they are going to realize they are on the wrong track.

The public is not shocked when someone receives a four-year sentence, but rather when that individual gets out after one year. The public is shocked by the fact that people are not serving their sentences. That is precisely what the Bloc Québécois has been criticizing for some time.

Whether my Conservative friends like it or not, minimum prison sentences do not preclude offenders from being eligible for parole. Even with a mandatory minimum of three years, the individual is still eligible for parole. That is what the Conservatives do not understand. Once again, we will try to explain to them that it is the parole system that needs to change. The parole system needs to be changed so that people who are sent to prison are not released unless they have a plan for their reintegration into society. That is the problem. In the example I gave of someone who has been sentenced to three years, if he is eligible for parole after six months, he will sit back and do nothing.

That is why we are calling for the elimination of parole after one-sixth of a sentence is served. That is also why we hope to vote quickly to pass this bill. I know my Conservative Party colleagues always overreact because of the worst criminals. In the case of Colonel Williams, who has committed a rash of unspeakable crimes in the Belleville and Trenton area, if he is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, society will take care of him. He will be sent to prison, as he clearly deserves. I will not try to defend him here, since I am not his lawyer.

That is not the problem. The worst criminals deserve the harshest sentences. That has always been true. The problem lies with individuals who are not criminals, but who are going down a path of crime. If we do not stop them, if we do not take measures to stop them, they will become hardened criminals. Generally they are individuals who are serving their first penitentiary sentence. Obviously it depends on the crime, but in most cases, a person's first penitentiary sentence is somewhere between 3 and 10 years. Those are the people this bill absolutely must catch and as soon as possible.

When I say “catch”, I mean we must encourage them to do what it takes to return to society with a plan in order not to reoffend. The problem is that the parole board does not help. It does not have a chance to work with the individuals. If an individual is eligible for parole after one-sixth of his sentence, what will he do? Take, for example, an individual who has a three-year sentence. When he arrives at the regional reception centre—every province has them—it takes three to four months before his case is reviewed. What do you think he does in the meantime? He plays cards, watches television, drinks Pepsi and waits. No one works with him, at least not very much. Someone needs to work with him as soon as he arrives at the penitentiary.

There is something my Conservative friends do not understand. I will explain it to them yet again. An individual who is sentenced will return to society and if he is not properly prepared to return to society, then, unfortunately, he will reoffend. It is a known fact that the risk of recidivism for this type of person—I am talking about those who receive sentences between 3 and 10 years—is quite high. The risk is there. We have to find ways to correct this.

Quite honestly, this is a good bill. This afternoon, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is going to study Bill C-22 on Internet child pornography. We all support this bill. It must be passed. Everyone agrees that this legislation needs to be put in place. It must be passed, but the government will have to submit it to us. The same holds true for Bill C-39. We must deal with it as soon as possible because it is a good bill. The parole board needs to be able to implement it. But no work is being done right now because no one knows whether the bill is going to come. The bill might not pass and could die on the order paper because of an election in the spring of 2011, for example, which is not such a far-fetched idea. It could happen. Suppose there is an election in the spring of 2011. If the government has not submitted this bill to us—we have six bills to study—then it is going to have to set priorities for the committee. We have already agreed to study Bill C-22 while we wait for the translation of the report on Bill C-4 on young offenders, as I said earlier. But it is important to pass Bill C-22 on child pornography.

There is the other bill on vehicle theft—I cannot remember the number—that we discussed before the House adjourned a week ago. Everyone supports this bill.

The government should do the sensible thing and say that since the opposition supports a number of bills, they will be sent as soon as possible to be studied, discussed and passed.

Since this bill will likely be studied by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I think things should go quickly. But we have to give the penitentiaries the means to prepare release plans. This is the process where an offender is told that he has five years left to serve, for example, and he has to begin, now, to take part in preparing a release plan or serve his last five years.

At least the individual still has the choice in prison. But it is clear that he may leave—and will leave—after five years. There needs to be some follow-up with this person. During the entire prison sentence, the individual offender's treatment needs to be personalized, just as the courts hand down personalized sentences.

The individual must be made aware that their release from prison is as much their responsibility as the crime they committed. The person was found guilty or pleaded guilty to the offence and was given a sentence. However, after they are sentenced, many individuals tend to sit in prison and just wait for the end of the sentence. This bill should put an end to that. We must change the attitudes of people as they enter the prison by asking them about their plans for release and what they want to do. Do they want to finish school? Do they want addiction treatment? Do they want some sort of training? What do they want? That would set the wheels in motion so that they can leave prison better equipped than when they arrived.

Obviously, that is not what is happening right now. The National Parole Board, the prisons and the Correctional Service of Canada are not able to provide these services. That would require many things. The government supports this bill, but it needs to invest the necessary funds. Why invest? Because criminals will eventually be released. Victims need protection. They are always talking about victims.

There is something that we do not understand about the Conservatives. The National Parole Board takes care of victims, especially in terms of the prison system. This organization's main priority is the rehabilitation of an individual who is rejoining society, but the victims must also be protected and every possible step must be taken to keep that individual from reoffending.

I am being told that I have only two minutes left, but I could go on about this for a long time. I would like the Conservatives to remember this: automatic sentences have never solved anything. A minimum prison sentence has never solved anything, and that will not change today. All the studies presented to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that minimum prison sentences have never led to a decrease in crime.

We must ensure that these individuals serve their sentences, keeping in mind that they will one day return to society. It is clear that we will probably never see people like Colonel Williams, who will receive a minimum sentence of 25 years for a double murder, outside the prison walls. But we will see people who were sentenced to five to ten years in prison, and some are already close to being released.

Did people like Mr. Jones or Mr. Lacroix, who owned Norbourg, learn their lesson? With all due respect, I think that the only thing they learned was not to get caught.

Unfortunately, with the current system, prisoners learn more about not getting caught than they do about preparing for their release.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief. I have seldom heard my colleague talk at the Standing Committee on Finance. I sit on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, so unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to hear a speech as brilliant as the one he just gave. I will be pleased to welcome him to Abitibi-Témiscamingue on October 18, with all due honours.

That said, I have a question for my colleague. I have not heard that there is anything about employment insurance in Bill C-47. Did the government forget to dip into the employment insurance fund, or is there a more devious way of doing so? How is the government going to go about it?