House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Hull—Aylmer (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 26th, 2010

The Liberal members will be voting yes.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 26th, 2010

The Liberals will be voting yes.

Public Works and Government Services October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I specifically addressed the issue of the West Block North Tower in the House on December 8, 2009, 11 months ago. The minister responsible at the time, who is now the Minister of Natural Resources, said that the opposition was “searching for Elvis in the department” and that “the process used was fair, open and transparent”.

Now that the police are investigating, does the minister still believe that the processes were fair and transparent?

Public Works and Government Services October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in September 2007, one week before it closed, the request for proposals for renovation of the West Block north tower was amended and the qualifications needed to bid were dramatically downgraded. Experts in the construction industry have said this would have benefited only one bidder, LM Sauvé.

Who in the minister's office approved this amendment? Why were experienced contractors not required on a building as valuable and historic as the West Block?

October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the example my colleague just gave does not hold water because the Alexandra bridge he talked about belongs to the Government of Canada. What is being done on the bridge is strictly maintenance. That cannot be compared to the favouritism seen elsewhere.

Even though the G8 and G20 summits are important, the ones held in Canada last June left a bitter taste in the mouth. They seem to have been improvised and poorly planned and were terribly expensive. The Prime Minister actually missed a golden opportunity for Canada to make its mark in the world.

In addition to wasting money, Canada failed to benefit from these summits. For the first time in the history of the UN, Canada could not even win a sit on the Security Council.

Canadians did not ask the Conservatives to run up a budget deficit of $54 billion or more, spend $16 billion on possibly unnecessary fighter aircraft without a call for tenders, and waste $1 billion on a meeting of the G8 and G20 that lasted 72 hours.

How much of this mess—

October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on June 16, the Liberals presented pictures which showed to what extent the Minister of Industry and member for Parry Sound—Muskoka used the G8 infrastructure fund to shamelessly favour his riding. Indeed, the minister took money from that fund for his own slush fund and used it for his riding. The photos showed 10 projects for which the money had been used, including: a $2 million project to upgrade streets and improve parks in Port Severn, which is located 135 kilometres from the G8; a $500,000 project to improve a park in Bracebridge, which is about 50 kilometres from where the meeting took place; and a $730,000 project to upgrade and repair a road in Kearney, 42 kilometres from the summit.

These bridge and road upgrades were not even done, even though they were announced with great pump the previous year, in press releases.

Other ridings have much more urgent needs than the minister's riding, and they want to have access to government programs. I am thinking in particular of all the regions that are dependent on the forestry and manufacturing industries.

The minister funnelled into his own riding the largest amount given to northern Ontario ridings for infrastructure projects. His riding received a total of $35.8 million from the building Canada fund, the recreational infrastructure Canada initiative, and the infrastructure stimulus fund. The minister also funnelled the largest amount of money given under the community adjustment fund to northern Ontario ridings. This $7.5 million is more than twice the average amount of $3.1 million given to northern Ontario ridings. As the Minister of Industry and member of Parry Sound—Muskoka, he is responsible for most of these programs. This is shameful and scandalous.

Even after the G8 summit, patronage money continued to flow into the riding of the Minister of Industry. Pictures taken after the G8 prove that Huntsville, which is located in his riding, benefited from money disguised as infrastructure money that was supposedly provided for the G8 summit. The Prime Minister must explain to Canadians why these so-called infrastructure projects were still not completed when the summit took place.

The Liberal Party leader said Canadians had had enough of the Conservatives’ favouritism and the Prime Minister’s poor budget management. The Conservative Prime Minister even approved of the wasting of billions of dollars. But that is not all. The Conservatives want to give billions of dollars in tax cuts to big, profitable corporations, even though the corporate tax rate in Canada is already one of the lowest in the G7.

The Conservatives’ priorities are not aligned with the needs of Canadian families, which are having trouble making ends meet. The Conservatives have three basic priorities: prisons, fighter aircraft, and a $20 billion gift for big corporations in the form of tax cuts.

When will the Minister of Industry really start being accountable to the Canadian people?

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for this very relevant question. In the 1990s, following its 1993 victory, the Liberal government had to make cuts to the federal bureaucracy in order to pay back the deficit created by the preceding Conservative government. That Conservative government, in a completely similar fashion, if not an identical one to the current Reform Conservative government, created a deficit that was unbelievably huge for Canada at that time.

They looked at the programs. The Liberal government struggled to successfully balance Canada's finances, and did so in exemplary fashion. A number of countries, such as Australia, Great Britain and others, followed its example.

Both then and now, the Conservative government wanted to cut corporate taxes and reduce government services to the bare minimum. So it overspent and created a massive deficit, but the current Reform Conservative government is creating an even bigger one. Unfortunately, that is what has happened with Conservative governments, historically—

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Bloc member's reaction should not come as a surprise. I respect their way of doing things. But everyone, not only in the House but everywhere in Quebec and even across Canada, knows full well that their objective, their mantra, is to bring about the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada.

The separatists from the Bloc Québécois or the Parti Québécois have only one way of seeing things: complete separation from the rest of Canada. So we should not be surprised by the hon. member's attitude in his questions.

Now, when we talk about the right to spend, we must agree on one thing. What Quebec has been asking for a long time—and I understand it—is to prevent the Government of Canada from deciding, without consultations or negotiations, to spend money as it wishes on anything in the province. The hon. member obviously does not want us to encroach on his jurisdiction and promote Canada. That is not the Liberal Party's position.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I think you should send some pages to the other side with buckets of water, because some members are choking. It might help them cool down.

Despite what members opposite may say, we, the Liberals, are committed to protecting a public and universal health care system. However, the current Conservative Prime Minister said that each province should raise its own revenue for health care and that we should replace the Canada health and social transfer with tax points.

As for the Minister of Health, she said in the House, barely two days ago, that the government respects the Canada Health Act and that this same government supports a public and universal health care system. I have my doubts about the statement made by the Minister of Health.

When it comes to transparency, the Conservatives' record is rather opaque. Their memory is failing them, and they easily resort to deceit. Just think of the outrageous G8 and G20 expenses, the patronage in infrastructure projects, the control exerted by the Prime Minister on the government and on public organizations, the Conservatives' will to build megaprisons and the fact that they want to spend billions of dollars on fighter jets with no competitive bidding process.

Such statements on the part of the government worry Canadians and lead to bizarre and unfortunate speculation.

If the Prime Minister supports the Canada Health Act, why does he let his members promote policies that run against his government's position? Perhaps he supports the position of the member for Beauce. But where does that member's vision come from?

I am going to read an excerpt of a statement made by the Conservative Prime Minister. It was published in the January 26, 2001 issue of the National Post. The Prime Minister said:

Alberta should also argue that each province should raise its own revenue for health care—i.e., replace Canada Health and Social Transfer cash with tax points as Quebec has argued for many years. Poorer provinces would continue to rely on Equalization to ensure they have adequate revenues.

So it is nothing new that the Conservative government is thinking of slashing health funding. Why? To finance its tax cuts for large companies, tax cuts that, like its record deficit, Canada can ill afford. Federalism like that is sounding the death knell for our health care system and our social safety net.

This is another choice that is bad for Canadians. It is another in a series of poor decisions that the spendthrift Conservative government has made. This government continues to forge ahead with its out-of-control spending after plunging Canada into deficit even before the current recession began. It is simple. What does the government want? It wants to slash spending, cut taxes for large companies and set a record deficit.

The Liberal finance critic has stated that the Conservatives' wasteful and excessive spending have put Canada into a deficit position. Now the Minister of Finance wants to slash health and education transfers at the same time as he provides large companies with tax breaks we cannot afford.

Perhaps the hon. member for Beauce is hiding his real intention, to create a private health care system and to remove the government's ability to enforce the Canada Health Act. How would that be done? By reducing all federal health and social transfers. That would mean $40 billion less in provincial budgets—yes, $40 billion.

The Bloc Québécois motion seeks to restrict the federal spending power in areas under provincial jurisdiction without the express consent of the provincial government. The motion also provides for an opting-out clause with full compensation and no strings attached.

We believe that the federal spending power is an extremely important tool with which the Government of Canada can exercise its responsibility to protect and strengthen Canada's solid and enduring political unity. That is the way in which Ottawa has made use of the federal spending power under Liberal governments. We have used this responsibility to establish Canada-wide programs like public health care, a program that we value and cherish.

The Liberal Party is committed to protecting the universality of public health care, investing in learning and in jobs and giving Canada back its international leadership role. It will come as no surprise that the Liberal Party is opposed to this motion. We will vote against it.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie.

I am pleased to take part in debate today on the motion by the member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher. The motion, which I will refrain from reading, gives us the opportunity for a debate that will offer all Canadians a clear option and a clear choice as to the country where we want to live. The motion shows that the Bloc and the Conservatives are working to achieve common objectives, in a kind of coalition, in other words.

First, I would like to speak out against the opportunism exhibited by the Bloc Québécois, in submitting a motion to the House dealing with as important a subject as this. The spending power has been the subject of numerous political and constitutional discussions, particularly those leading up to the Meech Lake accord. The fiscal arrangements between the provinces and the federal government, which enable the Government of Canada to exercise its spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction, go back to the time of Confederation. At that time, the provinces received grants from the federal government to make up for the loss of certain taxing powers. Today, these arrangements allow us, among other things, to mould the economic and social environment of our country.

One well-known example of the federal spending power is very certainly the Canada Health and Social Transfer. There are also other institutions, like the Canada Foundation for Innovation, that allow for the federal spending power to be exercised in the provinces.

Some people consider the federal spending power to be interference by Ottawa in areas of provincial jurisdiction without first consulting the provinces, or without obtaining their consent. This situation has heightened some provinces’ desire for greater autonomy, particularly Quebec and Alberta.

The Bloc Québécois has leapt at the statement by the member for Beauce, a candidate for the Conservative leadership. But what is the member proposing? It is both simple and complex, and it would have serious consequences. He proposes to eliminate the federal spending power. He also talks about complete withdrawal by the federal government from funding of social programs such as health and education. We might guess that the member was in need of visibility and has found a goldmine in this proposal.

The candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party, the member for Beauce, stated that federal health transfers must be eliminated because they violate the Constitution of Canada. He also said this is the opinion of the Conservative Party. Leaving aside the ambitions of the member for Beauce, we might wonder whether there is another motive for that statement. Yes, indeed there is another one. We are very well aware that the Government of Canada has to renegotiate the Canada Health and Social Transfer. That is the government’s real intention.

But can we trust the Conservative Party to negotiate that agreement? The answer is self-evident. Only the Liberal Party has proved to the Canadian public that it is worthy of their trust. It can be trusted to renegotiate the agreement before the expiry date, in 2014.