House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if an election is triggered today, there will be only one party responsible: the Conservative Party. Instead of trying to work together with the other political parties when developing the budget, instead of listening, the Conservatives simply did as they pleased.

Since the budget contains nothing about the payment of the $2.2 billion for sales tax harmonization, nothing to settle any other financial disputes between Quebec and Ottawa, nothing for the forestry industry, nothing about a complete overhaul of the employment insurance system, in short, nothing for Quebec, they should not be surprised that the members of the Bloc Québécois, who are here every day to defend the interests of Quebec, will rise to vote against this budget.

They did not hesitate to spend $26 million of public money to finance their pre-election campaign. It is clear: the Conservatives made up their mind about an election a long time ago.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right, especially given that Quebec's representation has not always been based on its population. I mentioned years in which Quebec had a far larger population than its number of seats in this House reflected, and we accepted that. Now, it is time that the rest of Canada respected Quebec, as Quebec has always respected Canada. We are asking the members of the other parties in this House to respect Quebeckers and not reduce their political clout.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I think that is another debate. My colleague is partly right. We need only look at how the Conservative Party is making changes to parliamentary democracy. That would be worthy of a debate.

However, one thing is certain: Quebeckers, represented by the Bloc Québécois and the Quebec National Assembly—which passed a unanimous motion calling on the government to not change electoral representation in Canada—deserve to have all parties in this House respect the will of the Quebec National Assembly, which is asking the government not to tamper with Quebec's representation in this House.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my Conservative colleague knows very well that British Columbia's Court of Appeal has already ruled on section 42. Any amendment to representation must be approved by seven provinces that represent 50% of the population. That is in the Constitution Act, 1982. I can understand that he does not want to abide by it, since he is a Conservative who does not abide by any laws, even those enacted by the House of Commons. That is what the Conservatives do.

Once again, we will never go along with this. Quebeckers are too proud.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-12 on behalf of the Bloc Québécois and to discuss the amendment proposed by the Bloc Québécois, which we are presently debating. It reads:

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.”

As far as we know, the Bloc Québécois is the only party that rises every day in the House to defend the interests of Quebec. That is the case again today. It is the only party that has speakers constantly rising in the House. The Bloc Québécois, with the strength of its members, will continue this debate in the House for as long as possible.

This is symptomatic of the Canadian federation and of the Conservative government. There is a reason why Bill C-12 has come around at this time. I would like people watching to know that we are debating a bill that will go nowhere if an election is called in the next few days. A similar bill, Bill C-56, died on the order paper when the Conservatives prorogued Parliament.

Why are we debating this bill today? The Conservatives want to send a political message, which hearkens back to their throne speech of November 19, 2008. I would like to read a tersely worded excerpt from that Conservative Party speech.

Our Government will introduce legislation to move toward representation by population in the House of Commons for Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

This is a political choice. And naturally, today the members from the Liberal Party and the NDP are more or less silent, complicit in this political strategy that would give more political power to Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, as laid out in the 2008 throne speech. They are defending their Canada, but we are defending our Quebec.

It is income tax time, and the people watching us are quite aware that they are paying their hefty share of taxes, half of which is going to Ottawa. As long as they are paying taxes to Ottawa, they will be entitled to elect members from the Bloc Québécois to defend their interests and their values. That is what we are doing, and that is why we have put forward this amendment. I will reread our amendment to Bill C-12: that “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-12,...”.

This is what we will be demanding as long as this bill does not stipulate that 25% of the members elected to the House of Commons are to come from Quebec. We want this because the Canadian Constitution has guaranteed and protected proportionality in Quebec. Since the beginning of the history of Canada, Quebec has not always had a number of seats proportional to its population—far from it. Quebeckers have adapted well to this situation. I will give a few figures. In 1976, Quebeckers represented 27% of the population and had 26% of the seats. In 1941, they represented 28.96% of the population and had 26.53% of the seats.

Even though Quebeckers have not signed the Canadian Constitution, they are always respectful of the enactments that govern them. The Canadian Constitution applies to Quebec and it has always been respected.

I do not think there is a political party in the House that can find fault with the work of the members of the Bloc Québécois. These men and women rise every day in the interest of Quebec, but they respect the House of Commons, the work that is done there, and the British parliamentary system. As long as Quebeckers pay taxes to Ottawa, they will have the right to send the members they want to Ottawa. They mostly choose members of the Bloc Québécois because they know that these members rise in the House to defend their interests on a daily basis, without ever changing their minds.

In this case, it is crystal clear that the National Assembly of Quebec passed motions for the withdrawal of Bill C-56, which, as I was saying, died on the order paper. It was the forerunner of Bill C-12, which is before us today. The National Assembly was unanimous in calling for the withdrawal of that bill.

At the time, even Benoît Pelletier, who was the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, had asked that this bill be withdrawn. I will not quote the transcript because my colleagues have already done so, but he was a Liberal and federalist minister. There are still some of this ilk in Quebec. Federalists in Ottawa do not even honour the requests of federalists in Quebec. That is why things are going so poorly in the Canadian federation. Indeed, aside from the fact that the Conservative Party recognized the Quebec nation, there is no desire to safeguard Quebec’s political strength within Canada. I repeat, it is clear: in the 2008 Speech from the Throne, the Conservatives, for purely partisan reasons, wanted to give British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario greater representation. It was a political choice. They made no attempt to conceal this. They enjoy the tacit support of the other political parties in the House, which do not really dare to stand up for Quebec for the simple reason that Quebec is more of a bother than anything else for the Liberals and the NDP.

And yet we are still here, steadfast throughout, standing up for the interests of Quebeckers. There was an Angus Reid poll on April 7, 2010, that revealed that 71% of Quebeckers were against legislation such as Bill C-12, which would diminish Quebec’s political strength within Canada. Moreover, only 37% of those Canadians polled were in favour of this amendment. Federalists in the House do not even have the support of all Canadians.

There is a good reason Bill C-12 is being discussed. It is for purely political and partisan reasons. The government could have chosen to discuss other bills, but this particular bill is being discussed right now because in a couple of hours we will know the answer to the question: will there or will there not be an election? This bill has no chance of being passed before the next election. The government should not be trying to confuse people by having them believe that because this bill is being discussed today, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta will be better represented and have more members. That is not true. The same electoral map will apply whether an election is triggered in a couple of hours or a couple of days.

The Conservatives are again trying to make people believe that they have given it their best shot. They fail to mention, however, that Bill C-56 died on the order paper when the government prorogued the House. The Conservatives themselves killed a similar bill that would have given those provinces greater representation.

The Bloc Québécois is calling for the same thing as Quebec’s National Assembly: that Quebec’s political representation within Canada not be modified while hard-working Quebeckers continue to pay taxes to Ottawa. Quebeckers are generous. Every year, they pay their taxes and that is why they choose those who represent them in Parliament. It is why the majority of Quebec members are from the Bloc Québécois and will continue to be, regardless of any election held in any place, at any time.

Federalists must try to respect Quebeckers in the House and not modify their political representation. That is what the Canadian Constitution says. They must honour the pledge they made in 1867.

Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill C-54, which pertains to minimum sentences for sexual offences against children. This bill would amend the Criminal Code.

On March 22, my grandson will be 18 months old. Grandparents are always proud of their grandchildren. There are grandparents who are watching today and I know that they are proud of their grandchildren. I cannot remain unmoved by a bill introduced in Parliament that pertains to minimum sentences for sexual offences against children. If anyone touched my grandson, I would have difficulty abiding by the law; however, I would, as all citizens are obliged to do.

Bill C-54, which is well-intentioned, must be examined. The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the bill at this stage and feels it should be sent to committee. When it is reviewed in committee, we can ask witnesses questions. The fight against crime is of the utmost importance, particularly when children are the victims. However, it must be said that, in Quebec, as in the rest of Canada, the crime rate has been declining for the past 15 years or so. The measures set out in Bill C-54 warrant our attention. This bill creates new offences and imposes new restrictions on offenders. However, the bill also provides for minimum sentences.

We must hear from legal experts on the matter. When the Conservatives introduce crime bills, they do so to satisfy their own ideology rather than to improve society. They have that annoying tendency of trying to do what the justice system should do. When minimum penalties are brought in, we tell the judges what they have to do. Our parents and grandparents passed on a legacy of the rule of law and a justice system in which judges look at offences on a case-by-case basis and assign penalties in accordance with precedents that have been developed over years. In short, looking at case law means looking at what has happened in the past and giving similar penalties for similar crimes, so that justice is balanced.

When minimum penalties are brought in, it changes this balance that was passed on to us by our parents and grandparents. I am a grandfather to a boy who will be 18 months on March 22, and I would not want to leave him a justice system that completely disregards our history and the foundation of our society.

The Bloc Québécois is generally in favour of the principle of sending a bill to be studied in committee. There, we can hear from witnesses and make any necessary amendments to the bill. The purpose is that when the bill is passed, it helps develop society. The sole objective should not be to replace the justice system that was passed down to us by our parents and grandparents with the new system that the Conservatives and their ideology are trying to impose.

Quebeckers and people from the rest of Canada can trust the Bloc Québécois to maintain that balance. We have always done so in the House and we will continue to do so. The principle of the bill is very interesting and we want to develop it and discuss it.

The bill would create two new offences. The first offence would prohibit anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against that child. This hybrid offence would carry a mandatory prison sentence of 30 days imprisonment and a maximum penalty of six months or a mandatory prison sentence of 90 days.

The second offence would prohibit anyone from using any means of telecommunications, including a computer system, to agree or to make arrangements with another person for the purpose of committing a sexual offence against a child. This provision was part of former Bill C-46, which was introduced in the previous parliamentary session but was not passed because of the last election.

The Bloc's goal is to help society evolve. This bill would prohibit the use of telecommunications. Our parents knew nothing about these kinds of things. I am getting older, and my father never saw such things, nor did my grandparents. Laws need to be adapted, and I think this is a step in the right direction. Once again, at this stage in the discussions surrounding Bill C-54, the Bloc Québécois will support the bill.

Next, we need to proceed with this bill so that the legal and criminal aspects of our society, passed down by our parents and grandparents, will evolve and be more suitable for our grandchildren. That is the challenge that the Bloc Québécois has taken on. We will bring the necessary witnesses forward and we, along with the other parties, will try to move this bill forward to achieve the final goal of helping society move in a positive direction and not towards a right-wing conservative ideology as has happened with the U.S. Republicans and in totalitarian societies in the world. There needs to be a balance, and that is what the Bloc is here for.

At this stage, the government can count on the Bloc's support.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, this was the quickest and least expensive way to get rid of Christiane Ouimet; however, that does not explain why the government paid a fortune to someone whose poor quality work was criticized by the Auditor General.

Are we to understand that the determining factor in the government's decision was the fact that it wanted to buy the former commissioner's silence at all costs? Why is the Conservative government rewarding incompetence?

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in committee, the former integrity commissioner said that the $500,000 severance package she was offered was not negotiable. The government therefore offered her this amount to get rid of her and buy her silence. In addition, given that the Auditor General's report stated that there had been obvious mismanagement, there was no justification for giving the commissioner a severance package.

How can the government justify such a large amount of severance pay when it had every reason to dismiss the former commissioner without paying her a single cent?

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the Conservative member knows full well that the legislation has been amended since that incident occurred. Once again, I understand that they are trying to muddy the waters with a bunch of examples from 2003 and 2004, but the current issue with the in and out scheme is that the Conservatives used the money for national ads, which are a key part of any election campaign. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister did not say a single thing about that. This is what they do: they say they have enough money.If worst comes to worst, they do not even want reimbursement.

The problem is that they want to spend more than the law allows. And that amounts to buying an election campaign. That is not permitted. They lost the appeal. And they will lose at the Supreme Court. They still do not understand that democracy cannot be bought. It is not permitted in Quebec—where we pay the bill for about a quarter of the federal government's expenditures—or in the rest of Canada.

Perhaps if they win a majority, they can amend the Canada Elections Act and will thus be in control forever and be a dictatorship financed by dirty money.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. It gets even worse. The goal of the Conservatives was not to receive the rebate. They had no choice but to receive it. When the riding has an expense, it gets a 60% rebate. Let us ask the Conservatives whether they were interested in receiving the money. They were not interested because they had too much. That is what is wrong with the Conservatives: they have too much money, and that is dangerous for democracy.

The problem is that they are trying to manipulate the law. The Conservatives are saying that they gladly repaid that money and that they did not want it. What they wanted was to exceed the national ceiling allowed under the law. The spending limit under the law was $18 million. Their spending reached $19 million, which they invested in advertising to win an election. That is not allowed. They lost in the court of appeal and they will lose in the Supreme Court.