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

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act November 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with my colleague's question because it will allow me to clarify things. I hope that my speech was not misunderstood. We see an issue with a renewable mandate for the provost marshal. If judges are irremovable, why is the provost marshal not? That is the kind of question that needs to be studied in committee.

We believe we will have a chance to hear from military justice experts. There is some inconsistency with having military judges be irremovable—they are appointed until they retire—but having the provost marshal be removable and replaceable. Will the fact that he must be reappointed, that he is not irremovable, prevent him from doing his work? Under certain conditions, in certain cases, could he push the Chief of the Defence Staff to reappoint him?

Those are the kinds of questions that need to be asked in committee and of the Department of National Defence officials who made this recommendation. They are the ones who made the recommendations to the minister, and he approved them. I hope that the minister asked the right questions. In any event, if he did not, the Bloc Québécois will be able to ask the right questions in committee.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act November 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to Bill C-41. This bill was introduced on June 16, 2010, to amend provisions of the National Defence Act governing the military justice system.

The amendments, among other things, provide for security of tenure for military judges until their retirement; permit the appointment of part-time military judges; specify the objectives and principles of the sentencing process; provide for additional sentencing options, including absolute discharges, intermittent sentences and restitution; modify the composition of a court martial panel according to the rank of the accused person; and modify the limitation period applicable to summary trials and allow an accused person to waive the limitation periods.

The text of this bill, beyond what I just listed on military justice, also sets out the Canadian Forces provost marshal’s duties and functions and clarifies his or her responsibilities. It also changes the name of the Canadian Forces Grievance Board to the military grievances external review committee.

Finally, it makes amendments to the delegation of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s powers as the final authority in the grievance process and makes consequential amendments to other acts.

The Bloc Québécois wants Bill C-41 to be studied in committee. It is true that the purpose of this bill is to improve the military justice system by enhancing judicial independence, but we lean heavily in favour of the healthy administration of justice. Accordingly, we are in favour of any initiative to enhance impartiality and the quality of judges and courts. However, this bill is long and complex and it contains a number of other measures. That is why we are calling for it to be studied in committee, in order to have witnesses inform our decisions.

I will try to put this into context. Military justice reform dates back to 1997 and stems from two reviews. First, a special advisory group received a mandate to study the code of service discipline set out in the National Defence Act. Then, the commission of inquiry into the deployment of Canadian forces to Somalia was asked to review how to handle the actions of certain soldiers sent to that country.

The two resulting reports led the government to introduce Bill C-25, which went into effect in 1998. This bill amended the National Defence Act by abolishing the death penalty in the military justice system; incorporating civilian parole ineligibility provisions; creating the Canadian Forces Grievance Board; creating the Military Police Complaints Commission; strengthening the independence of military judges by making changes to the terms of their appointment, their qualifications and their tenure; and creating new positions within the military justice system in order to separate the investigative function from the prosecution and defence functions.

Clause 96 of Bill C-25 provided for an independent review every five years in order to examine the amendments to the National Defence Act. That was in 1997. With this in mind, the federal government appointed a former Supreme Court justice, Antonio Lamer, to conduct the first review. He presented his report to Parliament in March 2003.

In this report, Justice Lamer observed that “Canada's military justice system generally works very well, subject to a few changes.” Consequently, he made 88 recommendations to improve military justice, especially in the areas of arrest procedures and pre-trial detention, procedures for proceeding by indictment, the structure of the court and sentencing. He recommended that the rights of the accused be more in line with those in a civil court so they could choose the type of court martial, and that the finding of court martial panels be arrived at by unanimous vote. The purpose of another recommendation was to strengthen the independence of the principal intervenors in the military justice system and to improve the grievance and military police complaints processes.

In order to implement the recommendations of Justice Lamer and amend the National Defence Act, the government introduced Bill C-45 on August 27, 2006, but it died on the order paper.

So the government introduced Bill C-7, which was identical to Bill C-45, on March 3, 2008, and it died on the order paper when the election was called in the fall of 2008. Of course Bill C-45, which had been introduced on August 27, 2006, died on the order paper when the election was called in December 2006.

In April 2008, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada handed down a decision in the case of R. v. Trépanier. At issue was the possibility of choosing the type of court martial. The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada ruled that a provision of the National Defence Act that gave the court martial administrator exclusive authority to select the type of court martial was unconstitutional. The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada found that it was unacceptable that the accused could not chose the kind of court martial that would judge him or her.

Following that ruling, the federal government introduced Bill C-60 to accomplish the following: to more closely align the manner in which the mode of trial by courts martial is determined with the approach in the civilian criminal justice system, while still satisfying the unique needs of the military justice system; to reduce the types of courts martial from four to two; to allow military judges to deal with certain pre-trial matters at any time after a charge has been preferred; and to require court martial panels to make key decisions on the basis of a unanimous vote.

Bill C-60 passed in the House on June 18, 2008.

Bill C-41 is a new version of Bill C-45 and therefore fits into the notion of general reform with a view to implementing Justice Lamer's recommendations.

Bill C-41 before us here today is a new version of Bill C-45 and, once again, aims to implement Justice Lamer's recommendations. A closer look at Bill C-41 reveals that it fits into the broad military justice reform that began in 1998, as I mentioned. It contains several provisions.

First, it contains a number of provisions concerning military judges, which I will list. It provides judges with tenure until their retirement, grants judges immunity from liability as granted to a judge of a superior court of criminal jurisdiction, grants the chief military judge the authority to establish rules of practice and procedure with the Governor in Council's approval, improves the system's flexibility by appointing part-time military judges from a panel of reserve force military judges, and stipulates that in order to be appointed as a judge, the member must have served as an officer for at least 10 years.

There are provisions in Bill C-41 concerning summary trials. For one, in terms of the limitation period, charges must be laid within six months after the offence is alleged to have been committed, and the trial must commence within one year after the offence was committed. The accused person may waive the limitation period established for summary trials.

There are other provisions related to the court martial panel. In the majority of cases, the rank required in order to sit as the senior member of a panel would be lowered from colonel to lieutenant-colonel. As well, the pool of Canadian Forces members eligible to sit on a General Court Martial panel would be enlarged, and the number of non-commissioned members would increase from two to three for the trial of a non-commissioned member.

In addition to these provisions, Bill C-41 would reform military justice by putting additional restrictions on the power to arrest without warrant, by extending the limitation period from six months to two years in terms of civil responsibility, by granting the Chief of the Defence Staff the authority to cancel an improper release or transfer if the member consents, by indicating that the role of Canadian Forces provost marshal is provided for in the National Defence Act as well as by setting out his responsibilities and ties to the Canadian Forces chain of command and by requiring the provost marshal to provide the Chief of the Defence Staff with an annual report on his activities and those of the military police.

Lastly, Bill C-41 would protect individuals who file any type of complaint with the Military Police Complaints Commission and would require the provost marshal to resolve conduct complaints or to close cases within 12 months.

This is clearly an impressive and important bill. Once again, that is why the Bloc Québécois wants to discuss it in more detail in committee and wants to bring in witnesses with expertise in military justice so that they can provide some insight.

There are other arguments. The Bloc Québécois is not opposed to keeping military justice separate from civilian justice. It makes sense for the Canadian armed forces to have its own justice system, in light of the particularities of military life and military requirements. It is absolutely necessary to have discipline within an army. Without that discipline, we would lose any sense of structure and effectiveness.

Since the primary goal of our armed forces is to protect the safety of Canadians, this issue is vitally important. The Supreme Court of Canada recognized this principle in 1992, in the Généreux decision, which I will quote:

The purpose of a separate system of military tribunals is to allow the Armed Forces to deal with matters that pertain directly to the discipline, efficiency and morale of the military. The safety and well-being of Canadians [and Quebeckers] depends considerably on the willingness and readiness of a force of men and women to defend against threats to the nation's security. To maintain the Armed Forces in a state of readiness, the military must be in a position to enforce internal discipline effectively and efficiently. Breaches of military discipline must be dealt with speedily and, frequently, punished more severely than would be the case if a civilian engaged in such conduct. As a result, the military has its own Code of Service Discipline to allow it to meet its particular disciplinary needs. In addition, special service tribunals, rather than the ordinary courts, have been given jurisdiction to punish breaches of the Code of Service Discipline. Recourse to the ordinary criminal courts would, as a general rule, be inadequate to serve the particular disciplinary needs of the military.

I repeat, that was a quote from the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the Généreux case. The Bloc Québécois subscribes to the principle of keeping military justice separate from civilian justice.

There are also offences in the Code of Service Discipline that have no equivalents in civilian justice. I am thinking of offences such as disobeying a command or a superior officer. Military justice applies to three categories of people: military personnel in the regular forces, reservists and civilians who work with military personnel on missions. But although military justice is necessary, people who join the Canadian Forces do not lose their rights, including their Charter rights.

For 12 years, a great deal of thought was given to modernizing military justice to bring it more in line with civilian justice. In its May 2009 report, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs wrote the following:

...the military, as an organization, benefits when the rules that govern it largely reflect those that apply to Canadian society in general.

The Bloc Québécois feels it is useful and necessary to reform military justice. Obviously, we have some fears and also some suggestions. As I said, the Bloc Québécois wants this bill to be sent to committee so that we can call the appropriate expert witnesses. But we feel that justice must prevail at all levels of society, and justice often depends on police work. We are afraid that because the provost marshal can be reappointed, he will not want to delve too deeply into something that could ruffle feathers among the defence staff. The Bloc Québécois will ensure that this does not happen, and we will introduce amendments to correct this situation.

Once again, when we have a complex bill before us, we need to take the time to do the necessary analyses and studies. This is the case with this bill. The provost marshal, who is the person who will ultimately be in charge of military justice within the armed forces, will have a renewable term. We need to look at that.

Why must this mandate be renewable when judges are appointed until they retire? We must then consider how this would affect the provost marshal's work. Would he give the defence staff less firm direction because his mandate is renewable? Would he be more sensitive when a case involves defence staff? It would be to our advantage to ask these questions in committee.

It is important that the listening public understands how this works. Committee work is of the utmost importance to the operation of any parliament, whether it be the British model or any other parliament in the world. Witnesses may appear before the House of Commons only in very exceptional circumstances. Generally speaking, with only a few exceptions, witnesses appear before committees.

It is therefore important that the national defence committee take all the time required to analyze Bill C-41 and examine all of its ins and outs. It is true that military justice must become more like civilian justice, simply so that citizens can understand how military justice works and relate to it. If the military justice system is completely different from the civilian justice system, citizens will not understand it and might question all the work done by our military personnel. Thus, this is a very important issue.

This work began in 1998. Some bills were deferred or came to an abrupt halt when an election was called. We must now—and I hope we will have time—deal with this issue before the next election campaign.

I am interested in responding to the questions of my fellow members. Once again, the Bloc Québécois supports sending this bill to committee for improvement. We hope to convince members of other parties of the benefits of the improvements we would like to make to it.

Hydroelectricity November 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it would be extremely unfair for Hydro-Québec to face competition on the U.S. market from electricity subsidized by the federal government with Quebeckers' money. The Conservative government cannot hide behind PPP Canada. The federal government funds the agency, appoints its board and determines its mandate.

Does it not make sense for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to pay for their own electric facilities, as Quebec has always done?

Hydroelectricity November 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's deputy premier has said she is willing to look at any possible way of preventing the federal government from funding a transmission line that would allow Newfoundland to compete unfairly with electricity from Quebec, which is produced without any federal assistance.

Instead of getting embroiled in a new dispute with Quebec, why does the federal government not just promise to reject this unfair request from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia?

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits) November 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, worst of all, it does not even benefit the Conservatives in any way. There is no way they could get a majority government, nor could the Liberals. Quebeckers in particular and many Canadians outside of Quebec are becoming increasingly fed up with the old parties that operate like they did 100 ago. The most striking example is the Senate, which is full of Liberal and Conservative Party fundraisers. I see this every day, for my opponent is the son of a Liberal senator. It is frightening. Those parties do not even realize that the public no longer supports them and will not support them in the future. But my hon. colleague can rest easy, for he will probably win his seat in the next election and I will win mine.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits) November 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary knows the Bloc Québécois is fighting mainly to ensure that representation in the House is not changed. He himself introduced a bill that would give Ontario and British Columbia more seats in the House at Quebec's expense. So once again, we do not need to take any lessons from him. Maybe he would like to see Quebeckers represented in the Senate, an institution that serves no purpose. Maybe that is what he would like, but Quebeckers are smarter than that.

Before the Liberal Party reformed party financing, we fought election campaigns and won in Quebec. If further reforms were made, we would still win. The only problem is that government funding prevents friends of the party from corrupting governments. That is probably what the Conservative Party wants to do. It has already built up a war chest for several election campaigns, and it probably wants to surround itself with its friends, people who would give it money and whom it could be accountable to and pay back. That is not what the Bloc Québécois wants, because our party has integrity.

Constitution Act, 2010 (Senate Term Limits) November 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C-10 to alter senators' tenure.

The Bloc Québécois opposes the principle of Bill C-10. This is not the first time the Conservative Party has tried reforming the Constitution without the provinces' approval. Personally, I am not a big fan of the Canadian Constitution, but the fact remains that outside of Quebec, Canadians identify with the Constitution.

In the late 1970s, the Supreme Court of Canada considered the capacity of Parliament, on its own, to amend constitutional provisions relating to the Senate. According to a ruling handed down in 1980 regarding that capacity, any decisions related to major changes affecting the essential characteristics of the Senate cannot be made unilaterally. Quebec has already informed the Conservative government that it will not accept any changes to the Senate, apart from abolishing it. That is a fact.

The Conservatives are still trying to turn a blind eye to the fact that the vast majority of Quebeckers want the Senate simply to be abolished because this political structure is outdated. I have statistics from a poll taken in 2010 to prove it.

I know what I am talking about because I have to live with the fact that a Liberal senator has decided that his son will be my opponent in the next election. I will not say his name because he does not deserve it. I have no problem with that. I had not seen him at all since 2000; I have been here for 10 years. He pushed to have his son be my opponent. I see this senator almost every weekend. He does fundraising for his son's election campaign. Senators are fundraisers for the Liberal Party, as seen by this example.

The same is probably true for the Conservatives; senators are fundraisers. I had never seen him or heard him. He is a former Liberal cabinet minister who had to step down because of a controversy he was involved in. I will have a chance to bring that up during the election campaign; I have a few more secret weapons that I am saving for the election. The fact remains that I find it completely ridiculous to have a second democratic system.

The people elect us here to the House of Commons to pass laws. This week, an environment bill was before the Senate for discussion and passage and it was supported by the majority of the House. The government needed to have its hands completely free before the Cancun summit and it decided to give orders to its unelected senators to cut short their study of this very important bill on the environment. The Conservatives are using the Senate for purely partisan purposes, as did the Liberals when they were in power.

Citizens who work extremely hard have seen their retirement savings eroded as a result of the economic crisis. Company pension funds were affected. People lost money on their RRSPs and other savings. In my opinion, this second system, which is costing the state a lot of money, should be abolished.

Quebec abolished its upper chamber a number of years ago, and Ontario did the same. We have to change with the times. This is not the first time that I have said in the House that the Conservatives are like the Liberals. They are two old parties that no longer deserve to govern Canada because they are doing things the same way they were done 100 years ago.

They have not changed. I see proof of this every weekend. There is a Liberal senator who is fundraising and trying to help set his son up as my opponent. This is the first time in the past 10 years that I have seen him. He simply decided that he was going to become involved in politics. I had never heard anything about him or read anything about him in the paper. Yet, for the past while, he has been trying to get out in the public eye to raise his political profile through his son's activities.

I do not have a problem. We will beat him; that is not a problem. It is just that it must be disappointing for the people watching these goings-on. I have heard all sorts of comments from people who have just seen him for the first time as senator. They are wondering what he is doing at certain events and so on. It is not good for him, but it is good for me. It is not good for democracy because people find it frightening that public funds are being used to finance a Liberal Party fundraiser, but that is what the Liberals used to want to do. The Conservatives want to try and change that. All this bill does is limit senators' terms to eight years. Replacing one senator with another will not change anything. We simply need to abolish this outdated institution outright since it has no virtues and only serves to raise funds for the older parties, such as the Liberal and Conservative parties.

That is the reality in an era where, every day, the people who listen to us work hard to pay their taxes. They pay taxes every day. They purchase items and pay sales tax, the GST, the QST. Some of their money is used to pay for these institutions, that is, the House of Commons and the Senate, among others.

I can provide statistics from a Léger Marketing poll carried out in Quebec in 2010. It is important. Whatever people thing, the fact remains that polls are used a lot, even in politics. We are living in the age of polls. As for Quebec respondents, only 8% believe that the red chamber—the Senate—plays an important role and that the system for appointing senators works well, whereas 43% want the Senate abolished. Another 23% do not understand how the Senate works and do not see the purpose it serves. They know so little about it that they have no opinion about the Senate. It is quite telling that 23% of respondents do not even know that the Senate exists. But that is the reality, and it can easily be explained by the fact that senators are just fundraisers who we see during election campaigns.

The Conservative Party fuels this opinion, and its own position is quite archaic, as we can see when it comes to the environment. The Conservative Party is not very evolved, but it came out of the Reform Party, which was already not very evolved. The Liberals are determined to have a debate because they are likely going to vote against this bill. I commend them for that, but they have never talked about abolishing the Senate. I do not know of many Liberals who would want to abolish the Senate, because it serves them well.

The Senate will serve them in my riding, because there is a Liberal senator who is promoting and lobbying for his son and spending Senate money to attend events while fundraising and so on. He probably has the money. He is entitled to do what he is doing, but people are not fooled. People can see that a senator is ultimately just a political tool, nothing more.

Members will understand that the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-10.

Hydroelectricity November 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the federal government cannot hide behind PPP Canada. PPP Canada is a creature of the Conservative government but 25% of its funding comes from taxes paid by Quebeckers. The federal government should not be using money that comes, in part, from Quebeckers to pay for a cable that will create competition for Hydro-Québec.

Does it not stand to reason that, if Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia want a hydroelectric network, they should have to pay for it themselves like Quebec did?

Hydroelectricity November 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the federal government provided more than $66 billion for fossil fuels and $6 billion to support nuclear energy, mainly in Ontario, while Quebec managed on its own. Hydro-Québec has developed without the help of the federal government. Now it seems that the federal government is willing to fund a power line that is especially designed to bypass Quebec and that will create competition for Quebec on the American market. This is utterly unfair.

Can the government tell us that it does not intend to fund this network either directly or indirectly?

Business of Supply November 18th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to the motion moved by the Liberal Party on its opposition day, especially since I am the member of Parliament for the beautiful Mirabel region, home to a significant part of the aerospace industry. I have been following the F-35 situation very closely over the past few weeks and months.

From the outset, the Bloc Québécois is not in favour of the motion moved by the Liberal Party on the F-35 contract. We cannot say we did not try to make them see things differently.

It is too late to do anything about this purchase contract because it has already been set in motion. It is a done deal. We proposed an amendment to move forward with this matter, but the Liberal Party has rejected it. The Bloc Québécois thinks we should focus on two important items when it comes to this F-35 contract. First, it is high time that we come up with a real foreign affairs policy here in Canada. The government makes military purchases, from helicopters to tanks to fighter jets, without any real foreign affairs policy. These purchases are made without any sense of where Canada is going or the direction, which is becoming more military than anything else, Quebeckers are funding.

The first part of the Bloc Québécois amendment indicates that this purchase is regrettable since no real foreign affairs and defence policy has been discussed openly here in the House. We would have thought that the Liberal Party would agree with the Bloc Québécois on this. The Liberals refused simply because they agree with the direction the Conservative Party is taking toward a more belligerent way of defending this country's foreign affairs, with no real plan.

The second part had to do with guaranteed economic spinoffs. The Bloc Québécois will not give up on that because 55% of the aerospace industry is in Quebec, and we believe that investments in Quebec should be in proportion to spending. We are being told to leave companies alone. There are companies, some of them in my riding, that tell us they are able to compete with foreign companies, and they could end up bitterly disappointed one day because this Conservative government did not see the need to protect investments in proportion to spending, investments that will be made in Canada and particularly in Quebec.

That is why we proposed an amendment to the Liberal Party's motion today to encourage a real discussion on this country's foreign policy and also to ensure that real economic spinoffs are guaranteed in any contract the government may sign for the purchase of these F-35s.

Obviously, we must also have a good understanding of the economic activity related to the aerospace industry. This is very important to Quebec because it represents jobs. Once again, it is clear that there is no real aerospace development policy in Canada.

The government launches programs, creates new ones and abolishes others, but there is no real action plan to develop the aerospace industry. The industry in the Montreal-Mirabel region is the third largest in the world, after Toulouse and Seattle. In my opinion, that represents a very important economic force.

The aerospace technology and engineering training that is offered in Quebec provides the industry with its number one resource, people, but the Canadian government still needs to develop a long-term plan. For this industry to develop, it needs huge investments in research and development. This Conservative government has no long-term strategy, and neither did the Liberal government before it.

All that to say that when we look at both of these parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, current events seem to dictate their policies. That is never a good idea because that is how we end up in never-ending wars. That is what we are seeing with Afghanistan.

According to the government, the extension of the mission is meant to focus on training. There are 950 trainers. Our leader, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, joked—but there was some truth to what he said—that with that many trainers, there will not be enough classrooms in Afghanistan for the schoolchildren. That is a fact. There is no long-term plan and no Foreign Affairs and National Defence strategy for Afghanistan. There is also no long-term national program for developing the aerospace industry. That is something the Bloc Québécois has always called for.

Cancelling the F-35 contracts, which is what the Liberal Party would have the government do, would send a very bad message to the companies that have already begun work on developing this aircraft. I am thinking of Héroux-Devtek, L-3 MAS, Pratt & Whitney and the other companies based in Quebec. A number of them are located in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, the riding I represent, but there are also companies in other parts of Quebec and the rest of Canada. The decision has been made and we cannot go back on it.

This morning, the Bloc Québécois reached out to the Liberal Party, but we were rebuffed. The Liberals feel that the only solution is to cancel this contract and launch a new competitive process, regardless of how that could hurt the companies that have already started work on the project. Some strategy.

I had the chance to attend an industry briefing setting out the whole long-term strategy for developing an aircraft, all the research and development and all the investments companies are making in order to be among the bidders. Most of our aerospace firms have already made investments in order to be able to bid on work in connection with the F-35 contract.

What the Bloc Québécois is calling for and what we might have expected from the government is that Quebec and Canada benefit from the $12 billion investment. That is what we might have expected. The agreements that have been signed contain no investment guarantees. I know that industry representatives are watching, and I want to acknowledge them. Many of them are in their offices in Mirabel. I can understand that they feel capable of competing with companies around the world. We are the third-largest aerospace centre in the world, but without investment guarantees, we cannot be sure of what will happen.

We would like these companies to understand why the Bloc Québécois wants to require economic spinoffs for Quebec and Canada. Among other reasons, 55% of the aerospace industry is located in Quebec.

A number of experts have considered this issue. The government must address several concerns. I will simply quote from an editorial on the purchase of the F-35s, which was written by Jean-Robert Sansfaçon and published in Le Devoir on July 20, 2010. It is important that the members of the House understand the nature of Quebec's criticism. Here is an excerpt:

If the...government planned in provide its armed forces with the type of aircraft that will be central to the United States' military strategy ten years from now, it did so because it intends to play an active part in it, as is the case already in Afghanistan. Given the circumstances, the government could, at the very least, have asked Canadians their opinion before dragging them into the type of situation that history has shown is always much easier to get into than to get out of.

I took the time to read this excerpt so that the other members of the House would understand that situations like the one we saw this morning with Afghanistan arise when we do not have a foreign affairs and defence strategy, as is currently the case in Canada, and when we are being towed in the wake of a neighbour like the United States. It is never-ending.

This morning, we reached out to the Liberals and asked them to accept our amendment, which has two parts. The first would give Canada an actual foreign affairs and defence policy. The Liberals rejected this amendment quite simply because they support the Conservative government's approach, which involves being towed in the wake of the United States. They must be aware that voices are being raised in opposition.

I quoted Jean-Robert Sansfaçon, an editorial writer, but there are many Quebeckers and Canadians who are wondering what direction Canada's foreign affairs and defence policies are taking. No one knows. What we do know is that we are following in the footsteps of the Americans. It is time that we have a real debate in the House about the government's foreign affairs and defence policies. The Liberals' decision this morning to reject the Bloc Québécois amendment clearly shows that they are willing to support the haphazard, American-style foreign affairs and defence policy.

The second part of the Bloc Québécois amendment would guarantee spinoffs for our companies and our industries. If we invest up to $12 billion in this contract, we must ensure that we receive $12 billion in spinoffs for Quebec and Canada. It is very important for Quebec, which is home to 50% of the aerospace industry.

This morning, the Liberals again said no. They are trying to defend a motion to cancel a contract that is already in place. The last time they cancelled a contract—the helicopter contract—it took so many years to choose another supplier that our helicopters were falling out of the sky. That is the Liberal reality.

This morning, in its wisdom, the Bloc came to the aid of the Liberal Party. The Liberals were unwise and did not accept our outstretched hand. When an amendment is proposed in the House, the party presenting it supports it. Since 2000, the party moving a motion during an opposition day has been able to reject any proposed amendments. The Liberals did so this morning; they used this procedure.

We have not seen that often but, again, I understand. They are obsessed. They made a bad choice, and they do not know what else they can do to explain it. And they will have a hard time explaining it to the people of Mirabel and to the workers in the Montreal and Mirabel aerospace industry who are counting on this contract to guarantee, save and protect their jobs.

We sincerely believe that it is time we had a real debate about this government's foreign and defence policies. We need a real debate on the economic spinoffs that should be included when a contract of this size is signed. That is what we proposed to the Liberal Party this morning. Obviously, they refused. And so we oppose today's motion that aims to put an end to this contract that has already been approved, a contract that is already being prepared and in which Quebec and Canadian companies have already invested a lot of money. They are completely ready to claim their piece of the pie.

Once again, we felt that a debate on the orientation or the macro-politics of such a contract—in other words, where the government is going with its foreign affairs and defence policies—was long overdue. What must the government do when signing such a major contract? At the very least, it must guarantee spinoffs for Quebec and Canadian businesses, which the Conservative government has not done.

It is very disappointing that the Liberal Party refused to discuss what the Bloc Québécois was proposing. We will therefore oppose the motion by the Liberal Party, which once again has a very short-term, politicized and partisan view. The Liberals are incapable of any kind of long-term vision for the entire industry and incapable of questioning the Conservative government's foreign affairs and defence policies—which are blindly based on American policies—which they blindly support. A real debate on this was long overdue. The Bloc Québécois tried to initiate such a debate with its amendment, but it was refused. A real debate also must be held on the economic spinoffs that Quebec and Canadian companies should enjoy as a result of such a contract.

Lastly, we could have used this as an opportunity to create a real, long-term investment plan for the development of our aerospace industry with a focus, once again, on research and development. This would have allowed our companies not only to win such a contract, but also to win all other aerospace contracts around the globe.