House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Quebec City Arena February 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec City area is not looking for charity. We just want some of the taxes paid to Ottawa to be returned. The money will not come out of the minister's pockets.

Rather than creating obstacles for the promoters of this important project, what is the government waiting for to commit to funding the project, instead of just having MPs wear the Nordiques jersey?

Quebec City Arena February 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec and the City of Quebec have announced funding for the construction of a multi-purpose arena. We know the timeline, we know where the complex will be built, we know that the cost will be $400 million, we know that the Government of Quebec will be responsible for up to 50% of the cost, and we know that the private sector will contribute to the project. There is only one unknown: what is the federal government's contribution?

Business of Supply February 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is probably consulting her BlackBerry to figure out how to answer me. I too would like to ask a simple question that requires a simple answer. When she is through fiddling with her BlackBerry to get the answer, perhaps we will hear a reply.

The Conservative Party of Canada could have avoided referring to events that occurred 40 years ago, as the Liberals are continuing in any case to pay on a daily basis for the sponsorship scandal. But that is not the issue. The Conservatives are in power and make up the government. I want them to answer this clear question with a yes or a no and we will accept their reply. Will they be supporting the motion, or will they not?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 9th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I agree and I would like to take this opportunity to say that I appreciate working with my colleague from Western Arctic on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

It could have been part of broader discussions and negotiations. My grandmother always told me not to cry over spilt milk. I agree that that could have been the case, but we now must deal with what is before us. A bill has been introduced and, as parliamentarians, we must make a decision.

I do not want anyone to think that the Bloc Québécois does not respect individual freedoms or that it is not sensitive to rights and freedoms. However, in this case, the two are diametrically opposed. We had to take a position. However, all my Bloc colleagues believe that individual freedoms are of vital importance.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 9th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member from the Toronto region. I admit that I did not know how much the body scanners cost: $40 million. Given that we have to appease the Americans and that this government kneels before them as soon as they ask for something, the answer is sure to be “yes”. I would like to repeat what I said earlier: the government's fiscal priorities are misplaced.

I gave the example of how much the body scanners cost. We could talk about it on the eve of the budget. I would not want the Liberal members to think that I am trying to flatter them, but we should be making big business—the oil companies and big banks that make billions in profits and gouge us and raise the price of gas just before weekends and holidays—pay the taxes they really owe. The government would then have plenty of money to manage the information that I think we should require of the Americans for review and that we would have required of them had my reciprocity amendment passed.

Once again, money is an excuse. They say that they do not have any money. Instead, they should be saying that they do not have money for anything important but that they have money for things that do not make sense.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 9th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am greatly disappointed by the comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. He is saying that it would be expensive and would cost millions of dollars. In other words, because the Americans have the means, they can do it, but it would be far too costly for us. Yet the Conservatives bought full body scanners for airports. That cost money and that money was wasted. They should search people as they did before, by making us take off our shoes and belts. That would be just as comfortable as full body scanners.

The Conservative government is using money as an excuse. It prefers to buy tanks and warplanes instead of getting its priorities straight. With this government, everything is expensive, except when it comes to buying tanks or warplanes for Afghanistan, even though we have no business being there. Then money is not a problem.

I will calm down because otherwise my supper will be ruined.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-42, which we examined carefully at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. I would like to begin by congratulating all of my colleagues on the hard work they did in an effort to strike a fair balance between two conflicting yet fundamental notions. I was going to say “to get at the truth”, but that would not have been the right expression.

When I was a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the Board of Internal Economy, we took a very similar approach. There we talked about the safety and protection of people and goods. In this case, this bill is about aviation security. At the time, following the tragic events of September 2001, we had to ask ourselves what kind of security was needed within the parliamentary precinct, here on the Hill. What kind of security check should pedestrians be subjected to? For vehicles, it was pretty easy, but for pedestrians, it was a different matter.

On the one hand, the people watching us here this evening, our fellow citizens, my colleagues and their family members must have access to the place that exemplifies democracy. On the other hand, security measures must be in place to protect people. It is not just parliamentarians who need to be protected, but also pages, security staff and everyone who works in the parliamentary precinct. That is enough of the analogy I wanted to make with security here on Parliament Hill.

I will not say that I suffered terrible insomnia or that I woke up at night in a cold sweat from anxiety, but I did put a lot of thought into this bill. I sometimes have the opportunity to go home to my riding by car. It is a 475 km drive from my office on Parliament Hill to my house. I usually use that time to decompress and reflect on many things.

When we studied this bill, we heard from opposite ends of the spectrum. We heard from those defending civil liberties, who stand up for the protection of personal information. There is a strong temptation, for a government or organization that receives personal information about people, to use it for inappropriate purposes. We joke about Big Brother watching you.

One of the fundamental elements of this bill is that it would have Canada provide the Americans with certain personal information about passengers on board aircraft flying over American territory. Those who defend civil liberties are very level-headed; they were not on a witch hunt. They told us that parliamentarians, members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, should think about the type of information that would be provided to the Americans.

As I mentioned in a previous speech, since the unfortunate events of 9/11 at the World Trade Center, no one has been crazy enough to say that the Americans got what they deserved. Anyone who says that has serious mental problems.

The young woman who worked for Xerox Corporation on the 85th floor, who was about the same age as our assistant clerk—the one who notes what we say off mike—and who was typing a report for her boss, did not deserve to have a plane hit her. She did not ask for that. She went to work that morning to support herself and perhaps to support her family.

Since that event, the Americans have been seized by panic, a phobia, a psychosis about terrorism. I am not an expert on terrorism. However, we should ask ourselves whether we believe that terrorists will again use the exact same tactics they used on the World Trade Center.

The planes that crashed into the World Trade Center were American planes making domestic flights. In addition, the terrorist pilots were trained in American flight schools in Miami, Florida. Since that time, the Americans have developed such an obsessive fear that they see terrorism everywhere. It is true that protection is needed and that we must always be vigilant.

Supporters of individual freedoms and civil liberties asked the committee to ensure that there were certain protective rules. Apparently, the information that we will be providing to the Americans under this bill could potentially be given to 16 other American agencies that do not necessarily need it. Supporters of individual freedoms and civil liberties expressed another concern: what guarantee do we have that this information will be destroyed?

I spoke about Big Brother. Personally, I am not a conspiracy theorist and I do not think that our information is put on file and that we are monitored. That is being paranoid. I watched the Super Bowl and, when members of one team formed a huddle, I did not think that they were talking about me. I knew that they were planning their strategy. We must not think that Big Brother is always watching us. However, this does not change the fact that the Americans will have our personal information. What guarantee do we have that this information will not be shared and that it will be destroyed after a certain period of time?

The Minister of Public Safety testified before the committee. I asked him, without getting angry—a rarity—what guarantee we have that the Americans will destroy this information after a certain period of time.

He replied that the Americans had told him so. How reassuring. What guarantee do we have that our hair will grow by the end of the week? The dermatologist said so. The Americans told him so. What a great answer.

The committee members were split between two approaches. We met representatives from Canada's tourism industry and representatives from airlines. We organized a meeting with Air Transat, Canada's leader in vacation travel. When I was elected in 1993, I was the transport critic. We had Canada 2000, and since we were getting close to the year 2000, I think it became Canada 3000. They realized that the name would be outdated. Later, the company went bankrupt. Then we had Nationair, Nordair, Intair, which all shut down. Now, the number one company in vacation travel in Canada is Air Transat, a company whose head office is in Montreal, whose primary language of work is French and which has an important base in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and a lot of pilots and flight attendants who are able to provide services in two, three or even four languages. Quebec is very proud of this.

We met with these people and they told us that, because the U.S. is a sovereign country, if we did not pass this bill, the Americans would prohibit us from flying through their airspace. Charter flights to the south or flights to London or Nice, for example, that leave from Halifax and take the Atlantic route do not fly through U.S. airspace. I am not picking destinations off the top of my head. Those are all destinations served by Air Transat. To go to Mexico or the Caribbean, for example, via the south corridor or the Atlantic corridor, the plane does not need to fly through American airspace. It is the same for Vancouver. Via the Pacific corridor, there is no need to fly through American airspace.

The people from Air Transat told us that if this bill is not passed, it will no longer be able to serve central Canada. It will no longer be able to offer flights from Calgary to Cancun, from Winnipeg to Puerto Vallarta or from Edmonton to Montego Bay, Jamaica, because those cities are in central Canada. They have no choice but to fly over the U.S. It would take four hours to fly to the Pacific Ocean and then fly south. A flight that normally takes three and a half or four hours with an Airbus 330 or 320 would take seven or eight hours. That makes no sense.

Something I thought of and have talked about before, but that bears repeating because some members were not here, is that we cannot forget that the Air Transat fleet includes Airbus 310s and 320s, and I believe it also has some Airbus 330s.

As it turns out, an Airbus with 350 passengers on board requires a little more time for taking off and landing. It is not like a Cessna that can touch and go and land in 150 metres. When landing in Montreal, depending on the runway being used—24 or 32—the pilot has to turn and fly over the U.S. It is the same thing in Toronto at Pearson airport. In other words, because of those flights, Air Transat would be doomed to bankruptcy.

As the Bloc Québécois transport critic, and with my colleagues who agree on this position, we had to take individual freedoms into account, but we also had to take into account feasibility and the viability of air carriers that have to use U.S. airspace. I moved an amendment that called for reciprocity. Many Americans fly through Canadian airspace and if the U.S. is requiring us to provide a passenger list, then we should be demanding reciprocity with the U.S. Unfortunately, my amendment was democratically defeated in the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. I accept that, but I find it unbelievable. If it is good enough for the Americans, why would it not be good enough for us?

In any case, we are at third reading stage and, in closing, I confirm that the Bloc Québécois is voting in favour of Bill C-42.

Alex Harvey February 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to celebrate the extraordinary feat of a young man from my riding whose name is Alex Harvey.

This young skier is the son of athlete Pierre Harvey, who participated in the summer Olympics in cycling and in the winter Olympics in cross-country skiing. A native of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Alex, at the age of 22, has become the world champion after winning a 30 km race in Estonia at the U-23 Cross-Country World Championships.

This outstanding achievement has made him the first Quebecker and first Canadian to win at the Cross-Country World Championships. This skier has been collecting medals for a number of years and will continue to surprise us.

A student in law at Université Laval, Alex Harvey is a model for youth. Brave and determined, he excels in a high-performance sport while succeeding academically.

Again, congratulations on this historic success. On behalf of Quebec and all the people of Côte-de-Beaupré, good luck, Alex, and keep making us proud.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am missing part of the story. Also, I did not think that you recognized the hon. member twice. I suppose the Standing Orders allow it if no one else rises. I thought he was beginning his speech.

If I have understood correctly, at the end of his question, he spoke about the security perimeter negotiations with the Americans. As I understand it, the Prime Minister will be in Washington on Friday. It seems that one of these items is on the agenda. Unfortunately, I did not understand the question.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the NDP member for his question.

In any case, this is not the first time that the Conservatives have talked through their hats in committee or in the House.

They are talking about billions of dollars without any costing. That is what was said. I do not want to attack the credibility of the member who said it. Perhaps, deep down, he believes it, but he did not provide us with any proof. It is easy to say that something will cost billions of dollars. Fortunately, he did not say that it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

We should look up the word “exaggerate” in the dictionary. It is tempting to believe a little white lie. We can be inclined to believe that it is true. But billions of dollars?

I agree with the hon. member. The Conservatives were talking through their hats. That being said, we have a decision to make and we cannot simply ignore the economic impact of that decision. I would not want to be responsible for the closure of Air Transat. On the contrary. I am in favour of Air Transat and I am in favour of further developing Air Transat and creating more jobs in Quebec.