House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for LaSalle—Émard (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act March 20th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the members who have spoken in favour of the Kelowna accord tonight and previously. I would like to thank the members who voted for it.

I would also like to thank the aboriginal leaders, from coast to coast, who spoke publicly in favour of a fundamental improvement in the situation of their fellow citizens.

The Kelowna accord is not simply important because a group of people, the federal government, the prime minister, ministers, provincial and territorial premiers and leaders, and the leaders of Canada's aboriginal people, the Métis nation, the first nations, the Inuit, came together at Kelowna. It is important because at that historic moment the nation came together and said that the lack of decent water, the lack of decent housing and the lack of economic opportunity is not acceptable.

We have heard members of the opposition parties speak here tonight. I would ask members of the government if they think it is acceptable that one million Canadians, the youngest and the fastest growing segment of our population, should at the same time have the highest incidence of infant mortality, the lowest life expectancy, that they should have the highest incidence of AIDS, tuberculosis and diabetes.

Do they think the dropout rate among aboriginals in our country should be double—and almost triple— that of other Canadians?

Kelowna is about saying to the youngest segment of our population that they have the right to the same educational opportunities as other Canadians. It says that in a world in which we must compete with other countries which are showing great productivity and great growth, we believe that every single Canadian counts.

Kelowna is also about the way in which it was arrived at. Members of the current government witnessed it on television with their own eyes. All of the political leaders in this country came together to say that we will no longer impose upon the aboriginal communities of this country our way of looking at things, that we will work with them.

Kelowna is important for its objectives, but it is also important for the way in which it was arrived at, the 16 to 18 months of fundamental discussions in community after community, in province after province, in territory after territory, as to how in fact this great partnership between us as Canadians should work. That is what Kelowna is all about.

For members of the government to stand here and say that that never happened is a denial of a fundamental reality and a historic coming together.

I am very proud of the Kelowna accord and I am very proud of the members of Parliament who have supported it.

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act March 20th, 2007

moved that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the third time and passed.

Citizenship Act February 16th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, 60 years ago, Prime Minister Mackenzie King declared for the first time, “I speak as a citizen of Canada”, to the participants in Canada's first citizenship ceremony.

The spark that led to the creation of the Canadian Citizenship Act was created in 1945 when a young member of Parliament visited the Canadian War Cemetery in Dieppe and noted that the names on the crosses were French, they were English and they were also from the farthest approaches of the world. He noted that these young men and women could no longer be called only British subjects, that the Canadian Citizenship Act had to be brought into being.

That MP, the minister who later created the act, was my father.

Canada is known to the world as a beacon of hope, respect and decency. As generations of Canadians have built our country, Canadian citizenship has become the mortar of our nation and the emblem of our achievement.

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act February 15th, 2007

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act October 16th, 2006

Why Kelowna, Mr. Speaker? Because, compared to other Canadians, the aboriginal people of Canada earn nearly 40% less and they have a life expectancy 10 years shorter. They are twice as likely to live in poverty and three times less likely to graduate from university.

Why Kelowna? Because Canada has the means to achieve its goals and the moral responsibility to do so.

Those who were in that room that day in Kelowna included the aboriginal leadership in this country and representatives of all of the political parties in this room and across the country. No one in that room had any doubt as to the significance of the agreement that we came to and the significance of what had been done. Every single person who was in that room, every single person who for close to 18 months through a series of round tables and detailed negotiation put everything they had into it and came to that agreement on that historic day, it demeans them for the government to say that this was not worth the paper it was written on, to say that it had no content.

The Kelowna accord was reached by the aboriginal leadership of our country, by every single one of the provinces and territories without exception, and by the federal government. It set out funding for five years of $5.1 billion, funding that was provided for by the then minister of finance. The Kelowna accord consisted of longer term objectives to be achieved and then measured over a series of shorter term markers to be developed by all of the parties.

That is important because what was incorporated in the Kelowna accord was working with the aboriginal leadership and provinces, all governments coming together. This was not an imposition. This was indeed a significant agreement as Canadians from coast to coast to coast said that no longer were they going to allow to continue the unacceptable conditions in which aboriginals live.

The government has said that it agrees with the principles of the Kelowna accord. I ask it to act on those principles.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, I would like to make a brief comment in response to a question that was asked by the member for Northumberland—Quinte West. He asked if given our other responsibilities we should be in Darfur.

Let me simply say that the answer is unequivocally, yes. Not only that, but we have the capacity to do so and we have the capacity to do so in a multitude of ways. As the hon. member from the NDP has just said, we have a long and historic relationship with both Africa and the African Union. The people of Africa have asked us to live up to our responsibilities as a member of the international community. They have asked the international community to do so. It is our responsibility to meet that challenge and that request.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, the tragedy in Darfur, eclipsed by tsunamis, earthquakes, Iraq and Afghanistan, often disappears from the public eye, but the suffering continues, indeed it worsens with every passing day.

The African Union has said that the United Nations should come in, and it must. The African Union has expressed the will of Africa.

The question Canada must now face is this: what are we doing to ensure that the United Nations acts quickly?

We took a leadership role in providing the African Union with money, logistical support and expertise, with military equipment, helicopters, armoured vehicles and training. We did the same thing in paving the way to the peace agreement in the south.

The United Nations will require an even greater contribution from Canada, a far greater one. The question this House must answer is what the nature of Canada's contribution will be. What will we say to the United Nations, and what will we say to all those Africans who spoke through the African Union?

Quite simply, the responsibility to protect was a Canadian initiative. It was spawned by the terrible events in Rwanda, when a Canadian general said, “Never again”. It was spawned by Darfur. We must do all in our power to make it a reality.

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act June 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well it was after the Kelowna accord that the government was brought down. However, the hon. member also ought to know that in the fiscal update produced by the minister of finance at the time, he indicated that the Kelowna accord was in the process of being discussed and that the money would be provided.

There is a source and uses of funds prepared by the government, which is an internal government document, in which the commitments are made. The commitment is there. If that commitment is not there, it is not because it was not made by the previous minister of finance and the previous prime minister, but because it was withdrawn by the new government.

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act June 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of what the Liberal Government of Canada did. I am very proud of the $350 million healing fund. I am very proud that it was a Liberal government that signed the residential schools agreement, recognizing the compensation from those schools.

As the premier of British Columbia has said, we go back 138 years of broken promises. I believe it is now incumbent upon us to take advantage of the Kelowna accord, which is a historic agreement that recognizes that all governments came to the table wishing that they had done more, going back to the earliest beginnings of Confederation.

What I also find hard to understand is that a member of the NDP would stand in the House, when the government is refusing to commit to the Kelowna accord, and not endorse the position taken by the NDP premier of Saskatchewan and the NDP premier of Manitoba when they say this accord should go forward. Where is the federal NDP?

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act June 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the accord here. I understand it was tabled in the House yesterday. I understand when the minister tabled it, he said that it was on the government's website. In fact, he said that he found it also in the Library of Parliament. The accord can be found in a number places. It can be found in the minister's own file. There is no doubt about the accord.

Anybody who was there, and indeed the minister was there himself, saw not only the Prime Minister of Canada, but every one of the provincial and territorial first ministers stand and endorse the accord as did all the aboriginal leadership. It was televised and visible to 32 million Canadians. There is no doubt about the degree of depth of support for this accord and its reality.

I do not understand how the hon. member can stand and ask “where is the accord?” as if it never happened. It is a fact of history.

When the premier of British Columbia, when the western premiers and when the premier of Manitoba stand and say “You cannot walk away from an accord”, what are they saying we cannot walk away from? They are saying we cannot walk away from a commitment of the Government of Canada to the aboriginal people of our country.