House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Joliette (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Speaker of the House of Commons March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, before paying you a well-deserved tribute, I would like to acknowledge the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who has announced that she will not be running for office in the next election. I wish to salute her.

It is an immense privilege for me to pay tribute to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. Not only are you the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Canada's Parliament, but you managed this feat in a very special context. This has been pointed out, but I believe it deserves to be repeated.

What I would like to say is that, on four occasions, after four consecutive elections, no matter which party was power, no matter whether it was a majority or minority government, the member for Kingston and the Islands was elected by his peers to preside over our deliberations and to be the guardian of the rules of procedure and the traditions of the House of Commons. In my opinion, the confidence the House has expressed in you, four times over, and in a secret ballot, is a great feat, even more than your longevity as the Speaker of the House of Commons.

If I had to describe your work in one sentence, I would say that it is obvious that all your actions have been guided by your profound knowledge of the institution of the House of Commons. This knowledge is the fruit of your hard work and obvious passion for parliamentary business. It is public knowledge that, even as an adolescent, the Speaker of the House was an avid reader of Hansard. Of course.

With this in-depth knowledge of the institution, the member for Kingston and the Islands quickly became the defender of the rules and traditions of the House of Commons at a time when, need we be reminded, these rules and traditions could easily have been diminished. In fact, for more than five years, you have presided over a House of Commons with a minority government. Since 2004, with a number of your decisions, you ensured that the balance between parliamentarians' rights and the government's prerogatives was maintained. It was not always an easy task, I must say.

We will remember you, in your role as the Speaker of the House of Commons, as a man with an engaging personality and whose integrity, intelligence, judgment and knowledge, not to mention sense of humour, have been a source of admiration and inspiration for us all throughout these years.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer, on behalf of the members of the Bloc Québécois and myself, our most sincere congratulations for the quality and longevity of your tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons. Allow me to say, one last time, thank you for everything, Mr. Speaker.

The Province of Quebec March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very proud to speak on behalf of Quebeckers. The hon. member speaks on behalf of Canadians. With its attacks against Quebec, its budget that does not meet the needs of Quebec's people or Quebec's regions, and its undemocratic behaviour, the Conservative government does not have the confidence of the Quebec nation.

Does the Prime Minister understand that, by turning his back on Quebec and on democracy, he is the one who is forcing an election?

The Province of Quebec March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, not only are the Conservatives thumbing their noses at democracy but they are also thumbing their noses at the truth, because it was a Bloc motion on supply management that was adopted here in December 2005. In addition to thumbing their noses at the truth and democracy, they are also thumbing their noses at Quebec. They are constantly attacking Quebec: they refuse to compensate Quebec for the harmonized GST and QST; they refuse to support Quebec's forestry and manufacturing industries; they refuse to improve the employment insurance program; they are indifferent to Quebec's regions; and they are trying to reduce Quebec's political weight.

Do the Prime Minister and the government understand why Quebeckers do not have any confidence in them?

Committees of the House March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, on February 17, in the midst of a Liberal opposition day on this issue, the government tabled a series of very unsatisfactory documents, which nevertheless contained a certain amount of information. It was not the information requested by the committee, and that proves that the government's argument of cabinet secrecy was bogus.

That was also very clear in April 2010, when the Speaker handed down his ruling on the government's refusal to provide parliamentarians with the documents about allegations of torture in Afghanistan. The Speaker was very clear. He quoted Bourinot's Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada, including a paragraph found on page 281:

But it must be remembered that under all circumstances it is for the house to consider whether the reasons given for refusing the information are sufficient. The right of Parliament to obtain every possible information on public questions is undoubted, and the circumstances must be exceptional, and the reasons very cogent, when it cannot be at once laid before the houses.

Even if these documents, according to the government, could not be made public, the government should have assumed its responsibilities and proposed—to the opposition and the entire House—a mechanism for providing access to the information. That was not done. It simply said that they were cabinet confidences. Initially, it hid behind this authoritarian argument without wanting to provide the documents requested; later, it provided information that was very incomplete. This contradicts the government's argument that all the information in all these documents is a matter of cabinet confidence.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has just tabled the binders that were delivered to the committee on March 16. Once again, the pressure is on. The Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice are appearing before the committee. The government is trying to find a way to derail the debate and create a distraction, and so they table the documents in the House.

The Minister of Public Safety was very clear: these documents contain exactly the same information as the documents tabled in the House by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on February 17.

I have had a chance to go over those documents. I would say that reproducing the legislation about which the Standing Committee on Finance and the House of Commons were asking for information took up about 90% of the huge binder. That is a lot of paper for almost nothing.

Furthermore, for each piece of legislation, instead of writing a paragraph, they wrote two pages that say basically the same thing, with the exception of one or two acts where the information is contradictory. As for the rest, there is no more information, and the Minister of Public Safety confirmed this.

This means that the binder tabled on March 16 before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs does not answer our questions any more than the documents tabled on February 17 at the request of the Standing Committee on Finance and the House of Commons.

I would remind the House that the Speaker issued his ruling on March 9. What was unacceptable on February 17 led to the Speaker's ruling to the effect that there were sufficient grounds for finding a question of privilege in relation to these documents. Thus, it is very clear that the documents tabled on March 16 do not correspond to what the Speaker had in mind when he gave his ruling.

The government disobeyed the rules of Parliament and did not comply with the order given by the Standing Committee on Finance and by the House of Commons. This amounts to contempt of Parliament. I will not conceal the fact that we were prepared to go much further at the time by withdrawing our confidence in the government because of this. We will likely have the opportunity to go ahead with this in the coming days, if not in the next few hours.

We in the opposition are not the only ones who think that the government failed to fulfill its obligations to parliamentarians. I would remind the House that the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, testified before the committee on March 16. He clearly stated that the Parliament of Canada owes a fiduciary duty to the Canadian people, and therefore a duty to administer public monies on their behalf, and that Canada's Constitution established and affirms this duty.

The Standing Committee on Finance simply fulfilled its obligations and fiduciary duties regarding the use of taxpayer dollars to the Quebec public by requesting information, particularly with regard to certain justice legislation, the cost of the F-35s, and the effects of the tax cuts that were announced in previous budgets and that are still found in the budget announced yesterday.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer's point of view is very clear. With regard to the justice legislation, he said that “the government has not provided an adequate response to the finance committee request.... Full compliance with the request requires....”

He then listed a series of elements that show the government did not comply with the Standing Committee on Finance's order.

With regard to the procurement of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters, the Parliamentary Budget Officer once again said that “the government has not provided an adequate response to the finance committee request.”

The Parliamentary Budget Officer thus clearly indicated that a mistake was made.

I would like to close by saying that the documents that we were given on February 17 and March 16 are clearly deceitful. The Conservatives want us to believe that estimates were not made because there were too many imponderables, particularly with regard to the justice legislation. However, that is not the case. Each time a minister presents a bill to cabinet, there is an appendix setting out the costs. The Conservatives are therefore hiding the truth from us. This government no longer has the confidence of the House or the public.

Committees of the House March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to take the whole 30 minutes allocated to the Bloc Québécois. I would have shared my time with the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. The government used an unfair tactic and moved to proceed to the orders of the day when there were mere minutes left. We obviously could not start debate on the budget. I believe that it was an attempt to muzzle the opposition parties, in particular the Bloc and the NDP.

I would remind the members that after the Liberal member for Kings—Hants raised a question of privilege, the Speaker gave a ruling in which he found a prima facie breach of privilege. He allowed the member to move a motion, which concluded as follows:

...Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for a final determination on the government's compliance, or lack thereof, and that the committee report back its findings and recommendations no later than March 21, 2011.

Whether the government and the Conservative members of the committee like it or not, the majority decision of the committee is very clear. I would like to read the end of that decision:

...the Committee concludes the following:

1) That the government has failed to produce the specific documents ordered to be produced by the Standing Committee on Finance and by the House;

2) That the government has not provided a reasonable excuse;

3) That the documents tabled in the House and in Committee do not satisfy the orders for production of documents; nor do they provide a reasonable excuse [a point on which the Chair placed particular emphasis in his decision];

4) That this failure impedes the House in the performance of its functions; and

5) That the government’s failure to produce documents constitutes a contempt of Parliament.

The Bloc would be completely in favour of concurring in the report if ever there is a concurrence vote in this regard. Clearly, the government did not comply with the request of the Standing Committee on Finance and the House, under false pretences. First, the government told us that it would not submit the documents because they contained cabinet secrets. That was the response the government gave on November 24 regarding the F-35s and the tax cuts.

On December 1, the government gave the same response regarding the justice issue: it was a cabinet secret. As the debate progressed, the government knew it was in hot water. It tried to avoid the question of privilege that had to be raised.

On February 17, the government tabled documents. This is the first rather incredible thing. On November 24 and December 1, the government said that it could not table any documents because they contained cabinet secrets and then on a Liberal Party opposition day on the issue—

Committees of the House March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left?

Points of Order March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the member for Lévis—Bellechasse is nervous because he has not managed this file well. That said, the claims he made about my colleague lying have to do with the political debate.

The government found original ways to help the automotive industry in southern Ontario by investing in GM, for example. The government was able to help the industry. But it is not able to make the same kind of effort for Davie in Lévis. If he wants to continue with the debate we will do so, but I think that this has to do with the debate and not a point of order.

Government Accountability March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, not only is the government acting undemocratically, but its ethics are very dubious. We need only think of the violation of the Canada Elections Act, the use of House resources for partisan purposes, the falsification of documents, and the refusal to provide the information that parliamentarians need to do their job. Respect for the people and the institutions is not an option; it is fundamental to democracy.

When will the Conservatives understand this?

Government Accountability March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the statements by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons clearly show that, for the Conservatives, democracy is just an obstacle, and a distraction from implementing their ideological platform. Your decisions, Mr. Speaker, are a serious wake-up call for this government, which refuses to be accountable to Parliament.

Instead of playing down their moral deficit, will the Conservatives stop their undemocratic behaviour, and respect Parliament and the people?

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it seems that life produces some fairly interesting anecdotes and linkages. The minister initially told us that government employees had advised her to cut the funding for KAIROS. We now know that this is untrue, but we also know why the funding for KAIROS was cut. It was the Minister of Immigration himself who said it in Jerusalem: funding was cut because of the position taken by KAIROS, an organization that unites many churches. The Prime Minister was of the opinion that KAIROS was too close to the concerns of Palestinians and not close enough to the sometimes very questionable decisions of the Israeli government.