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

Points of Order March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like the government House leader to tell us why they did not go further—why they did not ask that Bill C-61 be passed at all stages?

I said this during question period: the government does not need this bill in order to freeze Ben Ali's assests, but I think it would send an extremely important message to all of the dictators who are currently using Canada, Quebec and even Montreal—we saw that in the news yesterday—to squander money that belongs to various nations.

We would have liked to see a motion asking that Bill C-61 be passed at all stages and sent to the Senate.

Tax Havens March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, even though an international warrant has been issued for his arrest, former dictator Ben Ali's brother-in-law continues doing business in Montreal, as though nothing happened. Every hour that passes allows him to transfer millions of dollars to tax havens. Although we support Bill C-61, it is not necessary in order for the government to take immediate action under the UN convention against corruption and under Canada's Criminal Code. It can immediately freeze the assets of the entire Ben Ali family.

Why are the Conservatives continuing to protect them and refusing to take immediate action?

Tax Havens March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the minister is mistaken. This matter is not before the courts. The matter that should be before the courts is not, because the Liberals, like the Conservatives, never wanted to take care of the Cinar affair.

The federal government's complacency when it comes to tax havens allowed these white collar criminals to illegally transfer $120 million to the Bahamas. By signing a tax convention with the Bahamas, a known tax haven, in 2010, the Conservatives did nothing to prevent fraud from being committed against small investors in the future.

While the rest of the world is taking action against tax havens, why are the Conservatives protecting them?

Business of Supply March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention that in the French version the word “encourage” is used. It seems to me that, in order to be consistent, it should—

Gilles Dostaler March 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Gilles Dostaler, who was an authority on economics as well as one of the original sovereignists and a great champion of social justice, recently passed away following a battle with cancer.

Gilles Dostaler had been a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal since 1975; his writings on the history of economic thought, specifically on John Maynard Keynes and neo-liberalism, are considered authoritative texts. This prolific writer produced many major works that have been translated into many languages. Known both in Quebec and abroad, this economist, whom I had the great privilege of knowing, developed an unquestionable expertise in state interventionism over the years.

I wish to pay tribute to this great humanitarian who has left us too soon. The Bloc Québécois offers its sincere condolences to his wife, stepdaughter and other loved ones.

International Co-operation February 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that on April 23, 2010, she said the exact opposite. She said that CIDA had made the decision and that she had approved it.

Despite public pressure and our repeated demands, the Prime Minister insists on keeping her as the Minister of International Cooperation.

Did the Prime Minister personally intervene to cancel the KAIROS funding? Was it his decision, and is that why he is keeping the minister?

International Co-operation February 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there is mounting pressure for the Minister of International Cooperation to resign. The three opposition parties have raised a question of privilege regarding the minister's misleading statements on the KAIROS file. Editorial writers and tens of thousands of citizens who have signed a petition are calling for her firing.

If the minister has any honour left, what is she waiting for to resign?

Privilege February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in a ruling made on February 10 on a question of privilege raised in December concerning misleading statements made by the Minister of International Cooperation about the decision not to grant funding to KAIROS, you said:

—despite...the profoundly disturbing questions that evidently remain unanswered in the view of these same members, the Chair is bound by very narrow parameters in situations such as this one. It may sound overly technical but the reality is that when adjudicating cases of this kind, the Chair is obliged to reference material fully and properly before the House. With regard to statements made by the minister, this material is limited to a few answers to oral questions and one answer to a written question, not to any comments in committee.

In the circumstances, with this key limitation in mind and in the absence of a committee report on this matter, the Chair cannot find evidence in documents properly before the House to suggest that the minister's statements to the House were deliberately misleading, that she believed them to be misleading or that she had intended for them to be misleading. Accordingly, I cannot rule that the minister deliberately misled the House and, therefore, I cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege.

Since you made this ruling on February 10, new facts have come to light. First, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development has provided to you certain statements that were made in committee, as well as the KAIROS funding document obtained through the Access to Information Act. You have been officially apprised of this information by the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Furthermore, the Minister of International Cooperation also read a statement in this House on February 14 regarding funding for KAIROS. Thus, in light of the new facts in this matter, of which you have been officially informed, I believe that there are grounds for you to reconsider your decision. Here is the timeline of the statements in this matter.

On April 23, 2010, the minister told the House:

The criteria for the funding for KAIROS is the same as the criteria for funding for anyone else applying for such funding. KAIROS did not meet the criteria. It did not get the funding. There was no surprise there.

Still on April 23, in reply to written Question No. 106, the minister replied:

The CIDA decision not to continue funding KAIROS was based on the overall assessment of the proposal, not on any single criterion.

On October 28, 2010, she said:

We have an international aid effectiveness strategy and we are acting on it. We are getting results for people in the developing countries and all projects by CIDA are assessed against our effectiveness standards. After due diligence, it was determined that KAIROS' proposal did not meet government standards.

At the December 9, 2010 meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, she stated, “...the decision on my part was not to fund KAIROS...”

During this same committee meeting, when asked who had added the word “not” to the documents, she stated, “I do not know”. In the same breath she added, “I cannot say who wrote the 'not'. However, I will tell you the ultimate decision reflects the decision of the minister and the government.”

On December 9, 2010, in committee, the president of CIDA, Margaret Biggs, confirmed that CIDA had recommended that the minister approve funding for KAIROS:

...the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department's advice.

She also added that when she signed the document, the word “not” was not on it. Finally, on February 14, in the House, the Minister made this statement:

There was no decision taken by the department to provide funding. It was only a recommendation. It was my decision to disagree with the recommendation based on discussions with advisers. I was fully aware that my decision was not aligned with the recommendation of the department.

Later on, she added:

At no time have I stated that the decision for funding was that of the department. I have repeatedly and clearly stated in response to questions in the House and at committee that the funding decision was mine. The “not” was inserted at my direction.

In your decision on February 10, 2010, you referred to the following passage from Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand:

In order to establish a prima facie finding that a breach of privilege and contempt has occurred, three elements must be present: one, it must be proven that the statements were misleading; two, it must be established that the member at the time knew the statement was incorrect; and three, in the making of the statement, the minister intended to mislead the House.

On April 23, 2010, in response to a question on the order paper, the Minister of International Cooperation said that the decision not to fund KAIROS was a decision made by CIDA. On December 9, 2010, at committee, she said the opposite, that it was her decision. On December 9, 2010, at committee, she said she did not know who added the word “not” to the document on funding for KAIROS. On February 14, 2011, however, she said in the House that the word “not” was added at her direction.

As a result, the first criterion has been met. The Minister of International Cooperation made misleading statements. Did she know they were misleading when she made those statements? Of course she did. If she made the decision not to fund KAIROS, she knew that it was not the decision of her officials. If she asked someone to add the word “not” in the document, she was fully aware of that when she gave her testimony at committee on December 9, 2010, because she signed the document on November 27, 2009. As a result, the second criterion has been met. When the minister made those statements, she knew they were incorrect.

Why did the minister make these contradictory statements? It is because the decision to cut funding to KAIROS was purely ideological and she did not want to pay the political price. That takes care of the third criterion. Yes, the minister fully intended to mislead the House.

I am well aware, Mr. Speaker, that you might be tempted to rule that this is a matter of debate. However, I believe that it is a much more fundamental question. The role of Parliament is to hold the government accountable and, unfortunately, this government is not co-operating. Over the past few months, we have seen it deny the power of the House to request documents and deny the power of committees to subpoena witnesses, and now it is denying the members' right to obtain accurate information. This is a case of contempt of Parliament. Deliberately misleading the House constitutes contempt of Parliament. In fact, in the 23rd edition of Erskine May, on page 132, it states:

The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt. In 1963 the House resolved that in making a personal statement which contained words which he later admitted not to be true, a former Member had been guilty of a grave contempt.

On February 1, 2002, in your ruling on a question of privilege in which it was alleged that the Minister of National Defence had misled the House, you stated the following:

The authorities are consistent about the need for clarity in our proceedings and about the need to ensure the integrity of the information provided by the government to the House.

On March 22, 2002, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled a report concerning this same question of privilege. It said:

Incorrect statements in the House of Commons cannot be condoned. It is essential that Members have accurate and timely information, and that the integrity of the information provided by the Government to the House is ensured.

To conclude, I believe that you must find that this is a prima facie question of privilege. This is much more than a matter of debate. Parliamentarians have a fundamental right, a constitutional right, to hold the government accountable and, Mr. Speaker, you are the guarantor of that right.

International Co-operation February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader's reply illustrates just how much this government scorns the entire journalism community.

The Conservative government should take a look in the mirror and stop denigrating the work of journalists, which is extremely important in a democracy.

I will ask the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism again. Will he immediately offer an official apology here in this House?

International Co-operation February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism had the nerve to accuse Radio-Canada journalists of lying all the time. Rather, it is the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of International Cooperation who are not telling the truth in the KAIROS file, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice in the file regarding freezing Ben Ali's assets, and the Minister of Industry in the census file.

Will the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism apologize for his comments regarding Radio-Canada journalists?