- His favourite word was quebec.
Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Gatineau (Québec)
Lost his last election, in 2011, with 15% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Official Languages March 22nd, 2011
Mr. Speaker, Impératif français, which is a group from the Outaouais region dedicated to the promotion of the French language, was told in a letter written in English only that it would not get a subsidy from Canadian Heritage. Incidentally, I should point out that the letter was sent by the Montreal regional office.
Does the Minister of Canadian Heritage find it normal that his Montreal office is unable to write a letter in French to a francophone organization from the Outaouais? Could it be that, at Canadian Heritage, Quebec would also have been designated as a unilingual English zone, without being aware of it?
Official Languages March 11th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, Service Canada's chief operating officer has said that the four Atlantic provinces will now be grouped into a single, unilingual English, administrative region. Yet, there are nearly half a million francophones in Atlantic Canada. Once again, the Conservative government is making a mockery of the Official Languages Act.
Will the government review this offensive directive and ensure that Service Canada offers services in French to the Acadians and francophones of the Atlantic provinces?
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary may better understand this point of Bill C-232, which would require Supreme Court justices to be bilingual. Graham Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages, had this to say:
Every Canadian's right to use English or French in Canadian courts is one of the basic language rights set out in our constitutional framework.
Perhaps he should re-examine the reality of what he is attacking by not accepting the principle that Supreme Court justices must be bilingual.
Thus, the Reform Conservative government must stop blocking passage of Bill C-232 by the Senate out of concern for democracy.
Mr. Speaker, the Reform Conservatives now have control of the Senate. They are further sabotaging democracy by, among other things, obstructing the passing of Bill C-232, which simply asks that Supreme Court justices be bilingual.
The Bloc Québécois supports the principle of Bill C-232, which provides that Supreme Court judges should be bilingual and capable of hearing cases without the assistance of an interpreter. We are asking for this out of respect for Quebeckers, as well as all Acadians and all francophone Canadians. We are also doing so because the Official Languages Act provides that English and French have equality of status and use, and because the French and English versions of federal acts have equal value and one is not considered a translation of the other.
The right of any citizen to use French or English before Canada's courts is a fundamental linguistic right. The Official Languages Act already recognizes the importance of being understood without the assistance of an interpreter before federal tribunals such as the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal.
It is also because of the problems that come with simultaneous interpretation, which does not allow enough reaction time to interrupt and ask questions, for the judge, the lawyers or even the litigants, who have the right to grasp all the nuances and subtleties of each respective language.
With regard to the principle behind bilingual Supreme Court justices, it is important to note that on May 21, 2008, the members of the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed the following motion:
That the National Assembly of Québec affirm that French language proficiency is a prerequisite and essential condition for the appointment of Supreme Court of Canada judges.
The Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, said: “Knowledge of French is important, very important. It is not a choice. And the message we are sending today to the federal government is that it is not optional”.
To know a language is to know a culture, a reality. And those who are called on to interpret that reality and make decisions that will have a very important impact on our lives have to know that reality through our language.
That is what Premier Jean Charest of Quebec said.
The Premier of Quebec is also of the opinion that “open federalism must ensure that judges appointed to the Supreme Court by Ottawa know Canada's two official languages”.
The Standing Committee on Official Languages also looked at the issue of comprehension of the two official languages by Supreme Court judges. In its fourth report, tabled in May 2008, it “recommends that the government ensure that the judges that they appoint to the Supreme Court are bilingual”.
Quebec's Anglophone Minority March 10th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, according to a Senate report, the federal government is not fulfilling its responsibility to protect the rights of Quebec's anglophone minority who claim that there are disparities in access to service and in its participation in collective decision making.
Nevertheless, Quebec is internationally known for the guarantees and protection it offers to this community. In fact, passing Bill 101 in Quebec made it possible to confirm that the common public language is French and thus ensure that the rights of the anglophone minority will always be respected and protected. Anglophones are an integral part of the Quebec nation. According to the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe, “[t]he anglophone minority in Quebec [is] an excellent example of protection of rights of a linguistic minority.”
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same thing about the guarantees made to Acadians and Franco-Canadians. Senators are clearly out of touch with reality.
Mr. Speaker, Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides extremely important services. Let us think about applications for immigration, refugee resettlement, temporary resident visas and temporary work and study permits. This department helps clients complete their applications and ensures that immigration applications are processed in accordance with the law.
These duties must be carried out while respecting both official languages. All federal departments, agencies and crown corporations must provide quality service in both French and English and not in one language to the detriment of the other.
Mr. Speaker, having received complaints from my constituents about the lack of services provided in French by the Department of Foreign Affairs and/or Citizenship and Immigration Canada, I thought it best to ask that the Standing Committee on Official Languages receive representatives from both these departments.
The question I asked in the House of Commons on November 10, 2010, was about receiving government representatives with regard to official languages. My question was worthwhile, because in the days following, the Standing Committee on Official Languages received testimony from the departments in question.
The Canadian missions that seemed to be causing my constituents problems with regard to services in French were those in Nairobi, Kenya, Islamabad, Pakistan, Bogota, Colombia, London, England and Kampala, Uganda. There was also the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, Alberta.
Requesting services in French in a Canadian mission abroad is a fundamental right to which every Quebecker and every Canadian is entitled.
Under the responsibility of its federal institution, the Canadian mission abroad is required to comply with the Official Languages Act. In this case I am referring to part IV: communications with the public and delivery of services.
Angela Bogdan, inspector general at Foreign Affairs, is responsible for the quality of services in both official languages. She indicated that there are still non-imperative positions because of the lack of competent bilingual staff within mission teams. Non-imperative means not required to be bilingual. That is very troubling. It means that services in French will suffer.
Monica Janecek, director of corporate resourcing at Foreign Affairs, assured us that a mission employee who does not obtain the second language proficiency levels of “C” for comprehension, “B” for writing and “C” for oral expression within two to four years will be transferred to a post not requiring the CBC levels. Why are we not hiring bilingual people in the first place? This question always comes up.
We are well aware of the fact that, in the 260 or so Canadian missions abroad, local people are hired. Depending on their duties, these people are not necessarily required to know both of Canada's official languages. I am thinking of a gardener, for example. Nevertheless, positions designated bilingual should be just that.
Canadian missions overseas—which include embassies, high commissions and consulates—provide a range of services. I am thinking primarily of diplomatic services, but there are others, because the missions also provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada services. I will come back to that.
Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner March 4th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the former commissioner did not resign. She was fired and promised a golden parachute. This royal treatment is rather uncommon, especially since public servants will no longer be entitled to severance pay.
How do the Conservatives explain the special treatment given to Ms. Ouimet, when they quite simply should have fired her, with no severance, because of her incompetence and tyranny?
Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner March 4th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, we have learned that Christiane Ouimet, the former public sector integrity commissioner, received $400,000 in severance pay after she was forced to resign. In a damning report, the Auditor General pointed out the many shortcomings in Ms. Ouimet's performance. It is outrageous to compensate an individual who has done a poor job and persecuted her employees.
Will the Conservatives make public the contract and the agreement reached with Ms. Ouimet, or are we to understand that she was given preferential treatment?
National Capital Commission March 2nd, 2011
Mr. Speaker, even though the Conservatives promised to be transparent, we have learned that they are quietly trying to amend the rules concerning government contracts to allow the National Capital Commission to award contracts without a tendering process. Each year, tens of millions of dollars' worth of contracts could be awarded without a tendering process, at the whim of NCC executives and the minister responsible.
Does the government plan to make the NCC a Conservative slush fund so that the party can reward friends of the regime here in the Ottawa Valley?