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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, in principle.

The issue of social and environmental responsibility for Canadian companies abroad, particularly Canadian mining companies, has long been a concern for the Bloc Québécois. Canada is a world leader in the mining industry. It has a huge presence in Africa, where most companies are Canadian or American and are incorporated in Canada or listed on Canadian stock exchanges.

For some years now, a number of Canadian mining companies have been directly or indirectly associated with forced population displacements, significant environmental damage, support to repressive regimes, serious human rights violations and sometimes even assassinations.

That is why the Bloc Québécois has always defended the need to impose social responsibility standards on companies operating abroad. But the federal government has always defended the laissez-faire principle, preferring a voluntary approach.

We have always supported the recommendations in the report of the advisory group to the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries. These recommendations were unanimously supported by civil society and the extractive industry.

While Bill C-300 is a step in the right direction, we believe it has flaws in terms of what the national roundtables advisory group recommended. For example, Bill C-300 does not provide any clear, independent and transparent mechanisms to ensure accountability or to monitor Canadian companies' compliance with accountability standards.

In Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique, a book about Canada's involvement in plundering, corruption and crime in Africa published by Les Éditions Écosociété in 2008, Delphine Abadie, Alain Deneault and William Sacher provided the following analysis of Bill C-300.

First, the bill does not take the Canadian International Development Agency's policies and activities into account.

Second, it does not take Export Development Canada's lack of transparency into account.

Third, it does not take into account instances of political interference attributed, in some cases, to Canadian diplomacy in southern countries on behalf of Canadian mining interests.

Fourth, it does not take into account the harmful role of the Toronto Stock Exchange in the appreciation of mining claims often obtained under suspicious circumstances in southern countries.

Fifth, it does not say whether and under what conditions Canadian companies can or could be prosecuted civilly or criminally in Canada for injurious actions attributed to them abroad.

Sixth, it does not provide for an independent body to receive complaints from foreign nationals, leaving it rather to the minister.

Seventh, it does not provide a process to evaluate the damages to populations outside Canada and consider implementing redress programs.

Eighth, it totally ignores the numerous cases of abuse by Canadian companies already recorded in many credible documents. I am thinking of expert reports from the United Nations, parliamentary reports, conferences held in parliamentary precincts, reports from independent organizations like Amnesty International and Global Witness, comprehensive investigative reporting, compelling documentaries and assessments by recognized experts.

Here are some representative cases cited in Noir Canada with respect to Canadian mining companies' detrimental activities in Africa. The first example is from Bulyanhulu, Tanzania. In the summer of 1996, bulldozers and the national police force were used to expropriate several hundred small-scale miners and clear the way for Canada's Sutton Mining to exploit the area.

Fifty-two people were buried alive in that operation. Sutton Mining was then bought by another Canadian company, Barrick Gold. Canada's diplomatic service was actively involved in the affair; allegations of interference are well founded. The Government of Norway, the Lawyer's Environmental Action Team, Friends of the Earth, Rights & Democracy, Mining Watch and master's student Dennis Tessier have all stated publicly that these allegations are credible and alarming.

The second example is Banro, a company that helped kindle the bloody conflict in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Congo between 1997 and 2002. Millions died in that conflict, and untold distress was inflicted on the people in the form of systematic rape, recruitment of child soldiers and destruction of villages.

The third example has to do with Diama-Manantali and Sadiola. CIDA steadfastly supported dam construction projects that profited Canadian engineering firms. These dams, which have had a catastrophic impact on the people—think of floods, loss of arable land, ecosystem destruction, disease, social tension and so on—allowed IamGold to turn a 38% profit on operating an open pit mine in Sadiola, another project with a disastrous impact on the people.

The fourth example is the Talisman corporation, which had to leave Sudan after, according to several sources, it apparently ordered the Sudanese army to violently remove any civilian presence in the vicinity of its development site. This passage from Noir Canada shows that Talisman was pressured to leave Sudan because it was listed on the New York stock exchange, not just the Toronto exchange.

Another book that has been written on this topic is Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast, published by Hyperion in 2007. On page 62 is a paragraph that reads:

The Sudanese regime, supported by Canadian, Malaysian and Chinese oil companies, was able to wipe out whole populations in south-central Sudan, leaving the way clear for the oil companies to start pumping the oil.

This information is supported by a memo from the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The book I quoted from has an introduction written by none other than Barack Obama, who was then a U.S. senator, and a preface by Elie Wiesel.

Bill C-300 is a step in the right direction. But to put an end to injustices by Canadian and foreign mining, gas and oil companies, we must make sure that they fully respect human rights and environmental rights, without exception.

This bill seeks to ensure that Canadian extractive corporations act responsibly and comply with international human rights and environmental standards.

How can anyone be opposed to that?

The Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for preparing guidelines on best practices. These standards are based on recognized documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is in this spirit that the Bloc Québécois is supporting Bill C-300, and I sincerely hope that all of the members in the House will support it. It is definitely humanistic and targets real issues concerning crooked mining companies that do not respect human rights.

Census October 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today the OECD is celebrating United Nations World Statistics Day. The event serves as a reminder that government officials need good data to make informed, evidence-based decisions.

The Conservatives' decision to scrap the mandatory long form census is sabotaging its scientific nature and distorting the truth so they can manipulate it to suit their reality. They are playing up the threat of jail time for people who do not fill out the census form. Yet all opposition parties agree that that measure should be eliminated. It is important to note that no one has ever received jail time since the census became mandatory.

Over 300 organizations and municipalities, including the City of Gatineau, oppose the Conservatives' unscientific approach that will deprive them of statistics essential to the well-being of their citizens.

This dogmatic Conservative government needs to listen to reason and reinstate the mandatory long form census once and for all.

October 19th, 2010

Madam Speaker, for the assimilating Canadian state, the concept of two official languages is nothing but a concept. There is no real commitment.

In Canada, the Prime Minister is not required to understand French; ministers are not required to understand French; Canadian ambassadors are not required to understand French; deputy ministers are not required to understand French; and even so-called bilingual jobs in the Canadian public service are held by unilingual anglophones. And yet Canadian federalism wants Quebeckers, Acadians, Franco-Canadians, who are proud of the language they speak, to identify with this country. That is Canada. That is not the country I identify with.

I am eager for Quebec to become independent, to become a sovereign state in which French will be the common public language.

October 19th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages is refuting the Conservatives' arguments regarding bilingual judges at the Supreme Court.

Commissioner Graham Fraser reminds us that when the Official Languages Act was passed 40 years ago, it was claimed that bilingualism requirements would prevent people from western Canada from getting jobs in the federal administration. Yet the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is from Alberta, the most senior federal public servant is from Saskatchewan and one of the highest ranking officers in the armed forces is from Manitoba.

Instead of setting us back by 40 years, why does the Conservative government not insist that judges appointed to the Supreme Court understand French? The Conservative Party is showing its inability to think in terms of the future of the Quebec and Canadian peoples represented in the House of Commons.

And what about the minister responsible for official languages, who is desperately trying to justify his government's inaction by saying that the bilingualism requirement for judges is dividing Canada? Is he trying to tell us that, in Canada, the fact that a judge of the highest court can hear French without understanding it is an argument for the way French should be respected?

Is he saying that a Supreme Court justice who might not understand English could grasp what is said in that language as well a judge in the same courtroom whose daily language of communication is English?

Frankly, the minister should explain himself. Is he saying that he cannot require Supreme Court justices to understand French for fear of upsetting hardliners in his party?

We know that Bill C-232, which would require judges appointed to the Supreme Court to understand English and French thoroughly, is currently rotting in the Senate because it is being blocked by the Conservatives.

This is just another example of how the upper chamber is an obstruction to democracy. The vast majority of the unelected who sit there are friends of the government, appointed as a partisan reward. Without any mandate from Quebeckers or Canadians, they are currently preventing a bill, which was adopted by the elected members of the House of Commons, from reaching third reading stage and royal assent by the Governor General.

What can we say about the Conservatives from Quebec in the House of Commons and in the Senate, who are fuelling the notion that French is a second-class language with which Supreme Court justices do not even need to be acquainted?

This makes us realize yet again that, to the Canadian assimilation state, the concept of two official languages is nothing more than a concept, and not a real commitment.

Canada Labour Code October 19th, 2010

Madam Speaker, it is with great honour that I rise today to support Bill C-386, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), better known as the infamous anti-scab legislation. I should point out that it is the term “scab” that is infamous.

The Bloc Quebecois is making a point of introducing this anti-scab bill for the 11th time in this Parliament. There must no longer be two categories of workers in Quebec, namely those who are governed by the Canada Labour Code, which allows the hiring of scabs, and those who come under the Quebec Labour Code, which does not allow it.

Before going further, I want to recognize the tremendous work done by the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who has been working since November 2000, since his first day in the House, to protect the rights of workers with diligence and integrity. Today, I am not surprised that he is a strong supporter of this bill and, in fact, its sponsor.

I also want to thank the unions of the Outaouais region, where I represent the riding of Gatineau. I am thinking in particular of Dino Lemay, of the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec, or FTQ; Michel Quijada of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, or CSN; Louise Patrice, Edith Gendron, Francine Stuart and Donald Roy, of the Comité régional d'action politique de l'Outaouais of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, or PSAC. I thank them for supporting this initiative. I also thank Hassan Yussuff, of the Canadian Labour Congress, or CLC, for his support.

These people work with workers and they are well aware of the misfortunes and calamities that surface when scabs do the job of workers who are on picket lines.

This bill seeks to end the inequity between workers who are governed by the Quebec Labour Code and those who come under the Canada Labour Code. Only Quebec and British Columbia have legislation prohibiting the hiring of scabs. In this regard, it is time for the other provinces and for Canada to get out of the dark ages.

The passage of anti-strikebreaker legislation in Quebec goes back to December 1977 under the government of René Lévesque of the sovereignist Parti Québécois. It was an impressive leap forward in respect for the rights of working people.

It happened at the end of a particularly stormy strike at the United Aircraft plant in Longueuil. By severely limiting the ability of employers to simply thumb their noses at unions, this legislation put Quebec in a leadership position in North America.

Anti-strikebreaker legislation would be good for all working people who come under the Canada Labour Code, both in Quebec and in all provinces and territories,

On the federal level, subsection 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code contains a prohibition on the use of replacement workers, but only when an employer uses them for the purpose of undermining a trade union’s representational capacity. That is weak, very weak, because all that an employer has to do in order to be entitled to hire scabs is continue to recognize the existing union and negotiate with it so that its representational capacity is not undermined. In other words, only if the employer refuses to negotiate while using replacement workers can the Canada Industrial Relations Board step in and forbid their use.

An employer just has to negotiate, or appear to negotiate, with the union in order to circumvent the prohibition and continue using strikebreakers.

This is a ridiculous provision, therefore, that provides a giant loophole for the use of scabs. A prohibition on the hiring of replacement workers during labour disputes is more necessary than ever, therefore, to reduce violence on picket lines, encourage a fair balance of forces in the negotiations between employers and employees, reduce litigation as a result of strikes and lock-outs, and mitigate the hard feelings that arise among employees when they return to work.

There is a very broad consensus among the various unions on the importance of anti-strikebreaker legislation. It is absolutely essential in the workplace of today because it provides for greater transparency in labour disputes. I should add in passing that this bill will not cost the government any money. It is about time, therefore, that the Conservatives and all my Liberal friends voted in favour of this bill, which will ensure some respect for workers when they negotiate with their bosses to make sure they are not penalized while the bosses make money using scabs who are often paid less than the people on the picket line. When this happens, very ugly situations arise within a community, especially if it is small and neighbours are taking jobs from one another. There is an imbalance, therefore, in the negotiations over a return to work.

With this in mind, the current situation under the Canada Labour Code—allowing the use of replacement workers—means that there are very negative consequences during strikes and lockouts. There are many negative effects, and they clearly illustrate the importance of bringing forward dispute-reduction measures. The premise is that labour disputes last longer when scabs are used. This, in turn, reduces the purchasing power of workers directly or indirectly involved in the dispute and results in households going into debt. In some cases, disputes can cause social problems, considerable violence, and stress-related psychological problems.

Anyone who has their heart in the right place will vote in favour of an anti-scab bill, based on a bill drafted by the Bloc Québécois and firmly supported by the NDP.

To provide a few examples of the benefits of Quebec's legislation, here are some figures showing how anti-scab legislation can have positive effects on the work climate and the bargaining climate between employers and employees.

In 1976, before anti-scab legislation was passed in Quebec, the average number of working days lost was 39.4. In 1979, after the legislation was passed, the average was 32.8 days, and in 2001 it was 27.4 days.

With good labour relations, with employers and employees on equal footing, the parties try to come up with a solution more quickly to ensure that everyone wins when they end up in a bargaining situation. Workers choose to strike as a last resort. It is not their first choice. Nonetheless, when they have to, they have to, but they have to do it fairly.

This clearly shows that dispute settlements are quicker and fairer when employers and unions negotiate under the same constraints. Unfortunately, the Canada Labour Code still allows the use of scabs in Quebec, with the result that there have been labour disputes that demonstrate how urgent it is to pass this bill. Take the case of Vidéotron for example.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague very much for that excellent question.

When the Conservatives were in opposition, they would rant and rave about tax havens. Now that they are in power, they are letting tax havens be. They even want a Canada-Panama agreement, even though Panama is known as a tax haven. There are tax havens in Switzerland, yet the government is not doing anything to ensure that Canadians and Quebeckers who put their money there pay taxes here.

Before and during his tenure as prime minister, Paul Martin, the owner of Canada Steamship Lines, put his money in tax havens and avoided paying $105 million in taxes. That is scandalous.

Today, the Conservative government, which has the support of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to abolish tax havens, is doing nothing, even though the Conservatives condemned tax havens when they were in opposition. That is scandalous. Tax havens must go, because they take money away from the government, money that should be paid by all taxpayers to help improve living conditions for the less fortunate in this country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleague, the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, has asked an excellent question.

A few years ago, AbitibiBowater handed out $60 million in bonuses to its managers when it was under Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act protection and $6.8 billion in debt. One individual alone, John Weaver—let me say his name loud and clear—received $27 million.

In the meantime, workers are losing their jobs because AbitibiBowater is under CCAA protection. They are not getting severance pay. They may not even get their pensions if they are not 55 since older workers are not being offered any adjustment measures. The Conservatives are not doing anything or introducing any legislation to address this inequality.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures. The Bloc Québécois has a lot of concerns about this bill, and about the budget it implements.

The government will continue to treat stock options like capital gains for ordinary taxpayers. The Bloc Québécois deplores the fact that only half the income derived from stock options is subject to the federal Income Tax Act. The Conservative government could show fairness to the workers and collect $1 billion in tax by cutting off this gift. In addition, businesses are not being asked to pay their fair share to increase government revenue, except that they have to make source deductions to ensure that employees with stock options pay their taxes. That is something else that is missing.

This bill also attests to the Conservative government's inertia with respect to the environment and the fight against greenhouse gases. Only one environmental measure is included; it encourages the production of clean energy. A number of things could be put forward.

The government is ignoring the Bloc Québécois' urgent calls concerning equalization payments and increased transfers for education and social programs. $830 million in post-secondary education transfers are still not going to the Government of Quebec. The fiscal imbalance has not yet been resolved. The government is also ignoring recommendations concerning income security for pensioners. Large corporations are filing for bankruptcy and abandoning their employees who are entitled to pensions.

This budget implementation bill confirms the Conservative government's intention to spare rich taxpayers at all costs and have the workers and the middle class pay off the deficit. The ideology of the Conservative Party's neo-Liberal Reform government favours those who are well off. Just think of tax havens. When they were in opposition, the Conservatives were scandalized; now they fully support tax havens.

Yes to oil; no to forestry. It is just incredible what the economies of Quebec and all provinces have had to bear because of the Conservatives' abandonment of the forestry industry. To help the rich, they are refusing to implement a 2% surtax on incomes of more than $150,000 per year. The automotive industry, concentrated in Ontario, received $9.7 billion whereas the forestry industry, vital to the regions of Quebec and all of Canada, only received $170 million. That is incredible.

For all intents and purposes the environment was ignored in the budget. However, the Conservative government put $1 billion towards developing nuclear power, which benefits Ontario, Alberta and the oil companies. The latter already have generous tax benefits. In addition, no new funding was announced for the cultural sector, which is important to Quebec's economy. The neo-Liberal Reformers have refused to acknowledge the need to bolster employment insurance and the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, the most disadvantaged. They also refused to tackle the problems of affordable social housing and homelessness. These problems were completely ignored. The fact that women are the most affected by poverty has not been mentioned, either.

The current Minister of Finance's way of doing things reminds me of one of his predecessors. I hope that my Conservative friends feel somewhat shameful about the fact that it is 2010 and I am comparing their actions to something that happened a long time ago. Not a lot has changed. I am thinking about Alexander Tilloch Galt, who was the largest land owner in Canada in 1867, who also owned the largest textile plant at the time as well as the Grand Trunk Railway Company. He was closely involved with the Bank of Montreal and was the finance minister under John Alexander Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister. Who was he partial to? The wealthy.

He was loyal, a bit like our current Minister of Finance, to one of the sayings of John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada. To paraphrase, Macdonald said that minorities needed to be protected. The rich being the minority, their protection needed to be guaranteed. And he did his utmost to protect them. Then there was the majority, which had difficulty just making ends meet.

We have a similar government here, and the tradition continues. It is shameful. This helps to explain much of the Conservatives' economic vision, the vision of the current Albertan leader. Oil yes; forestry no. Automobiles, yes; affordable and social housing, no. Tax havens, yes; the guaranteed income supplement for our least fortunate seniors, no. I could go on. It is scandalous.

And just to report how things turned out, before Confederation, Alexander Tilloch Galt realized that he could no longer do business with the Americans. As you must remember—perhaps you were there between 1861 and 1865—the Yankees and the people from Dixie were fighting the Civil War in the United States. And who did the British Empire support? It supported the South, slavery and Dixieland. England supported the South, which was secessionist, to the detriment of the Yankees, who were federalists. It was completely backwards. British subjects were not popular with the blue coats from the northern states.

Galt was in a serious bind. So what did he do? This is interesting. He drafted a document to develop the British colony along east-west trading lines because for obvious reasons he could not develop north-south trade. He wanted to join together three provinces: the united Canada—which was divided into Canada East and Canada West at the time—wealthy Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This document was called the British North America Act or BNA Act.

Galt was the father of this act. Why? To make sure it worked. In 1867, he became the first minister of finance of Canada. He had the newly minted Dominion of Canada borrow money from its bank, the Bank of Montreal, to build a railway across the country. What he did was a little like what the Conservatives are doing today. Know who your friends are; they will make you rich. Yes, yes, add to the campaign coffers. The Minister of Natural Resources could tell us something about that, seeing as how he is an expert in the field. So Galt had this big zipper, the railroad, built to pull Canada together. He even sold his own railroad, the Grand Trunk, to Canadian Pacific to further line his own pockets. Does that remind hon. members a bit of what we have been talking about this week?

For the Conservatives, it is useful to be both judge and judged. For the Conservatives, it is useful to favour the rich at the expense of the poor, and that is what we are seeing in this budget. There are things missing. There are some positive measures, but the poor are going to get poorer and the rich, richer. And that is very expensive.

Alexander Tilloch Galt was a member of the Conservative Party. And what was that party called at the time? Listen carefully. It was called the Liberal-Conservative Party. That way, people did not get confused; blue hat or red, it makes little difference, they have a good time and line their pockets. The current member for Pontiac should be happy with that title. He is being touted as the next leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec. It is not just the member for Bourassa. What is happening with the Conservatives makes no sense.

Coming back to Bill C-47, I will conclude on this note. We need to think about the workers at AbitibiBowater. Why does John Weaver get $27 million in bonuses, yet when the AbitibiBowater mill in Gatineau closes, the workers will not get $16 million in severance pay? That is what the Conservatives are doing, and their budget does nothing about this scandal.

They need to be put in their place, and that place is out of Parliament.

Federal Sustainable Development Act October 1st, 2010

I apologize, Madam Speaker. I realized that people were very interested in my speech and that some people were listening more attentively than I thought.

Coming back to the Senate, as everyone knows, we want the whole issue of sustainable development to also be brought before the Senate by the commissioner of sustainable development.

Sitting in the Senate are sometimes people like Mr. Berntson, who was deputy premier of Saskatchewan. He was also part of Grant Devine's cabinet. He was forced to resign and face the music. He was tried in a Saskatchewan court for his fraudulent spending and wound up in prison. From the Senate to prison. We certainly cannot say he went from one five-star hotel to another, but nevertheless, this gives an idea of the kind of people who sometimes make it to the Senate. Let the commissioner go and give her presentation to such people who are sitting in the Senate. Perhaps it will be worthwhile for the few people there who have a conscience, but for the pals of the government, that will not be the case.

We are in favour of abolishing of the Senate. We support the bill in question.

Federal Sustainable Development Act October 1st, 2010

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill S-210, which would allow the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to present reports not only to the House of Commons, but to the highly useless upper chamber as well.

Our position is simple. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's work is essential, particularly given that the Conservative government's record on the environment and sustainable development is far from spotless. Although the Auditor General Act currently provides for reporting only to the House of Commons, thereby excluding senators from this kind of process, we recognize that given the existing structure, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development could present reports to the Senate as well. The Bloc Québécois does not recognize the Senate as a democratically legitimate institution—made up of friends of those in power, the Senate is anything but democratic—but until we achieve sovereignty, we have to work within this structure.

In his latest report, the commissioner stated that the government's progress—if one could call it that— toward providing guidance on greening government operations was unsatisfactory. We all agree that the Conservative government has thoroughly embarrassed itself on the international stage when it comes to the environment. Its targets are wishy-washy, repetitive, voluntary and open to interpretation.

Despite the fact that we are facing an international situation that will affect the entire planet, including Quebec and Canada, the Conservatives are taking the environment lightly and oppose any demonstration of environmental conscience. They are letting the oil industry ransack oil sands in Dene territory. These vile pursuits are ruining the environment and causing the whole planet to suffer. They are sucking oil out of the sands, polluting everything and destroying lakes by using them as waste-water dumping grounds.

I see my Conservative colleague nodding his head over there because I have obviously hit a nerve.

In short, the Conservative government's strategies cannot be effective because they are not results-focused. I can see that my colleagues agree.

We must develop a comprehensive, integrated plan. The environment is not something to be thrown in as a footnote to a report, just so the government can have a clean conscience, win votes from those who are environmentally conscious, and not cause too much trouble for the polluters. Polluters in this country are even being rewarded.

Although the government claims to be committed to being a leader in the area of the environment and sustainable development, it clearly lacks leadership in greening its own operations. When the time comes tackle all the things that can damage our planet's environment, the Conservatives' strategy is the equivalent of playing a hockey game without a goalie and with one less player on the ice. With the current provision, the commissioner only gives or lays his speech before the House of Commons.

It would not be such a terrible thing if our colleagues in the Senate, the pals of the government, Liberal or Conservative—it varies, depending on who is or has been in power—could do something else, other than play partisan politics. We know that basically, 11 out of 10 senators are appointed simply to be used politically in upcoming federal elections.

Members will recall the situation in Saskatchewan under the Conservative government. I know there are Conservatives on the other side of the House, although there are some who are not listening to the interpretation. What can I say. They do not want to learn; that is their problem, and a big one at that. About 15 ministers in the government of Grant Devine, a Conservative, ended up in prison or received heavy fines. We remember. Why did this happen? Because they cheated in their administration of public funds.

I lived in Saskatchewan, and I remember this Conservative minister who bought horse saddles on his expense account. It all came to a head, and on the day they wanted to fire their director general, he leaked the expense accounts of Saskatchewan Conservatives to get back at his corrupt party. I hope they are listening closely; they are tainted too. The judge asked why he had bought the saddles and charged them to his communications budget. He said that there was a big parade in his town once a year and he wanted his horses to have nice saddles, not small, $200 saddles, but $5,000 saddles. He added that he wanted the public to see that he had beautiful saddles for his horses. Can you imagine? He did not buy computers with his communications budget. He felt his purchase was a valid communications expenditure. He wound up in prison.

The other example I have is of the Saskatchewan Conservatives doing the same thing with computers. The computers were replaced every three months. They had new computers in their ridings almost every three months. Eventually, someone realized that these computers were ending up at an aunt's, a cousin's, a volunteer's or someone else's house. That is how the computers were replaced.

And that brings me to the Senate. Saskatchewan's deputy premier, Mr. Berntson, was appointed—