House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was region.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, first, I want to congratulate the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for his speech. I noted several things: the attack on the Quebec nation, the lack of respect for the Quebec nation and the fact that this bill is not a recognition of the Quebec nation.

Can the member briefly explain the consequences that putting this bill into effect would have? Could he also tell us what changes that would bring about in terms of the representation of Quebec? What would be the penalties, the disadvantages, for the Quebec nation?

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I want to commend the hon. member for Québec. Her very interesting speech presents a number of arguments against this bill, which does not respect democracy. If this bill were applied, Quebec's political representation would be less than its demographic weight. What is more, this bill rejects the recognition of Quebec as a nation.

Does the hon. member find that this bill is a departure from the historical consensus? In the past there has been a modicum of recognition. It seems to me a certain Canadian consensus has already been mentioned, regarding political representation of roughly 25% of the MPs here in the House of Commons.

Forestry Industry March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec boasted about having injected new funds into the assistance program for silvicultural work. But he forgot to clarify that the work needs to be done by March 31, 2011 in order to benefit from the funding.

Instead of uselessly tooting his own horn, will the minister grant the industry's request and extend the program for silvicultural work?

Income Tax Act March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-288, which was introduced by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle and introduces a tax credit for new graduates working in regions facing economic challenges, has been before the Senate for almost nine months. However, the bill is being completely blocked and its study is constantly being postponed because of pressure from the Conservative government, which opposes Bill C-288.

Students from the FEUQ and the FECQ are on the Hill today to condemn this situation. At a press scrum over the noon hour, they condemned the attitude of the Prime Minister, who is playing party politics and going against the democratic will of the members of this House who want the Senate to examine Bill C-288.

The Prime Minister is trying to dictate each and every issue that the Senate examines, and this only emphasizes its partisanship, even though he himself promised to put an end to it. Is there a single Conservative member from Quebec who will have the courage to stand up and condemn this situation?

Forestry Industry March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the automotive industry in Ontario received $10 billion and Quebec forestry workers received a few crumbs. We need a real stimulus plan for the forestry industry. It would include better access to cash, industrial research support, investments in alternative fuels and better support for communities and workers.

Why do the ministers from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean refuse to fight along with us to ensure that these measures are included in the upcoming budget?

Forestry Industry March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives refuse to admit that the victims of the forestry crisis are still piling up. After the closures of the sawmills in Saint-Fulgence and Petit-Saguenay, Scierie Gauthier is now under the protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. Without a real assistance plan, other paper mills and sawmills will have to shut down.

Why does the government still refuse to create an assistance plan for the forestry industry, which would help save many jobs?

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario Act February 16th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on this bill, especially since this is my maiden speech in the House of Commons as Bloc Québécois critic for regional development.

From the outset, I should say that we are in favour of Bill C-309, An Act establishing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario. This new federal body’s mission will be to promote and develop Northern Ontario, just like the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec does in Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois stands up for Quebec’s interests. It is in this spirit that we previously voted against Bill C-9, an Act to create the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois, just like Quebec governments for the past 45 years or more, believe that to formulate an integrated regional development policy, Quebec must be master of its own regional development programs.

The regions are the ones with the solutions. There are organizations in Quebec dedicated to regional socio-economic development. They are capable of effectively advising the minister regarding regional needs and of overseeing program implementation. One need only think of the Centres locaux de développement, the CLDs, and the Conférences régionales des élus, the CREs. It is for these reasons that the Bloc Québécois has consistently been in favour of decentralization in this area.

We know that not all governments share the same priorities, and despite instances of flagrant encroachment in the past, should the government of Ontario decide to favour this kind of organizational structure for its regional economies, the Bloc Québécois would be very hard pressed to oppose it.

In 2009, the government created the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. There is still no equivalent agency for Northern Ontario. Northern Ontario does have FedNor, an equivalent program that essentially shares the same objectives as an agency. The main difference however is that FedNor is the responsibility of the Minister of Industry, who can amend its budget as he sees fit. Agencies, on the other hand, are independent and have ministers of state, as is the case with the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

In actual fact, the reason for creating the economic development agency of Canada for the region of northern Ontario is to transform the FedNor program into an agency that would then be more independent of the government’s budgetary decisions, as currently exists in Quebec and in other regions served by agencies.

The Federal Economic Development Initiative in Northern Ontario or FedNor has existed since 1987. Its purpose is to encourage economic growth and diversification and the generation of jobs and incomes in northern Ontario by providing support for private sector projects.

Even though the Bloc Québécois is in favour of the bill, a regional development strategy necessarily includes such diverse things as natural resources, education and training, municipal affairs, infrastructure and settlement of the land, which all fall under provincial jurisdiction. In fact, the Constitution makes the provinces responsible for most of the issues involved in regional development.

From 1973 to 1994, there was a framework agreement between Quebec City and Ottawa. Both governments had to agree, or else Ottawa could not do anything. Most federal government funding passed through Quebec agencies. But since 1994, the federal government has been acting unilaterally.

No more co-operation with the Government of Quebec. No more respect for its priorities and the priorities of the regions. This is very unfortunate and even unacceptable.

Following the passage of Bill C-9 in 2005, the federal government appointed a minister responsible for the regions of Quebec. The result has been more quarrels between Quebec City and Ottawa, more duplication, more confusion, a federal government obsession with raising its profile in the regions, and most of all, less respect for the priorities of Quebec and its regions.

Ottawa should stop interfering in Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction and instead start working together with Quebec on determining all federal economic priorities that have an impact on Quebec, while taking into account the economic development priorities of the regions.

Having seen how obviously ineffective the Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec actually is, we wonder what use such an institution would be for northern Ontario. The Bloc Québécois would like to warn the Ontario government of the possible harmful consequences of the federal government's integrated, centralized approach.

Take a concrete example. In April 2007, the then Minister of Labour and of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec announced a measure that was heavy with consequences for local groups, such as not-for-profit organizations, working in the area of economic development. He eliminated their grants. Here is an excerpt from the Jonquière newspaper, Le Quotidien, of April 28, 2007:

The Economic Development Agency of Canada will no longer provide operating funding for non-profit organizations that work in economic development and will no longer fund pure research.

However, these non-profit organizations play an important role for small and medium-size businesses. They support innovation and the development of international markets. They have become an essential link in the local economic fabric in many regions in Quebec.

As a result of increased pressure by many economic stakeholders in Quebec, the federal government reversed its decision to some degree by creating a new policy concerning non-profit organizations and partially restoring some funding for those organizations. In fact, nearly a quarter of the non-profit organizations that had received funding in 2007 could reapply.

The Bloc Québécois fiercely opposed cuts to the non-profit organizations that had been subsidized in part by the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and were active in the economic sector. This absurd situation calls into question the economic development model that Quebec has been requesting for several decades. Since it is an inappropriate measure that is extremely prejudicial to the economic fabric of the regions of Quebec, it could result in the loss of some jobs in local communities.

I would like to close by saying that the Bloc Québécois does not oppose the will of the Government of Ontario and that we support Bill C-309.

National Defence February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence chose to establish its new Joint Meteorological Centre in Gagetown. This is the second significant investment for which Bagotville has been overlooked in the past 14 months. These two missed opportunities are even more painful because the Conservatives have still not kept their promise to station 650 new members of the expeditionary squadron in Bagotville.

Can the two Conservative ministers from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean explain why they are unable to stick up for their region?

Employment February 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, another industry in Quebec, the aerospace industry, is being threatened by Conservative policies. Even though Quebec represents 55% of the industry, it received only 40% of the spinoffs from the latest military contracts. All the other regions are receiving more than their share.

Will the government get its head out of the sand and guarantee Quebec its fair share of the spinoffs of these contracts?

Employment February 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the Conservatives' claims, we are still short 30,000 jobs to get back to the level we were at before the crisis. For example, the Quebec forestry industry, which has lost 18,000 jobs since 2005, is struggling to get out of this difficult situation.

Will the government understand that the crisis is far from over in the forestry industry and that it needs a comprehensive policy to support and modernize the industry, as was the case with the auto industry in Ontario?