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

Use of Wood in Federal Buildings December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, all the Conservative members, including those from Quebec, voted against Bill C-429 regarding the use of wood in federal buildings, thereby turning their backs on Quebec and its forestry industry. Unfortunately, although they unanimously supported our initiative in the past, the Liberals and New Democrats were split on the issue.

The Quebec Conservative members are not only unable to defend the interests of Quebec but they also do not understand the needs of Quebec or its regions.

It is disappointing to see all the Conservative members oppose Bill C-429, a green initiative that would have helped Quebec's forestry industry get back on track and helped to improve the government's poor track record with regard to energy, without the need for any new investments. However, the forestry industry and its workers can count on the Bloc Québecois, which will not give up. The electoral reckoning is not far off.

Use of Wood in Federal Buildings December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Conservative government will have another opportunity to support the forestry industry. Bill C-429, which is sponsored by my colleague from Manicouagan and which would increase the use of wood in federal buildings, will soon be voted on at third reading in this House.

Supported by municipalities, the Quebec order of architects, the Coalition BOIS Québec and forestry associations in Quebec and Canada, Bill C-429 sends a strong message to the industry by helping to highlight its transition towards processing and develop new markets.

This is also an excellent opportunity for the Conservative government to improve its record in the fight against climate change. For example, France expects to achieve 14% of its greenhouse gas reduction commitments through its wood, construction and environment plan. This government should do something good for the environment by taking the lead in promoting the use of wood.

Highway Infrastructure December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the federal government reneged on an agreement it made with the Government of Quebec by refusing to share up to 50% of the cost of widening Highway 175. This refusal to pay represents a double windfall for the federal government. Not only is the federal government paying only one-third of the bill but it will also collect taxes on the third phase of work on Highway 175.

Is the minister going to stop being so stubborn and negotiate a new agreement with the Government of Quebec to fully share the cost overruns of Highway 175?

Jean-Léon Desmeules December 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to highlight the hard work of a volunteer who has never hesitated to get involved in a good cause. I want to speak about Jean-Léon Desmeules, who agreed to help create the Fondation de l'Hôpital de La Baie in 1987. He became the founding president in 1988 and held that position until 2009.

Mr. Desmeules has spent countless hours working tirelessly to recruit volunteers, structure the foundation and organize fundraising activities to get the hospital much-needed equipment. Mr. Desmeules has made a huge impact on the La Baie and Lower Saguenay region.

In his view, this foundation represents the understanding, commitment and generosity of each administrator, donor, collaborator, volunteer, association and social club that is involved in helping to develop and improve the Centre de santé et de services sociaux Cléophas-Claveau.

National Defence December 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government can deny this all it wants, but there are five official documents and a number of emails that mention the disbanding of 439 Squadron. A document dated March 2009 even provides a date of 2012 for the disbanding.

Does the minister not think that this is a lot of evidence and that he should clear up any doubts about the disbanding of Bagotville's 439 Squadron?

National Defence December 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, after a declaration in 2009 that the plan to disband Bagotville's 439 Squadron was fiction, new documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show that there is a plan to disband it that will lead to the loss of 44 jobs.

Will the Minister of National Defence admit that the plan to disband Bagotville's 439 Squadron was not fiction and that it is part of a clear plan that will penalize Bagotville?

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

The people of Quebec and Canada are concerned about this military mission and do not support it. The Conservative government uses expressions like “training the Afghan army” to cover everything. All the experts agree that those who train soldiers must go to the front. And going to the front means that resources are lost, soldiers are lost and lives are lost.

The Prime Minister made a commitment in the 2006 election campaign, saying that Parliament should vote on it, and he made other commitments later on. Unfortunately, the Conservative government and the Prime Minister have failed to honour those commitments.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

The answer is yes. We in the Bloc Québécois listen to the people, unlike that party over there, which does not. The people of Quebec do not support the military mission in Afghanistan and want the mission to end.

Canada has invested a great deal in this mission and has suffered significant loss of life. Canada's military efforts are over. Canada must begin a civilian, humanitarian mission to really help the Afghan people.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time I have had the opportunity to speak about the war in Afghanistan and Canada's role in this military mission. Over the past few years, it has undoubtedly been one of the subjects most talked about in this House. That is understandable because Canada's mission in Afghanistan has changed over the years and the general public really does not know what is happening over there.

In speeches I gave in 2006 and 2007, I asked that the mission in Afghanistan and its duration be more clearly defined. The following is an excerpt from my April 2007 speech.

The most important thing is to redefine the mandate of our soldiers in Afghanistan. We must be able to measure the progress made. From that perspective, if we cannot quantify the progress, it becomes clear that public opinion will focus only on the loss of human life we are suffering.

Today, we are dealing with a broken promise. The mission was to end in 2011, but now we are talking about extending the mission. The motion moved today by the Bloc Québécois is a reminder that parliamentarians and the government promised to end the military mission in Afghanistan in 2011 and they must keep this promise.

On two occasions, the Conservative government assured the people of Quebec and Canada that the mission would come to an end in 2011, that the combat mission would end and that any change would be subject to a vote in the House of Commons. It is totally unacceptable that the government has made a unilateral decision to extend the mission beyond 2011. By acting thus and bypassing Parliament, the Conservative government is scoffing at democracy. Parliamentarians embody democracy in Quebec and Canada. It is vital that the government conduct a discussion before such a decision is made.

The Bagotville military base is located in my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. Having a military base in one's riding and frequently rubbing shoulders with troops means more exposure to the realities of the lives of servicemen and women. I am convinced that the majority of residents in my riding no longer support extending the mission in Afghanistan. The mission will still be a military mission, even though the Conservative government may call it an “Afghan army training mission”.

The mission in Afghanistan is not easy for anyone, not the least for the family members, children and friends of the servicemen and women. This is something that troops know and accept when they make a commitment to the Canadian Forces. If the government is intent on pursuing a military mission involving many young people in an interminable conflict, there will be a substantial cost to society both from a human capital and a societal standpoint.

In 2007 and 2008, I was a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, which focused at the time on both the materiel and equipment procurement process and the progress of the mission in Afghanistan. Military officials appeared before our committee on a monthly basis laying out Canada's achievements and reporting on the coalition forces' progress.

There was a flip side to this, a whole other perspective. A number of humanitarian organizations came and contradicted the information the military gave us about setbacks and unfavourable Afghan public opinion regarding the actions of countries involved in the war. I have to say that it was very difficult to get accurate information or photos of the work that had been done in Afghanistan. It was a question of relying on the debriefings that were provided.

In May 2008, members of the Standing Committee on National Defence had an opportunity to travel to Afghanistan and get a better sense of how the situation was progressing. During our visit of a couple of days, I had an opportunity to truly understand and see with my own eyes the situation on the ground. We met with the Afghan authorities and observed the difficult conditions in which the civilian population was living, the widespread poverty, and the continual tension in Kandahar.

The provincial council of Kandahar told us one thing that has stuck with me: do not bring your big machines and your workers who can build roads, bridges, and schools in a flash; leave them at home. Let the Afghan people and Afghan workers build this infrastructure. It will take us longer, but that is not important. The work will make it possible for Afghan fathers to feed their children and families.

After having spent several days in Afghanistan, I could better understand the daily difficulties and realities for the soldiers who are always on high alert. Every trip outside of the Canadian Forces' secure zones becomes a dangerous mission.

When I came back, I recognized that if we do not end this military mission, Canada could be there for many more years. The country ranks low on the human development index and needs to be rebuilt. Afghan authorities and the coalition countries have known for quite some time that Canada was going to pull out of military operations in 2011.

We must recall that in 2007, the fundamental objective of the international coalition and NATO was to rebuild the economy and democracy and make Afghanistan a viable state. To do that, Canada tried to leading role in the distribution of humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of the country.

I am convinced that Canadian soldiers have played an important role in Afghanistan since 2001, but it is time to move on and offer strictly civilian support to Afghan authorities. Our work is done. We have paid dearly in terms of human lives and in terms of monetary costs.

In Quebec, people are not fooled. If the majority of Quebeckers want to immediately end Canada's military mission in Afghanistan, it is because they have realized that this war has changed very little.

That is the Bloc's position. Of course we support this motion. We want this military mission to end, but we can imagine a civilian mission to help the Afghan people.

Use of Wood in Federal Buildings November 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Order of Architects publicly supports Bill C-429 to promote the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings. André Bourassa, the order's president, stated, “We have the ability to integrate.... It is time to begin this shift in Quebec....”

He also disagreed with the Conservative members for Jonquière—Alma and Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, who are spreading false information by saying that we are not ready for Bill C-429.

The Conservative government's inconsistency when it comes to the forestry industry never ceases to amaze us. While it refuses to support Bill C-429, it initiated the North American wood first initiative, which encourages greater use of wood in non-residential construction. Yet that policy does nothing to encourage the use of wood in its own federal buildings. The Conservative government is sending mixed messages. Bill C-429 is a step in the right direction, but the Conservatives are demonstrating, once again, the lack of consideration—