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

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his presentation. I would also like to remind the House that we in the Bloc Québécois are demanding an enlightened debate to provide answers to questions that have gone unanswered. We have a motion before the Standing Committee on National Defence where experts and National Defence employees will testify.

At present, we are being treated to an unacceptable manoeuvre seeking to hasten a decision. We are having a six-hour debate. A matter of this importance requires true sharing of information.

My question is as follows: Will the member agree that what the Prime Minister and the government are asking—to extend the military mission in Afghanistan by two years—is tantamount to writing a blank cheque or turning a blind eye to the information to which Parliamentarians and Canadians are entitled?

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Minister of National Defence about some statements he made on November 15, 2005, when he was national defence critic.

When a government decides to intervene in a failing state there are a number of considerations that must be taken before committing troops. It must be satisfied that the mission supports the goals and objectives of Canada's foreign policy. I do not have great confidence that the government had satisfactory answers to these considerations before committing our troops to increased involvement in Afghanistan.

This is just part of what he said. There is much more, but I will only quote a few excerpts.

The Bloc's position on the mission is this: before making a decision about such an important matter as extending Canada's presence in Afghanistan by two years, the government must inform parliamentarians and the public.

As defence critic, he asked a number of questions consistent with the motion that we submitted to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the Standing Committee on National Defence. We wanted a more in-depth review of our mission and presence in Afghanistan. As such, how can the minister say that today, everything seems clear to him and he is ready to make a commitment on behalf of himself and his government for two more years without providing more information to parliamentarians and the public?

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the Bloc Québécois tabled a motion to the National Defence Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure, a motion the NDP and hon. members from the Liberal Party concurred in. This motion called for the subcommittee to study the various aspects of the mission of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, such as the duration of the mission, the state of the troops and, finally, a great deal of information that we do not have. We deplore this lack of information.

We now have before us a motion that was tabled by the Prime Minister asking the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan to be extended for another two years.

My question is for the hon. member for Bourassa: how does he explain that the Prime Minister and the Conservative government are in such a rush to ask the House to vote on extending this mission for another two years?

Regional Development May 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals and Conservatives are behaving the same way. Before the election, they create expectations and when it comes time to honour their commitments, they vanish.

Can the minister acknowledge that he was unable to get new money in the budget and that is the reason why he is unable to keep his promise?

Regional Development May 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives were elected in Jonquière—Alma by playing up the advantages to the region of having a cabinet minister represent it. During the last election campaign, the current Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec promised that once elected he would implement an ambitious economic recovery plan, which he pompously described as a “Marshall plan”.

The minister started to back off this week by admitting that he did not have the means to fulfill his ambitions. How can the minister explain such a change of heart four months after the last election?

Alcan May 10th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on April 27, 2006, I attended Alcan's annual general meeting, during which I spoke with the president, Mr. Richard Evans, who appeared very optimistic about the future of the Jonquière industrial complex.

Yet, Alcan announced yesterday that it is closing the chemical and alumina plant, as well as laboratory 109, which together employed 85 employees. This change of attitude on the part of the aluminum giant surprises me.

I would remind the House that Alcan employees wish to cooperate with the company to find solutions. Furthermore, a regional survey indicates that the public is asking Alcan to create jobs in exchange for additional energy.

Alcan uses our energy resources extensively and has a social contract with the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region. This is why it must take concrete and positive measures to reaffirm its commitment to our citizens. The economic future of our region is at stake, as is respect for the people who work and live there.

The Budget May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were on this side of the House, they, along with the Bloc Québécois, advocated a new POWA, an income support program for older workers.

In fact, surpluses from the employment insurance fund would provide the budget to create such a program. This program existed until 1997, until the Liberals cancelled it. Since the Conservatives supported the program when they were in opposition, I do not see why they would not subscribe to such a program now that they are in power.

Studies being conducted means that no action is being taken. Feasibility studies give nothing to workers, nothing at all. What we need is action. We need a real program for workers.

A factory closed in my riding and 640 people lost their jobs. Those workers could have benefited from a program such as a new POWA.

The Budget May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I explained why we support the Conservative budget. Clearly, it includes a measure to correct the problem of the fiscal imbalance, and the Conservative government has made a commitment to do this. That is why we support this budget.

Let us remember that the Liberals, who sat opposite us before this minority government, never recognized the fiscal imbalance. They were not even able to say the words “fiscal imbalance”. To them, it did not exist, not even in their minds. It was impossible. It was something the Bloc Québécois had imagined and introduced here in this House.

For the first time, we have a government that recognizes the fiscal imbalance. At the very least, it wants to try to correct this imbalance.

I can assure the people that we will closely monitor and watch this government. For us, the true test will be the next budget. Then we will see what changes have been made and what actions have been taken in the course of this fiscal year. When the next budget is tabled, we will really be able to see what this government is made of.

In my speech, I also referred to several irritants, including the securities commission the government wants to introduce. I mentioned that when it was in opposition, this government argued in favour of respecting the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec. Now, it wants to impose something different. It wants to interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions by setting up a Canadian securities commission.

The Budget May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to congratulate the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant on the speech she just gave about the Bloc's position on the budget.

I would like to emphasize something to my Conservative colleagues. For the past several days, we've been hearing a number of them rejoice in the Bloc Québécois' support for the budget. However, I want to make it clear that it was the Bloc Québécois that brought the issue of the fiscal imbalance to Ottawa, here, to the House of Commons. Moreover, without the Bloc Québécois, it is unlikely that any deadline would have been set for resolving the fiscal imbalance.

The Bloc Québécois has always been honest with the citizens of Quebec. The fiscal imbalance was one of our key issues before and during the election campaign. Now that we have a specific commitment and a deadline, the Bloc Québécois can see for the first time that finally, a government in power in Ottawa, in the House of Commons, recognizes the fiscal imbalance.

The government's firm commitment to address the issue and eliminate the fiscal imbalance is a major step forward for Quebec. That is why the Bloc Québécois will support this budget when it is put to a vote in the House of Commons.

This is a transitional budget, which deserves our support and over which this minority government should not be brought down. The government will have its real test when its next budget is tabled, which is to say the budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Even though there are many irritants in this budget, the main consideration is the government’s openness and commitment to settling the question of the fiscal imbalance, which has been penalizing Quebeckers for too long.

The Bloc Québécois sees that, in addition to the fiscal imbalance, the budget reflects a number of the demands or measures advocated and discussed by the Bloc Québécois here in the House of Commons. We can point to the assistance for post-secondary education, affordable housing and farmers. As well, we are pleased with the review of the Canadian farm income stabilization program, the additional funding for infrastructure and public transit, tax-free student awards, the tax improvements for micro-breweries, the tax credits for public transit users—something that the Bloc Québécois has requested on several occasions here in the House—the elimination of the excise tax on jewellery, and the tax credits for tools.

On the other hand, there are a number of annoying features in the budget that we should look at. There is employment insurance, which was completely ignored by the Conservative government. This budget provides absolutely nothing to help the people wrestling with the consequences of the cuts to employment insurance, which were made over the course of 12 years by the Liberal government that preceded this minority government. Nor does it address the seasonal workers who are only too familiar with the gap between the end of their benefits and the beginning of their next season of work. This problem has not been fixed, and the budget is silent about it.

In my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, many workers are penalized by the current employment insurance system. Despite the huge accumulated surpluses, this government has done nothing. It is continuing down the same path as the Liberal Party, which is to say it is further increasing these accumulated surpluses, these astronomical amounts paid by the unemployed.

I come from a riding, Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, that is located in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region. Some parts of this budget leave a very bitter taste in my mouth, especially the Conservative government’s lack of a firm commitment to a program to help workers, a new POWA, which is to say a program to sustain the incomes of older workers when they lose their jobs in massive lay-offs.

If this government had taken immediate action instead of conducting a feasibility study, workers in my riding laid off following the Port-Alfred plant closing in La Baie could have benefited from a worker's assistance program. The Abitibi Consolidated plant closed and workers with several years of service under their belts were suddenly unemployed.

There are currently some retraining and reintegration programs, but they do not really work and there are problems. These programs do not apply to the majority of the workers. Most of the workers over 55 are not eligible for the retraining programs or the work force reintegration measures. I will explain why.

In a region, a village or a small town where there is very little economic diversity, workers cannot be hired by more than one employer since there are not enough businesses. Furthermore, some employers do not hire these workers because they have only five or six years left before they retire. Instead, these employers invest in younger employees who will stay for many years.

There are other irritants I want to talk about. Take for example the $1,200 per child allowance. We had submitted a much fairer proposal, but the Conservative government did not use it. The assistance being given to parents is still taxable and that is unfair to families in need. If this government had a bit of humility, this problem could have been resolved quite easily and we could have truly helped families in need.

The Conservative government has nothing in its budget for implementing the Kyoto protocol, which is essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The same goes for arts and culture. The amount allocated is an additional $50 million for two years. I had the opportunity to do a pre-budget tour from Vancouver to Montreal, excluding Toronto, where I encountered arts and culture movements that were calling for more money. The Conservative government did not answer these calls in its budget.

I will talk about one last point regarding the Canadian securities commission.

Before and during the election, the Conservative government spoke of respect for jurisdictions. It said it would respect the areas of jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. Now that it is in office and it is time to act, what does it propose? It proposes to meddle in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces.

In my books that amounts to saying one thing and doing the opposite. It is inconsistent and unacceptable.

In conclusion, I will summarize briefly by saying that a number of aspects of the Conservative budget leave me perplexed; the $1,200 taxable allowance; the dropping of the Kyoto protocol in favour of a Canadian program yet to come; the fact that there is no mention of the humungous surpluses amassed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; the fact that there was nothing on employment insurance; the establishment of a feasibility study on an income support program for older workers.

However, we will have to wait and see. The Conservative government has promised to resolve the fiscal imbalance by next spring, and that is significant progress. On this point, we can give it a good grade for bringing solutions to the fiscal imbalance.

The Conservatives must know that, had it not been for their official and definite commitment to resolve the fiscal imbalance within a specific time frame, we would have rejected the budget.

In terms of action, a first ministers' conference will be organized to discuss the problem of the fiscal imbalance.

We therefore support this budget, even though it contains a number of irritants. I hope the differences will be debated here in the House or in committee so the Bloc positions may be made known and so the people in my riding, my region and in Quebec can see that the Bloc Québécois truly defends the interests of Quebeckers.

I would just like to say a few words to Quebeckers to let them know they can count on the Bloc to look after their interests.

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like first to congratulate my colleague from Verchères—Les Patriotes for his very interesting speech. He clearly emphasized that Quebec wants its areas of jurisdiction to be respected.

I also heard the comments from representatives of the Conservative federal government about the Public Health Agency of Canada. I remember some of them, particularly that this is a federal central organization that collects and analyzes data for all of Canada. However, as the member for Verchères—Les Patriotes said so brilliantly, health is a responsibility that comes under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.

I would like to ask a short question to my colleague. Could he explain to us very briefly the contradiction that exists between what the Conservative government is saying about this open federalism with its respect for provincial areas of jurisdiction, and Bill C-5 on the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada?