House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was workers.

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

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act May 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate my colleague from Jonquière—Alma on his speech regarding Bill C-9. He talked about the regional investment fund in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region. This regional fund is supported financially by the community, by businesses and by the Quebec government. The region approached the federal government to seek its support, but the answer was no.

My question is this. Does the member believe that it would be important for the federal government to support this regional investment fund and can he tell us what this fund means for the development of a region such as the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region?

Canada Revenue Agency May 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Revenue Agency is currently restructuring its services in all of its tax offices and tax centres across Canada. In Quebec, a number of people located in the regions, like Rouyn-Noranda, Sherbrooke, Rimouski and Chicoutimi will be cut off from an essential front line service.

Can the Minister of National Revenue understand that taxpayers in the regions of Quebec are entitled to the same services as taxpayers in the major centres?

Bagotville Military Base May 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the chief of the air staff, Lieutenant-General Pennie, received an important document on the future of the Bagotville military base, which the Minister of National Defence will receive a little later today.

This document makes important recommendations which, if implemented, will “For a promising Future”, not only maintain personnel but also assure a promising future for the Bagotville base.

I want to congratulate and thank all the members of the retired armed forces personnel committee who helped write this report: Christian Couture, Daniel-René Verreault, Pierre Bettez, René Marion et Michel Aubin.

I congratulate these individuals who have the development of my region at heart. I hope that military and political leaders will recognize the importance of their report and respond in a positive manner.

Homelessness in Quebec April 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the City of Saguenay forum on homelessness provided an alarming picture of the extent of that phenomenon in Quebec and in my region.

In my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, and in many other places in the Saguenay, there are twenty or so agencies in need of $5.5 million that have only $1.8 million.

The issue here is of people being unable to meet their basic needs, unable to put food on the table or find suitable housing. I need not say more. The government has to make a commitment. Period.

The Bloc Québécois urges the federal government to make a promise right now to renew the SCPI program in order to help the least fortunate in our society.

Gasoline Prices April 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in this House on a topic that affects many people. The skyrocketing price of gasoline in the past few years, and even in the past few weeks, affects our fellow citizens in particular.

It is interesting to see that the price of fuel can vary considerably by several cents in a single region. I think it is important for the government do something about this problem as soon as possible.

First I will give you an outline of the current situation before discussing possible solutions. The current situation already has a direct impact on the price of transporting building materials, on prices in the food industry, and on the price of home heating. In short, no one is spared. It goes without saying that the only positive consequence of the increased price of gasoline is that, in some cases, people are driving their cars less or using other modes of transportation that do not use fuel. However, the increase in the price of fuel has an impact on the transportation industry and is putting small businesses on the verge of bankruptcy.

Coming from a resource region, I see the direct effect on the trucking industry in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean where truckers have to cover large distances to deliver their products. When forced to raise their prices, the truckers become less competitive in comparison with other carriers in large centres.

Finally, the price of gas has such serious consequences that people are getting together to find solutions. In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean for example, there has been a consumers defence coalition for more than five years concerning the increased price of gasoline. This coalition brings together about 14 very active members in the area who decry the situation. At the present time, the price of gas varies from moment to moment. Take Ottawa and Montreal for example: the difference runs between 81.9¢ and 99.4¢ a litre.

So what are the reasons for these differences in price? We will answer this question in a moment. But we see the oil companies making staggering, outlandish profits. Compare, for example, Petro Canada's first quarter in 2002 and in 2003. There was an incredible $88 million leap to $584 million. Insofar as Esso is concerned, the company let it be known that the first quarter of 2003 was the best in its history. The explanation for the variation in gasoline prices can be found within the oil industry.

Two things are mainly responsible for the increase in oil profits. First, the oil industry is not faced with any competition. The three largest refiners have 75% of the market. It is therefore easy for the companies to dictate the price to consumers or to fix the market price. In addition, according to the Association québécoise des indépendants du pétrole, the oil companies increased their base profit on refining from 3¢ to 7.2¢ a litre between 1998 and 2003, which explains the outstanding sales figures of the two companies, namely Petro Canada and Esso. What is the government waiting for?

The report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology submitted in November 2003, proposed two solutions, which the Bloc Québécois strongly supports.

First, a petroleum monitoring agency must be set up. The oil companies are not non profit businesses.

However, the motion before the House calls on the government to oversee the petroleum sector. The federal government has never done anything to help consumers and has a fine opportunity here to set up a system to monitor the petroleum industry.

In November 2003, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology strongly recommended the creation of this agency to monitor the sector. In addition, the creation of such an agency would enable us, the government and legislators, to keep a close eye on the industry.

The committee also recommended strengthening the existing legislation. The Competition Bureau, for example, must have greater freedom to act.

The Liberal government, citing all sorts of reasons over the past two years, chose not to establish measures that would have minimized the impact of rising gasoline prices for many. So, today, we face the same situation as two years ago.

I hope all members of this House will support the motion, which would put a real system in place to deal with the problem of gasoline prices, a system that would include the creation of an agency to monitor consumer gasoline prices.

National Defence April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Bagotville military base is the only air force base operating in French in North America. This promotes the recruiting and training of francophones who contemplate a career in the air force.

Despite the reassuring words of the Minister of National Defence regarding the base's future, there are still concerns and these are shared by several former members of the military.

Can the minister confirm that the Bagotville base will remain operational and that the government has no intention of reducing the activity level at that location?

Françoise Dallaire and Alfred Gaudreault April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, two residents of my riding who have worked hard all their lives are about to take up another challenge. Tomorrow, before their families and friends, they will be uniting their destinies in the church of Saint-Alphonse.

What makes the wedding of Françoise Dallaire and Alfred Gaudreault so exceptional is the fact that that they are 86 and 96 respectively.

Counting just their sisters, brothers, children and grandchildren, their family numbers over 100. Theirs is an exceptional gesture that fosters hope and is a model for both current and future generations.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, myself and the people of the riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, I want to congratulate them and wish them many wonderful years together. Your determination and mutual trust are refreshing, and they move us.

Income Tax Act April 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-285, which will have a major impact on all elite or developmental athletes.

My speech will, essentially, address three points: the situation facing current athletes, the positive impact of Bill C-285, and the funding of amateur sports in Quebec and Canada. It is important, however, to consider the situation facing our athletes in this country.

Developmental or elite athletes in Quebec or Canada must go to great lengths to find the funds they need to train and improve their performance.

In my opinion, sports provide a learning experience that helps each individual in our society grow. Unfortunately, playing a sport in Quebec or Canada remains a privilege because of the cost. Playing a sport, particularly at an elite level, requires an athlete to invest many thousands of dollars. To reach the top, athletes need their parents' support for their development. Parents have to make sacrifices and major investments to pay for travel expenses, competition entry fees, training and many other things.

For years, these parents have made the same sacrifices as their children, having to get up for the early-morning practices before school and on weekends.

The problem worsens as the young athletes move up, because then parents are often unable to afford the cost of travel so that their children can compete further afield. The children have to drop out when the money is not there. Despite the lack of assistance to parents, I do feel that implementation of Bill C-285 would be profitable to the people of Quebec and Canada and would have direct impacts on society as a whole.

This is why the Bloc Québécois is very much in favour of this bill. I repeat, the situation of our athletes must be improved if they are to remain competitive, not only nationally but internationally as well.

The impact of this bill would, moreover, be beneficial to the community in a variety of ways. True, there is no money being provided directly to the 1,400 or so athletes targeted by this bill, those at the elite and developmental levels, but passing this bill will be a step in the right direction.

At the moment, an athlete who receives contributions from his or her regional association or any other non-profit body, up to a total of $8,000, is taxed at a rate of 16%. If this bill is passed, that athlete will have an annual tax saving of $1,280.

Clause 2 of this bill provides retroactivity. This means that, for the past five years, an athlete with an income in excess of the marginal tax rate of $8,000 would get back $6,400.

Needless to say, implementation of such a bill would cost Quebeckers and Canadians several million dollars. However, the positive impact for athletes and the population as a whole must be considered.

When our athletes distinguish themselves at international events, the impact is felt in the community directly. There is a feeling of pride that contributes to people's sense of who they are.

Athletes become role models for young people and have an influence on the way sport is played.

I would also like to put forward other arguments. In fact, implementing such a bill is only a start—it should be only a start, because there has to be more help for athletes.

Our athletes need more grant money and financial assistance in order to compete internationally. Despite the increase in the amounts allotted to the athlete assistance program, there is a long way to go yet.

As I mentioned earlier, even though the bill does provide a tax exemption for athletes, more must be done for them.

The Canadian government must provide more support for athlete development. This financial help must not go only to athletes at the top of the pyramid, but to athletes at the bottom of it, too. How can we expect to develop athletes if we do not promote this group and encourage more people to participte in sports?

This bill renews the entire debate on funding for amateur sports. The athlete assistance program is unable to meet the needs of various Canadian and Quebec athletes. Currently, the program gives precedence to elite athletes over developmental athletes.

It is important to know that the maximum monthly stipend for developmental athletes is only $900. Some will say that this is a huge sum to meet all the needs of such athletes. However, given that athletes at this level must train extensively, up to 30 or 40 hours per week, there is not a lot of time left for them to work for a living. As a result, many young athletes must abandon their training, because they can no longer pay for food or housing.

Even with the recent announcements by the Minister of State for Sport on increased monthly stipends for carded athletes, elite athletes receive 70% of the funding, while developmental athletes receive 30%. Fewer athletes at the top are sharing 70%; more athletes at the bottom are sharing 30%. Only 30% of athletes receiving stipends are at the developmental level.

In Canada, many athletes receive funding only once they have obtained top results. Many companies then want to be associated with the winners. So this is a major problem that needs to be addressed.

In closing, I want to reiterate my support for Bill C-285. This is an excellent initiative to develop our rising hopes, as well as the values we want to instill in our society and our communities.

National Defence March 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, on March 2, the Minister of National Defence and two other federal ministers took a trip to announce a $10 million investment in the Goose Bay military base. Yet the base at Bagotville, in the Saguenay, is in a terrible state and greatly in need of improvements.

Does the Minister of National Defence intend to go to Bagotville in the near future in order to announce investments that would confirm that the base is also of concern to him and that he intends to maintain it, thereby putting an end to all the rumours of reduced activities—

Poverty February 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Référence Espoir is a new organization that has been set up in my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord to help the most disadvantaged by offering to accompany them as they lift themselves out of poverty.

I would like to congratulate the founders of this organization: Pascal Thibault and the board of directors.

Poverty hurts, even in the regions, and the riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord is no exception. Fortunately, people in the field are actively looking for ways to change things.

People in the field have possible solutions to suggest, but they need the support of the government to fight this war on poverty.

The Bloc Québécois wishes good luck to this new organization: Référence Espoir.