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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

Softwood Lumber December 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday at the Subcommittee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment, the Free Trade Lumber Council sounded an alarm: the industry is at the end of its rope and is having difficulty absorbing the $300 million in legal fees associated with the unending softwood lumber dispute.

Does the Minister of International Trade intend to reimburse these staggering sums the industry has to pay to argue its case at international tribunals?

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a question. We know that, in the last 18 months, a cow suffering from mad cow disease has been found in Alberta. We know that Alberta is more than 5,000 km away from Quebec. We also know that the President of the Union des producteurs agricoles, Mr. Pellerin, was in favour of autonomous health regions in Canada. If that system had been in place, Quebec and a number of provinces would have been able to continue to export their beef to the United States.

I would like to hear the comments of the hon. member in this respect and his opinion about health regions, as suggested by the President of the Union des producteurs agricoles of Quebec.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, what I will answer is what I heard on November 29 in Saint-Bruno, in my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Several producers told me that they had a large herd. They must renew it and, since the mad cow crisis happened, they are losing around $15,000 a year and perhaps a little more. This is a significant amount when there are also many challenges and many increases in the costs that they must incur. This is the reality.

Of course, there is some assistance, but concerning cull cows, there is a real problem. It was submitted to me and I submit it in a more particular way. Several producers told me that they were losing many thousands of dollars each year. Obviously, this is significant for a farm.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the minister may explain why he did not meet the Union des producteurs agricoles in Quebec City, I think he will not speak long enough in the House to convince us. The Quebec people themselves and Quebec producers will not be convinced. He is using an artifice, a smoke screen. He is using the excuse that he had to be here in the House.

He could easily have left for a few hours. We could have held our debate. His presence would have been very useful there. He says he is sensitive to the needs of the people. He could have made this a reality and listened to their needs.

What I am telling the minister is, before the crisis, when producers were selling a cull cow, they were getting $700. Today, they are getting $150. The federal assistance is $320 only for the 16% portion. Each producer renews a herd by 25%. This means there is a gap that is not subsidized, that does not receive any assistance from the government. The loss of revenue to the producer is $230 for each cull cow.

Supply December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

It is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today in support of the motion put forward by my colleague from Montcalm, especially since the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region is particularly affected by the mad cow crisis.

There are three ridings in my region which is a very important farming area. The American border has been closed to the Canadian beef for 18 months now. Meanwhile, our farmers have been suffering. They were simply abandoned by the federal government.

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to see that many farmers, dozens of desperate cattle producers from the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region, had started to dig a big trench to bury their cows. When it gets to the point where killing off the animals without getting any compensation is better than selling them, we have to wonder. The cattle producers are facing financial ruin. The whole agriculture sector is paying the price.

Allow me to come back to this farm rally that took place in my region on November 29. I attended a function in Saint-Bruno, in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, with one of my colleagues from the House, the member for Jonquière—Alma. Many farmers and leaders from the Union des producteurs agricoles and members from the dairy producers union made presentations. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the president of the farmers and dairy producers' association of my area, Michel Potvin, who is a distinguished and courageous citizen and an exemplary farmer.

Many farmers asked me to convey their message to this House and to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. They are asking the government to give more money to livestock and cull producers, to offer a compensation package for the cull producers and to set a floor price.

As regards a floor price, I will get back to this issue later on, because an agreement was just reached in Quebec City.

So, at that November 29 meeting, I was told about the scope of the despair of producers in my region. They have lost all motivation. Several of them told me that they must actually pay to get rid of their cull cows. They are at the end of their rope. There is no point in them working so hard.

A member of the National Assembly from my region even symbolically helped dig the hole in which hundreds of cows may be buried, since producers are getting hardly anything for them. Indeed, they are compensated for the renewal of the first 16% of their herd, but not for the rest of it.

These producers asked me to convey their message to the House of Commons, and I am doing so very seriously.

I also want to tell the House about an agreement in principle that was just reached. At a press conference held during the UPA's convention, the Quebec minister of agriculture, Françoise Gauthier, announced that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on a floor price of 42¢, as of December 6, 2004. However, Ms. Gauthier warned that the agreement must be finalized before the government will lift the threat of resorting to special legislation.

According to Michel Dessureault of the federation of Quebec beef producers, producers will be have 80% ownership. Moreover, it is provided that producers will be the owners as of December 20, 2004. According to Mr. Dessureault, should the transaction fail, the Quebec minister of agriculture, fisheries and food has promised to pass a special act imposing a price, a volume and the presence of an administrator. It appears that the Quebec government also promised to complete the financing package.

The Bloc Québécois is pleased with this outcome. This is encouraging. The Bloc Québécois also notes that this government and this minister did not provide leadership regarding this issue. Once again, Quebec producers and the Quebec government were left on their own, even after repeatedly asking the federal government and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food for help.

The reopening of our borders is a federal responsibility and it remains a priority. As for financial compensation, it is still necessary. We will see in the coming days what producers are asking for. Let us not forget that Quebec producers absorbed the $241 million losses, after compensation.

No matter how often the federal government and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food repeat that they intervened many times with the American government, they cannot blame others if they have a faulty traceability system. One can point to Quebec's system, a model that was applied well before that of the federal government.

The government has put in place an assistance plan which does not adequately cover Quebec producers. According to data from the beef producers, the Fédération des producteurs de bovins, only $90 million have been received from Ottawa since the crisis broke out. It goes without saying that these are meagre amounts, considering that the beef producers' lost incomes, for the period from May 2003 to December 2004, totals $391 million.

If the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food had travelled to attend the convention of l'Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec, the province's agricultural producers union, he would have heard what I heard directly from the very producers in my region. It is totally unacceptable for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to evade his responsibilities in such a way and, as a pretext, claim that he absolutely must be in the House of Commons to justify his decision not to speak to Quebec's producers. Nothing forced that minister to be present in the House of Commons all day, all the more so because the motion tabled by the Bloc Québécois will not be voted on before December 7.

This is not a very common situation. I have personally seen people who are about to lose everything, not only their business, but also their family.

Often times, entire communities are affected by the crisis goes beyond economic boundaries and affects the social behaviour of people.

I want to offer my support to farmers in my region, in my riding and in Quebec.

Housing December 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on November 22, I met with officials from the organization Loge m'entraide, in my constituency.

They made the following request: federal investment in social housing should be 1% of total expenditures, or $2 billion annually. This request is in line with our position, and I am conveying it to the government.

Some families are spending up to 80% of their income on rent. In the city of Saguenay, it is the case for 2,500 households, or close to 11% of tenants. Considering the surplus generated by the CMHC, this is enough to be upset, because it is a social injustice.

According to Loge m'entraide, the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region needs $20 million, including $7 million in my riding, to build social housing units.

The federal government must increase its transfers for housing—

Tourist Industry November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, in 2000, the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean tourism association took part in a Canadian pilot project on extending the tourist season.

Its purpose was to make it possible for tourism industry workers to work for longer periods and the industry to open new markets.

Unfortunately, this program has not been renewed for the next two years, although doing so would enable 180 workers and 35 companies to reach the break-even point. I cannot understand why the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development is delaying the go-ahead on this program, which has already proven itself, costs a mere $600,000 and has generated $4 million in spin-offs.

The minister needs to give the go-ahead right away to these workers who are worried at seeing the agreement termination date of December 10 approaching. This is an opportunity for the government to demonstrate its desire to contribute to the development of the regions of Quebec.

Agriculture and Agri-food November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Union des producteurs agricoles is again calling for assistance. The losses sustained as a result of the mad cow crisis are wreaking terrible havoc. Despite the compensation packages, dairy farmers for example are being hit by losses of $15,000 per farm, on the average.

What is stopping the government from implementing the solutions proposed by Quebec's farmers and offering them proper compensation, as well as contributing, with the provinces, to setting a base price for animals sold to abattoirs?

Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act November 17th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I am not in a position to comment on what the member opposite just said. However, I would like to clarify my comments about the emergency plans. Indeed, I described the facts surrounding the flood that affected the Saguenay region in 1996.

The government opposite is often tempted to interfere in the jurisdiction of Quebec and other province. These past few days, we have been discussing—I will digress for a moment—the establishing of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

The real disaster in case of a major natural calamity in a region of Quebec would be to have, in addition to an emergency plan established by the Government of Quebec and delegated to the municipalities, another emergency plan established by the federal government. I can tell you that that would be very bad, even unacceptable and inconceivable, given the necessity to act extremely fast in such cases.

In any emergency situation, there has to be an order of command and direction, and it must order remain one of the responsibilities of Quebec. All the government services in place for security and safety purposes must fall under Quebec's emergency plan.

Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act November 17th, 2004

Madam Speaker, of course there needs to be cooperation. I can well imagine an independent Quebec. An independent Quebec would have its own organization to fight organized crime, as it did to fight biker gangs.

I believe we will cooperate with English Canada that will form a country. There will be cooperation and sharing of information. However, Quebec will, of course, have its own set of rules.

This afternoon I wanted to warn this government, those who will be responsible for this law, that Quebec has specific responsibilities concerning disasters. My intervention was mainly based on this.

Quebec has exceptional expertise in this field. I experienced it. I can therefore talk about it. I have trouble seeing a government or a minister intervening in this area of jurisdiction which belongs to Quebec when it comes to implementing an emergency plan.

There is an entire structure to assist people facing a disaster, be it a flood or an ice storm.