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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

Business of Supply June 10th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

He is right to say that the Conservative government is taking advantage of the economic crisis to push this plan to interfere in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec, as a number of previous governments have done before it. We are in fact going through an economic crisis. It seems to me that the government should think about that before investing $150 million.

I also want to thank the hon. member for mentioning that it is not just Quebec that is opposed to the federal government's intentions and its bill. That is something worth thinking about. I think the Conservative government should give this more thought. The Liberal members should also give this some more thought. In Quebec, we are against the bill because this aspect of the economy is a responsibility of Quebec and the provinces.

Business of Supply June 10th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

I want to remind the hon. member that there are two nations in Canada: the nation of Quebec and the nation of Canada. Let us remember that in the Constitution Act, 1867, this responsibility was assigned to the provinces.

He mentioned the OECD. The OECD is not the only body to state that Canada's current passport system works well. The World Bank says that the system currently in place in Canada and in Quebec is efficient and effective. That is why we are opposed to the Conservative government's bill.

Business of Supply June 10th, 2010

Madam Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to speak on our opposition day, on a topic that gets a lot of coverage in the newspapers. Members will understand that it is very important for the Bloc Québécois to have a debate on the importance of respecting Quebec's jurisdiction over securities.

By moving forward with a Canada-wide securities commission, the federal government is going after Quebec's economic leaders. The Bloc Québécois sees this as a veritable attack on the Quebec nation and its institutions. The commission favours the Toronto Stock Exchange at the expense of the Montreal Exchange.

Since it was elected in 2006, the Conservative government has been paving the way for the creation of a Canada-wide securities commission. By claiming that a company will be able to operate under the Quebec securities commission if it chooses to, and by saying that it will prevent Vincent Lacroix and Earl Jones from victimizing more people, the Conservative members are distorting the debate and using false and twisted logic to justify their decision.

Such a commission would not have changed anything for the victims of Earl Jones, and the government knows that full well. The federal government currently has complete authority to protect investors under the Criminal Code. These are false pretexts.

Worse yet, by introducing such a bill, the Conservative government, through the Minister of Finance, is ignoring the protests from across Quebec and rejecting the opinions of organizations like the World Bank and the OECD, which believe that the current system is inexpensive and very efficient.

I would like to quote from an analysis by Yvan Allaire and Michel Nadeau that appeared in Le Devoir on January 30, 2009. They were talking about an important aspect of creating a national securities commission.

We can understand why the Minister of Finance wants to spend to stimulate Canada's economy, but spending $154 million to create a national commission puts the lie to the argument that having a single securities commission would save money.

However, $154 million will seem like nothing if all the companies regulated by a federal, national agency are required to communicate with Canadian investors in both official languages.

How could anyone justify preventing a francophone investor anywhere in Canada from receiving a French version of all annual reports and other financial documents issued by a publicly traded, federally regulated company? Canadians who eat cereal for breakfast are informed in both official languages of the contents of their cereal box, no matter where they live. So why would it be any different when it comes to a national organization that is supposed to ensure Canadian investors are adequately informed in their official language?

Let us look at a concrete example. In the spring of 2008, Visa Inc. became a publicly listed company in Canada. To avoid the costs and time involved in translating the prospectus that was required...Visa decided not to distribute and sell its shares to Quebec investors. How would that be possible with a national commission? How could a federal agency endorse a scenario that would deprive francophone investors outside Quebec as well as in Quebec of information in French?

At this time, even among the 253 largest listed companies in Canada, the companies making up the TSX/S&P Index, only 81 (37%) publish their annual report in French as well as in English. And only 60% actually provide a French version of the all-important management information circular, the proxy document that provides information on executive compensation, on board members proposed for election as well as on any special resolution submitted to a vote at the shareholders' meeting.

A greater number of the thousands of small and medium-sized companies listed in Canada would have to pay the significant cost of translating all their documents provided to investors. Proponents of a national securities commission must answer this question before continuing much further with this controversial plan.

Maintaining the current situation, which is satisfactory for everyone outside Toronto and Ottawa, would save $154 million and spare Canadian companies, which have other priorities, tens of millions of dollars in translation costs.

Mr. Allaire and Mr. Nadeau make an important point and I would like to use my speech to ensure that members of the House of Commons are well aware of this problem.

The Bloc Québécois has chosen this topic for its opposition day because it is an important issue. Securities regulation is an exclusive constitutional jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. The federal proposal for a national commission does not respect Quebec's responsibility for property and civil rights.

In reality, authority over securities is given to the provinces by virtue of their jurisdiction over “property and civil rights” under subsection 92(13) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

I will provide a short summary of five reasons why we oppose a national securities commission.

First of all, this Canada-wide commission would divest Quebec of a very important economic tool. All major decisions would be made outside of Quebec. The Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec is sensitive to Quebec's needs, and this would not be the case with a Canada-wide commission.

Furthermore, it would jeopardize thousands of jobs in a key sector of the Quebec economy, which consists of 150,000 direct jobs in the financial sector. All together, 300,000 jobs in Quebec are linked to the financial sector. Although we do not know exactly how many jobs would be affected, it would have a definite impact.

Third, by going ahead with this, the Conservative government is sending a clear message to Quebec, taking this away from Montreal for Toronto's benefit, and infringing on Quebec’s jurisdictions. That is why the National Assembly and Quebec's business community so strongly oppose this plan.

The Minister of Finance can pretend otherwise all he wants, but voluntary membership is a sham. By destroying the passport system and counting on conflicts among the regulatory bodies, the Conservative government is creating a magnet to encourage companies to turn to the Canada-wide commission.

Lastly, contrary to what the Conservative government is saying, the existence of such a commission would not have stopped white-collar criminals like Earl Jones from fleecing investors. Earl Jones is a criminal who was not registered anywhere. Whether in Montreal or Toronto, he would have committed his crimes all the same.

The National Assembly passed a unanimous motion claiming exclusive jurisdiction over this matter. At this time, there is a general outcry among all economic players in Quebec to oppose the federal government's plans. Worse yet, federal Liberal members from Quebec, like their Conservative colleagues from Quebec, support the creation of this single securities commission.

I will close by saying that we in the Bloc Québécois strongly oppose this bill.

Petitions June 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to present a petition signed by several hundred residents from the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region and elsewhere in Quebec, who state that they are deeply concerned about the lack of support for sick persons within the employment insurance system. The petitioners ask that changes be made to the Employment Insurance Act to have sickness benefits provided for a period of 50 weeks rather than 15 weeks, as is the case currently, and that the rules governing eligibility to the program be made more flexible.

I want to highlight the courage and the colossal work of Claudia Ouellet from Dolbeau-Mistassini who circulated the petition and made thousands of citizens aware of the serious impact that illness can have because of the lack of flexibility in the Employment Insurance Act. This petition is in addition to the 62,000-name petition presented in April by my colleague from Chambly—Borduas. Moreover, this petition is consistent with Bill C-525, introduced by my Bloc Québécois colleague, the member for Alfred-Pellan.

And in conclusion, I must deplore the lack of openness of the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean who was unavailable to receive Ms. Ouellet in his office to present this petition. That is incredible. And so, on behalf of Claudia Ouellet from Dolbeau-Mistassini, I am presenting this petition aimed at improving EI sickness benefits.

Government Subsidies June 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, after the government refused to fund the Festival international des rythmes du monde through the marquee tourism events program, claiming that the festival did not meet the eligibility criteria, now we learn that the festival is joining the big leagues as one of a select group of major international events in Quebec.

The reasons for the industry minister's refusal are especially hard to understand considering the scope of the event.

Two months before this important occasion for Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, it is not too late to acknowledge this mistake and reassess the application. The Conservative government has not even spent all the money it allocated to the program, leaving millions of dollars on the table, to the detriment of festival-goers.

By acting in this way, the government made an ideological choice to cut funding not only for the festival, but for hundreds of up-and-coming artists, craftspeople and creators who care about culture.

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I was talking to the minister about the expeditionary squadron.

In 2009, the minister authorized the construction of Hangar 2 at a cost of $28 million in 2012. The current condition of the building is jeopardizing soldiers' health and safety. To date, no funds have been allocated to undertake the project.

Will the minister make a formal commitment to obtain funds to undertake the construction of Hangar 2 in 2012 as he announced?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I would like to turn briefly to the expeditionary squadron. In the 2009-2014 five-year plan, $180 million was allocated, and $120 million is budgeted for Horizon 2.

But the 2010-15 five-year plan includes no allocation for the expeditionary squadron. I would like to know why.

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I wrote a letter to the minister asking him to consider using wood in the construction of Hangar 2 in Bagotville. I have not received a response. Given that the design process for the new building has begun, I would bet that the materials have already been chosen.

Will Hangar 2 in Bagotville be rebuilt using wood, and when will the minister send out the request for proposals?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, the member for Saint-Jean and I recently wrote to the minister to request a debriefing about an F-18 engine maintenance contract that may be awarded to General Electric.

Can the minister instruct one of his officers to make sure this meeting happens?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, the defence department's five year investment plan for 2010 to 2015 commits to building a health clinic in Bagotville that would be worth approximately $22 million. No team has been formed to work on the project. There has been no concrete action. However, given the state of the health infrastructure, it is necessary to build and renovate it in the short term.

Why the delays in constructing a health clinic?