- His favourite word was workers.
Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Shefford (Québec)
Lost his last election, in 2011, with 23% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Oil Industry February 28th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, the price of gas is reaching new highs. Yet when the price of crude oil declines on the stock market, the major oil companies tell us that they cannot reduce the price at the pumps right away, because the gas we have in Quebec was purchased a few months ago. But when the price of crude oil increases suddenly, we see immediate increases at the pumps.
Could the minister responsible for the Competition Bureau explain this paradox, which means that consumers always end up getting hosed by the oil companies?
La Voix de l’Est Newspaper November 18th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the entire team at La Voix de l'Est, a daily newspaper that is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Over the years, this paper has become quite well known.
With their professionally written articles and news reports, the employees, who are passionate about current events, have always captured the readers' interest. This paper provides readers with everything they need to stay informed about what is happening locally, in Quebec and elsewhere.
Congratulations to the men and women who have contributed, day in and day out, to writing, producing, photographing and publishing the La Voix de l'Est. Their work has contributed to the sterling reputation this paper has enjoyed for 75 years. And thank you to the people who deliver this daily local paper to our doorsteps in fair weather or foul.
On behalf of my team, I would like to wish La Voix de l'Est success and longevity.
Quatre Lieux History and Genealogy Society September 28th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Société d'histoire et de généalogie des Quatre Lieux on its 30th anniversary. Through its various activities and publications, this non-profit organization showcases the history of the rural communities in my riding, including Saint-Cézaire, Saint-Paul d'Abbotsford, L'Ange-Gardien and Rougemont.
Headed by Gilles Bachand, the history society is made up of volunteers who work hard to share our history with all Quebec families, including our youth.
I would like to take a moment to call attention to two volunteers with the history society: Aline D. Ménard, a founding and still-active member, and Marie-Paule Rajotte LaBrèque, a Quebec historian who donated much of her personal collection of history books to the organization.
Once again, congratulations and continued success to the Société d'histoire et de généalogie des Quatre Lieux.
Competition Act June 14th, 2010
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak during second reading to ask each member to recognize the importance of Bill C-452 for the voters in their ridings.
When this bill is studied in committee, we will need to find answers to the questions being asked. I will give a few examples of questions we have in mind. The committee will hear witnesses, and I hope that we will get some clarification. I also hope that this bill will be passed soon and that we will not be debating it again.
The Conservative members are talking about amending the Competition Act and about Bill C-10. These measures provide for new legal powers, but no real powers for the Competition Bureau.
Industries and the public need to be protected, but the real problem lies in identifying the guilty parties. If the bureau does not have the authority to make an inquiry, then it cannot apprehend them. Yet the government is refusing to give it that authority. If it cannot initiate an inquiry, it cannot issue fines. But that is not all. in 1869, just after Canada was founded, the Competition Bureau was given certain powers, which gradually increased.
Did members know that in 1976 the investigative powers that we are currently asking be granted to the Competition Bureau were already included in the legislation? This is not new. In 1976, under section 47, the director of the Competition Bureau could independently launch an inquiry into the existence and impact of conditions or practices related to the product being investigated. Who took this power away from him?
This bill aims to give the director of the Competition Bureau the power to investigate. Who was in power in 1986? Brian Mulroney's Conservative government. When the Competition Bureau was restructured, that government took away some of its investigative powers. We simply want to reinstate the investigative powers taken away by the Conservatives in 1986.
There were also claims that section 47 had been repealed, at least partially, as a result of objections expressed by the business community. In 1981, the oil sector was investigated to determine whether there was any collusion among the oil companies. The Competition Bureau's power to investigate was taken away because companies complained to the government that it was too expensive, that the government was spending far too much money to protect consumers. They wanted the Competition Bureau's power to investigate to be taken away, so that industries would no longer have to worry and could do whatever they want. That is what we hope to correct with this bill.
I have three, four or five more points to raise. For instance, the price of gas is higher in some regions than in others. Why does a litre of gas cost $1.05 in Granby and only $1.00 or $1.01 just a few kilometres away? It is not complicated; the price varies depending on the population base. The more residents there are in a municipality, the higher the price of gas. The industry tries to tell us that the price is not the same everywhere and there is competition.
There is no competition. There are fewer people, so it is cheaper.
In conclusion, I hope my colleagues will vote to send this bill to committee.
Canada Labour Code June 11th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-386 introduced by my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel who, on behalf of his political party, is trying for the umpteenth time to put an end to the use of replacement workers in Canada and Quebec.
While Quebec legislated on this a long time ago, workers governed by the Canada Labour Code working in Quebec are not covered by Quebec's Bill 45, passed during the first mandate of the late René Lévesque. This Conservative government is once again ignoring one of the main demands with respect to how the whole area of work relations is governed.
Why is anti-strikebreaking, or anti-scab, legislation necessary? For one thing, the Bloc Québécois would like all workers in Quebec, whether governed by the Quebec Labour Code or the Canada Labour Code, to have the same rights. The Conservative government's stubbornness is creating two distinct classes of workers in Quebec. The Bloc Québécois believes that the best way of recognizing the outstanding contribution of all these men and women who are helping build the Quebec society on a day-to-day basis is to show genuine respect for their rights, starting by banning the use of replacement workers during strikes or lockouts.
Anti-scab legislation would ensure that workers governed by federal legislation enjoy balanced bargaining power, and would keep tension on the picket lines to a minimum. That is the basic objective of Bill C-386, which would prohibit the hiring of replacement workers.
At this point, I would like to list what the Conservative government has done in response to the many expectations of the labour movement. It is a very short list. How much has the Conservative government given to help the unemployed, the tens of thousands of workers who have lost their job in the forestry sector? Peanuts, compared to the billions of dollars it has showered on Ontario to help auto workers. What has the Conservative government done to eliminate the two-week waiting period for people who become unemployed? Nothing.
Workers who lose their jobs go through stress and anxiety. Their income is cut off at the source. Meanwhile, they are expected to wait patiently for a Service Canada official to examine their file, and often they have to endure processing delays, not to mention the 1-800 telephone line, which is insane. In addition to waiting for an answer, the poor jobless people have to put up with this irresponsible treatment.
I will continue with my list, because since I came to the House of Commons in 2004, my social priorities have always included the unemployed and older workers. This government is still refusing to support our proposal to increase the maximum EI benefit period for workers with a serious illness from 15 to 50 weeks. It is currently 15 weeks, as if someone's cancer could be treated in 15 weeks.
I could pull out the list of measures we have called for in recent years and the many bills we have introduced to help our workers. The list of no's from ministers and members is as long as our list of requests. By the way, the government voted against Bill C-429, which would have promoted the use of wood in the construction of federal buildings and would have helped workers in Quebec. But no, the government ignored our workers again. That was another trademark vote by the Conservatives.
I would like to remind hon. members once again of one of the most anti-worker statements ever heard here in the House. On December 3, 2009, the member for Souris—Moose Mountain said this:
I do not see anything in the bill's proposed provision that would help boost Canada's ability to create jobs and to be more competitive in today's economy. What I do see in the bill is a recipe for instability and uncertainty in Canadian labour relations.
What an explanation. According to him, having workers out on the street for months or years is what will stimulate employment, as will the uncertainty of the workers who do not have sufficient power to assert their legitimate rights. What is the government doing about the uncertainty experienced by the many families of strikers affected by these lasting disputes? Nothing, nothing and more nothing. It prefers to build lakes—that is a good one—for journalists and delegates at the G8. In their right-wing vocabulary, the Conservatives call this “stimulating the economy”. I call it keeping families in poverty.
Let us get back to the Conservative government's sad record.
Here is a clear example of that record. During the CN conflict, the Conservative government passed special legislation with respect to Canadian National. The latter had been training its managers and a large group of non-unionized employees for several months in order to maintain service. In the case of CN, they were maintaining over 60% of service. However, Canadian Pacific, which has two parallel lines across Canada—one used by CN and the other by CP—could have covered the other 40% that CN claimed it could not. They could also have resorted to trucking, as well as the short lines in the regions, to serve the Canadian public.
For the Montreal region, for example, AMT had signed an agreement for continuous passenger service and CN would have covered not just 100%, but 120% of the service provided to its clients.
Given all these responsibilities and possibilities, I wonder why the Conservatives thought there was a crisis and why was there a need for additional service? We have to allow negotiations between the parties to continue in good faith and force them to agree on a collective agreement, and not vote on a special law to force workers back to work.
I would also point out to my hon. colleagues that CN is a private corporation, which is why I do not understand why the government became involved in the dispute. Indeed, when it comes to private corporations, we believe that they are in a position to negotiate with workers themselves and capable of doing so, but they do not, nor do they have to. All they have to do is call up the government and say that they are going on strike and will not be able to provide the service. Since it is a transportation service, it is very important. What did the government do? It passed special legislation to force the workers back to work. They forget about negotiating; they make them work and everything goes back to what it was before, without any thought given to negotiating with the workers. I find that unreasonable on the government's part. It is always trying to denigrate workers. Yet our workers form the foundation of the Canadian and Quebec economy. And they are the first people the government tries to steal from.
We saw it again with the $57 billion that the government stole from workers. It is not enough to tax them or to take taxes off at the source, it always wants a little bit more. As for employers, their taxes have been cut. It is not employers that are producing what Canada needs to survive. It comes from the taxes paid by workers.
I could also talk about the theft from the employment insurance fund surplus. My mother always told me that when you take something that is not yours, it is stealing. When they dipped into the employment insurance fund that was not theirs, it was stealing. I will not contradict my mother here today. If she said it, it is because it is true. Nothing will change my mind.
Back when the Conservatives were in opposition, they constantly condemned the Liberals' practice of pillaging the employment insurance fund. Now, with Bill C-9, they are about to keep doing the same thing. How? By wiping the slate clean, as they say. The Conservatives are telling workers and employers, the people to whom that money belongs, that they should forget about recuperating the $57 billion that the government siphoned off over the years.
The Prime Minister himself once recognized that employment insurance fund money was misappropriated to pay down the deficit. He promised workers that he would repay the $57 billion that Ottawa diverted. Now he is breaking that promise.
The proposed new employment insurance measures are particularly sickening because the Conservatives are trying to hide them among the dozens of other initiatives in Bill C-9. Unfortunately, these kinds of anti-democratic manoeuvres have become par for the course with the Conservative government.
With the end of the parliamentary session just days away, on behalf of unionized workers subject to the Canada Labour Code, and on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, we urge the Conservative ministers and members to say yes to anti-scab legislation.
Transparency and Access to Information June 11th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, since the Conservatives came to power, democracy, transparency and access to information have taken a beating.
Access to information requests are taking much longer to process, and that is when they are not blocked outright by political interference. Ministers either refuse to answer journalists' questions or are forbidden from doing so, as are government officials. Journalists' access to events is being increasingly restricted, which makes it impossible for them to provide balanced, impartial reports. The Conservative Prime Minister prefers to supply photos and videos produced by his own people so that he can control the tone and image conveyed.
This way of doing things is akin to propaganda and information manipulation. The outcome is that people do not have access to the facts or to clear, accurate information. We condemn this kind of excessive control and lack of transparency, which constitute a threat to democracy.
Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 3rd, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I speak on behalf of all Quebeckers and Canadians who work in factories and who paid into the employment insurance fund, as well as on behalf of all employers, when I say that I find it incredible and ridiculous that the government wants to implement a budget and provide the funds for that budget—because we were talking about transfer of funds earlier—on the backs of the people who work so hard every day.
This government could have taken a portion of the $55 billion saved and paid by these workers into the employment insurance fund to implement measures such as the older worker assistance program or the 360 hour measure.
They are now being told to move on, to forget about it, that all the money put into the fund will be taken out, that the workers will get nothing, that the money will be put towards the budget because they are unable to draw up an appropriate budget and because we have a deficit of $54 billion.
Furthermore, the big show in Toronto will cost $1 billion, even though they do not have the money to pay for it. I think that citizens have the right to know why $57 billion was pillaged from the employment insurance fund.
Business of Supply June 1st, 2010
Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the other side of the House said that he would like to see what happens at the NDP caucus meeting. Personally, I would find it interesting to see what happens at the Conservative caucus meeting when it is announced that they will be stealing $57 billion from workers and employers, that this debt will be erased and not a single cent will be repaid.
What does the member think about the measure that would erase this $57 billion debt, and what does he think about the fact that the Conservatives are stealing from the employment insurance fund?
Business of Supply June 1st, 2010
Mr. Speaker, the people who are out of touch are those on the other side of the House. If they read the papers every day, they would know that we are not the only ones asking why $1 billion was spent on security.
If it cost so much—$1 billion—to hold the G8 and G20 in Toronto, they could have chosen any other site in Canada. They could have chosen a location that would have cost less than $1 billion. They could have saved money.
As the member was saying, we could have used the money saved for older worker assistance programs, which cost $75 million per year. We could have helped these people rather than using this money to protect others. We could have found a much less expensive way to protect them. What does my colleague think?
Business of Supply June 1st, 2010
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite missed the point. The question was clear: why did they choose such a big site? Why did they not choose another site that is easy to protect, instead of a downtown, urban environment? That is the first thing.
The second thing is that the Canadian Forces did not have enough money for their ships and frigates. This is just an excuse to divert money to the armed forces so that they can continue putting fuel in their frigates. Am I right? That is my question for the hon. member.