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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Sherbrooke (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Homelessness March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, a group of students at the University of Sherbrooke recently took part in “Five Days for the Homeless”. They collected thousands of dollars to support services for homeless persons.

For five days, nine students slept outside and relied solely on the generosity of the public to meet their needs. Through this initiative, these young people were able to raise awareness of homeless and poverty among people in their community

People who work with the homeless took this opportunity to remind me of their fears for the future of the HPS program. Unfortunately, their fears were confirmed by the 2011 budget, with the Conservatives still refusing to index and improve programs to combat homelessness as well as social housing programs.

The Conservatives should spend a few days sleeping in the open air, and then they would realize, given the miracles that the workers achieve with these funds, that the minimum we owe them is indexing and a funding increase.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, obviously when a citizen is wronged and this results in significant expenses, everyone tends to think that they should receive some compensation. I would like to come back to the idea of necessary force, whether in the event of a theft or personal and physical attack.

Will we go so far as to consider someone innocent if they shoot a thief over a bag of chips? There are limits. We must create very specific limits. The use of force to protect property or to defend oneself against a physical attack remains a grey area and it must be clarified.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the very essence of my speech was clearly about our concerns regarding the fact that the use of force is open to interpretation and regarding the reasonable time. I find it hard to imagine someone who is robbed, or the victim of an attempted robbery, spending the rest of his days trying to track down and arrest the robber, and physically defending himself under all kinds of pretexts.

We must be very careful about how this bill is implemented. Above all, the public must clearly understand that these interventions have time limits, of course, but also limits in terms of the amount of force that can be used, whether during a theft or a physical assault, very simply.

The Bloc has said so again and again: we want this bill to be examined in committee to measure its impact and the potential that the public could misinterpret what it is allowed to do.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am obviously pleased to be speaking today. This may be the last time we see each other before the upcoming election.

Bill C-60, as it is called by the government, has to do with self-defence and citizen's arrest. These are fundamental aspects of our everyday lives, but they can also involve diverse and extreme situations. How do we interpret legislation like this? How do we determine how far people can go in defending themselves and making arrests?

To give you a little background, the legislative summary of Bill C-60 states the following:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to enable a person who owns or has lawful possession of property, or persons authorized by them, to arrest within a reasonable time a person whom they find committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property. It also amends the Criminal Code to simplify the provisions relating to the defences of property and persons.

The bill significantly broadens the notion of self-defence and slightly broadens that of citizen's arrest. As I said earlier, the question revolves around the scope of these two notions, how this can be interpreted or how far people can go. Should we be setting the stage for abuse that is not prescribed and certainly not desired: abuse of the ability to defend oneself or abuse of the ability to make a citizen's arrest? Regardless, every person in our society should expect to have the full use of their property without having someone try to steal from them. That is obvious. Every person in our society should also expect to be able to move freely without worrying about being attacked and put in danger.

If someone tries to rob you, that is one thing. If someone tries to physically attack you, that is another thing. In these two cases, there are also elements that dictate how far we can go. That is why the Bloc would like to examine Bill C-60 in committee. It has to do with self-defence, which is a very sensitive and important subject.

For the Bloc Québécois, people have a basic right to defend themselves and their property within reasonable limits. This is already the case under the current legislation, but it is too restrictive. We are therefore in favour of a statutory amendment to allow honest citizens to defend themselves and their property or defend other people. However, we do not want to see an increase in the amount of violence in our societies. Quebec must not become the far west of old. Everybody would lose.

Some provisions are disturbing and could result sooner or later in situations that no one wants to see. We are therefore eager to study this bill in committee.

I am not a lawyer. I am not an expert in crime and certainly not a criminologist, but when this bill refers to defence of property or self-defence, certain things come to mind. For example, it was said that people could not use excessive force, or more force than necessary, to defend themselves or their property.

I have also heard it said that people could be prosecuted and sentenced for failing to assist someone in danger. When we speak about defending others, the following questions arise. What is excessive force when I am protecting my property? What is the extent of my responsibility to assist others in danger? There is my responsibility, but there is also my ability to do something. The context is important and must be specified, if we want to avoid excesses in either direction.

On February 17, the government introduced a bill broadening the concepts of self-defence and citizen’s arrest, especially to protect one’s property. This bill was in reaction to an incident that occurred in Toronto, where a shopkeeper was arrested and charged for having captured and detained a man who had stolen from him. The public was outraged by this arrest of an honest citizen, who had requested police help several times without always receiving it. In Toronto, and in Quebec as well, many people have the feeling—it is just a feeling, but it is an important factor nonetheless—that criminals are mollycoddled and the law does more to protect them than to protect honest citizens.

It is not surprising that the hon. members for Trinity—Spadina and Eglinton—Lawrence introduced bills to broaden the concept of citizen's arrest. However, these two bills only slightly broadened the notion of citizen's arrest whereas Bill C-60 substantially broadens the notion of self-defence.

As for citizen's arrest, Bill C-60 would amend the law to allow a property owner to make an arrest. Basically, a property owner would be given the right to arrest, within a reasonable time, a criminal who committed an offence, if the property owner has reasonable grounds to believe that it would not be possible for a peace officer to make an arrest under the circumstances.

Bill C-60 does not make many changes with regard to citizen's arrest, even though that is the pretext for the bill, but it makes sweeping changes with regard to self-defence. It takes away the requirement of necessity—the requirement of not killing an attacker unless absolutely necessary—and adds the possibility to defend oneself in reaction to a threat without defining what type of threat is likely to lead to legal violence. That is why I referred to determining the amount of force that can be used for self-defence and to the ability to defend oneself. Either way, we need to evaluate the ability to defend oneself as well as the force that can be used in these kinds of circumstances.

One potential concern about citizen's arrests is that the amendment could be misunderstood and things could get out of hand. In fact, Halifax's deputy chief of police has suggested that the federal government urge caution in the use of citizen's arrest. This is not only to ensure that a well-intentioned person does not commit a crime, but also to remind people that an arrest involves risks and that an ordinary person is not as likely as a police officer to be able to get control of someone who has committed a crime.

I would like to use the minute I have left to repeat what I said earlier, which is that everyone has the right to possess property without the fear of having it stolen from them by other people, and everyone should be able to live freely and without fear in our society. For this to happen, we need a responsible government that can ensure prevention, information and rehabilitation. This comes by integrating people socially and economically into society.

It was surprising that people did not resort to looting in Japan, which has suffered such terrible catastrophes, although that is often what happens here in North American society.

Thus, this happens through education, prevention and rehabilitation.

Roméo Pronovost March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, two days before Valentine's Day, on February 12, 1906, Mr. Pronovost was born and was named Roméo. He was a horticulturalist by training and moved to the Eastern Townships in 1934, where he worked with area farmers. He was the man responsible for the apple trees in Compton and the strawberry and raspberry plants that are the pride of our region.

I was very pleased to be able to celebrate the 105th birthday of the oldest man in Sherbrooke. This political enthusiast has stories to share about the likes of premiers Alexandre Taschereau, Maurice Duplessis and René Lévesque.

The wisdom of this venerable Sherbrooke resident is matched only by his great clarity and unfailing political judgment. Thus, it is no surprise that he is the oldest member of the Bloc Québécois. Although he never knows whether he will make it until his next birthday, he did not hesitate to renew his membership card for three years.

Mr. Pronovost, on behalf of all of our colleagues, we wish you all the best on your 105th birthday.

Telecommunications Industry February 16th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' stubbornness on the Globalive issue is disconcerting. Even though the Telecommunications Act, the CRTC and the Federal Court contradict the Conservative government, it is launching an appeal. The Conservatives must stop wasting public money and admit that Globalive is a corporation controlled by foreign interests.

When will the Conservatives comply with the Telecommunications Act rather than selling our airwaves to foreign corporations?

Telecommunications Industry February 16th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on December 10, 2009, the Minister of Industry instructed the CRTC to determine “whether the impact of these wholesale requirements unduly impairs the ability of incumbent telephone companies to offer new converged services”.

How can the minister explain his flip-flop on usage-based billing when barely a year ago he was asking the CRTC to better protect the interests of Bell and Rogers, at consumers' expense?

Telecommunications Industry February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the CRTC's recent decision to implement usage-based billing will have a devastating effect on Internet services for people and small businesses. The end of unlimited Internet packages will have a significant impact on access to new technology and on the competitiveness of businesses, especially those outside large centres.

Will the Minister of Industry demand that the CRTC reverse this decision and take consumers and the regions into account?

Canada Post Corporation Act December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in Canada and Quebec we have the Library Books Service. What, exactly, is that? It is a program that allows all libraries to send library books through the mail to other libraries in Canada, at rates that are lower than regular parcel rates. This is available to recognized public libraries, university libraries and other libraries that are maintained by non-profit organizations or associations and are for public use in Canada.

The primary purpose of the Library Books Service is to enable libraries to exchange books. Over 2,000 libraries—90% of public libraries and over 60% of university libraries—have access to this service, which can benefit a million Quebeckers and Canadians per year. This represents over 3 million packages every year. This is a vital service for all libraries, especially those in remote regions. Small non-profit or academic libraries can easily access all of the books available in Canada.

To ship books at the library book rate, a library must complete the application form found on the website of the Canadian Library Association. Delivery rates are available only through a special electronic shipping system.

Videocassettes, CD-ROMs and DVDs cannot currently be sent through the library books service, and the bill would include these materials in this service.

Also known as the library book rate, or LBR, this service was established in 1939 and originally was directly funded by the Government of Canada. Canada Post gave preferential postal rates for certain types of periodicals under the publications assistance program, PAP, which was created and subsidized by Canadian Heritage.

Because of a 1997 World Trade Organization decision that preferential postal rates given to Canadian publications had to be paid directly to publishers and not via Canada Post, the cost of this rate then had to be absorbed by the crown corporation.

For the good of the public, Canada Post provides funding for the PAP within the framework of a government guideline. While Canada Post provides postal services to all Canadians, it does not have the mandate to promote Canadian culture by subsidizing postal rates for Canadian publications. This is the responsibility of the Department of Canadian Heritage. It should be said that postal subsidies from the PAP will end on March 31, 2010.

Since the library book rate is not considered part of the PAP, this program does not currently fall under the political authority of any federal department. Bill C-509 amends the legislation so that the crown corporation can reach an agreement with Canadian Heritage in order to maintain the library book rate and ensure the continuity of the service.

Consistent with Canada Post's obligation to ensure universal service, the service charter for Canada Post introduced in the fall of 2009 states:

As required by the Canada Post Corporation Act, Canada Post will charge postage rates that are fair and reasonable and, together with other revenues, are sufficient to cover the costs incurred in its operations.

The delivery rate offered in the context of the library book service is not funded by the federal government and Canada Post must therefore absorb the cost. Being a crown corporation that must support itself financially, the reduced rate can always be called into question and there is no regulation or legislation at this time to ensure that the reduced postage rate can be maintained in the long term.

It should be noted that in the past 30 years, the Canada Post Corporation has undertaken a major restructuring of its services in order to boost profits, even if that means going against the principle of universal postal service accessible to all and making continued attacks against the public postal service.

Although it says it continues to make a profit, CPC continues to engage in major restructuring that is having a direct impact on sectors it considers less profitable and public postal service. The library book rate is in itself a heavy burden for a company, and getting rid of the reduced rate might be a natural step for a company that is streamlining.

If the preferential rates given to libraries were eliminated or significantly increased, libraries could no longer continue to offer those services. In that case, postage could increase from $1 to over $14 a kilogram, and public libraries would have to absorb that increase, reduce services or have library patrons pay for postage.

A number of concerns have been raised with regard to maintaining the reduced library book rate. In 2005, Canada Post confirmed the possibility of putting an end to the inter-library loan program, a service that has been renewed year after year.

A brief published as part of the strategic review of Canada Post indicated that there was no official requirement for Canada Post to provide the library book rate, but that public pressure to do so has always been strong. In 2007, the crown corporation estimated that it had lost $6 million in revenue by maintaining this program.

Thanks to pressure from libraries and organizations in the library sector throughout the country, Canada Post agreed to renew the rate on an annual basis. The latest renewal will expire on December 31, 2010. After that, the future of the library book rate is uncertain, which is why Bill C-509 is so important.

Bill C-509, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), sponsored by the Conservative member for Brandon—Souris, in Manitoba, was introduced twice as Bill C-458 in 2007 and another time as Bill C-322 in 2009. It would reduce the rate of postage for library materials under the library books service.

First, the bill broadens the definition of “library materials” to make audiovisual materials, such as videocassettes, CD-ROMs and DVDs, eligible for Canada Post's library book rate, which currently applies only to books.

The second clause amends subsection 19(1) to enable the corporation to “[provide] for a reduced rate of postage for library materials” by order of the Governor in Council.

Currently, the CPC can make regulations:

(g) providing for the transmission by post, free of postage, of

(i) letters, books, tapes, records and other similar material for the use of the blind, and

(ii) mailable matter relating solely to the business of the Corporation and addressed to or sent by a person engaged in that business;

Lastly, the bill adds subsection 21(1), which enables the crown corporation to maintain the library book rate otherwise than by regulation by agreement with the Minister of Canadian Heritage regardless of regulations made under subsection 19(1) quoted above.

The Bloc Québécois supports the principle underlying Bill C-509.

The Bloc Québécois believes that access to knowledge and information is a pillar of society and the knowledge economy. That is why all Quebeckers and Canadians, whether they live in rural or urban communities, must have free and easy access to a broad selection of books.

The Bloc Québécois also believes that providing a reduced postage rate is part of Canada Post's obligation to ensure universal, accessible service.

This service has proven very useful.

Audiovisual material is becoming more and more important nowadays, and the Bloc Québécois believes that there is good reason to include it in the definition of “library materials” so that these items can also be eligible for a reduced rate.

Therefore, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-509 in principle.

Copyright November 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, approximately 100 artists from Quebec are on the Hill today to tell the Conservatives that they do not want Bill C-32 as it is presently constituted. If significant amendments are not made to it, Bill C-32 will serve only to impoverish our artists while making big businesses richer.

When 400 industries, 38 multinational companies, 300 board of trade associations and 150 chief executives are all supporting the minister and applauding Bill C-32 as it now stands, it is because they stand to benefit greatly from the bill at the expense of our artists. Close to $75 million in royalties and copyright will no longer be paid to artists and artisans if Bill C-32 is passed.

These members of Quebec's creative community are here to remind the Conservatives that the fruit of their labour is not free and that the government should not abandon our artists and our culture, since our culture is the self-expression of our people and of the Quebec nation.