House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was workers.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Chambly—Borduas (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to seek the opinion of my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie, since there is some recognition in what she has said of facts in the past involving the Liberals. This is not the subject of the debate, although we might make it the subject of the debate and draw a parallel. I think we would be happy to do that.

I believe we have to get to the heart of the matter. What is in issue today is the mistakes made by the party now in power. One of those mistakes is to identify the Canadian government as its own property, as its own personality—to the point that the Premier Ministre has named it after himself: “Preparation H”, or rather “the H Government”. Forgive me, because there is a similarity between the two when it comes to how they might be used.

This personalization is precisely the subject of my question. Does my colleague not think there is something here that is not just offensive, but flatly contemptuous of Canadian institutions and the Canadian people?

Employment Insurance March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, while the effects of the crisis are still evident, especially in the regions, and many workers are now without income as their benefits have stopped and they wait to return to seasonal work, the Conservative government continues to pillage the employment insurance fund instead of helping workers.

Does the government plan on using the upcoming budget to revise its policy on the unemployed by proposing substantial EI reforms, in order to increase benefits and make it easier to access the system?

Petitions March 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to present another petition, this one calling for improved benefits for seniors. It has been years since any changes were made to improve benefits for seniors, specifically the guaranteed income supplement. Also, a senior should be able to collect the pension of his or her deceased spouse.

The petitioners are calling on us to realize that there are many seniors in need. It is our duty to improve income support for seniors.

Petitions March 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from the people in my riding calling for changes to the employment insurance system, specifically with respect to the waiting period for obtaining the first employment insurance benefit cheque.

This serves as a reminder that the employment insurance system is not adapted to new realities, and the petitioners are inviting us to make the necessary changes.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Ahuntsic on all the work she has done on this issue and pointing out not only the relevance of her work, but also her knowledge of this matter.

Today, I would like to focus on the two main reasons why the NDP and the Liberal Party are opposed to this bill. I believe it was the member for Ajax—Pickering who said it best this afternoon.

First, he said that they were not part of the debate and the negotiations—which were carried out secretly—between the Conservatives and the Bloc. We could not have been any more transparent. The Bloc leader even walked across the chamber to speak to the Conservative leader, and there was extensive media coverage. We did not talk with the Liberals and the NDP for the obvious reasons mentioned by my colleague from Ahuntsic. That is my first point.

My second point is as follows and will lead to my question. Some say that this has not been sufficiently debated. My colleague also spoke about this. We have been debating it for two years. Two years ago, the two other opposition parties said they had enough information to concur with us.

I would like my colleague to explain what she believes has changed since then and why these parties have chosen a different position today.

Business of Supply February 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate the comment made by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, and I thank him. There can never be a final point on this. There is only one, and that is the importance of rectifying an injustice. Someone who does not see an injustice in what happened cannot understand how painful this was for the people who lived through it. That is why I call on the Conservative members from Quebec in particular, because for the most part they are the same age as us and lived through that. They cannot remain insensitive to this situation today, and they certainly cannot miss the opportunity to help remedy this injustice in some small way.

Business of Supply February 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would first like to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Joliette, who will be also be speaking on the same subject.

Allow me also to congratulate our colleague on his exceptional work, the work that he has done to allow us to have this debate for an entire day. We are trying in some small way not to correct the injustice, but at least to honour the people who had to suffer that injustice and to offer them an apology. May the apology come from those responsible, the Government of Canada.

I would also like to offer special thanks once more to the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine for his work on the Wilbert Coffin case, clearly another injustice—at least, work is being done on it—but most of all for the work he is doing for the marine industry, for fishers and for his riding. I am making that aside—something I rarely do—because there are members from all parties in this House who do exceptional work, and today, I would like to draw attention to the work done by the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

That work has made it possible for us to debate his motion today, and I am going to read it for the benefit of those who are watching. The motion moved by the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine reads as follows:

That this House issue an official apology to the people whose properties were expropriated to create Forillon Park for the unconscionable manner in which they were treated, and that the Speaker of the House send the representatives of the people whose properties were expropriated and of their descendants an official copy of the Journals of the House of Commons indicating the adoption of this motion.

My Liberal colleague previously made the point well: this does not correct the injustice, but, out of respect for the people who suffered it, it allows this House to express regret for what happened. It also allows those who represent it through our civic activities to demonstrate the regret officially, as we are preparing to do. I join my Liberal colleague in his wish: it is essential that the Conservatives vote for the motion as well.

It is more than a symbol. It is the expression of a will to demonstrate than an injustice occurred. The only way to do so with no political colours staining our gesture today is for the Conservatives to vote with us, with the opposition parties.

My colleague rightly said that we must not needlessly recall the past, but often the past sets us back in a particular context. It is a mark of respect that we owe the victims.

It all happened in 1970, but the process was set in motion in 1963. In 1969, there was an agreement involving the government at the time, headed by Mr. Trudeau. And Mr. Chrétien was the spokesperson on the issue for the Canadian government. So Mr. Chrétien came to an agreement with his Quebec counterpart in the Union nationale, Gabriel Loubier. There was already one major dissenting voice in the National Assembly at the time, and that was Marcel Masse. He felt that this was something that was unacceptable. He saw it and he pointed it out.

I found our colleague’s comments about the past interesting, when he spoke a bit earlier: if this were to happen again today, there would be the same concerns as there were then.

At the time, however, nothing was done to put a stop to this initiative, which is why it is so important to go beyond regret and apology. What will we do in the future to prevent such a thing from happening again?

For the benefit of the people watching, I will summarize the brief that the Forillon expropriated persons commemoration committee submitted last April to the environment minister at the time, Jim Prentice. In 1970, under Mr. Trudeau’s government, over 1,500 families were expropriated, and 225 families lost their property. The expropriated properties were burned by the federal authorities, and in some cases the owners were hired and forced by the government to personally burn their own property, which they had built through their own hard work.

Many of us come from small communities, often rural communities, and our home is where we belong. It situates us in life, and for a family, it is the secure foundation that allows us to develop and build our lives. Suddenly these people were told that they no longer had their home and that if they did not want to burn their house, they would be forced to do so. Then, gradually, their telephone service was cut off, then the electricity. They were prevented from going to fetch the wood on their farm for heating. That is what happened.

We have an obligation to remember such a thing. It was terrible for the people and their descendants to have to go through that. Parents at the time were powerless, and unable to provide this security for their family. The children and grandchildren were witnesses to this. Today they are 60 or 70 years of age, and they have carried this with them all their lives. Out of a sense of obligation they have told their children and grandchildren about this, as any self-respecting people would do.

A great Quebec poet, Gilles Vigneault, once asked what fruit can grow when one does not know the tree from which one descends.

We all have the duty to pass on where we are from, who we are and what we have experienced. Some will say that this is over. But no, it is not over. They cannot even go back there, to their homes, their property that was turned into a park, without having to pay to go and honour their ancestors.

One woman told me that to go and pray at the graves of her husband, her family and her two children, she had to pay. But it was their land.

To this day, these people are feeling the after-effects. To this day, these people are living with this memory, this trauma that will live on, and rightly so, given that we have this responsibility to pass on who we are.

Today, we are talking about a gesture that is symbolic to us, but very important to them. We must tell them that we know what happened to them. We know what that decision was rooted in, and we must make sure that it does not happen again. We are particularly aware of the impact that it had on them and we are apologizing to them for it.

And it is the motion from the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine that is urging us to do it. Let us not miss this opportunity. Our Conservative friends from Quebec who are the same age as us lived through it. The whole of Quebec remembers. It was far away from where I lived, because I was on the other side of Quebec, in Abitibi. Even though it happened in the Gaspé, I can almost tell you the entire story because Quebec's consciousness was awakened by this abuse of the people of Forillon.

Today, I think that our colleagues, particularly the Conservatives from Quebec, are duty-bound to raise the awareness of their colleagues from the other provinces about the situation and to vote with us so that we can finally tell the people of Forillon that we are sorry, that we ask their forgiveness and that we are going to make sure that this does not happen again.

Business of Supply February 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I have a short question for the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

We remember the operation conducted in the old days to get rid of Eskimo dogs. This was a rather revolting practice in the north, which I think everyone condemns today. We also see what happened in Forillon. Out of respect for those involved, has the hon. member thought of a way to ensure that such a thing does not happen again? Is there a way to ensure that such a situation never occurs again?

Business of Supply February 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, my Liberal colleague had some very appropriate words to say about the nature of the motion before us. I would like to hear a little more from him regarding two concerns he expressed. Let me summarize one of them. He did not say it in these terms, but the meaning was the following. The action we take in supporting this motion to apologize to the people who were expropriated should not be in a spirit of rancour or revenge but in a spirit that reflects our compassion and desire to ensure that this never happens again.

He argues that at times bigger interests prevail over others, which may justify past actions. He said we should not judge the attitude people had in the past. I would like to understand more exactly what he meant by that. I remember that at the time, I and most of us thought this was unacceptable. So it was not considered more acceptable in the past. I would like to hear him on that.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this is a very relevant question. What the government is doing reflects an ideology aimed at leaving the government with as few financial resources as possible so that it can later justify making cuts to social programs. This has already begun. This is the logic behind the government's action and we do not agree with it.