House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

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

Combating Terrorism Act September 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. A resolution was passed by all of us here concerning respect and courtesy in the House. But what they are saying about our motives and behaviour is completely false.

It is entirely inaccurate to state that we are against penalizing people who commit a crime. Let us not start this again. It goes against the mutual commitment we made to act like gentlemen here.

Combating Terrorism Act September 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, sometimes unusual things happen and unusual statements are made. And when such a statement is made by a minister, we need to pay special attention in order to understand the nature of that statement. Such is the case with my colleague's comments about imprisonment. We know that the Conservative government is about to build new prisons, and I believe that nearly $13 billion has been earmarked for this purpose.

We asked the Minister of Public Safety why so many prisons were being built. He responded by saying that too many unknown crimes were going unpunished. Does my colleague share this opinion? If so, how can we imprison someone who has supposedly committed an unknown crime?

Employment Insurance September 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the forestry crisis is far from over. The closure of the AbitibiBowater plants in Gatineau and Dolbeau-Mistassini shows us that workers in the regions need help to get through the crisis. But on September 11, this government put an end to the pilot project that provided an extra five weeks of benefits.

How can this government be so insensitive as to make cuts to the employment insurance program in the middle of a crisis?

Fairness for Military Families (Employment Insurance) Act June 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Bill C-13, to create fairness for families with respect to parental leave. As my colleagues have already stated, this bill will extend the eligibility period for parental leave for members of the Canadian Forces who are called back to duty while on parental leave. They will be able to complete this leave when they return from duty.

The bill indicates that the period during which the member may benefit from this right shall be 50 weeks. We suggested that these 50 weeks be retroactive for members who have already been called back to duty while on parental leave. The government agreed to make this amendment to the bill. I note that it was done today and that is a very good thing.

I also share the opinion of the member who just spoke that this is another example of a piecemeal bill. It targets one set of improvements to be made to the employment insurance system, which should really be overhauled.

We will support Bill C-13. It is a question of fairness, especially since we are asking our Canadian Forces to risk their lives in situations that are not only difficult but dangerous. The Bloc has the greatest respect for members of the military and as parliamentarians, we have the responsibility to not impose additional risks on them.

Furthermore, we must provide the best possible accommodation between their career and their family life, and we must ensure that their return to the country is facilitated by measures that help with their integration in civil society.

I make this distinction because we believe this bill should have been more comprehensive in terms of the reality of the military. Although this measure is necessary, the Conservatives are continuing their bad habit of making piecemeal changes rather than undertaking genuine reform of employment insurance and real reform to support the military. A good number of members return home traumatized and suffering from post-traumatic stress, elements that have not been addressed by this bill.

I would also remind the House that members of the Canadian Forces pay employment insurance premiums just like any other worker. They are therefore insurable.

It is only fair that they be entitled since they already pay for this coverage. However, they did not have full access to it because of their job. That said, I think the point needs to be made that there is a whole other dimension of the reality faced by our military that is not covered.

The current government makes much of the contribution of Canadian armed forces to various military interventions, but what about its responsibilities when some members return damaged by their experiences, suffering from physical injuries and trauma?

They are less inclined to talk about the increased suicide rate among armed forces members who return to civilian life and the incredible lack of the psychological and financial support they need.

I would like to remind the House that the armed forces should provide adequate follow-up of its members who return from a mission such as that in Afghanistan, especially since we know that 4% of soldiers returning from Kandahar develop suicidal tendencies, 4.6% have symptoms of major depression, and more than 15% experience mental health problems.

In the course of its parliamentary work, the Bloc Québécois has always been concerned with support for veterans, all those who have proudly donned the uniform.

We circulated a petition that will be presented to the House of Commons. It is asking the House to change, among other things, the way military personnel are treated financially after leaving the armed forces.

In 2005, the House of Commons passed a Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act, commonly called the Veterans' Charter, which came into force on April 6, 2006.

Since then, National Defence no longer provides lifetime monthly pensions for its soldiers. Instead, it introduced a lump sum payment in 2006. For every injury, there is a corresponding indemnity, up to a maximum. The amount is paid once, and the armed forces member is left to figure out on his own how to handle the money.

In January 2010, the Canadian Forces veterans ombudsman was very critical of this new system for compensating soldiers injured in service. Since stopping lifetime pensions, the forces have been providing veterans with a lot less money and failing to meet their needs.

The ombudsman said that he was not a proponent of the lump sum payment because someone with psychological issues could spend it unwisely and not have a single cent to put towards their financial security. The ombudsman, a veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan himself, added that veterans can quite easily become homeless, and this sometimes happens. Many of them lose their way because of mental health problems. He says the only way to force them to maintain a residence is to send their compensation in monthly installments by mail, as used to be the case.

We cannot remain indifferent to these observations of the Canadian Forces ombudsman.

This new way of compensating our soldiers causes them, and often their family, to quickly become financially disadvantaged for the reasons outlined by the ombudsman.

In closing, I want to reiterate that the Bloc is voting in favour of Bill C-13 with the amendment. We truly hope that when we return in the fall we can present legislative measures to help soldiers who return from combat with injuries by giving them better financial support.

Bill C-9 June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservative government is condoning looting the employment insurance fund, we are still waiting for an overhaul of the employment insurance system. By the end of the year, four pilot projects and a temporary measure will come to an end. We need to make these improvements permanent.

What is the government waiting for to reform the employment insurance system instead of using money belonging to the unemployed for other purposes?

Bill C-9 June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were the opposition, they criticized the Liberals for stealing from the employment insurance fund. With Bill C-9, the Conservatives are getting ready to condone this theft by wiping the slate clean and simply erasing the $57 billion belonging to contributors.

Does the government realize that Bill C-9 condones looting the employment insurance fund, something the Conservatives criticized when they were the opposition?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles on his speech. I believe his comments were able to set the debate in context.

It would seem that this government is short on ideas of places to hold the G8 and G20. The most secure place in Canada right now is Parliament Hill, where we will not be sitting, which has media infrastructure, podiums and conference rooms. In addition, there are spots to house the delegates in Gatineau Park, which is not far. Would it not be a good idea to simply do it here?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by congratulating my colleague from Ahuntsic on her excellent speech.

In society today, there are two sorts of people who are hyper-protected, with no debate as to the cost: criminals and the wealthy. When we think about it for a minute, it makes perfect sense. We do not need experts to explain it to us.

People who are in one of these two categories tend to be a bit paranoid, either because they are afraid because they have committed a crime or because they hold an office that has led them to behave badly, as in the Conservative government's case.

I would like my colleague to talk about political choices and all the cuts that have been made to women's rights and all the debates we have had on that issue, as well as about how readily the government invested huge sums of money in this protection.

Does my colleague believe the G8 and G20 could have been held here in this hyper-protected chamber?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act May 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the NDP member is quite right to raise that question. Earlier, I mentioned the people who are not eligible for employment insurance. Of all these people who contribute to employment insurance, only 46% can hope to be eligible. Of that 46%, only 33% of women and 17% of young people will be eligible for benefits. So there is discrimination against people who have atypical, temporary, seasonable or part time jobs.

We are proposing that we make people who have accumulated 360 hours of employment eligible for EI. That way, people who have worked fewer hours will also qualify. I think that is the best measure, under the circumstances.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act May 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Liberal member for his question, which is a very relevant one.

He is right. The fund is currently operating at a deficit, but that is only for a short period of time. By early 2012, things should sort themselves out. Some temporary measures have been put in place and are currently covered by the fund, without an increase in premiums. These measures are expected to be dropped next fall, which means that the current deficit will quickly turn into a surplus. According to the minister's books, between 2012 and 2015, the fund will generate a $19 billion surplus. That will cover the $2 billion deficit, but there will still be a net surplus of over $17 billion by 2015.