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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was agreement.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 18% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Kevin and Vince Nells Papatie March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate Kevin and Vince Nells Papatie of the Algonquin community of Kitcisakik on the production of their respective short films L'amendement and Petit Prince. Young filmmakers crossed Canada in a mobile recording studio, Wapinoki Mobile, allowing young people from aboriginal communities to express their culture through film by means of video and musical productions.

L'amendement by Kevin Papatie, which concerns the loss of the Algonquin language, won the award for best film in an aboriginal language at the imagineNATIVE 2008 festival in Toronto, as well as a prize at the FILMER A TOUT PRIX festival in Brussels, Belgium. The short film by Vince Nells Papatie, Petit Prince, will be screened at the Native American Film + Video Festival in New York later this week.

I join with my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois in extending our congratulations. Kevin and Vince can be proud.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

At the same time, I would also like to respond to the Conservative Party member who asked a question earlier. As for the first question, I would point out to the House that when I was at school—perhaps not many people remember that long ago—I remember I was at boarding school and the fathers taught us that the Americans became rich by minding their own business. As I got older, I realized that nothing was further from the truth, since the Americans preached a buy made in USA policy. The day when Canada is able to do that and teach elementary school children Canadian nationalism and Quebec nationalism, we will be that much better off.

To answer the question asked by my hon. NDP colleague, apart from adapting or transferring workers to the western provinces, which greatly needed workers in recent years because of oil and gas activities, very few offers were made involving the retraining of workers in their own field. Instead, they were told they should take part in training programs for jobs outside their region or they were simply told to move in order to work in another region, which is harmful to Canada overall.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I was a union advisor in a previous live and, as such, I certainly find it appalling to see our country, our provinces, export unprocessed materials. Even softwood lumber alone is too much. We should finish and refine our products before selling them abroad. Encouraging the export of the primary resource is the wrong approach.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain.

I would like to remind the hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands of one of his speeches concerning income splitting relating to the settlement of the softwood lumber crisis two years ago. It is a bit of an embarrassment to bring that up now, because at that time $23,000 was allocated to provinces that did not really need it, and provinces where workers were really badly hit by the crisis received only $2,300 per lost job. That was highly discriminatory.

Today the Bloc Québécois is presenting a motion in reaction to the planned assistance to the forestry industry. This wishy washy and mediocre plan for $170 million announced in the 2009 budget is spread over two years and is for all of Canada. It is intended as assistance to a forestry sector that is in crisis and one that is, let us not lose sight of this, mostly in Quebec and the eastern part of the country. This amount is laughable and clearly inadequate. It does not in any way correspond to the industry's needs. It will just melt away like snow on a sunny day before it can do any good. This is far from being my personal view of the situation, or even that of the Bloc Québécois.

The vice-president of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue regional conference of elected officials, the mayor of a municipality affected by the forestry crisis, made the following comments the day after the budget:

We thought there would be plenty of money to help the forestry industry. But, with $170 million for all of Canada, Abitibi-Témiscamingue will not get more than a few crumbs to help the forestry industry, which has experienced many job losses.

In fact, all that this assistance is doing is prolonging programs that had already proven unattainable and unworkable as far as counteracting the effects of the softwood lumber crisis is concerned, programs that this government had not managed to adapt in the past and seems still unable to adapt. It seems there is a lack of understanding on the part of the Conservative Party as far as the present forestry crisis is concerned, since it has not managed to learn from its mistakes in order to correct them at last, even partially, in order to make it better suited to meeting the needs of the industry in this time of crisis.

The softwood lumber industry has been going through major difficulties for a number of years now. It has had to cope with the imposition of antidumping duties and countervailing duties by the US, coupled with rising energy and raw material costs, and in particular with the higher rate of exchange of the Canadian dollar.

Today, with the economic slowdown in the States, the number of construction starts has fallen, causing a drop in demand for wood products. As sawmills supply the pulp and paper industry with wood chips, the drop in sales of softwood lumber means fewer wood chips. Second, third and fourth stage processing industries are also closing their doors, industries like pulp and paper, particle board, wall panelling, cogeneration plants, transport companies and forestry companies with many of their specialty suppliers.

We can only criticize the current government's lack of foresight and point to the lack of courage on the part of the Quebec members, who have been incapable of suggesting ways that might revive the industry. This obvious lack of courage has highlighted the ignorance of the leaders of this party, or of this coalition, should I say, since the Liberals supported this budget.

It was not a problem for the Conservatives because at that point, when the budget was tabled, what counted was tripping up the Liberal party, the other party of the coalition, by making such an offer to the automotive industry that it could not reject the Conservative budget without attracting the wrath of Ontario voters. And by rewarding western voters with sumptuous tax credits to the oil companies, a sector still bubbling at the moment, Canada was gratified. Quite a message to Quebec and the Maritimes. Are the Conservatives so calculating that they consider these provinces negligible?

This is why the Bloc rises and proposes specific measures to meet this crisis. The forestry crisis means jobs lost for thousands of workers, with all of the human drama that entails. It also means dire consequences for other sections of the population. The impact of the forestry industry on economic and local development is crucial. The pay of forestry workers has a considerable impact on regional consumption.

In addition, other sectors, such as transport, supply and subcontracting, local businesses and services are feeling the effects of the crisis in the forestry industry. According to Service Canada, for each job lost in the forestry industry, nearly six-tenths of a job will be lost indirectly in local business.

The forestry industry is a major employer in Quebec. Forestry operations and management, primary, secondary and third stage processing of wood and research activities generate economic benefits in a number of resource regions.

Faced with the inaction and deaf ears of the federal government, the Bloc Québécois is demanding a comprehensive assistance package to support the industry and help it get over the downturn. This plan should include specific measures to ensure sustainable development, including loans and loan guarantees, refundable tax credits for research and development, policies to encourage the use of lumber in the construction and renovation of federal buildings, measures to support the production of energy and ethanol, and assistance for research into the best uses of forestry waste.

The forestry industry provides more than 6,860 jobs in Abitibi-Témiscamingue alone, as well as hundreds more in the Nord-du-Québec region. Many families in my riding are affected by this crisis, either directly or indirectly. The unfortunate recent plant closures for indeterminate periods will result in about 2,300 factory job losses in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Nord-du-Québec.

As a result of the poor economic conditions in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, a town of 3,000, Domtar closed for good its plant employing 425 people. If this figure is transposed to a city like Montreal, it is the equivalent of 550,000 lost jobs. Just imagine the economic impact. As if that were not enough, the Comtois sawmill also located in Lebel-sur-Quévillon has temporarily ceased operations, putting another 286 people out of work, or the equivalent of 300,000 jobs in Montreal. Not even Alberta or the Conservatives could stand up to that.

The difficulties in the pulp and paper industry are prompting a company like AbitibiBowater to take tens of thousands of tonnes of newsprint off the market every month because of low sales. The Tembec sawmill in Senneterre has also had to cease operations, as it announced today. The forestry industry is closed down once again for periods running from three weeks to a month. Senneterre is another forestry town that has had its share of job losses.

The forestry industry needs help right now. Not tomorrow; now. The Conservative government still has not grasped this, as can be seen in the fact that the Minister of National Revenue just suggested holding a forum to find some solutions. I would like to remind him that 400 people met in Quebec City a year and a half ago for the Summit on the Future of the Quebec Forest Sector. As the minister responsible for Canada Economic Development, he set up advisory committees before the summit and still consults them, although without proposing any solutions to the crisis.

The solutions are well known, however. As Guy Chevrette of the Québec Forest Industry Council said recently: “The troubles we are currently experiencing are a liquidity and refinancing problem. They know that”. We hear the same story at Tembec, where they say that the funds allocated in the budget may be of help in the long-term but these industries have needs right now.

Richard Fahey, the VP, communications and public affairs, at Tembec, said that the challenge they were facing was that people are looking for short-term measures to see them through the crisis.

It is imperative that we get the point across to the Minister of National Revenue and his government that the time for talking or holding a so-called forum is passed and that now is the time to act.

I would like to go over the consequences of this crisis. In my riding, heavy equipment dealers and forestry workers are seeing their income shrink, and their work weeks get shorter, that is when they can hang on to their jobs. These people have no hope of seeing this government consider giving them back, through the EI program, a portion of the money that was deliberately diverted from its original purpose.

That said, I will give the next speaker the chance to make his remarks.

Domtar March 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, on January 27, I asked the minister about the 425 employees of the Domtar plant, in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, who lost their jobs following a lockout. She told me to wait for the budget. I have read and reread the budget and it does not contain a solution to this problem. In this specific case, exceptions to the law apply to prisoners, but not to the Domtar workers. That does not make sense.

Will the government support the Bloc Québécois bill in order to remedy this situation and allow many workers—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009 March 2nd, 2009

Madam Speaker, when I hear a Liberal member complaining about the government budget when it had the opportunity to take power itself and move ahead with its ideas as part of a coalition government, I cannot help but smile.

In a coalition government, compromise sometimes has to be made. I believe that the other party that would have been involved in the coalition also made compromises. I believe that the program the coalition presented had advantages for all of Canada.

Today we see that Ontario and Alberta are benefiting, while the rest of Canada has been forgotten, especially the mining and forestry sectors when compared to the auto industry.

Since he is equally concerned with the mining industry in his region, could the member tell me what is actually planned for the mining and forestry sectors as compared to what has been planned for the auto and oil industries?

Service Canada March 2nd, 2009

Madam Speaker, I have a question. Did you say that the debate would now focus on the amendment proposed by our NDP colleague before moving on to the main motion, as amended?

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's budget does not reflect the needs of young middle class families. For example, do they think they have achieved any sort of balance when a family with an income of $150,000 will be entitled to a tax reduction of $350, while one with an income of $40,000 will receive $148? And do they really think they are encouraging people to buy their first home by offering a tax credit of up to $750, knowing what the average costs involved in buying a home are?

An analysis of this budget clearly shows that it contains no concrete measures to meet the needs of young families, and even less so if one member of that family loses his or her job and cannot qualify for employment insurance.

With it, the Conservative government, backed by the Liberals, is showing how it has neglected low-income families in a time of recession.

Employment Insurance January 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the 425 employees of the Domtar plant in Lebel-sur-Quévillon learned that they were losing their jobs and would receive no employment insurance benefits. First they were locked out, and then, finally, Domtar announced last December that the plant would close for good. The legislation does provide for exceptions to the qualifying period, particularly for inmates, but there are no exceptions for employees who are locked out. That is ridiculous.

Will the government support the bill that the Bloc Québécois will be tabling to remedy this situation and give many workers the right to employment insurance benefits?

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act May 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that I do not represent Nunavut. The member who spoke earlier might not want me to compete with her over her riding. My riding includes Nunavik, a region in Quebec. I would also address this remark to her colleague who spoke earlier.

I would like to repeat what I said at the outset. The government of the member who just asked the question signed an agreement with first nations in May 2005. That agreement was signed. The government made a solemn promise to consult elected representatives of the first nations before drafting any bill or introducing legislation that would change their lives or their culture.

Even so, the government persists in introducing legislation that violates that agreement. Even if the laws are good for them, this is an insulting way of going about it and gives them little option but to oppose the proposed legislation. This approach will not foster agreement or collaboration between first nations and Parliament or the government.