- MPndpFeb 27, 2012 12:10 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Bloc Québécois and also as dean of this House, I would like to pause to say how shocked we have been by the intrusion into the minister's private life. I believe it is one of the worst attacks I have seen in the 27 years that I have served this House.
We share the minister's indignation and we fully agree that the public and the private lives of a politician should be completely distinct.
In closing, I would like to say to the leader of the Liberal Party that I admire the honest, transparent and most appropriate statement that he gave a few minutes ago on this matter.
- MPndpFeb 01, 2012 12:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have been proclaiming that unlike the Liberals, who unabashedly cut transfers, they will not send the bill for their fight against the deficit to Quebec. But that is precisely what they are doing. By increasing the pension eligibility age from 65 to 67, they will force Quebec to make up the difference in income for the less fortunate during that period, which, in the opinion of Quebec minister Julie Boulet, will cost Quebec tens of millions of dollars in social assistance.
Why are the Conservatives so determined to be like the Liberals and make Quebec and the provinces pay for their fight against the deficit?
- MPndpJan 31, 2012 12:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, to justify their sudden desire to reform the pension system, the Conservatives are claiming that action must be taken before costs skyrocket because of the aging population. Yet a number of economic analysts have indicated that program costs will remain under control.
Rather than crying wolf about the sustainability of the pension plan and trying to save money at the expense of the most disadvantaged seniors, why does the Prime Minister not listen to the Fédération de l'âge d'or du Québec, which is rightfully concerned about the devastating consequences of these measures and is calling them irresponsible and pointless?
- MPndpJan 30, 2012 12:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, the Prime Minister announced that major reforms to the pension plan are one of his government's top priorities. Everyone knows that when the Prime Minister says “reform”, he means drastic cuts.
How can this government justify trying to save money on the backs of our most vulnerable seniors, when it has no problem purchasing fighter jets, finding the money to celebrate the Queen of England and giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to large corporations?
- MPndpDec 12, 2011 3:55 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will be voting yes.
- MPndpDec 05, 2011 3:50 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois votes no.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
- MPndpDec 05, 2011 3:45 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois will vote against the motion.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
- MPndpDec 05, 2011 12:00 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, in a report that has just been released, the OECD confirms in black and white what people already know: the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider all the time. Worse yet, Canada is one of the worst, among other things because of the increasingly harsh restrictions on employment insurance. As a result, despite repeated calls in favour of an overhaul, almost 60% of the unemployed are unable to qualify for this program.
Since this government is insensitive to the fate of the unemployed, does it agree that the solution is to allow Quebec to manage the employment insurance program, as the Conseil national des chômeurs et chômeuses is calling for?
- MPndpDec 01, 2011 12:00 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Governor General is upholding tradition. Like others before him, he does not seem to have a problem spending taxpayers' money for personal reasons. On October 7, 2011, the Queen's representative used a Challenger jet as though it were a taxi, leaving taxpayers to foot the $5,000 bill, despite his tax-free salary of $134,000.
Will the Prime Minister get over his obsession with the monarchy and will he ask the Governor General not only to pay that money back, but also to pay taxes on his salary, like all Quebeckers and Canadians?
- MPndpNov 28, 2011 4:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of the motion, but I believe my vote was not recorded.
(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)
- MPndpNov 28, 2011 12:00 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, a new round of climate change negotiations is starting today, and the Conservatives' position is contradictory to say the least.
On the one hand, the minister claims that he will be “tough” on developing countries that are not doing their part, but on the other hand, he plans on abandoning our formal Kyoto commitments. As the environment commissioner said, the only thing that the government has managed to lower is its own greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Who is the minister trying to kid by saying that he will urge developing countries to do their part, when Canada itself is an environmental delinquent?
- MPndpNov 23, 2011 3:45 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is voting in favour of the motion.
- MPndpNov 23, 2011 3:40 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is voting in favour of the motion.
- MPndpNov 23, 2011 3:35 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc will vote yes.
- MPndpNov 22, 2011 12:00 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, Minister Fournier came away from this morning's meeting with his federal counterpart empty-handed. The federal minister told him that he did not have confidence in the statistics provided by Quebec, the expertise of Quebec's lawyers or the opinion of the Barreau du Québec.
Furthermore, a survey revealed this morning that only 22% of Quebeckers believe that Bill C-10 will help reduce crime and 65% believe that the federal government should pay the additional costs associated with this bill.
Is this the federal government's idea of open federalism? Is this its new way of co-operating with Quebec, that is, telling it to take a hike?
- MPndpNov 02, 2011 12:40 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois and all of its members, I would also like to pay tribute to our veterans.
I rise here today to recognize Veterans' Week. It is very important to commemorate—
- MPndpOct 27, 2011 12:00 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are ignoring Quebec's requests by introducing a bill that will diminish the political weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons.
By so doing, they are deliberately ignoring the unanimous resolution of the National Assembly that, as a nation, Quebec must be able to enjoy special protection for its political weight.
Does the Prime Minister understand that if he goes ahead with this bill, which has been unanimously rejected in Quebec, he will prove that his government's recognition of the Quebec nation was simply a ruse to hide his indifference toward Quebec?
- MPndpOct 19, 2011 12:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, despite the recognition of Quebec as a nation, the three parties recognized in this House unanimously approved the appointment of a unilingual anglophone judge to the Supreme Court, demonstrating their lack of concern for the French language. In addition to being criticized by the public, this choice was also rejected by the Barreau du Québec, which asks the parliamentary committee tasked with examining these recommendations not to appoint the unilingual judge.
Will the Minister of Justice tell Quebeckers that he respects their language and that, as a result, his government will reconsider its decision to appoint a unilingual anglophone judge?
- MPndpOct 18, 2011 12:50 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member's speech, and she touched on a number of important points. The Conservative member said that authors need to be protected through punitive measures. I am wondering if the hon. member shares my belief that it would be much better to pay a levy on the new technology we are using. I am not talking about a tax, but a levy that would be paid at the time of purchase. This money would go to the creators.
When a composer writes a song that is then stolen by thousands of people, he gets no revenue, so he has no way of suing the thieves, the people who are stealing his work. That is the problem. It is easy to say that artists can just sue someone who steals their work, but they do not have the means to do that.
The easiest way to avoid the problem of massive legal costs would be to just collect a levy when someone buys a device that can record 1,000 or 2,000 songs. That would bring an element of fairness, as was the case with blank cassettes when everyone was recording songs on them. There was a levy of 50¢ or 60¢. Or it may have been 28¢; I do not remember the exact amount. This money was given to the creators. We could do the same thing with new electronic devices.
- MPndpOct 17, 2011 12:55 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. It seems that this desire to centralize exists not only in the finance department, but also in the justice department. An omnibus bill that affects a number of areas has recently been tabled. It also infringes upon provincial jurisdictions. For example, Quebec has developed a vision for young offenders that has been cited as an example around the world. In fact, 85% of youth who offend are rehabilitated through this system, without jail time. The Conservatives' centralist vision focuses on repression instead of prevention, which centralizes power in the field of justice.
And exactly the same thing is happening in the arts and in finance. This securities commission is very symptomatic of the Conservative government's desire to centralize. Thousands of Quebec jobs would be transferred. There is opposition in Quebec and in the National Assembly, of course, but Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are also opposed to this. Conservative talk about decentralization and understanding the regions and the provinces is completely at odds with the proposal of a single securities commission in Toronto.
- MPndpOct 17, 2011 12:40 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate on the budget implementation bill. It goes without saying that we support some measures in this second budget bill, but unfortunately, some measures are unacceptable. That is why we will vote against it today.
The first problem we have is with the federal government's proposal to centralize securities in Toronto. There has been opposition to this not only in Quebec, but also in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Opposition was particularly strong in Quebec, since it would mean moving all economic life to Toronto. The government's desire to do this is nothing new. Members will recall that on May 26, 2010, it introduced a draft bill for this purpose. Then, in July 2010, despite opposition from four provinces, the Conservative government started implementing the transition plan for the Canadian Securities Regulatory Authority.
The government seems to forget that securities regulation falls under the exclusive constitutional authority of Quebec and the provinces. Let us not forget that the government's proposed Canada-wide securities commission does not respect Quebec's responsibility for property and civil rights. Authority over securities is given to the provinces by virtue of their jurisdiction over property and civil rights under subsection 92(3) of the Constitution Act, 1867. It is plain and simple. Nevertheless, the government wants to move forward.
The current passport system, as we call it in finance terms, works very well. With this system, a company that registers in one participating province can do business with people in all the other participating provinces. Every province, except Ontario, is part of the rules harmonization project. This Canada-wide commission will strip Quebec of a very important economic tool. Major decisions will be made outside Quebec. The Autorité des marchés financiers has an awareness of Quebec's distinct nature and needs that a single commission will not have.
For example, jobs in the financial sector are threatened. This is a key sector of Quebec's economy that accounts for 155,000 direct jobs. In all, 300,000 jobs in Quebec are connected with the financial sector. With their proposed Canada-wide commission, the Conservatives are trying to do Montreal out of what it has for Toronto's benefit and are encroaching on the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. For these reasons, the National Assembly and the business community in Quebec reject the proposal.
The voluntary membership that has been spoken of is a ploy. By destroying the passport system and counting on conflicts among the regulatory bodies, the Conservative government is creating a reason for stock-issuing companies to turn to the national commission.
Contrary to what the Conservative government is saying, the existence of such a commission would not have prevented investors from being fleeced by white-collar criminals such as Earl Jones. He was a criminal who was not registered anywhere. In Montreal or in Toronto, he would have committed his crimes the same way. It is up to the RCMP to hunt down criminals. This should not be part of the debate.
Similarly, the existence of a single commission in the United States did not prevent Bernard Madoff from defrauding investors of over $50 billion. In addition, during the merging of the Toronto and Montreal stock exchanges into the well-known TMX Group, the AMF came up with a series of conditions that had to be met in order for it to accept the transaction, including, in particular, maintaining a certain number of jobs in Montreal in the derivatives sector. Since TMX Group is regulated by the Ontario Securities Commission, which would be part of the new Canada-wide commission, there is a real concern that the conditions set out by the AMF will no longer be respected.
In that case, what would stop TMX Group from moving all of its activities from Montreal to Toronto? That is a real danger. This commission will also be detrimental to the use of French in business, let us not forget. It is unlikely that companies registered with the single national commission, whether or not they are from Quebec, will be required to publish in English and French. The Bloc Québécois reiterates its opposition to the creation of a national securities commission. The Bloc Québécois supports the current harmonization of the rules governing the financial system. The passport mechanism maintains the autonomy and jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. This mechanism has existed since 2008 and is also used in the European Union. Thus, it is not something that is unique to Canada and Quebec. It is an international way of seeing things that respects all jurisdictions, including the provinces.
Canada's securities regulatory system works very well. A coalition of business people representing Quebecor, Jean Coutu, Cascades, the Association de femmes en finances and its 350 members, the bar, notaries, Power Corporation and Mouvement Desjardins all confirmed it in 2010. Many experts also oppose the plan for a single securities commission. Among them we have Pierre Lortie, the former President and CEO of the Montreal Stock Exchange, the constitutional expert Henri Brun, Yvon Allaire and Michel Nadeau from the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations, and Jeffrey MacIntosh from the Toronto Stock Exchange Chair in Capital Markets Law at the University of Toronto. He shares our opinion even though he is from Toronto. All the political parties in Quebec are against this initiative. There have even been some unanimous motions from the National Assembly.
Let us take a brief look back to see how we got here. From 1970 to 2005, the idea of a single securities commission surfaced and resurfaced sporadically. The idea of giving Canada a single regulatory body for securities has been resurfacing for more than 40 years. Since 2003, the subject has been at the forefront of the federal political scene. The Liberals, who were in power at the time, had formed a committee of experts to study the possibility of setting up a single regulatory agency in Canada. The surprising thing is that the committee was far from being definitive. But today the Liberals and the Conservatives agree on centralizing everything in Toronto.
We should remember that, since coming to power, the Conservatives have attempted to force the issue. The 2006 budget revisited the idea. It announced that the government was going to work with the provinces. But if you work with the provinces and they say no, that they do not want change, the matter should go no further. The federal government often forgets that it was created by the will of the provinces. It is a creation of the provinces. It is not up to the federal government to tell the provinces what to do. It is up to the provinces to tell the federal government its expectations about how things will work. The provinces have delegated the powers to the federal government. This is often forgotten.
The Minister of Finance reiterated in 2007 that a panel of experts would be set up to study the creation of a single regulator. The 2008 budget again confirmed the government's intention despite the opposition from the provinces. In 2009, the expert panel on securities established by the Minister of Finance tabled its report, which was not unanimous. Action has also been taken recently, as we can see today in the government's statement on finances. It is still determined to move forward without waiting for the Supreme Court's ruling because the government is in a difficult position due to the provinces' opposition. Alberta and Quebec are mounting a legal challenge.
I hope that the Conservative government will revise its position to satisfy the demands of the provinces. For the time being, if Quebec is opposed, we will vote against the bill
- MPndpOct 03, 2011 3:55 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois members will be voting in favour of this motion.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
- MPndpSep 27, 2011 3:35 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's speech, at least the last part, and I think her proposal fits in with what all members want, namely, to split up the bill. In any omnibus bill, there are always some good parts and some more debatable parts. I do not understand why the government insists on introducing omnibus bills that bury good proposals under bad ones. If the government were to split up the bill, there would be unanimous consent on several parts and we could at least improve the debatable parts.
The hon. member talked about prevention. I am referring to young offenders, to Quebec's Youth Criminal Justice Act, which is cited as an example around the world and whereby prevention is effective with 85% of young people. I think we could learn something from that.
- MPndpSep 27, 2011 11:00 am | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, this is a very special year for Georgette Toutant and Édouard Beaudoin. They are both celebrating their 100th birthdays and their 78th wedding anniversary as well.
This couple have lived an extraordinary life. They owned a dairy farm for 48 years, raised meat animals for 15 years and thus spent 63 years working in agriculture. They remained on their farm until they were 92 years old. They have 7 children, 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
A grand thanksgiving mass was held at the church in their home parish of Gentilly on July 24 to give thanks and celebrate this special birthday.
The 100-year-old husband and wife will celebrate their 78th wedding anniversary on October 25. The community of Gentilly is proud of this couple who are a unique part of the history of the community, Quebec and Canada.
Congratulations. May you enjoy many more years of happiness.
- MPndpSep 20, 2011 7:45 am | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Madam Speaker, I do not think that the hon. member opposite answered the previous question from the NDP member, who asked what, exactly, the government was doing about the criminals who exploit these immigrants to bring them here.
In my opinion, this bill still goes after the victims instead of those who traffic these immigrants. The bill requires some major amendments. In addition, I believe that the entire bill still focuses more on criminals than on victims. The government wants to invest money in prisons and give additional penalties, but what will it do for victims in terms of support, follow-up and assistance?
I wonder whether the member would agree to split this bill into several parts, so that we can examine the many provisions that it contains. I think most of us would agree on half of the measures in this bill. There are some very good measures, but some are unacceptable, especially those that affect Quebec's traditional values and that go completely against what the Government of Quebec and Quebec society have always advocated.
- MPndpSep 19, 2011 12:00 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Government said this week that he fully intends to reintroduce the bill to change the composition of the House of Commons by increasing the number of seats, describing Quebec's concerns over its decreasing political weight as “horse trading”.
Does the Prime Minister agree with his House leader? Is that how much respect the government has for the nation of Quebec?
- MPndpSep 19, 2011 8:30 am | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, we were deeply saddened this summer to learn of the passing of the leader of the New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, after a hard-fought battle with cancer.
We were all impressed by the strength of character and determination Jack Layton showed throughout his battle against the disease. The fact that he found the strength to run an election campaign, despite his illness, to defend his values and promote his ideals exemplifies his courage.
Jack Layton was a passionate and honest parliamentarian. He was also approachable and easy to be around on a daily basis. We especially appreciated his dedication to the homelessness issue and how he promoted workers' rights, battles that we fought by his side here in the House of Commons.
Jack Layton's unwavering commitment to ordinary people is undoubtedly one of the biggest contributors to his immense popularity. That is also what made him an example to anyone who works in politics.
He was a principled man, a man who was courteous and respectful of his adversaries, and also extremely competent and effective. He was also a man of ideas. He brought a number of initiatives to this chamber, in order, as he often said, to do politics differently. As an expert negotiator, he was willing to make compromises to advance matters that were important to him. One of his guiding principles was that taking a small step towards achieving his objectives was better than stubbornly wanting to accomplish everything all at once.
And how he battled in the House of Commons! I will always remember one very intense day, to say the least, in this chamber. During question period, he used his oratorical skills to put a minister on the defensive, to an extent we have rarely seen in this House. That evening, at a cocktail party, I greeted the minister in question, and remarked that it had not been an easy day and that Jack had been in fine form. The minister replied that there was something special about that man. Even though he had been lambasted, the minister still wanted to shake Jack's hand when leaving the House.
That was Jack: he fervently defended his ideals, respected his adversaries and earned their respect. That is a feat not easily achieved, but Jack knew the secret.
I also remember that when I arrived in the lobby of the House after his great victory of May 2, Jack came over to me to ask about my colleagues who had been defeated. There was no hint of arrogance, just kindness and compassion.
Farewell Jack, the exceptional human being; farewell Jack, the dedicated and attentive MP; farewell Jack, the talented and effective party leader. Thank you for contributing so much to the development of our democracy. Thank you for all the memorable moments in this House of Commons.
In closing, on behalf of Bloc Québécois MPs and party members, I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to his wife, Olivia, his children, and all his family, friends and colleagues.
The great French writer Alexandre Dumas once said that those we have loved and lost are not where they used to be, but they are with us always wherever we may be.
- MPndpJun 23, 2011 6:50 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the official opposition leader's speech, and I am wondering if he did not overlook a certain aspect of the situation. I was here in 1997 when back-to-work legislation was passed. In that bill, the legislator included provisions that required the mediator or arbitrator to take the importance of good labour-management relations into account.
However, the bill that we are debating today does not include any such provisions. There is therefore a danger that, once the regulations are imposed, the work atmosphere will not be conducive to good working relations and this will have a negative impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall postal system. The arbitrator responsible for the final offer is not the person who has to live with the consequences of his decision. Can the leader of the opposition tell us whether he also hopes that such provisions are included in the bill?
- MPndpJun 23, 2011 8:35 am | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, given that June 24 is the national holiday of Quebec and since this House has recognized that Quebeckers form a nation, I would ask that you seek unanimous consent for the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of this House, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings on Government Business No. 3 at 5:30 p.m. and put forthwith, without further debate, every question necessary to dispose of the motion and that the House suspend, as soon as the motion is disposed of, until June 25 at 8 a.m.
- MPndpJun 22, 2011 4:30 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois vote against the bill.
- MPndpJun 22, 2011 4:25 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc will be voting against this motion.
- MPndpJun 22, 2011 4:20 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc will be voting against this motion.
- MPndpJun 22, 2011 4:15 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Bloc members will be voting no.
- MPndpJun 14, 2011 4:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc will be voting in favour of the motion.
- MPndpJun 14, 2011 12:05 pm | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, since coming to power, the Conservatives have been using the Senate to reward their friends and cronies and often to delay or even defeat bills passed by duly elected MPs. Instead of proposing simply to abolish the Senate, the Prime Minister is instead insisting on a piecemeal, unilateral reform of that institution.
Since the Government of Quebec intends to turn to the courts to block these bills if it is not consulted, will the Prime Minister put an end to this obsession with unilaterally reforming the Senate?
- MPndpJun 09, 2011 10:20 am | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by welcoming the new member for Scarborough—Rouge River and congratulating her on the eloquence and content of her speech.
However, I always wonder a little bit when we talk about health care in Ottawa since this is an area of provincial jurisdiction, and we know just how sacred this jurisdiction is to Quebec. There are 10,000 public servants in Ottawa but they do not manage a single hospital. As a result, it seems to me that, in her speech, the hon. member should have been careful to add that these demands should be met in a way that respects provincial jurisdictions, namely by making financial transfers or giving tax points to the provinces so that they can meet the objectives that she just mentioned.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 10:40 am | Quebec, Taillon
Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the hon. member for Bourassa, whom I recognize as being just as legitimate as I am. That is democracy. When I said that we are the only ones who speak for Quebec, I was quoting Senator Rivest, who was the chief of staff for Robert Bourassa, a Quebec minister. He is the one who wrote that. For once, I quoted a Liberal. The hon. member for Bourassa should be happy.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 10:35 am | Quebec, Taillon
Madam Speaker, I would reply to my Acadian friend that perhaps he is mistaken. This government is very transparent. When we look at the Conservatives, we know exactly what they are thinking. We can see right through them. Quite apart from the image they like to project, if you look closely, you can see right through them. The Minister of State for Science and Technology is a creationist and believes that dinosaurs walked the earth with humans. He thinks that The Flintstones was a documentary and Dino was the star. We can see their old Reform roots, which are likely what inspired the Tea Party.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 10:30 am | Quebec, Taillon
Madam Speaker, I could have read the very same speech 20 years ago because the situation has not changed. Quebec was isolated then and Quebec still is isolated today. That is the reality.
Now he is talking about UNESCO. Quebec is standing up at UNESCO for one reason: it has no seat. It has no choice but to stand. That is the situation. That shows how much respect the government has for democracy. When people say that Quebeckers have elected members who have done nothing for them for 20 years, those people are saying that Quebeckers are ignorant and that they do not have the right to elect the people who are speaking for them, who are defending them and who are defending their interests and values.
A senator said that federalist parties will not succeed in Quebec because they have nothing to offer Quebeckers. I will take responsibility for many things in life, but I will not take responsibility for the Conservatives' powerlessness.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 10:15 am | Quebec, Taillon
Madam Speaker, the motion we are debating today is on the confidence that every government must earn and keep.
We are dealing with a government that has woven a web of deception, attacked democracy and demonstrated an utter lack of integrity.
We are dealing with a government and a Prime Minister who have written off Quebec.
It is no longer possible to have any confidence in this Conservative government.
The fact that it was found guilty of contempt of Parliament, a first in the history of Canada, is serious enough in and of itself.
It was not just a simple mistake and the Prime Minister cannot suggest that there were extenuating circumstances.
The Conservative leader's decision to hide the truth was premeditated.
What is more, the Conservative leader is a notorious repeat offender. He and his party have quite the rap sheet.
The Conservative leader and his entourage have turned deception and trickery into a system of governance.
They have simply been making up the facts and fudging the truth, as we saw in the case of the Afghan detainees.
It goes on like that, deception after deception.
For example, when it came to the procurement of fighter jets, the government hid the numbers.
The Conservatives' populist law and order bills are going to cost several billion dollars.
The Conservative leader and his cohorts have decided to adopt the American approach, one that has unfortunately failed and that costs a lot of money.
They know it but, for them, it is not the actual results of public policies that matter, it is the ideological results.
The Conservative leader knows very well that, if the public learns that his policies are costing billions of dollars, he will fail in his attempt to impose his ideological agenda.
For years, the Conservative leader and his cohorts have claimed to want to fix the justice system, but each time they were given the opportunity to abolish automatic parole after one-sixth of the sentence has been served, they refused, finding a new pretext for doing so each time.
The Conservatives did not hesitate to spread falsehoods about the Bloc Québécois and it took widespread indignation about the release of Vincent Lacroix for them to stop their hyper-partisan game.
Another example: the Conservatives want the public to believe that they are responsible for the economic recovery.
It is the exact opposite.
Had there not been a proposed coalition against his government at the end of 2008, the Conservative leader would have sunk the Canadian and Quebec economies.
The only reason why there is a stimulus plan, an unsatisfactory one at that, is because the opposition parties made him come up with one.
Today the Prime Minister said that even the idea of a coalition is illegitimate, but he is misleading the public.
In 2004, he himself planned to form a similar coalition, and he knows it. I will read the letter he wrote, which I signed, as did the leader of the NDP.
You could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program [the government was Liberal at the time.]
The thought was that the Conservative leader would become prime minister after coming to an agreement with the leaders of the Bloc and the NDP about the content of the throne speech and the budget. And look what happened.
Another lie: for months the Prime Minister has been saying that he does not want an election.
But his actions over the past weeks have demonstrated the exact opposite.
He did not hesitate to orchestrate a $26 million pre-election ad campaign with taxpayers' money.
He deliberately wrote off Quebec in his budget in order to ensure that we could not vote for it.
On Wednesday the Conservative leader repeated once again that he did not want an election, yet he completely dismissed any possibility of amending his budget.
All of the Conservative leader's actions point to the same thing: he wanted an election.
He told the public exactly the opposite of what he was really thinking.
After so much deceit, how can anyone have confidence in the Conservative leader and his entourage? Especially since the case against the Conservatives is so strong.
Not only has there been contempt of Parliament, but also patronage, influence peddling, electoral fraud and RCMP investigations. The Conservative government handed out many partisan appointments, despite its promises to end that practice.
A former advisor to the Conservative leader and the Minister of Natural Resources is under criminal investigation. The party is facing charges for violating the Canada Elections Act, and I am not talking about one isolated incident. According to Elections Canada, we are talking about a premeditated system of electoral fraud. We are talking about violations committed by the highest authorities in the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister's inner circle, and several of his ministers. For a party that claims to be the champion of law and order, it is rather pathetic.
The case against the government is very strong and there are no extenuating circumstances. The Conservatives are repeat offenders and definitely do not deserve the confidence of the people of Quebec. We therefore plan to vote in favour of the non-confidence motion against this government, this party and its leader. We will do so on this very question of integrity, but we will also do so because the Conservative leader has not honoured his commitments to Quebec.
The Conservatives wrote off Quebec in order to trigger an election. The Conservative leader made sure that the economic and financial needs of Quebec would be completely ignored. The refusal to give Quebec compensation for harmonizing taxes is a perfect example. Everyone agrees that this $2.2 billion compensation is a matter of basic fairness. All the parties in the National Assembly agree. The agreement is ready to be signed. Quebec has been waiting for 19 years.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's political lieutenant from Quebec had the nerve to say that an election would delay negotiations with Quebec. That is taking people for fools, especially knowing that the Conservatives have done everything they could to trigger an election. The truth is that the Conservatives knew they would lose votes in Canada if they were fair to Quebec. The truth is that the Conservative MPs are prepared to sacrifice the interests of Quebec in order to obey their master. When the time comes to speak for Quebec, to represent the consensus in Quebec, they keep quiet, as usual. They deliberately chose to ignore Quebec and turn their backs on their province. Quebeckers will not forget that.
There is a total of $5 billion worth of disputes between Ottawa and Quebec that the Conservatives have completely ignored. We are talking about $630 for every Quebecker, including babies. For a family of four, this represents $2,500. Two thousand, five hundred dollars is the amount of money Quebec families have to do without for health services and education. For every Quebecker, there is a tangible loss of $630 per person. We will remind Quebeckers of that. Our requests meet with consensus and are simply fair. Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all had their turn. Now it is Quebec's turn and the Conservative leader has chosen, with the complicity of his MPs from Quebec, to cast us aside. Quebeckers will not forget that.
When it comes to social programs, the Conservatives do not care about the middle class. The budget ignores the amply demonstrated need for real reform of employment insurance. The Conservatives do not care about the sad fate of the unemployed. The Conservatives distort the facts, as usual, by saying that with the eligibility threshold of 360 hours that the Bloc Québécois is calling for, people will receive 50 weeks of benefits. That is not true and they know it. With that threshold, in Gaspé, it is 32 weeks, in Lac-Saint-Jean it is 20 weeks and in Gatineau it is 16 weeks—not 50.
What is worse is that the Conservatives are telling us that they will be helping themselves to the EI fund to pay down their deficit, as the Liberals did before them. I will be clear and frank: that is theft.
In Quebec, the forestry industry has been in a crisis for over seven years and many mills have shut down, throwing thousands of workers onto the street. Older workers who lost their jobs need an assistance program. The Conservatives ignored that too.
Our poorest seniors were offered a small increase to their guaranteed income supplement, but no one is fooled; the Conservatives were just hoping to score some political points, since they did not even have the heart to bring in automatic enrolment.
This means that thousands of seniors will be left in the lurch, without any resources. We can see the full extent of the deceit and cynicism of these ideologues who claim to want to help our poorest seniors. There is only one word to describe the Conservatives' offensive attitude, and that is “hypocrisy”.
This budget continued to ignore the economy in the regions. After the automotive industry in Ontario got a gift of $10 billion, it should have been the turn of Quebec's forestry industry. But no, all it got were some crumbs. It was the same for Quebec's manufacturing industry, which cannot count on an extensive federal policy to help it overcome the Canadian dollar's oil-fueled rise in value. All the Conservatives have to offer the regions of Quebec are tangible losses.
In short, any way we look at this budget, it is clear that the Conservatives have ignored Quebec. We will remind Quebeckers of that.
And the files are piling up. Yesterday, for example, the government announced that it had reached an agreement with Quebec on the Old Harry site, off the Magdalen Islands. But the Conservative government refuses to accept its responsibilities and ratify the border agreement between Quebec and the Atlantic provinces that Newfoundland disputes. The Conservatives refuse to impose a moratorium on the exploration and development on the Newfoundland side until Quebec has completed its environmental assessment.
There is another question. When the agreement is signed, does the Conservative government intend to offer Quebec the same terms as Newfoundland, which received $4.5 billion under the side deals? This very Wednesday, the Minister of National Defence clearly stated that Canada' interests take precedence over those of Quebec.
The government is about to offer a loan guarantee for the installation of an underwater electricity cable that will save Newfoundland and Labrador hundreds of millions of dollars but will be detrimental to Hydro-Québec and, therefore, to all of Quebec. What are the Conservative members from Quebec doing? They take it lying down and saying nothing.
It is very clear that Quebec cannot trust the Conservatives with its future. It is even more apparent that the Conservative leader wants to obtain a majority and the risk that he will do so is very real. That is a real danger to Quebec. If it happens, the Conservatives would be free to impose their ideological policies, which are harmful and contrary to the interests and values of Quebeckers. The Conservative ideology is foreign and warlike; Quebeckers find it disgraceful.
We are talking about billions of dollars in additional and often useless military expenditures. The Conservative ideology means protecting the interests of big oil companies. It means more prisons and more guns in circulation. The Conservative ideology means continued assaults against the environment, the distribution of wealth, gender equality, science, truth and democracy. A Conservative majority means the completely negation of everything we are and new assaults against Quebec culture. It means that our economic interests will be completely ignored and our regions will be even more neglected.
We cannot ignore this threat. Quebeckers therefore have a very clear choice to make. On one hand, there are the Conservatives, who have a cynical, sneaky, deceitful and cheating attitude. Their goal is to obtain a majority so that they can impose their backward and dangerous ideology without anyone being able to stop them. And, when it comes time to speak on behalf of Quebec, the Conservatives do not say anything. They bow before their leader and turn their backs on Quebeckers. We saw this in Quebec City on the issue of the arena, as well as on many other issues.
On the other hand, there is the Bloc Québécois, the only party in Quebec that is able to stand in the way of the Prime Minister's goals. Today, we are voting to show that the elected representatives of the Quebec people do not have confidence in this government, which has turned its back on Quebec. We cannot trust these Conservatives, who have tried to mislead the public, who have engaged in undemocratic behaviour and who have disregarded any notion of integrity.
The Conservative leader and his cohorts are known to be repeat offenders. They must be condemned without hesitation. They do not deserve our confidence. Today, it is the people's representatives who are voting. In a few weeks, it will be the voters' turn to do so. There is only one way to protect our values and democracy and that is through democracy itself.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 10:00 am | Quebec, Chicoutimi—Le Fjord
Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition concerning the guaranteed income supplement. This petition has been signed by people from towns and cities in my riding, as well as the ridings of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma.
The signatories are demanding the following: automatic enrolment for the guaranteed income supplement; an increase of $110 per month in the guaranteed income supplement for people who live alone and an increase of $199 per month in the survivor's allowance; full retroactivity of the program; and a six-month extension of the benefits following the death of one of the beneficiaries in the couple.
I support these people. This petition was circulated by FADOQ.
Once again, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 10:00 am | Quebec, Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou
Madam Speaker, several hundred seniors and homeless people in my riding have signed a petition calling on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to transfer funds to the Société d'habitation du Québec to renovate and build new affordable housing units.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 9:10 am | Quebec, Joliette
Mr. Speaker, before paying you a well-deserved tribute, I would like to acknowledge the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who has announced that she will not be running for office in the next election. I wish to salute her.
It is an immense privilege for me to pay tribute to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. Not only are you the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Canada's Parliament, but you managed this feat in a very special context. This has been pointed out, but I believe it deserves to be repeated.
What I would like to say is that, on four occasions, after four consecutive elections, no matter which party was power, no matter whether it was a majority or minority government, the member for Kingston and the Islands was elected by his peers to preside over our deliberations and to be the guardian of the rules of procedure and the traditions of the House of Commons. In my opinion, the confidence the House has expressed in you, four times over, and in a secret ballot, is a great feat, even more than your longevity as the Speaker of the House of Commons.
If I had to describe your work in one sentence, I would say that it is obvious that all your actions have been guided by your profound knowledge of the institution of the House of Commons. This knowledge is the fruit of your hard work and obvious passion for parliamentary business. It is public knowledge that, even as an adolescent, the Speaker of the House was an avid reader of Hansard. Of course.
With this in-depth knowledge of the institution, the member for Kingston and the Islands quickly became the defender of the rules and traditions of the House of Commons at a time when, need we be reminded, these rules and traditions could easily have been diminished. In fact, for more than five years, you have presided over a House of Commons with a minority government. Since 2004, with a number of your decisions, you ensured that the balance between parliamentarians' rights and the government's prerogatives was maintained. It was not always an easy task, I must say.
We will remember you, in your role as the Speaker of the House of Commons, as a man with an engaging personality and whose integrity, intelligence, judgment and knowledge, not to mention sense of humour, have been a source of admiration and inspiration for us all throughout these years.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer, on behalf of the members of the Bloc Québécois and myself, our most sincere congratulations for the quality and longevity of your tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons. Allow me to say, one last time, thank you for everything, Mr. Speaker.
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 8:50 am | Quebec, Saint-Lambert
Mr. Speaker, Quebec's transport minister has called on the federal government to do something about the Champlain Bridge. The importance of this infrastructure to the greater Montreal area and the rapid decline in the state of the bridge require immediate action. Like municipal officials and representatives of the Montreal and south shore chambers of commerce, Quebec's transport minister is calling for a new bridge. Mr. Hamad wants a decision before the summer.
Does the Minister of Transport realize that his government's indifference to the needs of Quebec could trigger an election?
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 8:50 am | Quebec, Jeanne-Le Ber
Mr. Speaker, it is time to build a new Champlain Bridge immediately in collaboration with the stakeholders. That is what the mayor of Montreal, representing 82 municipalities in the Montreal metropolitan community, and the mayors of Longueuil, Brossard and Laval said on Thursday. No more band-aid solutions. No more wasting time. The bridge is crumbling. We are talking about the safety of the motorists and the economic well-being of Montreal and the south shore.
Does the Minister of Transport realize that his government's indifference to the expectations of Quebec could trigger an election?
- MPbloMar 25, 2011 8:40 am | Quebec, Québec
Mr. Speaker, instead of doing his job as an elected official and defending the interests of the Davie workers, the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse has lambasted the shipyard, urging its administrators to find a serious investor. This is unbelievable.
While it is his government that is hurting Davie's recovery, he has the nerve to blame the shipyard's management.
How can the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse and his government abandon the Davie workers like this? Have they written off the shipyard, just as they have written off Quebec?
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