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Results: 1 - 30 of 1294
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-08-12 12:20 [p.2747]
Mr. Speaker, it has been one week since the explosion of roughly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was stored for God knows why in the Port of Beirut for several years, a disaster that cost the lives of some 170 people and injured more than 6,000. We are talking about one of the largest explosions in history. It was one disaster too many for a country that has been going through an economic, financial and social crisis for several years, not to mention the current health crisis that, unsurprisingly, has thrown every country and their population into a state of uncertainty.
The Bloc Québécois wants to express its condolences to the families of the unfortunate victims of this explosion, its best wishes for a rapid recovery to the injured, and its solidarity with all the Lebanese people. The courage and resilience they have shown in overcoming this new ordeal, as well as the many challenges they have met throughout their history, is something to behold.
I commend the government's decision, in response to the call by the Bloc Québécois, to commit to matching Canadians' and Quebeckers' donations and for having launched the Lebanon Matching Fund. Quebec was deeply moved by this disaster, which is reminiscent of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy that the Leader of the Bloc Québécois and I witnessed first-hand, since at the time we were Quebec's ministers of the environment and public safety respectively. Quebec has a large Lebanese community, so it is only natural that we ask the Canadian government to show a bit of the same generosity as Quebeckers and Canadians.
Initially we identified the Red Cross, whose expertise and effectiveness in this type of situation are world-renowned. The government instead chose to transfer a portion of its aid through a coalition of humanitarian organizations with contacts on the ground. No matter, the important thing is that the aid gets to the people who need it.
That said, why did the government cap the amount that could be paid out by that group at $2 million, and why did it restrict the time for accepting donations to between the 4th and 24th of August? Why did it take the government over 24 hours to announce any assistance, which was initially rather modest? Why limit access to just 12 Canadian-based international aid agencies and not include local NGOs, which, facing the inertia of public authorities, are already on the ground and mobilized as we speak, ready to provide the medical assistance and the food needed by the people? Why was the Canadian Red Cross not included on that list?
The solidarity shown by everyone, people of all political stripes, over the past week has been remarkable. However, solidarity is not enough. Adequate, responsible, direct assistance is needed to help the Lebanese people, who will certainly figure out how to overcome this new hardship, as they have always done, supported by the steadfast friendship and support of Quebec, Canada and all caring nations.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and the government that I completely agree with a number of points made by the Leader of the Opposition. When the Conservatives and the Bloc are in agreement, members on the other side should take a long, hard look at things. Of course, then there are the ones in the back.
Just yesterday, I was on vacation and I had chosen my return date to be sure that I could be here, today, for the planned sitting. I took the helm of a lobster boat on the Magdalen Islands. The second captain told me I was good at staying on course and told me to keep captaining the ship. That is what we are going to do.
We have reason to be skeptical. As the Leader of the Opposition said, when someone picks the dates, they should be able to organize one day over a period of five weeks. When someone picks the dates, they should be able to organize four sittings over the entire summer. Meanwhile, the government says it wants to be accountable, sincere and open.
There is the matter of the WE Charity scandal. Again, I agree with the opposition leader, who said that the word “UNIS” was tacked on at the end to hide the fact that there were no francophones involved. Now there is a new $84-million scandal apparently involving the Prime Minister's chief of staff, and, of course, there is the wage subsidy. I understand that one of the two main Conservative leadership candidates said that the Conservatives would return the money. However, the Liberals are coming up on $2 million in wage subsidies to fund the next campaign, which could indeed be coming soon. I would have expected to see certain faces. I know I am not allowed to talk about people being absent, but I am troubled that certain individuals are “non-present”.
All I will say is, I was asked this morning whether we are really going to topple the government. In response, I asked whether this government still deserves our confidence. The Liberals have just given us the answer to that question.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:22 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, the government told us that WE Charity was the only organization capable of administering the student service grant, because it had a Canada-wide network.
Now we have learned that it did not have a network in Quebec or in francophone communities and had to subcontract that part of the program.
Why this betrayal of trust?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:23 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, at the same time it was creating the program to help WE Charity and the Trudeau and Morneau families, this government also created a so-called wage subsidy program, this time to support the Liberal family, which has scooped up $800,000 so far. This program has now been extended to next December.
Why?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:24 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, not content with sticking its hand in the cookie jar, this government also seized the opportunity to award an $83-million contract to a company whose vice-president is the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
Why? I ask again, why?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:24 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, after the scandals and apologies for his vacation to the Aga Khan's island, the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the WE scandal and the new scandal over wage subsidy money being diverted to the Liberal family, the assistance for the Trudeau and Morneau families is now being extended to the family of the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
Why?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:25 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, as we try to unravel and get to the bottom of these scandals and figure out what happened—after all, we are talking about hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, not Monopoly money—why is the Prime Minister not here in Parliament this week? Why the contempt?
Quebeckers and taxpayers are being taken for fools.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-08-12 14:16 [p.2767]
Mr. Chair, I will be sharing my time with my loyal colleague, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
In negotiating CUSMA, the government unfortunately forgot to protect aluminum, the aluminum produced in my region, the greenest aluminum in the world. The Bloc Québécois had to lobby hard for a solution that would shut out China's black aluminum.
Today, we are in a new crisis, which is partly the government's fault. It announced that there would be countermeasures, but oddly, they will only apply to aluminum products. In 2018, the countermeasures applied to any U.S. export, whether it was a Harley-Davidson, bourbon or a boat. The countermeasures could be slapped on any exported good.
Why can that not be done now?
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-08-12 14:17 [p.2767]
Mr. Chair, unfortunately, I did not get an answer.
Why are there no retaliatory tariffs on products other than aluminum? It is because, in 2019, they negotiated an agreement on the cheap. They went from a bazooka, with tariffs on all American exports, to a slingshot. They are defending Quebec's second-largest export sector with a slingshot.
I will repeat my question: Why is it impossible to impose retaliatory tariffs on products other than aluminum right now?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, in 2018, when we imposed retaliatory counter-tariffs on the United States, did all of the revenue from these counter-tariffs that was supposed to go to the aluminum industry actually reach the industry?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, that is not what I asked. The answer was not forthcoming either, from what I could hear.
Did all of the money that was supposed to go to aluminum in 2018, the money from the counter-tariffs, actually get to the aluminum industry, yes or no?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I will answer for them: The Parliamentary Budget Officer told us that over $200 million was not used.
Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware of that $200 million?
What does she intend to do with it?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, when we listen to the Bloc Québécois's proposals, we see that they work. We saw that with aluminum.
We are going to make a suggestion. That money absolutely needs to go to the aluminum industry for secondary and tertiary processing. We are taking care of the $200 million that is left, but we want to see the promised $360 million and so do the unions.
Will that money immediately be sent directly to the aluminum industry?
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-08-12 14:43 [p.2771]
Mr. Chair, I listened closely to my colleague. As the research and innovation critic, I was also interested in the Medicago file. Let me reiterate what happened.
The government launched several calls for proposals, three or four. A firm called AbCellera received its funding in short order. Medicago received a letter from the government in mid-April, I believe, stating that the firm would soon receive a letter outlining the terms and conditions. There was a lot of back and forth, and Medicago did not receive the letter until early July, if memory serves. AbCellera managed to get its letter very quickly, while Medicago had to wait three or four months. Investors were nervous.
I still wonder what could explain the government's unacceptable delay in responding to Medicago.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, again, I am in the interesting position of supporting my Conservative colleague's comments that the Liberals tend to embellish and boast about things that happened a long time ago.
It is true that at the beginning of the pandemic, the government sought unprecedented special powers to deal with an unprecedented crisis and that, for a while, the government was open to a number of suggestions from the opposition parties. During this time, no one was questioning the urgency of the situation. The Liberal Party later slipped back into old habits and became the party we knew in the early 2000s. Members will recall the scandal that happened back then. The Liberals, showing a naïveté that would make Voltaire rethink Candide, thought no one would notice anything, as they took advantage of the special powers Parliament granted them, even though they are a minority government. One morning, a case popped up, and then another one. More cases could emerge. This is concerning.
I wanted to be here today. That is not the case for everyone, but I will definitely respect the rules of the House. I would not want to disturb the very large number of Liberals in the House, who I can count on both hands. I have far too much respect for elected officials and institutions to not show up one day out of five weeks in Canada's House of Commons. I was just wondering why, as a sovereignist, I sometimes have more respect for federal institutions than the members of the federal government do. There is something odd in this situation. It led me to consider something I shared with the media this morning, which was a fundamental question: Does the Canadian government deserve the confidence of Quebeckers and Canadians? That is not a trifling matter. It is the foundation of our democracy. There is no surefire way to confirm it. Quebeckers and Canadians are not connected to a “confidence meter”.
Canadians entrusted 338 members, who are the voice of the people, to manage the nation's affairs, and it is up to those 338 members to grant or withdraw their confidence in the government. The Liberal's performance, answers and attitude here today truly seem to suggest that the members on that side are somewhat lacking when it comes to inspiring confidence. It is our duty to raise the question because, as I was saying earlier, this Parliament granted the government exceptional powers in good faith. A few months later, we discovered, of course, the now infamous WE Charity, which will go down in history. I once again want to emphasize that the organization was later named UNIS, as though it somehow catered to francophones, when francophones in Quebec and Canada were not even on WE Charity's radar.
We are talking about astronomical amounts of money, mind-boggling amounts, and the participation of the contract recipient in the implementation of a program that was obviously tailor-made to ensure the government could claim that public servants were not capable of managing it. How insulting. Then, the managers of WE Charity, who had other governance problems, said that they were withdrawing, and the government gave the program back to those same public servants who it had claimed, not too long before, did not have the necessary expertise to manage the program. Eventually, there will be another scandal, and it will be the same old story all over again.
A Crown corporation agency is going to outsource it to a private company because it cannot manage it itself, even though it is bigger than the private company. That is appalling, because it amounts to the government failing to recognize the skills and qualifications of Canada's public servants. It makes no sense. On top of that, the government has a nasty habit of having friends who magically appear at just the right time to take on contracts for tens of millions of dollars. It is quite something. That is where we are at.
I have been taking notes this whole time. No one is talking about an energy transition, even though that should be a priority, since public investment in the economic recovery will also be historic. No one is talking about creating industrial innovation clusters. No one is talking about electrifying heavy-duty vehicles. I saw a report on that topic this morning. No one is talking about a number of things that could offer a way to get out of this crisis by creating economic activity.
No one is talking about fixes to certain programs that still fall short. Our colleague mentioned that earlier. Initially, we completely understood that there could be some gaps, since the program was created hastily and urgently, but after a while, enough is enough, and those gaps need to be filled. No one is talking about that. They are talking about the scandals.
Seniors who got a cheque that was supposed to cover a three-month period are not getting a second cheque. The three months ended a long time ago, and when they got their cheque, another one was supposed to be in the works. Seniors received $300 to get through the crisis, while the Liberal Party paid itself $850,000 through the wage subsidy program. Soon the Liberal Party will have $1.8 million in its pocket that it can use for the next election campaign. Seniors are being offered $300. If they get the guaranteed income supplement, they receive an extra $200. Seniors feel like this government is laughing in their faces.
Meanwhile, they have not written the second cheque to farmers for supply management. They could very well have done it, as they do not need to table a budget to pay out the second year of the compensation that the government promised. Meanwhile, the fundamental problem with the scholarship program that was to have been managed by WE Charity has not been resolved, even though it falls under Quebec's jurisdiction.
It is easy to manage the WE Charity. The government has to calculate Quebec's share, write a cheque and send it to the Legault government. He will manage it because it is within his authority. No, the temptation is too strong. The Liberals want to centralize everything, interfere in Quebec's and the provinces' jurisdiction and hand out contracts to their friends. Then they wonder why some people, like us, have serious reservations.
Is it better to trigger an election if this government refuses to change some key players? Is it better to let the government continue like this than to trigger an election? This is not a disease. This morning, the government said that calling an election would be risky because of the pandemic. That is true. This all started with the pandemic. That may be true, but the government still needs to address the real issues. If we were to agree that we cannot call an election while a second and third wave are looming, this government would continue to act as though it were a majority government, a government that ignores its own scandals and acts as though we are living under a temporary dictatorship. That is obviously a preposterous notion.
That is why the Bloc Québécois is saying that some people need to go. The Prime Minister needs to go. The Minister of Finance needs to go. They may be prepared to agree on this, but throwing one person under the bus will not save the other. The Prime Minister's chief of staff needs to go, so that people who are ostensibly qualified can take over for at least six months and manage this crisis effectively. After six months, I can make no promises.
It is only natural that Parliament ask questions about the fact that the management of the crisis was used to the advantage of the Liberals to help them get re-elected or to help out their friends after they or members of their families received sums of money much larger than what would have been needed to save many businesses in Quebec and Canada. For that reason, we need to ask ourselves some important questions.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I have two things to say.
First, and I will not translate all that for Quebeckers, if the hon. member said that I want to serve my party, it is because he recognizes that my party is currently doing very well. I thank the Liberals for that because it is partly due to their own incompetence.
Second, are the Liberals sometimes capable of doing good things without lining their friends' pockets?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would not go so far as to call it a kleptocracy. We will wait a few weeks before going there.
However, I understand that some people are very worried: people who pay consumption and income taxes, people who work, people who want to work but cannot, and people who should return to work but are deterred by the programs. There is a problem and we have to find solutions for the common good.
It is a real problem when we continue to hear that public money that could save dozens of companies ends up in the pockets of people who, oddly enough, are close to the system or, even worse, in the pockets of people who channelled tens of thousands of dollars to the families of the two main leaders of this government.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, as I said earlier, there are things that Parliament and the government are not doing because they are busy dealing with some not-so-good things. It is true that, not too long ago, the government seemed to be on a roll, perhaps leading it to believe that it might stick around.
However, once again, the government has shot itself in the foot. It is spending all of its time shooting itself in the foot, and we are now faced with a series of scandals that have Quebeckers and Canadians saying, “same old story, same old gang”.
Those are definitely a concern, but as a result, we have failed to adequately address issues such as supply management and the payment of compensation. We have not spent enough time talking about some other supply-managed sectors, namely, the egg and poultry sectors.
Again today, there are several issues that we did not spend much time on.
We in the Bloc Québécois will address these issues; we will talk about aluminum shortly. It is important. It is major. It is vital for Quebec, but today, we are addressing Liberal turpitude rather than dealing with serious issues. Aluminum was not properly protected and the protections against what the American government had basically already announced were not discussed, considered or implemented. We presented a series of proposals to the government and we are asking that it find someone who has time to look at them in order to protect Quebec aluminum.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-08-12 15:30 [p.2778]
Mr. Chair, the Liberal Party really suffered as a result of the sponsorship scandal in the early 2000s. Canadians put the Liberals in the penalty box for over 10 years. Now, with the WE Charity and the wage subsidy program, they have been caught with both hands in the cookie jar. It seems this sort of behaviour is in their DNA and they are unable to change. They see a cookie jar and they just cannot help themselves from digging in.
I have a simple question for my colleague, who I commend for his speech. Let us consider the sponsorship scandal. Is there not a resemblance to today's WE Charity scandal? Are we not seeing the same old Liberal patterns playing out?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, it would be so easy to agree, but I do not want to say yes, because we have other work to do.
Of course, for the media and for many parliamentarians, the big question is this: Will the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives manage to convince the NDP to stop supporting the Liberals? That, however, is not the real question.
The real question is whether the government can survive for six months by replacing the bad guys with good guys. That is all we are asking for. If we could have that, the government could avoid all the comparisons with other scandals that were awful for Quebec, for Canada and for the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party certainly has no desire to return to the back benches. Can we simply put the right people in the right place to get good results? That way, no one would have to be brought down.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, that is all well and good, but our situations are rather different.
I am doing my job of looking after my riding and, when I am not there, I am visiting the rest of Quebec. By the way, the Magdalen Islands are not part of the Gaspé region. The hon. minister's job is to travel around the world. Of course, when he returns, he must do a little tour of the Mauricie, which is a wonderful region.
Just a few minutes ago, I proposed some economic measures, but I will make one specific proposal to the minister.
Would it be possible to establish funds and empower the regions to determine their own economic future based on their specific characteristics, expertise, vision and desire to have greener technologies and create wealth?
These decisions must be made by the regions. To that end, the pandemic recovery strategy must be driven by Quebec's regions and not by a foreign multinational in 2021.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-08-12 16:09 [p.2784]
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I must say that I have absolutely no reason to doubt his motives, which seem to be quite noble. I had the opportunity to meet him soon after the election, during the orientation sessions for new members. At the time, I thought he had run for office with the goal of serving his constituents and the Canadian public. I think his motivation was truly sincere.
How does he feel about the fact that the government took advantage of the support of the opposition parties, which was given in good faith to address the pandemic, to literally stop answering to Parliament and prevent it from working?
The government is acting as if it were a majority government, which it is not. It must be accountable to Parliament. If I were a Liberal member of Parliament today, I would be very distressed to see that democracy is being hijacked in Parliament. This cannot be allowed to go on.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this committee meeting on COVID-19 is to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect people's health and safety and help the economic recovery.
But what are we talking about? The only thing we are talking about is a situation that could be extremely bad for the management of the Canadian government. Is the Prime Minister concerned about how little time that leaves him to manage the country?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, when I do not have time to do something, I pay someone else who can do it better than I can.
The legislation we passed proves that Parliament and Canada do not need the Prime Minister as such, given his current state of mind. I am sure people know where I am going with this.
Was the Prime Minister aware that another not-for-profit organization wanted to get into real estate and that it would be getting millions of dollars from Canadians and Quebeckers?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to speculate on the outcome of any work to be done. The opposition parties are asking questions, the committees will be asking questions and the media will have some questions. We will get to the bottom of this.
Is the Prime Minister telling us that he is putting in the time to manage the WE scandal or that he is not doing his job and not dealing with it?
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