Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-06-20 12:19 [p.29469]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to offer my condolences to Mr. Warawa's family and friends and to his colleagues in the Conservative caucus.
Mr. Warawa proudly served the people of Langley—Aldergrove for 15 years. He was taken from us by cancer today, reminding us that there is still a long way to go to beat this terrible disease.
The last time he addressed the House, Mr. Warawa knew this day would come. He reminded us that members must not let themselves get too caught up in politics and forget what matters. He told us to take care of ourselves and to spend time with our families, because in the end, that is what really matters.
Rest in peace, Mark. Thank you for your public service and your contribution to your country.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-19 15:16 [p.29394]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has no credibility when it comes to the environment. Just 24 hours after declaring a climate emergency, he gave the green light to the Trans Mountain pipeline, which will produce more greenhouse gas emissions than all of Quebec's industries combined.
He is apologizing by saying that he is going to invest $500 million in green energy, but he is investing $14 billion in pollution.
How is the Prime Minister going to fight climate change by investing our money in a project that creates more pollution than all of Quebec?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, today, I am tabling a petition calling on the government to protect the banks of the St. Lawrence River corridor.
This petition follows on an e-petition signed by about 700 people that has already been submitted. This time, the clerk certified 1,500 signatures on this paper petition. In the past, when Canadians came to Parliament Hill, the Minister of Transport refused to meet with them. We hope that, even if he does not meet with them, he will still respond favourably to the petition. The erosion of the banks of the St. Lawrence River is a very important issue for the petitioners. It affects their daily lives. I think the minister should show a little humanity.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-18 10:20 [p.29266]
Mr. Speaker, I have another 50 or so signatures to add to the 3,792 signatures on last week's petition calling for a public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
This petition is not just about the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. It is about all aspects of rail safety. Decades of deregulation and privatization have jeopardized rail safety across the country.
Petitions are a way for citizens to make their voices heard. There are other ways. A documentary series about the Lac-Mégantic tragedy is in production. We will not give up.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-18 13:06 [p.29290]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the parliamentary secretary, who said that a price on pollution improves economic competitiveness. That is what OECD researchers are saying. That is a message for my Conservative colleagues.
However, I do not agree with the Liberals, who keep repeating that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. That is not the case for Trans Mountain.
The more we increase oil sands development, the more we increase greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a few statistics. Since 2005, the oil sands have grown by 158%. Alberta is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which rose by 28.7% between 2009 and 2016.
The economy and the environment do not always go hand in hand, when it comes to the extraction of dirty oil from the oil sands.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 14:00 [p.29298]
Mr. Speaker, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, tax evasion costs us $26 billion and banks and oil companies reap the rewards.
That is $26 billion that is not being taxed and used to pay for our nurses or to renovate our schools and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Canada Revenue Agency calculates how much money people are hiding, but not how much money people keep in tax havens with the CRA's permission. Corporations and banks are allowed to engage in tax avoidance. That is what the Liberals are hiding when they talk about tax fairness.
The CRA will put a citizen who owes $100 through hell to get that money, but Ottawa allows banks to hide billions of dollars in Barbados.
The Liberals even legalized three new tax havens during their term. They say that the net is tightening on tax cheats, but it is more like a window that is opening.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-18 15:07 [p.29312]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice said yesterday that Bill 21 violates fundamental rights and individual freedoms and that he would always defend the charter. He was basically saying that he intends to challenge the Government of Quebec's secularism law.
My question is simple. Is the minister going to wait until after the election to challenge Bill 21, for fear of alienating Quebeckers?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-18 15:08 [p.29312]
Mr. Speaker, the government already dictates what people can and cannot wear. Soldiers, RCMP officers and prison guards all wear uniforms. Male MPs have to wear a tie in order to be recognized in the House of Commons. I do not hear the Minister of Justice objecting to those rules.
What is the real reason that the Minister of Justice wants to challenge a state secularism law that is supported by the people of Quebec?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:30 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Durham for his speech.
Today we are debating the new NAFTA. The government announced that it wanted to fast-track it. For the Trans-Pacific Partnership we heard more than 400 witnesses in committee. There are just three days left before the House adjourns for the summer, followed by the election.
Does the member for Durham think this is all a pre-election spectacle by the government to show Canadians that it is resolving the matter of free trade, or is the Prime Minister simply sending a message to President Trump, telling him that he is taking care of it and will see him next week?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:32 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois does not oppose the implementation of the new NAFTA, now known as CUSMA. We had two conditions for agreeing to consider the bill. We stated our reasons more than once, and I even wrote about them in the U.S. media. First, we wanted the issue of the steel and aluminum tariffs to be resolved. That has been done. However, there is also the issue of supply management, which has not been resolved.
The government wants to ram through the implementation bill for the agreement, and we are opposed to that. As I indicated in my previous question, more than 400 witnesses were invited to appear before the committee when it was studying the trans-Pacific partnership. However, to date, no witnesses have been invited to speak about CUSMA, the new NAFTA. We are therefore opposed to its implementation, because it puts the cart before the horse.
In Washington, Congress has barely started looking at the new agreement, and Congress has the authority to sign international agreements. The text that the Prime Minister signed in November may change. We know that the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, disagree with the Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, about a number of things. The Democrats may well demand changes to the agreement before they endorse it. As of now, Congress has not even drafted the bills to implement the agreement, yet here we are debating ours. This makes no sense. Implementing an agreement that has not even been finalized is nothing more than pre-election smoke and mirrors.
Where is the fire? NAFTA is still in force and will remain in force after the dissolution of the House. There is no rush. I understand the government wanting to cross a few things off its to-do list, but doing a sloppy job is not the right way to bolster its record. Doing things properly means waiting. Furthermore, this agreement has some very real implications, and the government has not even bothered to listen to the people it will affect. That is a major problem.
Like all agreements, this one has winners and losers. The losers will need compensation, guidance and help, and that needs to happen at the same time as ratification, not afterwards, on the 12th of never. We know that promises made before ratification are quickly forgotten. Just look at the workers in the shipbuilding industry. They were told they would be compensated, and the next day, they were forgotten. We can also think of workers in the clothing, furniture, agriculture and automotive industries. They are getting no support.
We all know that this agreement was signed at the expense of our supply-managed farmers, our regions and our agricultural model. There is nothing to help them deal with this, nothing but vague promises. There was nothing in the notice of ways and means motion tabled a few weeks ago either.
After four years, we know what this government's promises are worth. It has been two years since CETA and the TPP were signed, but our farmers have yet to see even a hint of any cheques, and they will not get one red cent before the election. Despite its lofty promises, the government has done nothing. It should be ashamed. Because of its inaction, any commitments made in the budget have become campaign promises. Canadians have been burned, so all trust is gone.
With respect to CUSMA, the programs should already be in place when the agreement comes into force. Our farmers have been fleeced twice now, but they will not be fleeced a third time.
I want to address another issue of concern to dairy farmers. With CUSMA, Donald Trump will have control over the export of milk proteins, class 7. That is an unprecedented surrender of sovereignty by this government. Our farmers can currently sell surplus milk protein on foreign markets. If the agreement comes into force too quickly, there is a good chance that Washington and President Donald Trump will completely block our exports. It is worrisome. The risk is very real. That would completely destabilize Quebec's dairy industry.
If we get our protein exports in order before the agreement is implemented, there is a chance that the Americans will see the matter as resolved and will let it go. That is what we want. The last three agreements were signed at the expense of our producers. If the government implements this agreement in the worst way possible, it will cause irreparable harm. I think our farmers have been punished enough by the government. Enough is enough. For this reason alone, it is worth waiting. I think we all agree on that.
As I was saying, we do not systematically oppose every free trade agreement. We support free trade in principle. Quebec needs free trade. I also want to say that CUSMA, the new NAFTA, is not all bad. If I were a Canadian, I would probably think that the Minister of Foreign Affairs got a good deal. For example, she shielded Ontario's auto sector from potential tariffs. She also protected Canada's banking sector from American competition. That is not nothing. It is good for Ontario. She maintained access to the American market for grain from the west. This is good for the Prairies. This is a good agreement for Canada.
She also took back Canada's control over the oil trade, which Brian Mulroney abandoned in 1988. Alberta must be happy. For once, I am not being heckled too much. She did away with the infamous chapter 11 on investments and preserved the cultural exception. That is good. However, the specific gains for Quebec are less clear. I talked about supply-managed producers. I could talk about how the Government of Quebec will have to pay more for biologic drugs and will no longer be able to collect QST on packages arriving from the United States from Amazon or other web giants. Small retailers will find themselves at a disadvantage. What is more, copyright will be extended from 50 years to 70.
In short, we need to look at all of those things in order to implement measures that will help Quebeckers benefit from the new opportunities that are available and put programs in place to compensate those the government abandoned during the negotiations. We need to do all that before we vote on this legislation. No party in the House deserves to be given a blank cheque.
I hope that, after the election, the Bloc Québécois will have the balance of power. That is what political analysts are saying could happen. Then, there will be no more blank cheques.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Madam Speaker, the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert will see. For the first time in years, Quebeckers will be able to rest assured that their interests are being taken into account. In order to do that, we need to wait before voting on the NAFTA implementation bill. There is no hurry.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:41 [p.29361]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his thoughtful question.
Before I answer, I do not think I made myself clear in my speech, so I wanted to say again that I will be sharing my time with the member for Davenport. The microphone was off, but—
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:42 [p.29362]
Madam Speaker, I also said that I wanted to share my time with the member for Davenport, but you could not hear me because the microphone was off.
I therefore ask the unanimous consent of the House to share my time.
An hon. member: No.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:42 [p.29362]
Madam Speaker, I am really disappointed that the member who asked the question opposed the motion.
There are times when we do not get our requests met as we would like. It is nice when we manage to agree on how to play the parliamentary game, but when people act in bad faith, it complicates things.
Indeed, it is troubling that the copyright period has been extended from 50 years to 70 years. It is important to take the time in committee to consult experts and the people who could be affected. Extending it from 50 to 70 years will have many repercussions on radio stations that broadcast cultural programming. Let me give a bit of a silly example. Playing Elvis Presley songs did not cost anything, but what is it going to cost for another 20 years? That is problematic. That said, we need to listen to producers and broadcasters to properly evaluate it. That is why I am saying we should not rush this.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-06-17 14:00 [p.29175]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' immigration policy is a complete failure.
After four years, hundreds of irregular migrants are still crossing the border into Quebec every day. No progress has been made at Roxham Road or in Ottawa on the processing of applications, and the Canada-U.S. safe third country agreement is still in force.
Our farmers are still concerned that they will lose their crops because their temporary foreign workers are not arriving in time. Applications have been stalled for months in Ottawa, and every summer the federal government seems somehow surprised when the problem comes up again.
Ottawa still wants to force Quebec to accept more refugees while it is deporting the Haitian refugees we want to keep. Ottawa is still opposed to requiring newcomers to demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of French before they can become Quebeckers.
The Liberals' record shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Quebec should handle its own immigration without Ottawa's involvement.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-17 15:05 [p.29188]
Mr. Speaker, last night Quebec passed its secularism bill. Finally.
Will the Prime Minister now undertake to respect the will of Quebeckers and their National Assembly and neither challenge the new Quebec bill in court nor fund legal challenges?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-17 15:06 [p.29188]
Mr. Speaker, the chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, completely out of touch with Quebeckers, has already dragged out his “it is a sad day for Quebec”. It took less than 24 hours.
Whether he likes it or not, it is a good day for Quebec. This is a great day, and the culmination of over 10 years of debate on secularism in Quebec. The fight is not over, however. We still have to make sure that Ottawa will not drag this matter before the courts.
Will Quebeckers get a solemn commitment that the federal government will respect their will and not challenge this secularism legislation either directly or indirectly?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-17 19:15 [p.29224]
Madam Speaker, at the beginning of his speech, my colleague talked about young people being environmentally responsible, saying that that is the way to go. I would just remind him that a network called the Établissements verts Brundtland, comprising several green schools in Quebec, was created in the 1990s. People have already started adopting environmentally responsible behaviour. However, that is not going to solve the climate crisis. The elephant in the room is oil and gas, fossil fuels, the oil sands.
What could the Conservatives propose when they want to develop the oil sands at all costs? What could a Conservative government propose to resolve the climate crisis or, at least, to start working on it?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-14 12:08 [p.29130]
Mr. Speaker, drugs in Canada are more expensive than in most countries around the world. However, that situation should have changed. The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board changed its reference pricing list for setting drug prices. The new regulations were supposed to come into effect on January 1 of this year, but the government still has not passed them. That is just wrong. The government caved in to pressure from the big pharma lobby.
Does the government still plan to adopt these regulations and if so, when?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-14 12:09 [p.29130]
Mr. Speaker, that is not a reassuring answer. The minister says that her government is doing everything in its power to lower the price of drugs. The regulations were supposed to come into effect in January, but we are still waiting. The price of drugs is still too high. Those rules would save the public $2.6 billion.
If I understand correctly the underlying message of the minister's response, the government is opting to be a doormat to the pharmaceutical companies.
I am therefore asking the government to confirm that it has done an about-face, that it will never adopt its regulations and we are going—
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-13 14:00 [p.29055]
Madam Speaker, the furor over environmental assessments of federal projects reflects a classic Canadian divide.
On the one side are six provincial premiers who are opposed to the Liberals' Bill C-69 because they believe it does not sufficiently take the financial aspect into account. They want free rein to impose pipelines. On the other side is Quebec, which is also opposed to Bill C-69, but only because it gives too much power to Ottawa and its subpar environmental standards. Quebec wants its own laws to apply on its own territory. Caught in the middle is Ottawa, which has introduced a bill no one wants. It is the classic Canadian quandary.
We in the Bloc Québécois support Quebec. Quebeckers are the ones who should be deciding which projects to approve or deny based on our own laws. That is why we voted against Bill C-69. We are going to also vote against the Conservatives' amendments, but that is because their amendments have just one goal, which is to ram pipelines down our throats without any possibility of a challenge.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, people are sick of seeing the old parties getting huge cheques from lobbies and holding fundraisers at $1,500 a head. We need to restore the former system where political parties received a per-vote subsidy. That is the only way to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest. The Bloc Québécois is not the only one saying so. Former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley and Democracy Watch feel the same way. Enough with the patronage.
When will the government restore the per-vote subsidy financing system?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Uber, Facebook and Google are the ones funding the Liberal Party, not ordinary Canadians. It is the oil companies, the Irvings and all those who wait, cap in hand, for government subsidies.
Corporations are not allowed to fund political parties, but when their employees donate $3,000 a year, it certainly helps to fill the kitty, does it not?
Is that why the Liberals do not want to restore the per-vote subsidy? Is it because they would rather take a funding-for-favours approach?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, this morning the Journal de Montréal published an article about the smell of dirty money in Ottawa.
That fetid smell is coming from the Liberal Party, which is stuffing its pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bay Street, lobbies, oil companies, banks, religious groups and law firms.
When will the Prime Minister stop working for the interest groups that are paying him off and keep his promise to restore the per-vote subsidy financing system?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-12 15:18 [p.28997]
Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it, you will find the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion: that, by the end of this Parliament, the House stop reading the daily prayer prior to proceedings—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-12 16:50 [p.29011]
Mr. Speaker, several of the amendments that were rejected came directly from the oil lobby. However, some of the amendments would have affirmed respect for the provinces' rights and municipalities' land use plans. Why were these amendments rejected? The Bloc Québécois proposed similar amendments in committee.
Why must the provinces' rights and municipal land use regulations always be ignored?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-11 13:58 [p.28912]
Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague's comments about the softwood lumber, steel, aluminum and automotive sectors, but I did not hear him say anything about supply-managed producers.
We are being asked to ratify this quickly, but would that not mean giving the government a blank cheque to ratify the agreement without compensating our supply-managed producers? We should be sending a cheque to every supply-managed producer rather than giving this government a blank cheque.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-11 13:59 [p.28912]
Mr. Speaker, when the people of Lac-Mégantic called for a public inquiry into the rail disaster that happened in their town, the Minister of Transport called them conspiracy theorists. However, a number of questions remain unanswered, including the following:
Why did Transport Canada allow a negligent company to operate massive convoys of oil tankers with only one employee on board?
Why was that allowed even after the National Research Council had warned that safety was an issue?
Who decided to ignore the known deficiencies, and under what kind of pressure?
Why is it that the initial investigation identified six causes for the disaster, all connected to the one-member crew, but they were all removed from the final report?
Why did the Transportation Safety Board not hold a public inquiry, when it could have done so?
Why has the number of rail incidents increased since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy?
Why did an identical derailment kill three people in British Columbia in February?
All these questions show that, rather than insulting people, the Minister of Transport should launch a public inquiry immediately.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-11 15:10 [p.28925]
Mr. Speaker, the government says it wants to fast-track ratification of the new NAFTA. However, it is much less eager to compensate our supply-managed farmers, who have yet to receive a single penny for the two previous free trade agreements. The minister had promised them payments by June, but they have yet to receive anything, and they will not receive anything before the election.
Before asking for a blank cheque to ratify NAFTA, could the government not have the decency to send some cheques out to farmers?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-11 15:11 [p.28925]
Mr. Speaker, we are still waiting for details. The problem is that people agreed to the last two free trade deals with the understanding that producers would be compensated, but they never got that money. They did not get a penny for CETA or the TPP.
Now the government wants to play the same trick on us a third time. It wants to ratify the agreement even though compensation details are not on the table. No way.
Does the government understand that no compensation means no ratification?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-06-10 14:00 [p.28802]
Mr. Speaker, Catalonia's exiled president, Carles Puigdemont, has been forced to delay his visit to Quebec yet again. It was supposed to happen in April, then in June, and now it has been postponed to the fall because Canada once again did not allow him into the country in time. Mr. Puigdemont deserves to be treated with all the diplomatic consideration that a democratic nation extends to heads of state.
The Bloc Québécois is calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that Canada will not interfere with Mr. Puigdemont's right to visit Quebec. In the name of democratic values, the Prime Minister must condemn the authoritarian excesses of the Spanish government, which sabotaged a referendum and is subjecting Catalonian leaders to political trials, prison sentences and exile. Such actions are totally inappropriate on the part of any country that calls itself democratic.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2019-06-10 15:09 [p.28815]
Mr. Speaker, Netflix announced a training program for French Canadian cultural artisans. That is a pittance and does nothing to stop the hemorrhaging that cost TVA 68 jobs just last week. The web giants are not collecting taxes, paying taxes or providing funding for French-language content. We are not asking for anything special. We just want the rules that apply to Quebec companies to also apply to foreign multinationals. As the saying goes, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
When will the government force them to pay their fair share of taxes?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-10 15:10 [p.28815]
Mr. Speaker, 68 people lost their jobs last week at TVA, and Ottawa continues to support web giants. We are told that it will take some time but that they are working on it.
Our television and film productions are at the heart of our identity. They identify us as Quebeckers and have helped us develop our star system. Productions like Bye Bye epitomize our traditions, while shows like Lance et compte, Annie et ses hommes  and Les beaux malaises are a reflection of our culture. Our cinema is recognized all over the world, but it cannot be found online.
When will the government force web giants to pay their share and contribute to our culture?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-10 15:36 [p.28820]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition calling for a public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and the rail system as a whole.
Last week, the minister was talking about a conspiracy theory, but the petition was signed by 1,592 people online, and I have more than 2,000 signatures here. In addition, the Town of Lac-Mégantic adopted a resolution a few years ago, and the National Assembly of Quebec adopted a unanimous motion.
All of these people want to get to the bottom of what happened because a number of questions remain unanswered. For example, who writes rail companies' regulations? Are there enough inspectors? Is there a law requiring companies to install more hand brakes? Why is the number of rail accidents on the rise?
Those are just a few of the many questions. A public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and rail safety is essential to ensuring an accident like that never happens again.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-07 12:07 [p.28758]
Madam Speaker, more than 40 years ago, the government established a tax credit to stimulate investment in the Atlantic region, which includes the Maritimes, Gaspé and the Lower St. Lawrence to La Pocatière, but not the North Shore, which also needs to diversify its economy.
Mining is a good activity, but it is cyclical. I wrote to the Minister of Finance, but he took no action.
Why is the government so intent on holding back investment in the North Shore?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-07 12:08 [p.28758]
Madam Speaker, let us talk about another file where the government is neglecting the regions of Quebec: the spruce budworm that is devastating our forests.
The infested area is larger than the entire province of New Brunswick, and yet, the government gave $75 million to New Brunswick and nothing, not one cent, to Quebec. Not surprisingly, the Irvings own part of New Brunswick's forests and have cutting rights to the rest. They are the ones pocketing the money, as usual.
Will the government admit that it is robbing Quebec to line the pockets of its friends at Irving?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-07 12:10 [p.28758]
Madam Speaker, the loss of 68 jobs at TVA proves that even the most popular media outlets are in trouble. In the meantime, Facebook, Netflix and other companies are not paying their share of tax, are not collecting tax, are not contributing to creating Quebec content, and do not have a single journalist on their payroll. We need to have new fund, bankrolled by the web giants, for local television.
Will the government finally force them to pay their share?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-07 13:32 [p.28770]
moved that Bill C-372, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans and group insurance plans) be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Madam Speaker, on October 17, 2017, when Sears Canada announced it was declaring bankruptcy, I introduced Bill C-372, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. The 20,000 tragedies that were unfolding sadly echoed the 1,000 tragedies that Manicouagan experienced in 2015 and harshly but clearly illustrated the need for my bill.
In January 2015, Cliffs Natural Resources, an American company operating in Fermont and Sept-Îles, Quebec, and Wabush, filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.
Overnight, some 1,000 retirees lost nearly a quarter of their pensions as well as their group insurance. Through a negotiated, collective agreement, these workers agreed to forego part of their salary, to defer it to a pension fund. When Cliffs declared bankruptcy, that money was stolen from the workers. We have seen our share of tragedies back home on the North Shore.
These are human tragedies with faces and names. For nearly 30 years, Bertrand Thériault from Sept-Îles worked at the Cliffs pellet plant. For nearly 30 years, he held up his end of the contract, in the dust. Mr. Thériault and his wife were forced to sell their home. On top of that, Mr. Thériault had to come out of retirement and start repairing bikes at Canadian Tire.
The bankruptcy also affected Dolorès Chevarie and her husband, who is dealing with cancer. After Cliffs went out of business, the couple found themselves in a very tough situation when they lost their health insurance. These seniors racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills. They just wanted to be healthy. They did not have that kind of money. What are they being asked to do? Even though the multinational corporation went on turning a profit for its shareholders during and even after the bankruptcy process, it came at the expense of people like Bertrand Thériault and Dolorès Chevarie. True, our laws allow these tragedies to happen, but we, as legislators, have the power to change them. Politicians are often perceived as being powerless, but that is simply because they choose to be powerless. Today, I urge the House to demonstrate what politics can achieve by using the one thing that is at all members' disposal: our will.
What I am proposing with Bill C-372 is a fundamental change to the way our laws treat the pension funds of workers and retirees. At present, our laws define the unfunded liability of pension funds as an unsecured claim, on the same level as a phone bill or credit card debt. The same goes for funds intended to be used to compensate workers for losing their group health insurance.
Throughout their careers, workers give up a significant portion of their day-to-day wages to pay into a pension because they know this will make it possible for them to have some income when they retire. When the employer agrees to pay into a pension fund, it undertakes, under the terms of the collective agreement, which is a contract, to have workers receive what they have accrued once they have completed their years of service. Workers' wages belong to the workers. Workers' deferred wages also belong to the workers. No one would deny that.
If our laws rightfully assign a very high priority to unpaid wages as a liability, they do not assign this same priority to actuarial unfunded pension liabilities. The law is not consistent because it creates two categories of wages. We must correct this anomaly. The principle of deferred wages must be enshrined in law in a fair manner. I will repeat that a pension fund consists of deferred wages. Thus, by law, it must be returned in full to workers and pensioners.
Members will agree that this is a grave injustice. When this is acknowledged by Parliament, we as legislators will act to rectify it. What I am proposing with Bill C-372 is that we acknowledge the problem, take action and always strive for greater justice. My bill is very simple. It has five clauses that amend two acts. Clauses 1 to 4 amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and clause 5 amends the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.
First, my bill ensures that, in the case of bankruptcy, no proposal in respect of an employer who participates in a pension plan, regardless of its nature, will be approved by the court unless it provides for the payment of an amount equal to the sum of all special payments. In practical terms, that means that workers' pensions will no longer be cut in the case of bankruptcy or restructuring, as has happened many times.
Clause 2 of the bill would turn this unfunded liability into secured debt against the employer's assets. Those who oppose this idea claim that such a measure would lead to higher credit costs for businesses and could prompt banks to no longer give out loans. In response, I would like to quote independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart, who stated the following before the Standing Committee on Finance in 2010:
[F]or those that are investment grade and have pension fund deficits...the impact on the cost of capital...[would be] 0.16%. This is an amount that is easily borne, and should be borne, when you consider the social cost that comes when these companies...seek to enter bankruptcy for the purpose of double-dipping and making profit.
A single company's collapse would not put the big banks out on the street, but the inconsistency of our laws can do just that to our pensioners.
Clause 3 of the bill would ensure that, in the event of a receivership, special payments would also be guaranteed on the bankruptcy assets.
Clause 4 is innovative as it introduces the concept of protecting group insurance as a preferred claim. I think it is necessary to make group insurance a higher priority, because it is a benefit that is received through work and that deserves greater protection since, again, it is a part of the compensation package. Beyond that, our continued denial of these facts amounts to knowingly jeopardizing the security of our seniors as well as the rights that workers have fought for.
Lastly, clause 5 of the bill would amend the CCAA to ensure that, in the event of restructuring, the court could not approve a proposal that robs workers of part of their pension or fails to compensate them for the loss of their group insurance.
If passed, Bill C-372 will fix the injustice of brazen pension theft. It will protect this income for retirees so that no one else will ever go through the same ordeal as the Cliffs pensioners.
In closing, I should point out that the most-lobbied government member is the minister responsible for the CCAA. I know that all federalist parties support the report issued by the previous government, which proposed the status quo regarding the CCAA.
I know the banks will not like my bill. I know they can afford to pay a lot of lobbyists. I know they do not want Bill C-372 and they will do everything they can to kill it. I know all of that. Unfortunately, I also know that in a perhaps not too distant future, other companies will go bankrupt, since crises are bound to happen in a capitalist system. I also know that if my bill does not pass, more families will experience hardships, just like the ones in my riding did. My bill is not about taking an opportunity or having the privilege of making things better; it is about our duty to make a change.
When I vote yes on this bill, I will be thinking of the pensioners not only of Cliffs, but also Nortel, Sears, Mabe, Stelco and so many others, and I will know deep in my soul that it is the right thing to do. I hope all parliamentarians will think of them when it comes time to vote.
I hope all my colleagues will have their conscience perfectly in line with their moral principles, because after all, we were elected to represent our constituents. We must never forget that. I never forget it. I never will forget it, and I will always represent them with dignity and pride.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-07 13:41 [p.28772]
Madam Speaker, my colleague may not have understood the purpose of my bill.
This is a legislative measure. At the risk of clarifying the government's own budget, it does not contain a single measure to help the people I talked about, nor does the government want to introduce legislation to help them. If it wanted to, I imagine it would have done so at some point in the past four years.
As I said earlier, this could have been done back when the parties had a chance to respond to the report on the CCAA when it was under review. The government could have voted to make changes to help pensioners, but it voted to maintain the status quo.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-06-07 13:43 [p.28772]
Madam Speaker, if I understand correctly, my colleague is wondering if there is a way to abuse the legislation.
There is a case that I find especially interesting. It is about a multinational, Cliffs, that decided to end its operations in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. It declared bankruptcy in 2015, but it is still operating. It made $199 million in profits in 2016, $371 million in 2017, and $1.1 billion last year.
To me, it seems obvious that the companies have the means to pay the retirees and workers what they are owed. If we do not have legislation obliging companies to do so, they will continue to make profits on the backs of workers.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-06-06 15:11 [p.28706]
Mr. Speaker, the same thing happens every year. Our businesses and farmers cannot get their temporary foreign workers in time because it takes Ottawa forever to process their applications. This is pretty easy to predict, though. Summer comes around at the same time each year, and so do the harvest, fishing season and landscaping season. These things do not wait for the federal government.
What is the government going to do today to make sure our businesses get their temporary foreign workers before it is too late?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-06-06 15:12 [p.28706]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are great at talking the talk but not so great at walking the walk. Every year, the demand for temporary foreign workers grows. There is a labour shortage. Everyone knows that, and it is even worse in the regions. Every year, the government apologizes for not being ready.
What is the government going to do today to fix the problem? What is it going to do to make sure we do not have the same problem next year?
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-06-05 14:05 [p.28573]
Mr. Speaker, on June 5, 1944, at 9:15 p.m., Radio Londres alerted the French resistance that Operation Overlord was about to begin by broadcasting the first stanza of Verlaine's poem Chanson d'automne: The autumn's throbbingStrings moan, sobbingDrone their dole;Long-drawn and low,Each tremoloSears my soul.
The next day, the Normandy landings began. The brave soldiers, some as young as 18, came under intense enemy fire. Too many young men fell on the beaches of Normandy, but their sacrifice freed Europe from Nazi rule. Many units from Quebec, like the Régiment de la Chaudière, the Black Watch and the Régiment de Maisonneuve, took part in the Normandy invasion.
On this day, we honour their sacrifice and their outstanding courage. They died for our freedom, which we so often take for granted.
I thank all our veterans. Lest we forget.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-05 15:13 [p.28586]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the people of Lac-Mégantic called for a public inquiry into the 2013 rail disaster. The minister told them that they were spreading conspiracy theories. The fact that 47 people were burned alive in Lac-Mégantic is not a conspiracy. In February there were three deaths in a similar accident in British Columbia; that is not a conspiracy. The increase in rail accidents since the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic is not a conspiracy.
Will the minister retract his statements, stop insulting the people of Lac-Mégantic and order a public inquiry into rail safety?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-05 15:22 [p.28587]
Mr. Speaker, 3,800 people have signed a petition demanding a public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic rail tragedy. Over a year ago, a motion calling for a public inquiry was unanimously adopted by Quebec's National Assembly.
I think the Minister of Transport should retract his comments about conspiracy theories.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:39 [p.28490]
Mr. Speaker, it is time to take a look at the Liberals' record. There are two and a half weeks left in this Parliament. The budget implementation bill that is before us today is the government's last. Anything not contained in that bill will have to wait until after the election. Budget 2019 is consistent with this government's approach of saying one thing and doing the opposite.
First, let us talk about this so-called green government. Since the last election, bitumen extraction in Alberta has skyrocketed. We are talking about an increase of 25%. That is no small thing. Extraction grew even faster than under Stephen Harper. In fact, production has grown so much that it has exceeded transport capacity.
Today, the Liberals and the Conservatives would have us believe that there is a pipeline problem, but that is not the case. There is an overproduction problem, which is not the same thing. To limit overproduction, the government is proposing to support new investments in the oil sands with accelerated capital cost allowance. A total of $2.7 billion in taxpayers' money will be wasted on this tax expenditure.
In one year alone, the government announced $19 billion in new oil investments. The oil industry certainly got the message. If you look at production estimates, it is clear that the industry wants to maintain the level of growth it has seen the past four years. This will result in more overproduction and cause prices to continue their downturn. This is meant to make us believe that more pipelines are inevitable and that we have no choice but to export and pollute more.
The direct consequence of this government's policies is that energy east will be forced back on us. The Liberal government is working to keep us in the 20th century, bogged down in the tar sands.
Mr. Alain Rayes: Where do you get your gas?
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Mr. Speaker, at my daughter's school there is a big banner saying “zero tolerance for bullying”. The previous Conservative member who spoke accused the Liberals of bullying, and now the member for Victoriaville is hurling epithets and questions at me. There should be zero tolerance for bullying here too. We have a right to speak without being interrupted.
To get back to what I was saying, that is not what we need in Quebec. We have already started to go green. GHG emissions per capita are two and a half times lower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. A policy for the 21st century is to make polluting expensive and avoiding pollution profitable.
I can already hear the Liberals saying that they created the carbon tax, so let us talk about it. The government imposes a tax, then gives the money back to those who paid it. It is a circle that does not result in any real transfer of wealth from polluters to the good guys. It does not make it profitable to go green. It will not result in a true green shift. It does not entitle anyone to make green speeches. It is merely an image, just like the government has been since it was elected: an image, no more, no less, but definitely no more.
Let us move on. In the lead-up to the budget, the Bloc québécois reached out to Quebeckers, and what we consistently heard was that their main priorities are health and education. There is nothing about that in the budget. Health transfers have been capped at 3% for two years, and yet, health costs in Quebec have risen by 5.2%. You do not need a Nobel prize in mathematics to see that there is a problem. The healthcare system is stretched to its limit, and wait times are getting longer. Something has to give, and everyone knows it.
Everything I have just said about the healthcare system also applies to education. Teachers are as burnt out as nurses. It is the same problem, except that, in this case, transfers were capped at 3% 15 years ago. Health and education are Quebeckers’ two main priorities. There is nothing about that in Bill C-97. The government decided to gradually move away from Quebecker’s priorities. That is abundantly clear in Bill C-97.
Now, let us look at the measures the government has taken to stimulate the economy. Its primary measure involves infrastructure. In and of itself, that is a good thing, but the methods used are another story. By multiplying specific programs, each one with very strict criteria, Ottawa has ruined everything. Federal requirements have caused a tug of war with Quebec and will paralyze the entire process. The result is striking: the money is starting to trickle down just before the election. We had to wait a long time. In the first two years of its term, the government spent $100 per Quebecker and $700 for each Canadian outside Quebec.
We know the federal government is building precious little infrastructure. It owns barely 2% of all public infrastructure, while the provinces and municipalities own 98%. Through federal transfers, the government is financing infrastructure that does not belong to it, that is not within its jurisdiction and that it does not have the means to prioritize intelligently. The government had good intentions, but the whole undertaking has been a monumental failure on the ground.
The money is not flowing. The federal criteria are too rigid and do not meet communities' needs. During the last election campaign, the Liberals promised to transfer blocks of infrastructure funding. They promised to mind their own business and do their job. That is yet another broken promise, and Quebec is paying the price.
As I said, my leader and I have been travelling around a lot listening to Quebeckers. People do not realize how future-focused Quebec is. Quebeckers are creative and innovative. Yesterday's tinkerers are now developing video games, designing new aircraft and working on artificial intelligence. Year after year, Quebec accounts for between 40% and 45% of Canada's tech exports, even though its share of Canada's economy is only half that much.
In metropolitan areas across Quebec, there are at least 5,000 technology startups. I think of it as Silicon Valley North. What is in Bill C-97 for technology? Is it an aerospace policy? No. Is it patient capital to let our technology start-ups develop here in Canada rather than being bought out by U.S. web giants? It is not that either.
However, there is some venture capital to help out the rest of Canada. That is how it is in all areas. When Quebec succeeds, Ottawa is not there. Take supply management, for example. Our regional agriculture lends itself well to local distribution. That is the future. Instead of helping, the government is hurting agriculture. It has signed three trade agreements with three breaches, and not a single penny has been paid to farmers.
We scoured Bill C-97 for the compensation, but it is not there. Our producers were taken for a ride. They will get nothing before the election. That is also the case for Davie. Does Bill C-97 announce a review of its horrible naval strategy? The answer is obviously no.
The same goes for the fight against tax havens. These loopholes allow banks and multi-millionaires to get out of paying taxes. The government needs to act fast, but instead, it has legalized three new tax havens. In my private member's bill, I proposed a working solution to close the loopholes, but, of course, all the Liberals but one voted it down. Like the sheriff of Nottingham, they would rather defend fat cats than low-income workers. The Conservatives also voted against my bill, but at least they were being true to type. Unlike the Liberals, they do not try to dress up as Robin Hood.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:48 [p.28491]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît for her question. Her comments were very astute.
As I said in my speech, under this government's watch, oil sands extraction has increased by 25%. That says it all. This government says it cares about the environment and that it is polluting less, yet extraction has increased by 25% in four years.
Next, I talked about their notorious carbon tax. They are rewarding those who pollute. This is not a wealth transfer or incentive for those who pollute less, nor is it a penalty for polluters. It is an empty gesture that is meant to sound environmentally responsible, but when we really look at the actions taken, it is not the same thing. That is why Canada's reputation around the world on environmental matters has plummeted to zero. This is simply not good enough, considering the urgency. Urgent action is needed. We cannot afford to let the situation deteriorate any further. All reports from the IPCC and scientists are telling us that we need to act now, that strong action is needed right away.
These measures could also help Quebec's economy. We have everything we need to transition to a green economy, a forward-looking, 21st century economy. The only thing missing is the will on the other side of the House, which clearly is not there. We hear nothing but empty rhetoric.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:51 [p.28491]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his words of praise for Quebec's carbon pricing system, which is working quite well, though much still remains to be done.
With respect to the national carbon tax, I would say that its criteria are lacking. Major polluters are currently exempt, and only consumers, meaning Canadians, are paying it and receiving a cheque in return.
If we really want to leverage this measure to bring about a change in behaviour, we have to start by going after the main emitters, rewarding those who do good things for the environment and punishing those who increase pollution.
Yes, it is a good idea, and it sounds good, but as for the real, concrete impact, the Bloc Québécois and I believe it is not enough.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-04 14:00 [p.28493]
Mr. Speaker, the findings of the report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are tragic and devastating. We must start by acknowledging the courage of the women and families who broke the silence and testified.
The report's findings should come as no surprise to anyone. We must provide access to basic services and protect fundamental human rights. These findings are, for the most part, the same as those of the Erasmus-Dussault commission, which was held 25 years ago, and those of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The solutions are also very similar.
The recent events in Val-d'Or, the cases of kidnapped indigenous children, and the revelations of sexual abuse, especially on the North Shore, have opened Quebeckers' eyes. The thousands of missing and murdered women must serve as a wake-up call for Canada.
We must take real action to change our nation-to-nation relationships and, above all, to put an end to violence and discrimination.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-06-04 15:08 [p.28505]
Mr. Speaker, Canada's family reunification system is wrong-headed. Ottawa terminated immigration services at the embassy in Cuba without notice or explanation. People seeking sponsorship to join family in Quebec have to undergo medical tests in other countries, go back to Cuba, and then come to Quebec and pay thousands of dollars.
What is the government going to do to fix this situation and finally let Quebec and Canadian families be together?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-06-04 15:09 [p.28505]
Mr. Speaker, that is not an answer.
Children are currently stranded in Cuba without their families because Canada cut consular services. We cannot ask minors to figure out how to get a visa for Mexico, pay to get there, figure out how to get a doctor's appointment and collect all of the necessary paperwork in a foreign country. The families are the ones who suffer.
Can the government tell us when services will be restored? What is the government waiting for?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-06-03 15:03 [p.28414]
Mr. Speaker, on January 28, all the family reunification application spots for 2019 were taken between noon and 12:09 p.m. Too bad for people who work on Mondays. The only requirement for family reunification was being at the computer at noon sharp.
Family reunification should be a more equitable process than buying concert tickets.
Does the government realize that its first-come, first-served system does not work?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-06-03 15:04 [p.28414]
Mr. Speaker, family reunification is not a game. A lottery system might be a good way to sell tickets to the Rolling Stones, but it is not a good way to decide the fate of families.
All families should have an opportunity to apply. Applications must be assessed on the basis of the urgency of a particular situation and the contribution that potential immigrants can make.
The process is broken and unfair. Will the government change it? Will it transfer responsibility for immigration to Quebec?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-06-03 15:22 [p.28418]
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois agrees to apply the result from the previous vote and is voting in favour of the motion.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-05-31 12:04 [p.28354]
Mr. Speaker, the same thing happens every year. Summer comes and farmers do not get the temporary foreign workers they need because Ottawa is unable to process the applications in time. The answer is always the same. We are told that there is a very high volume of applications and that our call is very important.
Are they not aware that there is a labour shortage? The number of applications will continue to rise, and crops will not wait until the workers arrive to start growing.
The parliamentary secretary told us that there are more resources, but we are not seeing a difference. A permanent solution is needed.
What will the government do today to make sure that these workers arrive in Canada on time this summer and next?
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-05-31 12:05 [p.28354]
Mr. Speaker, we already knew that the Irvings were controlling the Maritimes, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that their company is also exerting more and more control over the federal government.
First of all, the Irvings took pretty much all of the money that was available to help combat the spruce budworm. Then, they got their hands on most of the shipbuilding strategy's $100 billion. Meanwhile, Davie, the Quebec shipbuilding industry, is being passed over for Coast Guard contracts in favour of the Irvings.
Why is the government working on behalf of the Irvings instead of Canadians?
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-05-31 12:06 [p.28354]
Mr. Speaker, I was just getting started.
Having had 600 lobbying meetings since the Liberals came to power in 2015, the Irvings are clearly part of the family, which has paid off. They were given a golden ticket, which lets them pass off their Alberta french fry factories as technological benefits for the shipbuilding industry. When journalists have pointed questions about their business, the government warns the Irvings so they can then threaten them.
As usual, the government is manoeuvring to kill Davie and Quebec's shipbuilding industry, Irving's main rival.
My question is simple: when will there be an inquiry? When will a special parliamentary committee—
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour and pleasure of presenting petition E-2010, which has been signed by 771 people. This online petition will be followed by a second paper petition, which will have about 1,600 signatures by the time it is certified by the clerk.
This petition calls for the restoration of the protection program for the riverbank between Montreal and Lake Saint-Pierre to protect residents from erosion. The St. Lawrence Seaway is a key economic driver, but riverside residents are grappling with significant damage.
We have requested a meeting with the Minister of Transport to discuss this issue, and we hope he will agree to meet with us and respond favourably to this petition.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-30 13:58 [p.28291]
Mr. Speaker, last weekend, the governing party in the Quebec National Assembly unveiled its plan for reducing Quebec's dependence on oil by 40% by 2030.
Hospitals, schools and public buildings will no longer be heated by oil. The Quebec government is going to have a fleet of electric vehicles. It is taking action. The only thing slowing down Quebec's shift to a green economy and preventing it from taking real climate action is, as always, Ottawa, which wants pipelines at all costs, prioritizes dirty oil and is willing to put wetlands at risk to move its gasoline.
Whether the government is Liberal or Conservative, it amounts to the same thing. It is always the same targets, the same obsession with the oil sands, the same handouts to big oil and the same cozy relationships with oil tycoons.
All the parties in Quebec know that serious action is needed right away. Quebeckers know this, too. Unfortunately, Ottawa still prefers negligence. Is it not time for Ottawa to wake up?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, commercial shipping is causing bank erosion along the St. Lawrence River. Riverside residents between Montreal and Lake Saint-Pierre are losing up to two metres a year. Even worse, Ottawa abolished the riverbank protection program 20 years ago and will not let these residents do rehabilitation work. Marine shipping has economic benefits, but the government has completely abandoned these Canadians to deal with the consequences.
Will the government finally take responsibility, or will these residents have to take it to court?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, this is not about flooding. This is about erosion happening all year long.
My community is not the only victim of shoreline erosion. In addition to marine traffic, climate change is also wreaking havoc. The Magdalen Islands are losing half a metre of shoreline every year. Almost every year, the Gaspé Peninsula and the North Shore are cut off from the rest of the world because erosion washes away parts of highways 132 and 138.
Rather than pour millions and billions of Quebeckers' dollars into dirty oil, will the government step up and help Canadians?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-29 15:12 [p.28225]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebec's National Assembly adopted a unanimous motion noting that all projects involving the transportation of petroleum products must be submitted to the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement, Quebec's environmental hearings board. However, Ottawa does not understand this, because here, the national interest means the interests of oil companies, and that is that.
We keep repeating over and over that Quebec does not want dirty oil pipelines. We do not want them. That seems pretty clear to me.
Will the Prime Minister pledge not to revive any dirty oil pipeline projects in Quebec, yes or no?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-29 15:14 [p.28226]
Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for me to move the following motion—
Some hon. members: No.
Ms. Monique Pauzé: Let me finish.
Here is the motion: that the House of Commons reiterate that a woman's body belongs to her and her alone and recognize her freedom of choice on abortion for any reason.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Brantford--Brant.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-05-28 13:58 [p.28136]
Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government's $100-billion shipbuilding strategy is a fiasco. By excluding the largest shipyard, Davie, and dividing the contracts between two shipyards outside Quebec, Ottawa has shot itself in the foot. Almost 10 years later, not one of the ships ordered has been commissioned, all so that Quebec would be excluded from getting contracts.
The Prime Minister himself acknowledged that two shipyards do not have the capacity to meet the needs of the Coast Guard and our armed forces.
What has the government done to fix the Conservatives' $100-billion mistake? It has awarded $16 billion in contracts to the same two shipyards that already have too much work, once again excluding Davie and Quebec.
This scheme is funded by our own taxes. With 50% of production capacity in Canada, Davie deserves its fair share of the contracts, and Quebec will accept nothing less.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-28 15:04 [p.28148]
Mr. Speaker, here is how the government responded to my question yesterday:
With regard to pipelines, especially pipelines that cross provincial borders, it is up to the federal government to do the work.
For Ottawa, doing the work means always saying “yes” to pipelines, every time, no exceptions. In light of the B.C. Court of Appeal ruling, we are worried about the energy east project resurfacing in Quebec.
Will the government promise to never revive the energy east project in Quebec?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-28 15:05 [p.28148]
Mr. Speaker, it is funny how their good projects are always in the industries that pollute the most. Since 1956, Ottawa has always said yes to the oil industry's pipeline requests. The government always says yes and only yes.
Quebec does not want any more pipelines full of dirty oil. Quebec is saying no to energy east, and if Quebec does not want it, then neither does the Bloc.
It is great that the project is not on the table, but the government needs to commit to keeping it that way. Will the Prime Minister commit to never reviving energy east? Will he make that solemn promise today?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-05-27 13:59 [p.28045]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to congratulate the Memorial Cup champions, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. They showed their mettle by coming from behind to claim the top prize yesterday in Halifax.
We would also like to congratulate the Mooseheads, who did not go down without a fight.
Let me point out that the final pitted two Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams against each other, which was a great way to celebrate the league's 50th anniversary.
We would like to congratulate the players, the head coach, Mario Pouliot, and the whole organization. A special shout out to Joël Teasdale: tournament MVP will look pretty good on the young Canadiens prospect's resumé.
The Huskies' glorious Memorial Cup victory is not unexpected considering the team's record-breaking 59-win season in the QMJHL.
Rouyn and Abitibi are basking in their team's triumph, and all of Quebec is proud of its champions.
Bravo, and thank you.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-27 15:04 [p.28058]
Mr. Speaker, the B.C. Court of Appeal sided with the federal government. Now Ottawa is free to ram a pipeline down our throats, and there is nothing we can do about it.
It does not matter that British Columbia and Quebec do not want pipelines. It does not matter that residents do not want pipelines. It does not matter that first nations do not want pipelines. Oil companies want pipelines, so Ottawa will build some, and that is that.
Could the Prime Minister pledge not to build any pipelines in Quebec without the approval of the people of Quebec?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-27 15:05 [p.28058]
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a climate emergency. In the kingdom of Canada, pipelines rule.
Social licence and protecting our lands and waters are not important. What matters are pipelines full of dirty oil that will enable Canada, a so-called green country, to line its pockets with petrodollars with the blessing of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Why is this government always putting the interests of oil companies ahead of the interests of the people and the planet?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-05-27 15:36 [p.28063]
Madam Speaker, we indeed need to act to ensure that elections are held according to the rules without any cheating or outside interference via social media. We must ensure that the content that people see and share is based on facts and reality. We must ensure that there is no impersonation. The measures that the minister just outlined are not enough.
First, the government is relying upon the good faith of web giants. The minister's entire declaration was in the conditional tense. To ensure the integrity of online content, platforms would have do this or they would have to do that. The government stubbornly refuses to force web giants to follow the laws and regulations in place here. Can we really trust them? The answer is no. The founder of Facebook was very clear when he testified before the U.S. Congress. He believes that there should not be any regulations. He also indicated that it was up to the government to impose regulations if it so desired, and that he would do everything in his power to generate profits for his shareholders. That is the kind of person that Ottawa is protecting by failing to put in place a strict regulatory framework. The government is refusing to impose regulations on web giants to protect the integrity of our electoral system, just as it is refusing to subject them to the same tax laws as every other business. Ottawa keeps giving web giants more and more free passes.
Second, the government sees the mote in its neighbour's eye but not the beam in its own. The main reason we must be wary of interference and impersonation in federal elections is that the existing regulatory framework is full of holes. Fake news? There was plenty of fake news in the last election, including polls with incomplete data. I remember one party here making headlines with a commissioned survey in the riding of Papineau that indicated the Prime Minister might be trailing in his own riding. That was not the only riding, nor was it the only example. In fact, back in 2006, one firm had to apologize for misinterpreting polling data.
People are worried about foreign interference in our election. Everyone points to Russia and the last U.S. presidential election, but other nations interfering in federal elections is not the only thing we need to worry about. There is another factor that may interfere and make the democratic process unfair. That factor is most certainly present here in Ottawa; that factor is money.
As long as the old parties keep hosting exclusive cocktail fundraisers at $1,500 a head to sell preferred access to ministers and the Prime Minister, as long as they refuse to restore the old system of public funding for political parties based on votes received, as recommended by former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, and as long as they continue to reject this democratic solution, we must guard against the influence of lobbyists on our electoral system.
There is another problem that the government refuses to address, namely the fact that anyone can vote in a federal election without having to prove their identity. Voters are not even required to produce photo identification. That is ridiculous. A person can vote without ID, even without a photo, as long as someone else is willing to confirm their identity, by taking an oath, of course. Think about that for a second. Anyone can vote in a federal election with their face covered up and without ID. This raises questions about the possibility of identity theft.
For all of these reasons, the Bloc Québécois is not impressed with the minister's statement today. We urge Canadians to be vigilant, because the federal government plainly has no intention of taking action to fix the flaws in the system.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-27 16:02 [p.28076]
Madam Speaker, if we are now talking about the climate emergency we are currently facing, it is because, year after year, every time the alarm sounded, Canada hit the snooze button. Ottawa has known for decades that, without a transition to green energy, we were heading towards a wall. We are just about there.
I say “we” because Quebec can try all it wants, but as long as Ottawa keeps on polluting, the global result will be the same. The planet is warming and the climate is destabilizing.
A few weeks ago, the NDP wanted to get one up on the Liberals with a motion on the climate emergency. Now the Liberals want to get one up on the Conservatives with a motion on the climate emergency. While they try to outdo one another, no one is really doing anything to address the issue, even though we have known about it for years. That is how climate destabilization has turned into a climate emergency.
Let's go back in time a bit. On December 19, 2002, Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol on climate change. That was almost a generation ago. A fine motion was moved in the House and eloquent speeches were made on the urgent need to act, similar to what we are seeing today, but then, that was it.
David Anderson was environment minister at the time in Jean Chrétien's government. He was tasked with developing a plan to meet the Kyoto targets, but it was a huge failure. Emissions rose by 20% instead of decreasing by 6%.
Mr. Anderson gave a long interview in February 2007, after he quit politics, to explain his failure. What he had to say now sounds like a warning. While he was minister, everyone claimed to want to combat climate change, but everything fell apart when it came time for real action.
There is good reason to take action when a country is the largest consumer of energy per capita and the second-largest GHG emitter per capita, but there is also a lot of resistance. This means that as soon as he proposed something, someone would be unhappy and the measure would be stalled.
Sure, some business somewhere may have to make changes if the government takes action. This was the case with the Liberals, and also with the NDP, which was afraid of squabbles with the unions. I remind members that oil and auto workers were pushing hard against Kyoto. The Ontario auto sector was, in large part, made up of gas guzzlers like GMC trucks and Ford Crown Victorias.
Each Canadian produces twice as much GHG emissions than a Quebecker. If it cost more to pollute and were more profitable to not pollute, Canadians would be in trouble and Quebeckers would hit the jackpot. That is why nothing ever gets done, despite the rhetoric.
Let me again reference Mr. Anderson, the former minister. When he was listing all the problems, he said that the only leader whose support of Kyoto never wavered was the Bloc Québécois leader. That was true at the time, and it is even more true today. Finding a policy that suits Quebec without hurting western Canada is impossible.
As a result, any pan-Canadian party that aspires to govern has to cater to both sides. Having a coherent policy becomes impossible. It cannot bring forward sound policy, because it would favour Quebec too much. That is why we are currently in a full-blown climate crisis. That is why the Bloc Québécois had to sign the citizens' universal declaration of climate emergency. The Bloc was the first party in the Parliament of Canada to do so. It remains to be seen as to whether we will remain the only party to do so, for the same reasons that have been motivating the same Canadian parties to continue to accept the same compromises for decades.
As I said earlier, there have been quite a few motions. The NDP moved one to try to corner the Liberals on the climate emergency, and the Liberals moved one to try to corner the Conservatives. However, when it comes time to make a personal commitment, no federal leader, apart from Yves-François Blanchet, has acknowledged the urgent need to sign the citizens' universal declaration of climate emergency. No federal leader, apart from Yves-François Blanchet, has acknowledged the urgent need to support the massive citizen engagement around this issue. No one else has acknowledged the urgent need to support the 365 municipalities that have signed the citizens' universal declaration of climate emergency and that already have an action plan. Also, on May 14, 2019, the organizers of the declaration wrote to the Minister of Environment asking her to table the declaration in question in the House.
They wrote that it is time to walk the talk. We are still waiting. It seems the Liberals are struggling with the kind of frictions one should come to expect when attempting at all costs to keep Quebec within a dysfunctional federation that does not serve our interests.
We agree with every part of the motion we are debating today. We know that climate change is a real crisis that impacts the environment, biodiversity and even human health. That is undeniable. However, we also know that while they were coming to this conclusion, the Liberals were also green-lighting nearly $20 billion in investments in fossil fuels. Furthermore, we know that the Liberals are following the same plan as the Conservatives, who sometimes think they are living in the age of the dinosaurs.
The targets use 2005 as the base year, whereas Quebec and the rest of the world use 1990. Only the “ROC”, meaning the rest of Canada, and the United States use 2005. This practice hides 15 years of free pollution for oil companies.
We also know that, if current trends continue, these “Liberal-Conservative” targets will not be reached. That is not the way to handle a real crisis. The Prime Minister is fiddling while the world burns.
We know that we feel the effects of climate change. Just ask the thousands of Quebeckers who still cannot return home because of the flooding. The cities and towns of Quebec need $4 billion to deal with climate change. Instead of giving them $4 billion, Ottawa spent $4.5 billion buying the Trans Mountain pipeline in western Canada.
We know that climate change is having an impact on coastal communities. Shoreline erosion is a serious problem in Quebec. The shores of the Magdalen Islands are disappearing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence at a rate of 60 centimetres a year. Highways 138 and 132 are under constant pressure from the changing climate. In Montérégie, people are losing their seawall and fear that their homes will end up in the water. When the government talks about the coasts it does not mention erosion. It talks about a coast-to-coast pipeline to export even more oil from the oil sands.
Lastly, we know that the goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to 1.5°C. In Paris they said we need to limit warming to 2°C, but ideally to 1.5°C. Now people are saying we must not exceed 1.5°C and we have already reached 1.1°C. We also know that Canada is getting further and further away from these targets instead of getting closer. If the world followed Canada's lead, global warming would reach 3°C by the end of the century, a threshold that Climate Transparency calls catastrophic.
Making a commitment to protect the environment is about more than voting in favour of a motion to ease our conscience. We need to firmly believe that everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. The fight against climate change is the Liberal government's biggest broken promise. I was in Paris in 2015, and I clearly remember that historic agreement. I saw the government make promises to the entire world. I felt as though I was participating in a historic event. Cities, federated states, scientists, banks, NGOs, businesses and others were all there. Everyone was there and they all sincerely believed that something had changed. Denial was no longer an option. I heard the Minister of Environment say that we needed to stop talking and start taking action.
The Paris Agreement was supposed to be a beginning, not an end. However, there is a good chance that nothing will come of it here because Canada does not have the courage to turn that commitment into an bold, ambitious, radical plan, rather than just a simple motion to keep Parliament talking. Quebeckers will not be fooled.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-27 16:13 [p.28077]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that reminder about the NDP motion, which we supported, just as we support the Liberal motion.
The problem is acting on those motions. In Canada, it is impossible to do anything that is in the interest of both Quebec, which has clean hydro, and the West. In debate, we have seen and heard the Conservatives and the Liberals lob that one back and forth, to no end. It is impossible. As Mr. Anderson, the former Liberal environment minister, concluded, whenever it is time to take action, nothing gets done.
The NDP motion was a good one, with constructive, concrete measures, but it is still clear to us that nothing can actually get done.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-27 16:14 [p.28077]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, which gives me a chance to talk about the Conservatives' infamous targets, the ones the Liberals copied. The targets use 2005 as the base year, whereas Quebec and all the other countries are using 1990 as the base year. By opting for the Conservatives' targets, they are basically ignoring 15 years of pollution, especially oil companies' emissions.
In other words, no, I do not think a national government is useful, if all it does is adopt the same targets and fail to meet even those—and all signs point to it not meeting those targets.
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-05-17 12:01 [p.28009]
Mr. Speaker, this week, Quebec got to witness a road show, a piece of political theatre in bad taste about extending Highway 19. The people of Terrebonne are pleased, because this is the good news they have been waiting for for years.
However, it is Quebec that builds highways, not Ottawa. Not one centimetre of road is built in Quebec without the authority and approval of the Government of Quebec.
Why did the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities organize a press conference in our backyard, without Quebec, when there is no real announcement to be made because Quebec has the final say?
Does it have something to do with the election?
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-05-17 12:02 [p.28009]
Mr. Speaker, working for Quebec and in Quebec's best interests means complying with the agreements between this government and Quebec. The agreement on infrastructure makes it clear that Canada's role is limited to contributing financially, period. It will not be involved in the implementation stages. Essentially, according to the agreements, the only two things Ottawa can do with regard to Quebec are sign a cheque and get out of the way. Quebec wants Ottawa to transfer this infrastructure funding as a lump sum, with no strings attached, in accordance with the agreement.
Could the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities stop stirring up artificial quarrels and just cut a cheque instead of putting on a show for the cameras?
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2019-05-17 12:04 [p.28009]
Mr. Speaker, that is just a sham and a gong show.
I want to move on to something else. Vice-Admiral Norman is the victim of both the Conservatives' pettiness and the Liberal government's incompetence. The Conservatives hid the fact that they mandated Admiral Norman to talk to Davie about the Asterix so that they could continue their partisan attacks at his expense—and at the expense of Davie, in particular. The Liberals are no better. They referred this matter to the RCMP, as if it were no big deal, without checking and validating the facts, which is what led to this shameful investigation. The entire Canadian establishment is now implicated.
Will the government launch a public inquiry to get to the bottom of the situation regarding Admiral Norman and the contracts—
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-16 14:00 [p.27941]
Madam Speaker, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community still have battles to fight, and the Bloc Québécois is here to support them. Quebec society has made progress, but homophobia and transphobia are still very real obstacles to equality and people's right to dignity.
Anyone who spends any time on social media knows that cyberbullying has become a major social problem, and it is even worse for LGBTQ people. Nearly 90% of them report reading statements against sexual diversity.
That is why we applaud the work organizations such as GRIS, Fondation Émergence, Alliance Arc-en-ciel and many others are doing to end discrimination and prejudice. Let us work together to make Quebec a place where every individual feels free to express their identity and uniqueness without fear of discrimination.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-05-16 15:08 [p.27954]
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois submitted a brief on Bill 21 to the National Assembly.
Our message to Quebec's elected officials is simple: Ottawa can hardly wait to use the court challenges program to bankroll a challenge of the secularism bill.
Can the Minister of Justice guarantee that he does not intend to directly or indirectly challenge Quebec's secularism bill?
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-05-16 15:09 [p.27954]
Mr. Speaker, the answer was not clear.
The Bloc's position is clear. We support the religious neutrality of the Quebec state. We believe that people should give and receive services with their faces uncovered. We support the ban on public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols.
In the meantime, the chair of the justice committee is waiting for Bill 21 to be passed before initiating legal challenges.
Will you respect the will of Quebec and not challenge Quebec's secularism bill, yes or no?
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Canada-Quebec infrastructure agreement is very clear. Canada's role in infrastructure is to provide funding, and that's it.
Quebec's public transit fund is short $200 million because increased ridership from the outskirts of Montreal was not taken into account.
Rather than making announcements about Quebec highways, which do not fall under the federal government's jurisdiction, will the Minister of Infrastructure instead do his part and give Quebec the $200 million it needs?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That, in the opinion of this House, the government should (a) respect the Canada-Quebec infrastructure agreement, which states that Canada's role in any project is limited to making a financial contribution, and that it will have no involvement in the implementation or operation; (b) refrain from unilaterally calling press conferences on infrastructure projects in Quebec without having any announcements to make.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-05-14 13:59 [p.27753]
Mr. Speaker, on February 26, 2018, a 14-year-old girl died after drinking FCKD UP, an alcoholic energy drink.
Despite this tragedy, the government still does not seem to understand that it needs to take decisive action to make sure it never happens again. Instead of listening to recommendations from Éduc'alcool, which has not been able to get a meeting with the Minister of Health, the Liberals have been cozying up to Geloso Group, the company that produces FCKD UP.
More than 100 communications between Geloso Group lobbyists and senior government officials, including the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister's Office, were registered during the period from April 2018 to March 2019. A young girl's death should have been a warning. The risks these drinks pose to our young people cannot be taken lightly. Éduc'alcool has been trying to warn us for years, but the government unfortunately seems to prefer hearing from the makers of FCKD UP.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government builds our infrastructure, not Ottawa. The Canada-Quebec agreement is clear on this. Infrastructure is a provincial and municipal responsibility. However, Ottawa is trying to impose conditions on us, and the result is a tramway project in Quebec that has been stopped in its tracks. Our projects are going nowhere because Ottawa prefers to argue.
Will the minister stop creating conflicts and send Quebec the infrastructure funding as a lump sum with no strings attached, as the Quebec government has asked?
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, instead of making grand statements, I invite the minister to reread the Canada-Quebec infrastructure agreement. It states that “Canada's role in any Project is limited to making a financial contribution, and that it will have no involvement in the implementation...or...operation. Canada is neither a decision-maker nor an administrator”.
The minister's election announcement about Highway 19 is nothing but talk. Not even one centimetre of the highway will be built.
Instead of arguing, the government should transfer the lump sum to Quebec.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-05-13 11:04 [p.27657]
moved that Bill C-421, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adequate knowledge of French in Quebec), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I introduced a very simple bill with a clear objective, and that is to enable newcomers who want to become citizens and reside in Quebec to integrate into their host society.
In order to integrate, newcomers must be able to communicate with members of their host society. In Quebec, the common language is French. The purpose of the Charter of the French Language is to make French the official and common language of Quebec.
As a result, newcomers must learn French in order to integrate into Quebec society. This matter is in keeping with the commitments of the current Quebec government and enjoys a broad consensus in Quebec. According to a recent survey, 73% of Quebeckers believe that a basic knowledge of French should be mandatory in order to live in Quebec and 84% believe that newcomers should be required to take French classes.
In 2017, the Auditor General released a report in which she concluded that efforts to encourage immigrants to learn and use French had failed. Under Canadian law, knowledge of one official language, either English or French, is required for citizenship. The Bloc Québécois introduced Bill C-421 to make knowledge of French mandatory in Quebec.
That is no more coercive that what is already in place: knowledge of one of the two official languages is mandatory for obtaining Canadian citizenship. Many members of the Council of Europe require knowledge of the adopted homeland's language either as a condition of entry, to obtain permanent residence or to become a naturalized citizen, yet the federal Liberals seem to find the idea unacceptable and inconceivable.
When Bill C-421 was presented to the subcommittee on private members' business, the members declared that it was unconstitutional and therefore non-votable. We appealed the decision, but because they have a majority, they refused to budge even though the law clerk and several members of other parties disagreed.
An extremely rare secret vote was held to save Canadian parliamentarians the trouble of publicly stating their position on this issue of importance to Quebeckers. Democracy was hijacked, and the people need to know.
The Premier of Quebec said:
We would want newcomers to pass a French test before getting their permanent resident status or citizenship. That is what the Bloc wanted. I think it is unfortunate that the debate is not being allowed to move forward with legislation.
Bill C-421 will not be voted on, but we have not been given much time to present it, so I will focus on the substance of the debate, rather than on the constitutionality of the bill.
As I alluded to earlier, Quebec's blueprint for linguistic development, as defined by the Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 101, is meant to establish French as the official and common language of Quebec. This approach is based on collective territorial rights. As the common public language, French in Quebec should not only be the language used by francophones when speaking to one another, it should also be the language used in inter-linguistic communications, the language spoken between people with different mother tongues.
Making French the common language is essential for integrating newcomers into Quebec society and ensuring the future of French in Quebec and in North America.
When the language of the majority is the official language and the common public language, newcomers naturally tend to learn and use that language in order to participate fully in their host society. That is what happens in many western countries.
Research on language development models around the world shows that this approach is the only one that is able to prevent the assimilation of minority languages in countries with several national languages. The only countries that have multiple national languages and no assimilation are those that use language management models based on the principle of collective territorial rights, like Belgium or Switzerland.
For instance, in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, the only official language, the language in which public services are provided from kindergarten to university, is Dutch. For newcomers, learning Dutch is compulsory.
The same thing goes for French in Wallonia, and people there can still learn any number of second languages. The fact that French is the common language in Quebec seems to be unacceptable or even unthinkable to varying degrees for all the national parties. We saw how the member for Honoré-Mercier completely overreacted. For him, making knowledge of French a requirement for citizenship is the same as segregating people based on colour.
The Liberal member for Laurentides—Labelle, a staunch defender of “hello, bonjour”, and the Liberal member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles gave some examples of people in Quebec who do not speak French, adding that it would have been unacceptable for those people to be forced to move to Ontario for not passing the French test. They do not seem to agree that learning and using French could be considered a tool for integrating into Quebec society.
A Conservative member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages said that if a condition were created requiring people to speak basic French, the anglophone minority community in Quebec would have a much harder time surviving within our province.
The Canadian model, defined by the Official Languages Act, is based on fundamental principles that differ from the Quebec model and its approaches that recognize territorial collective rights. For one thing, the Official Languages Act excludes Quebeckers as an integral part of Canada's francophone minority. The act governs official language minorities designated by province. In that sense, Quebec anglophones are considered a minority just as much as francophone and Acadian communities, when in fact, they are part Canada's anglophone majority, as was even confirmed by the UN Human Rights Committee.
The best example is that the federal government and the predominantly English speaking provinces have no problem weakening Quebec's legislation, including by imposing a Constitution in 1982 against the will of the Government of Quebec, a Constitution under which the Charter of the French Language was weakened in every key area of application. As a result of the principle of linguistic minorities per province, Quebec's anglophones, who already anglicize five times the number of new citizens than their demographic weight, receive steady support to promote more services in English not just for anglophones, but for everyone, including allophones and francophones.
The official languages program allocates more than $75 million a year in support of anglophone communities in Quebec, including lobby groups such as the Quebec Community Groups Network, alias Alliance Québec, which successfully led a legal battle to restore institutional bilingualism. The other major founding principle of Canada's official languages legislation is a bilingualism policy for federal institutions based on the linguistic rights of individuals across Canada.
As soon as Bill C-421 was introduced, former official languages commissioner Graham Fraser stepped in. In his opinion, requiring adequate knowledge of French would contravene the Official Languages Act, as it would supposedly prevent individuals from communicating with the government in the language of their choice. Even though some members openly stated that the bill was votable, no member in the House openly supported the bill.
Whether the bill is constitutional or not, the crux of the problem is that most of the federalist members in this place do not accept that French is the common language in Quebec, the language of convergence, the language of interlinguistic communication. This implies that people can communicate with the government in the language of their choice and that English and French have equal status and privileges with respect to their use in the institutions of Parliament and the Government of Canada. That is the foundation of the Official Languages Act. French cannot be the common language, the official language, the language of convergence in Quebec, but there must be two common languages. Some researchers, for example Jacques Leclerc and Marc Termote, have noted that equal rights granted to unequal groups inevitably lead to inequitable results.
In some way, it is as if there were no laws to protect workers or the environment. It would leave it up to market forces to decide.
Marc Termote said:
Most countries abide by what is known in linguistics as the "law of the land" whereby for every given territory, only one language is used in the public sphere....
However, in some Anglo-Saxon countries, such as Canada and therefore Quebec, individual rights prevail over societal rights in many instances...individual freedom to choose does not mean that the individual's choice will not be influenced by external factors. For Quebec, being the last majority French-speaking society in North America and a tiny minority "surrounded" by 300 million English speakers is certainly not a minor factor. Additionally, free choice paves the way for a fair balance of power.
As Lacordaire said, “Between the strong and the weak, between the rich and the poor, [we could say ‘between the English-speaking majority and the minority’] it is freedom which oppresses and the law which sets free”.
This explains why across just about all of Canada, outside Quebec, nearly all language transfers for allophones happen in English. If you go to Toronto or Ottawa, you quickly see that it is difficult to function without speaking English.
However, in Quebec, the majority of newcomers settle in Montreal, where all services are accessible in English at all levels of government. Since English is the majority language in Canada and even more so in North America, there is a natural tendency to use English.
In addition, access to the official languages in federal institutions is not equal. By design, services are provided in French where numbers warrant. As we saw once again in the report from the Commissioner of Official Languages, even when the numbers warrant, services are not always offered in French.
Fifty years ago, before the Official Languages Act, francophone and Acadian communities had suffered through assimilation policies in all of the provinces that are now primarily anglophone. For them, bilingualism was a huge step forward in accessing the public services in French that were severely lacking after being prohibited for years.
The “where numbers warrant” principle means that, if the number of French speakers in a region decreases, fewer services are offered. In some way, it is as if the government were to reduce EI benefits or job creation measures in an area that is prone to unemployment. This way of doing things officially misrepresents Canada's language situation.
Francophones are therefore strongly encouraged to increase their numbers if they want even basic services in French. However, it would be much more logical to change the “where numbers warrant” criterion rather than misrepresenting the language situation, as the government has been doing for the 50 years that the Official Languages Act has been in force.
In the beginning, intergenerational language transfers were measured using mother tongue as an indicator. When the decline in mother tongue became too pronounced, the indicator was changed to language used at home and then to first official language spoken. Today, the government is coming up with new indicators to inflate the number of francophones and justifying that action by saying that it is going to offer more French services to official language minorities. That does not make any sense.
A study on language planning around the world showed that an approach based on institutional bilingualism and portable individual rights is unable to counter the assimilation of minority languages. That has been proven over the 50 years that the Official Languages Act has been in force. During that time, the assimilation of francophones has increased with every census.
In short, the Canadian language planning model runs counter to Quebec's model. Most MPs and all of the parties in Parliament support the Canadian model rather than the Quebec model.
As Jacques Leclerc, an expert who worked on the language planning study, said:
As soon as the demands of the francophone province of Quebec offend the sensibilities of the anglophone majority, they are denied. Discussions then become pointless and come to a standstill.... Under the current regime, Quebec is always democratically penalized and cannot impose anything on the majority across Canada.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-05-13 11:37 [p.27661]
Mr. Speaker, my speech will focus on three important things: the situation of French in Quebec, the important role French plays in social cohesion, and parliamentary democracy as it applied to Bill C-421.
What was the most important news about the language issue in Quebec in recent years? It was the record drop in the demographic weight of French speakers and the unprecedented rise in the demographic weight of English speakers.
English is not threatened in Quebec; French is. We are not the ones saying that. It is Statistics Canada, and it cannot be said that Statistics Canada is an organization that supports Quebec nationalism.
Here is what is being said:
The Language Projections for Canada, 2011 to 2036...indicate that, if the demographic conditions observed since 2011 continue, the balance between French and English in Quebec will continue to quickly tip in favour of the latter. According to those same projections, between 2011 and 2036, the weight of French-home-language speakers is expected to drop by approximately seven percentage points, while that of English-home-language speakers is expected to rise by two percentage points.
On the 40th anniversary of Bill 101, Guy Rocher, a sociologist, professor and renowned speaker, quoted some figures from Statistics Canada, as well. These figures relate to the census, which showed that French is declining in Quebec, as a mother tongue, language of work and language spoken at home. This has become a language crisis. We cannot keep turning a blind eye, because we now have figures showing how bad it is. Once again, I remind members that Statistics Canada as an organization is not very supportive of Quebec nationalism or independence.
The situation is critical. Play time is over and now is the time to act. French is under threat in Quebec. I am not fearmongering here. I am simply stating the facts, and everything that can be done to protect the French language must be done. This is what my colleague's bill was designed to do.
Here is another quote from Statistics Canada that demonstrates how important the French language is to social cohesion:
The ability of immigrants to speak one of the official languages is considered an important condition for their full participation in Canadian society.
That is what Statistics Canada says about Canada, and rather emphatically at that. It seems to me that what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. French in Quebec should also get special consideration.
The government is trying to brainwash us into believing that the battle for French is won and that we no longer need to worry our pretty little heads about it. The fact remains, though, that mastering French is less beneficial to immigrants than mastering English. There are social reasons for all that, of course. There are unilingual English brand names and the Internet. Information and communications technology has exploded in recent decades, and with it the use of English at the expense of every other language in the world.
The Government of Quebec also has its own unique problems, such as the language of administration, which is often English; the sign law, which is often disregarded; and challenges related to officially bilingual municipalities. Those are all consequences of the many attacks on Bill 101, our language charter.
Knowledge of French is fundamental to successful integration and access to employment. Knowledge of French is fundamental to strong social cohesion.
Marina Doucerain, a researcher in the area of immigration psychology, has done studies on this. She has indicated that all studies of immigrants in the greater Montreal area that she has been involved in have been unequivocal. It is very clear that the majority of participants, whether they come from the Maghreb region, Russia or elsewhere, want to make Quebecois friends and integrate into the majority culture, which means they must learn French. However, the francization and cultural integration of immigrants remain problematic.
Let us now look at what happened here, in the House of Commons, with my colleague's bill. The exceptional procedure applied to the bill introduced by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île prevents the bill from even being voted on in a recorded division. This is basically just another attempt to relegate the Quebec nation to a minority status just like every other ethnic minority in Canada.
Canadians, who are still 100% behind Pierre Trudeau's charter, will not stop until there is linguistic free trade from coast to coast to coast.
In closing, what we want is for French, the common language of Quebec, to have the chance to counterbalance English, the common language of Canada, the United States, and globalization because our distinctness is important to us.
I will take a few moments to read a motion that was moved at the end of November 1995 by Mr. Jean Chrétien, who was prime minister at the time.
The motion moved:
That
Whereas the People of Quebec have expressed the desire for recognition of Quebec's distinct society;
(1) the House recognize that Quebec is a distinct society within Canada;
(2) the House recognize that Quebec's distinct society includes its French-speaking majority, unique culture and civil law tradition;
(3) the House undertake to be guided by this reality;
(4) the House encourage all components of the legislative and executive branches of government to take note of this recognition and be guided in their conduct accordingly.
In his argument, the former prime minister said:
The purpose of the motion we are debating today is to have the elected representatives of Canada recognize that Quebec is a distinct society within Canada. As a Quebecker and a francophone [we know that Mr. Chrétien is a Quebecker and a francophone, of course], I understand and share the desire of my fellow Quebeckers to have our difference recognized.
Today I call on Canadians who demonstrated their attachment to Quebec during the referendum campaign to support our government's initiative to recognize Quebec explicitly as a distinct society.
This was adopted on December 11, 1995. Is the quiet nationalism mentioned by the member from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert possible in this country? It would seem it is not. This motion should have been applied to Bill C-421, but it was not.
Federalists are upset by our desire to have our own nation, a nation that proclaims loud and clear our pride in speaking French, and to give it the tools needed to keep our language alive. It also bothers them that we want to base our identity on the common values that bring us together and unite us. “The moment Quebec stands up for itself, federalists become outraged.” These words were spoken by my colleague, the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île. He said them in 2015, and we fully endorse them.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we all want to rise to defend the French fact in Quebec. We all want to propose solutions to ensure that this beautiful language remains a living language.
Contrary to what the previous speaker said, the use of French is declining in Quebec. Our language is at risk. We are not saying that immigrants are bad people. However, the conditions for welcoming them do not currently include the obligation to learn French. That is what my colleague's bill is proposing.
Naturally, we agree with protecting francophone minorities outside Quebec, and the government should take action on many fronts in that regard. However when we compare this to what is provided to the anglophone minority in Quebec, we are completely off course.
I did a little experiment. I went to Crescent Street in Montreal. I went into six restaurants and I was first greeted in English at each one. When I spoke French, they spoke to me in French. English is far from being at risk in Quebec.
There are two major hospitals in Quebec, each with a $2-billion price tag. One is French and the other is English. In Montreal, there are more English than French movie theatres, and there are more English publications than French ones.
We polled immigrants, who make up 50% of Montreal's population. According to the poll, most believe that francophones only make up 25% of Quebec's population. They are not aware of the French reality. That is why we must establish mandatory measures to ensure they learn French, integrate into the francophone majority and ensure the survival of French in Quebec.
Bill C-421 does that. It is a very moderate bill. It would inevitably be accepted by immigrants if they knew before arriving in Quebec that they had to comply.
My colleague, who also wants to address this bill, will speak for the two minutes remaining.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2019-05-13 11:54 [p.27663]
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to repeat what my Bloc Québécois colleagues have already said, but in light of what has been said, I would like to look at the subject from another angle, with concrete examples.
I would remind members that the comments made by my colleague from Winnipeg North did not exactly respond to what we were saying. Perhaps some of what we said was misunderstood, misinterpreted or misconstrued, for when we talk about the minority, as my colleague from Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel said, Quebec is already a minority within North America. That is what my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île noted earlier. The threat to the French language is concrete and real.
I said I would give the House a concrete example. I am the member for Manicouagan. The riding of Manicouagan is located in eastern Quebec, bordering Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes. There are, of course, immigrants in my region, although sometimes people think that immigrants would not want to settle on the North Shore, an administrative region of 350,000 kilometres that is often thought to have nothing but spruce trees, snow and whales. People do live there. People have settled in Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Baie-Comeau and Haute-Côte-Nord, for example. They are settling in lots of places. These immigrants do not speak either French or English as their primary language, but they choose to settle there and learn the language. I see them as success stories. These people are welcomed by the community, which is happy to teach them French, the language they need to know in order to live in those regions, where English is nearly non-existent. Anglophones make up only about 1% of the population, with the exception of the lower north shore, where the proportion of anglophones is a little higher.
Those are excellent positive examples of people who go to school in French, work in French and receive all their services in French. That is what enables people on the North Shore to live their lives in French and play an active role in society. Just like the rest of Quebec, Manicouagan has programs designed to help immigrants integrate. Language is the doorway to culture, as my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert said earlier. By learning the language, which is the best way to learn about culture, newcomers can play a full and active role in the community.
I know that because, having taught literature at university, at CEGEP and in a bunch of other places, I have seen it. Having access to a body of literature connects people to history, sociology, the arts, music and more. People who can access the language rapidly also become part of the community very rapidly. That is what we want for everyone. That is what I would want for myself if I were to move to another country. I would want access to everything that country had to offer—for newcomers, that means everything the Quebec nation has to offer—and that is really the purpose of the bill introduced by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île.
In conclusion, I wish we could debate this bill in the House. Beyond the issue of language rights, which the bill introduced by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île defends, this is an exercise in democracy that demonstrates to me the contempt—I do not want to put it that way, but it is what first came to mind—that my fellow MPs and also my colleagues from Quebec have for the French language issue.
I mentioned contempt, but I believe that transparency is also lacking in this process. In fact, since elected officials are accountable to voters, I wish they could rise in the House to indicate whether they support or oppose this bill, which is a bill for all Quebeckers.
Montreal was mentioned quite a bit. Montreal may simply be a symptom of what is not working in terms of the French language, because we must protect it.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-05-13 11:59 [p.27664]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.
What happened today is another black mark on Parliament. Today, on May 13, 2019, the House of Commons of Canada behaved as if it were the House of Commons of English Canada.
It decided that taking steps to integrate immigrants into French Quebec was unconstitutional despite the well-known fact that the integration and inclusion of newcomers is critical if we want to continue to live and thrive in French. The member from Honoré-Mercier and others said that making French the common language is socially divisive when, in fact, the opposite is true. Making French the common language allows us to include everyone and build a coherent and inclusive society so that everyone can fully participate in Quebec society.
The Canadian model of institutional bilingualism does not work. We know this. Over 85% of newcomers in Quebec live in Montreal. In Montreal, all services are provided in English, upon request, or, in the federal government, by default. Newcomers come to Canada, where the majority speaks English. They come to North America, where an even greater majority speaks English. As a result, they are naturally inclined to choose English.
That is why Bill 101 sought to make French the language of the government, with exceptional measures to allow anglophones in Quebec to continue to thrive and live in Quebec. We did not want a repeat of what happened to francophone and Acadian communities outside Quebec. They were prohibited from having French-language schools. For years, French was completely banned from institutions.
Now that the Official Languages Act has been implemented, we must move on to another stage. The House of Commons is demonstrating that it is impossible to do that in Canada.
I thought that getting my bill passed would be difficult but still possible. It is not being given a chance. The most shocking thing is that, despite the opinion of Parliament's legal counsel, the bill was deemed unconstitutional. The truth does not matter, what matters is that the majority can impose its will, like it imposed the Constitution in 1982. It was the Constitution of English Canada and we never signed on to it. Today, the Liberal MPs are hiding behind the Constitution, and it seems there are not too many Conservatives who are interested in this.
We built an original society in Quebec. By rejecting my bill as non-votable and refusing to discuss it seriously, the House of Commons is showing its true colours. Hon. members are sending us a very clear message today. They are telling us that French Quebec is unconstitutional. They are telling us to stop striving for it because it is unconstitutional, illegal and impossible, and it is time to move on to something else. They are saying that if we really want a French Quebec, we should do that by leaving Canada.
I got the message loud and clear, and I hope that more and more Quebeckers will too. The only option, the only way forward for French, is independence for Quebec.
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2019-05-13 15:06 [p.27688]
Mr. Speaker, not a single penny has been budgeted to compensate supply-managed producers before the election. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has confirmed it.
This means that the $3.9 billion promised by the Liberals has become an election promise. To those farmers, however, that money is not an election issue; it is crucial to keeping their businesses afloat.
Dairy farmers are saying they want to see concrete action before the election, and that would include a cheque.
When will they get their cheque?
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2019-05-13 15:07 [p.27688]
Mr. Speaker, the time for conversation is over. It is time to write a cheque.
We are not asking the minister to reassure our farmers; we are asking him to compensate them. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said he would be worried if he were a farmer. The money the government promised is not there. It is not in the budget.
The message to farmers is that they have to vote for the Liberal Party if they want to get their money.
With the election right around the corner, instead of blackmailing our farmers, will the government send them a cheque before the end of this session of Parliament?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-05-10 12:02 [p.27636]
Madam Speaker, not a single penny in compensation will be going to supply-managed producers before the election. The Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed it.
Farmers are already suffering the consequences of being sacrificed in the free trade agreements. To them, compensation is not an election issue, but an urgent need. The farmers say they want to see concrete action before the election, and that would include a cheque.
When will they get their cheque?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-05-10 12:03 [p.27636]
Madam Speaker, a cheque is exactly what people want. They have had it up to here with reassuring words. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that if he were a farmer, he would be worried. There are only so many ways to reassure people.
Rather than tell supply-managed farmers to vote Liberal if they want their cheque, will the government get those cheques in the mail before the end of the session?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-05-10 12:05 [p.27636]
Madam Speaker, the Conservatives' $100-billion naval strategy sought to ensure the survival of two of Canada's shipyards, even if it meant destroying Davie and all of its suppliers, mostly in Saguenay. When the Liberals took office, they wanted to finish the job the Conservatives started, finish off Davie and deprive it of contracts. That is what we learned from the Vice-Admiral Norman case.
Now that the government has stayed proceedings against the vice-admiral, does it also intend to abandon the Conservatives' naval strategy and finally treat Davie fairly?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2019-05-09 13:58 [p.27579]
Mr. Speaker, for the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, the commissioner wants a modernized OLA. It is going to take a lot more than a mere modernization because the OLA is based on an ineffective minority language protection model and a gross distortion of reality, which perpetuates the assimilation of francophones.
The OLA supposedly puts French and English on equal footing, but bilingualism is not at risk in Canada, French is. For 50 years, instead of changing the criteria in order to make more French-language services available in Canada, the government has been changing the linguistic indicators to conceal the decline of French.
Instead of making French the common language in the regions where there is a critical mass of francophones, the government reinforces English in Quebec and is stingy about providing services in French in the rest of Canada.
Short of a complete overhaul, the only way forward for French is to make Quebec a country that can better support francophones and Acadians.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-05-09 15:05 [p.27592]
Mr. Speaker, it has gotten to the point where Premier Legault has to think about scaling down and delaying the Quebec City tramway project because the federal government is not pulling its weight. The project is $800 million short. The money is there, but the government refuses to hand it over to Quebec without conditions. This problem could be solved tomorrow morning.
Will Ottawa get out of the way, let Quebec manage funds from the integrated bilateral agreement based on its needs and contribute fully to the Quebec City tramway?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-05-09 15:06 [p.27592]
Mr. Speaker, could the government transfer the funds with no strings attached and do the same for other programs?
What we are hearing is that the $800 million has to come out of the green infrastructure fund, meaning that all of Quebec's municipal green programs would have to be scrapped to make way for the Quebec City tramway. We should not have to choose between sacrificing our regions or sacrificing our national capital. We can carry out all of these projects if the money is transferred in a lump sum.
Tax revenues are supposed to be used to serve our needs, not to serve programs.
Will the government let Quebec handle infrastructure dollars without imposing conditions?
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