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Results: 1 - 15 of 125
View René Villemure Profile
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-22 17:16 [p.7579]
Madam Speaker, as this is my first speech of the new parliamentary session, I would like to salute the people of Trois-Rivières.
Bill C‑30 offers up a temporary measure, a brief respite. Respite is relief from suffering or a delay in the carrying out of something unpleasant.
I do appreciate the initiative, but I have to say it is tepid and clearly inadequate under the circumstances. I also want to point out, as was mentioned before, that this measure appeared in the Bloc Québécois's budget expectations last spring. We knew then that people would be suffering because of the economic situation.
I want to come back to the word “respite”. Unfortunately, this relief will not come right away. Despite what the bill suggests, we know that the machinery of government will not be able to get it done until November or December. It is going to take some time. I think the government has to treat people fairly in this.
Why bring in such a measure? The Liberals like to talk about treating everyone fairly. When we talk about fair treatment, we mean treatment that is appropriate to the situation. We tend to call this equity. Equity is about recognizing what each individual needs. It means giving more to one person and less to another, depending on the circumstances. It is very different from equality, where everyone is treated the same regardless of economic status, for example.
It is a fair assessment of what each individual is entitled to, but who is “each individual”? It is of course the most vulnerable, those who are struggling the most. I immediately think of seniors who are on a fixed income, while their expenses keep increasing. What does it mean to live on a fixed income? It means no longer having a choice. If having a choice denotes wealth, having no choice is a sign of poverty.
Even though our seniors live in a rich country, it means being forced to choose between getting enough to eat or heating their homes. In short, they are being forced to live in or near poverty. We must ensure that seniors can live in dignity.
Quebec seniors are suffering indescribable discrimination at the hands of the Liberal government, which is denying them fair and equitable treatment. Doubling the GST temporarily is good, but the government should also stop reducing the guaranteed income supplement for seniors between 65 and 75. That is what I hear when I walk around Trois-Rivières and talk to Mireille or Roger, who say, “Where is the justice? I am 68 and I cannot get enough to eat”.
Hearing things like that breaks my heart. In a supposedly wealthy country, it is shameful. Equity means being able to adapt to each person's situation. It means adjusting. When we draw a line between two points, we often draw a straight line and say that it is the shortest path, but in society, not everything is the product of a straight line. Some things are near the line or outside the line. Equity will adapt. I believe that government measures should also adapt to different situations to achieve a greater degree of fairness.
Equity means fairly determining what everyone deserves. Who is “everyone”? Let us not forget low-income families. They cannot accept the response that the Minister of Finance keeps repeating every day, like a mantra, namely that things are better here than elsewhere.
Low-income families do not live in Australia or Japan. They live in Trois‑Rivières, Saint‑Liguori or Gaspé. Low-income families are vulnerable. I am certain no one will be surprised to hear that the word “vulnerable” comes from the Latin word vulnerabilis, which means “one who can be hurt”. Vulnerability is the potential to be hurt. Doubling the GST benefits these families for a little while, but we do not know for how long. Plus, it is not enough. The price of housing, for example, keeps going up, and inflation rose to 7.6% in July.
I think everyone will agree that we need to help the most vulnerable, the hardest hit. To paraphrase Gandhi, the greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest members.
It is time to act like a great nation if we want to claim that title. More social and community housing must be built. The housing shortage in Trois-Rivières is unacceptable. The vacancy rate is less than 1%. The population is increasing but the housing stock is not keeping up. That is a recipe for poverty.
For that reason, in addition to temporarily doubling the GST, the federal government should permanently earmark 1% of its revenue to be transferred to Quebec, which could add the funds to its own housing programs.
That is not all. When we claim to be a great nation, we must do more. I believe that we must preserve the independence of the central bank, seriously address the labour shortage, improve productivity, make fragile supply chains stronger, strengthen the competition regime, and so on and so forth. These measures are in fact a statement that it is imperative that we reclaim our sovereign authority to provide protection. In short, it is about being decent.
We seldom hear the word “decency”. We hear the word “indecency” more often. What is decency? In addition to ending suffering, which means bringing respite, we must not forget that decency means doing good, acting in a proportionate manner and adapting to a situation to improve life. It is the opposite of indecency.
The government is not a program manager. I often say that the government needs to act as a government, or in other words, it needs to take the helm and steer, not act as a manager that is only responsible for dealing with problems. That is diligent governance.
I simply want to say that the government needs to start walking the talk. The Bloc will support the bill, but it has some concerns.
View René Villemure Profile
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-22 17:24 [p.7580]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for his question.
He started by saying that he is not an economist. I am not an economist either. I am a philosopher. I can talk to the House about decency and indecency, and the duty to protect, but I will leave it up to my colleague from Joliette, who does great work, to talk about monetary policy.
View René Villemure Profile
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-22 17:25 [p.7581]
Madam Speaker, I think that the member for Winnipeg North basically just answered the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley's question.
Our citizens do not live outside the country. They live here. We need to have the decency to put caring for people and their health ahead of any considerations pertaining strictly to inflation. It does not do any good to control inflation if people are starving to death.
View René Villemure Profile
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-22 17:27 [p.7581]
Madam Speaker, the reality is complex. I believe that incentives could and should be introduced. Doubling the GST credit is a good start. However, I think tax benefits are needed for people returning to the labour market. Certain monetary incentives, particularly on the tax front, could help address this problem.
I am not an economist, but I know that something needs to be done.
View René Villemure Profile
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-20 11:46 [p.7398]
Madam Speaker, in French, we refer to people “en situation de handicap”, “vivant avec un handicap” or “handicapée”. There are a number of terms that are used. However, there is something that concerns me.
Guillaume Parent, the director of the Centre d'expertise finances et handicap, recently told La Presse that, in Quebec, fewer people considered themselves as having a disability or living with a disability because the French word “handicap” does not have the same scope as the English word “disability”.
Will a distinction be made between the two terms so that people understand what we are talking about and so that they are able to access the services in question?
View René Villemure Profile
Madam Speaker, the Conservative members have talked a lot about freedom of expression and censorship. At this point in the debate, I would like my colleague to tell me exactly what she thinks freedom of expression is and what she thinks censorship is.
View René Villemure Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from British Columbia. His riding is magnificent.
I would really like to hear his thoughts on something. I picked up on some major distrust of the CRTC. In my opinion, the CRTC is a relic of the 20th century, but I would like my colleague to expand on why he does not trust it.
Why is he so suspicious of the CRTC?
View René Villemure Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to Bill C‑11. I am very proud of this bill and will explain why.
I want to take this opportunity to mention that my son started working on air in radio this morning. I wish him well with discoverability. I will also add that my daughter is a documentarian and recently produced a documentary on Montreal in the disco era. I have two children working in the arts, in French, which is why this topic is particularly important to me.
In addition, my riding of Trois-Rivières is a place where many artists converge. People are familiar with Fred Pellerin and, perhaps, the Lemay brothers. There are also people in studios producing soundtracks that are distributed all over the world, even in China. The Cogeco auditorium just recently hosted Harmonium symphonique, so it is safe to say that Trois-Rivières is awash in culture.
Speaking of culture, I want to address one criticism. In the past, a number of people—although there are fewer of them now—have asked me what the Bloc Québécois's role is in all of this. We defend the French language and francophone culture, which means that we protect and support artists.
As soon as we saw Bill C-10, we could tell that protecting French was not a strong priority. English is appealing; it is everywhere on the web and in music. I have nothing against English. However, what bothers me is that English is becoming the singular way of thinking, which means that culture is disappearing.
Let me give you an example. Recently, I was with people from the OECD who were presenting a framework for analyzing artificial intelligence. Being a language specialist, I asked the woman which language the framework was designed in. She told me that everyone had met in Paris—people from Egypt, Brazil, Canada and everywhere. I asked her what language these people spoke while in Paris, and she said that they had been working in English. There is nothing wrong with that, but the very nature of the thought process is different.
That is what people mean when they talk about losing a culture and losing a way of thinking. That is why the discoverability we have all been talking about here is important. We have to be able to develop francophone content, and it has to be a priority for online companies. With Bill C‑10, we had concerns about whether the CRTC, as a relic of the 20th century, would have the wherewithal to take action on this. We proposed amendments that addressed the situation and resolved those concerns. Our francophone artists will reap the rewards.
We also considered the impact of Bill C‑10 on freedom of expression. My colleague from Drummond proposed amendments that were agreed to, amendments that can provide reassurance to artists and content creators.
Next came an unjustified hiatus because of the election. Perhaps it was not completely unjustified; after all, I was elected. People lost money because of the hiatus because it delayed the introduction of Bill C‑11. My colleague from Drummond was undeterred. He kept working just as hard, single-handedly advancing the cause of content creators, because that is what the Bloc Québécois does: We do it all for Quebec.
We clarified the concept of decision. This may seem simple, but it is not. Decision is a word, and, as I often point out, a word is a construct of sound and meaning. We added meaning to the word decision.
We also insisted on maintaining Canadian ownership and Canadian control of the broadcasting system. We insisted and will continue to insist on the chair of the CRTC becoming proficient in French. This is not a preference, but a necessity. A culture cannot be understood if its language is not understood. Throughout the current process, the Bloc Québécois kept pressuring the government to do more for Quebec.
Sadly, the debate gave way to disgraceful comments. I am thinking in particular about the member for Lethbridge, who told Alberta media that some provisions of Bill C‑10 targeted a very niche group of artists from Quebec, outdated artists stuck in the early 1990s because they failed to be competitive on the new platforms. She went on to say that these Quebec artists produce content that Canadians simply do not want.
One would be hard pressed to find greater contempt. Throughout the debate, I heard several colleagues, especially on the Conservative side admittedly, express their concerns about freedom of expression.
That is an important topic, so I took the time to ask three colleagues in the House how they would define freedom of expression. Interestingly, other than saying that freedom of expression is important and essential, no one was able to define the concept and what they understood by it. I was not convinced by the argument.
Invoking something does not make it real. Instead of wasting time with baseless arguments, the Bloc Québécois prefers to take action and protect content creators. Quebec culture is at the heart of the Bloc Québécois's mission. Broadcasting is one of the most effective tools for sharing this culture, which is our identity.
The Bloc Québécois is clearly in favour of modernizing the Broadcasting Act, which has not been updated in ages, not since 1991. Obviously, the evolution of technology has not been taken into account.
The Bloc Québécois also contributed significantly to the previous version of the bill, Bill C-10, by securing the following gains: the protection and promotion of original French-language programs; the discoverability of services, and I will not dwell on this, since it has already been discussed at length; the promotion of Canadian programming in both official languages and in indigenous languages; a mandatory contribution to Canada's broadcasting system; the requirement for first-run French-language content, in order to ensure there are new French-language shows on Netflix, for example; and a sunset clause that would provide for a comprehensive review of the act every five years.
When my colleagues ask about the purpose of the Bloc Québécois, I can say our purpose is to protect, promote and take care of francophone culture. The Minister of Canadian Heritage promised us that the Bloc Québécois amendments would be included in the new version of the reform, and indeed, we see significant evidence of them. We have to admit it. That said, the wording obviously differs. Some words are changed here and there, which can change the meaning a bit, but we have to admit that it is quite clear.
Quebec's and Canada's cultural sector has been impatiently waiting for this act to be updated. It has been waiting for decades. The first request from the cultural sector is simple: ensure that this bill is passed. That is what we are being asked to do. Earlier, there was mention of the $70 million estimated by the then Minister of Canadian Heritage. It was an estimate, but a reliable one.
Since the beginning of time, it was said that everything that happened happened within the bounds of space and time. Nothing could exist outside space and time. Globalization and the Internet turned this idea upside down. In 2022, the virus has no borders, inflation has no borders and culture has no borders. It is time to pass Bill C‑11 before time ravages our Quebec and Canadian cultures, turning them into a monolith.
View René Villemure Profile
Mr. Speaker, freedom of expression is a truly fundamental subject. Freedom of expression is often discussed but seldom defined. I would like to add a philosophical dimension.
Freedom of expression is the possibility of saying something. It is not permission to say anything at all; it is the possibility of saying something. Bill C‑11 fundamentally leaves a lot of space for everyone. I believe that Bill C‑11 does not place significant restrictions on freedom of expression. I honestly believe that one would have to be a little malicious to think that it contains restrictions.
View René Villemure Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her very important question.
Discoverability is a potential. It is a possibility. It is a bit like planting seeds and watching the flowers grow afterwards. At the moment, I would not be able to say what colour the flower will be, and that is what will probably be governed by the regulations in due course. Nevertheless, what matters is that the possibility of being discovered is written into the law. It is the use that will determine this discoverability, but, for the moment, the important thing for us is that it is in the bill at this stage.
View René Villemure Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. It is an important one that will give us the opportunity to clarify the situation.
The thing that surprises me a bit is that the question sounds a lot like the Conservative point of view, which is unusual, honestly. However, in this case, the proposed interpretation of clause 4.2 is simply false. That is not how it should be understood, on the contrary.
View René Villemure Profile
Mr. Speaker, we have been talking about discoverability for several minutes now. Discoverability refers to the potential to be discovered, found, used, watched, listened to and read, and it is very important to us. Discoverability leads to more revenue over time. Like all models, these models can, of course, be improved. However, I think that we have worked on it and polished it enough.
View René Villemure Profile
View René Villemure Profile
2022-06-13 17:23 [p.6613]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saskatoon—Grasswood for his speech.
I heard a number of arguments there, and I am left puzzled by one thing.
He bases his first argument on freedom of expression. I am not sure that this is really about freedom of expression, but I would like my colleague to give the House a definition of freedom of expression.
View René Villemure Profile
Madam Speaker, the misfortunes of the world sometimes lie in the way we name or fail to name things. We are here to discuss research funding, chairs and the EDI criteria. The use of the acronym EDI sometimes prevents us from understanding what we are talking about. We are talking about equity, diversity and inclusion. These words have been used so indiscriminately that they have practically been stripped of their meaning. Since a word is an amalgam of sound and meaning, it does not make sense when it loses its meaning. Words are used to say anything and everything.
Today, I will try to make sense of all this, so that we can better understand. Although equity, diversity and inclusion may be buzzwords, they are important concepts.
As the member for Trois-Rivières, I am particularly interested in the subject of this motion. The president of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, with whom I have regular discussions, keeps telling me that he is trying hard to attract the best researchers to all of his chairs, whether it be in social communications, pure sciences or green hydrogen. He keeps telling me how difficult it is to attract excellent candidates. Attracting the best candidates is a difficult thing, period. I cannot imagine that adding any kind of criteria would make his job any easier.
Let us at least try to look at this debate from another angle, despite the claim by some that this is a philosophical debate. Let us take the high road and demonstrate two things. First, for the enjoyment of everyone here, I will quote a philosopher who has always moved me, and that is Heraclitus. What he said can be summed up in four words: All things are one.
According to the “all things are one” philosophy, there can be no light without darkness, no left without right, no cold without hot. All things are one. Everything is included. According to Heraclitus's philosophy, inclusion is the solution to our problem. We need everyone today. That is inclusion.
Let us try to give meaning to this. Today I heard several people try to talk about or avoid talking about discrimination. Discrimination is what separates, what divides, what distinguishes between concepts. However, when discrimination is used to distinguish between concepts, it does not necessarily have a negative value, since we sometimes talk about positive discrimination.
I prefer the word “discernment” to “discrimination”. Discernment is an action that involves distinguishing between two schools of thought, taking context into account. Context is very important here. Oddly enough, EDI—equity, diversity and inclusion—excludes candidates, but I will come back to that.
In life, it is justifiable to want to correct an inequality but, as many have said, we have to remember that we do not correct one inequality by creating another. Everything is one.
Instead, I will talk about striking a balance. In awarding research funds, advancing knowledge should be the only criterion that counts. As we all know, science is not about sex, gender, colour, height, origin or residence. Science is about knowledge, it is about competence. Science is, and must remain, objective.
I will, of course, be the first to say that a diversity of voices can only enrich a discussion, especially in the humanities. Having studied philosophy, I can say that, even in my career as an ethicist, the diversity of voices that one always seeks is hard to come by. When you want to take a 360-degree look at any given subject, it becomes difficult when people's views are identical. People who look alike therefore think alike.
In the quest for truth or knowledge, one must apply what is called the ethics of discussion. Curiously, this step comes after what my colleague just mentioned, that is, after the ethics of beliefs and responsibilities. The ethics of discussion is the validation of our own ideas by a larger, more diverse group, a group that has another point of view. There is richness in diversity.
To get a research grant, first and foremost you have to master a vernacular. That is difficult. You must be well versed in the language, conform to the dictates of the research supervisor, get published in English and so on. The research environment is difficult for everyone. By the way, the requirement that the researcher publish in English is also a form of silent discrimination against francophones that dares not speak its name.
History clearly shows that there is an imbalance, a degree of discrimination against visible minorities, but, as I said, two wrongs do not make a right. Unfortunately, throughout history, minority groups, including francophones in Canada, have experienced negative discrimination. We need to acknowledge that, but, again, two wrongs do not make a right.
If there is discrimination, we need to tackle the reasons for it, not punish candidates who could be eligible for research funding.
Although diverse points of view can enrich the scientific conversation, diversity is not a prerequisite for doing good science.
The Canada research chairs program does not see it that way. According to its criteria, one cannot be a competent scientist unless one meets the diversity criteria. That statement is so outrageous that it would be laughable were it not so serious. If we examine the many criteria set out by the program, we can draw only one conclusion: The criteria are numerous, spurious and even Kafkaesque. The Canada research chairs program is based on an unrealistic vision. It is like trying to build an airplane that is supposed to fly under water.
Second, let us get out of our parliamentary bubble and our big-city bubbles and expand our horizons. Long ago, the Quebec government developed a network of 10 regional universities: the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, the Université du Québec à Rimouski, the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, the Université du Québec en Outaouais, and so on. This network was set up to develop the regions of Quebec. By comparing these universities, we can see that there are significant demographic differences within the network. I urge my colleagues to believe me when I say this: the demographics of Montreal are not comparable to those of Rimouski.
If we go further, none of these regions is comparable to the Canadian population statistics cited by the Canada research chairs program. There too, Quebec is different.
What will the Université du Québec à Rimouski need to do if the minority referred to by the criteria is simply nowhere to be found in the region served by the university?
The “Canadian” criteria in the research chair guidelines do not match the demographics of Quebec. There is a glaring injustice here, in addition to a demonstrable inequity.
I will say for the third time that diversity usually enriches a discussion, but it still has to be present in the regions in question.
By asking the government to review the criteria for awarding grants to research chairs, we are simply asking it to let science be what it is, which is objective. We are asking the government to let universities be what they are, which is independent. Furthermore, the program ignores the autonomy of universities. Basically, non‑scientists are being entrusted with the task of allocating funds to scientists, even though these non‑scientists sometimes know very little about the process, apart from the diversity criteria.
The Canada research chairs program should be content to act as a facilitator for scientific advances, advances that are based on the skills and qualifications of candidates. It should not be telling universities what to do. This is an infringement on the jurisdiction of universities and Quebec, and that is unacceptable. Through its directives, the federal government is once again interfering in matters that are none of its concern and meddling where it is not wanted.
Through our motion, we are calling on the government to review its guidelines on equity, diversity and inclusion with a focus on the first, equity, which is the first word in the acronym, EDI. It is important to distinguish between equity or equality, for they are not the same thing. When it is properly understood, equity is a criterion that encompasses and transcends diversity and inclusion. Equity is a fair assessment of what each party is entitled to. If we add a little Aristotle and take a philosophical view, I would even say that it is a fair assessment of what each party is entitled to, as much as humanly possible. That should be the guideline used when allocating funding. Its very meaning transcends the convoluted EDI criteria used in the Canada research chairs program.
A word of caution is needed. It is important to remember that certain groups, for any number of legitimate reasons, tend to be drawn to certain disciplines over others. We have to be careful to replace discrimination with colonialism. Discrimination of any kind has no place in our society, and neither does blind, prescriptive virtue.
View René Villemure Profile
Madam Speaker, I believe that those criteria already exist. However, one thing is certain: We must promote access for members of groups, such as women, but I do not believe that we need go so far as to ban and exclude people, because that is not the case.
As I stated in my speech, there are certain groups that, for reasons of their own, are simply not present in an area of activity. We must be careful when we push for something.
However, I agree with the member. We must foster access, but I believe that universities do a good job in that regard. Having experience with universities and research chairs, I believe that people are making a real effort.
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