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Results: 1 - 15 of 406
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, if an election is triggered today, there will be only one party responsible: the Conservative Party. Instead of trying to work together with the other political parties when developing the budget, instead of listening, the Conservatives simply did as they pleased.
Since the budget contains nothing about the payment of the $2.2 billion for sales tax harmonization, nothing to settle any other financial disputes between Quebec and Ottawa, nothing for the forestry industry, nothing about a complete overhaul of the employment insurance system, in short, nothing for Quebec, they should not be surprised that the members of the Bloc Québécois, who are here every day to defend the interests of Quebec, will rise to vote against this budget.
They did not hesitate to spend $26 million of public money to finance their pre-election campaign. It is clear: the Conservatives made up their mind about an election a long time ago.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-12 on behalf of the Bloc Québécois and to discuss the amendment proposed by the Bloc Québécois, which we are presently debating. It reads:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation), because the Bill would unacceptably reduce the political weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons and does not set out that Quebec must hold 25 percent of the seats in the House of Commons.”
As far as we know, the Bloc Québécois is the only party that rises every day in the House to defend the interests of Quebec. That is the case again today. It is the only party that has speakers constantly rising in the House. The Bloc Québécois, with the strength of its members, will continue this debate in the House for as long as possible.
This is symptomatic of the Canadian federation and of the Conservative government. There is a reason why Bill C-12 has come around at this time. I would like people watching to know that we are debating a bill that will go nowhere if an election is called in the next few days. A similar bill, Bill C-56, died on the order paper when the Conservatives prorogued Parliament.
Why are we debating this bill today? The Conservatives want to send a political message, which hearkens back to their throne speech of November 19, 2008. I would like to read a tersely worded excerpt from that Conservative Party speech.
Our Government will introduce legislation to move toward representation by population in the House of Commons for Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.
This is a political choice. And naturally, today the members from the Liberal Party and the NDP are more or less silent, complicit in this political strategy that would give more political power to Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, as laid out in the 2008 throne speech. They are defending their Canada, but we are defending our Quebec.
It is income tax time, and the people watching us are quite aware that they are paying their hefty share of taxes, half of which is going to Ottawa. As long as they are paying taxes to Ottawa, they will be entitled to elect members from the Bloc Québécois to defend their interests and their values. That is what we are doing, and that is why we have put forward this amendment. I will reread our amendment to Bill C-12: that “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-12,...”.
This is what we will be demanding as long as this bill does not stipulate that 25% of the members elected to the House of Commons are to come from Quebec. We want this because the Canadian Constitution has guaranteed and protected proportionality in Quebec. Since the beginning of the history of Canada, Quebec has not always had a number of seats proportional to its population—far from it. Quebeckers have adapted well to this situation. I will give a few figures. In 1976, Quebeckers represented 27% of the population and had 26% of the seats. In 1941, they represented 28.96% of the population and had 26.53% of the seats.
Even though Quebeckers have not signed the Canadian Constitution, they are always respectful of the enactments that govern them. The Canadian Constitution applies to Quebec and it has always been respected.
I do not think there is a political party in the House that can find fault with the work of the members of the Bloc Québécois. These men and women rise every day in the interest of Quebec, but they respect the House of Commons, the work that is done there, and the British parliamentary system. As long as Quebeckers pay taxes to Ottawa, they will have the right to send the members they want to Ottawa. They mostly choose members of the Bloc Québécois because they know that these members rise in the House to defend their interests on a daily basis, without ever changing their minds.
In this case, it is crystal clear that the National Assembly of Quebec passed motions for the withdrawal of Bill C-56, which, as I was saying, died on the order paper. It was the forerunner of Bill C-12, which is before us today. The National Assembly was unanimous in calling for the withdrawal of that bill.
At the time, even Benoît Pelletier, who was the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, had asked that this bill be withdrawn. I will not quote the transcript because my colleagues have already done so, but he was a Liberal and federalist minister. There are still some of this ilk in Quebec. Federalists in Ottawa do not even honour the requests of federalists in Quebec. That is why things are going so poorly in the Canadian federation. Indeed, aside from the fact that the Conservative Party recognized the Quebec nation, there is no desire to safeguard Quebec’s political strength within Canada. I repeat, it is clear: in the 2008 Speech from the Throne, the Conservatives, for purely partisan reasons, wanted to give British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario greater representation. It was a political choice. They made no attempt to conceal this. They enjoy the tacit support of the other political parties in the House, which do not really dare to stand up for Quebec for the simple reason that Quebec is more of a bother than anything else for the Liberals and the NDP.
And yet we are still here, steadfast throughout, standing up for the interests of Quebeckers. There was an Angus Reid poll on April 7, 2010, that revealed that 71% of Quebeckers were against legislation such as Bill C-12, which would diminish Quebec’s political strength within Canada. Moreover, only 37% of those Canadians polled were in favour of this amendment. Federalists in the House do not even have the support of all Canadians.
There is a good reason Bill C-12 is being discussed. It is for purely political and partisan reasons. The government could have chosen to discuss other bills, but this particular bill is being discussed right now because in a couple of hours we will know the answer to the question: will there or will there not be an election? This bill has no chance of being passed before the next election. The government should not be trying to confuse people by having them believe that because this bill is being discussed today, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta will be better represented and have more members. That is not true. The same electoral map will apply whether an election is triggered in a couple of hours or a couple of days.
The Conservatives are again trying to make people believe that they have given it their best shot. They fail to mention, however, that Bill C-56 died on the order paper when the government prorogued the House. The Conservatives themselves killed a similar bill that would have given those provinces greater representation.
The Bloc Québécois is calling for the same thing as Quebec’s National Assembly: that Quebec’s political representation within Canada not be modified while hard-working Quebeckers continue to pay taxes to Ottawa. Quebeckers are generous. Every year, they pay their taxes and that is why they choose those who represent them in Parliament. It is why the majority of Quebec members are from the Bloc Québécois and will continue to be, regardless of any election held in any place, at any time.
Federalists must try to respect Quebeckers in the House and not modify their political representation. That is what the Canadian Constitution says. They must honour the pledge they made in 1867.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, my Conservative colleague knows very well that British Columbia's Court of Appeal has already ruled on section 42. Any amendment to representation must be approved by seven provinces that represent 50% of the population. That is in the Constitution Act, 1982. I can understand that he does not want to abide by it, since he is a Conservative who does not abide by any laws, even those enacted by the House of Commons. That is what the Conservatives do.
Once again, we will never go along with this. Quebeckers are too proud.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, I think that is another debate. My colleague is partly right. We need only look at how the Conservative Party is making changes to parliamentary democracy. That would be worthy of a debate.
However, one thing is certain: Quebeckers, represented by the Bloc Québécois and the Quebec National Assembly—which passed a unanimous motion calling on the government to not change electoral representation in Canada—deserve to have all parties in this House respect the will of the Quebec National Assembly, which is asking the government not to tamper with Quebec's representation in this House.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right, especially given that Quebec's representation has not always been based on its population. I mentioned years in which Quebec had a far larger population than its number of seats in this House reflected, and we accepted that. Now, it is time that the rest of Canada respected Quebec, as Quebec has always respected Canada. We are asking the members of the other parties in this House to respect Quebeckers and not reduce their political clout.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, in committee, the former integrity commissioner said that the $500,000 severance package she was offered was not negotiable. The government therefore offered her this amount to get rid of her and buy her silence. In addition, given that the Auditor General's report stated that there had been obvious mismanagement, there was no justification for giving the commissioner a severance package.
How can the government justify such a large amount of severance pay when it had every reason to dismiss the former commissioner without paying her a single cent?
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, this was the quickest and least expensive way to get rid of Christiane Ouimet; however, that does not explain why the government paid a fortune to someone whose poor quality work was criticized by the Auditor General.
Are we to understand that the determining factor in the government's decision was the fact that it wanted to buy the former commissioner's silence at all costs? Why is the Conservative government rewarding incompetence?
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill C-54, which pertains to minimum sentences for sexual offences against children. This bill would amend the Criminal Code.
On March 22, my grandson will be 18 months old. Grandparents are always proud of their grandchildren. There are grandparents who are watching today and I know that they are proud of their grandchildren. I cannot remain unmoved by a bill introduced in Parliament that pertains to minimum sentences for sexual offences against children. If anyone touched my grandson, I would have difficulty abiding by the law; however, I would, as all citizens are obliged to do.
Bill C-54, which is well-intentioned, must be examined. The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the bill at this stage and feels it should be sent to committee. When it is reviewed in committee, we can ask witnesses questions. The fight against crime is of the utmost importance, particularly when children are the victims. However, it must be said that, in Quebec, as in the rest of Canada, the crime rate has been declining for the past 15 years or so. The measures set out in Bill C-54 warrant our attention. This bill creates new offences and imposes new restrictions on offenders. However, the bill also provides for minimum sentences.
We must hear from legal experts on the matter. When the Conservatives introduce crime bills, they do so to satisfy their own ideology rather than to improve society. They have that annoying tendency of trying to do what the justice system should do. When minimum penalties are brought in, we tell the judges what they have to do. Our parents and grandparents passed on a legacy of the rule of law and a justice system in which judges look at offences on a case-by-case basis and assign penalties in accordance with precedents that have been developed over years. In short, looking at case law means looking at what has happened in the past and giving similar penalties for similar crimes, so that justice is balanced.
When minimum penalties are brought in, it changes this balance that was passed on to us by our parents and grandparents. I am a grandfather to a boy who will be 18 months on March 22, and I would not want to leave him a justice system that completely disregards our history and the foundation of our society.
The Bloc Québécois is generally in favour of the principle of sending a bill to be studied in committee. There, we can hear from witnesses and make any necessary amendments to the bill. The purpose is that when the bill is passed, it helps develop society. The sole objective should not be to replace the justice system that was passed down to us by our parents and grandparents with the new system that the Conservatives and their ideology are trying to impose.
Quebeckers and people from the rest of Canada can trust the Bloc Québécois to maintain that balance. We have always done so in the House and we will continue to do so. The principle of the bill is very interesting and we want to develop it and discuss it.
The bill would create two new offences. The first offence would prohibit anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against that child. This hybrid offence would carry a mandatory prison sentence of 30 days imprisonment and a maximum penalty of six months or a mandatory prison sentence of 90 days.
The second offence would prohibit anyone from using any means of telecommunications, including a computer system, to agree or to make arrangements with another person for the purpose of committing a sexual offence against a child. This provision was part of former Bill C-46, which was introduced in the previous parliamentary session but was not passed because of the last election.
The Bloc's goal is to help society evolve. This bill would prohibit the use of telecommunications. Our parents knew nothing about these kinds of things. I am getting older, and my father never saw such things, nor did my grandparents. Laws need to be adapted, and I think this is a step in the right direction. Once again, at this stage in the discussions surrounding Bill C-54, the Bloc Québécois will support the bill.
Next, we need to proceed with this bill so that the legal and criminal aspects of our society, passed down by our parents and grandparents, will evolve and be more suitable for our grandchildren. That is the challenge that the Bloc Québécois has taken on. We will bring the necessary witnesses forward and we, along with the other parties, will try to move this bill forward to achieve the final goal of helping society move in a positive direction and not towards a right-wing conservative ideology as has happened with the U.S. Republicans and in totalitarian societies in the world. There needs to be a balance, and that is what the Bloc is here for.
At this stage, the government can count on the Bloc's support.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about the motion before us. I would like to read several lines:
That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada’s “in and out” electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based, and that, further, the House calls upon the Prime Minister...
The Bloc Québécois supports this motion. I would like to quote an article published by Agence France-Presse that was reprinted by Le Figaro on March 2, 2011. It states:
Today the Canadian electoral authority formally charged the Prime Minister's Conservative Party and two senators from the governing party with fraud for allegedly concealing cost overruns during the 2006 election. The charges, laid at a time when many observers expect a spring election to be held, revolve around a “false or misleading statement” about the budget for the campaign that brought [the Conservatives] to power, writes Elections Canada in a news release.
These charges of fraud, which were reported by Agence France-Presse and by Le Figaro on March 2, are very serious and constitute an attack on democracy. It is important that the House take a stand on the Conservative Party's fraud.
In the 2006 election campaign, when a certain opportunity presented itself to the Conservative Party and the cash was beginning to pour into its coffers, it lacked resources for its national campaign. Given that the Conservatives had a national spending limit of $18 million, they transferred national party money to the ridings, which then returned the money to the national party to run national ads.
That is clearly against the law. A riding can collect donations from people and then run a campaign. The Conservatives did the opposite, thus contravening the Canada Elections Act. It is not surprising that they were charged. What is surprising is that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister told the House that they provided all the documents. That is false. The RCMP had to search the Conservative headquarters to obtain the evidence.
Day after day in the House of Commons, they have tried to cover up this scandal. It is becoming an international scandal given that an article in the March 2, 2011 edition of Le Figaro discussed the modus operandi of the right-wing party.
After question period, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.
Getting back to the article in Le Figaro, the second paragraph states:
According to this independent [Canadian] agency, the Conservative Party deliberately exceeded election spending limits...by $1 million through an accounting scheme involving the right-wing party's local committees.
The right-wing Conservatives do not hesitate to circumvent the law and commit fraud to achieve their ends.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our excellent hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.
Before question period, I was talking about the motion moved by the Liberals. I will reread part of it:
That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada’s “in and out” electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based...
This is important. During question period, we heard all sorts of claims coming out of the mouth of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. For weeks now he has been claiming that the Conservative Party provided the Chief Electoral Officer with all the documents. That is not true and he knows it. The RCMP had to search the offices of the Conservative Party to obtain the information, and that is serious. It is clear, under the law, that the national party has the right to spend a certain amount of money. In 2006, it was $18 million. What is more, the ridings had the right to spend a certain amount of money per riding. The total for all the ridings is roughly the same amount, $18 million.
However, expenses are different. I am the chief organizer for the Bloc Québécois. The party is entitled to its expenses at the national level. Usually, ads represent the biggest part of the expenses to which we are entitled and in which we invest during an election campaign. In Quebec, for the next election, it will be roughly $6 million nationally. The party will have a budget and will spend a certain amount of money for its national ads. The ridings have their own budgets and are entitled to local advertising.
In the 2005-06 election, the Conservative Party was moving up in the polls. That is how the Conservatives have always governed. They were experiencing some popularity and the money started to come in. The ridings did not have their own fundraising campaigns and were having a lot of trouble raising money. I should point out that a right-wing party was not very popular, at least not in Quebec. I cannot speak for the rest of Canada, but in Quebec, it was not. The party had reached its $18 million limit at the national level. It saw the potential for a majority and needed to spend money on national advertisements. Since money was pouring in, it sent money to local ridings and asked them to spend that money on national advertisements, which is in violation of the act. That is why only Conservative Party offices were searched by the RCMP and Elections Canada. In fact, when the returns came in, Elections Canada realized that the expenses were not for local advertisements. In my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, there are 13 local weekly newspapers. With my budget, I purchase advertisements in the weekly newspapers. That is not national advertising. The national Bloc Québécois party, for which I am the chief organizer, pays for national advertisements on television and radios and in the major national media, but each riding is responsible for local advertising.
It is not surprising for this to happen when a political party does not have enough money for advertising, and the Conservatives know that. It is always about the money, and advertising is the biggest expense a party makes to try and sway the public, which is often very lazy and does not follow election campaigns, aside from catching a few one-minute clips on The National or another national news program. The way to sway the public is to blanket the radio and television airwaves with advertisements showing the party leader, while in the ridings, the focus is on showing the candidates.
Elections Canada very clearly understood the scheme. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and I have informed the Conservative members opposite that they are going to lose their appeal before the Supreme Court. A party should not be able to influence the outcome of a national campaign by sending money to ridings so that they can send it right back to the national party to cover the cost of national advertising. This will have to be monitored in future. The Conservatives are not raising any more money than before at the local level. They are collecting it at the national level, particularly in Quebec.
What was done differently in 2006 and what will happen during the next election campaign? They have had time to send money before the election. If I look at the list of Conservative Party donors in Quebec ridings, I see that often those donors do not live in the ridings to which they are contributing. That is legal. However, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and representatives of the Chief Electoral Officer are analyzing this practice and trying to abolish it. In theory, a riding that wants to run a local election campaign with its local candidate must be able to raise the money to do so on its own.
The current act allows money to be sent to the ridings before the election campaign. This practice must be reviewed. However, there is one other thing that is not legal under the act during an election campaign. When the Conservatives reached their $18 million spending limit, they noticed that some ridings had not raised any money and were broke. They told those ridings that they would send them money, not for local advertising, but for national advertising. The Conservatives needed national advertising to win a majority. This is what the Chief Electoral Officer condemned, and he was completely right. There is a reason Elections Canada won its appeal and will win—
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. It gets even worse. The goal of the Conservatives was not to receive the rebate. They had no choice but to receive it. When the riding has an expense, it gets a 60% rebate. Let us ask the Conservatives whether they were interested in receiving the money. They were not interested because they had too much. That is what is wrong with the Conservatives: they have too much money, and that is dangerous for democracy.
The problem is that they are trying to manipulate the law. The Conservatives are saying that they gladly repaid that money and that they did not want it. What they wanted was to exceed the national ceiling allowed under the law. The spending limit under the law was $18 million. Their spending reached $19 million, which they invested in advertising to win an election. That is not allowed. They lost in the court of appeal and they will lose in the Supreme Court.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Madam Speaker, the Conservative member knows full well that the legislation has been amended since that incident occurred. Once again, I understand that they are trying to muddy the waters with a bunch of examples from 2003 and 2004, but the current issue with the in and out scheme is that the Conservatives used the money for national ads, which are a key part of any election campaign. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister did not say a single thing about that. This is what they do: they say they have enough money.If worst comes to worst, they do not even want reimbursement.
The problem is that they want to spend more than the law allows. And that amounts to buying an election campaign. That is not permitted. They lost the appeal. And they will lose at the Supreme Court. They still do not understand that democracy cannot be bought. It is not permitted in Quebec—where we pay the bill for about a quarter of the federal government's expenditures—or in the rest of Canada.
Perhaps if they win a majority, they can amend the Canada Elections Act and will thus be in control forever and be a dictatorship financed by dirty money.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to try to follow and understand the government. My question will be simple. In his speech, the minister spoke about self-defence, defence of property and the use of force. Could a citizen who uses force to defend his property—not himself—go so far as to do the unspeakable and kill a human being? Does the minister believe that a citizen could use such force to protect his property that he could kill another human being?
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is a national disgrace. Requiring people to use the term “Harper government” in all communications is more proof that the Conservatives—
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, we cannot say his name in this House, but they can use it in government advertisements. That is shameful. First we had party fundraising letters from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Conservative Party logos on government cheques, and now the Conservatives are once again confusing the interests of the Conservative Party and the activities of the government.
When will the Conservatives stop using government resources to promote their party?
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