MARCEAU, Gilles, Q.C., B.A., LL.L.

Personal Data

Jonquière (Quebec)
Birth Date
September 27, 1928
Deceased Date
April 19, 2008

Parliamentary Career

June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
  Lapointe (Quebec)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
  Lapointe (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State of Canada (December 22, 1972 - December 21, 1973)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (January 1, 1974 - May 9, 1974)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
  Lapointe (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (September 15, 1974 - September 14, 1975)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Jonquière (Quebec)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Jonquière (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 43)

June 27, 1984

Mr. Gilles Marceau (Jonquiere):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Solicitor General. I would like to ask the Minister if, following a recent court judgment, he intends to be particularly careful about dangerous criminals who, as a result, may be put back into "circulation" in greater numbers. Second, regarding individuals who are released under mandatory supervision and commit offences or escape, does the Minister intend to take any special action in this respect? I should like to know whether Bill C-35 deals more specifically with this question and whether the Minister will want the Bill to be passed before the end of this session?

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June 19, 1984

Mr. Gilles Marceau (Jonquiere):

Mr. Speaker, I believe that, considering the importance of this legislation and the motion for time allocation now before the House, it would perhaps be useful to put things into perspective and try and find some serious justification for adopting a Bill that, I agree, is controversial. I have been sitting on the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and have been a member of the Committee since 1968.1 have tried to analyse the facts, to find some convincing reasons for supporting a Bill that, I repeat, is controversial.

I have found three reasons, Mr. Speaker, and I shall mention them briefly.

In the last fifteen years, two commissions have recommended creating a separate, civilian security intelligence agency.

In 1969, the MacKenzie Commission stated, and I quote:

Aside from a number of similarities in the investigation methods used, the differences between the responsibilities of a police corps and those of a security service would seem to be very distinct. The primary concern of a police corps is to enforce the law, to investigate offences, to collect evidence and to bring offenders before the courts. Security services are mainly engaged in preventive action and the collection of information ... Briefly, we believe that there is a distinct difference between the professional security officer and the professional police officer, and that this difference should be reflected in how they are recruited-

Mr. Speaker, I could also quote the McDonald Commission and the Senate Committee. In other words, I feel that anything is preferable to the status quo. It was the status quo that allowed the RCMP, that respected force, to take inappropriate action in Quebec, and I can certainly not find here any justification for the attitude of my hon. friends opposite, who in spite of all its shortcomings and imperfections, prefer the present situation to the proposed system. I am giving this Bill my approval in principle in order to eliminate the status quo and look to the future, even if I would have preferred to see a number of clauses amended.

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June 11, 1984

Mr. Gilles Marceau (Jonquiere):

Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege of sitting on the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for fifteen years, and for many of those years I have had the pleasure of sitting on the Committee with the Hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Halliday). I have witnessed his diligence and his interest in legal questions, despite the fact that he is not a lawyer himself, which proves that one can be interested in these issues without necessarily belonging to the legal profession.

I listened with a great deal of interest to the arguments put forward by my honourable friend, and I appreciate the fact that he said the point raised was not a political one. I appreciate this because if our views differ, it will not mean I have political reasons for disagreeing with the interesting views he has expressed and maintained with considerable determination for many years.

Mr. Speaker, the penitentiary system is a subject of considerable interest which too many people approach in a very simplistic fashion, which consists in saying that when a criminal has broken the law, all we have to do is put him in a penitentiary for as long as possible, and the problem is solved. I think my hon. friend has raised a number of questions that would bear discussion here in the House, about riots and suicide in our penitentiaries. These are very serious problems which we want to solve, but the solution is certainly not incarceration.

The point raised by my hon. colleague is an interesting one, and perhaps I may be allowed to repeat it, even if you yourself, Mr. Speaker, read the motion at the beginning of this period, and even if my hon. friend repeated it as well. I think it would be interesting to repeat the motion because it contains some very important points. The motion moved by the Hon. Member for Oxford states that the Government should consider the feasibility of providing for greater public involvement in policy-making for correctional services by amending the Penitentiaries Act to include, and this is interesting, a board of five members appointed for five years, who would be responsible for appointing the Commissioner of the Correctional Service. Developing policies and presenting an annual report would be a major undertaking. That would be the normal

June 11, 1984

thing to do if the proposal were to be accepted. This annual report would be submitted to Parliament by the Solicitor General, and this would also seem the normal thing to do. I believe that what the Hon. Member for Oxford wants is something of a wish that can be entertained by both sides of the House. I think we agree that the management of the Correctional Service now lacks, if I may say so, originality occasionally. Increased public input might be desirable wherever it meets the objectives of a responsible government. Of course, needless to say, we do not have the same political system as in the United States, where the ministers are selected by the President; in Canada they are elected and are part of a responsible government, which means that they are eventually held accountable to the public for their actions.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, as the Hon. Member for Oxford has said, this recommendation was contained in the report of the 1977 Parliamentary Subcommittee. Since then, the Hon. Member and other Members have urged implementation of this recommendation, which was Recommendation No. 24. However, as indicated by the Hon. Member for Oxford, in spite of his persistence and perseverance, it seems that there are major obstacles to the implementation of this recommendation which is, at first glance, quite interesting since, as stated by the Hon. Member, it calls for greater accountability and an increasing participation by the public, which we would all appreciate.

The Parliamentary Subcommittee came under the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. I remember that, at the time, while having to attend other committee meetings, I had attended some of the meetings of the sub-committee and found its proceedings quite interesting. I would say that this sub-committee displayed a single-mindedness devoid of political partisanship, and this was quite pleasant. I think that, as a result, its members felt that their responsibility was committed, not as party affiliates, but as parliamentarians faced with a serious problem, that of prisoners and their sometimes perplexing actions, whether they are riots, suicides or internal problems. We often look for solutions by increasing public involvement. However, I respectfully submit to the Hon. Member for Oxford that this might not necessarily be the best overall solution. The sub-committee was made up of members from both sides of the House and they submitted their report.

Following its investigation, the sub-committee made 65 recommendations, as mentioned by the Hon. Member for Oxford, aimed at improving the Canadian penitentiary system, which was in need of new ideas and adjustments. As of January 1, 1984, of these 65 recommendations, 47 had been accepted and implemented as submitted or in an amended form; nine had been accepted but called for implementation at a later date; seven had been rejected including, unfortunately for the Hon. Member for Oxford, Recommendation 24; and the last two belonged to a special category over which the Correctional Service did not have full jurisdiction, but which


the Service still considered as these recommendations were nevertheless interesting. I am sure that the Hon. Member for Oxford, who is a reasonable man, realizes that the report as a whole was not only the subject of a study but that, unlike other reports, it was not simply shelved. Many of its important and essential recommendations have been implemented, but not all of them-for reasons we deem fair and reasonable-and the debate continues. I am sure that the door is not completely closed since the problem has not been solved and one should never definitively exclude any solution.

The point to remember, Mr. Speaker, is that 56 of the 65 recommandations made by the parliamentary subcommittee have been accepted and implemented unchanged or in a modified form by the Correctional Service since 1977.

As much as possible, the Solicitor General of Canada and the Correctional Service have tried-and I think that their effort deserves praise-to implement all the recommendations of the parliamentary subcommittee but, as I said, recommendation No. 24 which the Hon. Member for Oxford is raising today in his motion was among those that were rejected. In his response to the parliamentary sub-committee report in August 1977, and it may be important to mention that response of which the Hon. Member may be aware but which I draw to his attention in any event, the then Solicitor General of Canada pointed out that this recommendation was one of the most significant changes advocated by the subcommittee and that its implications were so wide-ranging and difficult to assess that he had asked for time to consider that recommendation more thoroughly. However, he did raise a few questions after reviewing the recommendation for the first time. I would like to recall some of them to show that on such important issues we do make serious studies, and this question has to be considered quite carefully because it is very important, as the Solicitor General of Canada pointed out. For one thing, the then Solicitor General indicated that, if the recommendation was aimed at a greater participation by senior officials in the policy-making process, steps had already been taken to have the staff play a more active role in policy planning. Still, the means suggested by the subcommittee to do that had to be considered more carefully. In other words, the idea itself was accepted, but at the time the ways and means did raise a few questions. According to him, a five-member commission responsible for drafting policies, without full support nor its own analysis and research facilities, would be seriously hindered in its approach. It is a debatable argument, but I think it has some merit and that we ought to speak to that issue in this debate.

On the other hand, the Minister had pointed out that the federal Government wanted to set up commissions and Crown agencies that would be more responsible to the Minister and therefore to Parliament. This recommendation seems to point

June 11, 1984


in the opposite direction. Perhaps that is the argument which, to my mind, seems to be the most peremptory and the most serious. When, as parliamentarians, we have responsibilities for which we must answer to the House and the public, it would be too easy to avoid them, it would be too easy to shirk them by passing to others responsibilities which are ours and which, difficult though they may be, we cannot refuse to assume when the time comes.

Finally, the Solicitor General of Canada had then specified that it did not seem to him that the recommendations would help solve one of the deficiencies deemed to be vital by the subcommittee, namely the lack of an adequate definition of authority and the resulting confusion for the person who controls the system. On the contrary, it seemed to him that the recommendation could exacerbate rather than solve the problem.

I recognize that this is a point of view, Mr. Speaker, and that the Hon. member could reply that it is not right for us to view the situation is this light. I recognize that he would have the right to say so, but from my own assessment, I find this argument well-founded and I believe that it justifies the reluctance we have on the Government side at this stage to follow up on the recommendation of the Hon. Member, which is, I repeat, quite interesting.

Later on, an interdepartmental task force led by the Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy Planning and Program Evaluation, was appointed to assess some of the recommendations, including No. 24 which is the subject of this motion. The task ; force shared the Solicitor General's concern, namely that a commission such as that suggested by the sub-committee would considerably erode the concept of departmental accountability. In fact, that brings us back to the central argument of departmental accountability and the responsibilities which have been laid on us by the people we represent.

Indeed, the task force concluded that the Correctional Service policies are so politically important that an erosion or a loss of departmental accountability could have serious effects on it. I have a feeling that the Hon. Member for Oxford recognizes the thrust of this argument and would admit that it would be a difficult decision to make at this stage when the problems are acute and the recommendations, although interesting, could not provide a guarantee that the problem would be solved.

Finally, when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs in March 1978, the Solicitor General took a definite stand and rejected Recommendation No. 24. The reasons he gave were as follows: First, it is the Government of Canada which is responsible to Parliament for the policies carried out by the Canadian Penitentiary Service. Second, a five-member board which would be appointed to make policies for the Canadian Penitentiary Service, would feel cramped in its approach, with little or no support, and limited to its power of enquiry. Third, the Department of the

Solicitor General, through its Deputy Solicitor General, is already responsible for providing the Solicitor General with advice on the policies the Department should apply. Fourth, the tendency of the Federal Government is now to make Crown corporations more accountable to departments and, therefore, to Parliament. Fifth, it is not certain that a board such as the one described by the subcommittee would help solve the major problems identified by the said subcommittee, namely, the lack of well-defined powers and the confusion as to who should control the system. That recommendation could in fact exacerbate the problem rather than contribute to its solution.

The Hon. Member for Oxford should be commended for providing us with the opportunity of an in-depth study of his motion allowing us to put forward a series of arguments which, although they may not convince him, will at least indicate that we have not considered lightly the issue he has raised. Personally, I should be delighted to discuss it further with the Hon. Member for Oxford, whom I hold in high esteem, and to work with him in harmony both in the House and in committee to seek a solution to the problem faced by all these men and women who are deprived of their freedom and who must live for shorter or longer periods of time behind bars.

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April 16, 1984

Mr. Gilles Marceau (Jonquiere):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this discussion, I feel that I am fulfilling my first and foremost duty as a parliamentarian.

Can there be a more serious problem or a greater tragedy than that of a man or a woman who cannot earn a decent living or make a contribution to his or her family and to society? On the other hand, is there a more difficult problem to solve than that of reducing the current unemployment levels?

I have been listening since this morning to all those who have taken part in this debate and I have a feeling that we are all convinced of the seriousness of the situation and worried by the lack of any genuine solution to the problem. I am giving all the Members, wherever they may be sitting in this House, the benefit of the doubt, and I know they realize that, faced with such a serious problem which has reached proportions that can only be termed as tragic, what is most important is to call on the goodwill of everyone in this House and every group in our society, including the employers, the unions, the voluntary organizations, as well as the provincial, federal and municipal governments. People tend too easily to apportion our collective responsibility where unemployment is concerned. This is probably the basic reason why ideological, partisan and jurisdictional walls prevent us from doing anything and this is a failure we must all admit in the face of the increasing number of unemployed. I would like to invite my colleagues in this House, where we often have more work than we can handle, to make a collective effort to co-operate and face this increasingly serious problem of unemployment.

Mr. Speaker, one thing I do appreciate today is to be among my friends and former co-members of the task force on job opportunities for the eighties. I know the sponsor of today's motion, my colleague and friend, the Hon. Member for Calgary West (Mr. Hawkes). I am sure his intentions are good, but I would have liked him to be less radical in the wording of his motion. If the Hon. Member for Calgary West had simply said that the Government should do more to co-operate with voluntary organizations, business, labour and the educational community to provide adequate training and retraining opportunities that would enable Canadian workers to have confidence in their ability to deal with the challenges of fast technological changes, if these simple words had been used to

April 16, 1984

ask for the co-operation of both sides of the House, I would have been happy to support the motion. However, I still agree with the thrust of the motion, which calls for this co-operation which I mentioned earlier, this co-operation which is the only way to bring about the decrease in unemployment that we all want.

Of course, this debate provides us with a golden opportunity, Mr. Speaker, as we are given a chance to refer to the amount of $ 1.2 billion that the Canadian Government is allocating this year to the important area of occupational training under its new National Training Program.

Naturally, nothing is perfect, especially when technological changes are causing an upheaval in the industrial sector. It is precisely for the purpose of discussing possible improvements to this program and other initiatives developed in co-operation with the Provinces that the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Roberts) has announced right here in this House that he intends to have further discussions with his provincial counterparts in June or July of this year.

On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, this very interesting debate also concerns, rather strangely in my opinion, what the Official Opposition considered last week as an occupational training program, which they did not however call official and whose costs they certainly did not reveal. According to the Members opposite, this program would bring about a phenomenal increase in the number of jobs for reasons which remain totally unexplained except in the sense that it calls for a change of Government.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, I think that, on both sides of the House we all know that a change of Government does not constitute a solution in the eyes of the public. The polls show that, no matter which party is in power, the current serious unemployment problems would still exist. These problems exist because of the international juncture, the conditions prevailing in the United States, and the situations locally and regionally.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to appeal to my friends opposite, some of whose comments I have found very offensive. When my friends opposite ask for the elimination of some job-creation programs such as Canada Works or summer programs, I am ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. However I would like them to understand that in remote areas such as ours, particularly in these difficult times, the only solution is job-creation programs providing temporary work. Of course, they are not permanent jobs, but they give needy families the support and assistance which would otherwise be denied to them.

My friends opposite are inclined to plan their programs and their action for large cities. Big cities certainly play an essential role in the future of a country such as ours. However, I would like to remind all members of this House that in dynamic areas such as the one I have the honour to represent


and in several others if not throughout the country, we usually find the vitality, the inventiveness, the spontaneity, the devotion and the labour necessary to keep and preserve a country as great as ours.

I make this appeal, Mr. Speaker, because I know that not only the members opposite but also some government members often take this attitude which I find disturbing when they feel that the answer to a problem is solely to be found in urban centres. I do not deny their importance and value but I think that they can only provide a partial answer.

When we find Canadians at work throughout the land, from coast to coast, our country will then be thriving, having recovered its strength and vigour. I am sure that it will recover in the years to come for in spite of our present problems. I have confidence in our future.

Mr. Speaker, in this program that is put forward by our friends in the Official Opposition, a program which they had the opportunity to discuss and refine over a weekend, I find that there are, on the one hand, some aspects which are already in force and on the other hand, some other aspects which seem unfeasible to me. For example, Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party has suggested that we provide for the creation of education savings plans, contributions to which would be tax-deductible as is the case for Registered Home Ownership Savings Plans. This kind of proposal obviously benefits higher income earners. In fact, the National Training Program already entitles people in training to direct financial aid equal to tuition fees. In my view, this is a completely different and more satisfactory method than the one recommended by Official Opposition members.

Let me give another example, Mr. Speaker. The Progressive Conservative Party has recommended the federal Government give loan guarantees to people in need in order to enable them to benefit from training and other educational programs. Yet, lowest income earners are not even required to pay registration fees for these institutional training programs. They receive an allowance equal to tuition fees.

Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party has also recommended that fiscal incentives be given to employers to compensate for the cost of training and retraining of their employees. Yet, the Industrial Training Program already provides for direct reimbursement to employers of most of their training costs as well as half the trainee's salary. Training costs are already tax-deductible at the present time. I could list a dozen other examples of this kind, which would confirm that some of the proposed solutions are already in place.

Will all due respect for my friends opposite other proposals seem unfeasible in my view.

I have noticed, with considerable pleasure, that several of the solutions listed in the Conservative program originated from the task force in which we had participated and which I have referred to. I know that the hon. member for Calgary

April 16, 1984


West was a member of that task force, together with others, such as the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow) who made his comments a while ago. His contribution was very much appreciated, and so was the contribution of the hon. member for Brampton-Georgetown (Mr. McDermid) who also did an excellent job. Partisanship has its place on certain occasions of course, however I feel that in this instance we have put forward very interesting solutions which have resulted in 186 resolutions now partially implemented. And when the hon. member for Winnipeg North asked a while ago just how many resolutions had been implemented, I felt that was a very relevant question I should direct to the Minister of Employment and Immigration.

Getting back to other suggestions from the Opposition, already implemented in the training programs, Mr. Speaker, there was the idea of using the Unemployment Insurance Fund. That is now a reality, for $259 million from the Unemployment Insurance Fund will be used this year for training purposes. And that, not to mention the federal contribution to a Quebec pilot assistance project for young welfare recipients under the Begin-Marois agreement. Recently I had the opportunity to comment on this and emphasize the fact that we are contributing $58 million over a two-year period to cover at least 50 per cent of the costs involved in the Quebec program which aims at helping young welfare recipients who are able to work.

In the Opposition scheme many references are made to the tax cuts and special incentives for the purchase of equipment and improvement of training courses. This suggestion is already being implemented, Mr. Speaker, thanks to a properly operating formula. I am referring to the Skills Growth Fund through which we will pay directly for this year alone, $86 million to teaching and training institutions to up-date their equipment and training facilities and overcome the serious skill shortages resulting from technical and technological changes.

In that respect, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote from a special article on robotics by Mr. Lucien Piche published in the April issue of the Commerce magazine, which I have just received and had a quick look at. The author talks about the "handouts contributed to the CEGEPs by the federal government", and goes on to say, and I quote: "since the Canada-Quebec agreement on adult occupational training was concluded in 1982-83, the CEGEPs have been literally showered with grants. The Skills Growth Fund established by the federal Manpower Department in February 1983 has already agreed to some Quebec projects for a total of $36 millions." In the few seconds left to me, Mr. Speaker, I would simply point out that the Jonqui&re CEGEP had submitted a projet. As you know, those projects must also be approved by the Quebec government. However, due to the latter's inaction and obstruction, the Jonquiere CEGEP lost $2 millions because the Quebec government refused to give the go-ahead already given by Ottawa.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I hope that all Hon. Members will put partisanship aside and will turn with confidence to the

future, all working together to reduce, if not elimininate this tragic problem of unemployment all across Canada.

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April 16, 1984

Mr. Marceau:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his excellent question, and commend him for his work as Parliamentary Secretary.

I would like to suggest that I am quite pleased indeed that he touched on the matter of Papier Cascade taking over a plant in our area. The Lemaire brothers, as they are called, are Quebec leaders, people with entrepreneurship, and I am very happy with this takeover. The Canadian Government contributed $1,250,000, and I think this bodes well for the future.

In answer to the Hon. Member, I must state that what the Jonquiere CEGEP proposed was a training capacity increase in the area of computer assisted design and manufacture.

That proposal had been developed over many months. It enhanced the Jonquiere CEGEP, which is playing a major role in that area on the regional level.

This was an opportunity for people in Jonquiere, especially the CEGEP people, with the help and assistance of local firms, which brings us back to the motion now before us-local people as I said, whether Alcan or Price, to show they were interested in working very closely with the CEGEP to put in place those facilities so that our young, may get involved and work in keeping with technological change.

April 16, 1984

Therefore, this was an excellent opportunity for local heads of institutions of higher learning, and also young people to show that it is not only in larger cities that major projects can be launched. And the Government perhaps did more, by recognizing the needs of our regions and ensuring that in communities such as ours, people do not feel left behind. The Development Fund Progam would have made the implementation of this project possible.

Unfortunately, Quebec said no! It is our hope they will change their minds, because we are going to put forward another proposal. We will not let matters stand. We are going to try again, and it is our hope that Quebec will bear reason, at least for once.

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