BERGERON, Stéphane, B.A., M.A.

Personal Data

Bloc Québécois
Verchères--Les Patriotes (Quebec)
Birth Date
January 28, 1965
political adviser, teaching assistant

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Verchères (Quebec)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  Verchères (Quebec)
  • Whip of the Bloc Québécois (June 4, 1997 - August 14, 2001)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  Verchères--Les Patriotes (Quebec)
  • Whip of the Bloc Québécois (June 4, 1997 - August 14, 2001)
June 28, 2004 - November 9, 2005
  Verchères--Les Patriotes (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 278 of 278)

January 26, 1994

Mr. Bergeron

But since any sovereign state must be able to protect its borders, we must recognize that Canada's political and territorial sovereignty depends to a large extent on its participation in the collective security system provided under NATO and NORAD.

We must recognize that Canada does not have the resources required to defend its huge territory by itself.

Canada has been a member of NATO since 1949 and of NORAD since 1958. Cruise missile tests are not strategically tied to NORAD since this organization's mandate, namely the surveillance of North America, is essentially defensive in nature. The use of the cruise missile must be seen in that context mainly as a counter-offensive measure. However, cruise missile tests improve detection and interception techniques that fall under NORAD's mandate.

Since Canada does not stockpile strategic arms and bases its defence policy on the collective security system put in place under NATO, it must volunteer to co-operate with its allies in putting in place a strategic deterrent force if necessary.

Under this approach, Canada was asked in 1983 to approve cruise missile tests on its territory despite the fact that this nuclear deterrence strategy was not directed linked to NATO's strategy. This was aimed at maintaining a strategic balance between the two superpowers in a then bipolar world.

The international situation has changed since the dismantling of the Warsaw pact and the Eastern Bloc. Nevertheless, the nuclear threat has remained and become even more complex with the arrival of new nuclear powers. I am thinking of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, for example. In its 1992 defence policy, Canada recognized that the geopolitical environment had changed considerably and that the global balance of power was no longer based on a bipolar structure. We have witnessed the gradual emergence of new nuclear powers, which are often very politically unstable. Under such circumstances, it was risky for Canada and its allies to question the collective security system their defence policy had been built on since the days of the cold war. The cruise missile is a weapon perfectly suited to the new strategic context and illustrates our current collective security system.

The tests requested by the U.S. administration are not designed to encourage the escalation of new nuclear technologies. The START I and START II treaties already limit the number of deployed missiles. This ceiling cannot be exceeded either in terms of the number of missiles deployed or in terms of striking force, that is the size of nuclear heads.

It must be pointed out that this type of missile can be used for conventional-type missions, which is certainly not without importance. Even though nuclear weapons were not used in the Persian Gulf, that conflict demonstrated the effectiveness of very localized attacks on well-defined targets. We saw cruise missiles used to destroy armed command posts, conventional or chemical weapons storage sites and even conventional, chemical and nuclear, or should I say potentially nuclear, weapons manufacturing plants. Had it not been for these missiles, massive bombing strikes would undoubtedly have been undertaken to destroy these targets. Heavy conventional bombing strikes would have exacted a very high toll in human lives since the majority of the sites destroyed were located in densely populated areas. Because this type of weapon was used, the heavy bombardment which could have resulted in a great many civilian casualties was not necessary.

Although some cruise missiles launched during the Persian gulf war did in fact miss their targets, there is no question that they proved to be an effective weapon. But the fact remains that certain flaws inherent in the design of the cruise missile resulted

in targeting errors. New technologies have been developed to correct these design flaws and the United States now needs to conduct tests, and hence extend new missile development programs. The purpose of the testing over Canadian soil is to improve and perfect the cruise missile guidance system.

These tests are conducted no more than two or three times a year over sparsely populated areas. The impact on the ecosystem and on local populations is therefore minimal.

It should also be pointed out that these tests do not involve any outlay of Canadian public funds, since under the terms of the umbrella agreement, the United States covers all costs associated with tests of this nature. Therefore, the testing would not lead to any increase in our national defence budget.

The Bloc Quebecois, while firmly opposing the continuation of the arms race, cannot ignore the unstable international environment since the dismantling of the former U.S.S.R. and the potential threats now facing the world. NATO recently wanted to show this spirit of co-operation which should normally exist in the aftermath of the cold war, by making a gesture of openness to the countries of eastern Europe. Mr. Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in Russia, replied that admitting these countries to NATO could only lead to a third world war. The rise of the extreme right in Russia and the growing number of nuclear powers mean that it would be imprudent and irresponsible to lower our guard and not to follow global strategic developments closely.

Under these circumstances, Canada cannot afford to call into question its defence commitments to its allies. Its international credibility would be greatly affected as would its special relationship with the United States. A deterioration in political relations between Canada and the United States could have negative economic and trade consequences, at a time when it is already rather difficult for us to have the spirit of the free trade agreement respected and its various provisions enforced.

The present international environment therefore requires us to maintain the collective security system structures to which we belong and as a result Canada must keep its commitments in this regard. Nevertheless, we should follow international developments and adapt our defence policy to new global realities if necessary. On the basis of these new realities, we might even be called upon to review our international defence commitments. It is therefore essential that the government make a formal commitment to repeat annually the exercise in which we are participating today and to submit the question of cruise missile testing to Parliament for discussion and approval every year.

In closing, I wonder about the government's intentions for Canada's defence policy. The speech from the throne announced that Canada's defence policy would be redefined. Barely a week after the speech from the throne was read, even before the government's defence policy has been defined and a public debate has begun on this new defence policy, the government is asking Parliament to deal with two issues that directly concern Canada's defence policy, namely the presence of Canadian UN troops in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia and the authorization of cruise missile tests on Canadian territory. Does the government intend to make a decision on these two important questions before defining a new defence policy or is it just trying to sound out the opinion of the House of Commons on two fundamental aspects of this defence policy before it says where it stands? Although we are glad that the government is consulting parliamentarians on these two important issues, we can well wonder why this exercise is going on at this particular time. This government initiative smells of improvisation and seems like a diversionary tactic.

This debate on cruise missiles is only meaningful to the extent that it is directly related to the Canadian government's defence policy. Since we do not know what the government intends to propose for redefining Canada's defence policy, we think that no real debate can take place and no final decision on cruise missile testing on Canadian territory can be made until the government tables its white paper on defence policy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cruise Missile Testing
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January 25, 1994

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank and to congratulate my hon. colleague for his speech. I would like to ask him a question. For one thing, he made a number of very positive remarks in his speech on the value of Canadian intervention abroad, but could he tell us what his position is exactly with regard to a Canadian presence in Bosnia-Hercegovina?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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January 21, 1994

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Yesterday, the minister skirted around the fact that there is no Quebecer on Hockey Team Canada. He gave us some incomplete and sketchy statistics regarding the make-up of the Canadian National Olympic Team.

Since hockey is the national sport of both Canada and Quebec and since it would seem normal for Team Canada to reflect the Canadian reality, and given the fact that the minister had a chance to sleep on it, is he now willing to reconsider his position and have a word with the people in charge of Team Canada to rectify this unfair and unacceptable situation?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Team Canada
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January 21, 1994

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères)

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate and thank my hon. colleague from Calgary North for her speech. Listening to our colleagues from the Reform Party, I note an underlying concern having to do with members gaining the ability to make a greater contribution as well as reducing government spending and generally putting government finances in order. We must, I think, salute the sense of initiative and determination of the Reform Party in that area.

However, I am somewhat surprised to hear them go on and on about the need to put government finances in order, after having heard yesterday the hon. member for Calgary Southwest blame the Bloc Quebecois for bringing up the constitutional issue a number of times in this place. The speakers who spoke after him asked questions dealing with various issues, like free votes, free trade-which reflected the obsessive fear you can often find in English Canada on that subject-and self-government, but very few questions relating specifically to government finances and fiscal consolidation.

Of course, I would like to press on with this issue. So much so that I will ask my hon. colleague from Calgary North if the Reform Party would consider supporting the proposal the Bloc Quebecois put forward several weeks or months ago to strike a special committee to examine, item by item, all the tax and budget expenditures of the federal government.

I would be interested in hearing what my colleague from Calgary North has to say on that. This would allow us, in fact, to know better where to make cuts, so that social programs and those intended to provide assistance to the poor would not be such easy targets.

Can our hon. colleagues from the Reform Party tell us whether or not it would be possible to set up a parliamentary committee to go over all government tax and budget expenditures, item by item?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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January 19, 1994

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères)

Mr. Speaker, speaking on my own behalf and on behalf of the Official Opposition, I

wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families in Los Angeles who recently suffered the loss of a loved one.

Upon seeing the damage caused by the earthquake, we realized the extent of the disaster and what a terrible experience it must have been for the people in the area.

These are trying times for the people of Los Angeles, and we deeply sympathize with their suffering as a result of this ordeal. However, we know they will show much courage in the face of adversity.

A number of us have relatives or friends living in Los Angeles, and we therefore urge the Canadian government to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of Canadians and Quebecers who are still there and give them any support they may require to overcome this calamity.


Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Los Angeles Earthquake
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