Jean-C. LAPIERRE

LAPIERRE, The Hon. Jean-C., P.C., LL.L.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Outremont (Quebec)
Birth Date
May 7, 1956
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Lapierre
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=c7818821-54ca-4818-959f-245a333b9c02&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
communicator, lawyer, radio & tv host

Parliamentary Career

May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
LIB
  Shefford (Quebec)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
LIB
  Shefford (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Sports) (October 1, 1981 - September 30, 1982)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State of Canada (October 1, 1981 - September 30, 1982)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (October 1, 1982 - September 30, 1983)
  • Minister of State (Youth) (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
  • Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport) (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
  • Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
  • Liberal Party Deputy House Leader (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
LIB
  Shefford (Quebec)
  • Minister of State (Youth) (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
  • Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport) (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
  • Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
  • Liberal Party Deputy House Leader (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
November 21, 1988 - August 23, 1992
LIB
  Shefford (Quebec)
  • Bloc Québécois House Leader (September 21, 1990 - January 1, 1992)
June 26, 1990 - August 23, 1992
IND
  Shefford (Quebec)
  • Bloc Québécois House Leader (September 21, 1990 - January 1, 1992)
December 18, 1990 - August 23, 1992
BQ
  Shefford (Quebec)
  • Bloc Québécois House Leader (September 21, 1990 - January 1, 1992)
February 5, 2004 - August 23, 1992
LIB
  Shefford (Quebec)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
LIB
  Outremont (Quebec)
  • Minister of Transport (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)
January 23, 2006 - January 28, 2007
LIB
  Outremont (Quebec)
  • Minister of Transport (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 340)


November 27, 2006

Hon. Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for York Centre.

I am pleased to take part in this debate, although we Quebeckers in the House find ourselves in a very strange situation. The House is being asked to define our identity. It is as if we had come here searching for it, and all that just because the Bloc Québécois wanted to play petty politics on the backs of Quebeckers. That is too bad, but while the Bloc claims to be their servant and the trustee of their interests, it actually wanted the House to say no to Quebeckers, to say that they do not constitute a nation.

Confounding their tactics, the hon. members of this House—the federalist members—decided to say that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada. Now that the federalist members have decided to join forces, we see the Bloc members going through contortions that could earn them a job with the Cirque du Soleil. They do not know which way to squirm and wriggle any more.

In light of this situation, I think that Quebeckers are being recognized here. I met a lot of people over the weekend who said it was nice, and that this helped them feel comfortable with their dual identity. It helped them say they are both proud Quebeckers and proud Canadians.

That is what this motion gives us today. I would not want people to nurse any illusions about the meaning or huge import—other than symbolic—of this motion. In addition, the issue of Quebec signing on to the Canadian constitution has not been resolved. In my view, that is on a future agenda. I know that the C-word, Constitution, is banned for now, but some day we will obviously want to find a way to bring Quebec back into the bosom of the Canadian family—if that vocabulary is not too antiquated—with honour and enthusiasm.

I think, therefore, that our colleagues realize today that they have to recognize the Quebec nation. I know that some are making an effort to do this because it is hard for them, and I can understand that. Ultimately, though, this is an olive branch extended from an outstretched hand.

Some day we will have to remember this. I may have too much personal experience in the House, but I remember the Meech Lake era very well. Looking back at the five elements we had at that time, ultimately we can say that things are quietly progressing. At the time, we spoke about a distinct society. Then, all of a sudden, the House passed a motion recognizing this wording. The vocabulary has evolved now: distinct society, people, nation. Who knows how our children will want to define themselves in 10 or 15 years?

Insofar as what we wanted in the area of immigration is concerned, it has been achieved and Quebec has power over the selection of immigrants. Some other provinces have taken on the same power because they think it is important.

Our discussion about spending power is still hypothetical, but this is an important element, nevertheless.

Perhaps the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities remembers former premier Robert Bourassa and the many speeches he made about spending authority. He repeated them so often we know almost all of them by heart.

With respect to the Supreme Court justices, that is a fact.

On the subject of veto rights, even this House passed a law saying that every region has a veto. As such, Quebec has a de facto veto right.

If we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we realize that things evolve. Little by little, certainly, but this gives us confidence in the future.

When history judges the past few days we have experienced together, it may be said that on this momentous occasion, Canadian federalists were united as never before thanks to the Bloc Québécois.

I honestly did not think that such unity would happen during this session with a minority government and a very strong opposition, not to mention a party in the throes of a leadership race. In the end, it took a major catalyst to make this happen.

That being the case, I would like to thank the Bloc Québécois because it gave us the will to fight. It convinced us that we can have two identities—Quebecker and Canadian—and that those two identities can co-exist and help us grow.

I think that even though nobody wanted it to happen, this debate has strengthened Canada and will enable us to exchange ideas about our deep roots and the very nature of Quebec as it is today.

I know it is very hard for the Bloc to say it—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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November 27, 2006

Hon. Jean Lapierre

Mr. Speaker, the difference between the member and me is that my word means something and when I make commitments, I honour them. As for him, everyone knows that his word has no value and that no one can have confidence in him.

I believe that in the development of federalism and the development of my own beliefs, I have remained consistent. I remember the period when the Bloc Quebecois was established—the minister was here, I believe—it was a rainbow coalition. I remind him that throughout all that period, I had my membership card in the Quebec Liberal party and every week I spoke with Robert Bourassa. It was at his request, a request from the federalist premier of Quebec that I stayed here for two years. Personally, I had decided to abandon politics in 1990 after the collapse of the Meech Lake Accord.

I believe that this week I am the member who has been the most consistent in my position on the Québécois nation. Several of my colleagues have had to go through all kinds of contortions in trying to revise their positions. For my part, my position has always been consistent.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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November 23, 2006

Hon. Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, how can the hon. member say that when, instead of solving the problem of the fiscal imbalance, the Conservatives are in the process of increasing the fiscal imbalance with the Government of Quebec because of their decisions to cut $800 million from child care and $328 million from environmental programs? Instead of making things better, they are making them worse. The Government of Quebec is losing ground under this Conservative government.

How can the parliamentary secretary have the nerve to tell us that the Conservatives are solving the problem when they are making matters worse?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Transfer Payments
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November 23, 2006

Hon. Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part in this debate today, which need I say, is a debate that was born of a strategy, of a tactic on the part of the Bloc Québécois that does not seek to have the Quebecois nation recognized by the whole House of Commons. The Bloc Québécois thought by tabling this motion to divide the members of this House, the federalist parties, and, finally, to be able to say to Quebeckers once again how humiliated they were because the House of Commons refused to recognize the Quebecois nation.

Well, their firecracker has exploded in their faces; right in their faces. Thanks to their motion, they have united all the federalist forces in this House for the first time in a very long while. In that sense, that tactic of division—I would go so far as to say that treacherous tactic—enabled us yesterday to witness a great moment in this House.

I never thought that I would stand up to applaud the Prime Minister during this session! I never thought that I would delight in the presence of the leader of the New Democratic Party! The one person to whom I was ready to give a standing ovation was the leader of the Liberal Party. However, yesterday, because of the Bloc’s strategy of division; because the Bloc wanted to weaken Quebec and then have it humiliated, it went completely off track. As a result, we see now that they are skating on the edges of their skates, over on their ankles. They are proposing an amendment about a united Canada. They no longer know where they are going because their strategy failed miserably.

At the same time, this provocation gave each of us the opportunity to reflect, in our own hearts and consciences. In that sense, what happened yesterday, because of the motion by the Prime Minister, will enable us all to speak out, as Quebeckers and Canadians, with one common voice. It is the worst possible message that the Bloc members could hear.

They were convinced that the Prime Minister would say no to the Quebec nation. They were convinced that this party would be divided and that their motion would be rejected. Then, they would have travelled to Montreal, Quebec City and the regions to say how terrible this was. It is absolutely unbelievable to see that the Bloc, which claims it does not need to search for its identity, tabled a tactical motion to try to get recognized and to seek its Quebec identity here, while being convinced all along that it would not happen. However, it is precisely this provocation that led, yesterday, to a great moment of national unity, and I must pay tribute to that party for achieving that.

The Bloc Québécois' action resulted in some of my colleagues, who had reservations about this whole thing, to agree on a recognition. A vote will take place within the next few days to recognize that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada. It is a very positive thing to see this change in views and mentalities.

I know that Quebeckers are pleased to see that this House recognizes their difference. This quest for recognition goes back many years. I remember that, during my career, at the 1980 referendum, Quebeckers were told that if they voted no, they would get a form of recognition and federalism would be renewed. I was also there when the Constitution was patriated, in 1982. That patriation was an unfinished business.

Obviously, the quest for the recognition of the Quebec difference was central to all these representations. This has been the case for a very long time. In that sense, the motion tabled by the Prime Minister is in itself a historic measure that will allow us to hold out the olive branch to Quebeckers, particularly federalist Quebeckers, and tell them that we recognize their existence and their difference within the great Canadian family.

At the same time, this means we recognize that we have more than one identity. We can be both proud Quebeckers and proud Canadians. We can be shaped by both of these identities. Together, all of our identities create the Canadian mosaic. By recognizing the Quebec nation, we are telling Quebeckers that they are more than just a part of our multicultural society and we are recognizing a historical reality. In that sense, I think this would make many of our fellow citizens feel better about being part of this country and feel accepted just as they are. Period, as the leader of the Bloc Québécois would say.

We are what we are. I think the Bloc Québécois' tactics have enabled us to see that, among ourselves, Quebeckers can define themselves. They have also enabled us to see that our colleagues from elsewhere in Canada accept and value our differences. Our differences are valuable. They do not hurt us; rather, they make us better and enable us to express ourselves in many different ways. Obviously, our ability to express ourselves in French strengthens Canada.

In the end, when we look at the message we are sending Quebeckers, it is clear that our colleagues in the National Assembly think this is one of the best messages we have sent in a long time. Those who boast about representing all Quebeckers should have listened to Premier Jean Charest last night. As the premier of all Quebeckers, he urged the Bloc members to vote for the Prime Minister's motion. He recommended that they do so graciously and recognize the existing reality. Oddly enough, today the Bloc members are turning a deaf ear to the Premier of Quebec. Very interesting. The people who were supposed to be speaking on behalf of Quebec are turning a deaf ear to the premier. Perhaps, if they do not want to listen to Jean Charest, they could listen to Mario Dumont, who says this is very good and a step in the right direction.

Then again, this broadened the consensus among the members of this House. I am very happy to see that we were not alone to send this message. We have reached out with this motion, and our colleagues at the National Assembly have responded. Personally, as a Quebecker, I am feeling much more in tune today with the majority at the National Assembly than the people in that corner. Together, we are shaping something that will let the Government of Quebec know that there are men and women in Ottawa who recognize their difference as well as the needs of a Quebec society that is a nation in our midst. That is obvious.

I am therefore pleased that the proponents of slash and burn tactics got burned, and it was their own doing. We responded to provocation by not letting ourselves be divided. We will not allow anyone to push us around just because they are using some tactic. They were so sure of themselves, with their prepared speeches saying that the Prime Minister said no and that we Liberals were all over the map. Viewing the country as much more important that our respective parties on this momentous occasion, we all came together and supported the motion.

The people of Quebec will not be fooled. They know full well that, on the eve of the Liberal convention, the Bloc Québécois was intent on driving a wedge between us. It did not do so in an effort to foster unity among Quebeckers or to give greater leverage to Quebec, but rather to weaken Quebec and then be able to cry humiliation. That is why I am criticizing Bloc members for not playing the role they purport to be playing.

They claim to be the defenders of Quebec and Quebec's interests. It was not in Quebec's interest to try to divide this House and send a negative message to Quebeckers. That is why I think that our fellow Quebeckers will sense a generosity of spirit, a harmony of spirit with other Canadians, and I really want to pay tribute to my own colleagues as well.

This is not an easy debate. For some, the concept of nation has a meaning that goes beyond words. In that sense, our colleagues on this side of the House have also made progress. I think it is important that their thinking has evolved. This is a step forward, and it will enable federalists in Quebec to say that it is not true that Quebec is isolated; it is not true that we have to accept the Bloc's version of history. It is not true because the rest of the country is reaching out.

There is still much to be done. Clearly, this has to be seen as an olive branch. Certainly, we are going to keep calling on this government every day to keep its promises to Quebec and the other provinces. For example, the government is saying that it is going to do more in terms of transfers to the provinces, but ultimately, it is doing less. We have noted that weakness. We will judge the government not only on its resolutions, but on its actions, and we will wage a partisan battle in due course.

I could have voted in favour of the motion, despite the Bloc's bad faith. I had nothing against the original wording of this motion, but I feel that the Prime Minister's version is far better. Moreover, we would have amended his version if we could. But since it was not possible for us to make an amendment, I think that the Prime Minister's version is far closer to reality. The National Assembly is very comfortable with it. The Premier of Quebec, their premier, is urging them to vote for the Prime Minister's resolution. They should listen to their premier.

Instead of listening to their premier, they want to play a little game with Mr. Boisclair, who has just reacted, 24 hours later, to what is happening here. There seems to be a disconnect between them.

We know this motion must be understood in its broadest sense. I have no intention of sparking a constitutional debate here today, but personally, as a Quebecker and a Canadian, I hope that one day, when the time is right, we can begin another constitutional round during which we can settled this unresolved issue that is the patriation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights, the amending formula, and so on.

I hope that we will one day go beyond a mere resolution. But the day will certainly come when Canadians everywhere will be interested in exploring certain constitutional changes. Today, I do not see a consensus, nor is the official government in Quebec calling for changes. Jean Charest is not calling for constitutional changes, and this will not hinder his chances of winning the next election. At present, we must ask ourselves if we are ready to take small steps.

The Bloc's insipid provocation has forced us to take a step that allows us to reach out to Quebeckers. I do not believe that we have solved all the world's problems, but I feel good as a Quebecker and a Canadian. I feel somewhat more comfortable knowing that my own colleagues recognize Quebeckers as a nation and that our colleagues across the floor also recognize what makes Quebec different.

By allowing this recognition, we are probably contributing more to Canada as a whole, because we feel accepted and recognized for what we are. This is true for every aspect of the Canadian population. In order to participate fully in a society, we want to be recognized by our fellow citizens for what we are and what we bring with us.

As for Quebeckers, we bring the history that allows us to claim the title of nation.

The Bloc tried to fool us. You could say they were hoist with their own petard. In the end, the Bloc allowed us to collectively send a clear, unequivocal, non-partisan message to Quebeckers. For this, I am extremely grateful to the Bloc.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
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November 23, 2006

Hon. Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, since the Conservatives came to power, the Government of Quebec has suffered a series of financial setbacks at the hands of Ottawa, with the loss of $807 million from the child care program and another $328 million to help solve environmental problems under the Kyoto protocol.

How can the Prime Minister have promised to correct the fiscal imbalance when he has helped increase the fiscal imbalance by over $1 billion?

Under the Conservatives, the Government of Quebec has over $1 billion less than it had under the government—

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Transfer Payments
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