Evidence of meeting #12 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was commission.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • John Streicker  President, Federal Council, Green Party of Canada
  • Vivian Barbot  Interim President, Bloc Québécois
  • Chantal Vallerand  National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party
  • Victor Cayer  Lawyer, Member of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Quebec (2004), As an Individual

11:35 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

Chantal Vallerand

We have proposed that the number of seats be increased in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, while respecting Quebec's representation of 24.35%.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

All right. However, are you also taking into account the vested interests of the other provinces? For example, do you want us to take away seats from Saskatchewan or Manitoba?

11:35 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

Chantal Vallerand

No, we want to take away no seats.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

You maintain the grandfather clause. You maintain the senatorial clause, which is constitutional.

11:35 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

I've done the calculation for the NDP—I'm disappointed that you haven't done it yourselves. If we add your recommendations to Bill C-20, you don't even reach half of the adjustment proposed by Bill C-20 or the Liberals with regard to Ontario's under-representation.

For example, let's take the case of Alberta. Based on the current formula—I'm saying this for Ms. Barbot because she doesn't know it—there wouldn't be 308 seats, but rather 315 seats following the next election. If we don't amend the current act, there will be 15 seats, that is to say 75 out of 315 for Quebec. Alberta would therefore have 9.84% of the 315 seats based on the current formula. Based on yours, it would have 9.88% of the seats, and the House would comprise 344 seats. So we would be adding 36 seats, and for nothing, since the three under-represented provinces would still be almost as under-represented as they are today. The act would therefore still be unconstitutional. Your motion would condemn the House of Commons to pass an unconstitutional bill.

11:35 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

Chantal Vallerand

What is your question?

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

I'm asking you whether you're going to submit your figures to contradict me if I'm mistaken.

11:35 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Otherwise, I will conclude that you agree with me.

11:35 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

Chantal Vallerand

No, I don't agree with you.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

So where is the mistake in my calculations?

11:40 a.m.

National Director , Federal Council, New Democratic Party

Chantal Vallerand

I'll be pleased to look at your figures, if you show them to me. I'll take the time to do that.

November 24th, 2011 / 11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Absolutely. I must say I'm very disappointed in the attitude of the NDP, which has tried from the outset to avoid debating its proposal. We're debating ours, on the Conservatives' bill. Why are you afraid to talk about your proposal? You want to freeze one province's representation forever, and you claim that can be fair for the other provinces and constitutional. That can't be the case, unless you use NDP mathematics, which is different from all the others.

Now I turn to Ms. Barbot.

I'm going to explain my frustration to you. In 1992, I fought for the Charlottetown Accord, which was to guarantee Quebec 25% of the seats. Your political movement fought that bill tooth and nail. I'm going to cite Mr. Duceppe's statement: "Ultimately, what does that change?" He said we didn't need to guarantee the 25%. Mr. Parizeau, who didn't lack foresight, said it was entirely possible that Quebec's weight would be approximately 25% "for a long time". Doesn't your party have an enormous responsibility? Don't you feel guilty today telling us that you need it today at all costs, when you fought it when it was on the table?

11:40 a.m.

Interim President, Bloc Québécois

Vivian Barbot

You can go back over the debates of the past if you want, Mr. Dion. However, you are in fact withdrawing Quebec's constitutional right to have 75 representatives. That's unacceptable to us.