House of Commons Hansard #227 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Studies By Inrs
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec separatists are hiding the truth from the people of Quebec on the real economic impact of separation. This is the conclusion one is led to given the PQ government's attitude, that purposely decided not to release three of the studies conducted by INRS researchers because the findings were not to their liking.

The Institut national de la recherche scientifique du Québec, under which these studies were carried out, issued a release stating that while the secretariat may have perceived the revised version of each report as containing certain deficiencies with regard to the mandate, the INRS is of the opinion that the studies carried out by its researchers are valid.

The separatist coalition has just demonstrated that it is prepared to resort to any trick, including hiding the truth, to get a win for the Yes side in the upcoming referendum.

Canadian Chamber Of Commerce Poll
Statements By Members

September 20th, 1995 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has just released the results of a poll of the business community across the country. This poll indicates, among other things, that two thirds of business leaders in Quebec think that the economic health of the province will suffer if it were to separate from the rest of Canada.

Other major findings include the fact that Quebec businesses consider it more important to be able to deal with other provinces than with foreign countries and expect the interprovincial trade agreement that took effect in July to benefit them even more than businesses in other provinces.

This poll only confirms what everyone is thinking. There is no real economic benefit to separation and Quebec separatists should stop deluding Quebecers with all kinds of promises.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:10 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, to everyone's surprise, the debate that has been going on in this House since Monday is not between sovereignists and federalists.

It is even more fundamental than that, since a line has been drawn between those who respect the democratic right of Quebecers to determine their future and those who deny them that right. Through the fault of the Prime Minister and his irresponsible attitude, Canada is now divided between democrats and those who no longer are democrats. This man, whose career has been dedicated to stoking the fires of discord between Quebec and Canada, has now launched an attack on what united us so far, our common democratic heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Prime Minister: We knew for some time that, given a choice between Canada and Quebec, he chose Canada, but are we now to understand that, if forced to choose between democracy and federalism, he will choose federalism?

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I answered all those questions yesterday and the day before. I even quoted from René Lévesque's program, in which he mentioned the concept of a referendum as consultation, the need to respect the laws and constitution of a country and the need for a clear majority.

As Daniel Johnson said in the National Assembly, we are not about to divide Canada following a judicial recount to see whether there is one vote more on one side or the other.

Obviously I want a genuine debate on this problem because it is clear that the Leader of the Opposition and his leader in Quebec City, Mr. Parizeau, are hiding the truth from Quebecers. This morning in the National Assembly, they were once again unable to explain why studies by Professor Bernier stating that it was "unrealistic" to have a partnership with the rest of Canada were kept under wraps.

Could the Leader of the Opposition tell me whether he agrees with Professor Bernier when he says: "I think some of my conclusions were not politically acceptable"? He added that it was not his intention to write to please the reader. He said that a partnership was "unrealistic and an illusion".

Does the Leader of the Opposition agree with the tactics of his leader in Quebec City, Mr. Parizeau, which consist in keeping documents under wraps and asking professionals to act less than professionally for the partisan purposes of a lost cause?

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I may suggest that during Question Period we expect some answers as well. That being said, the Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, perhaps people ask questions when they have no answers.

Aside from that, does the leader of the government not realize that, although he has this anti-Quebec obsession, his first duty as Prime Minister is not only to protect democracy but to set an example by respecting it? I am not optimistic, however, since this is the man who forced a constitution down the throats of Quebecers.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what we expect from the Leader of the Opposition and his leader, Mr. Parizeau, is that during the remaining four and a half weeks, they tell Quebecers the truth.

Why will they not admit that in this document they want to keep under wraps, Professor Bernier clearly indicated that a separated Quebec's accession to NAFTA would not be easy to achieve? Why did we ask this professor to say publicly, to serve the cause, what the facts are: that it will not be easy? In fact, he was not alone. A few months ago, the ambassador of the United States made it clear that the automatic admission to NAFTA of a possibly independent Quebec would be very complex.

So these are the real questions for those who have to prove their case. The Leader of the Opposition and his leader in Quebec City are the ones who want to separate Quebec from Canada, not us. The onus is on them to tell Quebecers the truth, and I hope they will have the courage to do so during the next four and half weeks.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is first and foremost about democracy. Coming from someone who came to power with 41 per cent of the popular vote in Canada and 33 per cent in Quebec, it takes a lot of nerve to deny Quebecers the right to determine their future with a majority of more than 50 per cent.

Does he not realize that the people of Quebec do not need his or anyone else's permission to determine their future and that to be rid of this kind of arrogance is one reason why Quebec will vote Yes?

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing arrogant in what I say. I want Quebecers to be informed. How can the Leader of the Opposition give Quebecers the impression they will keep their Canadian citizenship, their Canadian passport, Canadian currency, and an economic and political union with Canada, when studies prepared by their own experts and paid for by Quebec taxpayers tell them this is impossible? Let him tell Quebecers the truth.

Quebecers know me very well. I am a proud francophone-

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Yes, they know you.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

Yes, they know me very well. I was elected to Parliament nine times by the people of a riding that is 99 per cent francophone. And they know perfectly well that

across Canada I made it clear I was proud to be a francophone, a Quebecer and a Canadian.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is taking great care to answer the questions put to him by the Leader of the Opposition to give him a second chance, because Quebecers know him and remember him.

The Prime Minister's attitude toward honouring the result of the Quebec referendum strangely parallels his behaviour in 1982 at the time of the unilateral patriation of the constitution, when, for the first time, he made a mockery of democracy.

Is the Prime Minister aware that, by refusing to agree to honour the result of the Quebec referendum, he is creating a dangerous precedent by taking a step no Canadian Prime Minister before him has dared take?

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the debate in Quebec City will adjourn at four o'clock this afternoon. The members of the Parti Quebecois and its leader, the Premier of Quebec, will have to vote on an amendment proposed by a member of the National Assembly in which the question will be very clear: Do you want to separate from Canada? Yes or no.

This question was probably taken from the Parti Quebecois agenda at the time of the election, when the Premier himself was saying: "We will ask a clear question: Are you in favour of sovereignty for Quebec on-", followed by the date. It is very clear. As I said two days ago, they will have the opportunity to be really honest with the public and say clearly that they want separation. But again today they will keep the question ambiguous in order to keep the truth about separation from Quebecers.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to making compliance with the result of the Quebec referendum dependent on his choosing the question, which of itself is no easy task, the Prime Minister used the opportunity to make his Minister of Labour change her mind by twisting her arm. He made Daniel Johnson change his mind by twisting his arm. He tried to get the leader of the third party to change his mind by twisting his arm.

Can the Prime Minister tell me this? Just how far will he go in trying to subvert democracy? How far exactly?

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, they are according me a lot of power. As far as I am concerned, I have clearly stated that the Prime Minister of Canada cannot agree to independence from Canada as the result of a simple majority vote plus one on an ambiguous question. Come on!

As William Johnson said in The Gazette this morning, under proposed legislation, a two thirds majority will be required to dissolve a hunting and fishing club in Quebec.