House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vote.

Topics

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons has taken steps concerning this matter. We held a vote in this House in which we voted for distinct society.

We passed legislation making it clear that there will be no constitutional change without Quebec's consent. We have made considerable progress in such areas as mining, forestry, tourism, spending powers and social housing. It would appear that we are on the verge of signing an agreement on manpower, an issue that has been around for a very long time. As we have said here in the House of Commons, changing the Constitution requires the consent of the Government of Quebec.

If the hon. member wishes to have constitutional changes, let him tell his head office to vote in favour of distinct society and of a veto for Quebec.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, like the official opposition, the Government of Quebec does not consider that Quebec is a distinct society. We consider it to be a distinct nation.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

A people.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

The Minister of Immigration ought to realize that, if she sat in the National Assembly, perhaps that is because there is something called the Quebec nation. Otherwise we would have called it the "Societal Assembly".

While the President of Treasury Board states that everything is settled, his colleague in Intergovernmental Affairs admits that nothing has been done by the Liberals on the constitutional issue, and that he accepts Canada as it is. He therefore admits that the promises made at Verdun have been trampled into the ground, that they were nothing but smoke and mirrors.

I ask the Prime Minister how he can reconcile these two statements. Has everything been done, or nothing?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in October 1995 at Verdun, the Liberal Party and I made a promise, saying that we had been in favour of the distinct society in the past, and still are in the present, and we came to this House in December 1995 to vote in favour of distinct society, which the Bloc Quebecois voted against.

We said at Verdun that we were in favour of giving Quebec and the other regions of Canada a veto. A bill was passed by the House of Commons, as well as by the Senate, but the Bloc Quebecois voted against a veto for Quebec.

What happened, each time we tried to take to meet Quebec's traditional demands? We got blocked by the Bloc.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if we blocked them, it was because this government, and this Prime Minister in particular, has always had a block where Quebec is concerned.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not the only ones saying this; the federalists in the Quebec National Assembly are not in agreement with the Canadian government either.

Yesterday, we saw this Prime Minister shaking hands with Guy Bertrand; a few months ago, it was Howard Galganov. We also

remember the accolade to Clyde Wells after the failure of the Meech Lake accord.

Every time anyone takes a stand against Quebec or the National Assembly, the Prime Minister allies with him.

By denying the importance of the constitutional question, is the Prime Minister not in the process of admitting that he has nothing to offer Quebecers, whether they be sovereignists or federalists?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a great deal to offer to Quebecers. What we have to offer is the best country in the world: Canada.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said yesterday that Canada would never have been able to patriate the Constitution without Ontario's agreement. This patriation, as we know, was carried out despite the opposition of all political parties in Quebec. And the 15th anniversary of this event next Thursday will be a dark day for Quebec.

Will the Prime Minister agree that, in the end, there is no difference between Pierre Elliott Trudeau himself and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs? That the Liberal Party has not altered its position on this issue one iota in 15 years?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear that the official opposition would have liked us to remain a legal colony of Great Britain. We patriated the Canadian Constitution and, in so doing, gave all Canadians a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we included as part of the Constitution that Canada had two official languages, French and English.

But the people who live in the past would like us to remain forever a colony of Great Britain.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the Prime Minister, it was the 1982 Constitution that was the future. We can see that.

Does the Prime Minister realize that there is a consensus in the rest of Canada regarding Quebec's status within Confederation, that Quebec was put in its place in 1982, and that there is no question of this changing?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in the House of Commons we voted in favour of distinct society. We gave a veto to all regions, including Quebec. We sorted out the problems of duplication with respect to the environment. We resolved the problems that existed concerning forestry, tourism, mining and social housing. One would have to be blind not to see the progress we have made.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, April is tax month and Canadians are getting a first hand look at what three and a half years of Liberal government have done to their pay cheques.

Since the Liberals came to power in 1993, the average Canadian family has suffered a pay cut of $3,000, thanks to the government's high tax policies. We are getting letters from seniors on fixed incomes who are having to pay taxes for the first time in five years.

How can the government claim that it has not raised taxes when older Canadians on fixed incomes are having to cut a cheque to the tax man for the first time in years?