House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is the House ready for the question?

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 29 before the beginning of private members' business.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-49, an act respecting the effective date of the representation order of 2003 be read the third time and passed; and of the previous question.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

October 22nd, 2003 / 7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Before the interruption for the taking of the division, there were five minutes remaining to the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay. He now has the floor.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few points to show that today's initiative lacks objectivity and is intended not only to advance the implementation date of the new electoral map but also to promote the political agenda of the future prime minister.

Some disturbing elements led me to that conclusion, and I will explain them to the House.

I presented my objection to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The committee, which heard the four members from my region, told us that there was a problem with the municipality of Chibougamau-Chapais. Apparently, that community had asked to leave the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay and be transferred to the riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik.

Considering that there was limited leeway—they wanted to take a riding away because there were 7,000 fewer residents—they decided, according to the resolution introduced by the mayor of Chibougamau-Chapais, to take that part of the region and include it in the riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik. Therefore, we did not lose 7,000 residents, but 20,000.

That said, given that this was the issue that might cause a hitch or be unfavourable for Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, which was losing its riding, we did our homework. We met with all the city councillors. We realized that the document issued by the mayor was not valid. It was simply a letter of intent on the city's letterhead with the mayor's signature.

All of the municipal representatives were against this proposal and wanted to stay in the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay. A resolution was then signed by five of the seven municipal representatives.

We went back to the committee with this procedure, but now, it is no longer the primary reason. We are back to the numerical issue. We have lost 7,000 inhabitants over the past few years and therefore the riding of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is being eliminated.

A vast majority of the members agreed that eliminating the riding of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean could have a dramatic effect on this community. Yet, government representatives on this committee rejected a unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. That is my first objection.

My second objection is that we find ourselves here today in a situation where, in order to help the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard in his ascent to the position of prime minister and to fill in his agenda, the coming into force of the new electoral boundaries is being speeded up.

Our community would benefit from a pause and perhaps from the next election in order to improve its demographics. We could then say to the people that here is a clear signal that we have to take charge of our destiny and that the young people must come back to the region. The population has to be informed; jobs have to be created. Instead, the opposite is being done; we have had one riding taken away and they tell us, “That is the way it is.”

That is not surprising coming from the government, when we are struggling every day for the most basic things. We must not forget that all citizens send 50% of their tax dollars to Ottawa. That is $560 million in income taxes, not counting other kinds of taxes.

Looking at employment insurance, we see there is little or no flexibility. If we look at the softwood lumber crisis, we see that the government is able to duck the issue because this is a bilateral dispute between Canada and the United States. People find it is impossible to respect the two-week waiting period and they are unable to get loan guarantees to help, for example.

And that is how it is. There is one thing I would like to say to all the members of the House. This is very bad for a community. The government is sending a very bad signal when it introduces bills like this that put communities at a disadvantage.

That said, I once again invite the House to think about the disaster this will be for our community.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Government Orders

7:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise this evening to speak on Bill C-49. This bill should never have come to be. The readjustment process that was announced stems from the Constitution Act, 1867. I am talking about the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

This approach to establishing the boundaries of electoral districts dates back to that time. Until now, no one has tried to change the process, which was intended to be democratic and free of political interference.

Many things are happening within the Liberal Party of Canada. It will soon be giving us our next prime minister. We all know that the member for LaSalle—Émard has his eye on the position currently held by the member for Saint-Maurice. This member of Parliament, who is not a minister of the Crown, is using the Liberal majority to distort a process that used to be a democratic one. That is serious. This situation we are facing on this October 22, 2003, is a very serious situation for democracy in Canada.

This new approach has hurt Quebec in general, and the regions of Quebec in particular. We must bear in mind that the regions of Quebec are grappling with depopulation. We have a big company economy. Big companies are no longer creating employment. They are only maintaining employment. Consequently, our young people, who are more and more highly educated and need jobs in their region, are forced to look for jobs elsewhere. That is our situation in the regions.

I think that this was not done in a way that is respectful of the regional democracies. I am my party's critic for regional development issues. This government is constantly boasting about its commitment to regional development. However, with this bill, the government, and first and foremost the member for LaSalle—Émard, is distorting the democratic process.

I have always been a political organizer. During an election, the election organizers must have everything under control so that all voters can vote. Even during the 2000 election campaign, many streets, neighbourhoods and houses were left off the voters' list. The Chief Election Officer will not be able to do his job within the time allowed. One year was set aside to establish all the new territories and new ridings to ensure transparency and accessibility so that all voters could go and vote. He will not be able to do it.

In 2000, there were huge problems with the voters' list. Things are going to get worse. The Chief Electoral Officer will never be able to enumerate everyone in all the ridings.

What is happening in the House is serious. This bill has serious consequences. It goes against the interests of my region. It deprives my region of its deserved political clout. My region, like all other regions in Canada, has the right to its share of the taxes it paid to Ottawa.

By eliminating one riding from my region, it loses its political weight. This is serious.

I am not opposed to the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, but I am opposed to the process undertaken by the future prime minister of Canada. This is a sign to voters and those listening that, in Canada, the Liberal Party can do anything if it has a majority.

I am a democratic sovereignist, but the federalist Liberals are not democrats, because they want to move up a process regulated by the Constitution Act, 1867. As a result, we have a right to know what the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard is hiding behind this process.

He wants more seats in Ontario, because he knows that Quebec will lose political weight in the regions. The Bloc Quebecois had asked to increase the number of seats in Quebec to 77 so the regions could maintain their political weight. We are trying to bring people back to the regions, but this process will not help. It will undermine our efforts.

The more we participate in political fora to defend our regions—before municipalities, the provincial legislatures or the federal government—the more we can talk about our own region and sing its praises. I am not saying that the three members who are elected will not do so, but I am talking about the consequences of this bill. It reverses a process that was already established.

I will run in the Jonquière riding, which will include Alma, Saint-Ambroise, Saint-Charles-de-Bourget, Saint-David-de-Falardeau and Bégin. These additions enlarge the riding, but as I have always been a regional member, I do not think the voters who are added to the Jonquière riding will lose any political weight.

However, I think this process should set off warning bells. I do not know what they will try to impose on us next. You know what has happened with the Liberal Party. There was the whole sponsorship affair. They took taxpayers' money and used it the way they wanted with their cronies.

Have the Liberals launched this process because they are afraid to face the voters? Is the member for LaSalle—Émard concerned about not having a majority in Quebec?

We have to wonder, and I think Quebeckers do wonder. Democracy is an accumulation of many small actions that make us a democratic society. But I do not think the Liberal Party can pretend to be democratic in this legislative process.

As the member for Jonquière, in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area, and as the Quebec critic for regional development, I think the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard is sending signals that should scare the regions. He is telling them he will not take care of them, that they should fend for themselves, that he just does not care.

The opposite approach should be taken. The 17 administrative regions of Quebec are very important. What would Quebec do without them? It would be a serious problem, because it is the identity of the regions that has helped make Quebec different from other Canadian provinces.

I do not have anything against those Canadian provinces who will get more members, when Quebec regions will lose representatives they are entitled to because of the taxes they pay.

The Bloc Quebecois, the member for Jonquière and all members from my region who have the interests of their constituents at heart will vote against this bill, because it is undemocratic. But I am not sure the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord will vote against it.