House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, my friend speaks of promises and that is really all that aboriginal Canadians ever received from his government. The last Conservative budget involved $3.7 billion of additional new expenditures for aboriginal Canadians, $500 million for the Mackenzie socio-economic front, $300 million for northern housing, $300 million for off reserve housing, and $2.2 billion for the residential school agreement. I could go on, but it would simply embarrass the party opposite.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago this week the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples released its report on the status of Canada's Indian, Inuit and Métis. Sadly, after more than a decade in power, the former Liberal government was given a failing grade by the Assembly of First Nations. In fact, it received eight Fs for failing to act on the educational recommendations in that report.

Can the minister tell us what Canada's new government is doing to improve opportunities for future aboriginal generations?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that Canada's Conservative government yesterday introduced Bill C-34, the very first first nations jurisdiction over education in British Columbia act. This is one of the most important pieces of legislation to be tabled in the House. It spells the future of our first nations and the future of their children.

It establishes a system that embraces the languages and the cultural heritage of first nations in Canada. This is the model on a go forward basis for first nations education in Canada. It will offer better results, stronger self-esteem, self-governance, and self-determination accomplishments.

This government is committed to--

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch, the spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being Thursday, I believe the hon. member for Wascana has a question.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader could indicate his preferred schedule of House business for the balance of this week and moving into Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

In view of the fact that it appears we would not have a Thursday question opportunity next week, could he give some indication of his plans for the period when we return on December 4, particularly as he has indicated that there will be a discussion in the House in the first two weeks of December with respect to the issue of same sex marriage. I wonder if he has yet been able to designate a specific time.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the hon. member's first question concerning my preferred schedule, my preferred schedule would be a schedule where all government business gets expedited and passed in the next three weeks and have the other place return the bills that we have already sent them. That is my preferred option.

In any case, if that is not possible or probable, we will continue today with the debate on the Bloc opposition motion and tomorrow we will begin on the government's motion in the name of the Prime Minister, followed by report stage of Bill C-24 and Bill S-5.

We will continue with the business from Friday next week, with the exception of Tuesday, November 28, which of course will be the final allotted day. We will be adjourned for Thursday and Friday of next week, Mr. Speaker, as you may already be aware.

I can indicate to the hon. member that we will be proceeding with the motion that he referred to and we will get to it before the Christmas break. I will be continuing my discussions with House leaders of all political parties as to some parameters and to get some common agreement on the conduct of that debate.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Opposition Motion—The Quebec Nation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Prior to oral question period, the hon. member for Papineau had the floor. Three minutes remain in the question and comment period after her speech.

Since there are no questions and comments, resuming debate, the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse.

Opposition Motion—The Quebec Nation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my Franco-Ontarian colleague, the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

We resume debate here today on a very important motion. It is understandable why I am so proud to show my support for the motion introduced by our Prime Minister. The motion recognizes that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada.

Before I go any further, I would like to clarify one thing. I must refer to a French dictionary because sometimes between French and English there are some things that are difficult to distinguish.

There are two French definitions of nation. What we are talking about today regarding this motion is that a nation is a large human community, mostly living in the same place, sharing more or less strongly historic, linguistic, cultural and economic links. This is what we are talking about today.

Of course, with respect to Quebec society.

The other nation is the one we recognize as a sovereign nation, which is Canada. Canada is a true nation in terms of a sovereign country. It is important to clarify that.

I would like to share something else with my fellow colleague. As a Québécois, when I feel respected as a Quebecker I feel even more Canadian. This is at the core, I would say, of the last 30 years of the sovereignist movement.

The aim of today's motion is deeply rooted Indeed, over the past 30 years, the sovereignist movement has grown out of disrespect for the very spirit of the Canadian federation and disrespect for Quebec's specificity. It is important to understand this. As long as we, as Quebeckers, feel respected within the Canadian federation, we will no longer necessarily feel the desire to leave.

It is not surprising that the Conservative Party is here today to properly represent and recognize Quebec's specificity. Why not? Because the Conservative Party fundamentally respects the federation, the spirit of Confederation. In other words, it recognizes that certain powers belong to the federal government and others belong to the provinces.

Often, if we really get to the bottom of things and ask sovereignists what they really want, they say they want to respect the spirit of the Canadian federation so as to ensure that the rights and privileges that belong to the provinces are respected. This includes education and various jurisdictions that are particularly vital to the protection of language.

I would also like to state that this exercise will help us to define ourselves as a Canadian nation as well. One of the fundamental characteristics of Canadian society is the distinct nature of Quebec. It is what differentiates us from Americans and other countries, for example. And it makes it possible to have a country where we can express ourselves in two languages. As a Quebecker who is also a Canadian, I am blessed by the fact that this distinct nature is recognized in the other provinces. Bilingualism is a good example of that.

Today, the motion tabled is based on a fact that I would like to highlight: Quebec's distinct nature is at the heart of the Canadian federation, and that is nothing new. It is nonetheless an important motion.

I would like to refer to the editorial in today's edition of La Presse, where Mr. Pratte writes that “the motion tabled yesterday by the Prime Minister...represents historic progress”.

Today, our Prime Minister is reaching out to all parties, including the Bloc Québécois, to obtain their support for this motion. If it is adopted, the Canadian Parliament will be giving unprecedented acknowledgement of the distinct nature of Quebec.

Today, a Conservative government has further shaped the Canadian identity by recognizing the distinct nature of Quebec.

Mr. Pratte continues:

This step forward is not an isolated step in a long series of failures, as the sovereignist version of our history portrays it. On the contrary, it is another step in an evolution that is very favourable to Quebeckers, despite a significant number of backwards steps and a great deal of frustration.

Thus, the relationship of the founding peoples is evolving and Quebeckers are finding enough space to develop and to achieve their prosperity.

Why do we have a federation here, in Canada? It is precisely to take into consideration Quebec's specificity. When we opted for that political system, back in 1867, we did not choose a unitary system. We opted for a confederal system, in which the provinces are responsible for certain jurisdictions. So, this respect for Quebec's specificity is at the core of the Canadian system.

Moreover, as we know, in Quebec we have notaries, and we use the civil law, which is based on the famous Napoleonic code. We also have school boards, and Quebec justices who sit on the Supreme Court. So, there are many examples which illustrate that Quebec is recognized and that it has its own place within the Canadian federation. This vision is fundamentally different from that of opposition colleagues, particularly Bloc Québécois members.

The Conservatives are proposing that the Quebec nation, that Quebeckers fully recognize themselves within the Canadian federation. We do not want the narrow vision of a self-centred nationalism but, rather, a federalism that is open, for example, to other francophone minorities across Canada.

I am taking this opportunity to salute the Quebec government for its initiative, for reaching out to the other francophone minorities and trying to provide support as well as a framework to these primary safeguards of the French language.

The real question today is: Does the presence of a sovereign party in this House help Quebec, does it ensure that Quebec becomes a more prosperous society? That is the real question behind today's motion. And we should ask ourselves that question.

Opposition Motion—The Quebec Nation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville is rising on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—The Quebec Nation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel that the hon. member opposite is ignoring the real question, the real debate. He has just completely changed the subject and I ask you to call him to order, please.

Opposition Motion—The Quebec Nation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I realize that the hon. member wishes to discuss the motion before the House, and I have heard nothing out of order up to this point. He has certainly asked another question, to which he clearly wishes to respond himself. The question may be relevant to the motion before the House. I don’t know.

We shall hear the hon. member. He must have the opportunity to conclude his remarks.