House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this excellent motion moved by the hon. member for Joliette, who is our House leader.

It is quite interesting to listen to the debates in this House and to hear the Conservatives and the Liberals ask our House leader questions. These two parties have been in power throughout Canada's entire existence.

I would like to go over a bit of history with them because it is not true that representation in this country has been based on population. I will provide the dates. In 1931, Quebec had 27.7% of the population and 26.53% of the seats; in 1941, it was 28.96% of the population and 26.53% of the seats; in 1951, 28.95% of the population and 27.86% of the seats; in 1966, 28.88% of the population and 28.03% of the seats and in 1976, 27.12% of the population and 26.6% of the seats. Accordingly, from 1931 to 1976, Quebec's population was proportionally larger than the number of seats it had in this House. My colleague also said that when the British North America Act was ratified, Lower Canada and Upper Canada were represented proportionally.

Today, the Conservatives have, for purely partisan reasons, decided to change the way things are. Tom Flanagan, their guru, makes no secret of it. The way the Conservatives might come to power with a majority is to decrease Quebec's relative weight by increasing the number of seats in the rest of Canada. That is the reality.

Today, we are defending the rights of all Quebeckers because there is a political party that has decided, for purely partisan reasons, to change the way things are in that country. It is their country. They can do what they want with their country. Just now, the hon. member said it well: if they want to increase the number of seats, they can go ahead, but they have to maintain the proportionality and the representation of Quebec. Why? Because the National Assembly unanimously wishes to protect that representation. That is why I will introduce an amendment. But, at the moment, we consider that Quebec currently having 24.3% of the seats shows fairness and respect for the nation of Quebec. What good is it for the Conservatives to recognize the nation of Quebec if, as soon as they get the chance, they want to reduce its political weight in this House? That is the harsh reality.

Earlier, the hon. member made reference to a poll that was conducted, not several years ago, but on April 7. The poll showed that 71% of Quebeckers oppose a bill of this kind. What is worse, in Canada as a whole, 37% of the respondents came out in favour of the Conservative plan while 45% were against. The Conservatives have decided to defy public opinion for no other reason than that they want to protect or promote their own partisan politics. This is their way of governing and of achieving a majority in their country, by reducing the political stature of Quebec.

When we consider the positions taken by the Government of Quebec, we see that the National Assembly unanimously demanded the withdrawal of Bill C-56 that gave 26 seats to English Canada and none to Quebec. In other words, all the elected representatives of the nation of Quebec in the National Assembly, plus the 49 Bloc Québécois members of Parliament, that is, 87% of the all Quebec's elected representatives, both in the National Assembly and in the House of Commons, reject Bill C-56. The hon. member for Hochelaga did the calculations for us and he is a renowned economist who knows a thing or two about numbers.

I could quote the statement made by a constitutional expert, Mr. Benoît Pelletier, a former Liberal minister—clearly, he is no sovereignist—who laid out his position in a radio broadcast on May 17, 2007. He said:

I appreciate that the House is based on proportional representation. But I wonder whether there might be special measures to protect Quebec, which represents the main linguistic minority in Canada, is a founding province of Canada and is losing demographic weight. Why could Quebec not be accommodated because of its status as a nation and a national minority within Canada?

As I said, those are the words of Benoît Pelletier, the then minister responsible for international relations and relations with Canada.

Mr. Pelletier is a renowned constitutionalist and a staunch defender of Quebec's political weight.

The purpose of the motion that the House Leader of the Bloc Québécois introduced today is simple. All the Bloc Québécois wants is to protect Quebec's current political weight. We are not asking for anything new.

I gave the numbers from 1931 to 1976. With the population as the basis, we in fact had an under-representation of members. What we are asking all the parties in the House is to respect Quebec's political weight. It is simple. Its political weight is 24.3%. If you want to add ridings in the rest of Canada, that is fine. But let us make sure that Quebec, too, gets more seats, so that it represents 24.3% of the members in the House. It is simply a sign of respect by one nation towards another. That is the reality.

Otherwise, the motion adopted by the House of Commons on the Quebec nation was nothing more than a show and yet another political manoeuvre. What is unfortunate is that the Conservatives, for better or for worse, did not take into account the fact that Quebeckers see themselves as a nation. Obviously, they expect that to be reflected in more than just a title granted by the House of Commons during its proceedings, but to also be recognized in the legislation that the House passes.

That kind of recognition would mean above all that no bill would be introduced to change the number of ridings in the country without protecting the interests of the Quebec nation. The National Assembly of Quebec is asking unanimously that Quebec's political weight not be altered by this legislative change, pure and simple. That is the reality. History shows that Quebec agreed to have a different weight for its population. We know that some provinces have more members than they should based on the weight of their population. Throughout Canada's history, Quebeckers have been good sports.

Now the Conservatives are coming at the numbers from a purely partisan angle. Tom Flanagan said that if they could get more members elected in Ontario and western Canada, they could win a majority, regardless of how Quebec votes.

On the surface, it seems that the Liberals are all too prepared to fall into the Conservative trap once again, also for purely partisan reasons. It is unfortunate. These are the only two parties that have ever governed this country. Of course they only care about their own political interests, rather than the interests of the people, and in this case, Quebec's interests.

There is no greater defender of Quebec's interests than the National Assembly of Quebec, which, through a unanimous vote, is calling on Ottawa to withdraw this bill because it reduces Quebec's political weight. It is appalling that a unanimous vote by the National Assembly is being so easily dismissed. This country will never move forward until Quebec becomes a country of its own and we can begin nation-to-nation business relations and harmonious relations as neighbours.

For purely partisan reasons, both the Conservatives and the Liberals are trying to manipulate things and fudge the numbers, to change the number of members in order to achieve a majority and win the next election, and have all the power to themselves. I have always said that politics can drive people crazy. Some are nearly there.

I would like to move, seconded by the hon. member for Laval, the following amendment:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “in the House” and substituting the following: “and call on the government not to enact any legislation that would reduce Quebec's current representation in the House of Commons of 24.35% of the seats.”.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

This amendment seems to be in order. After hearing the sponsor, we can assume that he also agrees with the amendment.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Madam Speaker, let us talk about what is really being said here. The member from the Bloc Québécois has talked about the political weight of Quebec in our Confederation and in the House of Commons.

The hypocrisy is really self-evident. The member talks about politics. The politics of the Bloc Québécois is to take Quebec out of Canada. The Bloc members are advocating for Quebec to have zero seats in the House of Commons, zero.

Our party and the other federalist parties support Quebec being part of Canada. We guarantee that Quebec will always have 75 seats in the House of Commons. The Bloc is advocating for Quebec to have zero seats. That is point number one.

The other point I would like to raise is the member talks about Quebec's political weight. If Quebec wanted to add to its political weight with the 75 seats it has, it would be helpful if people in Quebec voted for a federalist party, be it the Liberals, the Conservatives or the NDP. As the member has pointed out, the Liberals and the Conservatives have tended to be in office for the majority of the time. If people in Quebec want additional political weight, they should vote for the Liberals or the Conservatives. They should not vote for the Bloc because that party wants Quebec to have zero seats in the House of Commons.

Canada is based on fairness. This is a principle-based formula that is fair for the people of Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and right across the country. The Bloc has no credibility because that party wants nothing for Quebec when it comes to the House of Commons.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, when it comes to hypocrisy, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform is now the king. First, he says we are not seeking any seats. It is true that we would like to be a country and deal nation to nation. It is what we have always said. Today, our motion says that we want to keep Quebec's weight at 24.35%. We want to keep that representation. Perhaps his real political problem is that he has a hard time accepting the Bloc.

Like Tom Flanagan, he thinks that the only way to make the Bloc Québécois disappear or to achieve power is by giving more seats to the other Canadian provinces. This is the crass political reality of the Conservatives. That is what we are experiencing and having to endure, and that is what Quebeckers do not accept. Quebeckers do not accept crass Conservatives; they reject them and will continue to reject them especially since they are introducing that reform.

Once again, if the hon. member was the slightest bit open-minded, he would accept, not the recommendation of the Bloc Québécois, but the recommendation of Quebec's National Assembly, which asked through a federalist Liberal premier that this bill be withdrawn. So that means that he does not even listen to a member of the federation, to one of the provinces of the federation. It is a political choice, but once again, it is just crass conservatism.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, I have a question on the meaning of the amendment and will mention a couple of hypothetical situations.

Let us say the Maritime Union took hold and the Maritimes left Canada. Would Quebec, according to the member, be happy with 24.35% or more?

The second question I have is hypothetical but is not that much of a stretch. Quebec is doing immensely well on the world stage and could grow in leaps and bounds. Would the member envisage this motion if passed preventing Quebec from having more than 24.35% should it be the province to grow? Finally, would it be fair if Quebec had this spurt of growth, which we all think could occur, if it was held back in its number of seats by percentage?

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I provided numbers earlier. I would tell the hon. Liberal member that, from 1931 to 1976, Quebec had fewer members in the House proportional to its population. Quebeckers have always been good sports in the federation. The problem is that, today, for purely partisan reasons, the Conservatives and the Liberals are trying to have more ridings in Ontario and Alberta so that they can finally win a majority. It is a choice. Once again—

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak out against the opposition motion on representation in the House of Commons.

As the House knows, I introduced Bill C-12, the democratic representation act, on November 1, 2010. This important bill will restore fairness in the House of Commons. The motion before the House today would do the opposite. It would compromise the fundamental democratic principle of representation by population.

The issue of representation in the House is fundamentally important to Canadian democracy. As a democratic state we must strive to ensure representation in the House is fair and respects fundamental democratic principles.

In Canada, as in any other democratic society, the overriding principle must be representation based upon population.

First, representation should be based on the population. The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that relative parity of voting between citizens should be the primary consideration in democratic representation.

While mathematical parity is impossible to achieve in a diverse country such as Canada, our government believes to the greatest extent possible we should strive to ensure each Canadian has equal weight when he or she votes. This means we should seek to correct any undue inequalities in the average population size of ridings in one province as compared to another. Where such inconsistencies exist, there must be a justifiable reason. This leads to the second principle of representation that we must keep in mind, which is effective representation in a federation.

Canada's 10 provinces vary widely in population, geographic makeup and demographic growth. Therefore, the primary principle of representation by population may need adjustment to ensure the voices of smaller provinces continue to be effective and they are not drowned out by larger ones.

Our bill guarantees that Quebec and all the other provinces will keep their seats.

We recognize it is important for the voices to be heard in this place, the national Parliament, and to some degree, the enhanced representation for the smaller provinces has always been accepted on that basis. Of course, because there is a finite number of seats in the House, the enhanced representation for some provinces will impact the representation for others. The question must always be the degree of the impact that is acceptable, keeping in mind the fundamental and primary principle of representation by population.

The third principle that must inform representation in the House is ensuring, on a forward-looking basis, that future growth in the membership of the House of Commons is reasonable. While it is often said that there is no unreasonable place for democracy, we must be mindful that unnecessary growth in the House will result in concrete costs to the public purse. The question becomes again: What is fair? What approach will recognize the population growth in certain parts of the country from one census to the next? What approach will ensure that Canadians living in provinces of rapid growth will receive fair representation?

We considered each of these principles while developing the democratic representation act. It was our duty, as the government for all Canadians, to bring a national perspective to this task. Indeed, this is a perspective that every member of Parliament, as a member of Canada's House of Commons, should bring to this issue. As I will explain shortly, we believe we have struck the right balance between competing principles, which will correct the unfairness of the existing formula for readjusting the seats in the House.

Let me talk about the current formula. The existing formula for readjusting seats was introduced in 1985. However, in light of demographic changes in the country, this formula is no longer adequate. Returning to the three principles I outlined, the 1985 formula does not strike a good balance. In short, it sacrifices the primary principle of representation by population for the other two and does so at the expense of faster growing provinces.

As a first step, the formula requires that each province, based on its population, gets a share of the 279 seats, which was the number of seats in the 33rd Parliament. As a second step, the 1985 formula protects any province from losing the number of seats it had in the 33rd Parliament even if its population is in relative decline. This is known as the grandfather clause.

This is also in addition to the constitutional provision that prevents any province from having fewer MPs than it has senators, which is known as the senatorial clause. The effects of this formula have been profound. Simply put, the formula sacrifices the primary democratic principle of representation by population in favour of an arbitrary ceiling that is based on the size of the House of Commons three decades ago.

While this does constrain the size of the House, it does so at the expense of three faster-growing provinces alone, limiting the number of seats they can receive from one readjustment to the next. At the same time, the other seven provinces receive extra seats to maintain their seat counts under the 1985 formula. These extra seats further reduce the relative representation of faster-growing provinces that are already being penalized by the formula's ceiling. This will only worsen for Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia as each subsequent readjustment is done.

Accordingly, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have become extremely underrepresented in the House of Commons.

This means that faster-growing provinces have more populous ridings than slower-growing provinces. Based on the 2006 census, ridings in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. had, on average, more than 26,000 more constituents than ridings in slower-growing provinces. The voices of Canadians in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta are diminished each time the population of those provinces increases.

The next readjustment of seats is based on projections for the 2011 census. This number is projected to increase to almost 30,000. That is 30,000, with the average riding population of Ontario, Alberta and B.C. being about 120,000 constituents, obviously significantly more people than the average.

In short, the current formula is moving the House as a whole further away from the principle of representation by population and is also sacrificing effective representation of citizens in faster-growing provinces. Our government is taking a principled approach that strikes a balance between restoring fairer representation for faster-growing provinces and protecting the seat counts in slower growing provinces.

Bill C-12, the democratic representation act, would restore fair representation in the House of Commons and strike a better balance between the democratic principles I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks. First, the new formula would correct undue disparities in the average population of ridings in faster-growing provinces compared to slower-growing provinces.

Bill C-12 would establish a maximum average riding population of 108,000 for the next readjustment of seats. This was approximately the national average riding population at the time of the last general election. This is significantly less than the average riding populations for these provinces under the current formula, which I mentioned would be more than 120,000 constituents per member or 30,000 more constituents on average. Put another way, it cuts in half the disparity in average riding size between slower- and faster-growing provinces compared to the current formula.

Bill C-12 ensures Canadians in faster-growing provinces will no longer feel their vote does not count as much as that of Canadians in other provinces. It brings the House much closer to the primary principle of representation by population.

At the same time, Bill C-12 would continue to ensure the second principle of democratic representation, that of effective representation. It would continue to protect the seat counts of slower-growing provinces. This means that the seven slower-growing provinces, including Quebec, would continue to receive more seats than their populations would otherwise merit. Bill C-12 would strike a reasonable and fair balance by ensuring all provinces continue to have a critical mass of seats necessary to ensure effective representation in the House.

What is more, Bill C-12 would adopt a fair and reasonable approach in limiting the overall growth in the House of Commons in subsequent readjustments. Under the proposed bill, the maximum average riding population of 108,000 that is used as the standard in the next readjustment following the 2011 census would be increased based on the overall rate of growth in the total provincial population.

Essentially, what this means is that provinces would only receive additional seats if their populations were growing more rapidly than the provincial average. This would ensure that future growth in the House is constrained but in a principled manner that recognizes population changes in the country.

As a whole, I believe it is clear that Bill C-12 is true to all three key principles of democratic representation. The bill would correct the problems with the existing formula that has moved us too far away from the primary principle of representation by population. The bill would provide fair and democratic representation in the House for all provinces, and yet it would ask for fairness.

The member for Joliette is asking the House to denounce Bill C-12 before it has even had a chance to be debated.

The motion before the House today simply wants a guarantee of 25%, or 24.3.%, of the House's seats for the province of Quebec. Let us look at the proposal in the context of the three principles I have established for democratic representation.

First, this guarantee of a certain percentage of seats is not based on any measure of population at all and would in fact abandon the principle of representation by population in the House.

Let us consider the demographic context. This idea was proposed in 1992 in the Charlottetown accord at a time when, according to the 1991 census, Quebec's share of the population was actually over 25%. However, according to the 2006 census, Quebec's share of the population has fallen. Based on currently available projections, the population of Quebec will unfortunately continue to fall to about 21.6% by the 2031 census. Even the current formula with all its distortions to the principles of representation by population is inadequate under the terms of today's motion.

Currently Quebec has 24.4% of the House seats if we include the territorial seats. After the next readjustment under the current formula it would have 23.8%. A guarantee of 25%, or 24.3% as the amendment said, would take us even further away from representation by population in the House.

Let us consider the second principle, effective representation, particularly for smaller provinces in the federation.

The only way to accept the member's proposition for a guaranteed percentage of seats in the House for Quebec is to take Quebec's actual share of the provincial population, which will be much less than that. It would take away representation from other provinces in Canada. Unless the member is actually suggesting we further aggravate the alarming under-representation of faster-growing provinces, this would include impairing the representation of provinces that are much smaller than Quebec.

It must be remembered that under both the current formula and the proposed formula in Bill C-12, Quebec is already receiving more seats than its population justifies to maintain its current seat count of 75. In comparison to Quebec's guaranteed 75 seats, the 6 smallest provinces have fewer than 15 seats each. That is less than one-fifth of Quebec's seats. I would challenge the member opposite to explain to the residents of these provinces that the effectiveness of their representation will not be compromised by today's motion.

Quebec also has 11 more seats than the medium-sized provinces of Alberta and B.C. put together. Yet, based on the 2006 census, Quebec has roughly the same population as Alberta and B.C. combined. If B.C. and Alberta are added together, Quebec has 11 more seats even though the population of the two provinces is greater. Nevertheless, the terms of the member's motion would ensure Quebec gets even more seats. This is not acceptable if we wish to have a democracy based on representation by population in the House.

Today's opposition motion accuses the government of marginalizing the Quebec nation by introducing Bill C-12, but this is not true. Bill C-12 seeks to restore fairness in representation for all provinces and all Canadians through a principled formula that will bring the House as a whole closer to representation by population.

Quebec will continue to have its seat count protected and will receive extra seats if its population merits. These extra seats mean that the average riding in Quebec would continue to have fewer constituents than Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. As we move forward, the number of constituents in the average Quebec riding will be fewer than the average seats in Alberta, British Columbia or Ontario.

On average, Quebec ridings have 2,000 fewer voters than ridings in Ontario. Protecting the number of seats also means that Quebec's relative importance in the House will increase over time.

From an objective point of view, Quebec will continue to have a major influence in the House because it will be the second largest province in terms of number of seats, to reflect the fact that it is the second largest province.

I would also like to remind the hon. opposition member that our government was the first to recognize that Quebec is a nation.

I understand the Bloc does not care if Ontario, Alberta or British Columbia are under-represented. The Bloc is only interested in Quebec. However, our government believes in working for all Canadians and believes that all Canadians should be represented fairly in the House of Commons.

It is interesting that the Bloc is asking for 25% or 24% of the seats in the House when for 20 years the Bloc has been fighting to bring Quebec down to zero seats in the House of Commons. The Bloc wants Quebec to have no seats in the House of Commons.

The other parties, particularly the government party, want Quebec to have 75 seats, a representative share in the House of Commons, because Quebec is a strong member of this great united country. Representation in the House must be guided by democratic principles that ensure fairness for all provinces.

Bill C-12, the democratic representation act—

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments. The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, there are two issues here.

There is the issue of the quantity of representation. There is no doubt that British Columbia has been historically under-represented in the House of Commons. In this corner of the House we believe profoundly that this issue must be addressed. New Democrats have been very strong and prominent spokespeople in pressing both the former government and the current government to take action.

There is also the issue of the quality of representation. At one point the Minister of Finance stated that Canada ends at the Rockies. From the Conservative government we have seen the imposition of the softwood lumber sellout that killed thousands of jobs in British Columbia. It was absolutely appalling.

Most recently with the HST, we have seen another example of the lack of quality of representation from the Conservative Party. Conservative MPs from British Columbia are trying to impose the HST on British Columbians. We have seen how well that worked as 80% of British Columbians oppose the HST. There are lineups to sign the referendum initiative. British Columbians are united in their opposition to the Conservatives' imposition of the HST.

I wanted to ask the minister what the Conservative government will do to improve the quality of its representation in British Columbia? We have seen British Columbia Conservative MPs support the softwood sellout, HST, and a variety of broken promises to British Columbia. What are the Conservatives going to do to address the poor quality of representation by the Conservatives in British Columbia?

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Madam Speaker, I disagree with the premise of everything the member said.

I am going to focus again on Bill C-12 and the benefits that it brings to British Columbia. By allowing British Columbia to have the seats it deserves, the democratic will of the people of British Columbia will choose who will be their representatives in the House of Commons. I note that most of the time British Columbians choose Conservatives.

Having said that, more along those lines of effective representation, this motion comes from the Bloc. I can say that one member from the Conservative Party from Quebec has done more for Quebec in one day than the entire Bloc number of MPs, which is around 50, have done in the last 20 years. One Conservative member has done more for Quebec than the entire Bloc Québécois has done in its entire history. Therefore, if one wants effective representation, it would probably be a good idea to vote for a federal party even if it is the NDP which is sometimes effective.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I agree with the minister of state that we have what we deserve. That is exactly why the Conservatives are going nowhere in Quebec and why the Bloc Québécois is the party that does the best job at representing Quebeckers. I will point out to him that by refusing a unanimous decision of the National Assembly, he is refusing a proposal from the Premier of Quebec, who happens to be a former leader of the Conservative Party. Need I remind him that the current Premier of Quebec is a former leader of that bunch over there?

I would like to do some elementary math with the minister. Does he not understand that 75 out of 308 is 24.35% and that 75 out of 338 is less than that? If the Conservatives want to add 30 seats, then at least 8 of those 30 seats should be in Quebec. If they absolutely want to have those 30 extra seats for themselves, then they need to add 10 in Quebec. Does the minister not understand that 75 out of 250 is 30%, that 75 out of 308 is 24% and that 75 out of 400 would be 18%? Can he not understand this simple elementary math notion, namely that 75 out of something depends on the value of that something?

I would like the minister to ask us how to solve this equation because I am sure that the Conservative members from Quebec cannot do this simple math.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Madam Speaker, Canada is based on fairness, fairness from coast to coast to coast. This formula ensures that provinces that have been under-represented will be fairly represented. Quebec will be well represented. It can even be better represented if one elects members from a federalist party. The Bloc Québécois does not care about Canada. It does not care about the federation. It wants to have zero seats in the House of Commons for Quebeckers. We want Quebec to stay strong. We will protect the seat count of Quebec in Canada.

I would like to take a moment to reflect on the great contributions Quebec has made to Canada, to make our nation the greatest nation in the world--

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member for Dufferin—Caledon.

Opposition motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of Commons
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Minister of State for Democratic Reform for explaining what this government is trying to do. It is kind of strange, as he said, because the government bill is going to be debated after this motion, which is sort of going at it backwards.

My question for the minister is similar to the one asked by my colleague from the Bloc. It has to do with the issue of the Bloc's initial motion, which is essentially that 25% will be for Quebec, the calculation seems to be that Quebec would get 88 seats. If we took the amendment, and I have no idea where that came from, that seems to be 24.3%. So it would be 85 seats for Quebec. Either way it would seem to me that it is going to create even more unfairness for the rest of the country.

That is what this is all about. It is creating fairness to representation by population as best we can in this very complicated country. I would like the minister to comment on the mathematics of the motion and the amendment.