House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebeckers.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a social worker by training and I quickly learned to speak for “me“. I am passionate, which does not mean that I feel that others are not passionate. At heart, the member is probably as passionate about the Canadian nation as I am about the Quebec nation. We have the right to be passionate about our countries. The Canadian nation is not my nation, but I respect his passion for it. It is his most cherished right; there is no debate about passion.

What fascinates me, when I listen to the Liberals and the Conservatives, is this kind of ability to deny that a large number of Quebeckers call Quebec's role in Canada into question. That cannot be denied; they cannot pretend that it does not exist. According to a recent Canada-wide survey, Quebec and Canada both want to talk about federalism, but not in the same way. Quebec wants to initiate a round of professional negotiations and Canada refuses. Given that dead end, we should each get on with our own business and everyone will be much happier for it.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague opposite a question. In these times of globalization and major economic upheaval, does Quebec not have an exceptional opportunity to be part of Canada, of the Canadian federation?

A few years ago, Bernard Landry said that Quebec should separate, but keep the Canadian passport, currency and federal legislation. Is the member not talking about a decentralized federalism? Is it possible for my colleague opposite to imagine it? For example, in the European Union, independent European countries have formed a union and adopted a common currency. There is a convergence. Is it not time for Quebec, which is already part of Canada, to work with renewed enthusiasm on continuing to play a vital role within Canada?

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse asked me a question, which he then answered himself by citing the example of the European Union. The European Union brings together independent countries that negotiate and come to agreements. Nothing is stopping Quebec from becoming a country and an important player on the international scene, and collaborating with Canada and other countries. However, when negotiating on the international stage, it would do so as an equal with its own values and culture.

If Quebec were a country, its position on the environment would be much closer to that of European countries. Quebec's position on the environment is completely different from that of the federal government. I could easily give examples about language, culture, and the management of communications and telecommunications. It is a question of survival, of language, of identity and of culture. It is best to be independent in order to be able to negotiate on an equal footing with other countries. Quebec has—

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges has the floor.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry for her good words. The amount of work I do in my constituency is huge and I go about it diligently. I keep at it. It is a round-the-clock job that is a pleasure to do. I count myself fortunate to be able to do my job.

I was listening to hon. members speak. I remember 1990. I remember the Meech Lake accord saga because, at that time, I was beginning to form my ideas as I came of age. The first newspaper article that my father put under my nose on my birthday was a critique of the Meech Lake accord; that was on June 18, 1990. It is quite interesting that, at the time those discussions were taking place, I was also in the House as a political staffer. I was able to listen to discussions from both sides of the House on Quebec's claims.

So here are my views on the future of Quebec in Canada.

This year, in fact, marks both the 20th anniversary of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the 20th anniversary of the Bloc Québécois being in the House of Commons. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I humbly invite our dear House of Commons colleagues to consider the results of the Canada-wide poll conducted for the Intellectuels pour la souveraineté du Québec and the Bloc Québécois. The document is quite eloquent. In the study's findings, members should easily recognize the answers to their questions about the constitutional expectations of Quebeckers.

We have to point out that those who still think that federalism is “reformable“ would do well to equip themselves with incredible patience because Canadian public opinion has regressed in 20 years.

Publishing this opinion poll at this time is most appropriate and allows us to clarify the visions for Quebec in the future. We have two roads before us. There is the road on which we are currently travelling within the Canadian federal framework, with no other vision than the status quo, which, for Quebec, means moving backwards. The other road, sovereignty, remains the only possible one.

Quebec is marching towards sovereignty, and today we have the opportunity to remember the road of federalism on which we have been travelling for so long, for too long.

There are three attributes of sovereignty: the capacity to make legislation, the capacity to act and speak on one’s own behalf on the international stage, and the capacity to levy income tax.

The Quebec nation cannot build a future for itself on the basis of a perpetual “no”.

I thank the Bloc Québécois for allowing us to hear colleagues from all over Canada express their views on the constitutional issues of concern to Quebec.

Why is the future of Quebec in Canada less certain than people think? It is an illusion to believe that Canada is prepared to step back and concede any power whatsoever to Quebec and the provinces. Canada has always continued over the years to build itself and to falsely claim powers which, for the most part, will never be ceded back to Quebec and the provinces.

There are certain historical landmarks from the time of the conquest in 1763 until 1867, which I will not be addressing in my speech but which are important all the same. I invite my colleagues to study them to find answers to their questions about relations between the British colonial government and its French-speaking colony.

Since the Canadian Constitution came into force on July 1, 1867, the interpretation of its text, particularly as regards the powers and the roles of each level of government, has been the subject of incessant quarrels and discussions.

The government did this at a time of crisis, in 1942. Previously, the federal government did not levy personal income tax or provide employment insurance.

Despite the promises of renewed federalism in 1980, in 1982 the federal government signed the forced patriation of the Constitution from the Parliament in London, adding to it an amending formula which now allowed it to appropriate powers in other fields, with the consent of certain provinces but without a decision by either of the founding peoples. Quebec will not sign the Constitution.

In 1982, Quebec experienced a fundamental setback. From 1960 to 1976, Quebec had claimed a veto to guarantee the long-term security of the province.

As Georges Mathews notes:

The Constitution of 1982 enables the federal government to take over provincial jurisdictions bit by bit as long as the anglophone majority agrees. With the new amending formula, Quebec has less power than the four Atlantic provinces combined, which have less than a third of its population.

In the wake of another promise, this time in 1984, to integrate Quebec into the new Constitution with honour and enthusiasm, a new round of negotiations began. The federal government and the provinces agreed to accept Quebec's basic conditions.

To answer my colleagues opposite, Quebec's basic conditions were the following: a recognition of Quebec as a distinct society; a constitutional veto for Quebec and the other provinces; the right to financial compensation for any province that chooses to opt out of any future federal programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction; increased provincial powers with respect to immigration; and that three judges from Quebec be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada by the federal government on nomination by the Government of Quebec.

Robert Bourassa wanted Quebec and the provinces to be given exclusive jurisdiction over language. He wanted more power over labour and communications. The position of anglophones in Quebec is difficult to understand and the accord therefore enshrined duality. Quebec wanted to limit the federal government's spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

In 1987, despite an initial agreement that seemed to echo the Meech Lake accord, the provinces had three years to get any agreement in principle approved by their legislatures. It was then that this attempt to reconcile the demands of Quebec and the provinces failed and revealed a clearer picture: the rest of Canada refused to recognize the specificity of Quebec.

We must remember that for the first time since 1867, Meech Lake symbolically gave Quebec explicit recognition of its specificity. We must also remember that, contrary to what English Canada might believe, Quebec did not get everything it wanted. It was Quebec that ended up making substantial concessions before signing the accord.

Robert Bourassa agreed that the federal government could impose its conditions within provincial jurisdictions. That was a major concession. According to professors Andrée Lajoie and Jacques Frémont:

What may appear at first sight to be a federal government concession to Quebec and the provinces will be revealed, after more detailed examination, as a major victory for Ottawa, who will thereby finally be able to do what it has been attempting for years, namely to acquire the constitutional authority to invest and, to all practical purposes, control every area of exclusively provincial jurisdiction.

In 1992, the Charlottetown accord was defeated. In 1997, still without Quebec, the premiers of the nine other provinces rejected the unique character of Quebec society in the Calgary declaration, which we do not hear much about, because it did not become an interpretive clause in the Canadian Constitution.

In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that if there was a clear majority vote in favour of the secession of Quebec, the government would be required to negotiate the terms of secession in good faith. In 1999, the government introduced the Clarity Act, which changed the rules. Once again, the federal government reminded Quebec that it was in control, that it had control over one of its provinces.

My colleagues have spoken about other events in recent history, so I will not repeat them. However, as I just showed, there are certainly no cure-alls to be found in the Canadian Constitution. No matter where you look, and despite the existence of any agreements, the government could invoke any number of reasons to unilaterally make a decision without the agreement of Quebec or another province.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions to ask. First, why not recognize the improvement and the evolution of federalism in the last 20 years? I am thinking particularly about immigration, where Quebec got all its powers back, thanks to a Conservative government that negotiated an historic agreement. There is also the recognition of the Quebec nation, Quebec's place at UNESCO and the Quebec role in the Francophonie. Why refuse to recognize that federalism is evolving in the same direction as the aspirations of Quebec? Moreover, in October 2005, the leader of the Parti Québécois said that there would be a five year period of disturbances and difficulties because it is obvious that such radical changes cannot happen without some perturbations.

Why avoid fundamental issues? If there is no will for Quebec to continue its development within the Canadian federation, painful choices will have to be made. We are just at the end of an economic crisis. Taking that into consideration, could the member from the Bloc give more details on the prolonged period of difficulties and economic disturbances the leader of the Parti Québécois was talking about in 2005?

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, it must maintain and continue to refine its main tools for economic intervention. That includes immigration and the whole range of economic tools. This week, we will see the corporate community opposing the centralization of the securities commission in Toronto, which is an example of a federal attack on Quebec and its economic and political interests.

I would also like to remind the member of the Quebec government's negotiations and concessions in terms of immigration at the time of the Meech Lake accord. The federal government enshrined the possibility for any province to negotiate the equivalent of a Cullen-Couture agreement with Ottawa.

Quebec got nothing more than an administrative agreement guaranteeing that it would receive a number of immigrants proportional to its population. The Quebec government is asking for more authority when it comes to immigration, and it is still waiting.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for reminding us that Quebec did not sign the Canadian Constitution. The Meech Lake accord, with its five little conditions, and the Charlottetown accord were both failures.

What strikes me is that Canada has basically given up on reintegrating Quebec and accommodating it. It seems more like a systematic demolition of Quebec's rights by encroaching on its jurisdiction. What I am most worried about is the general lack of understanding.

What does my colleague think about this lack of understanding between the two solitudes? We know that an inability to understand, on the individual level, often leads to divorce. I think that this is what will happen to Canada.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my speech I tried to remind the House of some important points in the history of the Quebec nation and the attempts we have made. We have tried everything, in fact. It is unrealistic to think that Canada can be reformed.

Canada is going to continue building itself regardless of the motions moved in this House. As long as these motions remain symbolic and have no legal weight, they will remain inconsequential.

The federal government's response as reflected in certain recent bills, such as the one on Quebec's democratic weight, and the attacks on the spending power in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction are merely arguments in favour of us pursuing our path towards sovereignty.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to take part in this debate on the motion moved by the hon. member for Joliette.

The hon. member for Joliette raises some points that I would like to address as a Quebecker and federal MP for Lévis—Bellechasse serving my constituents and the Quebec nation.

First of all, I have no intention of supporting this motion for two reasons. First, it precludes reforming Canadian federalism and prevents Quebec from showing what it is capable of within Canada.

The second reason is because it does not recognize the improvements to and the evolution of federalism since the Meech Lake accord. I firmly intend to oppose this motion.

I think this motion gives us the opportunity to put things back in their historical context and in order to do so, we have to go back to the unilateral patriation of the Constitution in 1982. At that time, the Liberal government of the day unilaterally repatriated the Constitution, without Quebec's consent.

Even though I am a proud Quebecker who wants Quebec to grow within the Canadian federation, I cannot accept that. It was unacceptable at the time and it remains so today. And I am not the only one to think so. Many Canadians think as I do that patriating the Constitution unilaterally had adverse consequences of which we are still feeling the effects today.

The former Conservative leader, Robert Stanfield, from Nova Scotia, said this about the unilateral patriation of the Constitution in 1982 by the federal Liberal government, led at the time by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

No Quebec premier in human memory would have accepted the 1982 Constitution. In 1982, English Canada forgot its history. We abandoned our tradition of not changing the rules that govern Quebec without Quebec's consent. I thought then and I still think now that the 1982 exercise put Canada as a country in jeopardy.

The unilateral patriation of the Constitution was particularly egregious as the process was supposed to be based on the willing consent of all parties.The quotation continues:

Ottawa not only missed an opportunity for constitutional renewal following a positive vote in the referendum; Ottawa also betrayed francophone Quebeckers who voted for constitutional renewal.

That is what happened in 1982. It showed contempt for the nation of Quebec. It was unacceptable, and it was the doing of a federal Liberal government.

What led us from the unilateral patriation of the Constitution to the Meech Lake accord? The Meech Lake accord was a Canadian plan developed under the leadership of a Conservative government. That is the reality.

Unfortunately, what I find paradoxical today, is that sovereignist members are introducing a motion that sings the praises of the Meech Lake accord to high heaven. Just like the federal Liberal members, they all found themselves on one side of the fence and opposed that accord. They dug its grave, no question.

Today, we see that the members of the Bloc have thrown in the towel, while still keeping their hands on the benefits of Canadian federalism and relegating Quebec to the opposition benches. I am sharing my opinion and hon. members are free to take a different view.

This motion gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to a great Quebecker and a great Canadian. He had his finest moment here on May 1, 1987, when he informed the House that:

—the Premiers and I reached unanimous agreement in principle on a constitutional package which will allow Quebec to rejoin the Canadian constitutional family.

This agreement enhances the Confederation bargain and strengthens, I believe, the federal nature of Canada. Although it remains to be formalized, it represents in the judgment of First Ministers from all political stripes and from all areas of the country an historic accomplishment.

Of course, members will recognize the words of the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, who said this here in this House on May 3, 1987. He also drew a parallel with a statement by another former Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who said:

The governing motive of my life has been to harmonize the diverse elements which compose our country.

Surely, that is the wish of every Member on all sides of the House. That is our policy, our purpose--building a stronger Canada for all Canadians.

That is the Meech Lake accord. It is a Canadian proposal prepared under the leadership of a Conservative government, with a vision that would bring Quebec back into the Canadian federation with its full consent. People recognized that it was a unique and unprecedented gesture. I am thinking in particular of Roger Tassé, who was the main author of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He said that, of course, like any agreement, it was not perfect, but it was certainly as good as the 1982 amendments. It was a major constitutional accord that was a defining moment for Canada, resolved matters left unresolved in 1982 and brought Quebec back into the constitutional fold, an accord that had been signed by 11 Canadian first ministers, an unprecedented achievement.

That is what we had under a Conservative government. We had a Canada that worked, a Canada with a place for everyone. That was until people came along and sabotaged the Meech Lake accord. Now, 20 years later, it is important to tell people that those forces are still at work here in the House. We must remember that the Conservative government played a crucial role in helping Canada and Quebec continue to thrive.

I have a quote here from a member who is still in the House. This is from the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, who was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada for a time. He said:

After Meech we would have had stability for a very long time. And the worst constitutional error in the history of Canada was probably Mr. Trudeau's campaign against Meech.

That was a current member of the Liberal Party acknowledging the problems that sabotaging the Meech Lake accord created. People definitely have strong feelings about it because what happened was unacceptable and we are still suffering from the after-effects.

So here we have the centralist Liberals who torpedoed the Meech Lake accord and people who threw in the towel. I am not throwing in the towel. We have made real progress over the past 20 years and under the leadership of our current Prime Minister. Canada can evolve and Quebec can evolve within the Canadian federation.

A prime indicator is the recognition of the Quebec nation, which is similar to one of the clauses in the Meech Lake accord about recognition of a distinct society. We recognized that Quebec is not only a distinct society, but a nation. That happened here in this House. Where there is a will, there is a way, and this is a good example of what we can accomplish when we want to move federalism forward. That is one very good reason why I oppose the motion.

Our government, like the majority of Quebeckers, is betting on Quebec remaining within Canada. We believe that Canada and Quebec can continue to work together and make it a winning proposition. That has been the underlying principle of our policies since 2006. This policy is supported by concrete action consistent with the vision of a modern and confident Canada, resolutely turned towards the future. In the Canadian federation, no partner is made to renounce its very nature. On the contrary, we believe that each partner, with its own assets and strengths, contributes to our collective nation building. That also applies to Quebec which, with its flourishing culture, rich identity, vigorous economy and dynamic entrepreneurs, plays an important role in this country, allowing us and Quebeckers to maximize our potential and to realize our legitimate aspirations.

Quebeckers, together with other Canadians, have risen to the challenge. Our government intends to continue in that direction for the benefit of all Canadians. Canada poses a collective challenge, to which each of its components is asked to respond. This objective has been defined by some with a slogan that is also a program: unity in diversity.

This objective is being met by practising a federalism that respects the responsibilities of each of our provincial and territorial partners and takes into account the major issues of our time.

Our government favours an approach based on open federalism, an approach that recognizes that the federation, far from being static, is constantly evolving in order to adapt to change and the realities of the modern world. This approach allows the federation to better respond to the challenges faced by the provinces and territories and gives results for all Canadians.

For example, we worked with all the provinces and territories to implement Canada's economic action plan last year and we are continuing with that process.

In the last two years, Quebec's economic performance was remarkable, thanks to the Quebeckers in the House who supported the economic action plan. The best example of this is that right now, the lowest unemployment rate in Canada is in the Quebec City region, a region represented by a majority of Conservative members.

Investments from the economic action plan have been made in all ridings in Quebec, regardless of political representation. In all regions and all major cities in Quebec, the economic action plan will provide benefits in terms of infrastructure and culture, for workers, businesses and the forestry sector. The economic action plan gives concrete and tangible results, and puts Quebec in a relatively enviable economic position.

In terms of infrastructure, we committed to taking immediate action to start work and to accelerate funding for projects for the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons.

The economic action plan offers a series of concrete measures, agreed to by premiers and territorial leaders on January 16, 2009, to make substantial investments in the budget to support the economy in the short term and also prepare it for longer-term challenges.

This plan is achieving the desired results. Canada made it through this global recession better off than all the G7 nations. I have a hard time understanding why the Bloc members are against this economic action plan, which is fundamentally good for Quebec. It is clear. Quebec, as part of Canada, is in one of the most enviable positions in the G7.

Recent developments in the economic situation indicate that the action plan has helped stabilize the national economy and has helped restore economic growth. Economic growth means economic independence and autonomy. The Conservative members have helped make our country economically independent. More than 285,000 jobs have been created since July 2009. Consumer and business confidence has significantly improved and has returned to its previous levels.

We have some work to do in the House to ensure Quebec's economic prosperity. I can say that the team of Conservative members and senators from Quebec can be counted on and are doing a great job. We need only look at our remarkable justice initiatives that Quebeckers very must appreciate.

I want to come back to the economy. In the end, demand has increased much more than in all the other G7 countries. This shows that people are regaining confidence in the economy.

Thanks to the economic action plan, taxes were reduced. That is another measure taken by the Conservatives. Quebeckers are paying less taxes at the federal level because the Conservatives lowered taxes and the GST. Let us also not forget EI benefits, which were extended for the unemployed. Then, there are thousands of infrastructure projects that are underway across the country.

In Quebec's CEGEPs, record investments were made in science and technology. Industries and communities are benefiting from a strong support, and some exceptional measures were taken to improve access to financing.

Over the past year, the government has also signed agreements to allow provinces, territories, municipalities and private sector partners to implement shared responsibility initiatives. We are talking about an investment of $47 billion in our economy, in addition to the provinces' contribution of $15 billion. For Quebec, this means that, in addition to the economic action plan, federalism has provided some major benefits, but also tools for the Canadian federation as a whole.

In 2010-11, Quebec will continue to benefit from large federal transfers, since federal support for the provinces and territories has reached unprecedented levels and will continue to grow. For Quebec, it will total $19.3 billion in 2010-11. The moneys that Quebec will receive from the federal government will reach unprecedented levels.

I can reassure my colleagues by telling them that Quebec Conservative members supported these measures. Unfortunately, members opposite did not do so, and that is very regrettable. Among other things, Quebec is getting $280 million more than it did in 2009-10, which was already a record year. Let us not forget that Quebec is getting close to $6.8 billion more than when the federal Liberal conservative government was in office.

Quebec has never received as much as in the recent past, with a Conservative government in Ottawa and with Conservative members from Quebec who think that the province can continue to do very well within the Canadian federation and be an active player.

This increased long term support helps ensuring that Quebec has the necessary resources to provide essential public services, while contributing to the establishment of common national objectives in health care, post-secondary education and other important parts of Canada's social security net.

As for the wealth distribution system of equalization, it is important to remember that Quebec received $8.6 billion, almost $3.8 billion or 78% more than in 2005-06. And for the Canada health transfer, Quebec received $6.1 billion, which is $294 million more than last year. The Canada social transfer was $2.6 billion.

That means that even though our government has experienced some economic turmoil, we maintained transfers to the provinces in order to allow our provincial partners, and Quebec in particular, to maintain overall services. In addition, contrary to our colleagues on the other side, we did not make deep cuts at a time when our partners needed money. That is what I wanted to point out.

I would have liked to talk about what we are doing in terms of knowledge and innovation, as well as what we are doing for workers. Today I believe that we need to remember that, essentially, the Meech Lake accord was a project undertaken by a Conservative government that wanted Quebec to fully and of its own accord rediscover its place within the Canadian federation.

I gave the example of the Liberal Party of Canada, which sabotaged the Meech Lake accord, as did the sovereignists, who did not want it to work because it would allow Quebec to continue to grow within the Canadian federation. I believe that this accord had a noble objective, and I applaud those who crafted it. It is understandable, for obvious reasons, that I have no praise for those who killed it. The Conservative government will continue to practise an open federalism that recognizes Quebec as a part of the Canadian federation.

Opposition Motion—Quebec’s traditional demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, Human Resources and Skills Development; the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Citizenship and Immigration; the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, Ethics.

Message from the Senate
Government Orders

May 11th, 2010 / 4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following public bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Quebec's Traditional Demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House of certain historical facts and I forgive my hon. colleague from Lévis—Bellechasse for perhaps forgetting them, given how young he is.

It is important to remember that, for sovereignists, the Meech Lake accord was what we referred to as the “beau risque”, and that we were definitely not the ones who killed the Meech Lake accord. I would remind the House that it was Elijah Harper, an aboriginal leader, who was demanding more rights for aboriginal people in this accord, and Clyde Wells, who no doubt was greatly inspired by the Liberals, who were whispering in his ear. They are the ones who torpedoed the deal.

I must say, I was very surprised to hear the member say that with this motion we are hindering all reforms to Canadian federalism. I had to wonder what reforms he was talking about. I did not see any such reforms go through this House. For him, does reforming federalism mean putting Quebec at a disadvantage by reducing its political weight by increasing the number of seats in other provinces? Does it mean a Canada-wide securities commission? If that is what he means by reforming federalism, I doubt very much he would have our support.

Opposition Motion—Quebec's Traditional Demands
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the interpreters in this House on the excellent job they do.

I thank my colleague for her comments. I may be guilty of some historical inaccuracies, but she should have no fear, for I will check my sources. But there is one thing about which I can reassure her, and she can check it herself. I would like to tell her about a great father of Confederation, Mr. Chauveau, who was Premier of Quebec. He was a reformer at heart and someone who helped Quebec grow and thrive. He was also a democrat. He even signed a manifesto with a number of other Quebeckers to ensure that there would be representation by population in the House in which we are sitting and that demographic growth in the different parts of the country would be taken into account.

I believe that that goes hand in hand with a nation that is thriving, sure of itself and confident of taking its rightful place, but that also recognizes the place of others and their demographic weight. That is what I would say right off the bat about that issue.

Regarding the other issue of economic crimes and the importance of developing tools, I would just like to remind her of two facts. The International Monetary Fund and the OECD are pressing the federal government to create a more effective securities commission than we have now. I would also mention that the victims of Earl Jones are begging us to do something to prevent people from being swindled like that again. These people are in favour of standardization and a single securities commission.

I also want to reassure her that we fully respect the securities regulator in Quebec. It can continue to exercise its authority. This is a voluntary measure.