Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for Brome—Missisquoi (Québec)
Won his last election, in 1993, with 40.58% of the vote.
Statements in the House
International Crossing Of Lake Memphremagog June 22nd, 1994
Mr. Speaker, the international crossing of Lake Memphremagog is a major tourist attraction in my riding of Brome-Missisquoi. The sixteenth crossing, to be held from July 15 to 24, will be an important event and a major challenge, both because of the competitive aspect and the quality and number of participants involved.
I am confident that the 400 or so volunteers involved in the preparations along with the organizing committee will continue a long tradition of excellence that has always been characteristic of this world class event.
I urge all Canadians and Quebecers to come and share the excitement when the best long-distance swimmers in the world, who meet every summer in Magog, take up the challenge to swim across Lake Memphremagog.
Bankruptcy Act June 9th, 1994
Mr. Speaker, if you look closely at Bill C-237, which was tabled by the hon. member for Portneuf, you cannot help but think of an expression often used in this House but particularly appropriate in this case: social justice. This is what the bill is all about.
The amendments proposed today to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act do a lot more than would mere technical changes to this federal act, since they give it the human and compassionate dimension which it needed so badly. Indeed, Bill C-237 aims at giving wage claims priority over any other claim.
The current situation regarding commercial bankruptcy is simply unfair to those who are the real engines of our economy. Workers should be the first ones to be paid when the assets of a bankrupt business are liquidated. I should point out that, under the current act, workers are not at the bottom of the priority list. This shows that the legislator already recognizes the importance of giving priority to claims related to unpaid salaries, expense accounts of travelling salesmen, contributions to retirement pensions and other benefits.
Indeed, under the current Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, salaries, commissions, and fringe benefits are said to be privileged claims. This means that they come before unsecured claims, but after secured liabilities. Some might say that this is pretty good, but the reality is that once secured creditors have been paid, there is often hardly any money left to pay salaries and commissions to workers. Consequently, the term privileged or preferred is misleading. One has to go beyond the semantic meaning of the word and see the hard reality which workers have to face when their employer goes bankrupt.
The status of preferred creditor is no better than if you were offered the most comfortable seat in a theatre, but that seat was right behind a big post blocking the whole view of the stage. In spite of its comfort, that seat would simply not meet the primary requirement of offering a good view of the stage.
The federal government likes people to think it is doing a great job. It keeps them from noticing the big post and gives everyone the impression that everything is fine. This is more or less the situation with the current Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Salaries are considered a privileged claim, but that nice status does not guarantee at all that the creditor will get any money. In this case, the big post is represented by the secured creditors whose claims have priority over wage claims.
Many people cannot see the stage because the government has not yet amended the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act so as to ensure that salaries are the number one priority when the assets of a bankrupt company are liquidated. It is certainly not normal to see municipal taxes having priority over people's livelihood. And yet, since 1919, several attempts have been made to give wage claims the place they deserve on the list of priority claims.
Several task forces have looked at this issue and recommended all kinds of solutions designed to favour workers. The reports of these committees are still gathering dust today on the shelves of the National Archives. Also, several bills were presented to remedy the situation but were abandoned for lack of time and especially because successive governments lacked courage and political will. As a result, the improvements were timid and inconsequential.
People who are laid off after their employer goes bankrupt already suffer enough from the loss of their livelihood; they should not, on top of that, lose the salary owed to them.
When a bank agrees to invest in a company, it usually knows the risk it runs. Furthermore, the interest rates it charges reflect these risks of financial loss.
Perhaps employees do not invest their money, but they devote themselves body and soul to their employer in exchange for a salary that is often too small, but that still lets them meet most of their financial obligations.
Bill C-237 is thus intended to correct the injustice being done when a bankrupt company's assets are liquidated. This amendment goes further than any previous attempt in favour of workers' rights.
My colleague, the member for Portneuf, was not satisfied with reupholstering the comfortable seat behind the column; he is moving this seat and giving back to workers their rightful place.
This is the sort of measure which the people of Canada and Quebec expect of their government, initiatives that reflect the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Canadian working class. Of course, the big secured creditors will surely not appreciate this legislative amendment since they will see their claims fall on the priority list of payments in case of bankruptcy.
And the effects of the financial losses on them would be much less than for the average Canadian worker who, in losing his salary, is losing his only source of income.
As I said earlier, it is a question of social justice and the government should try to consider it more often when the time comes to present bills that might affect people's lives.
Supply June 8th, 1994
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for reminding me that his party and others before already debated the idea of the Canadian government abolishing the Senate.
I would just like to make a short remark here, Mr. Speaker, if you allow me. I wonder why this state of affairs exists. We members of the House of Commons are asked to tighten our belts, cut our budgets and act like good representatives of the people. Members of this House travel economy class, you realize. The representatives of the other House always travel business class. Members of this House refused, with the consent of the Chair, which you represent, to continue accumulating frequent flyer points. All that was eliminated.
However, members of the other House continue to use those points, which are a bonus. So I ask why members of the other House have special privileges that are better than ours, when we are just asked to cut the fat.
Supply June 8th, 1994
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to defend the interests of Canadian and Quebec taxpayers, by demanding that votes for the Senate's expenditures be cancelled.
I believe that this whole debate on the Senate is highlighting two aspects of Canadian federalism; it proves that it is not only inefficient, but also unable to renew itself to meet the challenges of the 21st century. As we all remember, on February 22 last, the Liberal government tabled its budget.
We must remember that this budget made significant cuts affecting the unemployed and senior citizens. Moreover, it increased the tax base for the middle class. Therefore, this budget hit the unemployed, senior citizens and the middle class.
When reviewing allocations in this same budget, one notices that close to $27 million are ear-marked for Senate expenditures. No cuts there. This very brief analysis of the latest budget tells a lot about the Liberal government's real priorities, and even more about the operation of this bankrupt Canadian federation.
We do not want to play party politics, because we know full well that the previous government would have done just the same, and that the next one will do likewise. As we just saw, it is now simpler for the government of this country, regardless of the party in office, to hit the poor, those who are already reeling from the recession, than to ask its very rich friends, the senators, to do their share.
A country where it is easier to let the deficit grow, signing away future generations' life, where the only cuts are made on the backs of the needy, where government patronage appointees do not reduce their extravagant lifestyles while the public is stuck in a very hard recession, is a very sick country. It could even be terminally ill.
All in all, when we add indirect spending inherent in its operation, this Senate packed with the government's non-elected and non-representative friends, spends more than $54 million dollars over some forty sitting days a year, about twelve hours a month. Moreover, the absentee rate of some senators is around 66 per cent. All this is highly significant.
Those nasty Quebec separatists are not the only ones asking that this House made up of non-elected members be eliminated. Somebody called Claude Ryan-maybe some of my colleagues have heard about him-proposed in 1980, in his beige paper, the elimination of the Upper House. That is why during the 1980 referendum debate in Quebec, federalists were proposing the total elimination of the Senate.
A few months shy of another important referendum, what do federalists suggest to Quebecers? The status quo. In other words, they want taxpayers to go on paying more than a million dollars a day to keep a House that represents no one.
Some Reform Party members could argue that, contrary to their unimaginative Liberal colleagues, they have a suggestion for Quebecers: the well-known triple-E Senate.
This brings me to the second part of my speech in which I intend to demonstrate once again that Canadian federalism does not work and never will.
The proposal for a Triple E Senate reflects a very poor understanding, not only of Quebec but of the history of Canada and of the purpose of our institutions. I would urge the Reform Party to examine the reasons and discussions that led to the adoption of the Constitution Act, 1867. At the time, francophones and anglophones decided to unite in a confederation that recognized the equality of its two founding peoples. It took some vigorous negotiating before these two founding peoples managed to agree on their choice of political institutions for this country.
A constitutional expert, whom I will not name but who is also a member of the Senate, recalled, and I quote: "Sir George-Étienne Cartier wanted parity between Quebec and Ontario for the Senate and he got it, in other words, 24 senators for each province".
We signed acts of union with a partner, English Canada, based on two houses, one with proportional representation and one with equal representation for Upper and Lower Canada. Over the years, as new English-speaking provinces were added and of course new senators for each province, Quebec's political clout in the Senate gradually diminished, so that today, Quebec is under-represented in the Senate in terms of its demographics, with only 23 per cent of the members in that house.
As though this were not enough, our English Canadian partner now wants to marginalize us even further and consider us as only one of ten partners. I may recall that in 1867, the Fathers of Confederation felt that the presence of the Senate was also required to restrain the democratic excesses of members elected by universal suffrage.
Perhaps the Liberal government still thinks it is necessary to restrain the democratic excesses of elected members. However, it should realize that times have changed and that Canadian and Quebec public opinion has changed as well.
To sovereigntists from Quebec, English Canada's desire to make the Senate more effective, elected and equal is not a problem. However, there is no way we would agree to be included in this reform.
We will not let the other provinces further diminish Quebec's political clout within our federal institutions. On behalf of all Quebecers, we say no, no forever to this kind of reform. Senate reform will happen without Quebec, or not at all. If the Reform Party or the other supporters of a Triple E Senate truly wants to provide English Canada with a democratic legislative system, one that is less cumbersome and more efficient, then they should begin by ensuring a victory for the sovereigntist forces in the next Quebec referendum.
Need I remind members that to reform the Upper House, the constitutional debate would have to be reopened? Pursuant to section 42 of the Constitution Act, the consent of the federal government and of seven provinces representing more than 50 per cent of the population is required in order to alter the powers of the Senate or the way in which senators are appointed.
After the recent failures of the Meech and Charlottetown agreements, to name only two, I think that Canadian federalism has proven itself to be inflexible and incapable of adapting to new realities.
The members of this House who are concerned about the state of Canada's public finances must support the Bloc's motion. Canada can ill-afford from an economic standpoint the luxury of having a Senate. It is no longer dynamic enough or flexible enough to carry out in-depth reform. Until such time as they acquire institutions which correspond to the realities of Canada and Quebec, the members across the way sometimes enjoy pointing out that the official opposition is not truly representative of Canada as a whole.
In conclusion, I would simply like to recall the findings of the latest Gallup public opinion poll which asked how Canadians and Quebecers felt about the Senate. On July 22, 1993, Gallup found that for the first time ever since it started asking this question, that is since 1944, a majority of Canadians said they were in favour of abolishing the Senate. Fifty-four per cent favoured abolishing the Senate, as the Bloc advocates, while 37 per cent said it should be reformed, the option favoured by the Reform Party, and 4 per cent preferred the status quo, the option being defended today by the Liberals.
The results in Quebec are even more revealing. Sixty-eight per cent said they were in favour of abolishing the Upper House, while 20 per cent would prefer to see the Senate reformed and 4 per cent prefer the status quo.
The numbers speak for themselves. All that remains for the government to do is to heed the will of Canadians and Quebecers and vote in favour of the Bloc Quebecois' motion.
Francophones In Canada June 3rd, 1994
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members are pleased to see that their policy regarding francophones in Canada was well received.
As noted in La Presse today, the Leader of the Opposition is indeed a man who has served the cause of francophones well, with more yet to come.
The ACFO president made himself very clear on that subject, stating there had never been a clearer and more concrete and specific commitment to francophones outside Quebec and that over the past eight months, the Bloc Quebecois had risen more often to speak for francophone communities than the Liberals had during the entire Conservative mandate.
We, Bloc Quebecois members, will not stop asking questions until such time as the government takes a stand for equity and respect for the rights of francophones in this country.
Government Contracts June 2nd, 1994
Madam Speaker, last week, I asked the government why members of the Cabinet had all refused to attend the annual convention of the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario. In view of the outcry raised by that refusal, the Minister of Health recently agreed to attend, but not necessarily for the right reasons. This behaviour is typical of the historical approach taken by the federal government towards French reality in Canada. Federalist members of Parliament do not seem to have the time and, most of all, the desire to defend the interests of French people in this country.
No, Liberal members are much too busy condemning the fact that the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario had the impudence to invite the Leader of the Official Opposition to its annual convention. The Liberal member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell even had the gall to compare Franco-Ontarians to little chickens that were contributing to their own misfortune by inviting Colonel Sanders to their annual convention. The member and his sorry associates were quickly taken down a peg or two by representatives of the French communities outside Quebec.
Indeed, several Canadian newspapers reported the response of these French leaders, on May 27, to the scornful words of the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, among others. For instance, in the newspaper Le Droit , the president of the ACFO, Mr. Jean Tanguay, was questioning the work done by their Liberal members in the following words: ``When time comes to denounce the injustices promulgated by the provincial government, do they make the front page? Have they denounced the fact that we have lost the management of literacy in Ontario?''
The same day newspaper also reported the comments of the president of the ACFO in Prescott-Russell, Mr. Rolland Saumure, who denounced even more violently the attitude of his own federal member. He declared: "It is not by burying our heads in the sand as Mr. Boudria does that we will make any progress. Is Mr. Boudria afraid of information? Should we just listen to our good Liberal ministers in Ottawa?"
The newspaper La Presse reported the comments of Mrs. Claire Lanteigne, president of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes du Canada. She was infuriated with the lack of respect demonstrated to them by some Liberal members who tried to screen the information that could get to them.
In conclusion, I want to say that I find very disgraceful that some members of the House of Commons try to limit the freedom of speech of members of another political party for the sake of a federalist doctrine that they are unfortunately ready to defend at any cost, as we could see.
Association Canadienne-Française De L'Ontario May 27th, 1994
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Prime Minister. This week, we were told that neither the Prime Minister nor any other member of the Cabinet thought it would be a good idea to accept the invitation extended by the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario and attend its annual convention.
How can the Acting Prime Minister explain the fact that Cabinet members decided to decline this invitation?
Budget Implementation Act May 26th, 1994
Mr. Speaker, the federal government introduces today its Bill C-17 resulting from the budget that the Minister of Finance tabled in this House a few weeks ago.
The measures respecting unemployment insurance which are contained in that bill have two purposes. First, the minister wants to get the national treasury back on a sound financial footing by taking the money out of the pockets of most unemployed in Canada. Second, he is trying to give us the illusion that this bill contains fair measures for those who have lost their jobs.
The minister must have performed numerous legislative contortions in order to meet the two targets he had set himself. You will recognize, Mr. Speaker, that Bill C-17, as most of the initiatives that this government has introduced in this House since the beginning of its mandate, lacks cohesion and consistency, which is the least one can say.
The Liberals have always bragged about being the ones who had introduced social programs in Canada and who have really promoted them.
How many times during the last campaign have we heard them speak about the importance of preserving the integrity of these programs? God knows that they rent their clothes in public, when they were in the opposition! At that time, nothing seemed more important than our social programs. Every single time that the Conservatives dared propose any minor amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act, the Liberals were quick to once again defend the Canadian social safety net.
The current Prime Minister of Canada was seeing himself as the Canadian Robin Hood, great protector of widows and orphans, always ready to come to the rescue of the poorest of the poor. At the time, he kept stressing the importance for Canada to clearly distinguish itself from the United States and kept saying that the best way to do so was to maintain the quality of the social programs provided to Canadians. The unemployment insurance seemed then to be on the list of programs sacred to our friend Robin.
But the noble philosophy of our Liberal companions seems to have changed dramatically since they came to office. It appears that the new Minister of Finance had no difficulty in taking over the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham which I must admit, seems to be made for him.
As insensitive and ruthless as the famous character of the legend, not only has he continued to grossly overtax Canadians, he has also decided to attack without mercy the most vulnerable among us: the elderly and the unemployed.
With bill C-17, the rate of UI benefits drops from 57 to 55 per cent of insurable income.
The very first goal that the Minister of Finance had set for himself when he tabled the budget has been achieved. We will save money on the backs of the unemployed and the deficit will be partly paid by those who are basically victims of the federal government'a mismanagement of public funds.
It is certainly not by choice that some find themselves in the difficult situation of the unemployed. The problem is rooted in the federal employment policies of the last 30 years. The lack of any long term vision in areas like job training is the only factor responsible for the precariousness of employment.
The minister's second goal was to create the illusion that his proposed measures were equitable and progressive. So, he decided to provide relief to 15 per cent of those affected by his bill. Thus, he is increasing the benefit rate of low-income unemployed with dependents from 57 to 60 per cent. As if Canadians were too stupid to realize that the government is taking away millions of dollars from the unemployed only to give hand-outs to a select few. The relief promised by the minister is only an illusion and we did not buy it this time. Canadians, and especially Quebecers, are no longer fooled.
Last year, the Prime Minister kept repeating that Canadians were lucky because they could benefit from social programs. He kept saying how envious Americans were of our social security system. Perhaps he should be reminded that, in several American States, unemployment insurance benefits are approximately 50 per cent of average insurable earnings. By cutting the rate from 57 to 55 per cent for most claimants, the Liberals are doing precisely what they always said the Conservatives were doing: bringing our standard of living more and more in line with that of the Americans. There is really nothing to brag about, Mr. Speaker.
The situation here is becoming dangerously similar to that in the United States and the Liberals have done nothing about it since they came into office. Bill C-17 is but one example among many of the lack of respect this government has for the people. Our national Robin Hood has lost a lot of his prestige since being put in charge of the Canadian Sherwood Forest.
Indeed, up to now, the Liberals have reneged on so many of their election promises and taken so many measures that contradict their traditional philosophy that Canadians and Quebecers came to see the government as a very little Little John.
Canada Student Financial Assistance Act May 24th, 1994
Madam Speaker, I just want to say that as long as the federal government tries to intrude in jurisdictions that are strictly provincial, I will never be able to accept, I will never be able to vote in favour of this legislation. If the other provinces in Canada are satisfied and can live with this because it suits them and because it is what anglophones want, that is fine. But the hon. member seems to forget that Quebec is French and that Quebec has very specific needs that relate to its culture and its language.
All things considered, the federal government has no business intruding in a matter under provincial jurisdiction, and that is why I cannot accept the bill as it applies to all of Canada.
Canada Student Financial Assistance Act May 24th, 1994
Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to have this opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C-28 to implement reforms to the Canada Student Loans Program. In all conscience, I cannot condone this new attack of the federal government on provincial areas of responsibility.
I am a teacher by profession and I am familiar with this kind of manipulation the federal government has been exercising in Quebec for so long. It is imposing national standards while knowing full well that they do not meet the specific needs of Quebec. We are wasting a great deal of time harmonizing curriculums, again at the expense of the students.
Since the beginning of this 35th Parliament, the Liberal government has been showing puffing self-centredness in granting its ministers broader and broader discretionary power. Just a little while ago, members of the Official Opposition vehemently condemned provisions of Bill C-22 giving the minister the power to compensate friends of the Liberal Party of Canada following the cancellation of the sale of Pearson International Airport in Toronto. It seems that the government did not get the message the first time around, given it is caught scheming again to manipulate power. Once again, unreasonable powers are being granted to a minister.
In my speech before the House on the cancellation of the Pearson Airport contract, I compared Bill C-22 to a scorpion. This government initiative appeared harmless enough until the Bloc Quebecois uncovered the government's true intentions. The venom of the beast was skilfully stored in a tiny little clause which granted the minister excessive powers to compensate as he considered appropriate companies and investors with close ties to the Liberal Party. Charles Bronfman and his buddies had just seen major profits slip through their fingers, and the Liberal Party could not let such generous contributors to its election fund suffer.
Bill C-28 falls into the same category. It is as poisonous as Bill C-22 in that it insidiously gives outrageous powers to a minister. However, it goes much further in its obscene attempt to pervert provincial education systems, particularly in Quebec.
The federal government simply does not have the courage to admit what it is doing openly. It prefers to attack in a roundabout way the integrity of provincial education systems. It shamelessly exploits an already difficult aspect of student life, that is the loans and bursary system. Once again, the end justifies the means. Regrettably, this saying is well known by all Liberal governments worthy of the name.
Several provisions clearly demonstrate the pernicious nature of this bill. Allow me to quote a few excerpts from clause 3 which states the following:
- (1) For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may-designate for a province (a) an appropriate authority, which authority may designate as designated educational institutions any institutions of learning-that offer courses at a post-secondary school level-;
One question immediately springs to mind: What does the legislator mean when he speaks of "appropriate authority"? To what or to whom was he referring? Again, we are confronted with the same old expression, one which I would readily qualify as diabolical, namely the infamous ministerial discretion. There is nothing more dangerous than putting too much power in the hands of one individual. I know what I am talking about, having spent over two years in Haiti working as a teacher and school principal. I know very well the damage these discretionary ministerial decisions can do to an education system.
Our concern for economy and efficiency must not make us forget principles as fundamental as the transparency and democratic integrity of the entire decision-making process. But what are this government's real intentions in giving such powers to the minister? The government's allegations in this respect sound a little false. A May 9 press release from the office of the Minister of Human Resources Development states that the bill
will allow the government to enter into agreements with the provinces to rationalize the financing and implementation of student assistance programs.
The press release goes on to say that this initiative shows how this government prioritizes public spending to better serve Canadians and promote the rational use of public funds.
All these arguments sound a lot more like nice excuses invented by the Liberal government to interfere even more deeply in this area of provincial jurisdiction.
The Canadian Constitution is especially clear on this. Sections 92 and 93 of the British North America Act clearly specify that education comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. I urge the members opposite to refer to this section often in order to benefit from one of the few clear and non-ambiguous provisions of the Canadian Constitution.
This is quite an unusual phenomenon, especially since this provision is strictly in favour of the provinces. However, the federal government does not see it that way and does not seem to care at all about the provisions of its own Constitution. In fact, it has never hesitated to invade areas of provincial jurisdiction and the Liberals hold most of the records in this regard, unfortunately. They are indeed past masters in the art of always surrounding their usurping machinations with high-sounding rhetoric, thus creating the illusion that the federal government is acting with noble intentions.
In fact, we have the feeling that the present Prime Minister is only perpetuating the invasive doctrine of his mentor, who left us the constitutional mess that we are in today, the memorable Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
In this case, the minister can conclude agreements with financial institutions for the new Canadian student loans program. Negotiations have already begun with the Royal Bank of Canada, among others.
Do you see the absurdity of the situation, Madam Speaker? The Royal Bank made itself ridiculous in the 1992 referendum by predicting a financial disaster for Canada if the "no" side won. This same Royal Bank would be made responsible for administering the federal student loans program. How can the Liberals seriously think that Quebec could be interested in a project which is so clearly intent on domination?
However, the very prestigious Toronto daily Globe and Mail devoted the front page of its May 20 edition to constitutional power sharing between the federal and provincial governments, from a specifically Quebec point of view. In that issue, the Globe and Mail gave us the results of a Léger & Léger poll on how Quebecers see a fair distribution of powers between Quebec and Ottawa. It is important to mention that this is not an internal report by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society or the movement for a French Quebec.
The figures which I am about to give come from a poll ordered by what is probably the most federalist daily newspaper in the country. So this is what the Globe and Mail reported last Friday following a survey of 1,000 Quebec taxpayers. Only 10.9 per cent of those questioned think that the federal government administers public funds better than the provincial government.
A majority of people would prefer to see Quebec, rather than the federal government, have full power regarding issues such as manpower training, health, justice, energy, the environment, etc. In fact, 62.1 per cent of respondents feel that education must fall under exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The results of this survey are very telling. People are well aware that the federal government has absolutely no business in a field of jurisdiction as important as education is for Quebec's socio-cultural development.
They are also well aware that national English Canadian standards are not compatible with the specific needs of Quebec's education system. Any federal interference in the field of education constitutes an attack on our cultural integrity. I am concerned by the fact that these national standards will be set by English Canada, considering that it did not even recognize the mere principle of a distinct society in Quebec.
I have spent close to 30 years as a teacher and my experience can help shed some light on the issue being debated today. All stakeholders in Quebec are currently holding consultations to implement a series of reforms to improve our education system. We certainly do not need federal involvement to complete this delicate exercise which is so important for Quebec to blossom out as a nation. In fact, Quebecers have clearly said so in the Globe and Mail survey, and I am proud to act as a spokesperson and report this display of collective insight.
I have seen a lot of things and I feel it is my duty to openly condemn this latest attempt by the federal government to interfere in a field of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. In doing so, I speak on behalf of all my former colleagues who still work in the education sector. I also speak on behalf of all those who voted for me last October 25 and asked me to defend Quebec's interests as best as I can. I also speak on behalf of all students attending a school, a college, a CEGEP or a university. But, mainly, I speak for future generations, who certainly deserve better than what the federal government is proposing with its Bill C-28.
I would have liked to conclude by giving an outline of this legislation, but it is absolutely impossible and the reason is very simple: most of the provisions contained in Bill C-28 will be implemented through regulations to be made public later. When exactly will that be? It is hard to say since that, too, I imagine, will be subject to a discretionary decision from the minister.
Out of respect for the public, it would be in the interest of this Liberal government, which has been stressing the virtues of integrity and transparency for months, to take a serious look at these nice principles before tabling a bill in this House. I therefore ask the government to be a little more honest and frank with Quebecers and Canadians. In this bill, too many measures will be taken through regulations. Why will the minister not table at least a draft of these future regulations?
The minister responsible also gives himself way too much power with this legislation. Why is the government trying to muzzle opposition members by granting excessive discretionary powers to the minister? Bill C-28 seems to be an attempt to hide from us important elements and the government is doing its best to ensure that no light is shed on this issue. I remain convinced that if the Liberal government is going to the trouble of playing hide-and-seek with its legislation, it is because its intentions may not be as noble as it claims.
Quebecers are not as uneducated as the federal government seems to think.
Those awful separatists are not the only ones who are concerned about the integrity of our education system. We saw an instance of this today in the newspaper La voix de l'Est , where Valère Audy, a highly federalist editorial writer, made some comments that were particularly relevant to today's debate. I will quote what he said, since it is a clear indictment of the federal government's ulterior motives in all areas connected with education.
This is what Mr. Audy had to say: "Education is already a provincial matter, and Quebec does not intend to relinquish any part of that jurisdiction, but it must be careful because the federal government is constantly trying to encroach on that area".
This comment reflects how important it is for Quebec to maintain its jurisdiction over primary, secondary and post-secondary education.
The carrot concept does not work any more in Quebec. The federal government may think that when they see a red maple leaf at the bottom of a cheque from the Royal Bank, Quebec students will become ardent federalists and spend the rest of their lives thanking their federal benefactor. It would hardly be in character for Quebecers, but it would not surprise me if the Liberal Party of Canada were to make that assumption.