Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C‑14. I will start by talking about the principles that have always underpinned the NDP's work in the House. I will then talk about how we could adapt this chamber to reflect the values of Canadians, thereby ensuring that this place is the House of Commons that Canadians across the country truly want.
Let me get back to Bill C‑14. Ever since the NDP has held seats in this House, it has fought to ensure that all Canadians are represented. We, of course, agree that Quebec should have a guaranteed level of representation in the House of Commons, and that provision is included in the supply and confidence agreement that the member for Burnaby South signed on behalf of the NDP with the Liberal government. This is why the bill before us today would ensure that Quebec has a guaranteed level of representation in the House of Commons. The NDP believes that 78 seats for Quebec is an important and fundamental principle.
As my colleagues know, when we look at the provinces and territories of Canada, such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the provinces of Atlantic Canada, Nunavut, Yukon or the Northwest Territories, we always see this principle of a minimum threshold of representation. It is not a new idea; it has already been implemented. In the agreement between the NDP and the Liberal Party, the NDP forced the government to act, because it is important. Obviously, the NDP will be supporting this bill because it makes sense.
Although we will be voting in favour of this bill, we must also remember that it is missing something, and that is the important notion of proportional representation. I will remind the House that a few years ago, in 2015, our Prime Minister promised that the election that had just taken place would be the last non-proportional election, a promise he was quick to break. However, if proportional representation were applied to Quebec, it would greatly change the composition of the House of Commons.
As it did again a few minutes ago during the speech by the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, for whom I have a great deal of respect, the Bloc claims that there should be more Bloc members in the House of Commons. However, that is precisely where the Bloc is failing Quebeckers.
The Bloc Québécois has more members than it would have been entitled to under proportional representation, since it received far fewer votes. The Bloc would have had seven fewer MPs, so those who voted for the Bloc are actually over-represented in the House. Who would have had more MPs with proportional representation? The NDP, which would have a total of eight MPs in Quebec.
The idea of a minimum threshold for Quebec representation is important, but we need to go further. We need to implement proportional representation. If that were the case, there would be fewer Liberal members, fewer Bloc members and more NDP members, because that is what Quebeckers decided in the last election.
When we look at representation in the House, we cannot forget this important element. It is not just about the number of seats. At the end of the day, the members who are elected must be elected in a way that respects the voters' choice. The NDP has been advocating for this principle for years.
For Quebeckers, the fact that we do not have proportional representation means there are fewer New Democrats and more Bloc members in the House than there should be. Far fewer people voted for the Bloc in Quebec, so the number of Bloc members is not representative.
The same goes for the Liberal Party. There should be fewer Liberal MPs representing Quebec in the House. Here again, because we do not have proportional representation, there are more Liberal MPs in Quebec than the number of votes justifies.
The NDP will always advocate for an electoral system in which every vote counts. That is an important principle. When we look at what is happening in other countries, where every vote counts, we see that the most progressive and innovative parties are the ones that end up with the most elected members. This extremely important element should be part of every discussion about representation.
Determining who has the right to vote is another very important element. The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, British Columbia, has introduced a bill related to this issue. People 16 and 17 years of age must be allowed to vote. In a few weeks, all members of the House of Commons will be tested for cynicism. Will they say that the right to vote should be extended to 16‑ and 17‑year‑olds?
We already know that these young people are very concerned and that the decisions we make in the House will affect their whole lives. Personally, I have been active within the NDP since I was 14, and I do not accept the argument by some hon. members that 16‑ and 17‑year‑olds should not be allowed to vote because they are too young. They are already working, learning to drive and paying taxes, yet they are not allowed to vote. It is strange. It should not be this way.
That is why I fully support Bill C‑210. All NDP MPs support it. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has already noted that 16- and 17-year-olds have been asking members to vote in favour of this bill. We must expand the right to vote to these people who are already fully contributing to our society.
This is an extremely important part of representation. I hope that every MP will hear the message that young people are sending and give these young Canadians the chance to vote in the next election. Since these young people will be affected the most by the decisions we make or do not make in the House of Commons, it is extremely important that they have the opportunity to have a say in their own future.
This is the fundamental question, when we go beyond the idea that certain regions of our country have minimum representation in the House of Commons. This is something that has already been granted to Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, an extraordinary region of our country, and the Yukon. In those regions of the country, we already have a minimum level of representation. What this bill does is simply extend that to Quebec.
It is for that reason, and for historic reasons as well. There is no doubt that Quebec represents a nation in Canada. We voted on this in the House of Commons, and it makes very real sense to adopt this bill.
However, this is not the only aspect of representation that we need to be tackling. This is where we get to the issue of a reform of our electoral system.
Members know well that if we actually had in place a proportional system of voting, with electoral reform, like so many other countries have, we would actually see in the House of Commons far fewer Conservatives, far fewer Liberals and far more New Democrats. As we know, in the last election Canadians voted in vast numbers for the NDP, and there should be over 60 NDP MPs in the House of Commons, but we do not have proportional voting. Our electoral system, first past the post, ensures that only one of the parties is represented, despite the fact that Canadians divide up in a much more even way between the traditional old parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, and the New Democrats. Having in place proportional voting, mixed member proportional representation, would make a difference in how the House of Commons is put together.
As we know, in the last two elections, we have seen minority Parliaments that Canadians have decided on, even with the first-past-the-post system. What the NDP has done with that, with the mighty strength of our 25 members of Parliament, is push the government to finally do the right thing. The confidence and supply agreement, as we have seen, has made a significant difference in the lives of Canadians.
We are seeing put into place a national dental care program, something that has been talked about for decades. Now it is finally happening. For decades, we have had a growing homelessness and an affordability crisis in housing, and now finally that is being addressed through the confidence and supply agreement. It is because it is a minority Parliament that the NDP is able to push hard so that Canadians actually get the benefits, finally, after decades of inaction, both from Liberal and Conservative governments. I do not single out one or the other. It has been lamentable, how we have seen massive giveaways to the ultrarich and to the banks and billionaires develop over time. At the same time, Canadians are being neglected. Seniors are being neglected. Families are being neglected, and young people are being neglected.
We have seen a complete lack of respect and responsibility in terms of actually ensuring a future for indigenous peoples. We have seen how, over time, our federal institutions have been eroded, but now, with two consecutive minority Parliaments, Canadians can start seeing that they can have confidence again that the government may actually do the right thing and respond to the affordable housing crisis, respond to the crises we see in indigenous communities, respond to the climate crisis and respond, as well, to the fact that most Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. Things like dental care and pharmacare would make a significant difference in their quality of life.
Putting in place that electoral reform would mean that the House of Commons would actually reflect how Canadians vote, as opposed to a first-past-the-post system where majorities are magnified. Both Conservatives and Liberals have not had 50% of the vote, but they have had far more than 50% of the power; they have had 100% of the power with majority governments. We saw how that acted out in the dismal decade of the Harper government. We have seen how far short the Liberals fell with the majority government, which did virtually nothing for Canadians.
Now, in a minority Parliament situation, which would happen more often and more significantly under an electoral reform and a voting system where every vote counts, we would be able to achieve more for Canadians. The neglect of regular Canadians that we have seen over decades, while hundreds of billions have been given in handouts to banks and billionaires in overseas tax havens, would have to cease, because ultimately the NDP would have a greater representation in the House and be able to push hard for a better response to what working people are going through.
It is not just about electoral reform in the sense of proportional representation; it is also about giving younger people a voice. That is why I want to pay tribute to the member of Parliament for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for presenting Bill C-210 in the House. All members of Parliament will have to vote on this important initiative. Bill C-210 would give 16- and 17-year-olds the full right as Canadians to finally be able to vote in federal elections.
This is fundamentally important. With the climate crisis, we are seeing things change in our country. Last year, in my area of Burnaby and New Westminster and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, we saw over 600 people die in the sweltering temperatures of the heat dome provoked by the climate crisis. Many of the people who died were simply unable to leave their apartments and did not have air conditioning in place. The emergency systems were overloaded. Ambulances simply could not keep up. Firefighters stepped in. This occurred over a number of days, as hundreds of people died. I spoke with emergency workers and first responders who said that if it had gone on for another couple of days, it would have led to a collapse of our emergency response system.
Therefore, for governments to not respond to the magnitude of the climate crisis for decades is absolutely irresponsible, and I blame the Conservatives and the Liberals equally. Young people in this country understand that, so by giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote, I believe we will cause a substantial change in voting patterns and the composition of the House of Commons, because young Canadians will no longer accept an ostrich-style response to the climate crisis that is now upon us. Giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote gives them a stake in their own future. The bad decisions that have been made over the last few decades will fundamentally change with an influx of voters who understand what is at stake with respect to the climate crisis.
With respect to representation, this bill, in a very limited scope, does one good thing, but we expect the government to move further on keeping its promises. We all remember in 2015 when the Prime Minister stood up and announced, with the eyes of the nation on him, that it would be the last first-past-the-post election, and won a majority government as a result. He promptly broke that promise and has not had a majority government since, because what Canadians have been saying to him and to the Liberal government is that they simply will not accept a situation in which 30% or 32% of the vote gives 100% of the power. As members well know, a minority Parliament situation allows for real discussions about the future of our country and what Canadians need to be brought to the forefront of the House of Commons.
I have been in this House as an elected member of Parliament in a number of majority Parliaments, and we need to have a Parliament that reflects how Canadians vote. I hope that legislation will be forthcoming in the coming years.