Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)

An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (representation in the House of Commons)


Martin Champoux  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Defeated, as of June 8, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-246.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends section 51 of the Constitution Act, 1867 to provide that the total number of members from the province of Quebec cannot be less than 25% of the total number of members in the House of Commons.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 8, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-246, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (representation in the House of Commons)

The House resumed from March 24 consideration of the motion that Bill C-246, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (representation in the House of Commons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:05 a.m.
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Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia


Mike Kelloway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-246.

I would like to draw attention to the introduction of Bill C-14 and note my support of the government's proposal to update the grandfather clause in the seat allocation formula. This will ensure that no province will ever have fewer seats in the House of Commons than it did in 2021.

This updated clause speaks to the heart of the concerns in Bill C-246, as it would ensure that all provinces continue to have a strong voice in the House of Commons. Specifically, it would ensure that Quebec does not lose a seat, keeps all existing protections in place and continues to allow for incremental seat increases among provinces with growing populations, and all this without disruption to the redistribution of the federal electoral districts in Canada.

As many of us know, the formal process of redrawing the electoral boundaries, a process required under law to take place every 10 years, has begun. I would like to take this opportunity to speak to members about one important aspect of this very detailed and considered process, that is, the independent and non-partisan commissions that are responsible for undertaking this very important work.

For nearly 60 years, independent non-partisan electoral boundary commissions have been responsible for redrawing our electoral maps. These commissions were established in 1964, when Parliament passed the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. The act sets out the roles, responsibilities, process and criteria that these commissions must follow when redrawing our federal electoral boundaries. This independent approach was introduced by design to eliminate the risk of political interference in the process and maintain integrity and transparency in our democratic systems and institutions.

Prior to 1964, the House of Commons itself was responsible for fixing the boundaries of electoral districts through a committee appointed especially for that purpose. However, Parliament realized that gerrymandering, a term used to described the manipulation of riding boundaries to benefit members of the governing party, was a significant risk to the integrity of our system. That was and remains unacceptable. The introduction of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act was a critical measure put in place to solve that problem.

As outlined in the act, a three-member commission must be established for each province. These commissions are composed of one chairperson and two commissioners. Because this process occurs every 10 years, I would like to remind the hon. members that the government does not recommend or appoint members to these provincial commissions. To be clear, they are independently appointed. In fact, the government's role in the entire process is extremely limited.

For example, the minister is responsible for receiving census data from the chief statistician, for being notified of the appointment of new commissioners and for receiving the final reports from the commission. The minister is also responsible for facilitating the orders in council that are required to proclaim the establishment of the commissions and, similarly, to proclaim the new electoral boundaries as set out by the commission at the conclusion of the process.

It is important to note that, once again, the government does not have any decision-making role or influence when it comes to how electoral boundaries are drawn. This is entirely at the discretion of the independent provincial commissions. The chief justices in each province are responsible for appointing a chairperson for each commission. In addition, the Speaker is responsible for appointing the two other members of the commissions. The chairperson of each commission is a sitting judge or, on a rare occasion, a retired judge. All members set aside their normal work and business to dedicate themselves to this democratic endeavour, and I would like to thank them for their service.

For the commissioners, the act stipulates that they must reside in the province for which they are appointed. The act is also very clear when specifying eligibility:

No person is eligible to be a member of a commission while that person is a member of the Senate or House of Commons or is a member of a legislative assembly or legislative council of a province.

The independence of these commissions is further reinforced through this provision. In practice, the commissioners typically have a background in academia, law or non-elected public service. This knowledge and expertise allow these individuals to undertake this complicated but very important work.

On this 2021 decennial, as required under the act, 10 independent, non-partisan electoral boundary commissions, one for each province, were established on November 1, 2021. With the release of the final census 2021 data on February 9, 2022, the commissions began their review of the boundaries. As necessary, based on population changes and movements within each province, they will develop proposals to redraw electoral districts within each province.

Under the government's proposal, this work will continue uninterrupted. For the Quebec commission, the legislation would ensure that it has the time it needs, as prescribed under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, to reconsider its boundaries proposal in progress based on the updated grandfather amendment.

Over the last 10 years, Canada's population has grown by 3.5 million people, from just over 33 million in 2011 to almost 37 million people today. It is essential that these citizens be factored into Canada's federal electoral districts. However, while they will endeavour to reflect changes in population against a province's seat count, the commissions must take into consideration other factors, such as respecting communities of interest and historical patterns. They must also ensure electoral districts maintain a manageable geographic size, including for those ridings that are in rural or northern regions of any province.

Considering these factors is no small feat. Our country is vast. Our communities are diverse and are rich in culture and history. From coast to coast to coast, they form the basis of our identities and our connections.

That is why the act contains provisions to ensure these communities of interest are considered when it comes to determining reasonable electoral boundaries. Respecting communities of interest is not just about preserving the differences between provinces or regions, or between rural and urban settings. It can mean recognizing the difference from one side of a small town to the other.

Canada's history has shown us that redistribution is not just about balancing changes in population. It is also about balancing community history and community geography. It is a delicate balance. It is a balance of multiple and sometimes competing priorities.

Nevertheless, these complex considerations are precisely why these commissions are independent and non-partisan. It is essential that these decisions are made outside of party lines. That way, boundary lines and ridings are established to best serve Canadians, not political parties.

Over the coming months, the commissions will hold public hearings open to the Canadian public, including members of Parliament. We are fortunate, along with all other Canadians, to have the opportunity to engage in a non-partisan, arm's-length process. While the commissions will consider the input they receive, they retain the responsibility to make all final decisions about where the new boundaries will be.

The decisions they will come to over the next several months will be carefully considered. Ultimately, some electoral districts in some provinces may look a little different than they do today. We can rest assured that the decisions will be informed decisions, ones taken by qualified experts and made independently of government.

I would reiterate that this independence is the foundation of our redistribution process. It has served us well for the past 60 years, and no doubt it will continue to do so moving forward. The importance of redistribution is well known to all members of Parliament. The results of these efforts will form the basis of representation in the House of Commons for the next 10 years.

Every Canadian deserves effective representation. Canadians also deserve public institutions that serve their interests, first and foremost. Under the government's proposal and based on the process in place, I am confident that these independent, non-partisan commissions will do just that in the coming months.

In closing, I hope my hon. colleagues will join me in thanking these commissions for undertaking this very important work.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:10 a.m.
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Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Madam Speaker, we are talking today about Bill C-246, which provides that the total number of members from the province of Quebec can never be less than 25% of the total number of members in the House of Commons, regardless of whether Quebec's population decreases.

However, if Quebec's population increases and its percentage of representation exceeds 25% of the total number of members in the House, no limits will be imposed on Quebec under this bill.

If Quebec continues to be part of the Canadian federation, which I hope it will, it will have to adhere to the principles under which the federation was created in 1867. These principles were the subject of a month-long debate in the Parliament of the Province of Canada in 1866, when the broad strokes of what would become the Constitution Act, 1867, were debated and approved.

The biggest compromise that was made at that time was an agreement under which the three parts of the country that existed at the time, namely, Quebec, Ontario and the maritime provinces, would have equal representation in the upper chamber or Senate and would be represented by population in the lower chamber or House of Commons.

It is hard to overstate the importance of what the founders considered to be inseparable twin principles. The expression “representation by population” was used 186 times in the debates on Confederation in the legislative council and assembly of the Province of Canada. If this agreement had not been reached, then Confederation never would have happened.

To make this point, I am now going to turn to a few quotes from the time. This is in a volume of The Confederation Debates, which I played a role in editing, the first edition published since the 1860s. It is an English-language edition.

I am quoting first from George Brown, who stated:

Our Lower Canadian friends have agreed to give us representation by population in the Lower House on the express condition that they could have equality in the Upper House. On no other condition could we have advanced a step; and, for my part, I am quite willing they should have it.

This goes back and forth in French and English. I am not sure if it was originally in French, but I am going to quote it in English because that is what I have in front of me.

George-Étienne Cartier stated:

In 1858 I first saw that representation by population, though unsuited for application as a governing principle as between the two provinces, [Upper and Lower Canada], would not involve the same objection if other partners were drawn in by a federation. In a struggle between two—one a weak, and the other a strong party—the weaker could not but be overcome; but if three parties were concerned, the stronger would not have the same advantage; as when it was seen by the third that there was too much strength on one side, the third would club with the weaker combatant to resist the big fighter.

This was greeted with cheers, apparently. I note that he was prescient. Alberta and Quebec have worked closely together throughout the history of the 20th and 21st centuries of this country.

He goes on to say, “I did not entertain the slightest apprehension that Lower Canada’s rights were in the least jeopardized by the provision that in the General Legislature”, by which he means the House of Commons, “the French Canadians of Lower Canada would have a smaller number of representatives than all the other origins combined.”

Finally, I turn to John A. Macdonald. In the same speech in which he refers to the Senate as the chamber of sober second thought, he said, “To the Upper House is to be confided the protection of sectional interests; therefore is it that the three great divisions are there equally represented, for the purpose of defending such interests against the combinations of majorities in the Assembly.”

He goes on to say:

In the formation of the House of Commons, the principle of representation by population has been provided for in a manner equally ingenious and simple. The introduction of this principle presented at first the apparent difficulty of a constantly increasing body until, with the increasing population, it would become inconveniently and expensively large. But by adopting the representation of Lower Canada as a fixed standard—

That is, 65 seats for lower Canada or Quebec, and then the rest based on equally sized ridings.

—as the pivot on which the whole would turn—that province being the best suited for the purpose, on account of the comparatively permanent character of its population, and from its having neither the largest nor least number of inhabitants—we have been enabled to overcome the difficulty I have mentioned.

All of them were in favour of representation by population in the lower House.

The proposal at the time was that Quebec would hold 65 of the 181 seats in the House of Commons, or 36% of the total. This accurately reflected its share of the population. Quebec held 24 of the 72 seats in the Senate, only 33%. This means that Quebec was slightly under-represented in the upper house.

However, the relative population of the provinces has, over time, changed in ways that Sir John A. Macdonald and the other authors of the Constitution did not anticipate. Quebec's population grew considerably, but not as fast as some of the other provinces, including the six that had not yet joined Confederation at that time.

As a result, various amendments were made to section 51 of the Constitution Act, 1867, where our electoral formula is set out. The formula was adjusted in 1915; otherwise, Prince Edward Island's number of seats would have dropped below four in 1946, then again in 1952, 1975, 1985 and 2012. This year, it is being adjusted again so that Quebec will not lose a seat.

The end result is that Quebec is now represented in the Senate by the exact number of senators that its population would warrant, which is 24 senators out of 105, or 22.9% of the senators for a province with 22.9% of the Canadian population. That seems entirely appropriate to me.

Quebec will never have fewer seats than the number to which its population is entitled. In fact, in the event that Quebec's population dips below 22% of the Canadian total, it would become overrepresented in the Senate, where the numbers would never change regardless of any change to the populations in the provinces. Here, in the House of Commons, we have exactly the same situation, thanks to the anticipated changes to the Constitution, which I hope will be adopted.

There are many other aspects to Canada's seat distribution formula that I find problematic, but in at least one province, Quebec, the initial agreement still works as it should.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:20 a.m.
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Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C‑246.

Since the NDP has already introduced a similar bill in the House of Commons, it will be supporting Bill C‑246.

I will talk about what Bill C‑246 does and does not do. For my 10 minutes of speaking time, I hope to cover the entire file.

As we know, for a long time now, since adopting the Sherbrooke declaration under our former leader, Jack Layton, the NDP has always taken steps to ensure that Quebeckers are represented in the House of Commons and that Quebec's weight is not reduced. In fact, that is part of the traditions of our Confederation. There has long been a floor on the provinces' representation. For instance, each of the territories is allocated one member, even if its population does not necessarily justify this level of representation. In the Canadian Confederation, we have always been able to balance size and representation in the House of Commons. We have to ensure that the territories are represented. It is an important principle that has existed since the founding of our country.

There is also a floor for each of the Atlantic provinces. As everyone knows, Prince Edward Island has four seats in the House of Commons even though the province's population justifies maybe half that many.

The idea is to ensure a minimum level of representation in the House of Commons. Nobody is saying that is bad. Prince Edward Island's population is slightly higher than my riding's, but we are operating on the principle that representation cannot be lower than in the Senate. Some people might think that Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are overrepresented, but if we look at the number of constituents per MP, that representation principle, the existing floor, is maintained. The same goes for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Obviously, if we compare representation in British Columbia, in a riding like mine with 130,000 residents, to representation in other provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the number of voters per MP is much lower than in mine.

If we look at Quebec, representation for the Quebec nation is about 108,000 people per MP. By comparison, in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, it is between 76,000 and 80,000 people.

This has been a long-standing principle of our Confederation, and so has the flexibility it allows in terms of representation, which is why the NDP supports Bill C‑246. It is precisely so that Quebec and the Quebec nation can be assured of a minimum of representation in the House of Commons. It just makes sense. There is nothing unusual about this, and the NDP has been advocating for it since we adopted the Sherbrooke declaration. We have even introduced bills to that effect and have always supported similar bills, even when they come from another party. We support this principle. That covers what is in Bill C‑246.

Now I want to talk about what is not in the bill, specifically the whole question of proportional representation. As everyone knows, the NDP has been fighting for proportional representation for quite some time. Yes, we can talk about a certain number of seats for the Quebec nation, the provinces and the territories, but we also really need to look at how these members will be elected.

As we all know, the House of Commons is not elected by proportional representation, and it is unfortunate that Bill C-246 does not include this crucial element. Consequently, not every vote counts.

Because there is no proportional representation, the NDP has been under-represented in Quebec since the last federal election. We should have seven additional members. In other words, based on how Quebeckers voted, they should be represented in the House by eight NDP members. With proportional representation, we would have had eight members from Quebec elected to the House. Other parties would have had fewer. For example, the Bloc Québécois would have had seven fewer members. Without proportional representation in the House, the Bloc is overrepresented, but the NDP is under-represented.

The NDP will of course continue to advocate for this important model. We know that the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois will not support proportional representation because each of those parties benefits from the current electoral system and from the fact that every vote does not necessarily count. For a long time, these parties have always pushed for maintaining the current electoral system even though it is detrimental to voters. I would say that it is particularly detrimental to Quebeckers, as they see that certain parties are overrepresented and the NDP is under-represented.

We went through this in 2015. The Prime Minister rose to say that it was the last time we would have an election with the existing electoral system and that it would be replaced with a proportional voting system. We know very well that it was one of the many Liberal Party promises that he soon forgot about.

Proportional representation is a key element that is not in Bill C‑246, but it is something we must consider if we want to make our institutions more democratic and more effective. The principle that each vote should count is important, no matter whether it is the vote of someone in Shawinigan or in Sherbrooke. I certainly hope that one day, we will have a House of Commons where the number of votes the NDP wins in Quebec is reflected in the number of NDP MPs here in the House.

If we were to implement proportional representation, there were certainly be fewer representatives from the other parties in the House, either from Quebec or from elsewhere in Canada. Furthermore, this voting system would promote co-operation among the parties. We need a system in which all parties can collaborate and work together. Other countries that use a proportional representation system often find that this kind of collaboration creates an environment that fosters innovation, leading to more social services and the adoption of more innovative policies and bills.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:30 a.m.
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Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased and somewhat excited to rise on this beautiful Monday morning in June to speak to Bill C‑246, which was introduced by my valiant colleague from Drummond. This bill would provide that the total number of members from Quebec could not be less than 25% of the total number of members in the House of Commons.

I first want to clarify one thing, since we have heard quite a lot about the idea of representation by population. As a history buff, I have read a lot about these issues. In my humble opinion, it was quite deceitful, back when it all started in 1867, to shift from equal representation between the two so-called founding peoples to proportional representation just as French-Canadians were being outnumbered. I should mention that the notion of founding peoples is, in itself, highly controversial, given that this country and this regime were founded on subjugation. Proportional representation was certainly never considered when the proportion of French-Canadians was higher. I would call this a historical scam.

I have no problem saying that this so-called Confederation, with its two so-called founding peoples, is a historical scam. Canadian Confederation was brought in through the back door. After that, the only natural path to take was to slowly but steadily reduce the Quebec nation to a minority. That minority is now getting smaller and smaller, which will give us an increasingly smaller voice in decision making in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, we are on our way to becoming a minority that will no longer command respect or consideration.

As everyone knows, the Bloc Québécois wants to see Quebec become an independent country. However, we are also here to stop our decline. We are here to fight, to make gains, but also to stop our decline, and this bill does that. As long as we are in this system, we have to find ways to stop this decline. We have to cope with our losses, unfortunately.

I want to remind members of one very important detail. Last March, the House adopted a Bloc motion with an overwhelming majority of 261 to 66. The motion stated that “any scenario for redrawing the federal electoral map that would result in Quebec losing one or more electoral districts or that would reduce Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons must be rejected”. The part about not reducing our political weight in the House is the important part, but it is also the part that seems to be forgotten. That is what our motion said. It is not only about the number of seats, but also about the political weight.

Bill C-14, which is also under debate, is being presented to us as a win, a success. We have heard in the House that the bill in question would not reduce the number of members. However, the number of members means absolutely nothing if the relative weight drops. If Quebec keeps the same number of seats but more seats are added in the House, that means that Quebec's weight is being reduced. That is not hard to figure out. In the end, the exact number of seats is far less important than the relative weight.

We are asking for 25% because, as a so-called founding people and nation recognized as distinct, it does not seem unreasonable to ask for a quarter of the seats. Given Quebec's needs and its distinct interests and values, this does not seem unreasonable. Twenty-five per cent is also what was negotiated as part of the Charlottetown accord in 1992, based on the fact that Quebec is a distinct society. Although the accord never came into force, the text itself was approved by the House of Commons. That agreement was not without problems, however. The Bloc, which was newly created at the time, was against it. The sovereignist movement was against it.

Far from being perfect and satisfactory, the 25% was actually not so bad given the context. We were not upset about the objective. This agreement was proposed by Mulroney's Progressive Conservative Party, even though the Reform Party of the time was opposed. It was also supported by John Turner's Liberal Party, although rejected by the centralist wing of the Liberal Party of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The NDP also supported this protection for Quebec's political weight. As the previous speaker reminded us, the NDP member for Compton—Stanstead proposed a rather similar bill in 2011. However, the bar was set a little lower, at 23.9%, representing Quebec's weight at the time.

In 2006, Stephen Harper's government passed a motion making Quebec a nation within a united Canada. This motion was somewhat questionable, as it was assumed that Quebec was not a nation outside of Quebec. Furthermore, the English wording differed from the French wording. However, the motion was a form of recognition of the existence of a Quebec nation.

In June 2021, the House of Commons overwhelmingly recognized Quebec as a French nation. Our national status must have concrete political implications, not just symbolic ones. In particular, there must be consideration for Quebec's difference, its interests and its values in Ottawa's approach, legislation and policies.

We need assurance that Quebec will have the representation it needs to ensure that its interests and values are heard. However, Quebec's weight has been in steady decline, with its demographic share falling from 36% in 1867 to 28.6% in 1947, 26.6% in 1976, 24.9% in 1999 and 23.1% in 2015. The most recent proposal of the Chief Electoral Officer amounts to 22.5%, which makes no sense. We responded with our motion a few months ago. As our demographic weight decreases, it is obvious that our weight in the House will decrease as a result of the legacy of this destructive system known as the 1867 Confederation.

We also know that the government has announced plans to dramatically increase the total number of immigrants. Quebec cannot bring in twice as many immigrants. It is already doing its part, and francization is, for the most part, not up to par as it is, so it is not like we can magically increase Quebec's demographic weight from one day to the next.

Let us remember that Quebec's culture is unique. Ours is the only jurisdiction in North America whose official common language is French. Our origins as a nation go back to the days of New France, to the coureurs des bois. We are a self-made people with a unique social model that reflects our own values. We must have the opportunity to exist as a political entity, not just an insignificant symbolic entity. If Quebec declines, both the French language and our unique culture will decline as well.

Recognizing our distinct character means protecting the Quebec nation's weight, not just by ensuring Quebec does not lose any seats, but also by making sure that, whenever seats are added, Quebec gets some too. I am well aware that some people think this is unfair. That is what they said when we were debating our motion a few months ago. People said those whiny Quebeckers were demanding special treatment yet again.

I want to take a moment here to point out that there are specific provisions in the Constitution Act that protect the provinces without anyone taking exception. The senatorial clause, for example, ensures that no province has fewer members of Parliament than senators. This guarantees four seats for Prince Edward Island, even though, by population, it should have just one. The grandfather clause ensures that no province will have fewer members of Parliament after an electoral redistribution than it had in 1985. This protects the number of seats of the maritime provinces and Saskatchewan. There is also a provision that guarantees one member of Parliament for each of the territories, even though the population would warrant just one member for all the territories.

Some observers have said that the addition of a clause to protect Quebec's weight would require constitutional talks and would have to be passed by seven provinces representing 50% of the population. That is incorrect. In 1987, the Campbell decision recognized that there were some legitimate exceptions to ensure effective representation and that Parliament had the power to adopt such exceptions. That is why I believe this bill is both necessary and urgent.

There are real consequences to the loss of political power, in particular the list of competing interests or, at the very least, priority interests for Quebec. Quebec has its National Assembly, which is the only parliament where Quebec has 100% of the seats. There have been innumerable unanimous motions, which I will not go into here.

The nation that had—

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:40 a.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I must inform the hon. member that his time has expired. He was given a little more time, and I know that everyone was very interested in his speech.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Drummond.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:40 a.m.
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Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for his eloquence and his knowledge, which he always very generously shares with us. I would have liked to listen to him for a few more minutes, but the time has come to close the debate on this bill, which I had the honour of introducing on behalf of the Bloc Québécois.

Throughout the debates, we saw that there were two different understandings of Bill C-246. In good or bad faith, and I would tend to say more often in bad faith, people have pretended they do not understand what is at stake. They ignore or dismiss the fact that what Quebec is asking for is not a whim or anything outlandish; it is also not intended to pick a fight, but rather to ensure appropriate representation in the House of Commons based on recognition of the Quebec nation. I would remind you that this recognition comes with obligations on both sides. It comes with obligations for Quebec, and it comes with obligations for the federal government.

I heard many of my colleagues cite the maritime provinces or Saskatchewan in the discussion on fair representation in the House of Commons. It is true, appropriate and correct. There are mechanisms in place to maintain a minimum number of MPs in parts of Canada that would otherwise be inadequately represented. I am thinking for example of Prince Edward Island and the territories.

What differs from the measures in place for some Canadian provinces and territories is that Quebec is a nation. I am not making this up: It was unanimously recognized by the House of Commons more than once and in more than one way. The federal government recognized the Quebec nation in 2006. It was a motion introduced by Stephen Harper, not the Bloc Québécois. In 1995, Jean Chrétien, the most Liberal of prime ministers, recognized the concept of distinct society. In particular, and this is a very important difference, he said that the House of Commons must take this fact into account in all of its decisions. That is important.

In June 2021, in response to a Bloc Québécois motion, the House of Commons recognized French as the only official language and the common language of the Quebec nation. My point is that recognizing Quebec's status as a nation comes with political obligations, and others as well. For example, Quebec's autonomy must be respected when it comes to development-related decisions. The government must also respect the fact that, on occasion, asymmetrical agreements must be signed based on Quebec's specificity. Quebec's distinctiveness and Quebec society's interests must also be taken into account by the federal government when developing legislation. This is somewhat related to what I was saying earlier with regard to the idea put forward by the Liberal Prime Minister at the time, Jean Chrétien.

It is quite understandable that, this year, the Bloc Québécois is determined to defend Quebec's interests. I repeat, Quebec must have appropriate representation, in keeping with its status as a nation.

Last fall, when the Chief Electoral Officer announced that the new distribution of seats for the House of Commons would result in Quebec losing a seat and falling to 77 seats instead of 78, the Bloc Québécois swiftly opposed that outcome. I will acknowledge that the other parties also recognized that it did not make sense. On March 2, on our opposition day, we moved a motion calling not only for the number of seats not to be reduced, but also for the protection of Quebec's political weight with a 25% threshold. With 266 members of the House voting in favour, the motion was adopted with a very strong majority. Then the Liberals show up with Bill C‑14, which is a half measure that only protects the number of seats.

That is not enough. To protect the Quebec nation, its uniqueness, its identity and francophone culture, which is in decline in North America, not just in Canada and not just in Quebec, we need something stronger, and we need to protect Quebec's political weight. That is why I invite all of my colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C‑246.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is the House ready for the question?

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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Some hon. members


Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, we request a recorded division.

Constitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Pursuant to order made Thursday, November 25, 2021, the recorded division on the motion stands deferred until Wednesday, June 8, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Sitting SuspendedConstitution Act, 2022 (representation of Quebec)Private Members' Business

June 6th, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The House will now be suspended to the call of the Chair.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:49 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12:03 p.m.)