Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I've had a bit less coffee this morning than Monsieur Dion has. Nevertheless, I'm going to pursue the same line or argument because I think on the facts he is right.
Let me start with the question of jurisprudence. And here I'm taking issue, Madame Vallerand, with your suggestion.
Section 3 of the Charter of Rights, which was at issue in the Carter decision, states:
Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.
The court was seized with the question of whether and to what degree.... In fact, I'll quote from their decision:
The question for resolution on this appeal can be summed up in one sentence: to what extent, if at all, does the right to vote enshrined in the Charter permit deviation from the "one person - one vote" rule?
They then went on and talk about that at some length. In the end, they decided that it allowed a significant amount of deviation—more than I would think is reasonable, to be honest. But they were talking about the size of provincial electoral districts within Saskatchewan.
If this were a discussion today about the constitutional legitimacy of the part of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act dealing with how much variation is allowed within the Province of Ontario or Quebec, as opposed to between Ontario and Quebec, that would have some validity, but we're not looking at that question. What we're looking at is the question that is dealt with in section 42 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which states:
An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1)....
And subsection 38(1) requires the use of the approval of seven legislatures representing one-half of Canada's population. Among those powers is:
the principle of proportionate representation of the provinces in the House of Commons prescribed by the Constitution of Canada.
That has not been subject to the same level of court scrutiny. The question is whether it is permissible constitutionally and permanently, via a unilateral amendment to the Constitution, to lock in a disproportioned...and a veering away from a proportionate representation, which will grow over time. That is effectively what would be done if the NDP's proposal were adopted: Quebec would become overrepresented vis-à-vis Ontario, B.C., and Alberta. The people in the riding that I represent, for example, would have a vote that is worth less than the vote of a person in Quebec, and that would increase with every redistribution.
Now, I would contend that this is actually unconstitutional, failing the kind of amending formula that was going to be used for the Charlottetown Accord, where you would have at least seven provinces adopting it.
I'm just wondering how you would respond to that.