House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

November 1st, 1994 / 6:40 p.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise tonight to speak to the motion put forward by my hon. colleague from Verchères.

In his motion my colleague recommends that the House should officially recognize the historical contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to the establishment of a system of responsible, democratic government in Canada and in Quebec.

Before I start I would like to quote briefly from an article written by S. W. Wallace, which was published in the first issue of the Canadian Historical Review :

The real significance of Canadian history lies in the fact that in the evolution of the new and unprecedented phenomenon, the British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada has played a leading part. It was in Canada that responsible government was first worked out in the colonial sphere.

Responsible government is undoubtedly a Canadian concept. It is part of our rich sociopolitical history. Question period, for example, is one of the ways in which the government can be challenged to remain accountable for its actions.

In any event, I am not here tonight to debate who fought harder for the concept of responsible government in the British North American colonies, Joseph Howe or the duo of Louis Joseph Papineau and William Lyon Mackenzie. Each contributed in his own way to the establishment of responsible government in Canada.

What I am concerned with is the fact that we are seeking to recognize a holiday based on a history which focuses on ordinary citizens taking up arms against the government of the day. Even if the motion of our colleague from Verchères should pass the House when would he suggest that the Patriotes and the Reformers be commemorated? The closest Sunday to November 23, just like the Parti Quebecois declared in 1982?

I am aware that my colleague is not demanding a national holiday. However, we already set aside two days when Canadians can pause and reflect on this great country of ours. These two days are Heritage Day and Canada Day.

On these days Canadians reflect and celebrate their country. What prevents us from commemorating on the third Monday of February or on July 1 the contributions of the patriots and the reformers to the establishment of responsible government?

For example, in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and all around the south shore area, the Canada Day weekend is the beginning of a local heritage celebration called Privateer Day. Privateers were men who smuggled supplies instead of serving in the Royal Navy during the American revolution, the Napoleonic wars and the war of 1812.

During these commemorative festivities fireworks are lit on Friday night over the Liverpool harbour in memory of the privateers. On Saturday there are two parades which recreate the events of days gone by. To my knowledge, the privateers of Nova Scotia have never been officially recognized by the House of Commons for their contribution to the economic prosperity of the south shore of Nova Scotia, yet every year during the Canada Day weekend the entire community remembers the privateers.

What is preventing our hon. colleague from Verchères from encouraging community leaders to organize events commemorating Louis Joseph Papineau and his followers? He certainly does not need the federal government's approval to organize such festivities.

My real opposition to this motion stems from the unique place in history given to the Patriotes by the Quebec sovereignists. I think it would further fan the flames of nationalism and separatism if this motion was adopted by the House.

I would like to quote from an article that appeared in L'action nationale which is without a doubt a propaganda tool for the Quebecois nationalists. The article was penned by Gilles Rhéaume who at the time was director of the Ligue d'action nationale as well as president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal which is one of the most radical nationalist groups in Quebec. In his short article, Mr. Rhéaume stated:

"Admiring the Patriotes of 1837-38 is fine, but being inspired by their example is better. Let us draw our inspiration from their devotion to freedom and sovereignty. But, in order to do so, we need special occasions. That is why the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal welcomed the order issued by the Quebec government declaring the Sunday nearest to November 23, the anniversary date of the victory at Saint-Denis, as National Patriots Day".

The Quebec sovereignists use the patriots of 1837-38 rebellion as a weapon of legitimization in their fight for Quebec independence. The sovereignists of today try to demonstrate to their fellow Quebecois that Louis Joseph Papineau and his followers were rebelling against the intransigent tyranny of the British powers, much like the Bloc is doing in this Parliament against the federal powers.

Granted, conditions in Lower Canada during the 1830s were difficult and frustrating for the French Canadian majority, difficult because economic hardship seriously affected the francophone working class, frustrating because the francophone petite bourgeoisie constituted the majority of members in the lower House. Yet these same members had very little say in the financial management of the colony.

What concerns me if this House adopts Motion No. 257 is that we will be playing right into the hands of the Bloc Quebecois as well as those of the Parti Quebecois. Certain parallels can be drawn between the causes fought for in 1837-38 and the present day battle over Canadian unity.

Once again, I will draw upon Mr. Rhéaume's comment to support my argument. Mr. Rhéaume states that economic conditions, especially the lack of control over the purse strings of the colonial treasury were one of the main causes for the 1837-38 rebellion. Today Quebec nationalists complain that they have only partial control over their economy. The essential levers of power rest within the hands of the federal government where the Quebec representatives are a minority.

The Patriotes believed that only full control of all economic levers could permit the French Canadians to survive as a people. The Quebecois nationalist elite uses the same argument today to preserve its language, culture and tradition.

I clearly see comparisons being drawn by Quebecois nationalists between the events of 1837-38 and those unfolding in 1994-95. If this House is seriously fighting for a strong Canada it would be hypocritical for its members to vote in favour of this motion.

Since our colleague for Verchères is very interested in history, as all Canadians should be, let us look back on some of the Patriote commemorative ceremonies which have taken place over the years. Since 1962, the 125th anniversary of the rebellion, commemorative ceremonies held in Montreal in honour of the Saint-Denis victory have taken on a nationalistic overtone. For example in 1970 at the height of the October crisis about 3,000 people rallied at the Patriotes monument. Representatives of the Chevaliers de l'indépendance, as well as those of the FLQ were on hand. Camille Laurin, leader of the national assembly of the Parti Quebecois, stated:

The most insidious means are used to perpetuate colonialism in Quebec, but Quebec will achieve its independence through peaceful means.

At a similar celebration in 1973 Francois Albert Angers, one of Quebec's most important proponents of economic sovereignty, asked French Canadians to stand behind the Parti Quebecois so that they could defeat more easily the anglophone political party. Links do exist between Quebec sovereignists and Patriotes commemoration.

In 1977 the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal awarded its Patriote de l'année award to Camille Laurin, the minister who steered Bill 101 through the national assembly. This is no coincidence. The nationalists use the term Patriote de l'année when giving an award to a Parti Quebecois minister who severely restricted, we could almost say outlawed, the use of English in his province. The Parti Quebecois during its last tenure in power also renamed a highway in honour of the Patriotes in addition to declaring the Sunday nearest November 23 as the official day for commemorative ceremonies.

The Parti Quebecois is using the battles of their forefathers during the 1837-38 rebellion to legitimize their struggles against Canadian federalism. Today the term patriote has taken on an almost anti-English anti-federalist connotation in Quebec. Whereas the original Patriotes fought in part to establish responsible government, today's patriots seem to be working toward the demise of this great country of ours.

Louis Joseph Papineau, William Lyon Mackenzie and their followers certainly have enriched Canada's history as have thousands of other men and women. In opposing this motion I do not want to belittle their contribution in any way. However, I am concerned for the message we would be sending out to the Quebecois sovereignists if we legitimized the Patriotes' actions. I therefore urge all members of this House who want to preserve our country to vote against Motion No. 257.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The hon. member who just spoke has insulted many Quebecers, unwittingly I am sure, by saying that the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste is a radical or extremist movement. Several million of Quebecers have been members of that movement which has no ties whatsoever with political parties. I shall be brief, Mr. Speaker. Some Liberals are still members of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and other parties-

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member knows that this is a question for debate and not a point of order. They will get a chance to speak, but it is now the turn of their colleague-

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I insist.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member for Blainville-Deux-Montagnes want to yield to his colleague?

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

No, Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Richelieu on the same point of order.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

I ask that the words radical and extremist applied to the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste be withdrawn because they are unparliamentary.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Blainville-Deux-Montagnes, on debate.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am willing to speak now, but I think that it was not the order in which it was agreed to do so.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Trois-Rivières has the floor.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in this debate about the contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to the democratic evolution of our representation mechanisms.

I am all the more pleased to speak on this November 1, 1994, because exactly seven years ago today, on November 1, 1987, we lost a very great Quebec patriot, a great Quebec democrat, the former premier of Quebec, Mr. Lévesque, who invited Quebecers to believe in Quebec, who gave confidence and pride to Quebecers and invited them to describe themselves and to consider themselves as a people with the highest political status.

I would hope that in the upcoming referendum campaign, Quebecers will remember and emulate that great man, René Lévesque.

I am also very pleased to take part in this debate that was raised by my colleague from Verchères, whom I want to congratulate and who has moved the following motion, that I would like to read in order to put things in perspective:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should officially recognize the historical contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to the establishment of a system of responsible democratic government in Canada and in Quebec, as did the Government of Quebec in 1982 by proclaiming by order a national Patriots' Day.

I am all the more proud, and even a bit moved, because I participated myself in the celebrations that, for thirty years now, have been held in commemoration of the 1837-1838 events that occurred in Saint-Denis sur Richelieu, in Quebec. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate two residents of that village who, certainly for twelve years I think, have organized these celebrations with efficiency, skill, modesty and so much dignity. They are Mr. and Mrs. Onil Perrier from Saint-Denis and they deserve our most sincere gratitude.

To understand fully the evolution of these so-called democratic mechanisms, we have to go back to 1791, about forty years before the 1837-1838 events, when the Quebec Act created two provinces, Lower Canada and Upper Canada, Quebec and Ontario as we know them today.

From a political point of view, we must remember that this act established four precise levels of power which were the source of frictions that caused the events we all know about. The first level of power was the governor and his bureaucrats who formed an oligarchy named clique du château, or castle clan, in Quebec and Family Compact in Upper Canada or Ontario. Then there were the Executive Council and two other houses, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.

Not only were the governor and the executive council not accountable to the people and the elected representatives, but they also had the power to revoke laws passed by Parliament. The legislative council was clearly a patronage heaven and became a kind of branch of the executive council where people would exchange friendly services, serve on one council and then on the other and even, at times, on both councils at once.

During all those years, there was deep discontent with the legislative council within the population. When the 92 resolutions were presented in 1834, 31 concerned the Legislative Council, and this discontent was prevalent among both francophones and anglophone progressive democrats.

At the time, the legislative assembly, consisting of elected representatives and members, was just a debating society, like the National Forum on Health which the Prime Minister of Canada supports, a debating society without any real power, except the power to run its own activities, but when it appointed a speaker, Louis Joseph Papineau, his appointment was turned down by Mr. Dalhousie, the governor at the time.

Throughout this period, the demands of both Patriotes and Reformers touched on a number of points, the most important one being responsible government, which would make the executive accountable to the people and their elected representatives.

Another demand concerned the right of the members of the Legislative Assembly to control appropriations and how tax money was spent, and to have a say in the appointment of senior officials. Finally, another demand, still very relevant, was that the legislative council, more or less the equivalent of the other

place today, be elected by the people instead of appointed by the governor.

Throughout this period, these demands were the subject of intense and incessant debate and caused constant confrontation between the executive and the legislative bodies. Faced with the arbitrary behaviour and contempt of the governor and his clique, the people's representatives and all democratic individuals had the choice of either submitting or enlisting the means at their disposal and stand on their rights.

That is what they did, but unfortunately, in 1837-38, both groups were defeated. They were defeated in the media, but only ten years later, in 1848, they won when responsible government was recognized. We still enjoy the benefits of that victory today in this House, and it means that as elected representatives, we can take part in the debate and we can ask questions.

You will probably agree that the quality of the questions is more obvious than the quality of the answers, especially when the answers come from the official opposition, but it gives us the right today to put questions to the government. It gives us the right to demand, on occasion, the resignation of ministers. That is part of these new powers. At the time, these powers were acquired as a result of responsible government. This gives elected representatives the right to adopt budgets and appropriations, and it also allows them to question the government about the appointment of senior officials.

Such is the contribution of the Patriotes and the Reformers. That is why we are asking the House to vote on this proposal to recognize the most valuable contribution that both Patriotes and Reformers made at that time to the evolution of our democracy. I will not try to conceal that there are in fact similarities between the background of this historic episode and the present situation.

We must not forget that at the time, as my friend mentioned a few moments ago, they were claiming their independence and there had been a declaration of independence. Today, the sovereignist movement is in office in Quebec and represents the official opposition here, in Ottawa. This shows how sovereignist thinking is deeply rooted in our people, how we genuinely aspire to sovereignty and how the vision of someday having a country that Quebecers will claim as their own is not the undertaking of a single man, but a truly collective endeavour very deeply rooted in the minds of our people.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part today to the debate on the motion which reads as follows:

That [. . .]the government should officially recognize the historical contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to the establishment of a system of responsible democratic government in Canada and in Quebec-

I will come back to that proposal later.

Let me say first of all that I am among those who will not be able to support that motion. However, I want to say that I share in no way, and I underline the words in no way, the arguments and reasons put forward by the member for Calgary Southeast against the motion. Her reasons are not mine and I thought it was important to stress this fact.

It is with great interest that I rise today to speak about that important issue. Most Canadians do not have to go back to their history books to remember the contribution of Reformers and Patriotes during the last century. As we all know, the Patriotes caused the events known today as the Rebellion of 1837.

Although I recognize it is important to stress the contribution of those individuals who, by their action, brought about the establishment of responsible government, I do not subscribe fully to the proposal of the hon. member. If the aim of the hon. member for Verchères is to commemorate important contributions to Canadian democracy, I believe his proposal is somewhat restrictive.

First of all, Canada is a huge territory bordered by three oceans. This alone is sufficient to make us understand that a multitude of individuals must have worked together to build this great country. The motion of the hon. member stresses only the historical contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and of the Reformers of Upper Canada. Notwithstanding that fact, if the motion had been put differently, I could have given it my support. However, I oppose the motion because it does not take into account the fundamental contributions of Canadians in other regions.

Montesquieu said that to love democracy is to love equality. If we recognize the contribution of some, this should be done equally for all.

It would be important to highlight or, at least, not to forget the role played by Joseph Howe to whom we originally owe the principle of accountability in government. I am not saying this to gloss over or down-play what William Lyon Mackenzie did in Upper Canada and Louis Joseph Papineau in Lower Canada, but this does not change the fact that Joseph Howe was the originator of the concept of accountability in government. He was a journalist with the Nova Scotian , an influential paper at the time. He had campaigned in favour of accountability in government. When he entered politics, in 1836, he played an important role in the establishment, in Nova Scotia, of what was called a liberal reform government. He was the one who argued with the

British authorities of the day in favour of an executive power accountable to the elected members of the legislative assembly.

It was the beginning of responsible government. As the member who spoke before me mentioned, Louis Joseph Papineau and his committee had presented 92 resolutions advocating the control of revenues by the legislative assembly, but executive responsibility, the election of a council and their action were part of a larger movement which was related to a fight being fought elsewhere by Joseph Howe, in Nova Scotia, for example, or by William Lyon Mackenzie in Upper Canada.

What we must point out when we talk about the history of Lower and Upper Canada, is that the provinces were created by the Constitutional Act of 1791 which drew a line west of the seigneury of Vaudreuil to create the new province of Upper Canada, a sort of distinct society for the English speakers of the time, a way to give them the common law and the right to own land under a system known as "free hold land tenure".

A distinct colony was establish to protect these two principles. However, I should say that this new colony of Upper Canada was merely a narrow band of land just north of the St. Lawrence River, just like Lower Canada extended only along both shores of the river.

Nevertheless, if we were to take the motion as it appears in today's order paper and to translate its content in 1994 parlance, we would talk about the responsible democratic government of Quebec, the former Lower Canada, and of Ontario, the former Upper Canada, and we would exclude all the other provinces of this big country of ours. As I said earlier, the initiatives of Joseph Howe preceded those of William Lyon Mackenzie who, with a group of friends, rebelled and took arms-a few guns, forks, shovels, whatever they had then-to show their discontent.

Needless to say, they did not get very far. They were for the most part banished, jailed, etc. and they only surfaced years later. As for Lower Canada, we certainly all remember Louis Joseph Papineau and his friends, who were then called the Patriotes, and who played a role similar to that of William Lyon Mackenzie, the grandfather of another Liberal Prime Minister elected several years later, William Lyon Mackenzie King.

We are all aware of these facts and I am not one to forget or diminish in any way the role played by the Patriotes. In closing, I will repeat what I said at the beginning, that I totally dissociate myself from some comments made today. I declare that, if this motion was intended to recognize in Ontario and in Quebec, which are both provinces, the contribution of these groups, I would gladly support the motion, and I must say that if the member opposite was willing to request unanimous consent of the House to change the word, I would immediately give my support.

I suspect, however, that there is another, different objective in that motion. At the end, it says "in Canada and in Quebec", as if they were really two distinct and equal entities.

Of course, Ontario and Quebec are both provinces. Quebec is a province within this great country which is Canada, this great country which, I hope, will always remain strong and united.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this House to speak to the proposal put forth by my colleague, the hon. member for Verchères. The motion reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should officially recognize the historical contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to the establishment of a system of responsible democratic government in Canada and in Quebec, as did the government of Quebec in 1982 by proclaiming by order a national Patriots' day.

I want to point out right away that this proposal is in no way designed to add a statutory holiday to the calendar. The thought of adding such a holiday never crossed the mind of the sponsor of this motion.

The purpose of this motion is however to recognize the contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada by an order of this House to that effect.

The point was made that the violence of the 1837 and 1838 rebellions should not be condoned. Of course not, but let us not forget however that Patriotes and Reformers voiced their grievances and complaints in pamphlets, in newspapers articles, at rallies, through petitions and presentations at the House of Assembly they had in those days, before some of them finally decided to rise up in arms.

The sole purpose of the motion before us now is to pay tribute, regardless of these unfortunately violent events, to these men and women who believed in the need to have a responsible and truly democratic government. Among those who took part in that movement, some became well-respected public figures because of their convictions and their major contribution to our society.

I can think of people like Louis Joseph Papineau, Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine, Robert Baldwin or George Étienne Cartier. Of course, the Patriotes and the Reformers were not the only ones who contributed to the establishment of responsible government in this country. Others also made a historical contribution to the building of Canada. I imagine that some measure will eventually be proposed to also honour these people.

Certain Patriotes are better known than others, as well as some places. I am honoured by the fact that a meeting of Patriotes took place on July 16, 1837, in Deschambault, in my riding of Portneuf.

Deschambault is one of many small communities in my riding which are located right on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. It has a pier, a promontory called Cap Lauzon, as well as a church which was already there at the time. There is also a general store, the Magasin général Paré, which dates back to that period.

Let us go back 157 years, to July 16, 1837, in front of the general store which is located next to the old church, and let us listen to what the Patriotes of the time were saying:

Resolution No. 1. "That this assembly solemnly condemns the resolutions concerning the affairs of this province which were recently introduced by the minister in the British Parliament, which overwhelmingly approved them, hence sanctioning a principle which sooner or later will be used as a precedent to attack and destroy not only the rights and liberties of other British colonies, but even those of the English people".

There are in these historical statements some valuable lessons that might enlighten us about our current situation.

Resolution No. 2 is as follows: "That the resolutions introduced by Lord John Russell in the House of Commons in England on March 6, on behalf of all ministers, to authorize the Imperial Parliament to seize in the provincial coffers the monies from the labour of the people to pay public servants, most of whom have shown themselves unworthy of this country, and since passed by the Commons and the Lords, are a violation of the Constitutional rights and privileges of the people of this province".

Resolution No. 3: "That the adoption of these resolutions is in complete defiance of the just demands of the inhabitants of this province; that it destroys our confidence in the British Parliament, and that it should convince French Canadians that, in the future, they should expect from the United Kingdom no reparation for their grievances and no respect for their political rights." Unfortunately, you will agree, there is nothing new under the sun.

Resolution No. 4: "That the people of this country would bear the mark of degradation and would be enslaved if they agreed to be taxed, to be violently deprived by the public authorities of their money, which would then be distributed to perverse servants, without the sanction of their representatives who are the only ones to have the right to make appropriation of it". In those days, there was no deficit, no public debt. Still, very serious statements were already being made. What would these Patriotes of 157 years ago say today if they saw our current taxation levels and our use of public funds? Then, 157 years ago, people had good horse sense and I think we still have it today.

Resolution No. 5: "That the British Parliament, by passing a resolution to seize this province's revenues, was guilty of an outrageous violation of our most accepted rights, that it is our people's most pressing duty to resist this violation with all the legal means-that is what was said-at our disposal, and that we should henceforth have the steadfastness to appeal no more to a body which has declared itself so resolutely hostile to our freedoms".

Resolution No. 6: "That for the preservation of these freedoms, it would be prudent to prepare ourselves for the difficulties that we may encounter by limiting our personal expenses and by promoting education, agriculture, industry, manufacturing and trade in this province." This certainly sounds very contemporary.

Resolution No. 7: "That when the revenues of this province are squandered to satisfy the greed of those who are always opposed to the wishes and the needs of the people, it is our duty to improve our domestic manufactures and to recommend their increasing use to our fellow citizens, just as it is our duty to avoid in so far as possible the products of those who pay duties".

Quebec's Patriotes were already showing us the way 157 years ago. There are many more resolutions, but it was a privilege for me to read in this House tonight these words so full of common sense that our ancestors wrote in difficult times and that can still guide us today.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention that the words I read tonight were written by Mr. Louis Gariépy, president, and Mr. N.G. Gauthier, secretary, and were published in La Minerve , on July 24, 1837.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Motion No. 257, the purpose of which is to recognize the historic contributions made by the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to establish a system of responsible democratic government in Canada.

I should like to begin by informing my hon. colleague from Verchères that the Government of Canada is by no means remiss in celebrating our historic heritage and encouraging all Canadians to do so. The government has already established a national day of celebration on which we mark the contribution made to the country by all Canadian patriots, be they anglophone, francophone, aboriginal or allophone. I am speaking of course of Canada Day.

Canada Day is a unique and appropriate opportunity to celebrate the contributions of all Canadians, including those who work for the establishment and continued evolution of our democratic system of government.

Thousands of Canadians also have the opportunity to celebrate Heritage Day in February and organize activities marking the richness and diversity of our common heritage. It is the

perfect opportunity to commemorate the contribution that all great Canadians have made to our history.

Permit me to mention that heritage is a vast concept that includes, as George Kapelos wrote, the understanding, appreciation and preservation of significant elements of our culture and historic heritage. It goes without saying that one of those significant elements is the important role played by the Patriotes and the Reformers of 1837.

It must also be said that the federal government's more traditional role in heritage matters has been to protect national, historic or architectural sites and to establish research programs to increase awareness of our past.

Yet there is ongoing co-operation among the federal, provincial and territorial governments in numerous areas of heritage preservation and appreciation. That is why as an Ontarian and as a Canadian I am pleased to see the Government of Quebec has officially marked the contribution that the Patriotes made to the establishment of more democratic structures by instituting the journée des Patriotes celebrated in November of each year.

It is certainly not my intention to discourage the groups of citizens in Quebec and Ontario that are working to ensure the Patriotes and the Reformers are given their rightful place in our collective history. Indeed a familiarity with Canada's history gives us a more balanced vision of the country that allows us to make well advised decisions in managing the present and preparing for the future.

The reason I oppose the adoption of such a bill is that the proposal by the member for Verchères puts the emphasis on the role of only certain individuals in the process that led to the establishment of responsible government. I do not agree with the thinking that the Government of Canada should give all the credit for the progress of democracy in Canada to the Patriotes of the rebellion of 1837. This would be unacceptable given that it would ignore the contributions of thousands of Canadians in every region of the country who played an integral role in establishing a more genuine democracy in Canada.

I must therefore point out, as did my colleague from Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle a few months ago, that the proposal by the member for Verchères does not take into account the contribution that a great number of Canadians made to the institution of responsible government in Canada. I am speaking of Joseph Howe, Nellie McClung, Thérèse Casgrain and many others who over the course of our history were involved in the process of establishing responsible government and in the ongoing evolution of our democratic system of government.

Recalling Joseph Howe, I cannot but question the link that this proposal tries to make between the actions of the Patriotes and the Reformers in the last century and the institution of responsible government. Was it not in fact Lord Durham who in a the rebellion of 1837 first recommended responsible government and the union of the two Canadas? I will be told that Lord Durham's intention was to assimilate the French Canadians and that is undeniable.

I would point out, however, that it was the moderate Reformers who deserve the credit for putting forward the idea of responsible government. That is why Joseph Howe of Nova Scotia played such a pivotal role. He was the first to establish responsible government overseas in the British Empire, in one of the colonies that was to become Canada, at a time when the Patriot Louis Joseph Papineau was advocating American style elections.

Joseph Howe, Robert Baldwin and Louis Lafontaine then built solid, moderate parties which in 1848 led Great Britain to accept the institution of a fully functional, responsible government. I would also point out that although responsible government did represent progress in Canada's parliamentary system, it was not in the beginning fully democratic.

It would take contributions of such great women as Nellie McClung and Thérèse Casgrain to win the right for women to vote that they were denied until the 20th century. Thus it was Nellie McClung who deserves the credit for Manitoba becoming the first Canadian province to give women the right to vote in 1916. Quebec had to wait for Thérèse Casgrain before it recognized women's right to vote in provincial elections. Furthermore it was not until 1960 that status Indians were allowed to vote in federal elections.

If Canada were to mark the contribution its citizens have made to the institution of genuine responsible government, it would do so by including all Canadians rather than singling out the Patriotes. I find it difficult to see how Canadians as a whole would welcome the idea of granting national recognition to only one of the elements that contributed to an immense collection of movement leading to the creation of real democracy.

I find it difficult to see how women would once again endorse a version of history that denies them their rightful place. I found it difficult to see how Canadians in provinces other than Ontario and Quebec would accept the government's decision to celebrate the contribution of only certain patriots. I find it difficult to see how the First Nations would welcome such a denial of their role in the creation of Canadian democracy.

In as much as adoption of the bill might incur additional expenses, I feel it must not proceed. The Canadian government is a responsible government because of the historical events that created it. As a result it has priorities to which it must devote all its efforts and its human and financial resources.

We promised Canadians jobs. In other words bread, not smoke and mirrors. Having said this, I would not want people to misinterpret the importance I attach to the action of our national patriots. I recognize that Papineau and Mackenzie played a significant role in our country's development by precipitating events with their radical position, but I also recognize that Baldwin and Lafontaine together contributed to the progress of democracy with their more moderate position.

That is the great lesson that Canada teaches us. There are sometimes contradictory individual interests and positions. Then transcending everything else there is a peaceful Canada which forms and transforms itself without armed conflict.

I for one am proud to live in a country that adopted responsible government, making the pitchforks and rifles of the past unnecessary. I therefore encourage all Canadians to celebrate in their own way the tradition of democracy they have inherited. As they have shown so often in the past, Canadians do not lack inventiveness.

They can if they wish organize historical re-enactments of the events on the road to responsible government. They can, with the help of local historical societies or heritage conservation groups, organize commemorative or celebratory events. In closing I hope that my comments on opposing this motion have not in any way diminished the events of our history that allow us to speak here.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion of my colleague from Verchères is of particular interest for me because many events of the 1837 Rebellion occurred in my riding, in the town of Saint-Eustache, which became historic, and in neighbouring villages.

It is impossible to visit this region without seeing traces of these events mile after mile. Some of the villages and localities have evocative and significant names. One village was razed and others were burned to a greater of lesser extent. The English burned these villages in reprisal.

The facade of the main church in Saint-Eustache still bears the marks made by English cannonballs. Many streets in the town are named after participants in these events. The Jean-Olivier Chénier Local Community Service Centre recalls the leader of the Patriotes in this region. These are all visible remnants of the 1837 Rebellion which brought the Patriotes face to face with the British army. We who live in that region cannot forget those events even if we wanted to. The signs are there right before us.

Before anything else, I have to dispel a myth which has to do with the confrontation that did not occur because the Patriotes wanted sovereignty. The motion does not mention only the Patriotes of Lower Canada but also the Reformers of Upper Canada. Let me quote my colleague, the hon. member for Verchères, who presented this motion. He said on June 20, 1994: "The aim of the motion I have just respectfully submitted for the consideration of this House today is to rectify this perception [that they were criminals] and to achieve, at long last, recognition of the historic contribution of the Patriotes of Lower Canada and the Reformers of Upper Canada to the establishment of a truly responsible and truly democratic government in Canada and in Quebec".

At the time, the Patriotes and the Reformers were fighting for a cause that is still dear to our hearts, quite simply democracy.

Therefore, whether they were from Upper or Lower Canada, the insurrectionists were fighting to have the colonial assembly, which represented in the people, take a more active part in the exercise of power and gradually take over the internal management of the colony. As we know, the management of the colony's affairs was, at the time, conducted by London, through the governor and councils.

In short, what the insurrectionists wanted, and the reason why I think the whole country has the duty to recognize them, was, and I repeat, the democratization of the institutions of their country.

Whether it was in the field or at the end of a rope, will we say that the sacrifice of those who lost their lives was in vain? No, because in spite of their defeat, their uprising had the result of drawing the attention of London to the people's aspirations that it had consistently ignored until then. It was as a result of the 1837-38 events that London asked Lord Durham to conduct an inquiry and to propose some solutions to the problems raised by these aspirations from colonies in the north of the United States of America.

The Durham report, which was of course open to criticism in many respects, particularly for us, Quebecers, nevertheless proved the Reformers and the Patriotes right, in the sense that the report ridiculed and criticized the Constitution Act of 1791, which, while giving a representative government, did not accept the principle of responsible government. That was exactly what the insurrectionists had been demanding and, on that point, Lord Durham was in agreement with them.

It would be an overstatement to say that, in and of themselves, the actions of the Patriotes and the Reformers resulted in the Durham mission, the awareness that this mission raised in London and, consequently, the recognition in 1848 of responsible government. It would be unfair to others who helped make our institutions more democratic. The fact remains, however, that this action led to the decision to send Lord Durham on his mission and that the conclusions of this mission strongly influenced London's decision in 1848.

I repeat, the Patriotes and the Reformers were not the sole instigators of the movement towards democracy that started in 1848, but it is important to recognize the part they played, and I will get back to this. We want to give everyone his due.

The causes that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries moved first the Americans, then the French and then the Canadians to rebel violently against authority must be seen in context, and the context was, of course, different for each group. However, the main theme was the same: the will of a mature people to manage its own affairs. This phenomenon was to spread to a number of western countries.

Without going so far as to defend violence, we cannot afford to ignore, for the sake of being politically correct, the important and in some cases unique role played by popular uprisings in the history of democracy.

In Canada as well, history has shown that acts of violence occur only as a last resort, when people try to make themselves heard and all peaceful methods have failed. Perhaps I may recall what was said by the hon. member for Portneuf and emphasize the respectful tone of the resolutions he read to us and the fact that they included the desire to achieve their purpose through legal means. It is only when they realized that legal means were ineffective that they resolved to take arms.

All attempts had failed. There were speeches in the House, demonstrations in the streets, editorials in the newspapers. The Patriotes and the Reformers finally decided to resort to armed rebellion because they had failed to obtain that London limit the discretionary powers of the Governor.

In Canada as everywhere else, violent action, even when defeated, usually brings some movement, even on the part of a previously inflexible government.

It is in this light that the motion seeks recognition of the historic contribution of the rebels of 1837-38, who fought for the democratization of the institutions of the time.

We should not be surprised by the fact that it took so long to realize the significance of the events of 1837-38. By the way, we should remember that the Church took 130 or 140 years before allowing-

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry. If there is unanimous consent, the member can go on, but his time has expired. One minute.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:55 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out, just for the sake of comparison, that although the Bastille was taken on July 14, 1789, it was only 100 years later that the storming of the Bastille became France's national day. The Bastille was taken by Parisians, but, to go back to what my colleague opposite mentioned earlier, in spite of the fact that this was the doing of Parisians alone, the whole country now commemorates this local event as its national day. This example illustrates why we are asking that these events be recognized.

No matter what the members of this House think of the future of Canada, it seems legitimate for us to look at our past with respect and emotion, to honour this handful of men who, more than a century and a half ago, helped shape our democratic institutions, and sometimes paid for it with their lives.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hour provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired.

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently I asked a question of the government, in particular the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, concerning the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister and Team Canada, together with nine provincial premiers on a trade delegation to Asia. In particular I focused on the issue of human rights and democracy in Asian countries being visited by the Prime Minister and by the premiers.

In urging the Prime Minister to speak out forcefully with respect to human rights and democracy in China, Tibet, Indonesia and East Timor in particular I want to remind the Prime Minister of his own words in a letter written in December 1991: "Progress toward respecting human rights in much of the world is the direct result of pressure from western democracies".

I think it is rather ironic that the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific was one of the very eloquent spokespeople for the pro-democracy movement in Canada, calling for democracy and human rights in China. He had a number of confrontations with that government and was one of the key organizers of a human rights delegation in which I had the honour of participating together with two other members of Parliament, including his colleague, the Liberal member for Nepean.

The plea I would make today, reiterating a plea I made earlier, is for the Prime Minister, for the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to recognize that the concerns which drove that plea for human rights in 1991 which

motivated the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific in subsequent years and before then are alive and well today.

With respect to the situation in China it was on June 4 of this year that Premier Li Peng, on the 5th anniversary of the killings in Tiananmen Square, chose to implement harsh new regulations clamping down even further with respect to human rights.

There has been a crackdown on labour dissidents. The situation in Tibet is very serious. We know for example that China has recently banned the display of pictures of the Dalai Lama, continued its nuclear testing, continued its arms sales to repressive regimes and, most seriously, continued its inhumane policy of population transfer. There continues to be brutal repression of Buddhist nuns and monks in Tibet.

With respect to the issue in East Timor, the human rights abuses there are also very serious. I would urge the government to call for an end to government funding for promotion of trade with Indonesia, to support the international arms embargo, to call for the release of Xanana Gusmao and all East Timorese political prisoners, to support self-determination for East Timor as the Prime Minister did in his letter of December 1991.

In closing I hope as well that the government will reiterate our concern to the Chinese government about the importance of democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law for Hong Kong as well, as the transition on July 1, 1997 is coming up in the very near future.

There will be a large banquet in Beijing in the near future. I hope that our government will recognize that in addition to promoting trade we must speak out forcefully for human rights and democracy. We must call for the immediate release of Wei Jingsheng. Certainly we must do everything we can to promote those values of human rights and democracy that are so important and so profound both in Canada and in Asia.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

Richmond B.C.


Raymond Chan LiberalSecretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, the respect for human rights in China remains an important objective of our bilateral and multilateral agenda. Bilaterally we capitalize on every opportunity to remind the Chinese government at high levels of our concerns. We are pursuing the development of a serious dialogue about these concerns through diplomatic channels.

We will continue to pursue human rights issues in multilateral organizations, including a dialogue on these concerns with Chinese representatives. At the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, which took place from January to March of this year, Canada co-sponsored a draft resolution on human rights in China.

The resolution expressed concern over continuing reports of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including torture, severe restrictions on the rights of freedom of expression, religion, assembly, association and to a fair trial. It called on China to take further measures to ensure the full observance of all human rights, including the rights of women.

Also, we have to recognize that there are fundamental elements that need to be strengthened in China for it to develop into an open, modern state that respects human rights. Therefore at a time when China is going through an extensive liberalization period, we support innovative means to bring about change to the Chinese system.

We will accomplish this goal by supporting activities in areas where we believe China is susceptible to influence. We will be undertaking a number of new co-operative projects to assist the People's Republic of China in its efforts to reform its legal and judicial structure, and in its efforts to build up its human resource development sector.

Trade, economic development and human rights are mutually reinforcing. A China open to the world can only be good for its people, both economically and politically, and will further the cause of respect for human rights.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I recently asked the revenue minister in this House two questions concerning the new regulations on the collection of import duties and taxes that will come into effect on January 16, 1995.

In a document signed by the Deputy Minister of Revenue Canada, Customs, Excise and Taxation, after a long preamble trying to justify the measure and make importers feel safer, the department unilaterally decides to increase the bond required of importers to 100 per cent of their monthly instalments, up to a maximum of $10 million. The reason behind this change is the losses sustained by the government because customs brokers or importers were no longer able to pay their instalments.

For now, but for a short time only, the requirement is 35 per cent of the first $200,000 and 17.5 per cent of the next $1.8 million, up to a maximum bond of $2 million.

This bond can take the form of cash, Treasury bills, a letter of endorsement from a bank or a bond issued by the government.

Under the Customs Act, the importer is ultimately responsible for paying the duties and taxes. In Canada, these duties and taxes amount to about $11.5 billion a year, most of which is collected by customs brokers at no cost to the government.

A manufacturer who wants to import a given quantity of materials or products can import them himself. Use of a customs broker is optional, not required.

In the Canadian importers' magazine for October 5, they raise real objections to the increase in security demanded. This increase would force them to freeze assets, most of which are used to secure their working capital.

The conclusion of the industry committee's report on financing small business is that the lack of financing for small business is the fault of everyone except the government. It makes no sense.

Furthermore, I learned today that some very big importers like GM, Chrysler and Honda strongly refuse to provide such security and that they are negotiating with the Department of National Revenue to obtain a review of this policy. They are negotiating with the big ones, but crushing the little guys.

Is an importer or a very large customs broker with remittances of $250 million a month, who secures only $10 million of that, not favoured by this measure compared to a very small broker who must secure 100 per cent of his monthly remittances? Is favoritism not being shown, at the expense of the smaller operators? The government says that it is ready to encourage small business, but when the time comes to keep its word, it backs down.

I would like to have an explanation of this.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the department has experienced a significant number of defaults by customs brokers in the past two years where security was inadequate to cover the defaults. Therefore, to protect the Crown and importers a security increase was deemed essential.

Importers remain fully liable for payment of duties and taxes under the Customs Act regardless of any arrangement with the customs broker to act on their behalf. In the case of defaults by customs brokers, importers who have already delivered payment of their duties and taxes to the customs brokers are required to pay the unsecured portion of the total amount a second time directly to the department.

On the basis of consultations, it was decided that the new security level would be equal to 100 per cent of the average monthly K84 invoice up to a maximum of $10 million.

The $10 million ceiling applies regardless of whether the security is posted by importers or by customs brokers on behalf of its clients.

The ceiling was established because the surety industry advised that there is not sufficient security available in Canada to guarantee the total liability that the brokerage community carries in any given month.

History has shown that most of the difficulties have arisen from the small to medium sized brokers whereas larger brokers have not shown any evidence of being a risk. Therefore, it is essential that the higher risk group be covered to 100 per cent.

I should also mention that the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers has negotiated a master bond with a surety company which will be available to its members. This should greatly facilitate companies being able to acquire the necessary security.

The surety company underwriting the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers' master bond has indicated that, under the new security regime, it will cover the 80 companies which they currently secure.

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I recently asked the Prime Minister a question concerning ethics and the role of his private ethics counsellor. His answer was both evasive and unsatisfactory. His answer and his attitude to the whole integrity and accountability issue contravene what was said in the Liberal red book.

The government seems to have a very selective memory when it concerns the contents of its red book and its election promises. If the government's promises happen to coincide with what it is doing today, then government members quote from it. If they have changed their minds or if the promises are inconvenient, then the government forgets what it said one year ago.

Let me refresh their memories about what they said about integrity and ethics. On page 92 of the red document, it says: "Open government will be the watchword of the Liberal program". Why then are they so secretive about the actions, responsibilities and activities of the ethics counsellor? Page 95 of the red book continues: "A Liberal government will appoint an independent ethics counsellor. The ethics counsellor will be appointed after consultation with the leaders of all parties in the House of Commons and will report directly to Parliament".

The Prime Minister has tried to make a virtue of the fact that the ethics counsellor reports directly to him and not to Parliament. He has said repeatedly that the counsellor's role is to be the private advisor to the Prime Minister. This represents a clear break of a very specific election promise. This should not be the action of a government that is trying to restore integrity and reassure cynical Canadians.

If the ethics counsellor is not made accountable to the House of Commons, then he is nothing more than a lapdog and a government yes man. It is clear that the role of Mr. Wilson is not to ensure any sort of ethical standard for the government. It is

obvious to all Canadians that the position of an ethics counsellor was created to give the impression of ethics to the public. This is old style politics and it is a shameful facade.

Canadians are asking: What about integrity and ethics? The government's answer is to point to the ethics counsellor who it keeps locked away in a box until needed in the hopes that this will fool the public. A more appropriate title for Mr. Wilson would be the government's ethics spin doctor.

Throughout this whole affair concerning the inappropriate actions of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Prime Minister has been evasive and inconstant. Parliament is still unaware of when the ethics counsellor was contacted, by whom, what his advice was and whether or not it was followed.

I challenge the government to do the honourable thing and publicize the correspondence with the ethics counsellor as it concerns the scandal with the Minister of Canadian Heritage. If there has been no formal correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Wilson, then that too is unacceptable.

The Prime Minister seems unclear whether he considers the minister's actions unacceptable. This is understandable since he had problems with ministerial conduct in the past. In 1971 when the Prime Minister was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development he created quite a bit of controversy by contacting a superior court judge about a case being ruled upon.

In closing, this government is no stranger to unethical behaviour and inappropriate actions. In their own red book the Liberals compared their actions to those of the previous Conservative government.

Does this government realize it is setting a very low standard for ethical conduct and is failing to even meet that?

Recognition Of The Patriotes Of Lower Canada And The Reformers Of Upper CanadaAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised that the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminister would use expressions such as scandal and so on to describe the situation that has occurred.

He knows perfectly well that his comments are inappropriate and grossly exaggerated. But of course he is trying to appeal to an audience that the Reform Party traditionally appeals to, claiming the usual virtue that the NDP used to claim in this House but even they have abandoned this pretence.

The hon. member knows perfectly well that what the government has done in this case is entirely in conformity with the red book. When he quoted from the red book he omitted to mention the fact that the references he made and the quotations he cited from the book were taken from a section dealing with the obligation of lobbyists to disclose certain facts to Parliament.

We talked about openness in government in connection with lobbyists because we were concerned that in the case of the previous government there were dealings going on between lobbyists and members of Parliament and members of cabinet that were not open to public scrutiny. We decided that should be opened up and to that end we have introduced Bill C-43 to amend the Lobbyists Registration Act, which bill is currently before a committee as the hon. member knows perfectly well.

Under Bill C-43 the ethics counsellor is available to advise not just the Prime Minister but also to make certain statements to Parliament. He is given independent powers with respect to the lobbying industry. If there are grounds to believe there has been a breach of the lobbyists' code of conduct the ethics counsellor could decide to investigate and the report on the investigation would then be reported to Parliament.

Also under Bill C-43 the ethics counsellor must report to Parliament annually on the administration of the legislation regarding lobbying.

The hon. member knows perfectly well that is all contained in the draft bill. If the member had been responsible in making his comments he would have pointed that out. He knows that is the situation.

In fact the Prime Minister has accepted full responsibility for the actions of the Minister of Canadian Heritage in this case and quite properly so. He described the minister's actions as an honest mistake that was corrected by the minister at the earliest opportunity.

I do not understand why the hon. member will not accept that explanation. To me it is a reasonable one. As the Prime Minister said in the House in question period yesterday, the buck stops here. He is taking responsibility and no ethics counsellor can take that responsibility away from the Prime Minister of Canada who is ultimately responsible to this House.