Mr. Speaker, when we left off before question period, I was saying a few words on regional economic development and the importance of consulting.
I would like to expand upon the significance of the consultations that will be conducted across Canada. I think that the first point we should recognize-and I think this is a common theme for all members of this Parliament-is the urgent need for new job qualifications.
There is a second one: How to adapt to changing world conditions. The third point would be to redesign the role of the State; fourth, to put the economy back on track and, fifth, create a better, sounder economic climate.
The purpose of these consultations is obviously a thorough examination of where this Canadian federation is headed, where the government of Canada is going and how we can contribute to the development of our region, including the riding of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
The first theme, for example, is about acquiring skills. I think it is important to recognize that, in my region and in Quebec in general, many young people do not complete Secondary V, that the government has an important role to play to encourage not only young people, but also education institutions and the private sector to become partners in giving a boost to youth education, as this is the only way out.
As for the second theme, namely adapting to a changing world, it is obvious that the world is very different today from what it was between 1945 and 1960. Today, we recognize the emergence of countries such as Korea and Taiwan.
I was not talking about Japan or China, but we are certainly living in an era of market globalization. This requires not only a lot of thinking but also a great deal of preparation. I think that if we as Canadians, especially those in the regions, want to become part of the new global market, we must equip ourselves.
Above all, the federal government wants Canadians to think up ways to make the most of these global markets.
The third theme is rethinking the role of government. Back in the days before deficits, the government could do anything. In fact, all levels of government-federal, provincial and municipal-never hesitated to take action to help the people, to tell them what to do and how to do it.
In the regions, for example, programs were introduced by the Government of Canada in co-operation with the Quebec government and the local authorities. They did not always succeed. True, a number of them failed. Unfortunately, these old formulas obviously no longer work. That is why we are seeking a new approach, or a new partnership.
When we ask the government to act at the local level, it is mostly to encourage small business to create jobs. It is no longer up to the government to do that. We have to find the financial resources, the financial levels to encourage small businesses to take themselves in hand, to consult the people around them, to set a local policy in line with the provincial policy and a Canada-wide national policy.
I think it is important to underline the Canada-wide aspect because many of Quebec's exchanges depend on Canada as a whole. I think that Quebec is very dependent on a healthy, vibrant Canada with an ever-growing economy.
If we promote the separation of powers or if Quebec leaves the Canadian federation, it is likely that a Canada divided from East to West with its Quebec cornerstone missing will surely experience medium and long-term problems.
It is in the interest of Quebecers, and even in the interest of the opposition, that Quebec remains a vibrant part of the Canadian federation.
The opposition talks about putting the economy back on track and restoring confidence among business people. But let us not forget that this confidence can only exist if Canada remains a united country. The opposition keeps saying that the Canadian federation no longer works; but Canada is a member of the G-7. I know that we are experiencing economic difficulties, but Pierre Bourgault said not too long ago that Quebec's separation would be costly, even if it helps promote sectors others than the economy.
According to Mr. Bourgault, a staunch nationalist and the founder of the RIN, Quebecers will be worse off if they become independent. What do we propose in terms of consultations to reform the federation? After all, the Canadian federation allows administrative agreements. There are hundreds of such agreements with the provinces, including Quebec. This is what federalism is all about and let us not forget that because it is the only solution.
My time is almost up, but I would like to say a few words about the new tax measures, not only between the federation and the provinces, and I think we can redefine existing arrangements and find an adequate process at the regional level. In fact, this was done numerous times at the regional level, including in the Lower St. Lawrence region and in the Gaspe peninsula, thanks to the direct involvement of the federal government.
I should mention the Eastern Quebec Development Plan, as well as the initiatives taken by the Federal Office of Regional Development for Quebec, which is under the Minister of Finance's authority. Thanks to their specific and direct actions, small businesses were often able to get back on their feet, to expand and to gain access to markets not only in Quebec and in Canada, but also overseas, including in Europe and, recently, in Asia.
It goes without saying that the tax measures to be proposed will be based on this comprehensive consultation exercise, which will include everyone, including urban and rural dwellers, members of the opposition, academics and business leaders, and which will ensure economic recovery for Canada. It is not good to hear that Quebec can separate and go it alone. In fact, the contrary is true and Quebecers are aware that our federation has worked well for 125 years. We can get along and we can develop a lasting economy. I also believe that we will enter the next century united, together. Only through the Canadian federation will Quebecers make it.