First of all, I am very glad to see that the member is starting to reflect upon the possibility of a sovereign Quebec, of what a sovereign Quebec could achieve and could be. We should probably be thankful to his constituents who are now more than ever telling him that they think it is a desirable model and probably a forward-looking option. So now, the member is curious about the policies of the Bloc Quebecois and is showing some interest.
I am really glad and I congratulate his constituents for showing him the errors of his way. The member raised four points in his question, which I want to go over, one by one. He said that the public debt is a world-wide phenomenon. It is so easy to use clichés! Since the member thinks that this is a world-wide phenomenon, let me repeat what I said at the beginning of my speech, there are two periods to consider.
I heard one of my colleagues say that the Liberals are responsible for Canada's indebtedness. That is probably more exact. Between 1970 and 1985, we started with a surplus to end up with a very significant deficit.
At the international level, between 1985 and 1993, a period dominated by the Conservatives which the Liberals would qualify as a very difficult time, the debt level of member States of the OECD increased by 22 per cent. Meanwhile, the debt in Canada rose by 77 per cent, roughly 3.5 times more than in OECD countries. Maybe indebtedness is a world wide phenomenon, but the phenomenon in Canada is a lot bigger than anywhere else, probably due to structural problems.
He takes an interest in what the monetary policy of a sovereign Quebec would be. I am happy to see that he thinks about it and that a sovereign State of Quebec might be allowed to sit on the board of the Bank of Canada to discuss its point of view. It would be interesting to finally be able to discuss issues as an equal partner. Anyway, all I said about the monetary policy is that his party-I do not know if he was a member of Parliament at the time or if he followed the business of the House-his Minister of Finance and all Liberals criticized John Crow and the monetary policy of the Bank of Canada. But now that they are themselves in charge, they tell us the current restrictive and harsh monetary policy must be maintained.
All I noted is a blatant contradiction. All I said about the monetary policy is that whoever is asked to apply it should be forced to solve the problem of short-term interest rates. He said that interest rates are low in Canada, while, on the contrary, interest rates are high in Canada. The difference with the United States is larger. That is what has to be looked at, especially concerning short-term rates. People should not be misled on such serious concepts.
He talked about international finance and the fact they worry about a sovereign State of Quebec that would be "crippled with debts", in the words of the hon. member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine. If Quebec can be said to be crippled with debts, how would he describe Canada's current debt situation? Canada is, with Italy, one of the countries most heavily in debt. Actually, Italy's foreign debt is much less serious than Canada's or even Quebec's.
What international financiers will look at are the results. That is what they will look at. His colleagues and himself-well maybe not himself because he will continue to live with us in Quebec, especially since we sense a very strong change in attitude on his part. As I was saying, his colleagues will have to take their responsibilities and consider an economic partnership because it is not true that Ontario will refuse to trade with Quebec. That province has a $3 billion trade surplus with Quebec. I cannot imagine Toronto business people-who are supposed to be very rational-saying that even though they make money, they no longer wish to do business with Quebec.
The Liberals will have to explain to their constituents that it could be a very interesting free trade zone. It is a forward-looking and constructive option. Our constituents expect us to have a sense of responsibility, to stop playing politics like we would like to do sometimes.
The financial community will indeed look very carefully at what is going on in Quebec and in Canada compared to international markets.
My main concern right now is that Canada is probably ill-prepared to face what may happen over the next year. Perhaps it will be Canada's credit rating that will suffer the most, which is not desirable. As Quebecers, we do not wish to see Canada find itself in a difficult situation because it will be our neighbour and we want it to be economically healthy. The member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine certainly wants the same thing we do.
We are told that 80 per cent of the present deficit is due to structural problems. I will talk about structural problems and about reports on competitiveness that were prepared by people who are not necessarily members of the Bloc Quebecois, but are world renowned specialists. They tell us that we have weaknesses in adjusting rapidly to the modern context. Problems in manpower training were also pinpointed. All Quebecers, federalists and sovereignists alike, think Quebec should have jurisdiction over manpower training, but no. Simple and basic demands like that are just ignored.
That is why more and more Quebecers, including those in the riding of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, have undertaken a positive thought process, and, within a year, will make a decision to improve their economic situation, both for them and for future generations, in order to build a thriving Quebec, next to countries who hopefully will also prosper, Canada and the United States.