Mr. Speaker, as always I enjoyed the speeches from the hon. member for Lisgar-Marquette. He raised a number of issues which I would like to comment on and which maybe he would like to respond to. First, I would note his concern about regional representation and rural representation and the fact that both he and the previous speaker from Calgary Southeast have indicated the importance of Senate reform. I think that is very important to recognize.
I have heard a lot of complaints in the last few weeks from members who are being affected negatively by redistribution in various parts of the country. They wish there were some protections for large rural and remote ridings and that they did not simply just grow and grow in order to represent a certain level of population. I understand that concern. This is why our party has been so outspoken and persistent in pursuing the issue of Senate reform. That is of course what the Senate was designed to do. I find it strange that some members who are now in the context of their own riding, not the hon. member for Lisgar-Marquette but others, complaining about lack of regional representation
and are opposed to the kind of meaningful Senate reform that our party supports.
I point out to the member, and I am sure the hon. member for Lisgar-Marquette is aware of this or he would not have made reference to these matters, that section 42(1)(a) of the Constitution Act of 1982 states:
An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1):
That of course is the two-thirds amending formula. That:
(a) the principle of proportionate representation of the provinces in the House of Commons prescribed by the Constitution of Canada;
In other words, some members not of this party but of other parties who are indicating that they are willing to look at the issue of regional representation in the context of reform of the House of Commons are really inadvertently misleading the public. There is no such opportunity to do so unless we enter into constitutional negotiations and get approval by two-thirds of the provinces. That is definitely off the table. I am glad the hon. member brought those matters to our attention.
The hon. member also discussed his concerns about boundary and name changes in Manitoba. My understanding of past practices has been that it is very common for commissions to accept recommendations, particularly on name changes. I am sure he will want to approach the commission on that basis. I am just wondering if that is simply his own viewpoint or whether he has heard this complaint from other constituents, whether there have been other kinds of complaints and what mechanisms are available.
I understand there will be hearings at some point in Portage la Prairie. Perhaps he could tell us a little bit more about what he has heard from his constituents and what they intend to do.
Finally, his comment about the constitution of the Soviet Union I thought was very interesting and something I would like to hear more about. Of course it is true that some of these autocratic or totalitarian states have had highly democratic constitutions but there are no structures of government behind them to protect people's actual rights. They are just pieces of paper. Maybe he could tell us whether he and his constituents feel that their rights in terms of representation would be better protected by the independent commissions that exist today and are operating as we speak that this bill would close or whether they would be better protected by a committee of this House controlled by partisan politicians.