I have the figures. You can ask questions when I finish my speech.
At the Saint-Jean military college, anglophone students are in immersion for five years. Francophones have a chance to practice their English on a regular basis and, unlike the anglophones, are motivated to learn English because later they will have to work in other anglophone provinces or on peacekeeping missions within the international community, where English predominates.
The Saint-Jean military college is the only college that produces francophone and anglophone officers who are truly bilingual and who understand the linguistic and cultural duality which has been on the Prime Minister's lips since the beginning of the 35th Parliament.
This government has just made a decision which, according to all concerned, has no sound economic basis, because an institution of higher learning, a university that must embody the four pillars of officer-training, which are military instruction, university training, second-language training and physical education, should not have to meet narrow financial criteria.
The Minister of National Defence has stated that I had encouraged him to make cuts in military spending, but definitely not in Quebec. The minister said I was applying a double standard. But I want to remind him that, in terms of the money spent on infrastructures, Quebec, with only 13 per cent of those expenditures, was not getting its fair share, whether from a per capita or a budget point of view. In the document entitled Budget Impact , the minister himself clearly illustrates what I said in my previous presentation in this House.
Indeed, the minister tells us that in 1993, Quebec only received $302 per capita, while the Canadian average is $398. For a population of 6.7 million people, this translates into an annual loss of about $600 million, and this for more than 20 years now. This money not invested in Quebec represents more than $10 billion, a sum which surely would have helped create permanent jobs.
When we asked for cuts in the defence budget, we were convinced that this kind government, which wants to keep the bad Bloc Quebecois members from destroying the great country that Canada is, would show us that Quebec had suffered such a prejudice because of this imbalance in the defence budget, and
that this injustice would be corrected by not eliminating what little our province had got in the first place.
Again, when confronted with figures quoted by the hon. member for Saint-Jean, the Minister of National Defence said that indeed Quebec's percentage of the defence budget was smaller. The minister also said that he appreciated the hon. member's arguments to the effect that Quebec is at a disadvantage, but added that it was because of its geographical location in Canada. How can the minister and his government confirm that Quebec is at a disadvantage and ask us to put up with yet more cuts, when we have already suffered a prejudice for more than 20 years? If our location put us at a disadvantage during the Second World War, how can it once again put us at a disadvantage today?
Moreover, it is misleading to say that 22 per cent of military spending is now made in Quebec. Again, the Minister of National Defence pointed out that after the budget under study the percentage of military expenditures in Quebec has in fact increased, because of major cuts in the rest of the country. That share, which was 19 per cent yesterday, is now 22 per cent, this in spite of the closing of the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean and the downsizing of the military base.
Indeed, how can the minister say that when the figure of 22 per cent is only an estimate for 1997? To imply that this is the estimate for the present is to stretch things quite a bit. The same goes for the statements made concerning the Royal Military College in Kingston, and that concerns me.
I also want to say something about the comments made by the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence who said that if the government had listened to the Bloc Quebecois and cut 25 per cent of the defence budget, it would have been necessary to make even greater cuts in Quebec. In fact, if the government had made such a cut without affecting Quebec it would only have brought the expenditures made in our province in line with the per capita average spending for the rest of Canada. It would also have provided an argument for the few federalists still waiting for a justification of the Canadian federalism.
Not only was the Liberal government quite prepared to make cuts in Quebec, but it also showed its arrogance and its unfairness by closing the military college which is the least costly to run. It decided to close the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean in spite of the departmental report which I quoted earlier and which recommends that all three military colleges remain open and that operations be streamlined.
In my opinion, the recommendation made by the departmental committee is certainly a good one, considering that the closure of Royal Roads and the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean will only translate into savings of $34 million. By comparison, the hon. member for Waterloo, who is one of the minister's colleagues, mentioned that if we put restrictions to the relocation of military personnel moving from one base to another, which cost $118 million last year, we would easily save $35 million.
I am not done but unfortunately my time is up.