Mr. Speaker, I suppose that east met west. That is correct, it is the hon. member for Fraser Valley East. But I would gladly defend the hon. member for Fraser Valley West as well, should that be necessary, against any attack by the leadership of the Reform Party.
On the substance of Bill C-69, this bill was necessary. It was tabled in the House by a parliamentary committee. This bill is the only piece of legislation of its kind. It was produced by a parliamentary committee. I am glad to say that I was a member of that committee very ably chaired by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. Of course we had the distinguished leadership and ability of the hon. member for Bellechasse.
Several other members, including Reform members, have also helped to make this bill a rather unique piece of legislation, having been entirely drafted by the parliamentary committee.
So, this bill was debated and passed in the House of Commons. Then it was sent to the other place. The other place, in its wisdom, decided to send the bill back to the House with some amendments.
Despite all this shuffling back and forth, we are on the last day of debate on this bill, or so we hope. The other place refuses to adopt this bill, which is not a government bill, but a bill produced by all parliamentarians, by all of us in this House of Commons, who are the salt of the earth.
I do not want to show a lack of respect for the hon. persons in the other place, but not being subject to electoral rules as frequently as we are-and that is the least we can say since, when they are appointed to the other place, they are there for a good long time-they should not be lecturing us on how to get
elected to this House. This bill is good and I am proud to support it.
As a matter of fact, the member for Bellechasse praised this bill a few moments ago, which certainly means that it must be good. The member for Bellechasse spoke about the five-year redistribution that we will have after this bill is adopted, and it will be adopted. After that, there will be no need for the kind of electoral redistribution we have now.
Some members of this House, such as the member for York North, the member for Mississauga, the member for Ontario and the member for Terrebonne, represent ridings that are often two or three times more populated than other ridings across Canada. This is not normal.
This situation will prevail as long as we have a system where electoral redistribution happens only every ten years following the census.
But now, we have a new formula. We have a good bill, a bill that will allow us to make smaller changes every five years, changes that will ensure that the House continues to apply the principle of proportional representation much more adequately than it does now.
I am not convinced that a member who represents 250,000 or 275,000 constituents can take as good care of them as another member whose riding is smaller, like mine for example, with 100,000 constituents, or yours, Mr. Speaker, with some 60,000 constituents. This is the sort of figures I am talking about.
There comes a time when, unless he has access to considerable resources to help his constituents, a member can no longer do his or her job as an MP alone at the riding level, especially when the riding is very large or heavily populated. This is the case of a number of ridings in the Toronto area and, of course, in the Montreal area, the riding of Terrebonne, which is certainly the best example I could come up with in Quebec and stands to benefit from a bill like this one.
Some members have advocated that it is necessary in this bill to put this business of the 25 per cent representation for the province of Quebec. We know the House has already voted that down, as it had to. This is not a constitutional amendment; this is a bill having to do with electoral redistribution. There are right now a series of thresholds in electoral redistribution and we know what they are. There is what is commonly referred to as the Senate floor: no province can have fewer MPs than it has senators. There are a few other criteria in there as well. At present provinces do not lose seats from what they had prior to the last redistribution, and that is since 1988 or so. We must respect what is in there now. We cannot unilaterally today make those kinds of amendments to give that 25 per cent representation.
We must also remember that the whole Canadian electoral system is based on a specific province, when it comes to allocating seats to the other provinces. As we all know-at least those of us who, in the past, worked on redefining electoral boundaries-, that province is Quebec. We take the province's population and we divide it by its number of seats. The quotient is then applied elsewhere in the country. It is as simple as that. There is of course another factor, namely the fact that a province cannot have fewer MPs than senators. This explains why, for example, Prince Edward Island has four seats in the House.
In conclusion, I want to ask all members to support this bill. It is a good bill. It is the only bill produced by a parliamentary committee. It is unique and it is our bill. It is the bill of MPs for electoral redistribution for those of us who got elected and for future candidates who will be elected to replace MPs who will not run again or who will be defeated in the next election and so on. It is the bill for redistribution and it is a fair one for all Canadians.
Without being disrespectful, those who do not get elected to anything, after having made their representation to us once, should recognize the second time that this is the will of the House of Commons, democratically elected, and that the will of the people is totally respected by a bill like this.
I say to the members across that they did not produce one piece of evidence why this bill is unfair, nor do they have any alternative to this electoral redistribution bill. Their members who worked on the committee know better than the hon. member who just heckled from across the way.