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House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Lévis, I am pleased to take part in this debate. As a man, I felt it was my duty to do so, because anything to do with child support is wrongly seen as being a subject that is primarily of interest to women.

This is based on the fact that, in reality, unfortunately, it is women who, as things now stand, more often find themselves responsible for families after a divorce.

I can understand the Reform Party member for Edmonton Southwest, who is one of the more moderate members of his party in many respects, including social issues. Nonetheless, I am not happy to hear him say that it would be better to tough it out than to get divorced. Toughing it out means, in certain cases, for many women and children, and perhaps for men too, putting up with intolerable suffering.

There is one statistic we cannot ignore. In 1990, in Canada, there were 78,152 divorces, and there are undoubtedly more now. Naturally, these divorces involve men and women, so if we multiply this number by two, we see that they affect 150,000 men and women. Furthermore, if we presume an average of two or more children per family, we are looking at 300,000 children affected by these divorces in Canada, and that is just for that particular year. It is not cumulative. Therefore, there were so many instances of divorce that affected 300,000 people in 1990, and probably 300,000 people and up were affected in 1991, and the numbers continue to rise.

We also know that an overwhelming majority, 98 per cent in 1988, of those receiving child support payments were women. The percentage is lower today, but it is still very high. That is why I say that I, as a man, and the men that I represent, should also be concerned about the situation. We can, however, have different points of view, depending on the party line and depending on the objectives of the various parties concerned.

I am a former member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and a current member of the Standing Committee on Health, together with the hon. member for Mississauga-South. We both know how important the first years of life are and how economic and social conditions may have a subsequent effect on health and also create problems, I was going to say with respect to delinquency, but also for a person's social and individual development.

Ideally, and I am sure we all agree, everyone would have a father and mother who stay with their children until they reach the age of majority or even beyond that and who pay for their education. That is the ideal situation we would all wish for.

However, there is one factor we cannot ignore and I am referring to those 78,152 divorces that occurred in 1990. This does not include people living common law, who separate without first having been married and who have children. That is why when last year I saw the Minister of Justice table his plan, and we even saw a glimmer of hope in the last federal budget, something that had changed following the Thibodeau judgment. Basically, the well-known debate on deduction of support payments was no longer about considering one parent or the other, but about what was best for the children.

Twenty per cent of the children in this country live below the poverty line, and the vast majority are in single parent families.

We can say quite confidently that most of the time, in 80 per cent of the cases, these families are headed by women. That is a fact. I must say I am particularly sensitive to the situation of these mothers. In the final instance, children will suffer if we do not deal with the problem in the best possible way. And they will suffer for a long time.

If the economic situation gets worse, with all the psychological and other stress this entails, and this goes on for a number of years, the impact on the children can be catastrophic. Sometimes I hear members of this House, especially members of the Reform Party, say that the rate of juvenile delinquency is terrible, the crime rate is terrible and what is happening in our society is terrible. People often say they do not feel safe any more. I am willing to believe that, but we must try and understand how this happens.

Certain megastudies, which take into account the results of every possible analysis have discovered that these problems are often due to socio-economic problems that affect children when they are young and are not even aware of what is going on in the world. Stress is not always transmitted in an explicit and verbal way. It may be expressed through family tension, bickering, the tension that may exist between spouses, whether they are living together or not.

When spouses take legal action against each other, that affects the children. I am not saying this is so in all cases because some couples divorce amicably. Some men meet their responsibilities properly.

We are not accusing those who are acting properly. But there is one social fact the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest ought to understand: regrettably, a good proportion of people do not meet their responsibilities toward their children properly, and most of these are fathers. Sometimes they may feel that since they did not obtain custody, or joint custody, they are justified in making their ex-wives suffer without realizing that the ones suffering the most are their children. And that is intolerable.

I do not want to sound too critical. Let me take a different approach, since I feel that it is important for this debate to be held. It is important for we men to shoulder our responsibility, just as women responsible for single-parent families must. We must be aware that single parents need our help, be they women or men.

Recently, I attended a function of a single parent association in my riding. It was celebrating its 15th anniversary. There was a time when no men were seen in such associations, but I could see that now there are. Men are also heads of single parent households, and they find that incredibly difficult, as indeed it is.

I do not want to get into details of the private lives of the people here in this House, but I am sure that some here are single parents. Their duties here demand a lot of their time, and they may not have as much time as they would like to devote to their children, who may well have complaints about this.

I know that similar discussions go on in other professions, where there are also heavy responsibilities, where much is demanded of single parents, not just financially, but the financial aspect is a very important one, and ends up being intolerable. As I have already said, 20 per cent of the children in Canada, a country said to have one of the best standards of living in the world, 20 per cent of Canadian or Quebec children, are living below the poverty line.

Among the leading causes of this poverty is the situation of single-parent families and people not fulfilling their responsibilities properly.

While agreeing with the objective pursued by the minister and finding relatively few faults with his bill, I cannot help but notice that the bill shifts away from the strategy announced last spring. We, in the Bloc Quebecois, were afraid there would be discrepancies in the bill or that some of the provisions might be harmful.

Speaking as a former member of the human resources committee, I also notice through all this, good intentions and all, the excessively paternalistic attitude of the federal government in this area. I am also speaking as a Quebecer. Since last year, we have had in Quebec a scheme providing for all the conditions regarding support payments, including provision for support payments to be automatically be collected from spouses who are in default. It is complicated. It is all new and already there are growing pains. The scheme is still in its infancy.

The strange thing is-I can hear you from here, saying: "Here goes the Bloc, the official opposition, again with their line", but spouses who do not fulfil their obligations are in fact not honouring their marriage contract or commitments. And in wanting to interfere in this area, the federal government is interfering in an area of provincial jurisdiction. Let me elaborate.

Marriage comes under the jurisdiction of the provinces, while divorce is a federal matter. There are also those who are not married. When they separate, it is not a divorce. These people form a different group and they are not in any way subject to this bill, which only deals with the issue of divorce. However, the fact is that, in Canada and in Quebec, more and more people are involved in common-law relationships.

Again, the paradox with the current federal system is that people get married under the laws of the province but divorce under federal laws. This is somewhat odd, but such is the situation right now.

In this area, the federal government displays a committed, pervasive and embarrassing paternalistic attitude, as it does in the education and health sectors. In this area, as in the other two which I just mentioned, the federal government introduces guidelines in a bill, presents the whole package to the provinces and tells them: "Sure, you can get involved in this, but provided you do this, that and the other thing. If you do not accept our guidelines, then we are sorry but the federal system will prevail as regards the issue of divorce, because it comes under federal jurisdiction".

This creates a strange situation. For example, if a married couple with two children divorces, the federal legislation will prevail. However, the same situation involving common-law spouses whose children have the same financial needs will be dealt with under provincial law.

Given all the differences in treatment that can take place, I ask you: Is this a fair and balanced situation that will promote consistent social development? This is one of the flaws of the federal system. We have no choice but to say it again: the federal government, the federal "big brother" feels compelled to get involved, with its not so subtle approach, in issues that come under provincial jurisdiction.

When one province does not agree, it is punished, it is not entitled to the benefits of the federal system, or, when there are no benefits, the federal government carries the day.

That, therefore, is the opposition's opinion of this bill. I hope that debate goes well. It is possible that the Liberal government, which has the majority, will decide not to make any concessions or compromises, but that would not be conducive to harmony. At the outset, I hope that government representatives agree to the compromises that will be proposed by official opposition members, who are trying to make a constructive contribution, because these are situations affecting human beings, individuals on whom the decisions made will have important social repercussions, particularly for children, and therefore for everyone's future.

I know that the member for Mississauga South is a sensitive man. He sits with me on the Standing Committee on Health. As I know the influence he has over his colleagues, I challenge him to try to convince them to think about the health of children, given that we want to see more harmonious relations between men and women who have responsibilities with respect to children, and, although there has been a softening of their position, to convince them to be receptive to the compromises we are proposing.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, we may have time for a 30-second question and a one-minute answer.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have just a brief comment and a question. The comment has to do with common law relationships. The member commented about how prevalent this is in our society.

The member might be interested in studying some research about the incidence of family violence in families and those living common law. I think he will find that the incidence of family violence is more prevalent in common law relationships.

My question has to do with prevention versus dealing with the problems after they happen. The member says Quebec has a good system in that it garnishees or takes away the payments so that orders can be enforced. The member spent all this time talking about how to deal with the problem after the problem exists.

I want to ask the member whether he does not think that a system like the one they have in some of the states in the United States, where couples with problems are required to take a 12-week program as a reality check before contemplating divorce, should occur before divorces are granted in Quebec or Canada.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not very familiar with the American system the hon. member is referring to. Frankly, when I do not know a subject very well, I do not usually talk about it because I am not convincing. And when I am not convinced myself, I am even less convincing.

Having said that, I have not closed my mind to this idea. We will consider it together. The hon. member for Québec sitting in front of me is our critic on the status of women. If this is a good idea, she will surely give us some advice after thoroughly reviewing the issue. So we will have to wait for that.

One last thing. I do not know what it is like elsewhere, but in Quebec, for example, CLSCs, local community health centres, or private organizations provide services to attempt reconciliation before a couple separates; they try to help the spouses patch things up while looking after the children's best interest. There is a long tradition associated with this. Things do not always go smoothly because there are unfortunately cases of extreme violence in which people even manage to kill their former spouses, which is deplorable.

Finally, Reformers often talk about criminals on the streets, dangerous offenders who make people feel unsafe, but 85 per cent of crimes are committed by people who are oftentimes very close, like family members, and who are often former spouses. The hon. member talks about prevention. I pay close attention to this and I will support any measure he may propose when-

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

We will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Ceso VolunteersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute to several people from my riding of Cambridge who have volunteered their professional skills to help developing economies in Russia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Poland and Hungary.

Through CESO International Services, Steve Meissner, Donald MacLeod, Dirk Booy and Al Galusz have at the grassroots level exemplified the time honoured Canadian tradition of international co-operation and responsibility.

CESO volunteer advisers are professionally skilled men and women, usually retired, who share their years of experience with companies and organizations in developing countries.

On behalf of the people of Cambridge, I welcome back these volunteers who have done Canada proud. I urge them to continue playing a role in assisting developing economies of our global village.

International Music DayStatements By Members

October 1st, 1996 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this International Music Day, I would like to draw attention to Nil Parent's initiative and the fulfilment of his dream, which is called "Ronde et Bleue".

To keep a promise he made to his son suffering from an incurable disease, this determined musician from Quebec composed an ode to peace. At 10 minutes past 10 this morning, Quebec time, thousands of men, women and children in America, Europe and Africa, in schools and on the streets, sang together in a single voice.

This event was a rehearsal for the great rendezvous on December 31, 1999, when a global choir will sing the hymn to peace.

This megaproject conveys a message of hope that, on the eve of the next millennium, peace will become a common goal and flourish all over the world.

JusticeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, subpoenas are not issued on a whim and politicians are not above the law. We are all citizens of this country called Canada. The rule of law is fundamental to our democracy. Therefore, it is essential that we as Canada's lawmakers be subject to the laws passed by this Parliament.

A Saskatchewan court is calling upon the deputy leader of the Conservatives in the Senate to testify on corruption charges in the Devine government where he was second in command. He is avoiding court by invoking a little used privilege of MPs and senators that excuses them from answering a subpoena for 40 days before or after a session as well as during a session.

In avoiding the court order, the Tories' deputy leader is breaching Canadians' trust in a place where trust should be raised to the highest level. The Senate remains an anachronism yet it has continued to be supported by this Prime Minister.

The actions of the Tories' deputy leader has tarnished the image of all politicians. There is clearly no need to invoke immunity. It exhibits a serious abuse of privilege.

Resign Senator Berntson.

New Democratic PartyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, like a growing morning light in a political landscape darkened and dreary by years of uncritically accepting corporate Canada's pathetic platitudes about what Canada needs, we see the political pendulum start to come back in 1996.

From the provincial byelection in Halifax-Fairview where the NDP got 65 per cent of the vote, to the federal byelection in Hamilton East where we came second getting more votes than the Tories and Reformers put together, to the re-election of the NDP in B.C., and now the NDP Government of Yukon, we see Canadians rejecting what the right-wing Liberals, Tories and Reformers have been telling them.

There is another way. It is not an easy way, but the way of solving our problems on the basis of community and co-operation rather than competition and concessions to the powerful.

Congratulations to Piers McDonald and the Yukon NDP for giving Canadians hope. The next federal election is just around the corner and more and more Canadians appear to know just who the real opposition is.

International Red Cross And Red Crescent MovementStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to inform the House that St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Canadian Red Cross are playing host to the world this week.

Sixty high-ranking officials of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement from around the world are gathering in St. John's for a three day convention. This is the first time in the group's history that it has met outside Europe. The choice of St. John's for this year's meeting shows the support that the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian government have given to the International Red Cross movement over the years.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the humanitarian services provided by the Canadian Red Cross to the world. Their service and dedication to those less fortunate is well known around the globe.

I am honoured that they have chosen St. John's for their meeting. I want to extend on behalf of the government greetings to the participants.

TemagamiStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the last week hundreds of prospectors have come to the Temagami region in my riding in what may be one of the biggest prospecting rushes ever.

Not only has the opening of almost 6,000 square kilometres of land for exploration created much excitement for prospectors and mining companies, but it has created great hopes in communities in the area that new, high paying year-round jobs will follow in the future.

Of course, all operations must be environmentally viable. Since the Canadian mining industry is a world leader in the development and implementation of environmentally sound practices, I am convinced that all mining development in the Temagami region will meet Canadian standards.

I look forward to working with local groups, aboriginal leaders and the mining industry to ensure that any development in the Temagami region is managed in a responsible way.

I will gladly work together with local groups, aboriginal leaders and the industry-

TemagamiStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry, but the hon. member's time has expired.

Confederation BridgeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, in a ceremony in Borden-Carleton last Friday, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services announced the official name of the bridge which will soon connect Prince Edward Island with the Canadian mainland.

The fixed link will now be known as Confederation Bridge. This name recognizes the important role P.E.I. has played in Canada's rich history which has lead to Canadians calling the province the cradle of Confederation.

For all Canadians the name celebrates our rich past and our promising future, a future based on the kind of ingenuity and hard work that is making the construction of Confederation Bridge a reality.

Canadians from throughout the country participated in naming the bridge. The number of submissions as well as the quality and creativity of the suggestions demonstrate the pride that we Canadians feel not only for this incredible engineering feat but for our great country as well.

I would like to congratulate the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, the advisory committee and all Canadians who participated in the bridge naming process. Thanks to them.

The Olympic Games In AtlantaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with respect that the members of the Bloc Quebecois salute today the Quebec and Canadian athletes who participated in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Atlanta.

We join with all those who spoke before us in saluting your courage and determination. Whether you brought a medal home or not, you are winners. You have made your dreams come true and you are an inspiration to us all.

Some Olympic feats will be forever remembered. For instance, we salute with pride Chantal Petitclerc, who won two gold and three silver medals. Through her efforts and perseverance, she has become an example to all young people, like Donovan Bailey, Annie Pelletier and all the others.

We offer each and everyone of you our deepest thanks for your brilliant performance.

Firearms RegistrationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the taxpayers of Canada I would like to thank the governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Yukon for their constitutional challenge of the Liberal government's flawed national firearms registration system.

Last week the provincial justice ministers argued publicly that the registration of rifles and shotguns will not be effective in reducing crime; that gun registration does nothing to reduce crimes involving firearms or smuggling; that gun registration is an inappropriate use of scarce resources right across the country. They said that the federal government has repeatedly failed to produce evidence of a correlation between a firearms registry and reduction in crime. They said it is time to target criminals who use weapons to commit crimes, not penalize law-abiding citizens under the guise of gun registration.

If this court challenge is successful, then the hundreds of millions saved will be able to be redirected to fighting real crime and real criminals by putting more police officers in our communities rather than keeping them back in the office processing useless bits of paper.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, under this Liberal government our economy has dramatically improved over the past three years.

Who would have believed in the early 1990s when interest rates were over 10 per cent that today they would be reduced to less than 6 per cent? Mortgage rates have declined 4 per cent putting $3,000 in the pockets of the average Canadian family. Interest rates have helped small businesses and the housing market show great improvements and move forward.

Our monetary policy allowed the dollar to drop from 90 cents to 73 cents. This shift, along with Team Canada trade missions, has

increased our foreign trade by 38 per cent, creating some 680,000 jobs in this country. Unemployment has dropped from 11.2 per cent to 9.4 nationally and under 9 per cent in my area of southwestern Ontario.

The government has and will continue to provide positive leadership.

Breast CancerStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is symbolized by the pink ribbons worn by some of my colleagues here today.

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among Canadian women. Approximately 18,600 new breast cancer cases will be diagnosed this year and 5,300 women will die.

In 1992 Health Canada implemented a major initiative on breast cancer totalling $25 million over five years. Our partners in this initiative include the Medical Research Council, the Canadian Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the provinces and territories.

There are other activities under way. Health Canada supports provincial breast cancer screening activities, the development of care and treatment guidelines, research, five information exchange projects, and strategies for the continuing education of health care professionals.

I applaud the efforts of those who are fighting this disease. October will provide us all with an opportunity to support breast cancer initiatives.

The Parti QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the language issue continues to rattle the Parti Quebecois.

Yesterday, minister Serge Ménard plunged into the fray, stating: "I would not want this country we will be building to be a country that does not treat its minorities as we wished we had been treated in Canada".

The minister is in no position to teach anyone anything about how francophones should be treated in Canada. In this respect, I remind him that, in Canada, we have two official languages and, although they are few in numbers, francophones have successfully made their presence felt and done well at every level of Canada's social, cultural and political life.

By the way, Mr. Ménard, when will an anglophone from the West Island become premier of Quebec for instance?

The Italian CommunityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 9, 1996, fourteen leaders of Quebec's Italian community representing various political stripes, including the director of Montreal's Italian women's centre, three past presidents of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, the president of the Italian-Canadian business people and professionals, and even Liberal senator Pietro Rizzuto, have signed a manifesto asking, in regard to Quebec's future, that a clear and responsible political debate take place, in keeping with democracy.

These people support the position held by Quebec and they feel that all must accept the majority decision reached democratically. We must be grateful to these leaders for stating a clear position in saying that "Quebec's Italian community will remain an integral part of Quebec, regardless of the outcome of the constitutional debate".

I ask Liberal members from Quebec to follow the example set by Quebec's Italian community and to publicly dissociate themselves from their government's legal action.

The Italian CommunityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I would ask you not to use the names of senators when you make statements in the House.

Olympic AthletesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, to think that when in opposition the Liberals were against free trade.

Today we are honouring Olympic athletes, some of whom are with us today on Parliament Hill. The value of their participation and contribution to Canada should not be underestimated or unrecognized.

In my opinion, athletics are as important in one's life as is academics. In some way or another sports have been or will become a part of every Canadian's life. Athletic competition prepares the individual for life and the real world.

An Olympic athlete reaches the epitome of success by not only striving to be the best in a particular sport, but also in wanting to represent his or her country. Hours of practice go rewarded by making the Olympic team and the height of ecstasy is reached if the athlete manages to win a medal for themselves and their country.

To all who aspire to be an Olympic athlete, to all who dream, past, present and future, and to all those who represent their country, congratulations.

The Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's history and political tradition have provided few opportunities for a consensus as strong as the one recently reached regarding the issues of employment and economic recovery.

All of Quebec's stakeholders in the socio-economic and political fields share these two objectives. All, except the Bloc Quebecois.

Believe it or not, the party's general council just adopted a plan of action which seeks two objectives: "To allow the Bouchard government to spend most of its energy on the economy", while the Bloc will "tend the flame of sovereignty".

The Bloc Quebecois has just demonstrated that it does not give a hoot about the economic problems of Quebecers. The only priorities of its members are to get re-elected and to achieve separation.

FirearmsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians understand and appreciate that law, order and respect for the individual are important components in a free and democratic society. I believe Canadians would react very strongly to anyone or anything that would threaten our quality of life which is based on, among other things, our respect for law and order.

It is true that not all laws are popular with all Canadians. However, by respecting these laws we guarantee order in our society. Anyone who intentionally encourages defiance or disrespect for these laws would be acting irresponsibly and should be denounced.

Last month the Reform member for Yorkton-Melville visited my riding of Souris-Moose Mountain in order to advise people not to respect Bill C-68. I find this action irresponsible and now wonder if the leader of the Reform Party agrees with the member that it is not necessary to respect the law. If not, he should say so.

Reference To The Supreme CourtOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has just realized that he is unable to

keep the referendum promises he made to Quebecers, and is therefore hoping to gain time by seeking the Supreme Court's opinion on the question of Quebec's sovereignty.

Will the Prime Minister admit that a reference to the Supreme Court will take 12 to 18 months, until after the next federal election, and that this will gain him enough time to be able to appear before voters without having kept his promises, using the excuse that he is waiting on this opinion?

Reference To The Supreme CourtOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I must say that, in December, the House of Commons voted in favour of a distinct society, and I hope that the National Assembly will follow suit as rapidly as possible.

Here, the government has assumed its responsibilities and voted in favour of a distinct society. We also promised that we were not going to amend the Constitution without the consent of Quebec. Parliament assumed its responsibilities in the month of December, and we passed a bill giving a regional veto in Canada, which means Quebec has a veto. But the Constitution cannot be amended without the approval of the government of Quebec.

So, if the Leader of the Opposition wants changes, let him tell head office to pass a resolution on distinct society, and accept the veto which they are being offered and which the government of Quebec is turning down.