House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


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3:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec


Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the floor to address the issue of the future of Montreal, an issue that is so very close to my heart.

Today's opposition motion will allow us to give the public the facts, which have been totally misrepresented. I am extremely pleased to rise on this issue, since, as you know, I got into politics earlier this year, in January 1996, because, among other reasons, I was dismayed by the situation Montreal was in. I thought that the only way to boost Montreal's economy was to ensure that Canada is a vibrant country, with a modern and flexible federalism that would allow Montreal to work well. That is the underlying reason of my commitment, and that is why I rise in the House today as the member of Parliament for Papineau-Saint-Michel, representing eastern Montreal, the Montreal that is having a rough time, the Montreal that concerns us so much.

Of course, the Prime Minister had absolutely no difficulty recognizing earlier this week that Montreal is the economic mainspring of Quebec. Montreal has always been, is, and will always remain the economic and cultural mainspring of Quebec

society. Besides, members opposite are among those who have been insisting for years on considering Montreal merely a region like any other, always reminding Montreal that it is only one region among others, whereas we have always recognized its role as an economic mainspring. So, the first words of the motion reflect the bad faith of opposition members who would have us believe they themselves do not recognize Montreal as the economic mainspring of Quebec.

Moreover, in the speech he made last Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Canada went so far as to say that Montreal is not only the economic mainspring of Quebec, but one of the economic engines of Canada. When the Montreal economy is in dire straits, as it is right now, the Canadian economy as a whole is in trouble.

Millions of Canadian citizens feel attached to Montreal. Millions of Canadian citizens feel some kind of attachment for Montreal, which I appreciate and find very encouraging, because when we talk about Montreal in cabinet or in caucus, I can always tell that the government members have a lot of sympathy for Montreal. Canadians love the city of Montreal. They recognize that Montreal is crucial both to the Quebec society and to the future of Canada. I think it is extremely important to recognize this.

Here is what struck me these last few days. I am quite new to politics and I may be rather naive but I am stunned to see that, although the Prime Minister of Canada made an important speech in front of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, last Tuesday, holding out his hand to the Quebec government, the private sector, the community sector, the co-operative sectors, the municipal governments in Montreal and the vicinity in a speech which was meant to be constructive and unifying, his speech was met yesterday and today in question period with anger and attempts to revive old illusions that are completely out of date in a modern Quebec. And I say to the members opposite: this is 1996, please bring yourselves up to date and forget last century's divisions, and decisions that were, in some cases, made at the turn of the century and which they are trying to update with an anti-Quebec twist. This is pure nonsense.

What I can say is that we, in the Government of Canada, are totally pro-Montreal. The Prime Minister, the head of our government, made a speech the Quebec government did not ridicule fortunately. The Governement of Quebec welcomed the Prime Minister's speech because we want to transform Montreal into a job site with a strong job potential for the years to come.

What did we have since then? Not a word on the openness shown by the Prime Minister, not a word on the pro-Montreal and pro-Quebec constructive approach he took by inviting all stakeholders of the private sector and community groups. I was shocked by this absolutely mean attitude. What I am afraid of is that they are not interested in Montreal's well-being, but, on the contrary, in a return to the old divisions.

In my office, this morning, I was listening with only half an ear to the hon. member for Rosemont, who was reminding us of the old rivalries when Montreal was an anglophone city, when the anglophones exploited the poor French Canadians who suffered so much. They are constantly trying to bring us back to the past, to situations which, for the most part, are no longer true in modern Quebec.

The only way for Montreal to regain its place in the sun, to become a prominent economic pole again is to stop reviving the old hatreds and divisions. Really, the only vision that comes from the opposition, from the Bloc which calls itself Quebecois-but which, I have more and more the impression, should be called anti-Quebecois-is a vision of division. A vision of division, of constant division between people.

They try to divide us when we know that we can accomplish so much more by staying together. They disappoint me because this is not what Montreal needs right now. What Montreal needs is that we all work together: the Government of Canada, the government of Quebec, the private sector, the labour unions and the community sector. This is what we want and the hon. members opposite have nothing to offer except division, they did nothing to make any true commitment or to create a collective commitment.

Fortunately, they do not reflect the reaction of Quebec's premier to the great speech made by the Prime Minister of Canada, who made all Canadians aware of the needs of Montreal.

Do Quebecers get their fair share in Canada? For the past 130 years, Quebecers have chosen Canada every time they were asked, even when all kinds of gimmicks were used to make them say what they did not mean. Why is that? Because, in the end, Quebecers know very well that they get their fair share in Canada. We must see Canada as a land of freedom, individual growth, respect and tolerance. This is a lot more interesting than the divisions and racial hatred that some people would like to impose on us by constantly referring to the old myths of the past when Montreal was an English-speaking city.

I cannot believe that I am still hearing today, in 1996, the things I heard this morning. I sincerely hope people will realize that Quebec's society includes all the people, whatever their language or their ethnic origin. This is the only Montreal that can reclaim its place under the sun. This is the Montreal we need, the Montreal that must shine.

The Government of Canada, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, has taken a structuring approach where various federal

departments have their own line of action. These lines of action are very interesting and reflect our government's agenda.

We want to promote the development of the science and technology sector, which is absolutely essential in the new knowledge-based economy towards which we are moving. We are doing all we can in the area of international development. Most jobs that are created today are related to international trade. Our country is open to international trade and that is extremely important.

Our third line of action within our structuring approach is small business development.

The development of the cultural and tourism industries will also be extremely important, as well as local economic and social development, which is my responsibility as Canada's Minister of Human Resources Development.

A few moments ago, the member for Mercier was trying to tell me again that the poor Quebecers did not get their fair share in the new employment insurance program, that our reform was not fair to Quebecers, when in fact local economic and social development is our main concern. The main purpose of our employment insurance reform is precisely to help the most vulnerable people in our society re-enter the workforce by investing much more money than we did before under the unemployment insurance program to give them access to the training that will allow them to re-enter the workforce.

Do Quebecers not get their fair share? If you look at the figures, in 1995, Quebecers received 45 per cent of employment insurance transfers, or $4.7 billion, which is $1.2 billion more than the $3.5 billion they contributed.

And in how many other areas is this true? We do not even want to get into this kind of highly divisive propaganda at a time when the Prime Minister is extending his hand to try to rebuild Montreal, and all we are hearing is insults, to the point where it was insinuated that the Prime Minister was shedding crocodile tears because he said he was sorry about the state of Montreal's economy. Where are these people coming from?

This reminds me of August or September when Quebec's finance minister, Mr. Landry, thought we were not taking statistics seriously. He even mentioned me specifically, the minister standing before you, who has spent his life working for the development of Montreal's economy, of its business community, helping it to take its first steps in international markets, as an international management consultant.

This is nothing more than old style political fighting. Its approach is to attack people's motivation, trying to play on our prejudices, and we are not having any of it.

We think that this narrow partisan discourse, which is unable to rise to the challenge of actually building a society, will get what it deserves from Quebecers in due course.

When I hear the name Bloc Quebecois, I can assure you of one thing, and all Canadians must know this, and that is that Quebecers are far above this divisive mentality, that they are people with a different ideal, a much more elevated community and economic ideal.

I think it important to reassure the Canadian people at this time that the Bloc Quebecois represents a certain part of the population and that we will see a sharp decline in its numbers over the coming years. In any event, Quebec's share of federal research and development spending, which is often mentioned, and I have no choice but to speak about it, because of all the figures that have been given, has gone from 14 per cent in 1979 to 24 per cent in 1994-95.

In 1994-95, Quebec received close to 23 per cent of the funds available for research and development from the Department of National Defence. In 1992-93, Quebec businesses received 33 per cent of grants and 33 per cent of federal research and development contracts. In 1992-93, Quebec universities received 26 per cent of federal research and development grants to Canadian universities.

Early this week, the Prime Minister announced an $87 million investment in Bombardier as part of a technology partnership. What did I hear this morning? I heard people saying: "We do not need grants, what we want is action and policies".

They want words, political decisions. They have asked us for policies and told us they do not want grants.

We give them the focus of our developmental policy, we show them Team Canada proudly carrying the products of Quebecers and other Canadians into the international markets. We show them a Prime Minister of Canada, who has taken those products all over the world, which they have always opposed because they do not want international development, they do not want to be part of Team Canada, despite the great business success these undertakings have enjoyed so far.

Just since the time I became a member of this House, a mere seven months ago, I have seen how many Montreal businesses have received the funding they over there claim they want nothing of. Since this morning I have heard nothing but "We do not want grants, we want policies".

I can tell you, however, that what Quebecers want is more than words, more than political slogans. What they want is economic action. They want partnerships based on returnable contributions, for that is where business is at these days. Such was the case early this week with Bombardier, with $87 million in repayable funds,

because we are sharing the technological risk involved, but we have confidence.

How much has the Canadian government invested in Bombardier, which is in the process of moving up from the sixth-ranking aerospace company in the world to the fourth? We are, of course, delighted with this loan, and I am looking at the list of companies, ones like Bell Helicopter, Delisle Foods, Galderma, businesses in which we have invested jointly with the Government of Quebec. It cannot be such a bad thing as that, if Quebec was also involved. Why tell us they want no subsidies, when extremely important investments are exactly what is bringing about the restructuring of Montreal?

I can tell you that what we need at this time is unity and union. We need to unite all of our strengths in order to find the strength Montreal needs. I am speaking of the east, I am speaking of the pro-east group, in which we invested as a government, in the local community. Those people are doing an absolutely remarkable job. We, the Government of Canada, are there one hundred per cent, attuned to the needs of the people of the Montreal region.

But the Government of Canada is proposing tangible actions, useful actions in order to make Montreal become a great city in Quebec and in Canada. We want to help Montreal to be a great North American metropolis.

We will continue to act in the most structured possible way, with employment as a priority. Employment remains our governments's priority. We have put some order in our fiscal house and we are extremely proud of this achievement. We have transformed employment insurance into a very modern system, which takes into account the reality of the new economy and covers 500,000 more Canadians, many of whom are women from the eastern part of Montreal, who had part time jobs.

This government intends to continue to improve economic growth, employment and the new economy and to work for the young people. I am proud to see that there are some healthy economic sectors in Montreal. A part of Montreal may be in a tough situation but there is also another part of it which is economically well. I know the people on the other side rarely talk about that successful Montreal because it rarely is on their political side.

Indeed, the successful Montreal is not on their side because it is made of people who have confidence in themselves. They are not people who are mean and suspicious, who are afraid of their neighbours and who refuse to share their sovereignty with them. The successful Montreal is the Montreal of aeronautics, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry, telecommunications, information technologies and multimedia. It is this Montreal the Canadian government stood by and has helped in priority for many years. Montreal, the Montreal that is doing so well, politically supports our approach.

That is why they do not want to talk about the Montreal that is thriving, because it happens to reject this option of suspicion and fear that the neighbours may have done something. That is not our approach. We are faced with the tremendous challenge of helping the other Montreal which is having trouble adjusting to the new economy.

We are there. We now have an investment climate with the lowest interest rates we have known in 38 years. Now that is an extraordinary achievement. Our opposition friends should show the same respect we showed the Government of Quebec and the mayor of Montreal, Mayor Bourque, who was very pleased with the Prime Minister's speech.

If, after the offer made at the beginning of this week, they had the decency to say well, we will have to do better than we have so far because there is still a part of Montreal that is in trouble, if they did, we would be able to do something, because we would all be working together.

There will be a summit meeting in Quebec on the weekend, an important one. We will be watching it very closely. I also want to wish all participants in this summit the best of luck, so that by the end of the month, when the summit takes place, we will have some tangible results. We are going to look at these results, and I can tell you right now the Government of Canada will be there. It intends to meet its commitments, and we will be glad to continue to help the people of Montreal.

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3:55 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, to say that Montreal is not in such bad shape, I agree. It has its problems, but it is not in such bad shape. But to say that Montreal is in a good shape, referring to the action of the federal government these last twenty years, I think that the speech the Prime Minister made in Montreal this week does not reflect the reality. I will not go so far to say that such a speech is pure hypocrisy.

If Montreal is in a somewhat better shape now, it is certainly not thanks to the federal government. Let us look, for instance, at what the present Prime Minister did when he was Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. He cut part of Montreal's oil supplies. What did the Prime Minister do? What did the federal government do in respect to inflation and the extraordinary interest rates of 20 per cent in 1981-1982 for example? I think such a situation rapidly ruins a city.

What did the federal government do recently when it shut down the Atomic Energy Commission of Canada in Montreal? What did the federal government do when it shut down the Tokamak research centre in Varennes? What is the government doing? The federal

government is doing everything possible to harm the economic development of Montreal, and we have lots of evidence.

Therefore, when the Minister comes and tells us that the Prime Minister made an extraordinary speech-yes, the Prime Minister said extraordinary things such as "We are targeting our investments so that we can help Montreal become a leader in the emerging technologies of tomorrow", I say: What hypocrisy! What a hypocritical speech!

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3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I ask you not to use the words "hypocrisy" and "hypocrite", because it could trigger unwanted reactions, here, in the House.

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3:55 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not say that the minister was a hypocrite. I said that his speech was hypocritical. That is different.

I wanted to say that we, Montrealers, know the minister's rhetoric has very little impact. He spoke about the federal government's contribution in research and development contracts, but in all, they amount to 18.5 per cent. He mentioned National Defence. He mentioned areas where the investment was higher than the Quebec average, but still, the average is 18.5 per cent. This is figure provided by Statistics Canada, and it means at least a $2 billion shortfall in research and development. He says his department also gives $1.2 billion to the unemployed. Do the Quebecers, the Montrealers, want to be supported on welfare and unemployment premiums? We want to earn a decent living, as any other living body in North America.

That being said, I think the present minister should withdraw his statement and tell the truth, for once.

He must tell the truth, because 18.5 per cent while we represent 24 per cent of the population means we got $2 billion less than what we should have had for research and development. These figures are from Statistics Canada.

Ontario receives 53 per cent of the federal research and development envelope while Quebec has 18.5 per cent-and the minister is perfectly aware of it.

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4 p.m.


Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

It is 24 per cent.

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4 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Why does he say such things in the House? Why not try to say the truth to Quebecers and Montrealers? Why not the truth? I do no know. I think he is taking up the same speech his leader delivered in Montreal this week. He probably prepared half of it himself. It is more or less the same speech that was given by the Prime Minister in Montreal, this week, and parts of it are simply not true.

That is why we are here as representatives of Quebec in Ottawa, and we want Quebecers to know the truth about what the federal government does to help Montreal. The worst thing is that this government is the one that most hindered Montreal's development in the past, and it is still doing so today.

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4 p.m.


Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Longueuil is stuck on inflation rates of 14 or 15 per cent. Those were times I hardly knew. In those days, I was probably not even in the labour force, I have been working for only 25 years.

It is incredible how the problems of Montreal are being blamed on the inflation in the early eighties, at a time when we all know that governments had a different philosophy on the issue. The same was true of the Quebec government to which you were very close then, in 1980-81.

We should focus our debate on the Montreal of today, not the Montreal the member for Rosemont talked about, when it was mostly English speaking and seemed to be mean to us, not the Montreal of the late seventies when the inflation was sky high. I will point out that the inflation was the same in Toronto and the rest of Canada. It would appear that Montreal was affected in a different way. So here are a few things that are true. It was certainly not because of an anti-Quebec approach that inflation rates were so high, as a matter of fact, they were too high for Canadians as a whole.

These people should be reminded that for the past three years the inflation rate has been below 2 per cent; right now it is around 1.3 or 1.4 per cent. It is extraordinary to have been able to wrestle the inflation to the ground as we have done under the current Liberal government headed by the current Prime Minister, whom I cannot call by name in this House, although I nearly did, the member for Shawinigan.

Also, our interest rates are the lowest they have been in 38 years. You want to talk about the past? You are right, Mr. Speaker. I must address my remarks to the Chair. I want to point out that interest rates are the lowest they have been in 38 years. So those who cling to the past should also mention that.

I am more interested in the future, in the society we are building now. They speak about research and development spending. Quebec's part in federal spending for research and development has reached more than 25 per cent this year. We have made considerable progress.

But the interesting part are the tangible results of research and development. This is the area where we have progressed and where we are improving the situation. In the aerospace sector alone, the government will invest $2.3 billion over a ten-year period in Montreal. Those are structuring investments, considerably more important than what we have seen until now.

Then there are aeronautics, biotechnologies and the pharmaceutical industry. People keep asking: "When will you change the legislation?" Right now the legislation discriminates in favour of

the pharmaceutical industry in the greater Montreal. You are either in the past, or in an hypothetical future. We must remind these people that they should put an end to their qualms and their fears. We are trying to build a society and that can only be done on the basis of trust and confidence.

There were two major books written on economic development last year. I should send a copy to members of the opposition; they would be happy to see that Mr. Fukuyama, a very interesting Japanese-American sociologist, wrote a book in which he says that the societies which will perform the best in a global economy will be those where confidence prevails.

The title of his book is Trust . We must have confidence, we must stop being wary of what we see on the other side. Alain Peyrefitte said the same thing. He studied 400 years of economic development to see which societies performed. It was always the societies where there was confidence, the societies which-instead of turning against their Prime Minister, who is from Quebec, against a Prime Minister born in Quebec, the hon. member for Shawinigan who, faced with an urgent situation in Montreal, extended a hand to the Premier of Quebec-the societies which were united. For three days now he has been under attack. Everything he has done is being questioned.

You were right a while ago when you intervened to stop the use of the adjective, the use of the word hypocrite. Insult is the weapon of the weak, the weapon of those who have nothing to say. I will end on that. The situation is very serious in Montreal and we must unite, we must stop fighting each other and work together: the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, the municipal government, the private sector and the community. This is what we want and this is what we will do.

I would like to ask the opposition to stop slowing us down. Indeed, what they are trying to do, faced with the initiative taken by the Prime Minister of Canada at the beginning of the week, faced with this very constructive and positive speech, is slow down government action because it scares them.

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4:05 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the Bloc Quebecois motion asking the House to recognize Montreal as the economic mainspring of Quebec society. This motion also asks the House to condemn the federal government's lack of concrete initiatives in really supporting the Montreal area economy, particularly in the transportation sector.

During the last election campaign, the Liberals had promised in their red book to give back to Montreal a strong voice within the Canadian government, to favour community groups, to support small and medium business, which constitutes the essence of Montreal's economic fabric, to revitalize housing through a renovation program, and to maximize, in the greater Montreal area, the spinoffs of the research and development program.

Beyond these fine promises, the federal government is doing nothing to help with the economic recovery of Montreal. In the transportation sector, many issues demonstrate the federal government's bad faith. In the last 15 years, 15,000 jobs have been lost in the railway industry in Montreal, which is more than half of the work force in this sector.

The federal government did everything it could to favour rail transportation in the west, at the expense of Quebec, and particularly Montreal, which used to be the main railway centre in the country. Ottawa massively invested in infrastructure in western Canada, while supporting grain transportation to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, it let the Quebec network deteriorate and thus become obsolete.

In the air transportation sector, Ottawa's decisions also had devastating effects on employment in Montreal. In July, the federal government announced it was withdrawing from Air Canada its Czech Republic destination, to the benefit of Canadian International. This decision is further evidence of favouritism toward this company.

In this regard, I must add that, for many years, Ottawa has been postponing the entry of Air Canada in the Asian market and is trying to restrain its access. It then becomes realistic to think that, if the government chooses to put forward policies that put Air Canada at a disadvantage, it is in fact because it wants to penalize it for maintaining its head office in Montreal instead of Toronto.

It is important to mention that Air Canada is currently one of the largest employers in Quebec, with some 7,000 employees. However, we have to wonder why an Air Canada centre is already being built in Toronto and what the consequences will be for Montreal.

The handling of the Dorval and Mirabel airports issue is another example of the kind of mismanagement experienced in air transportation in Quebec over the past two decades. Having two airports has greatly hindered Montreal's competitiveness vis-à-vis the northeastern states. In addition, the decision the federal government made in 1986 to allow air carriers departing from Europe to transit through other Canadian airports sounded the end of Montreal as a major hub. As a result, three times more passengers are now going through Pearson Airport in Toronto than through Dorval and Mirabel together.

I would now like to address briefly the difficult situation in my riding of Bourassa, which includes the 86,000 residents of Montréal-Nord. Starting in January 1997, the riding will also include approximately 10,000 residents of Rivière-des-Prairies.

The population of Montréal-Nord is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, with the majority, or 38 per cent, coming from Italy or Haiti. The Latin American, Middle-Eastern and Southeast-Asian components are also growing.

The unemployment rate in the adult population of Montréal-Nord is higher than the average rate for the island of Montreal, at 16 per cent versus 12 per cent. In the 15-24 age group, the rate is higher there than elsewhere, at 20.3 per cent versus 16 per cent. Of the total population of Montréal-Nord, 18.8 per cent rely on income security benefits, as compared to 10.7 per cent in Quebec. Those relying on welfare are mainly people living alone, single mothers, children, immigrants and young people.

Many of my constituents are living in poverty. They often come to my office to ask me to do something. As hard as I try, I sometimes feel torn and helpless, unable to meet their urgent needs for jobs, housing, and even food.

The Papineau employment center is slated for closure at the beginning of 1997. The minister who was praising earlier all the great things achieved by Montreal is responsible for this center. At the same time, this government is cutting back on grants to those organizations responsible for developing job readiness programs. The federal government has this great infrastructure program, but Henri-Bourassa Boulevard has yet to be completed.

So I wish to express my indignation at the extremely unfair treatment of the Montreal area, especially Montréal-Nord. Federal members and ministers from Montreal are not doing anything for the city. The federal government must take concrete action to straighten out the disastrous socioeconomic situation of what used to be the heart of Quebec's economy.

I would like to say a few words about what the Minister of Human Resources Development has just told us in this House. He told us that the Quebec government treats Montreal like any other region in Quebec. That is not true. The Quebec government has appointed a minister responsible for Montreal, Serge Ménard, who is doing a great job, unlike the federal government.

I think the minister is exaggerating when he talks about all the great things his government has done for Montreal. He should spend more time in his own riding of Papineau-Saint-Michel, which borders on my riding of Bourassa, where many unemployed Haitian and other immigrants live in incredible poverty.

Pearless, a company in my riding, laid off many workers, most of whom were from Latin America, Asia and Haiti.

This morning, the secretary of state responsible for regional development spoke to us about CDECs or economic and community development corporations. There is a CDEC in Montréal-Nord, but, unfortunately, the federal government is no longer providing $25,000 to develop this institution, this organization. The Quebec government, for its part, gave $25,000, while the city of Montréal-Nord provided $15,000 plus office space, which is equivalent to $25,000. There is no federal contribution at this time. Is this their way of supporting CDECs, which do a wonderful job in the whole Montreal area, especially Montréal- Nord?

For all these reasons, I support the Bloc motion and condemn the Liberal government's policies concerning Montreal and especially its failure to take action.

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4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Shefford, military justice; the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka, tourism.

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4:15 p.m.


Dan McTeague Liberal Ontario, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments made by the hon. member for Bourassa and I perfectly understand his position.

However, I find it somewhat ironic that he and his party should try to find a scapegoat, when the scapegoat himself cannot understand their separatist policies.

I know that from time to time we must take firm positions on policies, but that should not, in the end, prevent anyone from working, from earning a living. That is why I do understand the hon. member's comments.

I know that from one end of our beautiful country to the other, people are struggling. Just a few hours ago, GM workers on strike in Ontario held out their hands to workers on strike at the GM plant in Sainte-Thérèse. We saw two communities working together and finally succeeding in reaching a satisfactory agreement with the company.

Using this example, I could suggest-and I easily get involved in policies-that the situation in Montreal is not that different from the situation elsewhere, except that we do recognize it in our ridings.

The hon. member is fully aware that Montrealers, anglophones and francophones alike, sometimes come to see us to tell us how bad the situation is in Montreal and that it is a result not only of federal and provincial government policies, but also of the changing economy, so we must co-operate and adapt.

Instead of putting a question to the hon. member who, of course, must approve the motion, I hold out my hand to him saying: "Work with us, work with Franco-Ontarians, work with others in this country. We are here to help you". But we must hold out our hands, we must have hope in our future, in our future together. Does he not agree with this sincere offer from our government?

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4:15 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that we should congratulate CAW workers for settling a dispute which lasted a few weeks between the CAW and General Motors. Ontario and Quebec workers succeeded and I congratulate them because they won a difficult battle.

Second, the federal government has a major responsibility regarding Montreal's problems. The Quebec government did its share. It appointed a minister responsible for Montreal. As for the federal government, it makes decisions that are detrimental to Quebec, and particularly to Montreal.

For example, the federal government favours Canadian International, whose activities are concentrated in western Canada, at the expense of Air Canada, whose head office is in Montreal. It makes decisions concerning Canada's railway system-Montreal used to be the hub of the railroad industry until a few years ago-with the result that the whole industry is now moving west. Montreal used to be Canada's metropolis. Now, Toronto has taken that title away from it. A large number of these decisions were made by the federal government, at the expense of Montreal. I am not saying that the federal government is responsible for all of Montreal's misfortunes, but it is largely responsible for its difficult and even disastrous economic situation, particularly from an employment standpoint.

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4:20 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I always like to review the historical background of an issue before beginning to speak about it, in order to explain certain things for the present and the future. One always has to remember a little what happened a few years earlier. I have always thought that the past is something of an indication of what the future holds.

Judging by what happened a few years ago, I can say that the federal government has surely not been the engine behind Montreal's economic development, quite the contrary. I will give a few examples. I will back a rather long way, but the problems arose since then; as you know, there was the so called Borden line established by the oil energy legislation. During the period the Prime Minister was Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, that Borden line cost Montreal between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs. We have to remember that.

In 1986, the federal government inaugurated a large airport called Mirabel. The following year, it decided to deregulate air transportation, which brought about the fall of Mirabel-Dorval airport and a further loss of ten thousand jobs in the area of Montreal. All because of the federal government. There too, these were badly targeted expenditures by the federal government.

A tremendous amount of money was spent between 1970 and 1980, and programs were not necessarily well directed, which meant that they were not consistent with the development of Montreal. Once again, we did not get the funds needed to develop normally like the other regions of Canada. It is for these reasons that I like to look back. We must always remember that, as I said earlier, the past is something of an indication of what the future holds.

When I heard the Prime Minister say this week in Montreal that his "government is targeting its investments to make Montreal a leader in the new technologies of the future", I did not think he was very credible. I do not have much confidence in that rhetoric. It was a speech meant to please, a pre-election speech to make Quebecers believe that he was very much concerned, but we know very well that he has been the main source of the problems the metropolitan area of Montreal is having. It is not very amusing to see a Prime Minister or a government making great speeches when we know very well that it will not make much difference.

I will explain why I do not trust the government. First, only a few months ago, the federal government decided to shut down the Montreal offices of the Atomic Energy Commission of Canada. The Bloc Quebecois raised this issue several times. We have managed to keep almost half the employees of the Atomic Energy Control Board, but what the federal government really wanted, as was announced, was to close down the board's office in Montreal. When the Prime Minister says he wants to turn Montreal into the city of the technology of the future, and when at the same time he is closing down the board's office, I fail to see how he can have any credibility making that speech in Montreal.

That is why we have decided to spend this day talking about his visit there and the actions taken recently in Montreal to regain some credibility. But we have to emphasize the gap between what is said and what is actually done.

They wanted to close down the Atomic Energy Control Board office, and we managed to keep half of it. We know that in this area Montreal will definitely take a back-seat. We also know that gradually, as the years go by, there will be no one left in this Montreal office. How could we trust that kind of speech?

We wanted to condemn this rhetoric, and that is why we are here. Quebecers have elected 53 members of the Bloc to represent them

in Ottawa. We are here to condemn this kind of rhetoric, because we know it is just a sham.

I have another reason to think we should not trust this rhetoric, and that is the fact that the natural resources minister has decided to stop subsidizing the Tokamak project in Varennes, near Montreal. This Tokamak project is one the most advanced facilities in the world for scientific development. Europe, the United States and Japan are partners in this project to develop nuclear energy.

We have extraordinary skills to develop in this area. It is the energy of the future. But the natural resources minister said that the energy of the future and nuclear fusion are not her priority. It is easy to understand, because she stands up for the oil industry in western Canada. She stands up for the uranium plants in Ontario, which is the type of industries she wants to develop.

She has forgotten that nuclear fusion is tomorrow's source of energy. Twenty or 25 years from now, petroleum products will not be used that much any longer. Electrical power consumption will be on the decline. We will still use electricity, but it will be produced through nuclear fusion.

On the one hand, they say they want to help the Montreal area, but on the other hand, they cancel some projects and stop funding very significant sectors, like nuclear fusion and the Atomic Energy Board. So, we cannot believe a word the Prime Minister says in his speeches.

I met with the general manager of the Tokamak project, who told me and proved to me that the $7 million the federal government was investing each year in this project had much more significant economic spinoffs. Some of the new products that had to be invented to develop this form of energy are proving to be useful to several businesses in the Montreal area, which, in turn, are developing other new products. The products developed through the research carried out by the Tokamak project generate much more than the $7 million investment made by the federal government.

By cutting this subsidy, the federal government is running the risk of putting an end to this extraordinary Tokamak project and stands to lose some money. The Minister of Natural Resources did not take the time to properly assess this project. The Prime Minister said he has a technological vision of the future, but his words do not match the reality.

Yesterday or was it this morning, I read in the paper that, according to the OECD, Quebec ranks fourth among all the countries as far as research and development is concerned. However, we know that this government does not invest as much as it should in research and development in Quebec.

This means that Quebec has to invest its share in R and D, plus the $2 million it is not getting from the federal government.

Did you really think that we could create jobs when the federal government is not paying its share, which comes to $2 million a year? If times are tough in Montreal, which has extraordinary intellectual resources, people who unfortunately do not have much work due to a lack of money, it is precisely because the federal government is not paying its share in R and D.

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4:30 p.m.


Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, my wife and I spent the last two weekends in Montreal. We love going there. My wife says that no city in the world has smoked meat like Montreal has. She will also says that no city in the world has bagels like Montreal has.

However, on our last visit we were very depressed. We took a taxi from Dorval airport to downtown Montreal. When I want to learn what is happening in a city I usually talk to taxi drivers and barbers. I learn a lot from these two professions.

The taxi driver told us that he was not pleased with what was happening. He said that he was selling his taxi business, which shocked me. He was selling his home. I asked him why. He replied: "Things are not certain. I cannot go on living this way". When I asked him how long he had been in Montreal he told me 25 years.

He is selling his taxi business and his home. He is moving to Toronto. He speaks French, English and Greek. These are the kinds of human resources we have in our beautiful country and in la belle province, Quebec. He is selling out, moving out to join his brother who has a restaurant and an apartment business in Toronto.

That depressed me. Here is a true entrepreneur who helped to build the economy of Montreal and Quebec for 25 years, and now he is pulling out because of political uncertainty.

The member for Longueuil has been here as long as I have, if not longer, so I am sure he will take my question seriously. Rather than blame the federal government falsely, as this motion does, to say-

-the federal government's under-investment in research and development; its inequitable allocation of federal purchases of goods and services-

This is not true.

It is a false motion. Rather than blame the taxi driver I talked to who is moving from Montreal, what is the Bloc Quebecois Party doing to keep these entrepreneurs in Montreal? By falsely blaming

the federal government the Bloc is driving more of these entrepreneurs out of Montreal.

The Bloc Quebecois has a responsibility as its members were elected by a large group of people, and that I respect. The reason they are sitting here is because they were put here through a democratic process. What are they doing to prevent this flight of entrepreneurs from Montreal?

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4:30 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, what we are doing is very simple: we do what we are doing today. First, we call to order the people who tell us lies about Montreal. It is important to do this first.

Second, this thing about political uncertainty is old hat. Every expert and business and every poll on the subject said that political uncertainty has nothing to do with Montreal's situation. This has to be made clear once and for all. Everybody said so. Experts said it again last week on television. We read about it every day in the papers. The political situation has nothing to do with the loss of jobs in Montreal.

As we all know, the problem with Montreal is that the federal government never took care of Quebec for the last 30 years.

It is mainly the fault of this Prime Minister who, for 30 years, has been trying to please western Canada and Ontario to be able to win votes, because he is a Quebecer. That is the true reason.

This same Prime Minister scuttled Meech because Quebec had obtained a little more freedom to manage its own things. He became the leader of the Liberal Party and to run down the Conservative government that was on the point of realizing one of the finest Canadian projects, he scuttled the whole deal, and only so he could become Prime Minister.

Power took precedence over the interests of Quebec. This Prime Minister ruined Montreal. This is clear. Everybody can say so, and prove it: his attitude toward Quebec was terrible. He has been active in politics for 30 years and he has been working against Quebec for 30 years. This is why the members of the Bloc, all 53 of us, are now here in Ottawa. We are here because we could not get members from Quebec to really represent us. To get elected, they would do anything to please western Canada, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

This is the old way, the old story of Canada. It was this way under the Trudeau government, under the Saint-Laurent government and under this Prime Minister's government.

Unfortunately, my time is up, although I would have so much more to say on this subject.

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4:35 p.m.


Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, all of us sitting here and particularly the hon. member for Longueuil who has been in the House for many years as a member of the Conservative Party, know the nature of the discontent that has spread throughout this country. The majority of the population voted for this party.

Now he has the nerve to say that they are unhappy. He crossed the floor and joined the Bloc Quebecois. He said there was no way that politics or the environment of Quebec are at fault, it is the weather and the federal government.

Has the weather made it even worse or just the federal government?

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4:35 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, politics is not as simple as it looks. It implies many attitudes. One must look at history a little. A country cannot become impoverished in the span of six months, three days or five weeks. One must examine the history of the last 30 years to understand the current plight of Quebec, which is plagued by a 15 or 12 per cent unemployment rate and an almost equal number of welfare recipients. This is a reality.

When I say the last 30 years, I am speaking of the current Prime Minister, who was in the government then. He is responsible for this situation.

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4:35 p.m.


Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, as I read the outline of the debate we are faced with today, I note that once again political disinformation is being put before us as an object for debate and vote. Members of the Bloc Quebecois blame everybody but themselves. They blame the whole world, including the weather. They do not recognize what is going on in Quebec society or the problems that Quebec is living with today. It is really a travesty. It also happens to be untrue, unfounded and unrealistic.

I really think that when ideology takes over from reality we really have a very serious issue before us.

One thing we need to remember is that Canada, Quebec and, in particular, Montreal has a population that is a reflection of the country we have built together. It is built on a series of values, policies, programs and philosophies which are shared by the majority of Quebecers, except for one small ideological group which is stuck on language and nothing else. I should not say they are only concerned with language. They are also concerned with culture and cultural issues which are important and valuable.

However, we also want this reflected in the House. This culture is reflected through you, Madam Speaker, as a francophone from New Brunswick, through our new minister of la francophonie who is a francophone from Ontario and through a number of our ministers and secretaries of state who are francophones from Manitoba, British Columbia, northern Ontario and elsewhere. We also have, by the way, anglophones from Quebec who sit in this House.

We have many representatives in this House who show the diversity of the country. We have aboriginal people who are representative of Quebec and this country. One of the problems members opposite have is a lack of recognition of the diversity and multicultural nature of the province of Quebec.

They also lack the desire to recognize the fact that this government under the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, the ministers and all the members of the caucus have expressed support for the views put forward a red book. This is an excellent red book and covers over 189 issues. We have been very frank and forthcoming about what the issues are and what we have accomplished. Over 75 per cent of the promises that we made have been accomplished. We are an open government that is fair, honest and very concerned about the well-being of Quebec.

There is no magic formula for attracting investors, whatever the sector. There is only one reason, and it is the big companies or the small and medium size ones that decide how, when and where they wish to invest. For the most part, with the changes that occurred in the era of communication, of market globalization, businesses must find the niches where they can really acquire the expertise and become the best in the world. We have this here, in Montreal.

I am saying this as a Montrealer as well as a member for a riding that has two industrial parks where big retailers and even small and medium size businesses were established. These businesses received Quebec-Canada partnership grants to be more successful.

To attract investment, there is a whole set of factors, such as a positive business environment, and the quality of life that we can find in Montreal. When businesses, big private companies have to make a decision on the location of a new research facility, they think about the stability of the Canadian economic climate. Inflation and interest rates are low. This is why the member of the Bloc Quebecois who spoke before me should realize that we have put in place the groundwork for attracting investors.

What is this groundwork? It is low inflation and interest rates. The Government of Canada is committed to a reduction program that should bring the deficit to 1 per cent of GDP by 1999. I think that we also recognize that our legislation protecting intellectual property and innovation is essential for investments in R and D.

The tax incentives granted by the Government of Canada for R and D are the most generous in the world. That is why investors come to our country. And the Minister of Industry encourages them to do so. I must admit I told him that I was very happy he should come to my riding to invite three major companies to choose our industrial park and to give them assurance regarding the money and the support they will get from the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada, through the Quebec-Canada agreement.

The minister assured that Ericsson, Biochem and the National Research Centre that they are welcome in my riding. This implies huge amounts of money, but I will talk about this later. Thanks to these high technology industries, Montreal now has the critical mass necessary to be one of the major centres in the world-and they say that we have done nothing-in many leading sectors.

Montreal has reached this point through partnership agreements with the private sector, the academic and research communities, provincial as well as federal governments and people from 85 countries who have the knowledge and the expertise required and who decided to come to Quebec, people who speak many languages, who know the work and the business cultures in other sectors of this country.

The immigrants who have come to Montreal have been the greatest innovators in many ways. Not only are they entrepreneurs who have created small and medium size businesses, they are people who come from different cultures around the world. They understand the cultures and the languages and how business is done around the world. They are a precious asset. They are a hidden asset. They know how we can seek business and become entrepreneurial in this new globalized world where competitiveness is the key. They know how to produce manpower at a cost per unit of production which is the lowest in the world in many fields, the field of pharmaceuticals, the field of aeronautics, the field of technology and the field of telecommunications.

I only have one minute left. I wish I could talk about all the wonderful dollars which we have invested. I have a wonderful speech and if I had time I would be pleased to tell hon. members about the millions and millions of dollars which have been invested.

I would like to cite two or three examples. We have approved 77 projects, which represent an investment of more than $3.8 billion. Both governments, with an investment of $575 million, have created more than 8,500 jobs. I would like to know how the Government of Quebec or more particularly the Bloc Quebecois finds that difficult.

The increase in sales from these investments has amounted to more than $5 billion. That money went into the economy and was taxed in the province of Quebec, like it is in the rest of Canada.

The major part of this growth and development is as a result of international sales and Team Canada. I hope the premier of Quebec goes with the Prime Minister. Then he will see what the advantages of co-operation are between leaders of government in the interests of the people and not in the interests of an ideology based on culture and language. That is not enough for a country to grow on. There has to be an open spirit. There have to be open minds. Everyone is welcome and everyone is equal. That is a fundamental characteristic and a value of the dignity of human beings and work.

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4:45 p.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, you might find it strange that a member from Quebec City should take part in a debate on Montreal. But let me explain why I wanted to speak. Montreal used to be Canada's metropolis, but it still is Quebec's metropolis. It is a city whose economic development obviously meshes with the economic development of the rest of Quebec. When Montreal suffers, the rest of Quebec suffers too. This has been known for a long time.

But what I find somewhat offensive in the hon. member's speech is that she suggested-and I do not remember her exact words-that the members from the Bloc and the other members from Quebec should put the cultural and linguistic issues aside, or at least give them less importance-

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4:50 p.m.


Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

I did not say that, I did not say that at all.

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4:50 p.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Yes, you said that in your last paragraph, just at the end of your speech.

The hon. member lives in Montreal, I know that she is a sensible person, who generally recognizes reality. I do not want to insult her, but I would like her to clarify her thinking in this regard.

Does she admit that the good health of Montreal's economy is important for Quebec? Does she recognize that things are the way they are in Quebec because language is important, since we are a French speaking majority? Language and culture are important for the development of Quebecers, like they are for other peoples.

Of course, we are open to immigration. We prove it every day of the year. In the Bloc, the hon. member for Bourassa is an example of our openness. We are not against immigration, we are not against other languages, but it must be recognized that it is normal for Quebecers to ask that efforts be made for the economic development of their metropolis.

I would like the hon. member to clarify her thinking because I may have misunderstood. I hope that I misunderstood her because she seemed to suggest that we should not attach any importance to cultural identity and language.

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4:50 p.m.


Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want the member to understand that I am proud to be a Quebecer. I am proud of both the French and English languages and cultures. I want them both to be respected, as well as the other languages and cultures of the people who chose to make our province their home. They are equal partners, each in their own community.

Secondly, I totally agree with you that Montreal is the heart of Quebec, its economic engine. However, if we want to pursue this idea, we must have an open mind and recognize that the federal government has several objectives, in partnership with the Quebec government and under the Quebec-Canada agreement-or Canada-Quebec if you prefer-on the development of the various sectors. First of all, this agreement is designed to promote the coordination of efforts between both governments to improve Quebec's competitiveness and economic health, especially in Montreal, the province's economic engine. The agreement succeeds in reaching this goal by giving financial support to major industrial projects capable of diversifying Montreal's and Quebec's industrial structure.

I think you will agree with me that it is a very good idea, and we are doing it in partnership.

What bothered me about the previous speeches is that members were saying that Mr. Chrétien has been here for 30 years. Well, it is a good thing because, as a political leader, he has a vision of Quebec that is representative of all Canada, of which I am part as a Montrealer. I think it is not fair to say that it is our party and our leader who are destroying Montreal and who are hindering its economic development. It is not true. It is false.

That is what I said before and I am saying it again, and that is all I have to say about this issue.

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4:50 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lachine—Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I spent five years in the Quebec National Assembly on the opposition benches, and almost four years on the government benches.

I was in opposition during the Parti Quebecois's second term of office. Whenever Quebec's problems were mentioned, there were two solutions. The first was that everything wrong in Quebec was the fault of the federal government. That was taken for granted. Everything that was going badly in Quebec was because of the federal government.

Every time something went badly, summits were held to find a solution. We had endless summits. The summit master of them all, Mr. Landry, held summits every week, every month, every quarter: economic summits, cultural summits, summits on this, that and the other.

I see that times have not changed. The discourse here has not changed. It is always the same old song: "For 30 years now, Quebec has had a tough time, and it is the fault of the federal government, the fault of Mr. Chrétien, but it is never our fault in Quebec. We will hold a summit and everything will turn out fine. We will make wonderful speeches".

And now they come here and tell us that things are not going well in Montreal because of the federal government. I live in a very prosperous area of Montreal Island. One field that is doing well is high technology, as are the aerospace industry, and the communications, informatics, and information fields, and all these companies are doing extremely well. I am very familiar with them, having spoken to many of their general managers and shareholders.

I will give you three examples: someone built a computer company a few years ago from nothing. Today, this company has 700 employees and annual sales of $250 million.

What has happened? When it looks for scientists and research technicians, it cannot find them in Canada and has to bring them in from the United States, England, Germany and elsewhere. It cannot find them because they no longer want to come to Quebec. So what has it done? It has moved its research centre to Florida.

Second example: a thriving, fibre optics company. What has happened? After the referendum, it lost eight of its best scientists. The president wrote to tell me: "The very heart of my business has left".

A third company, also in computers, and also doing extremely well, hired all the managers it could in Quebec, through Canadian universities. It is still looking for 65 scientists, but cannot find any who want to come here. There is all the publicity in the schools about the referendum, talk every day about the referendum. These are examples from Quebec.

If businessmen are discussing it, they say "No, they are traitors to Quebec". If the Chamber of Commerce does, they say "It is the Chamber of Commerce talking". If it is the Conseil du patronat, they say "No, they are not us". But what if it is the mayor of Montreal himself? He was quoted in a headline in Le Devoir the other day as saying Political instability is what is finishing off Montreal''. What if it is your Mr. Dumont himself, the good buddy of the PQ and the Bloc, who says:Put your referendum on hold for ten years''? We are not the ones saying this, nor the Prime Minister, it is your partner, Mr. Dumont.

No, you will not listen. You will not listen because you do not want to hear. I could list off all the investments in which the federal and Quebec governments have participated. I and my colleagues have been at some of the opening ceremonies myself, and we work very closely together.

Two years ago, I had the experience of working with a trilateral team, made up of the federal government, the Quebec government and the City of Montreal, to try to get the secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity here to Montreal. We were successful, because on both sides we were neither federalists, nor Quebecers, nor Montrealers. We were instead all working together for the prosperity of our community.

We worked together, regardless of political stripe, regardless of what community we came from, whether Quebec City, Montreal or somewhere else. We worked together, and we were successful. Today we have formed that same trilateral team to get the Secretariat for the Convention to Control Desertification to Montreal. I am a player on that team, and very pleased to be a member.

This is proof that people can work together if there is good will. Let us put aside our never-ending quarrels about language and politics. Surely we can work together to build things that will make our community, our country and our province prosperous, without regard to race, religion or political considerations, for the sake of the people who live there. We can do it.

However, the only thing you want is to be negative and say that things are not going well and that the federal government, not you, is responsible for the present situation.

Every time we have an opportunity to build something together, you go back to the past and talk about Mr. Chrétien in 1970 instead of talking about today, the future and the new century and about the fact that Montreal is not well because of the chronic political instability which exists there and which everyone denounces. Americans and Europeans talk about it. Where there is instability there is no investment.

I urge you, as people who are proud to be Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadians, to forget your mean prejudices, your never-ending quarrels, your famous referendum which you will never win and persist in holding, and work instead to revitalize our city. Montreal is for everyone of us, on this side or on the other, something we all take to heart. So let us work together to build Montreal instead of having those never-ending quarrels.

I am just saying that we can work together if we want to work together. Every day the federal government, the Quebec government and the city of Montreal work together in harmony and peace. It is only because of the separatists who believe in division, who believe in quarrels, who believe in a negative option that today Montreal is suffering and sick. The only way to build it is to

breathe hope, unity and political peace into it so investments can return and Montreal can flourish again.

This is our most precious wish. I hope that next time you will introduce a motion it will be a positive and constructive motion for us all, whether we live in Montreal, in Quebec or in Canada.

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5 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, when federalists do not know what to say, they say the problems are due to the fact that we want a referendum. They refuse to face the facts. The Liberals say we are against everything, but that is not true. We are not against everything. We are just monitoring the federal government.

I was on the government benches when the drug patent bill was passed. Bill C-22 and Bill C-91, that was when I was a Conservative, and we worked very hard to bring pharmaceutical research to Montreal. It was a vicious struggle. The Liberals took advantage of their position in the Senate, and it was a year before this legislation was passed. They did not want to see these projects in the Montreal region and especially right next to the riding of Lachine-Saint-Louis.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were invested, which created thousands and thousands of jobs. The Liberal government at the time did everything it could to prevent the passage of this bill. For the first time in Canada's history, researchers from Montreal demonstrated on Parliament Hill and persuade the Liberals to adopt this bill in order to create jobs in Montreal.

You think we can trust the federal government. You think we are against everything. In fact, we know we cannot trust the government. The evidence tells us we cannot trust the federal Liberal government. I repeat, the past shows what the future holds in store. That is why Quebecers had so little confidence in the federal government that they elected 53 Bloc Quebecois members to represent them in a worthy manner and to protect their interests.

My answer to the minister who was formerly a minister in Quebec City and said we were just a bunch of complainers is that Montreal is not in such a bad shape, on the contrary. I have confidence in the people of Montreal. I know there are people in Montreal with extraordinary intellectual capabilities that can accomplish great things. We have done some great things, and if we did not have a federal government that destroys everything as soon as we build it, we would be better off.

I repeat, the OECD says that Quebec ranks fourth on research and development, which means that although we get less than $2 billion from the federal government, as a province we do more research and development than almost anywhere in the world. We are fourth in the world. Why? It means the Quebec government has to pay twice as much.

They tell us they give us more in Quebec City. Sure, they give us more as far as unemployment is concerned. Do we want money for our poor because we will never be rich, because the federal government prevents us from earning an honest living? I do not think that is what we want. Quebecers are people with dignity who want to work and are resourceful. I believe in Quebecers. We want to be sovereign because we think that once Quebec is sovereign, it will be in a far better position to develop its potential. It is blessed with outstanding natural and human resources. But we do not get the help we need.

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5:05 p.m.

An hon. member

You are against everything.

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5:05 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

We are not against everything, on the contrary. We are keeping tabs on the government. He should be ashamed for saying that. He was fighting to prevent us from passing Bill C-22 and Bill C-91. It was his party. He were not here at the time. I was here. I remember. We won, and today, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in western Montreal, especially.

Just recently, the Liberals on the House of Commons committee on regulations tried to pull a fast one. They tried to change the period. Lucky the Bloc Quebecois was there to keep an eye on them, because otherwise we would have been had once again. Can we trust these people? Never.