Mr. Speaker, I understand the motion before us is a debatable motion and therefore I would like to offer the following in debate.
If adopted by the House, the motion would establish the membership of the standing joint committee of the House. The Reform Party does not oppose the membership of any of the committees, but we do oppose the way the committees have been run over the first session of the 35th Parliament.
We have every reason to believe that there is nothing likely to change in this regard during the second session. The main question we are asking here is why this love-in between the Liberal benches and the Bloc Quebecois. We cannot answer that question. That is why we have taken the route to have a debate on the matter to expose some of the problems we see.
This situation is particular galling when it comes to the public accounts committee of the House which can be chaired and is chaired by a member of the opposition. In spite of our efforts we have found that the Liberal benches have deliberately contrived to have that chair taken by the Bloc Quebecois.
We have nothing against the individual members of the Bloc Quebecois. They are competent, professional people. What we have against it is that they are separatists. They want to divorce Quebec from Canada and we as federalists say this is wrong. It is wrong for the government benches to be saying yes, let they have all the vice-chairs, particularly the chair of the public accounts committee.
This is being done, led by the chief government whip, in spite of some of the quotes from the Prime Minister. In January 1994 he said: "I know very well that if members of the official opposition keep talking about separation and constitutional problems they are not living up to why they are here".
More recently he also said: "My blood is boiling when I see those separatists in front of me because I fought them all my life". The Globe and Mail quotes the Prime Minister as admitting that he would rather have the Reform Party leader as his official opponent. It was one of the few times that the Prime Minister has been so publicly clear about his displeasure over the powerful separatist role in Parliament. The words of the Prime Minister obviously do not square with the actions of his party, led by the chief government whip.
During the first session we attempted to bring these concerns to the attention of the House through various points of order. Each time our concerns fell on deaf ears. The Speaker's refusal to entertain our points of order has left us in a catch 22.
When we raised questions about the election of committee chairs and vice-chairs at the committee, we were told the Liberals were simply backing the Bloc because it was tradition. We have then been summarily dismissed by the Liberal majority. This leaves us with no choice but to take the issue up as points of order in the House. Having done that, they have all been summarily dismissed to date. We have been on this merry-go-round for two years and our members are frustrated. One can tell by the look on their faces that they have had it.
It is important for me to clarify once again that this frustration is not personal but is professional. Reform members are frustrated not for themselves but for the vast majority of Canadians who support a united country yet cannot have their views adequately represented in the committee hierarchy because of the persistent, unexplainable love-in between the government and the Bloc Quebecois.