In those first two years the Liberal government bent over backward to ensure it did not do or say anything that could in any way be interpreted as offending anyone in Quebec, more particularly the Bloc. The Bloc, whether the Liberals like it or not, represents many voters in Quebec, just as the Reform Party represents many voters in other jurisdictions. They were totally afraid of doing or saying anything that could in any way be interpreted as offending the Bloc. This included the election of officers in committee.
Think about it. There is a political party in the House of Commons, the Bloc, whose raison d'être is to take the province it represents out of Confederation. The Bloc's raison d'être is to break up the country. Its members have the perfect right to do so and they have the perfect right to be here. It is an expression of the strength of our democracy that they can be and that we can debate it. Nobody is shooting at anybody. That is a sign of strength in our democracy, not a sign of weakness. It is certainly my hope that at the end of the day Quebec will continue to be a province within Canada.
I will say that we are having a much more honest and open debate about the future of Quebec and the future of Canada today than we have ever had in the House. It is only through addressing things honestly that we are ever going to resolve the problems we have as a country.
While I do not concur and I did not appreciate it, I can understand the fact that the government in the first two years of its mandate bent over backward not to offend the Bloc, particularly in committee. However today is another day. The referendum was held in Quebec; the separatists lost. They lost on a question that was fuzzy. Here we are in the House of Commons today and have we started to take on the Bloc or the separatists head on? No we have not. The Liberals have gone right back to their attitude of not saying or doing anything that could in any way offend any member of the Bloc.
It seems to me we should be putting our efforts into making sure there is an honest representation of what the rest of the country feels rather than bending over backward to appease the people who would break up the country. It is time that everyone put all of their cards on the table and dealt with the issues as they are. I suspect that might be something the Liberals might be thinking of doing now because they know that appeasement has not worked. The problem is that the Prime Minister said this when he was out west. He mused about it, and now all of a sudden this is no longer part of the debate. What is part of the debate? Where is the debate? Why do we not have this on the table?
I will conclude by coming back to the fact that the government has the right and the responsibility to bring forward legislation it promised during the election campaign under which it was able to get the support of the people who voted for the Liberals. They should keep the promises they made and which they put in writing, like getting rid of the GST. Having made it, that is one of the promises they should keep. They have the right and the responsibility to bring that legislation forward.
The only avenue for the rest of us to have meaningful input into what we do here in representing our constituents is through private members' business. Private members' business and government business should be treated discretely. They should not be lumped together in an omnibus bill or motion and we are forced to vote against private members' business that we support. It is a kind of blackmail.
I will spend a couple of seconds talking about the how and the why. There is not very much that cannot be done here in the House of Commons with all parties if we treat each other with respect. If the government has an idea that it wishes to change the way the House of Commons works and how legislation is brought forward, then it would be appropriate for the government to come to the whips of the other parties represented in the House and say this is what it would like to do. Why can we not work together collegially, rather than having the government use the power of its majority, sort of a jackboot diplomacy, over the backbench MPs of its own side and of the opposition?