Madam Speaker, after hearing the hon. member for Don Valley North, I feel like saying, as they do in criminal proceedings: I rest my case. But I will still say what I have to say.
That a bill like this one can be introduced is not a major step forward for democracy. Let us calmly sum it up for those who would like to know what it is about. This bill would allow registration of a political party in Canada only if this party nominates candidates in at least half the ridings of seven Canadian provinces representing 50 per cent of the population.
This is not a minimum, but a mountain. Especially since the hon. member knows full well that the Bloc Quebecois, the official opposition, only nominates candidates in Quebec. As a result, there is no way we could comply with the provisions of this bill. As everyone knows, the Bloc Quebecois' goal is to promote Quebec sovereignty, a mandate given to us by the people of Quebec. It would be surprising, to say the least, if there were a Bloc Quebecois candidate in the riding of Beauséjour or Madawaska-Victoria. Your constituents would have trouble understanding this, Madam Speaker.
We have no extraterritorial ambitions, as the Helms-Burton law does, and although we have many friends outside Quebec, in particular in the francophone and Acadian communities, we display no imperialistic tendencies.
If this bill were passed-and I thank the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for not making this a votable motion, which more or less settles the fate of this bill-we would be condemned to remain forever in opposition and, most of all, to the status of a group of independent members. That is to say, only the election expenses of candidates who receive 15 per cent of the vote in their ridings would be reimbursed, so our party would not be
entitled to a 22.5 per cent refund of its expenses at the national level. This would be a major setback.
The Reform Party would also be in a precarious position, as it first burst onto the scene with the election of the hon. member for Beaver River to this House. All regional based parties would not have been so lucky.
We can say one of the good things about Canadian democracy is that it allows regional parties to emerge, parties like the Bloc Quebecois or any regional party that may emerge to promote the interests of one region or another of Canada.
Just the same, the chance of promoting regional interests that comes with a political system must be recognized. It existed in the days of the CCF, the New Democratic Party at the federal level, and of the Progressive Conservative Party. It has always existed.
I do not think that just because an election gave the results it gave, the 35th Parliament has wiped off the political map a former national party-we are not going to change the law to prevent them from trying their luck again. The democratic rules by which the vast majority of members of this House abide must be respected.
I think that the more we value democracy, the more important we feel it is that the rights of our minorities be respected. Because if all democracy stands for is the rights of the majority, the majority always wins in the end anyway. When a vote is taken by a show of hands, the majority wins. The guarantees given to the minority are rights that we must respect because the minority is always at a disadvantage. That is why we have charters protecting the rights of minorities, charters that we generally respect.
This is a bill calling for a form of intolerance, a bill designed to make quick political hay, that completely misses the mark. I think that the hon. member who introduced this bill will not score very many points with this bill. For these reasons, I obviously cannot support this bill. I did not have to tell you since we will not be voting on the bill. But in the unlikely event a vote were taken, I would vote no. I will also gladly refuse consent if unanimous consent is sought to put this bill to a vote.