Mr. Speaker, time is going by rather quickly and I will probably be the last speaker on this topic. When there is discussion, things can change. The Liberal colleague who just spoke was shaken by the arguments of the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, but also by something that took place last night in the other House.
In fact, it is quite strange and unexpected that we should be discussing this today of all days. What happened yesterday was very serious. For lack of one vote, the House has been brought to a halt. As the member just said, if nothing changes and the government wishes to maintain its position, it will have to present a new bill and the same thing may happen all over again.
However, we should perhaps qualify this. It seems that what we saw yesterday was a certain laxity on the Liberal side of the Senate. Apparently a Conservative senator was not present at the start and would not have been able to vote, and that could have made all the difference. There was a lack of vigilance, such that the situation in which we find ourselves was avoidable. The system cannot bear the whole blame, but the situation is nonetheless amusing.
Coming from Quebec, as I do, and having discussed this many times with the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup-it is rather the opposite, the member for Bellechasse is right, we often alternate, particularly at the end of session. I think this is the ninetieth time I have risen to speak since the throne speech.
I do not, however, agree with my other colleague, the member for Vaudreuil when he says there is no point in discussing the topic. We cannot accept the comments of the member who just spoke, whose riding I have forgotten, Hamilton-Wentworth I believe. In question period, I saw the Minister of Transport upset at what had happened yesterday, and he was right to be upset.
The member for Vaudreuil spoke about everything under the sun. He seemed to be practising for the campaign trail. If his performance is any indication, we can expect an election this fall. He really seemed to be practicing a campaign speech. He said that it was useless to speak of it, that it cannot be changed, that unanimity would be necessary and cannot be obtained-a fine admission of powerlessness by a member of the House of Commons under the current federal system.
I agree, it is true that it is hard to change. I would even say virtually impossible. It is impossible for us here to abolish the Senate, we cannot. It seems that some sort of stratagem will have to invented somewhere if it is to be done, for it has become frozen in time.
Frozen in time since 1867, and this change cannot be made, although it translates the desires of many, in Quebec and elsewhere. No way of changing it. Talking Constitution or changes in Quebec, no way either, it requires unanimity. For the past 30 years, we have seen constitutional rounds come and go and we always end up in the same dead end. One day, something will have to be done.
We in the Bloc Quebecois think that, as far as Quebec is concerned, what is needed is for the rest of Canada to accept Quebec's becoming sovereign and to discuss with it an offer of economic and, yes, political partnership. I think that would make a huge change and would be along the lines of the formula of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, which was in place before the Union Act. That formula is worth re-examining, not just copying, for times have changed. That could bring about a change.
Along with the hon. member for Bellechasse, I am telling the people of Quebec and elsewhere who agree with us that the Senate should be abolished, because it costs $43 million a year and cannot be touched by the voting public, that they ought to sign a petition asking that the House of Commons abolish the Senate. This is an institution that is no longer of any use. I have nothing against the people individually, some of them are extremely decent people, but that is not the issue. When we do not have to be answerable to the voters for our actions, I think that the exercise of a modern democracy is not possible.
I therefore support the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup in his undertaking, which I must say is far from pointless. If a lot of Quebecers and Canadians support this motion, one day it will bear fruit, and we will manage to abolish this system which costs us $43 million.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, let me take my turn in wishing you, and all of my colleagues of all parties, a good vacation.