Mr. Speaker, this is probably my last speech of this 35th Parliament. It went by very fast. It was very little time indeed, compared to all my hon. colleagues.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents in the federal electoral district of Lac-Saint-Jean. As I said in my maiden speech, they have put their trust in me. They were not sure, in fact there was some controversy about it, whether they should put their trust in someone who did not have any experience in politics, wondering if it would lead to disaster if the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean was represented by a young, inexperienced person.
A year later, I am pleased to note that we can trust our young people, notwithstanding their lack of experience. I think things have gone rather smoothly this past year.
I did not have time to bring certain projects to full fruition, including Opération Maillage, a networking operation designed to bring together persons with different skills. It will probably not get under way before the election, but after, and I am very pleased because we will have successfully developed a new concept in Alma. People who have an idea for business, an entrepreneurial potential, and those who are looking for a business partner could get together and share their respective skills. Small businesses should emerge, that will create jobs.
Second, we will recall that, on the evening of December 29, as an elected member faced with a problem, I called a public meeting and I said: "You must take an active part, not only by paying your taxes and going to the polls every four years, but also by getting your ideas across".
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. I have put my trust in the people, and they have come up with solutions: a dozen policy thrusts we have been working on since January. People came up with a number of concrete proposals. I am delighted with what is happening in my riding.
Finally, it was a pleasure to work with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, and I hope I will be able to continue to do so during a subsequent term. We hope so, and it is very likely we will, because we intend to run this campaign with a lot of determination.
Sometimes people ask me: "Do you really want to start campaigning again after just one year?" I think it is wonderful for an elected representative to get back on the campaign trail just a year after being elected. During your first campaign, you are not too sure how everything works, but now, a year later, when I go back to my constituents, I will be able to tell them first hand about what happens in the House of Commons.
I wanted to make this little aside since this will be my last speech in this 35th Parliament. I must say it was a wonderful experience, and I hope I will be able to repeat it in the years to come.
Now, back to Bill C-65. I started my speech before oral question period and had to stop because of lack of time. I had started on my general comments, the reasons we more or less agreed or did not agree at all with the bill.
Bill C-65 directly threatens areas under provincial jurisdiction. In fact, the Liberal government is using the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity as an excuse to encroach on areas under provincial jurisdiction.
This comes as no surprise. It is the usual duplication story. Expertise has been developed in the provinces, including Quebec, where we already have legislation to protect biodiversity, legislation that goes back to 1989. The provinces had the expertise. They knew the field. Everything was fine. However, the federal government is now intruding on these jurisdictions. In fact, there is something in the Constitution about this, but unfortunately, they want the prestige. They want this federal institution to have some prestige.
Actually, I find it hard to explain. Perhaps our colleagues opposite could explain the purpose of this intrusion, but I do not understand it at all.
Furthermore, Bill C-65 respects neither division of powers provided under the Constitution nor its traditional interpretation, because it is based on a much broader interpretation of the definition of federal territory and because the government does not respect the joint constitutional responsibility it shares with the
provinces with respect to certain species. This is in line with what I said earlier.
Third, Bill C-65 gives the Minister of the Environment broad discretionary powers, including that of appointing the members of COSEWIC, listing species identified as threatened or endangered by COSEWIC and implementing recovery plans.
The same problem arises on the subject of interference in jurisdictions. The bill provides that the minister will have broad discretionary powers, including with respect to decisions on appointments to COSEWIC. It reminds me of a lot of other bills. When a committee is to be struck, it is always the minister who gets to appoint his buddies. I listened to my colleague from Frontenac speaking on this earlier. The situation is an unfortunate one because the little Liberal family will remain cloistered, not really open to the public. They appoint their buddies, their pals, to pay off their debts.
I could go on at length because this really bothers me. What about all the Liberal candidates who were defeated in the 1993 elections? I think some 40 of them are now working in the Canadian public service, simply because they had good contacts, they did the party a favour and are being paid back. That is democracy for you.
This is all the time I have. I therefore wish you a fine election, Mr. Speaker. I hope to see you in September.