Mr. Speaker, I was just about to talk about the 10% ownership rule in Air Canada. I hope that I will not be interrupted. That rule is essential to maintain a broad shareholder base.
I want to explain that the Bloc does not support the majority report of the Liberals, who want to raise that percentage to 20%. That would have the effect of giving effective control to a single shareholder or a group of shareholders. If we want to maintain a broad shareholder base, we absolutely must keep the 10% limit.
We read in The Gazette “The Liberal hon. member for Vaudreuil said the following. Personally, I think that the limit should not be set at 20%, because that would give the separatist Caisse de dépôt control over Air Canada”.
Across the way, there are people, like the member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges, who will charter buses, just as at the time of the last referendum in 1995, three days before the next referendum, for crowds to come and tell us they love us. Do you think Quebecers are gullible enough to believe such a thing once again?
That reminds me of those members from the Reform Party who were lucky enough to get Canadian Airlines tickets. At the time of the last referendum, Canadian Airlines chartered 747 planes and people came from Vancouver to Montreal, three days before the referendum, just to participate in the love parade.
You want me to speak about air transportation? Let us do so. VIA Rail changed its name; it is now VIA Rail Canada and its engines bear a logo with a big maple leaf. They speak about transportation, but they will not let me finish my speech. I am an impulsive person. I wonder if you have realized that, Mr. Speaker.
The Standing Committee on Transport voted upon a second rule.
Before the President of the Treasury Board leaves, I want to say I am convinced she will agree with me that the 10% ownership rule at Air Canada should not be modified. I am sure she is a true Quebecer, and I am sure she will be against changing that rule.
Unfortunately, since she left the House, I cannot say she is not here, but I want to say there is another important element in this report from the Standing Committee on Transport. It is the 25% foreign ownership rule, which the Liberal majority wants to increase to 49%. This means that Americans could control up to 49% of the airline industry.
This creates a totally ironic situation whereby members from the Bloc Quebecois agree that the foreign ownership rule should remain as it is, and the limit be maintained at 25%. Believe it or not, we will respect the partnership between an independent and sovereign Quebec and the rest of Canada. We are so respectful that we are opposing the 49% rule in order to promote Canada's sovereignty against the Americans.
If we accept the increase to 49%, there will more situations such as those we already witnessed, for example American Airlines which held large blocks of shares and which transferred the positions of machinists, repairmen, and maintenance employees from Vancouver and Calgary to the United States.
The Liberal majority pointed out that it agreed to increase the percentage because we apparently need foreign capital. There is not enough solid capital to justify ownership in Canada, wealth in Canada. And yet one of the proudest achievements of Quebecers, the Caisse de dépôt, is ready to invest in Air Canada, not to take control of it. The Caisse de dépôt's role is to ensure that the savings of Quebecers earn a return so as to provide a future for our children and our grandchildren.
That is the role of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. This is not like the derogatory comments of the hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges who says that he does not want the limit raised to 20% because he does not want to see the separatist Caisse de dépôt take control of Air Canada. These are unacceptable remarks coming from a Quebecer like the hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges, who is as much a Quebecer as I am. That does not prevent him from saying this kind of things. That is where the inconsistency is: it is acceptable for Americans to control Air Canada but not the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.