Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this fundamental question of supply for the maintenance of the Senate of Canada.
To begin with, I need hardly point out that the Bloc Quebecois is against granting any such supply, in whatever amount, to the upper chamber, because our party proposes its abolition pure and simple.
This was the position we took in our 1993 election platform. It is a position that still has unanimous support among our members. The reason I am taking this position in the House today is not just because it was part of our election platform in 1993. There are obviously a number of empirical, objective arguments underlying this position.
First, let us start by pointing out that this institution, which is the Upper House of Canada's parliament, has no basis in the realities of Quebec or Canada. Let us look back at the context in which it was created.
The British Parliament in London, which is in a way, as anglophones say, the mother of the British-type parliaments, is obviously a bicameral parliament, with an upper chamber, the House of Lords, and a lower chamber, which is the House of Commons.
In the case of the House of Commons, the parallel, the link between the House of Commons in London and the House of Commons here in Ottawa, is very easy to make.
As regards the House of Lords, they wanted to create a similar House when Canada was born, when they realized, horror of horrors, that there was no nobility in Canada. So they could not create a House of Lords on the same principle and model as the one in London. They therefore created something a little bit different, drawing on the model in London.
In the United Kingdom, as we know, there is hereditary nobility, which is passed from father to son or from mother to daughter now. There are counts, viscounts, barons, dukes, duchesses and so on. There are also nobles who are given titles which are not hereditary.
This has been the case of a number of Canadians in history, such as Sir John A. Macdonald or Sir George-Étienne Cartier, but these people could not pass their nobility on to their descendants.
They wanted to create something similar here in Canada, since in the middle of the 19th century, in Quebec for example, the seigniorial system had been abolished. So there was, properly speaking, no more native or local nobility in Canada. Accordingly, they created a system that made it possible to basically appoint people and give them the nobility by appointing them to the Senate, not by giving them a title but by giving them the title of senator.
Hon. members will recall that initially appointment was for life, until it was realized in the 1950's and 1960's that having senators for life had, one might say, lowered the level of debate in the other place, it having become a rather—