Mr. Speaker, we are moving this motion today, the day after the committee began its proceedings on Bill C-20. As we know, this bill deals essentially with two things: the alleged clarity of the question and the percentage or majority required.
Overall, this is a bill that seeks to deny the rights of the National Assembly, which has held referendums under its own rules in the past. I am referring to the two referendums on sovereignty, in 1980 and 1995, and to the referendum on the Charlottetown accord, in 1992, when a Liberal government was in office in Quebec. The federal government is now questioning these eminently democratic exercises.
As for the issue of clarity, it is somewhat surprising to think that the members of the House of Commons, 75 of whom come from Quebec and 226 from the other provinces, are better able than the members of the National Assembly to determine the clarity of a question.
Moreover, we know that two thirds of the members from Quebec, representing the people of Quebec and democratically mandated to do so, oppose this bill. Those who think they speak on behalf of the Quebecers should look at those who represent them in this place and note that they represent only a third of the Quebec delegation in the House of Commons.
One wonders how people from Moose Jaw, Regina, Halifax, Vancouver or Toronto would be in a better position to determine the clarity of a question than people from Chicoutimi, Tadoussac, Laval, Quebec City, Montreal, Trois-Rivières or Hull. This sort of thing is rather insulting.
What makes no sense is the fact that the government claims these people would be more able to determine what makes the question clear, but refuses to let the committee consult these people across Quebec and Canada to see whether the bill is clear. There is more than an apparent contradiction here. There is a real one.
Why do they want to consult everyone in Canada when Quebecers have to decide their future, but refuse to let the people of Canada and Quebec be consulted when the time comes for the House to pass this bill?
On the subject of clarity, let us look at the latest referendum. On the eve of the referendum, I heard the Prime Minister say in a speech to the people, as he looked them in the eye with the camera focussed on him so that everyone could see his alleged sincerity “The question is clear: if you say yes, you leave; if you say no, you stay”. I was not the one saying that, it was the Prime Minister of Canada.
That evening, I said to myself that it was really clear, that if the Prime Minister understood, if the member for Saint-Maurice understood, a lot of people understood.
I find that rather contemptuous of the 94% of Quebecers who took part in this very democratic process. That day, apparently 94% of the people went to vote without having any idea what they were doing. That is extraordinary. Those who voted no apparently understood, and those who voted yes, apparently did not know what they were doing.
And what about all those Canadians who flocked to Montreal to take part in a love-in, thanks to Canadian Airlines' generosity—a $100 fare from Vancouver to Montreal, but not the other way around? Was the question not clear when all these folks came to Montreal to tell us that they loved us? Was the question not clear when they all rushed panic-stricken to implore us not to leave?
I have to wonder about the reasoning. Did these people come for nothing, or was it perhaps that what was not clear was how much they actually loved us. Now that is something else again.