Madam Speaker, 18 months ago tomorrow, a year and a half to the day, I was elected by the people of the riding of Sherbrooke.
At that time, I was proud to represent the people of Sherbrooke, and I still am. At that time too, I was convinced that I would find the purest expression of democracy in this House. How naive I was.
I realized that more and more once I had read some excerpts from the works of political scientist Léon Dion. One of them says, in substance, that Quebec creates its own worst enemies. At the time, he did not realize that he was going to become the spiritual father of the person we can now describe as one of the worst of Quebec's worst enemies.
We of the Bloc Quebecois have tried on numerous occasions to enlighten the 26 Quebec Liberals, who are the worst enemies of Quebec, as well as the House as a whole, by asking repeatedly for unanimous consent to table documents, and the government refused. It refused to be enlightened.
This past February 7, Parliament began its first sitting in this new millennium. Everyone thought the millennium bug was a thing of the past, but we now know this was not the case. The government is contaminated with a virus. In fact, we are pretty well certain that the millennium bug is the federal Liberal government itself.
We are all aware of several viruses affecting the Liberal government. Of course, earlier in the year, there was the Minister of Industry's attempt to subsidize sports millionaires by giving direct favours to some helpful friends.
At the moment, there is a scandal at the Department of Human Resources Development arising from political meddling intended to help friends or buy votes.
The biggest virus, however, the most destructive, the vilest, is Bill C-20, the produce of a sort of germ or rather a two headed mite eating away at our democratic net like a sort of rat.
So, on December 13, 1999, the duo of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs tabled in the House of Commons an act to give effect to the requirement for clarity as set out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada. Since then, the federal government has brought out its work boots to ram through a bill that disregards the political institutions Quebec has created and acts as if there had never been three referendums.
Ideally, we would have Bill C-20 withdrawn. There are three good reasons for this.
First, it gives the House of Commons power to disallow legislation passed by the National Assembly and a choice expressed by the Quebec people.
The bill also denies Quebecers the freedom to choose their own political destiny and to include in a referendum question, should they so wish, a proposal of partnership with Canada.
Bill C-20 denies the universally accepted rule of 50% plus one for the majority and the fundamental rule of the equality of votes. And the reason for this is clear. It is because the government knows that the next Quebec referendum will be a winner for the Quebec people. So, with this bill, the government thinks it can get out of its obligation to negotiate. It is supremely wrong.
Not only does it want to get out of future negotiations, it does not even want to debate its bill in the House with the members. It proved it by imposing a gag on hon. members as early as second reading, then at the legislative committee stage and again, today, at third reading.
A few years ago, in an interview on Quebec television, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a former Prime Minister, stated that the people were sovereign and that a country could only be founded on the will of its people to be governed, and a free people must decide its own destiny and chose democratically its leaders.
If we are free, no yoke or shackles must be put on us, nobody outside Quebec should dictate to us what to think or what to do? With Bill C-20, the federal government wants to force Quebec to do things its way, to impose the procedure and determine the rules of the game.
If, as a Quebecer, I wanted to tell Ontario or another province how to manage itself, I would be told to mind my own business. That is exactly what the majority of the members from Quebec in this House, the National Assembly as a whole and many major organizations representing thousands of Quebecers are saying to the Liberal government in Ottawa: “Mind your own business and get off our backs. We have the sacred right to make our own decisions”.
Quebec is not a child, it is big enough to take care of itself without federal government interference. It can very well make enlightened decisions without Ottawa taking it by the hand or telling it what is good for Quebecers.
With Bill C-20, the Liberal government is telling us, like one does with a child, how to define a fair majority, a majority that suits its needs. All over the world, the 50% plus one rule is the accepted majority. Here in Canada, which claims to be a cradle of democracy, the Liberals want to change this universally accepted rule, according to their mood. Will it be 60%, 65% or 70%? Will it depend on whether it snows or rains on that day? This is called controlling democracy.
Some major Quebec organizations have condemned Bill C-20. The CSN, the FTQ and the CEQ formed a united front to condemn this unprecedented show of force against Quebec, and so have various other associations, including student federations, women's groups and community and social groups.
Twice, for the 1980 and 1995 referenda on the future of Quebec, it was the National Assembly that set the rules of the game and no one in Quebec, whether in the federalist or sovereignist camp, challenged the legitimacy and democratic character of these two public consultations. We had the right to do it then, but not any more. We can do it one day, but not the next day. The Liberal government is playing with democracy as if it were a yoyo.
On October 30, 1995, the no side won by a few tens of thousands of votes. The universal majority rule, 50% plus one, applied. Not one of those Quebecers who voted yes and who lost the referendum challenged the validity of that rule. We respected the public's decision.
Incidentally, I remind hon. members that all the referendums held in Canada so far were based on the universal rule of 50% plus one. Canada has also recognized many countries created after referendums held according to the same rule. This is also the rule used by the United Nations when it supervises referendums on sovereignty. Why should the federal government not ask the United Nations to change its democratic rule and set an arbitrary percentage to dictate the procedure to other countries?
If Quebec were sovereign, nobody would tell us what to do or what to think. We would not be in a federal yoke. The federal government was caught in its own trap when the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the legitimacy of the sovereigntist option and the obligation to negotiate on equal terms. Even if Canada does not recognize a yes at the next referendum, the other counties of the international community will if everything is done democratically.
I am proud to be a Quebecer, even more so when people from Quebec are successful internationally. With sovereignty, it is Quebec as a whole that will be successful internationally.
The federal government tricked us when it repatriated the Constitution of Canada without Quebec's consent. Enough is enough. The time when they played tricks on us and decided for us is over. We are a great people capable of taking its destiny into its own hands. We want to be autonomous and sovereign. That, at least, is clear.