Madam Speaker, I had not intended to take part in this debate, but having been here this afternoon it may seem to people watching that this is a dispute between Ontario and Quebec.
I know that hon. members opposite do not mean it that way, but because they are the closest to Quebec it sometimes comes across that way. Indeed, people from western Canada, particularly in my area, look upon this more as a debate down east that does not make reference to them.
In my province the largest ethnic group is comprised of Anglo-Saxons, followed by the Ukrainians, the Germans and then the French. I was born in a French town. I refereed hockey in a dozen French communities, so I know very well what it is like and I am very proud to have lived in those French communities. My son-in-law's name is Tetreau and I am proud of that as well.
Having said that, I am not about to leave the west out of this picture. As westerners are looking at this debate this afternoon, many of the people in my constituency are asking what we are arguing about. They are losing their farms. To them this is not an important issue over their individual issues because of what has happened.
Let us take a look at what was handed to Quebec with confederation. It was guaranteed 24 senators. That is the same as the four western provinces. It was also guaranteed so many members of parliament, regardless of what happens to its population. The only other province which got that guarantee of course was Prince Edward Island.
What we do not understand about this is, when people talk about a sovereign nation, nobody explains to the people west of Ontario what they mean by that. To westerners a sovereign nation is a separate entity unto itself. It has its own laws, its own money system, its own trade and commerce, all of that. It is indeed a separate nation.
When I read what Quebec voted on, it talked about sovereignty and then all these other things. As far as the people of western Canada are concerned—and let me say that it is very clear as I travel in western Canada—if my hon. friends in the Bloc want a sovereign nation, it will have to be the total meaning of sovereignty. It will not be some sort of association. It is one or the other. They cannot have it both ways.
At the present time Quebec is part of an association, the federal government, and so is Saskatchewan an associate of this government. We do not ask for separate identities. The Europeans are coming together for particular reasons, because they are bound by international agreements or monetary agreements. Quebec would have to have a separate agreement entirely. Otherwise, B.C. would want to go. Not too long ago it was the four western provinces. Some of my friends from the west will remember the WCC, the Western Canada Concept Party. That is what it actually wanted. Its separation was based on a financial barrier, for obvious purposes.
While my people are floundering around trying to understand how they are going to live for another year, we have people here whose reasons to become separate and totally apart from Canada they say are not based on economics. That could be proven.
It has never been quite clear to the people of western Canada why these people are attempting to separate. To be honest with you, Madam Speaker, in all of my reading and following of this issue, that issue has never become fundamentally clear to me and it has never been fundamentally clear to the people beyond Ontario in western Canada.