I appreciate your informing us of that, Mr. Speaker, because, as you are well aware, I am always ready to share my ideas with my colleagues, particularly under your skilled leadership from the Chair.
I was very pleased to accept the invitation of my colleague from Témiscamingue to take part in this debate. He is the one who has managed the debate for the Bloc Quebecois, and he has done the committee work. He is one of the most dynamic members of our party.
In caucus, he pointed out to us that we would be greatly ill advised to support such a bill. I will have an opportunity to speak of our position in detail, but I would like to start by setting out the general principle.
On the Bloc Quebecois side, we all know that the federal government has launched a vast nation building campaign. All excuses are good for this government which is looking for visibility. It is seeking visibility in an excessive, obsessive and even pathological way.
Fortunately, within the caucus, some ministers are not following the flock. For the most part however, we do not understand why it is so important to adopt or propose a Canadian tourism commission. If ever there was one area that should be handled by the communities, it is certainly tourism.
I feel quite comfortable speaking about this issue because, at the beginning of the 1990s in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, a riding with an extremely important working-class background, we chose a development based on what we call neighbourhood tourism.
At that time, Hochelaga—Maisonneuve went through a process of industrial dequalification. While the main employers in that district were the textile, shoe and clothing industries and the Vickers shipyard, from the early 1980s until 1990 or 1992, we lost a considerable number of jobs. We must remember that there were 30% too many ships on the seas, and the shoe and textile industry lost some momentum. I must admit that the textile industry recovered slightly in Montreal after it was restructured and reengineered.
However, I did understand that, in the district of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, we would never again be the working-class district we had been. We benefited from the presence of the Olympic stadium. We will recall that in 1976 the Olympic Games were held in Montreal. With the construction of the Olympic stadium, my district became one of the five major tourism growth poles in Montreal.
Of course there is also the Old Montreal. Some of our hon. colleagues might have come to visit Quebec in the past and spent a few days in the Old Montreal, which is a very important tourism centre.
There is of course another tourism centre that the hon. member for Laval Centre visits regularly: the St. Joseph's Oratory and Mount Royal. That is a very important tourism centre. Another tourism centre that has emerged is the Maisonneuve area, which is comprised of the Olympic stadium, the Biodome, the Insectarium and the Olympic facilities.
In the 1990s, I was personally involved in my community. A few years later, my constituents gave me the pleasure of trusting me with their confidence when they choose me as their elected representative here in the House of Commons. I have always seen it as a privilege that had to be renewed from day to day, always keeping in mind that the only way to live up to that duty properly and carry out our function as members of Parliament was to keep a great proximity with our constituents and remain very close to their concerns.
Within the tourism growth poles that have emerged in Quebec, the district of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve found its place, and we live in the shadow of the Olympic stadium. The Olympic Stadium is located on Pierre-de-Coubertin Street. I had proposed in the 1990's the establishment of a functional link in the south of this neighbourhood, between the Olympic stadium and Ontario, Adam and Sainte-Catherine streets. That strategy has been adopted by the economic decision makers.
Why do I talk about that? First of all, because very interesting things are happening in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve. I take this opportunity, before moving to the substance of the bill, to say that Hochelaga—Maisonneuve is a neighbourhood—and it is in moments like this one that the member for Charlesbourg's hospitality and enthusiasm are precious—a neighbourhood that has a rich industrial heritage.
We have for example the east end art and cultural centre, which is like a flagship for the community groups. During the summer months, from Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day until Labour Day week-end, there are activities on the marketplace. Let me give you a scoop, Mr. Speaker. This is a piece of information that I would like to share with all my colleagues and the viewers at home. This summer, starting on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, we will have “la Bolduc” on the marketplace.
I would like to remind members that “la Bolduc” was born on Létourneau Street, in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve. I would be tempted to sing one of her songs, but the presence of the deputy whip in the House prevents me from doing so.
The roaring twenties brought us the wonderful Bolduc. One cannot imagine the impact this singer had on our folklore. She was one of the first artist to penetrate the American market. This summer, in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, there will be an interpretative tour presenting the life of “la Bolduc” through various monuments and architectural artifacts.
I ask all my colleagues, especially the member for Ahuntsic and the member for Windsor—St. Clair, to visit Hochelaga—Maisonneuve this summer and discover how alive the past is there and how tourism is thriving in a working class neighbourhood in an industrial setting—everyone knows that Hochelaga—Maisonneuve is located between downtown and the end of the island. The interpretation trail, which gives expression to the best of Bolduc's repertoire draws people from New England.
Something happened, and I will digress a little to tell you about it. From the beginning of the 19th century until the 1930s, 500,000 Quebecers left the province to pursue their career in the United States. There are those who say that, if these people had not been forced to leave, to move to the United States, we would no doubt have won the 1995 referendum.
I wanted to point out this fact of history, and I also want to tell you that our premier, Lucien Bouchard, is one of the best to have served Quebec.
Mr. Speaker, you are indicating that I have only a minute left. I have not said even a fifth of what I wanted to say about this bill.
I have to say that we oppose the bill, because we believe there already exist appropriate structures within the provinces and the various communities. This is especially true in Quebec, because the society there has integrated tourism into its economic development. It did so, naturally, because tourism generates revenues of $5.4 billion.
I do not know if any of you saw the report on RDI yesterday. The member for Charlesbourg, partial to this sort of information, will remember that last year was the best year of the decade for tourism in Quebec. Quebec, with its tourism offices, succeeded in creating stakeholder groups with enough resources so that people in North America and Europe find pleasure in discovering tourism there.
I close by inviting all my fellow citizens, all those watching and my colleagues here to take advantage of the season of tourism in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, which will be both colourful and lively.