Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
I would like to begin by expressing my thanks to the people of Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier for entrusting me for the second time in a row to represent them in the House, despite a tough campaign in which issues having nothing to do with federal politics were constantly being brought up.
Despite the smokescreens, they were able to see that what was principally at stake in this election was a repudiation of the Liberal government. This they have done, having resisted the demagoguery of certain individuals aimed at transforming this federal election into a referendum on an issue with no impact whatsoever on the federal scene.
The speech we heard a few days ago is very clear. Its underlying premise is very clear: denial of the reality that is Quebec in every statement it contains. Behind every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, lies the desire of the Liberal federal government to deny the existence of the Quebec nation and, worse yet, to deny the existence of certain consensuses in Quebec, be they federalist or sovereignist.
I would even venture to say that there has never been any consensus in Quebec this government has not wanted to go against. Every time a consensus is reached in Quebec above party lines, be they federalist or sovereignist, Péquiste, Liberal, Action démocratique, socialist or whatever, this government tries to oppose it.
This is very apparent in the latest speech from the throne. I will give you only three examples, because, unfortunately, my time is limited. However, if the House were to give me more time, I would be pleased to give more examples.
First, let us look at parental leave. There is broad consensus in Quebec in support of an effective parental leave plan. In its Speech from the Throne, the Liberal government announced with great pomp that it wanted to make children a priority. Unfortunately, it is refusing to transfer the necessary funds to the Government of Quebec, which wants to establish a more complete, solid and effective policy on parental leave.
Among other things, the Liberal government is ignoring self-employed workers entirely. Heaven knows, in this new economy, many people, especially young people, work for themselves. They work at home, in the new Internet economy, in communications and so on.
With the proposed government plan, these people, especially the young, will not be covered by the parental leave plan. It is generally the young who have children and who need parental leave. So this entire segment of the population is denied the possibility of taking parental leave. This is an example of a consensus in Quebec, which the federal government has decided to oppose.
The second example is young offenders. Once again, the Bloc has done exceptional work representing the Quebec consensus on the federal scene. The member for Berthier—Montcalm, who is here today, has done a particularly fine job in this area.
All the Quebec stakeholders—judges, crown attorneys, defence lawyers, social workers and the police—everyone involved in juvenile delinquency in Quebec are saying “Do not touch the existing Young Offenders Act, it works”.
Not only does it work, but when the Standing Committee on Justice travelled across Canada to hear witnesses on the government's intention to change the existing act, all the stakeholders said that the act worked well in Quebec, and was indeed an example that ought to be emulated.
But what did the federal government do? It seems to have taken the stand that, regardless of how well the act is working—provided it is properly implemented, of course—it shall be shelved and replaced with a harsher, more repressive measure.
I discussed this issue with friends, including Europeans, and commented that only in Canada could such a situation occur, whereby an act that is working well if it is properly implemented could be shelved and replaced with an unproven legislative measure. This is totally surreal.
This is why I am telling the government that, instead of imposing this new, harsher vision and running the risk of throwing out legislation that works very well in Quebec, it should include a clause allowing Quebec, if it so wishes, to implement the existing legislation.
If the other provinces want a harsher, more repressive law, they will have that option. But let Quebec manage the program the way it wants because, I repeat, it is working.
This was the second consensus the federal government decided to ignore.
The third example is education. To my astonishment, the throne speech went on and on about the federal government's desire to interfere in the area of education although, as everyone would agree, this is a provincial jurisdiction and the one most staunchly defended since the British North America Act, 1867.
Certain passages took my breath away, and I will cite one of them from page 6:
Youth at risk are among the most likely to drop out of school or to have difficulty in making the transition from school to work. The Government will work...to ensure support for youth who particularly need help staying in school or getting their first job.
What is this if not a clear sign that the federal government wants to interfere in a jurisdiction that does not concern it?
Here is another example:
—many Canadian adults lack the higher literacy skills needed in the new economy. The Government of Canada will invite the provinces... to launch a national initiative with the goal of significantly increasing the proportion of adults with these higher-level skills.
The goals are great, but this is none of its business. Why is it getting involved at all?
This is the third example of a consensus against which the federal government has decided to pit itself. Those are three examples.
And that is not all. The federal government has announced its desire to invade the fields of manpower, immigration, health, the municipalities and family policy. In short, a massive invasion into areas of provincial jurisdiction has been announced by the federal government.
Unfortunately I do not have much time left, but I did want to say a word about the aboriginal people. We support the government's avowed intent to make some progress in this area, but I would caution it to take care and to avoid reinventing the wheel.
Some years ago, after thousands of hours of testimony and after thousands of pages had been written on the subject and millions of dollars spent, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Erasmus-Dussault Commission, came out with some suggestions and conclusions that were, on the whole, very well received by all stakeholders. I am therefore asking the government to use the Erasmus-Dussault report as its basis, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
In conclusion, the historical framework does not change. After the 1982 repatriation in which Quebec was betrayed, after the sinister agreement on the social union, which sanctions the federal government's invasion into areas of provincial jurisdiction, after the federal government's avowed desire in the throne speech to invade areas of provincial jurisdiction and, in a way, to trample over its own Constitution, Quebecers are faced with this choice: an increasingly unitarian state to be called Canada, or a new country they will construct for themselves, to be called Quebec.
I am willing to bet that this choice will be made sooner than expected and that Quebecers will choose to give themselves a country.