Mr. Speaker, if I rise in the House today, it is first and foremost to support the amendment to the amendment moved by my colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, whom I want to congratulate and thank for his excellent work.
The amendment to the amendment moved by my colleague totally changes the motion of our Conservative colleagues. I truly believe that, once again, the federal government is trying to gain public support in an area that is not its responsibility. However that is nothing new from the federal government since it does that in several areas, such as parental leave and education, to name just two.
Is there, under the Canadian constitution, an area that is more clearly under provincial jurisdiction than education? Yet, the federal government insists on interfering in that area.
When I hear this government say that it wants to establish national standards, I find it absolutely scandalous. I have here a Transport Canada document, an inventory of contaminated sites. It says that a single department has contaminated 41 sites in Quebec.
So if we take one department of the Government of Canada and we multiply that by 10 provinces, it means that about 400 sites would have been contaminated by that department throughout the country, unless it only contaminated sites in Quebec because it likes us so much.
In my riding alone, there are about five sites that are totally contaminated and for three years now the Bloc Quebecois and the member for Manicouagan have been urging the federal government to assume its responsibilities, that is to apply the polluter pays rule.
How can we trust a government that continues to pollute, that does not assume its responsibilities and that is trying to preach to the provinces by saying: “We will set national standards”? Before lecturing anyone, I think the federal government should assume its responsibilities.
This is why the amendment to the amendment put forward by my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois is very important. I am confident that all the members in this House will support this amendment to the amendment, which will make it possible for us to vote in favour of the motion.
I would say that the motion before the House is a legitimate one because what could be more legitimate than to want to provide the public with drinking water. As usual, the government has decided to infringe upon areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The federal government is trying to demonstrate to Canadians that the provinces cannot handle it without its help, when we know that it was the federal government that created this problem in the first place by cutting, as it did, transfer payments to provinces and funding that would have helped provinces to provide these services to the public.
Now the federal government is getting ready to spend money in provincial areas of jurisdiction because, as we say in Quebec, it has the cash to do it. It cut the funding to the provinces in order to better control them afterwards.
Well, Quebec has news for the federal government. Water management is an area of provincial jurisdiction and the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to any federal involvement in this area.
Some may say that the Bloc sounds like a broken record, but this is the root cause of the problem we have in this country. The federal government is always trying to interfere in provincial jurisdictions.
As far as the issue at hand is concerned, it is clear, since we are talking about water, we could say as clear as spring water, that water quality and availability come under provincial jurisdiction.
Why would the federal government want to get involved? The problems in provinces like Ontario and Saskatchewan do not justify duplicating a system that is working just fine. We have seen the standards established by Quebec and Ontario, and, as my colleague indicated this afternoon, Quebec ranked first.
Quebec emphasizes prevention more. The standards on byproducts of water disinfection are stricter in Quebec than in any other province. Parasite removal requirements are also more stringent. With the standards in the new draft regulations about to be passed by the Quebec government, its water quality standards will be the highest in any province. Why would the federal government want to interfere in a situation that is so clear?
The Bloc Quebecois objects categorically to federal involvement and maintains that the only thing the federal government should do in that area is to correct the problems of its own making, when it has contaminated the water table and thus deprived people of safe drinking water.
This, as members will have guessed, is part of the numerous representations I have made, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, to have the government solve the problem of the beaches area in Sept-Îles. Time and again, we have heard the government say “We did everything that had to be done to correct the situation”. Today, we are once again asking for a real solution.
On June 19, 2000, the Quebec department of the environment announced new draft regulations on the quality of drinking water. These regulations are being reviewed by the provincial cabinet and, as I mentioned earlier, are about to be adopted. Instead of trying to copy what was done in Quebec, the federal government must do all it can to correct the situations for which it is responsible.
Since Quebec ranks first, emphasizes prevention more and has stricter standards for water disinfection byproducts, as I said, the Bloc Quebecois supports the initiatives of the Quebec government and objects to the federal government interfering in this area in such an unacceptable fashion.
It has to correct the situations it itself caused. I mentioned these at the beginning of my speech. They include the pollution of the beaches at Sept-Îles and even at Havre-Saint-Pierre, in my riding, where the airport site was affected.
If the federal government wants to look after drinking water the way it is looking after decontaminating the beaches water, that will be just great. We have been asking the federal government to decontaminate the beaches for three years. There are other sites we are demanding they decontaminate as well. Now it tell us it is going to adopt national standards. Just because certain provinces have problems does not mean that the federal government has to charge in where it has no business. Once again, it is interfering and duplicating provincial responsibilities.
Since my time is running out, I hope that, once again, members of the House will support the amendment to the amendment of the member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier and that we will all finally be able to vote in favour of a motion which will improve the public's drinking water.