—because every person is entitled to eat properly, and every person is entitled to the right to express himself on a full stomach, and I feel that my rights in this regard are being violated at this very moment.
All this to say that gun ownership is not a constitutional right. It seemed reasonable to us to put registration mechanisms in place.
Of course, when it was being debated in the House, many members raised legitimate questions regarding the cost of registration. We were told $15 or $20 million, but it has risen to a billion dollars.
I watched the news carefully and I was extremely pleased to see that government members are exercising their right to dissent, given that one member questioned the current Minister of Industry's competence. This was the sad spectacle of a kind of intellectual sparring match between two members of the Liberal majority.
There are certainly many members of the House who think that there is some truth to what the Liberal member said about the Minister of Industry. However, these are all considerations that can be debated in public.
We agreed to recognize in 1995, 1996 and 1997, that owning a firearm is not a constitutional right, because of the fact that we live in a society sheltered from violence. The debate took place, the parties had their say, and we voted.
As for the bill on cruelty to animals, we also had some reservations. I am sure members will recall, with joy and nostalgia no doubt, the excellent work done by the member for Berthier—Montcalm at the time.
Incidentally, as everyone knows, we will soon have the pleasure, I hope, of welcoming another member for Berthier—Montcalm, who will join the Bloc Quebecois caucus. I am taking this opportunity to invite all our fellow citizens from Berthier—Montcalm to go and vote on Monday. Let us not forget that there is nothing more precious in a democracy than to exercise one's right to vote. I remain fully confident that the voters of Berthier—Montcalm will put their trust in the Bloc Quebecois candidate.
Having said this, let us go back to the essence of the motion before us. As parliamentarians, how could we accept that our rights as legislators not be respected?
Even though our parliament is a bicameral institution, which means that it is made up of two chambers, namely the House of Commons and the other place, we cannot accept that a bill that was introduced in this House, that was debated at second reading, at which time members from all parties had an opportunity to speak, a bill that received serious consideration in committee and that made it to third reading, should be amended.
As parliamentarians, we know that a member of Parliament shows his true worth in committee. Indeed, it is in committee that the real work of parliamentarians is done, because an expertise is developed, the process is less partisan, and we can of course work in the true spirit of cooperation and friendship that all parties should have.
The bill came back for third reading. All the parties represented in the House expressed their opinions. We sent it to the other place. The Senate, with a shocking disregard for our prerogative as members of Parliament, is asking us to review the bill's structure and to split it again. This is unacceptable. This would create a precedent.
This proves to us in the Bloc Quebecois that it is high time we abolished this antiquated, backward, outdated, antidemocratic, obsolete institution, which has absolutely no place in a democratic system. When it comes time to look back on the Liberal Party's record and history, we will see how devoid of moral fibre and courage this party has been in refusing to modernize our political institutions.
The other place should have been abolished long ago. Anyone making decisions for their peers should be democratically and legitimately elected.
That is not what we are being proposed. They are proposing to ride roughshod over our prerogative. The Bloc Quebecois will never permit the other place to come here and tell us to do our work differently, as if the debate had never taken place, as if we were not elected representatives and as if we were not democratically elected. When I rise in this House, I can speak legitimately on behalf of the people of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.
Do parliamentarians know who the senators represent? What is the role of the Senate, in terms of democratic legitimacy? In truth, it does not have any.
Of course, historically, people will say that when the founding fathers designed the federal system, they wanted to give the senators, in that other place, a responsibility to protect minorities. You could tell me this, but this responsibility to protect minorities has nothing to do with the democratic legitimacy of the members of this House.
I must say it again, it is almost as if the Senate wanted to hold us hostage, to strangle us with a bear hug and prevent us from breathing democratically. This is out of the question.
A number of institutions, such as the Senate and the position of Governor General, need to be rethought. They are not especially democratic. Granted, there have been some representatives of the Queen whose descendants have graced this House. This is perhaps the most useful thing they ever did for society.
However, let us agree that the Senate, the Governor General and anyone who is not democratically elected, are no longer legitimate in the 21st century. I am thankful that the Canadian Alliance has moved an amendment that invites us to take a firm stand. If by some misfortune this amendment were adopted, I hope that all government members and the hon. members of this House will understand the precedent that would be set. Imagine how vulnerable we would be. What happened once could happen again and again.
If ever the Senate were so ill-advised as to not approve bills referred to it or to refuse again to split a bill, the other place could claim a precedent and could say, “We did it for the bill on cruelty to animals and gun control; we could do it for any other bill”.
I am asking all those who believe in democracy, in our role as parliamentarians and in democratic legitimacy, to stop this trend towards disrespect for parliamentarians and to vote against the motion. I am asking the hon. members to approve the Canadian Alliance's amendment, so that if the Senate ever wants to claim a precedent, we can say no.
We will have been vigilant and have exercised our prerogative as representatives of the people. We are going to send the same message and stand together as one in telling the Senate, “We do not accept the Senate's cavalier attitude toward the House of Commons”. That is what the Canadian Senate is up to.