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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Government Performance ReportsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, as part of a comprehensive effort to inform parliamentarians and Canadians on the government's performance, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 88th report on performance for 2005-06 on behalf of departments and agencies, as well as an annual report entitled “Canada's Performance The Government of Canada's Contribution”.

Weapons and Materials of Mass DestructionRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), to lay upon the table, in both official languages, the annual report on Canada's contribution to the global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to eight petitions.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences).

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2). This report contains the list of items added to the order of precedence as a result of the replenishment that took place on Tuesday, October 31 under private members' business that should not be designated non-votable.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) the report is deemed adopted.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-385, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (addition to order of prohibition).

Mr. Speaker, currently, the courts cannot prohibit a pedophile from being alone in the presence of a child under the age of fourteen years. I am introducing this bill today in the House of Commons in order to correct this shortcoming so the Criminal Code may be amended to permit the courts to impose such an order of prohibition.

The aim is also to help protect children. This legislative amendment will reduce the risk of repeat offences with regard to individual rights and freedoms.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

LiteracyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 23rd, 2006 / 10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting today a petition from the people of Thunder Bay—Rainy River concerned about cuts to literacy and requesting, in a very positive manner, the reinstatement of funding for literacy.

The riding Thunder Bay—Rainy River has 16 municipalities and 11 first nations and these cuts affect all of them. We are asking the government, in its economic statement today, to ensure that literacy is restored to its previous level and, indeed, to go beyond that.

Canada Labour CodePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure and honour to table here nearly 1,500 signatures in support of Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers). As we know, antiscab legislation can shorten labour disputes, improve the atmosphere in the workplace and provide a balance in means of exerting pressure during negotiations for both management and employees.

JusticePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to table in the House today a petition containing hundreds of signatures from my riding of Abbotsford and signatures from across the great province of British Columbia. They have been collected by justice advocate, Gertie Pool.

The petition informs Parliament that citizens wish to see repeat sexual offenders, like Peter Whitmore, kept away from our communities and children. It goes on to say that my private member's bill, Bill C-277, which would increase the maximum sentence for luring a child for sexual purposes over the Internet from 5 to 10 years in prison, would renew faith in the House if passed. Our children deserve no less.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

moved:

That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation.

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like you to know that I will be sharing my speaking time with the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean.

The motion the Bloc Québécois is putting before the House today will enable parliamentarians to recognize that Quebeckers form a nation. It is the recognition of a simple fact.

We formulated this motion in such a way as to make it acceptable to everyone. We thus did not link the recognition of the Quebec nation to any other consideration. No condition is attached to this recognition. We also did not formulate the motion in such a way as to permit its interpretation to mean recognition of a sovereign nation, which Quebec is not—at least not yet. We are therefore presenting a motion respectful of one and all, without making recognition of the Quebec nation subject to partisan conditions.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister, did the exact opposite. He introduced a motion recognizing the Quebec nation while imposing a condition—a partisan condition. That is absurd. It is clear that the Prime Minister is simply trying to save face. The only respectful approach to take towards Quebeckers is to recognize them for what they are—a nation that does not stop being one when it is no longer part of Canada—clearly, an unconditional nation.

It is not up to the Prime Minister to decide what option Quebeckers will choose. It is not up to one particular party to decide how Quebeckers will choose. The future of Quebec belongs to Quebeckers—period. Quebeckers will decide their own future under the standing orders of the National Assembly.

I repeat. Quebeckers form a nation, not on the condition of their remaining in a supposedly united Canada. They constitute a nation, not on the condition of their forming a country. Those are political options. They are both respectable, because they are both democratic. In neither instance can the existence of the nation of Quebec be predicated on a particular action or option.

We are a nation because we are who we are, whatever future Quebec chooses. The recognition of Quebec as a nation by the House of Commons is more than symbolic, and certainly above partisan politics. For Quebec, there is no other issue more fundamental than this. It is also a fundamental issue for Canada.

The proof of this lies in the very debate taking place here today and across the country, both in Quebec and in Canada, and in the media. It is an issue which is taking up a great deal of energy.

For years, federally elected representatives have wanted to avoid this thorny issue and sweep it under the carpet. Yet the issue resurfaced recently with the adoption of a related motion by the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada. It also came up following the adoption of an NDP declaration at its convention in September in Quebec City, and yet again following the Bloc’s motion and yesterday’s motion by the Prime Minister. We cannot ignore this issue when so many people are talking about it, and this is to be expected.

Many commentators and federally elected representatives have dug in their heels and refused to acknowledge this evidence that Quebeckers form a nation. Many surveys have found that a large majority of Canadians are not interested in officially recognizing that Quebeckers form a nation, neither better nor worse than Canada, but certainly different. This refusal to recognize Quebec for what it is is why Quebec is not a signatory to the Constitution. This refusal to recognize Quebec as a nation is also why Quebec is considered a province, no different than the rest and not as the place that is home to a nation.

By adding his coda to the Bloc Québécois motion, the Prime Minister is trying, clumsily as he put it, to delude Canadians. In the Quebec National Assembly, sovereignists and federalists alike agree that Quebeckers form a nation. The motion adopted by the National Assembly in 2003 is respectful of the people of Quebec. I will read it to you. It says, “That the National Assembly reaffirm that the people of Quebec form a nation”. This motion was adopted unanimously, by both sovereignists and federalists.

This motion does not subject our identity to one political option or another. If the Prime Minister is acting in good faith when he says he recognizes Quebec as a nation, he will support and vote for the Bloc Québécois motion. If he does not, everyone will know that the Prime Minister sees Quebec as a nation subject to Canada’s rule. Everyone will know that his true interest lies in political sparring. If he votes against this motion, which, I would like to remind you, is identical in every respect to the one adopted by the National Assembly, then it is because he does not believe that the Quebec nation is free to decide its own future. If this is the case, then the statement the Prime Minister made yesterday is just empty talk. I hope this is not the case. I hope he will have the courage to openly recognize Quebec as a nation.

Our intention with this motion is to stop elected representatives from sweeping the matter under the carpet and to have them take a stand on this fundamental issue. There is no question of setting conditions on this recognition. It is not a matter of saying that we recognize the Quebec nation as long as Quebec remains in Canada, or of saying that Quebec forms a nation only if it becomes a sovereign country. We are what we are, period. That is all. And that is the question that is being asked.

It turns out that, by introducing this motion, the Bloc Québecois has forced the issue and is making us all look in the mirror.

This morning, there was a range of viewpoints in the Canadian media. Some agreed with the Prime Minister’s position. Others are deeply dismayed and saying it is not possible to recognize the Quebec nation.

I urge the members of this House to see this through to the logical conclusion and to free themselves from those psychological barriers that prevent them from recognizing the Quebec nation, simply, without any second thoughts, without any ulterior motives and especially without petty partisanship.

I urge Quebeckers to pay close attention to the debate and take note of how each member of this House votes.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the matter before us today is one of—

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Victoria is rising on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague had risen to ask a question. I do not think you saw him.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I did not see anyone rising, so I will continue with recognizing the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us is clear, simple and straightforward. It says what it says. It says what the members of Quebec's National Assembly, federalists as well as sovereignists, have already said unanimously. It speaks of a fact that no one should contest or think of contesting, and says it so clearly that in my view there is no room for interpretation or ill-conceived amendments involving any kind of conditions.

Quebeckers are rather surprised this morning to see that, in this House, the Conservative government and some members from Quebec did not spontaneously agree to recognize that Quebec and Quebeckers form a nation.

The Prime Minister tried yesterday to introduce his own motion, bringing in partisan political considerations, referring to the federalism option and the sovereignty option, saying that it means inside a united Canada. The government's behaviour in this matter is so astonishing that I would like to take the liberty of explaining something to you.

I am the second-longest-serving House leader in the history of Canada's Parliament. Usually when there is a minister’s statement, the government sends it to the opposition. The reason for this is easy to understand: it enables the opposition parties to react to a statement made in the House. Every time a minister has made a statement in this House, the content has been transmitted in advance, whether several hours, 15 minutes, or even just 10 or 12 minutes in advance. But yesterday, something exceptional happened in this House and I would like to raise it in today’s debate.

For the past 13 years, the government has always given the opposition a copy of statements by the Prime Minister. For probably the first time in history, that copy was a fake, a statement that did not contain the most important element in the Prime Minister’s remarks, about which all the media in Canada are talking today, in other words, his motion.

The Prime Minister has insulted not only the Bloc Québécois and the other parties in this House, but all Quebeckers. The people of Quebec are humiliated. I see that the Minister of Transport, a Quebec member, seems to find it funny that his Prime Minister and his government deceived the entire population of Quebec, by deceiving their representatives with a sneaky little trick.

For the first time in this House, because the matter at issue was Quebec and the Quebec nation, the government sent a truncated and misleading statement that did not contain the essence of what the Prime Minister was going to state in the House. I leave it to Quebeckers to judge this government’s tactics. Not so long ago, we had the “night of the long knives”, when Quebec was betrayed during the constitutional discussions. We have just experienced a black afternoon, an afternoon where the representatives of Quebec and the people of Quebec were deliberately deceived by the Prime Minister of Canada, whom I accuse of having sent us a faked version of his statement.

Nothing can justify the use of techniques like this. As parliamentarians of all shades of political allegiance, we should be able to discuss issues honestly and openly, and to judge motions like ours on their merits. That is how a parliament should function.

We should be entitled to some measure of openness from the government, from members from other parts of Canada and especially from members from Quebec who are part of the government, some interest in discussion, comparing ideas and working objectively together to do justice to the people of Quebec. It appears however that this is not possible.

The Conservative government has behaved in exactly the same way as the previous Liberal government when Jean Chrétien plotted behind Quebec’s back. This is absolutely outrageous. Will someone tell me why we in the House cannot simply say what we think about such a clear motion, “That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation”. Why is it so difficult to speak about this motion?

In closing, I would like to amend this motion as follows:

I move, with the consent of the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and seconded by the member for Pointe-de-l'Île, the following amendment:

That the motion be amended by adding after the word “nation” the following:

“currently within Canada”

With this amendment, the motion would then read as follows:

That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation currently within Canada.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I must inform hon. members that, pursuant to Standing Order 85, the amendment to the opposition motion can only be moved with the consent of the party who moved the motion. As a result, I ask the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie whether he consents to this amendment.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the last time I said that, it committed me for a long time.

I consent.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, does my colleague recognize that a majority of Quebeckers would like a fresh start in our country, Canada?

People like me have chosen to go into politics simply to express their desire for real change in their life, in their future, for their children. Enough talking through our hats, enough posturing. On January 23, Quebec and Canada reconciled. Yesterday, I was proud to be a Quebecker and proud to be Canadian. Finally, for my parents, for my generation, for my children, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, no one is questioning the member’s right to believe what he wants, how he wants, to express his ideas, to debate here in Parliament, to question me, to react, to comment, to make statements or to go back to earlier remarks. No one is stopping him doing that.

Does declaring that Quebeckers form a nation prevent the member from making statements, holding forth, arguing his points of view and defending an option?

It is a matter of fact, and the members of Quebec’s National Assembly, federalists and sovereigntists alike, unanimously admitted that Quebeckers constitute a nation. Is the member telling us that this simple statement prevents him from living, flourishing or expressing his points of view?

On the contrary, the member should rejoice at seeing Canada’s House of Commons follow the lead of Quebec’s National Assembly and recognize a fact that is in any case almost universally recognized, that Quebeckers form a nation. I fail to see how that in any way impinges on his political opinions. On the contrary, we should debate this matter without trying to dismiss one option or insert another, as his leader, the Prime Minster, is trying to do.

The debate on Quebec’s sovereignty or Canada’s unity will take place when Quebeckers decide to put this question back on the table. However, we are not putting a motion before the House today that discusses that.

We are asking the members of this House to tell us simply, frankly, honestly, sincerely, based on their own feelings and cultural background, if, yes or no, Quebeckers form a nation. It is simple to understand and I do not understand why the member feels so uncomfortable about debating the question.

Opposition Motion—Quebec NationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, to my hon. colleagues across the way, as a Canadian and as a parliamentarian, I truly would love to converse with them in our other official language of this Parliament. It is impossible for me to do that in a coherent fashion. It is a part of my growth that I must go through as a parliamentarian in the future.

Having said that, I feel that we are debating issues here that speak to the reality of the situation in Canada. I think both motions that have been brought forward in this House speak to reality. Quebec is a nation within a unified Canada. That is the reality of where we are today in 2006. Certainly, the amendment that the Bloc has brought forward speaks to reality as well.

I feel that the debate on the abstract issues of a nation is important as well. I think we need to discuss that to understand much better how nationhood represents it with people, language, culture and history, and this is an arena where we can make those choices.

Does my hon. colleague not agree that the reality of what we are dealing with right now is the most important thing in this debate in this Parliament?