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.