Mr. Speaker, I will share my 20 minutes with the eloquent member for Hochelaga.
I am very pleased to take the floor for the first time in this 39th Parliament. Tradition dictates that, during their first speech in this House, members pay tribute to the people in their riding who made it possible for them to be here to talk about the throne speech and other issues and to pass legislation.
I would therefore be remiss if I did not thank the people of Repentigny. For the fifth time since 1993, they have entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them in this House. I thank the people of Repentigny and my whole campaign team.
I will now come back to the throne speech. I will comment on certain points, ranging from the promises the Conservatives made during the election campaign to the throne speech that was read last week. I will also talk a bit about the accountability act that was introduced this morning. There is a connection between these promises, the throne speech and the Conservatives' first order of business, which was to introduce Bill C-2 on accountability this morning.
This bill represents a few victories for the Bloc Québécois in certain files that we have been working on for a long time. First of all, I will talk about the appointment of returning officers. Further to many discussions, proposals, recommendations and motions by the Bloc Québecois, we are finally being heard and understood. Returning officers will be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, following a competition. This is a very good thing for the electoral process.
To the Liberals, who were very worried, I used to like to say in committee that I was sure there were some competent Liberals and that therefore some of them could aspire to the position of returning officer. So they do not have to worry. Maybe 10% of their returning officers will make it through the steps of the process supervised by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Tightening control over political party funding is another fine victory for Quebec and for the Bloc Québécois. Until quite recently, it was, as we say at home, “the one with the deepest pockets” who ruled, that is, certain banks or companies could donate $100,000, $200,000 or $300,000 to the federal parties. We struggled very hard to make the funding of political parties more democratic by drawing on the Quebec model. A first step has been taken. Today, we are eliminating donations from both unions and companies, and we are accepting donations of up to $1,000 from taxpayers only. This is another fine victory for the Bloc Québécois and for the Quebec model on which the new plan is patterned.
This morning, I had the privilege of attending the lock-up on this bill. In the margin was written, “according to the Quebec model”. That really pleased me.
Lots of things, however, were left out of the bill introduced this morning. In our opinion, and we heard this during question period, the fact that adoption of a true reform of the Access to Information Act has been postponed, using one delaying tactic after another, is a major oversight.
This morning, it was indicated in quotation marks in the consultation and information documents that this bill was very complex and that that was the reason why discussions, study papers and other documents were being postponed.
The proposed Accountability Act comprises 317 clauses and it is very complex. Because they had the will, the Conservatives were able, within a very short period of time, to present this first draft. If they had wanted, if they had really exercised their will, this Accountability Act would have included a new version of the Access to Information Act.
Rather than table a complete bill, they are saying, “Here are the documents, a committee could discuss the matter and one day there might be reforms made to the Access to Information Act”. For the Bloc Québécois this is absolutely not enough.
The rest of the Accountability Act is interesting, but I will talk about that after the Easter break. It is a step in the right direction.
I want to point out that there is a lot of rehashing of existing bills, existing policies and existing guidelines. It will be important to go over the bill to look at what is new and what is reheated. This will be important and interesting.
Further in the Speech from the Throne is the subject of child care, or services for young children who attend day care.
There is another rather worrisome matter. I will read an excerpt from the House of Commons Debates of Monday, April 10, 2006, page 230. I am pleased to see that the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is present in this House, since she is the one I am quoting. She said:
Canadians had been saddled with an interventionist government—
She was talking about the Liberals.
—that without a doubt has been anti-family.
I have no objection so far. She continues by saying:
The worldwide trend away from Soviet style institutionalized day care has been very pronounced in those countries that were formerly part of the old Soviet empire and are now democracies. Our plan to provide benefits directly to families is in tune with the experience of other democratic countries.
I asked the hon. member a question, but she refused to answer. I said that her comments were a direct attack on the Quebec model. We have an institutionalized style of day care. We have a model that is the envy of the rest of Canada, even North America. People come to study what Quebec has done in terms of child care over the past number of years. There is a true choice because there are spaces. Everyone agrees that there is a lack of spaces, but there is a child care system. The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke said she wanted to offer a choice by providing $1,200 a year to families, which is roughly $3 a day before taxes. I asked her to confirm whether her comments referred to the Quebec model. I am quite worried about the Speech from the Throne, which suggests there is a will to promote new child care spaces. I will read an excerpt from the Speech from the Throne, page 7:
The Conservative government will also encourage the creation of new child care spaces.
She said that these new places in institutionalized day care made her think of the style of the former Soviet Union. I asked her to repeat her comments and also if that was the position of the Conservative government. Twenty-four hours later, there is still no answer. I hope she was wrong and will correct what she said and there will be a proper discussion on a style of day care, whether it be Quebec's or what the rest of Canada wants, because we are having a real problem interpreting the distribution of powers.
During the election campaign and in the throne speech, a Conservative trend could be seen. During the campaign, they said about Quebec's place in the world and, primarily, at UNESCO, that they wanted a place for it similar to the one it has at the summit of the Francophonie. This was in a speech by the Prime Minister in Quebec City on December 19, if I am not mistaken.
I was the spokesperson for the international Francophonie for many years. I also participated in a number of conferences of the Francophonie. I sat with the Canadian delegation, because I was a federal member. I could share the table with people from Quebec and New Brunswick, because they have a place at the summit of the Francophonie.
When it came time for the Quebec delegation to speak, there was no need to ask the Canadian delegation if it agreed with what Quebec had to say. Quebec had independent status at the summit.
I have no doubt that the Prime Minister, erudite as he is, knew what he was saying when he said in Quebec City he wanted to give Quebec a place at UNESCO similar to the one it had at the summit of the Francophonie. At least, I hope his speech writer knew what he was writing. One wrote and the other knew what he was saying.
In conclusion, the Conservatives made some fine promises during the election campaign. They disavowed a number of them in the throne speech, and their first piece of legislation proves that we need to keep a very close eye on them because they are going to disillusion those who believed in them during the last election campaign.