Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the motion. I would like to congratulate my colleague from Saint-Lambert on his excellent speech and thank him for sharing his time with me.
I would like to read the motion introduced by our excellent member for Papineau.
That, in the opinion of the House, given that the Prime Minister has promised to eliminate the fiscal imbalance and that this imbalance cannot be eliminated without the elimination of the federal spending power in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces, the bill on federal spending power that the government will introduce should, at a minimum, provide for Quebec to have the right to opt out with no strings attached and with full financial compensation from any federal program, whether existing or not and cost-shared or not, which invades Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.
I felt it was important to reread the motion for all of our federalist colleagues in this House, and especially for our colleagues from Quebec who belong to federalist parties. I want to make it perfectly clear that the motion introduced by the Bloc Québécois today is based on the traditional demands of all parties in Quebec's National Assembly. There is nothing new in it.
In its throne speech, the Conservative government told us about placing limits on the use of the federal spending power in shared-cost programs. The Conservative government decided to put restrictions on what Quebec has traditionally asked for. That is why we, the members of the Bloc Québécois, are working hard to defend the interests of Quebeckers. All parties have been making this demand for a long time now.
As far as I know, the Liberal Party in Quebec's National Assembly is a federalist party. It is hard to tell where the ADQ stands on this issue, but the Liberal Party in Quebec is a federalist party. This motion contains one of Quebec's traditional demands. Our colleagues must understand this. This is important because in this House, members too often fail to understand Quebec's demands.
Three Canadian provinces and three territories all have fewer inhabitants than the former city of Montreal. I am not talking about the new amalgamated city. Those provinces and territories may not have enough inhabitants to support programs, social or otherwise. Quebec does. Of all North American jurisdictions, Quebec does the best job of distributing wealth among its citizens.
Quebec is different when it comes to spending powers and provincial areas of jurisdiction. We did not invent them; they are in the Constitution of Canada. The areas of jurisdiction are in there. It was the federal government, in its Constitution, that decided on the division of powers, which would go to the provinces, and which would remain with federal government. The federal government's determination to invade provincial areas of jurisdiction simply means that there is too much money in Ottawa and not enough in the provinces. That is the hard reality.
We in the Bloc Québécois can understand Quebec's traditional claim. We have social programs and we lead the other Canadian provinces in wealth sharing. That is why we want to have as much control as possible over all the taxes collected in Quebec. Otherwise, let the federal government give Quebec its fair share. Let the federal government give Quebec full compensation, with no strings attached, for whatever Ottawa might decide to spend in other Canadian provinces for whatever programs it chooses. We have no problem with that. The problem is that we want Quebec to receive full, fair compensation with no strings attached. This is not hard. It is a traditional demand by Quebec's National Assembly.
All we are asking is that the federal government stop interfering in jurisdictions it does not have, as defined by the Canadian Constitution. If it does so in other provinces or territories, then it must give Quebec full financial compensation. That is all we are asking.
I do not understand why the federalist parties' MPs from Quebec are not supporting this motion today. It is the traditional demand by Quebec's National Assembly, which simply says to Ottawa that if Ottawa needs to create programs in other Canadian provinces because they need federal assistance, it should go ahead and create them. We have no problem with that. But it must give Quebec full financial compensation so that it can spend its own money where it wants, in accordance with the Canadian Constitution. There is nothing wrong with that.
Year after year, regardless of the party in power, both the Liberals and the Conservatives interfere in provincial areas of jurisdiction and create new programs trying get re-elected. This results in new programs and expectations, but in the end there is not enough money.
It should never be forgotten that more than half of our taxes go to the federal government. I heard colleagues saying that we had the same tax base. That is not true. More taxes are paid to Ottawa than Quebec, for once reason because federal corporate taxes are higher than provincial ones.
I have trouble understanding that today, in this House, there is no support for Quebec's traditional demand to eliminate the federal spending power in provincial areas of jurisdiction, when it is in line with the Canadian Constitution. I have a lot of trouble understanding that.
Furthermore, asymmetrical federalism, or the way it has been interpreted by the federalist parties here in Ottawa, has created this unfairness towards Quebec, which has never wanted this federalism. The province of Quebec never wanted it. Nevertheless, the federalist parties in Ottawa, and sometimes even members from Quebec, have continued to interfere in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction in order to get elected, to win elections with promises that try to solve problems by throwing a little money around.
In the end, what Quebec wants when it is experiencing a crisis—such as the forestry crisis—is for the federal government to withdraw from regional development issues and give the envelope to Quebec so that it can organize its budgets to solve the forestry crisis, the manufacturing crisis or any other crisis that may arise.
As we all know, there is no will here in Ottawa. Quite simply, the government has decided that it does not have enough money to solve the problems or crises. The government should therefore withdraw from these areas of jurisdiction and allow the provinces to act. When regional development, health care or education programs are offered in other provinces, such as Quebec, the money should simply be given to that province.
There is nothing to worry about. Quebec has already proven that it is the best place in North America for sharing the wealth. We do so in the interest of our citizens, as we have always done, and done well. The federal government should never be afraid to give Quebec its envelope, its share for programs it creates in other parts of Canada. We know how to look after our citizens in Quebec.
As we all know, Quebeckers have shown unquestionable logic since 1993. They have been sending Bloc Québécois members here to defend only the interests of Quebeckers. One of those interests includes calling on the federal government to stop its use of the federal spending power in jurisdictions that belong to the provinces and to take care of its own business, particularly, national security.
We all know what happened in that case. During the 1990s, the federal government pulled out of national security, including security at ports and airports. It entrusted this responsibility to private companies, resulting in the security problems we have been having since 2001. Huge amounts of money now have to be reinvested. Why did the government do what it did? To turn around and spend money in areas of jurisdiction that belong to the provinces. That is what the federal government did.
Since the very beginning, if it had listened to Quebec, Canada would never have known these problems. It would have spent money on its own areas of jurisdiction. It would have taken care of its own affairs, rather than trying to meddle in the affairs of others.
That is the difficult reality of our situation. In the meantime, Quebec must manage crises that are different than those affecting other areas. Manufacturing is more important to our province than to others. We have been hit hard by the crisis resulting from the increase in the Canadian dollar, ushered in by the booming western economy where oil activity is doing well. This is spurring the Canadian dollar, which obviously hurts the manufacturing and forestry sectors, among others. It has hit us harder than others.
If we had full control over our money, our taxes, we could try to deal with the crises in our own way, in the Quebec way, as we have always done—by sharing the wealth and trying to help one another. That is our way—I am not making it up. With regard to sharing wealth, any economist will tell you that, in North America, Quebec does it the best. We have set the standard and we are proud to defend this interest. However, we do so without having complete control of our taxes.
In addition, the federal government appropriates more than half of Quebeckers' taxes and reinvests the money in areas of jurisdiction that are not its own. It does not return the money as we would hope. It attempts to create programs in order to be elected. They are all just as guilty—the Liberals, the Conservatives and the NDP would do the same thing. It would probably be worse if the NDP, a more centralizing party, were in power.
They try to be elected on the backs of Quebeckers, to take our taxes and to create structures and election platforms. That all goes against the interests of Quebeckers. If my colleagues truly wish to prove they take their interests to heart, they need only vote in favour of this mission. I challenge all members to do so.