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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Fourteen pages, to add two days.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2007 / 4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Indeed, it does take a lot of text. My colleague from Sherbrooke is right, there are 14 pages to add two more days. The summary reads as follows:

This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act to increase the number of days of advance polling from three to five, and to increase the number of advance polling stations open on the last day of advance polling. It also makes a consequential amendment to the Referendum Act.

So, we have understood the purpose of this bill. I will begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois will be in favour of this bill, but there are far too many pages considering the objectives. In relation to the principal objective intended by the Conservative government, though, hon. members will understand there are too few.

First of all, as the chief organizer of the Bloc Québécois, I will attempt to make my comments very constructive. I merely wish to say that, in the 75 Quebec ridings, the Bloc Québécois has a tough political machine, as our opponents are well aware. We are the best organized political party, and the one most aware of all the problems that everyone can run into on election day.

Since 1993, we have been the party, each and every time, that obtains the majority of the Quebec seats here in the House of Commons. We will continue to do so, precisely because we are a formidable organization, with exceptionally generous workers and supporters in the 75 ridings of Quebec. Some of those ridings cover a huge area. I would like this aspect to have particular attention paid to it.

It is true that it does seem worthwhile to have two more days, and to have an advance poll in each polling station on the Sunday preceding the Monday election day. Yes, at first glance, it seems worthwhile, and that is why we will be in favour of the bill and will attempt to make improvements to it.

I say it seems worthwhile, because the government's objective is to increase turnout. I believe—or at least I hope—that on this point all the parliamentarians in this House will have the full support of all the men and women of the Bloc Québécois deputation.

Our objective is precisely to ensure that as many persons as possible of voting age who are entitled to vote may make use of the only way we can pass judgment on the way democracy is being exercised in Canada or in Quebec: our right to vote.

The message today will be a constructive one. Obviously, the interests of the Bloc Québécois and of Quebeckers are at stake. Our objective is, therefore, a simple one. Yes, it is a good thing to have two more days, including the Sunday prior to election day, when advance polls will be held in each polling station to be used on election day. This is a positive step.

However, on the other days of advance polling, including the weekend before the election, we would like to see a larger number of advance polling stations. That weekend has traditionally been the advance polling weekend. This is ingrained in people's minds. They know that the weekend before an election—not the Saturday and Sunday that immediately precede the Monday of the election but, rather, the previous weekend, that is the eighth and ninth days before the election—is advance polling weekend.

So, we must be able to increase the number of advance polling stations and the number of polling stations. Indeed, if we want to try to increase voter turnout, we must not merely say that there are advance polling stations, we must not merely tell people that they have the option of voting eight or nine days—that is either the Saturday or the Sunday—before election day, because they may not be available that weekend.

The quality of the voting services must also be similar to the ones that we have on election day. This is what is lacking here. Indeed, during the four days allocated for the advance polling process—because we are adding two days—the number of polling stations will be limited.

Advance polling stations are often few and far between. For example, in my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, the advance polling station is located in Thurso. This means that the citizens of the eight municipalities surrounding the town of Thurso must sometimes travel over 70 or 80 kilometres to vote in advance. This does not make any sense in 2007, because people have to travel by car, which is a major drawback. Moreover, when an advance polling station is centralized, this means longer waits, because a larger number of voters use it.

Having to drive 80 kilometres and then wait for two hours to vote in advance is in and of itself a deterrent that sometimes seems deliberate. This has happened too often in the past, and I am tempted to say that it may not have been by accident. We can blame returning officers for not setting up enough advance polling stations, but the fact remains that it is the government that gives them their budgets.

Bill C-55 could have included a provision for more polling stations. Adding another polling day the Sunday before voting day in each polling station is a step forward. However, they could have increased the number of polling stations and polling divisions for the other four days of advance polling. The Bloc Québécois is seeking fairness so that all citizens, regardless of where they live in Quebec—and we are working for the rest of Canada too—can have the same opportunity to vote in advance at polling stations.

I want to highlight that because some of the numbers are worrisome. Since the 1980s, voter participation in federal elections has plummeted by 10%. Dropping from 75% to 63% or 64% is serious. That means that in 10 years, 10% of the population lost interest in politics. What is even more worrisome is the fact that people under 24 have the lowest participation rate.

We have to be able to tell our young citizens, the young men and women who are the future of our society, that we are giving them every possible opportunity to exercise their right to vote for the first time. This is important for all kinds of reasons: they go to university, they work and they have a lot of responsibilities. That is why we have to increase the number of voting days, but we also have to give them the opportunity to vote close to home because young people often do not have cars and have to find other ways to get around.

Students go to universities in major urban centres that have public transit. When they go back to the regions—regions like mine—there is no public transit, so they cannot get around. Giving them more opportunities to exercise their right to vote is one way to encourage them to vote. Once again, Bill C-55 does not touch on this, which is unfortunate because this would have been the perfect time to do something about it if the government had wanted to. The Bloc Québécois will certainly propose amendments when the bill goes to committee, amendments that will increase participation overall and especially among young people.

It is not enough to increase the number of polling days; you must also have a message to deliver. Increasing the number of polling stations or divisions or advance polling days will not necessarily guarantee an increase in voter turnout.

The best proof of this was the last election in Quebec, where there was a change in advance polling. In Quebec, prior to March 2007, you had to have a reason to vote in advance. You had to say why you could not vote on election day. That was changed and advance voting increased. However, in terms of overall voter turnout—the total number of ballots cast on election day and in advance polls—only increased by a few one hundredths of a per cent.

Once again, why do citizens not exercise their right to vote? This is due to the cynicism spawned by many situations. We saw an example this week in the House. Justice Grenier led an inquiry into the 1995 referendum expenses. $539,000 was spent illegally. That was the general conclusion of Justice Grenier's report.

Another conclusion is that one whole part of the investigation could not take place, because it had to do with federal government spending, which was beyond Judge Grenier's mandate. Everyone understands this. The press understands. The Bloc Québécois, a great defender of the interests and values of Quebeckers, is simply asking the government to investigate everything that was not covered by Judge Grenier. None of the parties, not the Conservatives, not the Liberals, not the New Democrats, no one except the Bloc Québécois asked for this investigation.

And then we wonder why citizens do not participate in elections. There was a denial of democracy. I am not talking about charges or anything. But as soon as we find that funds were spent illegally based on a law in a province, a big red light should come on here in Ottawa, especially when they participated in the event. But no, there is no red light here in Ottawa. They do not want an investigation. They do not want to know. They spent money illegally, but think what you will, it was for the cause, for Canadian unity or for anything else.

We should not encounter such situations in a democracy. Citizens should be able to make their own choices. Quite simply, the federal government denied citizens that opportunity in 1995. It did not allow the people of Quebec to make their choice freely. It bought ads, it spent money illegally on public opinion polls and other things. It tried to influence the vote and have its point of view adopted by not respecting Quebec's Referendum Act.

Regardless of whether I am a sovereignist or not, some things should not be acceptable in a democracy. A government cannot use money to try to influence democracy for any reason. Again, these are the situations that make people disengage. Maybe the Liberals, the Conservatives and the NDP want fewer people to vote. Maybe to them, the fewer the people who vote, the fewer they have to please and they can go on governing without having to satisfy the majority. That is what will happen. The way things are going, fewer people will vote in federal elections. This type of thing should never happen.

It is not true that this cynicism is disappearing because the Conservatives are in power. I would like to give a few examples and read a text, because it is worth mentioning. Please understand that these are not the sort of things that one would say without having verified the facts. Thus, the Conservative Party, contrary to what some people may think, is not the party of ethics and transparency. In a few months, the Conservative Party has accumulated a track record that attests to a lack of political will to respect the rules in place and to put an end to the culture of entitlement. As we all know, the current Prime Minister was the one who went on and on about the Liberals and their culture of entitlement during the election campaign.

This government appointed certain individuals to cabinet, and not just any individuals—talk about a culture of entitlement. It appointed a former lobbyist, now the Minister of National Defence, to the head of the Department of National Defence. As a lobbyist, this minister worked with the largest weapons dealers, including BAE Systems, Raytheon and General Dynamics, for over a decade. And now, this same Minister of National Defence is granting $20 billion in military contracts to the industries for which he recently worked as a lobbyist. That is how the government works today.

Another lobbyist, Sandra Buckler, is now the Prime Minister's director of communications. She worked for Royal LePage and the Harper government decided to maintain the contract with Royal LePage relocation services—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who is seated in the front row, has enough experience to know that when referring to members of this House, we use titles, not last names.

I do not scold new, inexperienced members for this kind of thing, but you know better. You used the Prime Minister's last name.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. You are right.

Ms. Buckler, the Prime Minister's communications director, was hired in 2005 to meet with members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, who were studying the possibility of referring this file to the Auditor General. One could be forgiven for thinking that Royal LePage was not paying Ms. Buckler to convince the members to refer the matter to the Auditor General. The Prime Minister's communications director worked on files that were connected to her former employer. This is the party that got itself elected on an ethics and transparency platform.

As I said, simply increasing the number of advance polling dates will not necessarily encourage people to vote. The government must set an example.

I have a few more things to say about contracts that have been handed out to friends. For years, the Conservatives complained that the Liberals were giving contracts to their friends. Yet they have done the same thing. This government awarded a communications contract to Marie-Josée Lapointe, who was part of the Prime Minister's transition team. The contract violated the spirit of the Federal Accountability Act because political staff are not eligible to receive government contracts for 12 months following their employment. They also used public funds for partisan purposes. In March 2006, the Conservative government awarded an $85,000 contract to measure public support for the five election priorities. In July 2006, the Conservative government awarded a contract to Strategic Counsel to poll citizens on various political issues. The very partisan report indicated that the environment was a high priority.

Thus, public funds were used for political purposes. The Conservative government criticized the Liberals for doing that very same thing. That is one of the reasons that so many people do not care about politics. That is one of the reasons for low voter turnout in federal elections. Once again, laws are being used and manipulated for partisan purposes. The Conservative government or the Liberal Party: it makes no difference.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate and thank my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for his excellent speech.

In the opinion of my colleague, why is it that parties such as the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party cannot seem to entice people to vote? Is it simply because, once elected, these people are incapable of meeting the needs and aspirations of the public and therefore lose voter confidence completely?

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said, and you have also said so yourself, that the Bloc Québécois has a remarkable campaign machine that sparks voter interest during an election campaign. The Bloc Québécois is a party with ideas and a party with definite power, which is what sparks the interest of voters. This is why voter turnout is so high, at least among people who vote Bloc Québécois. I would like to hear the member's comments on this.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Sherbrooke for his excellent question. Sometimes we do wonder. For us, in the Bloc Québécois, at least one thing is for certain: we are true to ourselves; we did not come here to take power. Our opponents find that very annoying. What should bother them instead is the fact that power often drives one to madness. They should take a good, hard look in the mirror. They should think back to when they were in opposition and then see what they have become now that they are in government. That would tell them what power does.

My colleague is asking me if the government of the day encourages participation. No, quite the contrary. As I said earlier, this government, like the Liberal one before it, is using public funds to conduct opinion polls. Polls determine what is likely to be acceptable and what is not. In the end, the government adjusts and uses what suits it best. Strategically, a large part of the population is often ignored in order to win an election. I indicated earlier that I was wondering if it might not suit the government that people do not go out to vote. I sincerely believe that it suited the Liberals when they were in power and that it suits the Conservatives now, the fact that people stay home. People do not follow politics too closely, paying attention only to major trends and thrusts. This allows the government to focus on catering to those it wants to get to vote.

By contrast, the Bloc Québécois is a mighty machine, because it has to work in the field, from home to home. We have to convince the voters that the only party that stands up for their real values and interests, without any ifs or buts, is the Bloc Québécois. They can rest assured that we will never be driven to madness by power.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a serious problem in my riding, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. June 2 will mark my 10th anniversary in this House. With each election, voter turnout continues to decline. I do not have a problem because my share of the vote continues to rise. But what I would like to know is why do voters not vote and, in the case of those that do, why do they change their vote? Instead of voting for the Liberals or the Conservatives, they vote for the Bloc. As for the others, they stay home.

My friend from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has raised an important point. We, the elected members, must regain the confidence of voters. We must get back out there and meet with them to prove, through our actions, the value of a member of Parliament. We had proof of that last night. A group of young students from my riding came to see us. I wish to thank you for welcoming them, Mr. Speaker. We must change the type of politicians that we are.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

An hon. member

That they are.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Yes, that they are. Instead of giving gifts, handing out contracts and such things, we must not be afraid to roll up our sleeves and get down to work. I would like to hear what you have to say about that, my dear friend from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Before giving the floor to the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, I would like to advise the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles that we address our colleagues in the third person and not in the second.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles is absolutely right. The Bloc Québécois is a mighty machine. It may be imitated, but it will never be equalled, even though members of the other parties may try to do so. It is mighty because we are not out of touch with the public. The problem with the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the NDP nowadays, is that they devise mass strategies. They conduct opinion polls. They try to play politics through the media instead of making policy with the people.

That will always be the Bloc Québécois trademark. We will have the opportunity to joust with our adversaries during the next election campaign. They will understand that the Bloc Québécois is a mighty machine that is in touch with the people.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles said there was a problem. In my opinion, this is a common view among the Bloc members. I have had the same experience. The problem is that turnout is indeed decreasing, but, proportionally speaking, it is also decreasing for the Conservatives and the Liberals. I have to humbly admit that my majority increases.

If the Liberals and the Conservatives were able to interest people in their policies, in my riding they could get another 15,000 votes each. Nonetheless, I would still have the honour of representing the people of Sherbrooke.

What can these parties do to increase voter turnout?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for his question.

The answer is a simple one: they should listen to the Bloc Québécois, the only party in this House that has no aspirations to be in power, but that defends Quebeckers unequivocally. They need only do the same for their fellow citizens and their results will be the same as the Bloc's are in Quebec, that is, one majority after another. I am proud to be a member of the Bloc Québécois. It will be the same thing in the next election campaign. What is needed is to be close to the public, not to the lobbyists like the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, because we are speaking about voter turnout, although that is not in any way the subject of this bill, I would like my colleague to speak about voter participation in the 1995 referendum. A lot of people who voted perhaps ought not to have. There was an exemplary turnout, a very high rate, an indication that the issue was one of concern to many Quebeckers.

That was a very murky period, and even today the Prime Minister was asked to carry out an investigation into this matter. He still refuses to do so. I would like to know my colleague's thoughts on this.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, a very quick reply. In the last referendum, some people managed to vote when they were not entitled to. We learned today that the newly elected premier of Prince Edward Island was among them. He voted in the 1995 referendum. That is the image Quebec has of Canada.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon with the firm intention of helping increase public participation in politics.

Lower voter turnout is indeed a major concern. Year after year, this pattern is increasingly obvious. It is almost dramatic. When we look at the election results, we see that the party in office often represents only a minority of voters. This means that its actions often do not reflect the public's expectations and aspirations.

That is why the Bloc Québécois will, of course, support the principles of this bill. We cannot oppose virtue, particularly since I try to be virtuous every day. That may be the reason why my majority increases from election to election.

This bill seeks to increase voter turnout. It proposes to add two additional days to the advance polling period, that is the two Sundays that precede polling day. The fact is that, for several years now, and despite major improvements to the Canada Elections Act to increase voter turnout, the percentage of voters has gone down instead of going up.

Will simply providing two additional days and increasing the number of polling stations be enough to increase voter turnout?

I doubt it, because people now have more options. This was particularly the case at the last federal election. The situation has improved, because people could go and vote at almost any time. They could do so when running an errand by simply stopping at the polling station. Moreover, they no longer have to invoke reasons to vote in advance. In the past, people had to give valid reasons to vote in advance. Some may have made up reasons to be able to vote in advance. However, now, there is practically nothing preventing people from voting, unless they are away on a business trip, and even then. The envelope system allows them to vote.

There is a fundamental problem that will definitely not be solved by merely adding two additional days and a few polling stations to vote. However, this will, in some cases, make it easier to vote for people who had already decided that they would do so. It will make things easier and simpler for them.

Using my riding as an example, I have always maintained that it is one of Quebec's, and Canada's, most beautiful ridings. My constituency office is no more than some 10 or 15 minutes from all points in my riding. Voting on election day is easy, when everyone is no more than 10 or 15 minutes from a polling station. It is usually less, because there are nevertheless several polling stations. They can get to the polling stations quickly and take the time to vote.

Yet, voter turnout in my riding was similar to that of the rest of Canada. Nation-wide, turnout was 64.7% during the last election, while in Sherbrooke it was 63.4%. Thus, it was a little lower than the Canadian average. Out of 81,000 registered voters, 51,900 exercised their right to vote.

Here is what this means, as I was saying earlier, and this is no joke, or if it is a joke, there is some truth to it.

If the Liberal and Conservative candidates had made an effort, or if they had shown that elements of their politics fulfilled the aspirations and needs of voters, they might have been able to capture the interest of these voters and—as I said earlier—motivate 10,000 or 15,000 people to vote and participate in the election process, in order to have a say after the election. In any case, I am thrilled to once again represent the people of Sherbrooke.

Although voter turnout was a little low, the people of my riding were nevertheless motivated to vote. However, the people who, in the past, supported the parties that have been in power recently, whether Liberal or Conservative, preferred to stay at home. Why?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh!

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Yes, but they could have gone and voted. Mr. Speaker, please tell him that they could have gone and voted and I would still be here.

You know what happened: politicians lost a great deal of credibility. This happened to the Liberals mainly because of Everest's peak, as I often call it, or the tip of the iceberg: the sponsorship scandal. You know what happened: the Liberals lost all credibility. Today, we have a minority government formed by the Conservative Party, which bears no resemblance to the former Progressive Conservative Party, which rose from the ashes of the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance. A totally different party has emerged, one that does not at all reflect the values of the majority of Quebeckers or Canadians. Naturally, election promises were made and the easiest ones were carried out quickly. However, in some cases, the government ripped up its promises.

What are citizens watching all this to think? Some still call themselves federalists—there are a few left in Quebec and in my riding. These citizens wonder who to vote for: the Liberals or the Conservatives; in either case, voters believe that the politicians say whatever they want and then do the opposite afterwards. This is not motivating. Fortunately, some will vote nonetheless and an increasing number of voters are choosing the Bloc Québécois. Its base of supporters is growing steadily thanks to voters disappointed with the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Increasing voter turnout in the next election should be an objective. After this government, elections will be held regularly every four years, if one party is able to garner a majority. I am almost convinced that this House will have successive minority governments for quite some time. Why? Because the desire within Quebec for sovereignty is growing and it is fairly certain that the Liberals will never form a majority government again, nor will the Conservatives. In my opinion, there is a greater chance that the NDP will begin to elect members in Quebec at the expense of the Conservatives and the Liberals.

I vaguely remember an NDP being elected in Quebec. It is not impossible because the Liberals and the Conservatives are no longer capable of keeping their clientele. It is not necessarily derogatory to refer to voters as the clientele. What is worse is the goods they are being sold, whether they are Conservatives or Liberals.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

The hon. member said things that should not be repeated because there may be a chance that the Liberal Party will regain power in the medium term. Nonetheless, that is not the case.

Voter turnout needs to increase. How? This can be achieved through information, healthy information. For politicians who are not Bloc members, how can they ensure transparency in the promises made during an election campaign to avoid disappointing the public and to make the public interested in voting?

I think it is natural that some people still vote for the Liberals and the Conservatives in Quebec. I do not hold that against them. That is what democracy is all about. However, their numbers are decreasing. That is good, because then, maybe, voter turnout will increase. At least the Bloc Québécois is doing everything it can. In addition to being a mighty machine, the Bloc Québécois also has a strong tendency to hit the streets and talk to people and listen to their concerns in order to truly meet their needs and expectations. It is important to listen to them.

Since 1998, some candidates I have met have said, as the Conservatives are increasingly saying, that the Bloc cannot do anything. That is a lesson and it may be part of their code. When people hear such comments, they lose all confidence in the Conservatives. The people of Quebec are well aware that the Bloc Québécois is the only party in Quebec that protects the interests of Quebeckers. It is also the only party that tries to respond to the most profound and legitimate aspirations of the Quebec people, and that is to have a sovereign Quebec. We will achieve that with voter turnout. We will show that whether it is a provincial election or a federal election, voter turnout increases when it comes to supporting the sovereignist party and, of course, when it is a matter of sovereignty.

Despite some bumps in the road, like those that occurred recently in Quebec, the foundation of sovereignty and the people who believe in it keep getting stronger. In addition to being a consequence of the quality of the idea and the people who represent it, it is also because of what the Liberals and Conservatives have been telling people, almost since the beginning of time. All of this helps shed some light on the federalist's tendency to oppose the sovereignty of the nation of Quebec.

Voter participation is important, and even more important for our youth. The young people we meet seem rather eager to subscribe to our vision for Quebec, that is, sovereignty, but they tend to forget to go vote. Voter turnout attests to this. Comparing young people under the age of 24 to people aged 58 and older, voter turnout in the latter category is double. Young people are able to get around easily and vote quickly. Furthermore, there are often polling stations right in their schools. We need to get them interested. The Bloc Québécois already does this. We also plan to increase our efforts with this age group, because young people think about the future and want to identify themselves with people who do not tell them tall tales, but rather with people who tell them the truth, who are transparent and want to work with them towards the advancement of our society in the modern world. In Quebec, the modern world means sovereignty.

It is not only in Quebec and Canada that we are seeing considerable decreases in voter turnout. We are seeing this even in countries where voting is mandatory.

Should we consider mandatory voting for Canada or Quebec? Have we already thought about this? Perhaps my colleagues could respond. But democracy means freedom. Sometimes, we value our freedom so much that we fail to fulfill our obligations, including voting.

Our reflection on the matter must not stop here. We must seriously think about not only adding more voting days, but also adding more polling stations, and increasing voter turnout through a positive attitude and an honest approach. When we tell the public that we will represent them and defend their interests, and then follow through on it, this can only boost voter turnout.

I therefore urge the remaining Liberals and Conservatives in my riding who did not vote to do so in large numbers. This will only motivate me further to convert the federalists to our great cause, the sovereignty of Quebec.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank, immensely, the interpreters who are working in those little booths back there without whom I would not be able to communicate with those people. I am unfortunately a unilingual English speaking Canadian and they appear to be unilingual French speaking, since they usually do not speak the other languages.

I want to correct the Bloc members. Several of the members have indicated that they are the greatest thing going, that all the Bloc supporters come out in droves and vote for them and so on. I, being a little inclined mathematically, went to the website of Elections Canada and looked at the numbers. I will not bore the House with the details, but these are the percentages.

In the province of Quebec the Liberals got 21% of the vote, the Conservatives got 25% of the vote and the Bloc got 42% of the vote. It looks to me as if their premise is right. Their supporters do show up and vote for them, and for that they are to be commended.

However, I want to have them compare that with my wonderful province of Alberta. I will go in increasing numbers. The Bloc got 0% of the vote, the Liberals got 15.3% of the vote and the Conservatives in my province got 65% of the vote.

Therefore, enough of that saying it is members of Parliament who serve their constituents who get their voters out. Clearly, in Alberta we do as Conservative members.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Conservative Party and the colleague who garnered 65% of the votes. However, they were lucky. It was a close call. We can only imagine how different the statistics would be had the Bloc fielded candidates in his province.

In the past few elections, people from other provinces showed interest and asked what we were waiting for to get the Bloc going in their province. They have federalist representatives whom they support. I am obviously speaking of people from other provinces and not of myself. However, they would like something new, a bit of a change from the old parties that feed them all sorts of lines. The pendulum is definitely swinging between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.

It is just incredible. The Conservatives obtained 65% of the vote but are still in the minority. What do they need to have a majority? Do they need 100% or close to that, as did Fidel Castro in Cuba?

I am seriously thinking about opening a Bloc Québécois franchise in their province.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-298, An Act to add perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) to the Virtual Elimination List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

There being no motions at report stage on this bill, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question of the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.