Mr. Speaker, I have heard all sorts of things today in the House and all kinds of different views. Ours is very clear and has been since the beginning. Ever since 1993 when the Bloc Québécois first arrived in this House, when I first took my seat here, we have thought that the Senate should be abolished for several reasons.
Even the Conservatives say the Senate is blocking some bills now. The Senate is not elected. Even if this bill should pass, how will senators be elected? The Prime Minister would still have the right to decide that someone does not suit him and therefore could appoint someone else. They would still be doing through the back door what they cannot through the front, that is to say, appointing people for partisan reasons. That is unacceptable.
Some people say that the provinces that are not happy with this and do not want a Senate can just withdraw. That is anti-democratic. I remember the time of the Meech Lake accord. We had to open up the Constitution. All the provinces had to agree with the Meech Lake accord, and if they did not, it was just too bad and the accord fell through. I fail to see why we cannot do the same with the Senate. When we are dealing with something as important as the Senate, the least we can do is open up the Constitution because several provinces—virtually a majority of them—are opposed to the Senate.
I went around my riding and did a little test with my electors to see whether they knew who their senator is—their representative in the Senate, the man or woman who is supposed to be representing them in the other chamber. Nobody knew their senator. Why was that? Because senators have no obligations at all. They sit on boards of directors at head offices and are involved in various corporations, which puts them, of course, in a conflict of interest.
They are never seen out in the field. We are the ones who are out there and we are sitting in the ejection seats. We are not appointed for 25 years. We are here and in every election we must prove that we have done a good job and deserve to be re-elected. That is not true of senators who are there for 20 or 25 years, pulling down salaries in excess of $100,000. This bill will not solve the problem because the upper house will always throw another monkey wrench in the works.
Some people talk about the senators' good work. Well, I'm sorry, but we can do good work right here in the House. Things would go a lot faster if we did not have to send each bill to the other place, where things get bogged down because the Liberal or the Conservative senators have decided that bill x should not be passed. The other place gets the word, then they debate the bill, engage in systematic obstruction, and call the shots. That is unacceptable.
I will read an important motion. This is not a sovereignist motion; it is a federalist one. Members of the National Assembly unanimously adopted the following motion:
That the National Assembly of Québec reaffirm to the Federal Government and to the Parliament of Canada that no modification to the Canadian Senate may be carried out without the consent of the Government of Québec and the National Assembly.
That is an inescapable fact. We would save a lot of money. Right now, our seniors, people without adequate housing, and the homeless are suffering terribly. We would save millions if we eliminated the Senate. Imagine: 105 senators being paid over $100,000 per year.
What exactly do they do? They show up here when they feel like it, but make no appearances in the ridings. We never see them. In 15 years of political life, I have never seen a senator attend an activity or an event in my riding. What do they do? They have a pretty sweet gig: they do whatever they want. That is unacceptable. This bill would not even require senators to do anything.
They are not even required to do anything. They are simply elected for eight years. Eight easy years at $100,000 a year. To do what? Some of them work, it is true, but they are few and far between. I do not know the senators. How is it that I do not know them after 15 years? The reason is that we do not see them, because they do their own thing and come here to Parliament when they feel like it. There was even one senator who got the boot because he was in Florida and had not been in the upper chamber for nearly eight months.
I am sorry, but if I went to Florida for eight months, I would hear about it from my constituents. If I did not do my riding work, if I did not go and see my constituents, if I did not listen to them, if I did not write to them, if I did not communicate with them, I would lose my seat before long. I think this is extremely important. We are much closer to our constituents, and there are enough elected bodies already.
There are the municipalities, the school boards, the Government of Quebec and the federal government. I think we have enough already. These bodies cost voters a great deal of money. We have everything we need. Moreover, some provinces have abolished their upper chamber because it served absolutely no purpose.
I do not see why we should do things any differently here. We are totally opposed to this bill. I do not have to draw you a picture, because we have been saying so for 14 years. I do not see why we should do things any differently here. I do not see why the provinces should be excluded from making this decision. In any case, from what I have heard in this House, most members will vote against this bill. I hope so.
If we want real reform, then we should open the Constitution and hold a debate. I guarantee that Quebec will put its foot down, as it did in the National Assembly, and say that it does not want the Senate. We know how things work. If one province refuses, then there will be no Senate and there will be no changes.
Instead of introducing bills like these, I would prefer to see this House achieve constructive things, that we take care of social housing, the poor and the homeless, that we truly address real issues like the forestry sector, which is collapsing, and the manufacturing sector. That is what is needed. There is plenty of money floating around here. The Senate costs us a fortune. Let us take that money and spend it where it is truly needed, and not on the Senate, which, I repeat, has no obligation to voters, no representation obligations and no obligation even to this House.
Senators do whatever they like in that other place. They block bills on which we have worked here in the House for months, sometimes years. I remember one such bill that was blocked. It was a bill on the environment act, the framework legislation. We had worked on it for two years, redoing it, revising it, rewriting it, making sure it was much more up to date, since it had not been revised in 15 years. The Senate blocked us. They blocked it for nothing. That situation lasted for months, and we do not need that.
I think we are responsible here in this House. We are capable of making our own decisions. We are all elected members, all in responsible political parties. I think the Senate is an ineffective apparatus that we do not need. Thus, it must be understood, we will be voting against this bill.