Mr. Speaker, I am not going to heckle them when they speak and I would appreciate the same courtesy.
We decided to appoint an eminent Montrealer, who is well known in the city of Montreal, to our cabinet table and, at the same time, appoint him to the Senate on the condition that he present himself as a candidate in the next election campaign for this House. The Senate actually does have a question period. Three out of four seats in the Senate are occupied by Liberal members and opposition members and there is an opportunity there for accountability so we tried to combine the two best possible scenarios.
It was one of those dynamics where we were damned if we did and damned if we did not. If we appointed Minister Fortier to the position that he has right now, people would make the noises that we just heard from the opposition parties. If we did not appoint him, people would say that the Conservatives do not care about Montreal because they did not appointment somebody to cabinet from Montreal. It was a lose-lose proposition but we think we made the right decision and we have somebody who is doing a fantastic job on behalf of Montrealers at the cabinet table in the form of Michael Fortier.
I want to talk about this bill and why I do think this is a good step forward. My principal reason is that it allows for consultation. I disagree with my colleague from Timmins—James Bay in his description of the Senate and how it was founded on rotten first principles. He may make that argument about the House of Lords but it is not a transferrable argument to the current Canadian Senate.
The Senate, in its Canadian form, our upper house is designed in order to have the grievances of provinces represented in Ottawa. Yes, of course it can do a better job of that. My colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan just mentioned the issue of western alienation. If we take the number of seats in the House and the number of seats in the Senate, combine them together and divide them by the population of that province, by a wide margin my province of British Columbia is overwhelmingly the most dramatically underrepresented province in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. We need to do a better job of ensuring that Canadians have a fair voice in the House of Commons, which is why we put forward a bill to add more seats into the House of Commons, more seats for those provinces that are currently underrepresented, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.