Mr. Speaker, I sense an interest in my colleague running for a district in Newfoundland and Labrador for the Senate in the future.
First, on the issue of equalization, I went into that debate, but he misrepresented what was said in the past by us in the campaign and what we delivered to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Beyond that, on the issue of Senate reform, there will be disagreements within provinces on how we go forward. However, I would like to turn the question on itself and suggest this to him. Why should a member of Parliament from Deer Lake prevent the people from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and in the future British Columbia, their right to choose their senators?
Why should any province say to another province that it cannot do what it democratically has chosen to do? Again I will use the example of Manitoba. A provincial NDP government passed bill 20 to elect senators in the province of Manitoba. That is its choice. It has its own Senate delegation that comes to Ottawa and fights on behalf of Manitobans. Why should anyone from any other region of the country tell it who it can or cannot send to Ottawa? That is not right. It is undemocratic.
If the province of Quebec wants to sustain the status quo, this legislation provides for that. If Quebec wants to sustain the status quo, it does not have to engage in consultation. It is consultation about how we go forward.
If those provinces are ready for democracy and reform, so their citizens are empowered to elect their senators, why should the federal government get in the way? We want to encourage those provinces to do so.
If his province and other provinces do not want to go forward under this prescription, I suspect the provinces he described are not unanimous in their position and alternatives. Some of them want to abolish the Senate to increase the power of individual premiers. I suspect that is the case with Newfoundland and Labrador, where he is from. That would be keeping in step with the style, but that is not always the case. Each of these provinces has its own internal dynamic in terms of what it would prescribe as the right solution for Senate reform, and there is a fair debate to be had.
For those provinces that have had their debate and chosen the way forward, let us get out of their way.