Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to resume the remarks I had begun concerning Bill C-20 prior to question period. First, I want to repeat for the benefit of those listening that the Bloc Québécois will be opposing this bill.
Everyone knows very well that the Bloc Québécois has always said that it would be a waste of time to reform the Senate and that the only proper reform for this Senate would be to simply abolish it. That would represent real savings for the taxpayers. In any case, there is no longer an upper chamber in any of the provinces. It has already disappeared in Quebec, among others.
I began my remarks by saying that the Conservatives make election promises and then appear to keep them. It is one way of doing things. It is true that during the election campaign the Conservative party decided to promise Senate reform by making it an elected Senate. However, it must be understood that while it is nice to have dreams and make election promises, we are far from the reality.
I gave a first example: yes, the Conservatives promised legislation on transparency, on ethics and all of that. Strangely, the only members of this House who have not had their election expenses reimbursed by the Chief Electoral Officer are more than 60 Conservatives, including three ministers from Quebec, including the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. All of them failed to comply with requirements and have made expenditures that are not allowable and contrary to the Canada Elections Act. That is why those Conservative members have not been reimbursed for their election expenses. They promised legislation on transparency, ethics and integrity, and they are the only members whose election expenses have been refused by the Chief Electoral Officer because, obviously, they asked for reimbursement of expenditures they were not entitled to make.
Once again, when we look at the bill before us dealing with Senate reform, we recognize that the Conservatives made a promise. However, there is one problem: the only real way to reform the Senate is to re-open the Constitution, and that is not what they said.
First, in 1970, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a judgment entitled “The Supreme Court of Canada in Re: Authority of Parliament in relation to the Upper House,  1 S.C.R. 54”, stated that decisions related to the Senate are “essential” and that any reforms affecting the powers of the Senate must be carried out in accordance with the re-opening of the Canadian Constitution. Therefore, the consent of the provinces is necessary.
On this subject, it is all very well to introduce Bill C-20, but, in the end, to get around the Constitution, here is what the Conservative party is doing in trying to keep its election promise: it will hold elections, although the Prime Minister will not be obliged to accept the results of the election. So, they will hold elections for senators and afterwards, the Prime Minister will have the option of choosing senators from among the persons who were elected, since, under the Constitution, he is the one who chooses senators and appoints them.
First, quite simply stated, these amount to phony elections, because there is no guarantee that the Prime Minister will abide by the choice of the electors. Next, it is quite obvious they are simply trying to give a false representation of the principles of democracy. That is how the Conservative government is trying to operate: by distorting democracy.
In one particular case, the Chief Electoral Officer did not fall for that kind of manoeuvre. That is why 67 Conservative members did not have their election expenses reimbursed. They tried to manipulate the Canada Elections Act to go beyond the set limit for the reimbursement of expenses and now they are trying to manipulate the Constitution.
The province of Quebec responded very clearly through its Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, Benoît Pelletier, who is not a sovereignist but a Liberal MNA. On November 7, he issued this warning to the federal government. I will read his statement:
The Government of Quebec does not believe that this falls exclusively under federal jurisdiction.
Minister Pelletier was talking about the Senate.
Given that the Senate is a crucial part of the Canadian federal compromise, it is clear to us that under the Constitution Act, 1982, and the regional veto act, the Senate can be neither reformed nor abolished without Quebec's consent.
On the same day that the Quebec Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs issued this statement, the following motion was passed unanimously by the National Assembly, that is by all parties, both sovereignist and federalist:
That the National Assembly of Quebec 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 Quebec and the National Assembly.
And yet it is quite clear. In the opinion of the Bloc Québécois, at least, the Senate is a fine example of why Canadian federalism does not work. No constitutional amendments ever attempted have ever been accepted. The Conservatives are providing an even better example by trying to erode and circumvent the Constitution, by introducing a bill about electing senators. This will not be a real election, because ultimately it is the Prime Minister who will make the choice. He wants to have some kind of consensus through elections and he reserves the right, if he does not agree with the person who is elected, to appoint someone else.
The Conservatives will have invented just about anything. Every day, they pull a rabbit out of their hat. It is quite entertaining to see Conservative members from Quebec, or even ministers, going against the decision of the National Assembly of Quebec and trying, in addition, to distort and circumvent the Canadian Constitution in order to achieve their ends because they had the misfortune to make a campaign promise they could not keep. That is the reality. Quebeckers, who gave the Bloc Québécois a large majority, understood it well.