Mr. Speaker, I might continue on from the excellent speech by my colleague from Markham—Unionville.
We have a job to do. As members of Parliament, there are times when the public interest must prevail and we must live up to our responsibilities, having regard to the situation and the circumstances we find ourselves in. One of the reasons why we agreed to vote for this budget is the economic situation. This is not rocket science. We do not need to look both ways to determine that first, the public does not want an election, second, they want us to do our jobs, and third, they want to know how we are going to be able to help them not just pay their bills, but put food in their refrigerators. We are having to face a reality that comes down to basic needs. I therefore think that we here have the responsibility for making these decisions.
We are voting for the budget because we are facing an unprecedented economic crisis. And because we are voting for this budget and we have taken the time to read it, we are in a position to criticize it. I welcome the Bloc Québécois motion. I understand what they are trying to accomplish in political terms. I have to say that it is a bad strategy, in my opinion. What I think, as a member from Quebec, as the Quebec lieutenant for our party, is that there is a time when decisions have to be made in the public interest. That is exactly the reason why we will be voting against the motion. That being said, we can sit down and talk about equalization and we can also talk about this much-vaunted national securities commission.
I have reservations about a national securities commission. Why? Because section 92 is clear and it seems that this is something that is under provincial jurisdiction. And so even before making a decision about whether such an institution is a good idea, the least we have to do is look into it by following an established procedure to determine whether the jurisdiction is there.
This is not the first time we have discussed the securities commission. We were talking about it during our time. There have been reports written about this for years. There were reports in 2003 and 2006. There have also been motions and debate about it. So this is not the first time we have talked about a national securities commission. I think that before going any further, we will have to know the arguments pro and con. The minimally decent thing for a government to do is to bring good bills forward. When a bill is to be introduced, we have to make sure that it will achieve consensus and is consistent with our Constitution. What should be done? It has been done with other bills in the past. I think it was done at the time with the clarity bill. There is a procedure to be followed. The Minister of Justice should refer the question to the Supreme Court and ask whether it is consistent with the Constitution. If the first argument to be made by people who are against this commission is to raise a question of jurisdiction, we could save time and find a solution. In fact, I think the government is aware of this, because another bill will be introduced in three years for the creation of a national securities commission.
The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Leader of the Official Opposition, has already stated a few weeks ago that our position is that, even before continuing this debate, the first thing to do is to get an opinion from the Supreme Court, to provide some clarity on the question of jurisdiction. This is not the first time that this subject has been discussed. Many experts will say that it is constitutional and others will say that it is not. Others, who have less backbone, will try to sit on the fence. One thing is clear; before proceeding further, an answer is needed.
I want things to be clear. This is not just about Quebec. The Bloc may have raised the matter, but that does not mean we should think this is just about Quebec.
The Bloc members can speak on behalf of the National Assembly if they want to. We have friends as well. We can speak to the Charest government. The fact is that as soon as the budget has been adopted, several provincial governments will be in the courts, asking the same question about the jurisdiction of the national securities commission.
Many business people say that it is a good thing. However, I agree with my colleague, the member for Markham—Unionville. It has been tried in the United States, and in Great Britain. This was supposed to be the greatest invention since sliced bread. That did not prevent an unprecedented economic crisis in the United States. It has not prevented problems in Europe, especially in Great Britain. Any attempt to make us believe that we absolutely need this to resolve the economic crisis is an argument that does not hold water.
Once again, it is extremely important that we consider the quality of life of Canadians; that, first and foremost, we adopt the budget. Measures in the budget are necessary to help our regions. There are needs in terms of infrastructure. There are measures that will directly improve people’s quality of life. We know that this government will not last forever. People know that when we were in power—and it will happen again—we always had our hearts in the right place. We were able to help people, and to have better relations with the provinces.
Let us talk about equalization. The equalization formula has been changed four times in as many years; it changes every year. We signed agreements. I completely disagree with this government's claim that it is engaging in open federalism; it should be ashamed. There have never been as many quarrels between this government and the provinces as there are now. The government is incapable of keeping its promises to the Atlantic provinces or to Quebec. For example, it is not keeping its promise to Newfoundland and Labrador about transferring energy revenues. I find the government's attempts to talk about open federalism appalling: it cannot even respect its own agreements.
That being said, the equalization formulas have been amended four times in four years. We were part of the government and, as such, we worked hard and reached asymmetrical agreements, which we always respected. We will vote for the budget, but the public need not worry. One day soon, the Liberal Party of Canada will be in power, and we will keep our promises.
In the meantime, wherever I go in Quebec, I see that people want to come to some kind of agreement and work together to help those who are suffering. Some people are already being hit hard by the economic crisis, and others will be. So it is our responsibility to pass this budget once and for all.
However, the government is on probation. There are three dates: March, June and December. Come those dates, if the government is not doing its job, we will form a government and prove that we are the best alternative, that we are capable of helping people. We have done it before: in 1993, we inherited a $42 billion deficit. We were known as the “Canadian miracle”. We know how a government is supposed to work. We have led this country back into prosperity and we have helped the people. We are the alternative, but now is not the time for that debate. Now is the time to pass the budget.