Mr. Speaker, I am glad to take part in the debate on the motion by the Bloc Québécois that it is worth reading again:
That, in the opinion of the House, securities regulation falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces and that, therefore, the federal government should reject, once and for all, the idea of creating a single securities regulator for all of Canada, thereby respecting the unanimous will of the National Assembly of Quebec.
It is even more important to read the motion again because the Quebec National Assembly did not adopt such a unanimous motion only once, but twice. Those who follow Quebec politics will know that there are diverging orientations. The Parti Québécois, our proud sovereignist party in Quebec, the Liberal Party and the Action démocratique du Québec all have different political orientations. On an issue as important as Quebec's jurisdiction, we were able to get the National Assembly not once, but twice, to adopt a unanimous resolution.
I will take the time to read them, so our colleagues from Quebec, Liberals and Conservatives alike, can understand well. I know that Quebec is not important for the rest of Canada, but members who have been elected to represent Quebec ridings, Liberals as well as Conservatives, should check what is happening at the National Assembly. Quebec's National Assembly unanimously denounced the federal government initiative. It adopted its first motion on the issue on October 16, 2007. Here is what it said:
THAT the Assembly ask the Federal Government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project.
As I said, the National Assembly reaffirmed its position on January 15, 2009, by adopting a second unanimous motion. I will read it and we will see that it is still valid today.
THAT the National Assembly demand that the Federal Government give assistance to workers, communities and businesses affected by the economic slowdown;
THAT it insist that the Federal Government provide financial support to sectors experiencing problems, particularly the manufacturing and forest sectors, as it is doing for the automobile industry;
THAT it ask the Federal Government to improve the employment insurance programme by relaxing the eligibility criteria and by allowing workers who are in training to continue to receive their benefits;
THAT it demand that the Federal Government maintain the equalization programme that is currently in place;
THAT it call for the increase and acceleration of infrastructure investments, particularly by carrying out Building Canada projects, and lastly;
THAT it reiterate its firm opposition to the Canada-wide securities commission project.
I find it hard to understand how Conservative members from Quebec could stand up and vote against today's motion. It is my understanding, from the position stated by their colleague, that they intend to vote against the Bloc Québécois motion we are currently debating. As for the Liberals members from Quebec, they will apparently abstain from voting on this unanimous resolution. I am having a real hard time understanding that.
I can understand why the Bloc Québécois and the people of Quebec are so proud to have a party that represents them, a party that stands up every day in this House for their values and interests. The Conservatives and the Liberals are not here to defend the interests of Quebeckers. I find that hard to understand. During election campaigns, the Conservatives tell us that they do not want to be centralizing, that they want to be respectful of the provinces' powers and, above all, that they do not want to interfere in provincial jurisdictions. In their last budget, the decided to promote the establishment of a Canada-wide securities body, which plainly encroaches on provincial jurisdictions. I can understand why Quebeckers are done listening to them. Because they keep delivering something different from what was announced, they are losing support among voters.
The explanation is somewhat more complicated where the Liberals are concerned. Being a Liberal means caring not as much about the interests of the people as one's own interests and those of the party. It means being driven and guided by polls and, as we have seen with the sponsorship scandal, especially by money and power. That is what being a Liberal member is all about, and being a Liberal member from Quebec is even worse.
Today, federal Quebec Liberals have once again decided to sit on their hands. They are not going to vote. That is the message their critic is sending right now. I am looking forward to tomorrow, when the vote will take place. The message we are getting is that yes, a unanimous motion was passed by the Quebec National Assembly, but the Liberals are going to abstain from voting. Why? Because if they voted against it, Quebeckers would be upset, and if they voted for it, it is Canadians who would be upset.
Therefore, since they are always sitting on the fence, they will once again end up where they belong: face down, on the ground. As always, Liberal MPs from Quebec are unable to protect Quebeckers' interests against the rest of Canada. That is the reality, and that is what has been hanging over their heads for the past 100 years. That is also what the Bloc Québécois is fighting against every day. Since 1993, Quebeckers have always elected a majority of Bloc Québécois members in every election. Why? Because Quebeckers are tired of sitting down, of being on their knees, of lying down. They prefer to stand up. It is always better to be standing up to look at the future, to look forward, then to be lying down. But that is what the Liberals are doing. That is their way of doing politics. It goes without saying that this is not our way.
One must understand that this national securities commission interferes directly with the jurisdictions given to the provinces under the Canadian Constitution. Canada has its powers and the provinces have their own. I can understand why the Conservatives would accuse the Liberals of pushing for centralization. However, in the end, the Conservatives behave just like the Liberals when the time comes to adopt policies. That is the case with this single securities regulator for all of Canada. And this is despite the fact that the World Bank and the OECD have said that the current system works well. That is probably one of the reasons why Canada did so well during the last crisis, why it fared better than other countries. I should qualify that statement, because even though we are doing well, it still hurts, it is still difficult. Earlier, I read the unanimous motion passed by the National Assembly on forestry, employment insurance and job losses. However, compared to the rest of the world, we are doing a little better. I would say that the Bloc Québécois is largely responsible for this performance.
In 2000, when I was first elected here, bank lobbyists were the first lobbyists to come to see me. They wanted to merge Canadian banks. When we would meet with them, they would tell us that they needed to be able to buy and to compete in the world banking system. They wanted to buy bigger banks. We saved them, because if they had merged, if they had bought American banks like they wanted to do, today they would be bankrupt, just like the American banks. That is the reality.
This is why the Bloc Québécois is the social and political conscience of this House. We have always been here to protect the interests of Quebeckers. We are not here to support government policies and try to tell our fellow citizens how the Canadian government should manage the affairs of the state. No. On the contrary, we are telling parliamentarians in this House what our fellow citizens want. We are here to tell the House what the public wants and what is in its best interests.
What we wanted, at that time, in 2000, was not to let the banks merge and eliminate branches in an attempt to buy up international banks and make the banks bigger so their shareholders would receive quarterly dividends. What we wanted was service and to ensure that profitable Canadian banks stayed that way. For that reason, I will tell you that we saved their lives. We have always fought in this House against all bank merger policies. Today, we see the results have been good. The results have been so good that the securities and banking system is considered by the OECD and the World Bank to be a system that works well.
Why do they want to change that? Why do they want to change that so much? Allow me to raise the question. Is it perhaps to take part of the securities market from Montreal and move it to Toronto? Perhaps that is the reality. Once again, take an economic activity that is working well in Quebec and move it to Ontario.
I have a great deal of difficulty understanding the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec who support this measure. The Conservatives support it and the Liberals are lying low, out of sight, and not defending the interests of Quebec.
You will recognize that I am proud to speak to my party's motion that will be debated today and voted on tomorrow. Why? Because we must highlight the policies that we defend in this House. It is very well for the Conservatives to tell us they will be less centralizing, that they will respect provincial jurisdictions and that they will not use their spending power in those areas. However, as we see in the securities system, they centralize the whole system in Ontario even though this power belongs exclusively to the provinces.
The federal government would do well to concern itself with its own jurisdictions. In the field of health, one of its responsibilities is to provide isotopes to hospitals for detecting and treating cancer and other diseases. It does not manage the health system and it knows very well that the provinces do that. It is not even able to manage the isotopes that are within its responsibility. That is the federal reality. It wants to invade provincial jurisdictions while it is not even able to look after its own affairs. That is very disappointing.
It is discouraging when Quebeckers see that an economic activity such as securities will be moved to Ontario. However, if we see the Conservative members from Quebec stand in their places tomorrow to vote against this motion, which reflects a unanimous motion of the Quebec National Assembly, that will be heartbreaking. In addition, if we see the Liberal members sit in their seats and abstain from voting on this motion, that will be really discouraging. We have to watch all this when we defend the interests of Quebec in this House. It is important to understand the people who are listening to us today, those who work hard to pay their taxes and those who have worked hard to earn their retirement. Some people have paid into employment insurance all their lives and get no benefits.
Once again it is painful to observe how little attention is paid to people’s problems or the interests of the provinces. Quebec has done a great deal with its own tax revenues, even though more than half the money collected is paid to the federal government. At present, a little more than 52% of the taxes paid by Quebeckers is transferred to the federal government. Corporate tax rates are higher in Ottawa than in Quebec. That is the reality.
The fact is that Quebec succeeded in creating the most powerful hydroelectric network on the entire planet, using only its income and other taxes, and with half of its own resources and revenue, that is, with no money from the federal government.
On the other hand, the nuclear and oil industries have been subsidized by the federal government to the tune of billions of dollars. Quebeckers have paid a quarter of that money, and we have developed our own hydroelectric network with no federal contribution. When Hydro-Québec developed the electric engine, the federal government even managed to let it leave the country. We had a lot of trouble holding onto that innovation, that asset, and so the technology was sold to the Europeans. The federal government never stood up to ask why it was not kept here. And today, extensive research is being done on that motor, to develop it, and that will probably be what provides the solution to the oil crisis.
It is hard to watch as Quebeckers from other parties in this House—I am not talking about the NDP Quebecker who will support us today, and we thank him; I am talking about the Conservative Party members—rise to oppose a unanimous motion of the National Assembly of Quebec.
They prefer to centralize and transfer an exclusive jurisdiction from Quebec to Canada with the creation of a Canada-wide securities regulator. Once again, the choice is to centralize, to take part of the economic activity on the Montreal Exchange and move it to the Toronto Stock Exchange. I think this is a terrible thing to see, but it is also terrible to see the federal Liberal members who will sit on their hands for purely partisan reasons on a unanimous motion of the National Assembly. They sit there, tucked in, dug in, for purely partisan reasons because there may be an election called at the end of the week and they would not want to be embarrassed by this motion today. That is the only reason why the federal Liberal members from Quebec will decide to sit on their hands, and obviously to crumble. They have been supporting this government for over two years now.
It is wonderful to see the new Liberal Party leader say that employment insurance should be fixed when he supported the Conservatives in the last budget. We knew very well that the employment insurance problem would not be fixed and the 360 hours of employment, that we wanted to see standardized across Canada for employment insurance eligibility, was not included in the budget. Nor was the elimination of the two-week waiting period, the two-week penalty, that has cost workers so dearly, in that budget. This is insurance workers have paid for and they are being punished for the first two weeks when they have tremendous need of it to get the economy going. The Liberals knew it was not included in the budget, but they decided to support the Conservatives. Today, their fortunes seems to have risen, depending on which polls you look at. They have decided, politically, to think about their interests rather than to think about the public’s interests.
That is how federal politics works. We all know that many Quebeckers are disillusioned with federal politics for precisely that reason. Some politicians are here only for their personal power and not in the public interest. If the Conservative members from Quebec stood up for the public’s interests, they would not vote against the Bloc Québécois motion, which reiterates the unanimous motion of the National Assembly. If the federal Liberal members acted in the interests of the people they represent, they would not crumble and sit there, dug in, tucked in, when it comes to this motion, saying they prefer to sit on their hands. They would not be doing that. They would be getting to their feet, to stand up for the interests of Quebeckers.
Once again, it is obvious that the Bloc Québécois is the only party that strongly and vigorously defends Quebec's interests. The federal government must not go ahead with the proposed Canada-wide securities commission simply because it will hinder development and harm Quebec's economic interests. Quebec and the other provinces had their highly-rated passport system. I repeat that the OECD and the World Bank even congratulated Canada for the way it dealt with the whole securities issue. But once again, this centralizing government has decided to increase Canada's powers at Quebec's expense and, more importantly, to concentrate securities in Ontario, again for purely partisan reasons on the part of the Conservatives. It could not be any clearer. It is just as obvious as what they are doing for the auto sector. They are giving everything to the auto sector and nothing to the forestry sector. That is the choice they made. The Speaker is telling me that I have only one minute left, so I will conclude.
The most surprising thing is that the Liberals have decided today to sit on their hands on this motion from the Bloc Québécois, which is the same as the two motions that were passed unanimously by the National Assembly on October 16, 2007 and on January 15, 2009, asking the federal government to reject the idea of creating a Canada-wide securities commission.
Again, Conservative and Liberal members will vote against the interests of Quebeckers. That is totally consistent with what they stand for in this House. Quebeckers are proud and happy to have the Bloc Québécois to defend their interests strongly and vigorously in this House.