Mr. Speaker, it is with great interest that I rise here today to speak to the Bloc Québécois opposition motion.
The subject we are debating here today is very important for Quebec, because it denounces the federal government's determination, obsession even, to create a single securities commission, with the support of the Liberals in this House, despite the clear, unanimous opposition of the Quebec National Assembly. I mentioned the Liberals' support because if they do not vote, we only have to do the math to know that there are enough Conservatives to beat the Bloc and the NDP put together. By not voting, the Liberals are voting against the motion and letting the government do whatever it likes when it comes to securities.
The motion moved by the Bloc Québécois calls on the Conservatives and the Liberals to give up, once and for all, the idea of creating a single securities regulator. For some time now the federal government, whether Liberal or Conservative, has wanted to concentrate all of Canada's financial administration activities in Toronto, even though this is a constitutional responsibility that belongs to Quebec. This falls under Quebec's jurisdiction, as clearly stipulated in the Canadian Constitution.
For over 40 years, the idea of Canada having a single securities regulator has come up periodically. I do not understand why, in this time of recession and economic crisis, anyone would want to overhaul a system that works very well. The International Monetary Fund and the OECD have ranked our current securities market as the second best in the world. Why overhaul it? Does the government have nothing better to do in the next few weeks? The isotopes issue, for instance, could certainly be the focus of some debate and does warrant some attention.
Instead, this government is going against the members from Quebec and a unanimous motion in the Quebec National Assembly. All economic players agree: the securities commission falls under Quebec jurisdiction. We do not want to decentralize all our securities to Toronto, which would then have the power to run Quebec businesses. That is at cross purposes with our values as Quebeckers, as well as our financial and economic autonomy. In this time of recession, it is important to control all our economic levers and manage our own securities. That is crucial.
I am convinced that the objective of the federal government's position to meddle in a Quebec jurisdiction is also to limit once again the Quebec government's choices and abilities to take action as well as to weaken its economic power in order to annihilate it. However, Quebec is saying no. On two occasions, Quebec's National Assembly voted against the Conservative government's proposal. The Bloc Québécois will stand firm and ensure that this proposal is not adopted. Luckily, the Bloc Québécois is here. The Conservative and Liberal members representing Quebec will vote against the unanimous motions of Quebec's National Assembly, of the people they represent. That is shameful. Fortunately, the Bloc is here to defend Quebec. That is evident again today.
We should not forget that establishing a single regulator will jeopardize the survival of stock exchange activities in Montreal and foster an even greater concentration of the financial market in Toronto. Do the members from Quebec know what they are doing by voting with their government?
As I mentioned, the federal government's desire to establish a single regulator is nothing new. However, we have always managed to make the government back down on this proposal.
And yet, this desire was very clearly stated in the 2008 budget when the Minister of Finance again repeated that he was determined to introduce a bill to create a single regulator.
To attain this objective, the minister entrusted an expert panel with a very specific mandate. When work began on February 21, 2008, it was very disturbing that the Minister of Finance directed the panel to develop a model common securities act.
Clearly, by moving forward with a bill, the government has decided to go against the unanimous will of the National Assembly, which had unanimously denounced this federal initiative. We have a democracy in Quebec. Three parties were present. The Action démocratique du Québec is not the Parti Québécois. It does not have the same political objectives. The Liberals, who are federalists, are against the Conservative government's proposal for a pan-Canadian securities commission. Therefore, why go forward with it?
As expected, the expert panel recommended the creation of this commission. In addition, its report calls for a mechanism that would allow corporations to bypass laws adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec by authorizing them to work directly with the pan-Canadian organization.
In short, the report itself shows the desire of the Conservatives and the Liberals to impose this single commission, despite the legitimate objections of Quebec.
In response to the stubbornness of federal Conservative and Liberal members—the fact that the Liberals will not vote on this proposal is indicative of a position—the Quebec National Assembly once again restated its opposition on January 15, 2009, just before the 2009 federal budget was tabled, through a second unanimous motion that expressed its opposition to the federal government's approach.
However, when the Conservative government tabled the 2009 budged, in the middle of a crisis, it committed $150 million to implement this Canada-wide commission. We do not have money for the unemployed, we do not have money for the manufacturing or forestry industries, but we have money to invest in a jurisdiction that belongs to the provinces and to Quebec.
In conclusion, I am convinced that the federal government's desire to interfere in one of Quebec's jurisdictions is an attempt to once again limit the Government of Quebec's choices and ability to act. The Bloc Québécois is here to prevent that. We must not forget that the creation of a single regulator would threaten exchange activities. As I already said, the fact that the government wants to do this is nothing new. It is nothing new that a federal government, Liberal or Conservative, would want to centralize all of Canada's financial administration activities in Toronto, when this is one of Quebec's constitutional responsibilities.
For the Liberals and the Conservatives, this simply fulfils the common goal of handing over to the federal government all of the major economic powers, so that the central government has greater latitude to act. The Bloc is against this, and we will not let them do it. Fortunately, the Bloc Québécois is here to represent the interests of Quebeckers, because the Liberal and Conservative members from Quebec will vote in favour of a proposal that goes against the very interests of Quebeckers.