Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise this afternoon on the Bloc’s opposition day dealing with a subject that is close to my heart. I want to take the time to read the motion before us. I would also like to say that I will be splitting my time with the kind, competent, fabulous member from Trois-Rivières.
The motion before us today asks the government to stop trying to pass any bill that would have the effect of reducing Quebec’s current political weight in the House of Commons, which is 24.35% of all seats. I listened intently today to some of the speeches of my colleagues, members of both the Bloc Québécois and other parties. Some of them explored the more legal aspect, referring to the Constitution. Personally, I am going to try in the minutes remaining to me to understand what the real intent is of the Conservative government, which has tabled bills more than once since being elected with the purpose, in my view, of reducing Quebec’s political weight in the House of Commons.
There is good reason to ask this question and I can think of several possible reasons. Why has the government tried repeatedly since being elected to table bills that weaken Quebec? One possibility is that it is an underhanded way to get a majority in the next election. In the last six federal elections, Quebeckers have elected a vast majority of Bloc members to represent them in the House of Commons. Despite all the high hopes of the Conservatives in the last election, a vast majority of Quebeckers again placed their confidence in Bloc members to represent their interests. Looking at the surveys done by various firms and published in newspapers, I see that the last six or eight confirm this strong tendency of Quebeckers, who say that the Bloc Québécois is a good party to represent and defend their interests.
I make no accusations but would still like to ask the following: would this be an underhanded way to get a majority without Quebec by adding so many seats in Ontario, for example? Is it to please English Canadians who really wonder about the Bloc presence in the House of Commons? Is it to comfort English Canadians who are closer to Reformers, the Conservatives, the right wing? Is it to please them by saying the Conservatives can put Quebec in its place and are going to make sure now that the constitution of Parliament and the House of Commons reduces the political weight of Quebec? Is this not a way of telling Quebec to accept its role and be a province like all the others?
These are legitimate questions and I am asking them. It may be odd to say this, but I am a member who is known for doing a lot of work in my riding. Sometimes we think that what we discuss here is of little or not much interest to our fellow citizens, who are fairly cynical about politics and politicians. But I would say that this bill has struck a chord, that is, it has generated interest among electors. They talk to me and they understand very clearly that it is unfair. It depends of course on what side you are. Federalists find this quite normal, for they see Canada as a single entity and are not interested in specificities, such as those of Quebec, which is a nation.
I should mention that a motion was passed in this House which recognized the Quebec nation. What we have realized since the motion was passed is that it was theoretical, that it will never be acted on. I will give some examples.
If it truly wanted to take account of the Quebec nation and its distinct character, the federal government would agree to treat Quebec fairly by ensuring that all federally regulated companies are subject to Bill 101. The national language in Quebec is French. Why does this government refuse to recognize that fact and allow federally regulated companies to be subject to Bill 101?
The government also promotes multiculturalism. That means that it encourages immigrants to preserve their culture of origin so far as possible. In Quebec, on the other hand, we have a different perspective on the integration of immigrants: they become partners and full citizens of the province.
The government also refuses to let us fully control our communications and telecommunications, which are the engine and soul of a nation, of a people. We need to hold the key, to have full authority over our communications and telecommunications. The Bloc Québécois therefore introduced a bill, since we are quite proactive when it comes to defending the interests of Quebec. This bill was designed to create a radio-television and telecommunications commission, a CRTQ, which would have regulated on the basis of the interests and challenges of Quebec.
And of course, there is that old promise that the government made when it began its mandate—namely to limit the federal spending power. Since its election, the government has not only failed to keep its promise, but it has increased its encroachments into fields of provincial jurisdiction.
As I have said, recognition of the nation is meaningless for the federal government, and for many Liberals perhaps, it is nothing but wind. Nothing concrete is being done to recognize the nation.
As I was saying to the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie, the National Assembly of Quebec has passed a unanimous motion. There are four parties in the National Assembly of Quebec. Some are federalist, others are sovereignist. All of these parties agreed to tell the federal government to withdraw this bill, which would weaken or reduce the political weight of Quebec. The Bloc is being accused of pushing for a substantial political weight in the House of Commons and told that it wants to leave this House and form a country. And they are right, for my dearest wish is to prepare the way for the sovereignty of Quebec and repatriate all the powers that we can so that we are able to build our country properly. In the meantime, however, we must ensure that Quebeckers are well represented on the basis of their weight and their distinctiveness, for they form a nation.
The motion unanimously passed by the Quebec National Assembly is very clear. It is the same as the motion we are debating today. It is important for those listening to us to understand that this is the unanimous request of all elected representatives of the Quebec nation's highest democratic institution.
I find it somewhat funny to hear what the Conservatives have to say in favour of this bill. If I understood them correctly, they care so much about democracy that they want justice to be served through proportional representation in the House of Commons. When it suits them, they use democracy as an argument even though Conservatives are poor role models when it comes to respecting democratic institutions. It is rather difficult to talk about respect for democracy when a Prime Minister prorogues Parliament because he does not want to face the opposition. They can hardly be considered as role models when they hide documents relating to the transfer of Afghan prisoners. There are many examples that lead us to say that this government is not a model of respect for democratic institutions. It is ironic to give us this example in order to justify the bill.
As usual, the reasons mentioned in our French-language media come from the Quebec Conservative MPs, who did not seem to be excessively bothered by a decrease in Quebec’s political weight in the Canadian Parliament. This is hardly surprising since they only care about Canada's interests, while we are interested in Quebec's interests.
Since my time has expired, I will conclude by saying that this bill must absolutely be abandoned. I am calling on opposition MPs to vote against this legislation that would decrease the political weight of Quebec, which is one of Canada's founding nations.