That the House denounce the fact that the government seeks to marginalize the Quebec nation by introducing a bill to decrease Quebec’s political weight in the House, and that it affirm that Quebec Members of Parliament, who represent a nation, must hold at least 25% of the seats in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.
I would like to begin by saying how proud I am to rise in the House today to move the Bloc Québécois motion, because I feel that we are doing the work for which Quebeckers have elected a majority of Bloc members to the House six times since 1993.
In 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, a majority of Bloc members were elected in Quebec to represent and defend the interests and values of the Quebec nation.
Today, we are opposing the Conservative government's Bill C-12, which is designed to further marginalize the Quebec nation in the House of Commons. This reduction in the Quebec nation's political weight in the House is completely unacceptable to Quebeckers.
When the Canadian Confederation was created in 1867, Quebec held 36% of the seats. If Bill C-12 were passed, that proportion would decrease to 22.4%, which is less than the Quebec nation's current demographic weight within Canada. That is an unacceptable decline compared to Quebec's current representation of 24.3%.
This bill is a direct attack on the rights of the Quebec nation. That is why we are putting forward the following motion, which the Speaker already read, but which I will reread:
That the House denounce the fact that the government seeks to marginalize the Quebec nation by introducing a bill to decrease Quebec’s political weight in the House, and that it affirm that Quebec Members of Parliament, who represent a nation, must hold at least 25 percent of the seats in the House.
This motion is our response to Bill C-12, which is the latest manifestation of a Conservative obsession. The Conservatives are almost aggressive in the way they keep introducing legislation to marginalize the Quebec nation.
Bill C-12 is the latest example of this obsession, but the government previously introduced Bill C-56 and Bill C-22, not to mention the ones it introduced to amend the terms of senators, in violation of the Canadian Constitution, which requires constitutional negotiations with the provinces, particularly Quebec.
The Quebec minister responsible for government affairs was very clear when he said that Quebec would never agree to unilateral changes, even to the Senate. We would like to see the Senate abolished, but that must be subject to constitutional negotiations. The government can open up this Pandora's box if it wants to, but it cannot act unilaterally. The House of Commons is not able to amend the current rules, particularly those governing the Senate.
Bill C-12 is another example of the Conservatives' obsession. Every time the federal government has introduced such bills, the Quebec National Assembly has unanimously adopted a motion denouncing the Conservative government's actions and calling on the government to withdraw its bills. I have these motions here, and I think it is worth reading them.
Regarding Bill C-56, on May 16, 2007, the National Assembly unanimously adopted the following motion:
THAT the National Assembly ask the Parliament of Canada to withdraw Bill C-56, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, introduced in the House of Commons last 11 May;
Bill C-56 essentially had the same objective as Bill C-12: the political marginalization of Quebec.
Regarding Bill C-22, another example of the Conservatives' obsession with marginalizing Quebec's political weight, the National Assembly adopted the following motion on October 7, 2009:
THAT the National Assembly demand that the Federal Government renounce the tabling of any bill whose consequence would be to reduce the weight of Québec in the House of Commons.
The National Assembly unanimously spoke out against these two previous bills and called for the government to withdraw them, and we are sure that it will do the same thing with Bill C-12 as soon as it has the opportunity.
We want to align our motion as closely as possible with the last motion I just read, which was passed on October 7, 2009, so we will amend our own motion on this opposition day. The amendment will be presented by my colleague and friend, the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, to make it clear that it is out of the question for the Quebec nation to lose any political weight in the House of Commons. We want to maintain our current weight. However, we know that some members of the House indulge in intellectual dishonesty. I will not name names, but I do have several members—nine or ten at least—in mind.