Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher. My speech will contain a number of corrections to the points that the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse has just raised.
The basic question before us is “Can Canada be reformed?” At the moment, the answer is no. The only solution for Quebec is sovereignty. We would then have full power over everything sovereignty means: we could sign international agreements and we could keep our taxes for Quebec. As to the federation, everything has already been tried.
I would like to correct a number of things that the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse raised. First, there were a number of constitutional attempts. We have mentioned the Meech Lake accord and the Charlottetown accord here. I will speak about those, but we must also remember there was an attempt in Victoria where the Robert Bourassa government said that we did not have enough powers and so we could not accept it. So that was dead in the water.
Each time that Quebec has been faced with fundamental issues of having to water down its powers, Quebec premiers have all stood up and said that we cannot accept that. There was Victoria, but then there was Meech Lake. It is wrong to say that sovereignists dropped it or torpedoed it. On the contrary, at the time, it was called the “beau risque”. There were agonizing debates in Quebec, but at least we ended up saying that we were going to give Canada a chance, and see if, with five little minimum conditions, we could bring the whole federal family together.
The agreement was not torpedoed by sovereignists, but by Elijah Harper, who said that there was not enough in it for aboriginal peoples. But Mr. Harper said that he agreed with Quebec's claims. It was Elijah Harper who prevented Manitoba from signing the agreement.
And what about Clive Wells in Newfoundland who went back on his signature? I remember well the kiss that Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien gave Clyde Wells to thank him for taking his province out of the agreement and going back on his signature, with the result that the Meech Lake accord failed.
We have to talk about what happened. When the accord failed, Brian Mulroney appointed Jean Charest to try to water down powers once more on both sides. That was to get Quebec to swallow a potion that was unpalatable at the time. So Jean Charest was appointed by Brian Mulroney to prepare the Charlottetown accord. The Charlottetown accord was rejected by both the people of Canada and the people of Quebec.
Quebeckers said that the Charlottetown accord did not give them enough powers. Their powers were too watered down and it made no sense to agree to it. The Rest of Canada, the ROC, said that it did not agree to the accord because it gave too many powers to Quebec. That is the ditch that was dug between them. Polls show that there are two countries in Canada. It is no longer a ditch, it is the Grand Canyon that divides Canada's two founding peoples.
I have a lot to say about the recognition of the Quebec nation. Aside from its symbolic value, what good does it do Quebeckers? We have made several attempts. The highest court on the other side—as Mr. Duplessis said, it is like the tower of Pisa, which always leans to the same side, the federal side—has ripped our Bill 101 to shreds. That is a loss for Quebec as well as for the world's heritage. We have to protect the French language in America. We are surrounded by 300 million anglophones. If we do not have a law to protect our language, it will be watered down until it disappears entirely like so many aboriginal languages that are disappearing in Canada.
When we try to apply recognition of the Quebec nation to the Canada Labour Code in Quebec—as we all know, French is the language of work in Quebec—they say it is out of the question. So how is recognizing a nation anything more than symbolic?
My colleagues talked about the Canada-wide securities commission, which will transfer power from Montreal to Toronto. What does the Quebec nation mean in that context?
Why would anyone want to get rid of francophone know-how, assimilate it and pack everything off to Toronto? I should remind everyone that Quebec's National Assembly is unanimously against the idea. That is important to note. That is why, earlier, my colleague from Shefford asked other members how, as Quebeckers, they planned to vote.
The same goes for the 30 seats they want to add. Once again, Quebec's National Assembly is unanimous. People do not agree with the proposal because it would dilute Quebec's power. Some people, including the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, say that a vote should have the same weight no matter where it is. However, federalists always forget to mention Prince Edward Island, which has four members for 120,000 inhabitants. So the concept does not apply to them. Exceptions can be made for other provinces like Prince Edward Island. These things are the way they are for historical reasons. What is the government doing with one of the founding nations, with Quebeckers? It seems to me that exceptions should be made for a founding nation, that the government should act on its recognition of the Quebec nation if it wants that recognition to be more than just symbolic. Those arguments do not work. That is why I say that Canada cannot change. Every time we go to them with ideas, all they ever say is no, no, no.
An interesting survey was conducted. As I said earlier, there is a gap between English Canada and Quebec. It is not just a ditch, it is the Grand Canyon. For example, people were asked whether the federal government should have to respect Bill 101 in Canada and in Quebec. I just spoke about this. In Quebec, 73% of respondents said yes, and in Canada, 83% said no. Those are two extremes. There are two countries in this country. That is what this means.
They were also asked whether the Constitution should give Quebec the power to appoint the three Supreme Court judges. This was one of the conditions of the Meech Lake accord, by the way. In Quebec, 83% of respondents said yes, and in English Canada, 73% said no. Once again, those are completely opposite. There are two countries in this country.
Should the Constitution give Quebec full jurisdiction over immigration on its territory? Seventy-eight per cent of Quebeckers think so, while 77% of Canadians say no. These are extreme differences. When I say that the Charlottetown accord was rejected because Quebec did not have enough powers, while English Canada was saying that it was getting too many, these numbers are proof of that as regards language and immigration, but it goes on and on.
Should Quebec have more powers regarding language and culture? In Quebec, 82% of the respondents say yes, while in the rest of Canada, 69% say no. Where is the recognition of the Quebec nation? Where is the recognition of a different culture and language in Canada? The numbers tell the tale.
Should the Canadian Constitution recognize that Quebec forms a nation and should it include that recognition? Seventy-three per cent of Quebeckers say yes, while 83% of Canadians say no. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there is no possibility of getting along. A reform is not possible.
Should Quebec have more powers and a special status? Seventy-three per cent of Quebeckers say yes, while 71% of Canadians say no. It is increasingly clear that, as regards these issues, we are at opposite ends, we are very very far apart.
I am going to mention one last question. Should the Government of Canada respect, on Quebec's territory, the provisions of Bill 101, which makes French the only official language in Quebec? We find that 90% of Quebeckers answered yes to that question, while 74% of Canadians said no. It is like that throughout the survey.
To those who think that a reform is possible in Canada, I say it is a big illusion, a fantasy. That cannot happen precisely because of people's perception and the fact that there are two countries in this country. If there are two countries in this country, we agree that Canada should be sovereign. Conversely, Canada must agree that Quebec should also be sovereign. That is the only solution to finally come to an agreement with our colleagues. Let us forget constitutional reforms. They are not possible because of the Canadian and Quebec perceptions. Therefore, sovereignty is the final solution for Quebec.