Motion No. 8
That Bill C-20 be amended by deleting Clause 8.
Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 1 speaks to deleting clause 1, which states:
This Act may be cited as the Fair Representation Act.
Notwithstanding that after three bills we finally have a better bill in the House, we contend that we still do not believe it truly represents fair representation in the context of Canada, certainly from a historical perspective and, most importantly, from a nation building process going forward.
The House will recall that at second reading we made the argument that the bill needed to be looked at in a great deal of detail. We had hoped that at committee we would have a legitimate give and take as I have experienced on that committee as opposed to what we see at some committees in certain circumstances where the government marches in with its majority rule and all but dictates what the committees will do.
As I do not have a lot of time this morning, I will say that I was very pleased that the process was a continuation of the fair give and take that occurs at that committee when dealing with matters of national importance vis-à-vis seats like this and when talking about changes to our election laws, and issues that go way beyond any partisan aspect that any of us might bring.
The cornerstone of our concern is that the government is missing a great opportunity to strengthen the bounds of our country. We believe that when the motion passed almost unanimously in this House stating that the House recognizes the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada that it meant something. I was privileged to be here for that vote. I felt very proud on that day because I thought in one small way we were strengthening this nation. As everyone knows, that is not always the easiest job in this country. We have stresses, as do many nations around the world. I would just point out parenthetically that certainly over the last couple of decades many nations have looked to us as a model in terms of how we deal with those stresses.
We in the NDP as the official opposition thought that was an important moment, that it meant something, and that from that we would continue to send the message to the Québécois that their fear and concern of the assimilation over time of their unique culture, which is not only unique in Canada but in North America, would be strong enough and secure enough that they could have pride for both their culture as well as being Canadians.
We in the official opposition felt that building on that was an opportunity that unfortunately the government missed in Bill C-20 because we believe that the relative strength and political weight that Quebec had at the time that motion passed should reflect the basis of the seats that it had going forward, which would be 24.35%.
The National Assembly in Quebec has chosen 25%. The Charlottetown accord had 25%. I would remind members that the 25% in the Charlottetown accord was not accepted in the referendum. It was signed on by the prime minister of the day, a Conservative, and every province and territory in the nation. The concept of there being a respectful recognition of the importance of that political weight, as it is tied to the Québécois as a nation, now recognized by this House as a part of the united Canada, makes all the sense in the world.
We could have gone with 25%. It would have been a lot easier. The Bloc was there as was the National Assembly, but quite frankly, tying it to the Charlottetown accord, that did not succeed, did not seem like the best idea.
Going with that vote, which took us to 24.35%, we felt would stand the test of time, going forward, so that 50, 100, 200 years from now, when our successors are standing here talking about the success of Canada, one of the things we could point to was the respect that we paid to that unique nation within Canada.
Unfortunately, the government has chosen not to, and the Liberals were never really clear on that part of it. They have their own idea and I will let them talk about that.