Madam Speaker, when the Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot constituents elected me, they did so knowing that I would stand for them in this House, and that I would serve their interests at all costs. I have often taken the floor to denounce government decisions that were going against the needs of my riding. I have kept my word and will keep doing so unconditionally
Since members opposite do not consider regional development very important, I am convinced that only the Bloc Québécois is promoting ideas and real solutions in order to increase the wealth and power of regions. Regions stand to lose the most if Bill C-12, which we oppose today, is passed. I do not approve of the Conservative government decision to reduce the relative weight of Quebec in Parliament. I strenuously oppose, along with my Bloc colleagues and members of the Quebec National Assembly, the Conservative decision to marginalize Quebec in Parliament.
I really wonder why the Conservatives so stubbornly want to implement Bill C-12. I remind you it would be a disaster for the Quebec nation. Would their main reason to do this be their Conservative ideology and their will to achieve a majority government at all costs? We should not overlook the fact that Quebeckers elected only a handful of Conservative members and that they keep electing a majority of Bloc members, one election after another. They know that they can count on a coherent party which will not hesitate to stand up for them here.
The proof that the Conservatives will never meet our aspirations is that not a single one of them has opposed the blatant injustice to Quebec proposed in Bill C-12. Is it because they cannot have elected members in Quebec that they so badly want to increase the number of seats in other Canadian provinces?
As many of my colleagues have explained to the House, the Conservatives, although they boast about their recognition of the Quebec nation, have done nothing to show that this recognition is anything more to them than hot air. Their attempt to diminish Quebec's political weight in this House is but the last of numerous examples. I repeat that Bill C-12 is one of many examples that show that the recognition of the Quebec nation, for the Conservatives as well as the Liberals, means absolutely nothing here. Indeed, after pretending to recognize the existence of this nation, Conservatives and Liberals have dismissed all our differences and our choices out of hand.
One can only ridicule the ads in which the Conservatives claim they are working for the benefit of the regions. Passing Bill C-12 would greatly prejudice the preservation and development of the regions. Without the significant contribution of the Bloc Québécois in this House and also without its important representation of Quebec, I cannot imagine what would happen to the issue of regional preservation and development.
Need I remind the House that the interests of Quebec and Western Canada are very different and that, for political reasons, the Conservatives and Liberals choose to respond first and foremost to the requests of Western Canada and Ontario? This is why it is vital to maintain Quebec's present political weight as much as possible. For us, the oil sands and the giveaways to oil companies and banks are not part of our values and priorities.
With a diminished representation of Quebec in the House of Commons, the Conservatives and Liberals will use new tricks in order to marginalize the Quebec nation, as they already do. With less political weight, how would it be possible to force the Conservative government to pay the billions of dollars it owes Quebec for the harmonization of its sales tax? How would it be possible to get it to make new investments in our social programs, such as social housing, employment insurance, the GIS, support programs for older workers, environmental issues, the manufacturing and forest crisis, land occupancy, securities, culture and so on?
Not only do the regions stand to lose, but the whole province of Quebec would sustain important losses.
When the Quebec National Assembly and Bloc Québécois members requested special federal assistance to give timely support to those affected by the forestry and manufacturing crisis, the Conservatives kept pumping billions into the auto industry, which is heavily concentrated in Ontario. In Quebec, the manufacturing and forestry industries got a mere pittance. In my own constituency, the furniture and textile industries are starving to death for lack of government support. Just imagine the importance this House would give to these issues if the Bloc Québécois did not have a strong position in this House and if Quebec had less political weight
Injustices like the ones I just mentioned are far too numerous. Quebec is still waiting for a program to promote the development and accessibility of broadband communication services like high-speed Internet in many communities, especially rural communities.
The Bloc Québécois urged the Conservatives to announce grants to our CFDCs, which are essential economic instruments in our rural communities. Do the Conservatives realize that rural people and the Quebec nation are not second-class citizens? How bad would the situation be, were it not for this significant contingent of Quebec members in this House?
As concerns agriculture and supply management, it is crucial to be able to rely on a strong Quebec representation. The same can be said about the environment. Despite all the efforts made in Quebec since 1990, the Canadian position in Copenhagen was a rigid position in favour of the oil sands.
Once again, how could Quebec’s interests be advocated without a strong contingent of Quebec members in this House? I repeat: Quebec must keep all the political weight it has now in this House, because, on a whole range of issues, there are big differences between the interests of Quebec and those of Canada.
In the time remaining before Quebec becomes a sovereign country, I can be counted on to stand for my constituents in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.