Mr. Speaker, I request your co-operation to give me a few seconds at the end of my speech to table an amendment.
First, I want to congratulate the hon. member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour for presenting this motion to the House.
Earlier, a Conservative member accused the Bloc Québécois of being a separatist and sovereignist party—a fact known by all members in this House—and of having taken advantage of Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee to sneakily propose that the Governor General pay taxes.
In my opinion, the Bloc did not choose to do so this year. An election was held about a year ago and when the time came to introduce bills, the hon. member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour felt it would be a good idea if the only Canadian who is not paying taxes did like everyone else and began paying taxes. In fact, many parliamentarians in this House supported the idea.
Even government members—who belong to the party of the member who spoke earlier—included my colleague's suggestion in the budget, after he proposed that the Governor General pay taxes. That recommendation was followed by the government so that the Governor General would do like everyone else, like all workers in Canada and in Quebec, and began paying taxes at last. Not everyone knew that. Again, I congratulate the hon. member for presenting this motion.
At public events taking place on weekends in our ridings, many people were surprised to learn that the Governor General, in addition to holding an honorary position and collecting a good salary and a pension for life, did not pay taxes, which is totally unfair. There is no other way of putting it. That situation will be corrected in the budget.
Of course, the Conservative government did not stop there. After all, we are used to its poison pills. This time, it increased the Governor General's salary. In fact, it doubled that salary, something which a Liberal member justified a little earlier.
The former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada had also suggested increasing the Governor General’s salary because taxes would henceforth have to be paid. I know of no employer who, after having seen an employee's taxes increase even slightly, took pity on the employee and offered a salary increase.
Worse still, the government doubled the Governor General’s salary, which is completely out of line. It can in no way be considered normal to do so. To tell people in the budget that the Governor General’s salary will be taxed and then to increase that salary from $135,000 to $270,000, which few people in Canada or Quebec earn, amounts to laughing at people.
The member criticized the Bloc Québécois for having chosen this particular moment, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, for moving such a motion. I, on the contrary, think that it is a good time to think about the fact that the monarchy is archaic. Although this is 2012, the monarchy still governs the way we live in Canada and Quebec.
The Queen is the Queen of Canada, but in my view, no one today thinks that she serves any purpose whatsoever. However, some may believe that she does. In Quebec, however, the survey was very clear. According to this survey, over 70% of people think that we should simply get rid of the monarchy—with all due respect.
The history is there. My father teaches history. I think it is obvious that at a certain time, the queens and kings had a role to play. But today, with the parliamentary system and democracy, the role performed by these people could very well be replaced—because it seems to be strictly ceremonial—by a role that could be played by Parliament. For example, the Speaker of the House of Commons could very well give assent to bills. If the Senate—which the Bloc could well do without— is still there, then the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons could give final assent to any bill democratically passed by parliamentarians elected legitimately and democratically by the people.
What useful role does the Governor General in fact perform? At the moment, apart from rubber stamping and making a few appearances, the Governor General costs us a great deal, it has to be said. It is not only the Governor General who is expensive, but everything concerning the monarchy, including of course the lieutenant-governors of each province. In Quebec, we had one who cost us dearly.
It is perhaps being settled in court. It is unfortunate, because she could have had a more honourable career had it not been for the allegations made against her. One thing is certain: our current system of government is absolutely archaic.
Moreover, since winning a majority, the Conservative government has gone practically crazy over the monarchy. The Canadian armed forces are once again the royal forces, and their uniforms and names have had to be changed. A stained glass window has also been made to honour Queen Victoria. There has been frenzied spending to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. For example, money has been spent on medals. CBC took advantage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to give us information on what this is costing taxpayers. We learned a few days ago on a CBC program, that the monarchy costs us more than it actually does the English. Indeed, the monarchy costs approximately $1.50 per person here in Canada, and only $.93 per person in England. That is quite absurd.
In other former colonies, such as Australia, they also decided to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year, but not with as much pomp, and especially not with the same level of spending as here. I believe that the contradiction between this inappropriate spending and the cutbacks announced by the government was also raised in this House. In the same budget where it was announced that the Governor General would finally be taxed—thanks to my colleague from Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, who quite fairly raised this relevant issue—it was announced that not only would his salary be doubled, there would be a multitude of cuts, including those to the famous employment insurance system.
The unemployed are being told that their pay will be cut by 30%, that they will have to accept lower-paying jobs and that they will have to spend more on gas to get around. Indeed, they will have to work an hour or more from their homes, and they may even have to relocate from one region to another. At the same time, the government is acting like it has a lot of money, like it is rolling in it, like it can throw parties and continue to live with a system that is now obsolete. I am not ashamed to say that I feel this way, and I am not the only one; many people share this opinion. I hear people say this very often.
There is no need to be disloyal to the Queen of England. We can show her respect, and that is what we are doing. For example, this week, we chose not to block or interrupt MPs' messages on the occasion of her diamond jubilee. But at the same time, we told everyone that we are not jubilant and that we do not need a monarchy in Canada.
My colleague's motion was moved before the budget was tabled. That is why it was straightforward. All he wanted was for the only non-taxable salary in Canada to be taxed. The government took his advice and included the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour's proposal to tax the Governor General's salary in the budget, but it also included the following poison pill: the Governor General's salary will go up from $135,000 to $270,000, a two-fold increase.
I would therefore like to propose an amendment, seconded by my colleague from Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.
I propose adding the following words to the end of the my colleague's motion concerning the Governor General's salary:
without increasing his salary
I think that would deal with the government's attempts to thumb its nose at the people.