Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to join the debate on this particular bill from the other place. One of my staff asked me why a B.C.-based MP would want to speak to this particular bill, and that is a fair question. In short, Confederation is an incredibly important part of our past and, of course, let us not forget that it took an amazing vision for the elected officials of the time to proudly jump off of a cliff, so to speak, and support a vision when, at the time, they could not have possibly known what the outcome would be today. However, they did know one thing: that working together united is how a stronger and more prosperous Canada would be built. They were right.
There, in Charlottetown, they came up with a consensus that would lay a foundation for what would become, I believe, the greatest country in the world, and now more than ever, that is a principle we must not forget. The version of Confederation we are increasingly seeing today is one that could almost be summarized as Nimbyism, but on a provincial scale.
Quebec is happy to get oil from countries that have next to no environmental regulations, and certainly no carbon tax at all, while many opposed the energy east project instead of supporting the good province of Alberta. My home province certainly has its own conditions. Many oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is also against the good province of Alberta. Here is the funny thing about that. Tankers constantly ply the waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island and head to Cherry Point station in Washington. However, the same tanker heading to English Bay would be something to be opposed by the B.C. government.
Ontario continues to oppose wine shipped directly from B.C. wineries. It is the same story in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It remains easier for a B.C. winery to ship directly to Asia than to many parts of Canada, and that, I submit, is wrong. That is not what Confederation was about. Over my time spent working on the interprovincial trade barrier file, I could easily fill this entire speech with numerous examples of provincial protectionism or outright political obstruction that, once again, overlook Confederation. That concerns me.
Therefore, when an opportunity arose to recognize Confederation and the location where it occurred, absolutely I wanted to join the debate and speak in support of that. In my view, anything we can do to educate about our past can help with our future, and we should also never take what happened in Confederation for granted. In this place, in particular, we should work together on this one principle. There is a long answer as to why I wanted to participate in this debate, but before I close, I would like to talk about something.
Last week, the finance committee travelled to both Washington and New York and heard a talk at the Canadian embassy by a William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution, a speech called “The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy”. In his answers, he referred to a recent poll of American millennials that showed shifting support for western liberal democracies. Some looked more favourably at other forms of government than what we have today, like the so-called Beijing consensus. He said that people would often support other various approaches to governance in western liberal democracies, specifically due to one of two reasons: either they morally did not support it or the particular form of governance they now had did not work for them.
If we look back at what made Confederation great, it was an equal principle that everyone who came to the table brought something unique, and regardless of the size of the provinces, they all brought something incredible to bear to this common thing called Canada. I would say that in this place we have lots of debate, but we also have a rich history and know that, while we may disagree on some of those national debates, we are ultimately part and partner to something greater. That is the key principle here.
When we support reducing interprovincial trade barriers and the rule of law with regard to pipeline projects, which are approved by our Parliament of Canada through a very judicious process, but we allow those things that I talked about to happen, that demonstrates the performance of our system of governance to the average person. There are people in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec who are resentful—I remember, as a child of the 1970s, there being debate after debate and one national sovereignty referendum after another. However, if we act as partners in this great thing called Canada and we show that we believe morally that Canada is good and that we all bring something unique to the table, I would contend that goes a long way to addressing the performance issues that some may have with our system of governance in this great country.
I would argue that if we can allay those concerns, if we can see pipelines built properly, if we can see national issues addressed in this place, if we can see interprovincial trade barriers come down, then from that moral principle that we are better together, I believe we will see Canada continue to be the greatest country in the world.
I thank this place for allowing me to speak to this important bill. I am grateful to be part of this great country. Hopefully, we will see the bill passed as quickly as possible.