That, given that,
(i) Canada is a democratic state,
(ii) this House believes in the principle of equality for all,
the House express its desire to sever ties between the Canadian State and the British monarchy, and call on the government to take the actions necessary to do so.
Mr. Speaker, I must admit, reluctantly, that I am disappointed. I hope no one informs Charles III that his subjects are so slow to rally because he would be disappointed. One would have thought that there would be a massive assembly of MPs primed to protect the British monarchy. I get the feeling that the Bloc members are more passionate about it.
Parliament is a democratic institution. In principle, this means that it is the citizens of Quebec and Canada who, through their elected representatives, one riding at a time, make the decisions. The voters choose who is elected. Then again, it is hard to believe that the voters chose His Majesty King Charles III. Still, even though the monarchy is the very pinnacle of power in the structure of Canada's Constitution, we are being told that it is no big deal, it is not the most important issue, it is not a priority and we could be doing other things.
Just a few minutes ago, I was telling the media that I can breathe, talk and hold my phone at the same time. I can even stand on one leg if I have to. I can do everything at the same time. We are capable of discussing several subjects. There are parliamentary committees that will be sitting this week to discuss a whole bunch of subjects at the same time. We can debate the most and the least important. I would like to show that today’s topic is important.
Parliament is required to decide everything, namely budgets, laws and positions, which are often just principles. The motions we vote on after question period, on unanimous consent, are merely statements of principle. The best evidence of this is that, when the House gives the government a directive, the government usually disregards it. Perhaps the principles we state as principles already have an intrinsic value.
There is also the whole question of international relations and perception. There must be people all around the world who are looking at us and wondering what is happening because Canada is supposed to be a modern state. However, its leader is a foreign king, and a conqueror at that. This already presages something deeply serious.
They say that the monarchy is symbolic. A $70-million a year symbol, that is not bad. That is quite a symbol. We need to take into account the allocation of these $70 million a year, which, in general, go to lemons and airplane tickets; the monarchy is not on its last lemon. That is a lot of money. There is the distribution of all that in the provinces and Quebec, but we are told that that does not matter.
The constitutionalists have at least finished third grade. They are extremely intelligent people who have been debating since the Parti Québécois opened the debate in Quebec on the oath of allegiance. They debate what is necessary and what is not, what is important and what is not, and how to do it or not to do it. I think that these people do not have time to waste. It is because they think that what they are doing is important.
What could we do with $70 million? Seniors between the ages of 65 and 75, whom the government stubbornly refuses to help, could use $70 million. People with social housing challenges could use it, too. We realize that the government’s housing measures will help pretty much everybody, but far less in Quebec, because it had already taken action. I have colleagues who would like to hear that we were getting $70 million. For the transition to green energy, $70 million would go a long way. Forestry, fishing, the restoration of ports in eastern Quebec transferred from the federal government to Quebec, all need far more than $70 million. Can we spend the money there? No, but we are pleased to make arrangements for the royal family to visit western Canada on the taxpayer’s dime.
We are being told we would have to reopen the Constitution. My God, having to reopen the Constitution to change this. That means it must be really important. In general, when we say the word “Constitution”, especially with a French accent, English Canada goes into a panic. It must be a very important issue, I cannot think otherwise.
We need the unanimous consent of the provinces, the Senate and Parliament. That is how important it is. When someone puts 14 locks on their shed, it is because they really like their lawnmower. They are terrified of reopening the Constitution because, in my opinion, no one is comfortable with what is in there. It must be because it is important to keep it just the way it is. They are afraid that reopening the Constitution will lead to Alberta claiming independence or indigenous peoples claiming real rights. For now, we are protecting the British Crown at the expense of our first nations. That must be important.
According to the polls, neither Quebeckers nor Canadians want a monarchy. It is not a question of votes. In general, people do not wake up at night—although I know two or three who do—to say that we need to get rid of the monarchy. However, if they are asked, they will say that it is over, that it is a thing of the past, that we need to get rid of it, that it is expensive and that we do not need it. As the magnificent Yvon Deschamps would say, “The monarchy, what is the point?” The people want us to get rid of it. That has to be important.
It is the people’s preference. That means that this idea that, on some level, defines who we are, who Canadians and Quebeckers are—and please do not confuse the two—must be something fundamental. It is especially fundamental for Quebeckers because, for Quebeckers and for all those of French descent or who adopted the identity, to varying degrees, of French ancestry, the King of England is the king of the conquering empire.
They tell us that that was in 1760, and that we should stop talking about the conquest. They tell us that the Patriotes rebellion was in 1837-38, and that we should stop talking about the Patriotes. However, if we are swearing an oath today to the King of England, it is because we are still a conquered people, who had to swear an oath to the then king of the conquering British Empire, an empire that was incredibly racist and engaged in slavery. That is not trivial. Can we start adding the word “important” to the sentence?
I feel like asking what they are afraid of when it comes to reopening the Constitution, but I think I have already answered that question: No one can identify with Pierre Trudeau’s Constitution.
There are 338 ridings in Canada and, when we add more, it will be to the detriment of Quebec. There are approximately 100,000 people in each riding and around 60,000 to 70,000 electors, so if not everyone votes, only 50,000 or so voters per riding vote in elections. They never choose a king. They always choose a member of Parliament and, as a result, the leader of the country. They never voted for a king. I do not know anyone who said they voted for Charles, for example. I have not seen that happen, and yet, at the top of Canada’s food chain, there is the Crown. That must be important.
Are not the tens of thousands of people in every riding more important than an expensive, frivolous monarchy? Are they not more important than a foreign king who knows nothing about us—I am not sure that he would pass the test immigrants have to take in Canada, not to mention Quebec—and who is a descendant of the king who crushed us with his cannon balls and muskets? That must be important.
The Prime Minister says that the state is democratic and secular, and he is protecting a king who is the head of a Church. That must be important for the Prime Minister.
It is important, but it is unjustified. It is obsolete, not to say archaic, reactionary, paleontological, backward and humiliating. It will anger some people that I call the monarchy backward. The people who are angry prove that I am right. It makes no sense. We need to get out from under it because it is important.
There are more important things. To name them one at a time, it is true that it is more important to go to the Supreme Court to fight Quebec's secular values. It is true that it is much more important to go to the Supreme Court to fight Quebec's efforts to strengthen the promotion of French. It is true that it is much more important to open new maritime territories to oil drilling when we know that the North Atlantic right whale is endangered. It is true that it is much more important to hand out contracts to Liberal friends for Roxham Road. It is true that it is much more important to meddle in Quebec's and the provinces' jurisdictions, especially when it comes to health transfers.
If I am wrong and it is not important, why do we not get out from under it quickly, easily and light-heartedly and move on enthusiastically to something else?
The Liberal Party's Quebec lieutenant worked himself up to such a fever pitch that he now has a sore throat. Neither he nor the Prime Minister have answered any of the basic questions. Canadians and Quebeckers nevertheless have the right to know whether, when the Prime Minister and his Quebec lieutenant swore the oath, they swore it to a foreign king, a conqueror, a spoiled, ridiculous man. I have had a good life, but no one has ever ironed my shoelaces. With great discipline, not only did I learn how to tie them, but I also learned to put toothpaste on my toothbrush. It took a while, but I succeeded.
Canadians, Quebeckers and Quebec voters in the case of the lieutenant and the admiral, have the right to know whether they swore the oath to the British Crown or the Canadian people.
The monarchy is not important. However, is an oath important? Swearing loyalty and allegiance is a serious matter. What is there more important than a solemn oath of allegiance? Let us say it is not important. Does that mean that the commitments these people make to their voters are not important? Does it mean that they can frivolously ignore their commitment to their voters, like they frivolously ignore their commitment to the sovereign? Is it not important? It seems important to me.
On the other hand, the Bloc Québécois says that an oath given under duress is meaningless. If it does not come from the heart, it has no value. The Bloc's members swear an oath under duress in order to be able to enter Canada's Parliament to expose to Canada what, in many ways, is a lack of respect for Quebec, for the French language, and for the values of secularism and equality, the hypocrisy of a system created to drown us slowly in institutions where our space and our weight is almost inexorably dwindling.
That is no small matter. We come here to speak out against the fact that the government is not doing anything about environmental issues, despite the threat looming over the entire planet. We are here to speak out against the fact that the government's ultimate allegiance is perhaps to the lobbies.
Spoiler alert: The Bloc Québécois is not sincere in swearing allegiance to the Queen. However, the Bloc Québécois is irrevocably sincere, heart and soul, in its pledge and commitment to Quebeckers, and to the Quebec nation alone. If the Liberals, the Conservatives and the NDP are not sincere, then their constituents have the right to know. For our part, we are stating that we no longer want to be subjects of the empire that conquered us, because we live in a democracy. A foreign king and religious leader: That is as important as it is unacceptable.
We invite members to free themselves and us from the monarchy; otherwise, we will show Quebeckers who we are and who they are. I invite all members to think carefully about this before praying for the English King tomorrow, just a few hours before voting on the Bloc Québécois's motion.
This motion is a test of the sincerity of this solemn oath. It is a test of loyalty to our citizens and constituents. It shows that an oath to a foreign monarch and religious leader takes precedence over a pledge to members' constituents. There is no question that the Bloc Québécois is at the service of Quebeckers and only Quebeckers.