Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to support this excellent motion moved by the hon. member for Saint-Jean.
I listened carefully to today's speeches, particularly the one given by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, who was very eloquent, as well as the one by the hon. member of the Progressive Conservative Party.
This motion concerns the creation of a support fund for community activities. Quebec currently has one. This is about support for isolated or northern communities and urban centres.
It is obvious today that the Canadian Alliance still does not understand. It thinks that this motion is about creating a support fund for election periods. That is false. This support program would be available during a member's mandate to assist federally or provincially regulated non-profit organizations. This is key.
These days, there are youth or seniors groups that work very hard, and social clubs like Kiwanis, Lions or Kinsmen clubs, which hold fundraisers. It is not easy. This excellent motion from the hon. Bloc Quebecois member must be addressed. But the Canadian Alliance must carefully consider what is happening in Manitoba and Quebec. The example of the Quebec government's program, which is very successful, is often cited. It is not about election periods, it is a fund that needs to be established.
All that need be done is abolish the government's current $40 million sponsorship fund and give that money to the 301 members, whatever their political affiliation. This is not a partisan issue; it is about helping community groups and supporting voluntarism.
They are having a hard time in the regions. Scouts, children, schools all work very hard raising funds by selling chocolate bars. It is about time that tax money went back into the regions, instead of always going to foreign countries or to big companies.
This is important, as we know and as we can see in the province of Quebec right now. The volunteer action support program, at the local level, provides financial assistance to municipalities and non-profit corporations in their efforts to respond to needs in community, recreation, sports and community support activities.
It is important to win this vote today so that the motion can be examined by a standing committee. Solutions need to be found for seniors and many others. We know this covers sports and recreation activities and related management activities.
It is also important that the amounts involved be divided geographically and on a per capita basis, because there are members whose ridings cover ten square kilometres, while there are others whose ridings cover 200,000 or 300,000 square kilometres.
Today, the hon. member followed in the footsteps of the hon. member for Beauce, a Liberal, who tried to put that idea forward. But if today the Liberal members in this House, members of other political parties and even members of the Canadian Alliance really looked at what is going on in their communities, they would be in favour of a volunteer action support program.
The idea is always to find solutions. If members have access to a fund, we know this fund will not benefit them. At present, the recently elected MNA for Abitibi-Est, Pierre Corbeil, has a $60,000 or $62,000 fund. He uses it to give $500 to a group, to seniors or to children in a school.
What matters is that decisions be made very wisely. This is a program that should be made available to individual members in their riding offices, because if we wait for a decision to be made by public servants in Ottawa, it will take three months. Out of a $25 million fund, $15 million will go to public servants and there will only be $10 million left for support programs in remote areas and urban centres.
It is important that we support this motion, because its purpose is to help people, and young people.