Mr. Speaker, to respond to my colleague and to give her a short lesson in international law and Canadian constitutional law, we know there are several federal states in the world, Swiss cantons or German Länders, which are not sovereign states and which can conclude international treaties, as provided by the constitution.
We interpret our constitution. It is Mr. Gérin-Lajoie, a liberal and a federalist, as my colleague from Laval Centre said earlier, who promoted the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine whereby Quebec could conclude treaties within its areas of jurisdiction. I remind the hon. member that all successive Quebec governments, whether of the Liberal Party or the Parti Quebecois, maintained that this Gérin-Lajoie doctrine should prevail and that Quebec could conclude international treaties within its areas of jurisdiction.
In closing this debate, I want to thank members of the House who took part in the debate on Bill C-214. I appreciate and count on the support of oppositions members who have fully realized that this bill is aimed at democratizing the process of conclusion of treaties, at circulating treaties concluded by Canada but not properly circulated.
Even today, people will not be able to find the text of a Canadian treaty on the Government of Canada site, which is totally inappropriate, since they will find on sites of other countries, such as the United States and France, treaties they have concluded.
The purpose of this bill is therefore to ensure that parliament participates when treaties are concluded by approving the most important treaties, and that there is an obligation on the government to disseminate its treaties by tabling them in the House, or by publishing them either on an electronic site, in the Canada Gazette , or in the Canada Treaty Series .
In my opinion, this is essential because this parliament is lagging somewhat behind other parliaments in the world, such as those of Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom. These parliaments have, in recent years, amended their procedure and allowed members to debate treaties, which, as the member for Lac-Saint-Jean pointed out, are taking on increasing importance.
I noted objections from the government side resulting from a desire not to acknowledge that the royal prerogative with respect to the conclusion of treaties should be shared between the federal and provincial governments in application and respect of the federal principle. They also thought that this bill would have the effect of unduly limiting the prerogatives and discretion of the government with respect to the conclusion of treaties. That is not the case.
References to a republican system such as that of the United States ignore the development of practices in Commonwealth countries, where parliament is finally being given a voice when it comes to concluding treaties.
I will conclude by expressing the hope that this bill will receive significant support when it is voted on, on Monday. I also hope that the government realizes that this debate cannot be postponed any longer.
This is a debate that must take place. Let us hope that government members and ministers take the initiative, as other governments have done, and modify the existing practice, which is outmoded and unworthy of a country which claims to be democratic but which does not which to give a voice to the people's elected representatives when it comes to important treaties.