Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for Bellechasse (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply September 29th, 1994

Madam Speaker, today the Official Opposition moves the following motion:

That this House denounces the government for its refusal to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry on the alleged illegal activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

This motion has become necessary following the allegations made about the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in recent months and the events revealed and corroborated during the same period.

In addition, the many obstacles encountered by the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on National Security chaired by the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River make it even more imperative to set up a royal commission of inquiry responsible for investigating the alleged actions of CSIS.

CSIS has become a state within a state as it is answerable only to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, commonly known as SIRC, which reports to the Solicitor General himself who, in turn, discloses to the House only some of the few elements he deems relevant.

Although the enabling legal provisions give SIRC very wide powers of investigation, the fact remains that it controls only the elements voluntarily submitted by CSIS.

The very composition of the SIRC greatly undermines our trust in this institution. In fact, of its five members, three were appointed on the recommendation of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and one on the recommendation of the New Democratic Party of Canada. These two parties no longer enjoy official status in the current Parliament.

Without enforcement legislation, a simple sense of ethics would dictate that the people appointed on the recommendation of political parties no longer recognized in this House should resign so that the Review Committee can reflect the current membership of this House as elected by the people last October 25.

The Official Opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, and the second opposition party, the Reform Party, could then be represented on the review committee. However, this would only be a provisional measure until the act is amended to abolish the Review Committee and restrict to parliamentarians the power to control and monitor CSIS.

What could be more normal and healthy in a democracy than putting this function under the exclusive jurisdiction of elected officials? Our American neighbours have shown us the way by demonstrating for many decades that such a system of parliamentary control is the only one acceptable in a free and democratic society.

The royal commission whose creation we are calling for today is in no way intended to compete with the Sub-Committee on National Security. All the Official Opposition is asking for is to obtain the most results in the least amount of time.

We fully recognize the legitimacy and authority of the Sub-Committee on National Security and we also acknowledge that Parliament never abdicated its powers to CSIS or its Review Committee. Nevertheless, given the present situation and the composition of the review committee, we must expect parliamentary guerrilla war with the members of SIRC instead of full and total co-operation from them.

Creating a royal commission would keep members of the review committee from using delaying tactics to avoid being accountable.

Last week, the Solicitor General, in answer to a question from the Official Opposition, refused to set up a royal commission, on the pretext that SIRC's internal verification was sufficient.

You need only see how the meeting of the Sub-Committee on National Security went on September 13 to realize that SIRC members are past masters in the art of subterfuge, rather than in investigation. The minister should definitely review what happened at that meeting. He would see that clearly the Sub-Committee on National Security will not obtain from the members of SIRC the full and entire co-operation which it is entitled to expect.

He should find grounds for reviewing his position and establishing a royal commission of inquiry without delay. We cannot remain in the dark where SIRC is keeping us, when serious charges have been leveled against CSIS. Let us see what these charges are. First, CSIS is accused of having used people like a certain Grant Bristow to set up or infiltrate the Heritage Front, a Canadian neo-Nazi organization based in Toronto which advocates white supremacy. The purpose of this organization is directly contrary to the values of Quebec and Canada, as proclaimed many times in our most important laws.

Grant Bristow reportedly continued his work or was recycled as a bodyguard of the leader of the Reform Party of Canada in the last election campaign. This Reform "volunteer" was allegedly well paid by CSIS for doing this infiltration work. We are entitled to know whether the Reform Party of Canada, which has no other ambition than to take power through the normal democratic channels, was infiltrated on CSIS's orders or with its knowledge or if some ill-intentioned individual, following written or verbal instructions, or with CSIS's guilty silence, penetrated the inner circle of the Reform Party leader.

Was the Reform Party of Canada at any time considered a threat to Canada by CSIS or by the Conservative government? We have eloquent proof in this House that the Reform Party was a real threat to the Progressive Conservative Party, but surely not to Canadian democratic institutions.

It is possible that CSIS, either at the request of the Conservative government or on its own initiative, decided to infiltrate the Reform Party, knowing that it was acting with complete impunity, since its review committee was controlled by a majority of people appointed by the Conservatives who, by virtue of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, were directly accountable to the Solicitor General of that same Conservative government.

If the Reform Party of Canada was indeed infiltrated and considered, at one time or another, to be a threat to Canada, what was the attitude of these people towards other opposition parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, whose ultimate political raison d'être is to help Quebec become a sovereign state?

We want to know how CSIS was able to resist the temptation of finding out a little more about the Quebec sovereignist movement. Let us not forget that, in the seventies, the RCMP stole the list of Parti Quebecois members, burned barns and also stole dynamite.

Is it possible that CSIS may have decided to pursue similar activities? A royal commission of inquiry would, in all likelihood, provide the answer.

The Official Opposition is not the only one requesting that all the facts be known. The chairman of the Sub-committee on National Security, the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River, also asked for some explanations, as reported by the media on September 13.

Another allegation was made against CSIS. Indeed, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation may have come under surveillance by CSIS after reporting that it was conducting an investigation into possible links between Heritage Front and some Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia. Given the behaviour of some soldiers in Somalia, the existence of such links is plausible.

Are Grant Bristow and other agents part of a plot by CSIS to spy on the CBC?

Another allegation made is to the effect that CSIS, Grant Bristow or other individuals who may or may not be related to the neo-nazi group Heritage Front have targetted the Canadian Jewish Congress, by leaking information on Canadian Jewish organizations to violent American racists, by promoting the use of violence by members of Heritage Front and by organizing a campaign to harass anti-racist leaders by telephone.

According to another allegation made, CSIS apparently followed every step of French secret service agents interested in the Quebec sovereignist movement. Consequently, even if CSIS did not directly investigate Quebec sovereignist forces, which have been called "the enemy within" in this House by the member for Beaver River, it may have indirectly obtained privileged information through its contacts with the French foreign security services, the DGSE.

According to a Canadian Press dispatch published in Le Journal de Québec on Friday, September 9, 1994, CSIS is said to have infiltrated the Canadian Union of Postal Workers during a labour conflict to provide useful information to Canada Post management. The same newspaper also reported that other documents confirmed the existence of a link between CSIS and some foreign secret service organizations, including Mossad in Israel and the secret services in Italy and Jamaica.

Finally, some light should be shed regarding claims made by Brian McInnis, an advisor to former Solicitor General Doug Lewis, who admitted violating the law by giving a confidential note to the Toronto Star . Mr. McInnis added that CSIS also violated the law by infiltrating the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, because that network was inquiring into possible links between the racist organization Heritage Front and Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia. Following these allegations, the RCMP arrested Mr. McInnis and thoroughly searched his home.

As you can see, some serious accusations have been made and too many questions remain unanswered. Even though the Sub-Committee on National Security will look into this issue, the Official Opposition remains convinced that only a royal commission of inquiry with a very wide mandate can inform Quebecers and Canadians on CSIS activities.

Supply September 29th, 1994


That this House denounces the government for its refusal to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry on the illegal activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Madam Speaker, one word was omitted from the text of the motion. I would ask for my colleagues' consent for this word to be deemed included in the motion. The word "alleged" should appear before "illegal activities" so that the motion would read as follows:

That this House denounces the government for its refusal to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry on the alleged illegal activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Witness Protection Act September 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, before I speak to Bill C-206, I would like to remind this House that this is the twenty-sixth anniversary of the death of Daniel Johnson senior, the premier of Quebec, whose politics transcended partisanship and who left a valuable legacy for the Quebec we know today.

I have read Bill C-206, introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough West, to whom I have listened attentively, both during his presentation before the Sub-Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, when he so eloquently argued to have his bill put to a vote in this House, and when he reached a stage not many reach, because many are called but few are chosen. The hon. member for Scarborough West may congratulate himself on having raised the awareness of the Sub-Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and that of this House regarding the protection and relocation of witnesses.

The hon. member's concern for this particular issue is to his credit and will advance law in Canada, because, as we would have to agree, we have lagged behind our neighbours to the south, who have already, for close to 25 years now, had legislation in 50 states of the union with respect to witness protection that is known to the public and that sets out their rights.

Here in Canada we have, of course, certain more or less well-known provisions for the protection and relocation of witnesses, which are applied in turn, piecemeal and sporadically by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police or the Sûreté du Québec.

However, I do not believe that in a democratic state we should be satisfied with piecemeal measures and decisions taken arbitrarily by those who are called upon to make such decisions, often behind closed doors. I think that the idea of having legislation that will apply throughout Canada is one that will improve the situation of witnesses, particularly in a criminal context and especially with respect to serious crimes. I therefore think that we can put an end to a sort of bona fide application of procedures, which could be sequential, without controls and without witnesses really being informed of the applicable policies.

As I said earlier, a standard procedure must be established. The public must know what the future standards will be and how to have access to the protection and relocation program.

How will it work? Should the judiciary be involved in the protection of witnesses? The hon. member for Scarborough West suggests it should not be involved, to prevent excessive media coverage, but perhaps a parliamentary committee could be an alternative. This is an excellent idea, to have a sub-committee such as the justice sub-committee look, as discreetly as possible, at how witnesses are being protected. I think this is a fine job for the justice sub-committee which is already looking into allegation concerning the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This new responsibility could be added to the mandate of the sub-committee.

In the case of serious crimes like drug trafficking or organized crime, the very survival of the witnesses is often at stake. But in our legal system, the entire case for the Crown usually rests much more on witnesses than on the admission of guilt on the part of the accused, which puts the Crown in a precarious position when introducing evidence. Crown attorneys never know, throughout the bail hearing, the preliminary investigation and finally the trial per se-a three-stage process that can stretch over several months-if their witnesses will see them through. They often wonder: can I be sure I will still have witnesses to call by the time we go to trial? And when I call them to the stand, will I be able to ask them the questions and, more importantly, get the honest answers I have every right to expect from them?

At present, there certainly is no guarantee, because witnesses often have failing memories in such cases. The hon. members who were in legal practice or even watched movies about certain trials or television broadcasts of trials have noticed witnesses who cannot recall anything at the time of the trial. Their

memories fail them. I think we must provide assistance to these witnesses who need our help.

Help is required both before the trial and, of course, after it. Before the trial, we must ensure their physical safety, which involves providing them with some form of protection. At times, this will mean literally hiding them for their own protection, and with their consent I hope, so that they can give adequate evidence to enable a court of law to appreciate the value of the evidence and determine whether the Crown has proven its case beyond any reasonable doubt. Bear in mind that, in our legal system, an enormous onus rests with the Crown and the slightest error in that area will automatically lead to an acquittal. With regard to foul crimes-I mentioned drug trafficking and organized crime-the simple fact that witnesses vanished could be enough to raise a reasonable doubt because the jury or the judge, if the accused has asked for a trial without jury, will not have the benefit of their testimonies.

But there is also the aftermath, them time after the trial, after the sentencing. Sometimes, the presumption of innocence-which I in no way question-and its offshoot, the reasonable doubt principle, can also lead to an acquittal and a witness can be in grave danger. We must therefore provide for the social reintegration of a witness who had someone put way or may even have failed to do so on the assessment of the evidence.

What this generally means is getting a new identity, new papers and often a new job for the witness. In extreme cases of course, the State must be able to provide replacement income to witnesses who have put their lives on the line for the law of the land to prevail.

In that sense, I fully agree with the principle of the bill introduced by the hon. member for Scarborough West. In short, based on what was said in the comprehensive speeches made so far on the subject, let me just indicate that at the time of the vote, scheduled for later on, or in a deferred vote, I will gladly support the bill put forward by the hon. member.

Corrections And Conditional Release Act September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak on Bill C-45, particularly with the new rules of procedure under which it is now possible to refer a bill to parliamentary committee before second reading. These rules, which we have unanimously ratified in this House, will permit broader debate, as the positions of the government and the opposition will not have hardened before debate at second reading.

The various provisions in Bill C-45 are of great interest and address a concern of a large majority of Canadians and Quebecers, especially the release of criminals determined likely to commit a repeat offence immediately or at some time in the future. In this regard, the bill is on the right track.

One might, however, question the manner proposed by the government for detaining likely repeat offenders. It is the National Parole Board which is given these powers under Bill C-45.

We have a different approach. We would much prefer that the decision to detain potential repeat offenders be left to a court of law rather than to a quasi-judicial tribunal, appointments to which would often be open to criticism. I will come back to this in a few moments.

We cannot have it both ways-either we choose the approach of mandatory sentencing, of sentence without parole handed down by the trial judge, or another possibility would be to leave this decision with the Parole Board, with the possibility of appeal to a court of common law, the right to review by another tribunal to which judges would be appointed according to generally accepted and well known criteria.

Which brings me to the subject I touched on earlier, the Parole Board. The process to appoint Parole Board members should be much more open and we have an excellent opportunity to look at what other parliaments did, that is, hold confirmation hearings on the appointments this government wants to make. Before securing an order-in-council appointing someone to the Parole Board, the government should have to submit the names of the candidates either to the Standing Committee on Justice or to the

Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and appointments should be subjected to confirmation hearings in such a way as to avoid media circuses like we saw in the U.S. during confirmation hearings for certain candidates to the position of Supreme Court judge. In my opinion, this confirmation process would enhance the work of parliamentarians and the role citizens want to see them play in this Parliament and in all parliaments in general.

Until the appointment process for Parole Board members is reviewed, Canadians have a right to ask questions on how these people are appointed, on the decisions they make and on the validity of these decisions, as they prevail every time.

Some of the provisions in Bill C-45 seem a little strange at first and perhaps should be reviewed by the parliamentary committee. First of all, clause 12 of the bill before us states that inmates are not entitled to a hearing when their case is being reviewed. Why deprive inmates of such a hearing? Is there a valid reason to do that? I think the burden of proof should rest with the government, with the minister introducing this bill, who should demonstrate that inmates should not have the right to be heard when their case is being reviewed, because there may be new evidence justifying a hearing. I think it would be much wiser to preserve the right to a hearing, even if it must be cut short if no new evidence is produced.

Clause 25 of the bill stipulates that the head of the Parole Board may automatically allow a person to serve the rest of their sentence. The institutional head may do so automatically or at the inmate's request. If it is at the prisoner's request, we would have to see under what circumstances he could ask to serve his full prison sentence, if he does not consider himself fit to be released, but if the institutional head can act on his own authority, there would have to be a hearing before a judicial tribunal. I have trouble seeing a public official who is not a judge deciding issues of basic rights like an offender's release on his own say-so, without the possibility of having his decision reviewed by a judicial tribunal. I have some concerns about this provision.

Clause 27 provides a new definition, a flagrant example of expansionist centralizing federalism. Clause 27 as it now stands defines the board as the National Parole Board. The new clause 27 would define it as the National Parole Board and adds:

and includes a provincial parole board where it exercises jurisdiction in respect of parole as provided by section 112-

But if provincial parole boards are to be included, would it not be preferable to do so under clause 27 at the request of the lieutenant governor in council of a province? Why force the provincial parole boards to join? Since it is not the case now, why bring them in, unless it is at the province's request? That would show respect for provincial jurisdiction.

A rather disturbing provision is that those in detention for less than six months could not be paroled. Such prisoners are usually held for minor offences. Why would there not be a fast-track procedure in such cases so that a request for release from a person held for less than six months could be heard quickly, in summary fashion, especially given the overcrowding in prisons in Canada and Quebec. These matters should also be reviewed.

Clause 56 would add to the Act. It provides for the appointment of a judge to review the conduct of members of the parole boards. It is all well and good to add clause 56, but subsection 7 says that the judge conducting an inquiry is not bound by any legal or technical rules of evidence and may receive and base a decision on evidence adduced in the proceedings and considered credible or trustworthy in the circumstances of the case. The judge could act on hearsay; he is not bound by any rule of evidence.

I think that the judge named to investigate the actions of a member of the Parole Board should do so in accordance with the rules of evidence in Canada and the other legal provisions that ensure the supremacy of the rule of law. I find a provision like 56.7, which sets no rule of evidence for an investigator to follow, to be unacceptable.

Finally, section 155.1 as it now stands allows the minister to act as soon as the judge's report is filed; if it is unfavorable to the person under investigation, the minister can revoke that person's mandate. I think that an appeal procedure should be allowed at this point.

That is, the minister should not decide immediately once the judge's report is filed with him; rather, the judge's report should be filed with the Federal Court and any interested party should have a certain period, say 30 days, to appeal to the Appeal Division of the Federal Court so that the issue can be discussed in a judicial forum, in the absence of specific rules of law that are not mentioned in the Act.

These are the brief preliminary remarks that I had to make; in committee, we will no doubt be able to improve what is proposed in Bill C-45, which on the whole meets our concerns.

Quebec Elections September 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on September 12 Quebecers elected 77 members of the sovereignist party to the Quebec National Assembly. The new government has therefore received the mandate to prepare a referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec. I would like to congratulate the leader of the Parti Quebecois, Mr. Jacques Parizeau, the elected members of his party and the others, as well as all the good candidates who failed in their bid to be elected. All have expressed their desire and willingness to serve Quebec. Whatever the Prime Minister may think, it is clear that Quebecers are not satisfied with this wonderful country that Canada is supposed to be.

Determined and persistent, they know that they are a distinct people and a distinct society. Quebecers demand full control of their social, cultural, political and economic development. With the coming referendum, Quebecers will finally have the opportunity to choose between the status quo and sovereignty.

Governor In Council Appointments June 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as you will remember, during the last election campaign, the Prime Minister often said that he wanted to put an end to Conservative cronyism in the federal administration. In fact, this is one of the promises made in the red book.

Yet, the daily Le Droit says that a review of 25 order in council appointments for high level and top jobs within the federal administration since last fall shows that only three francophones were appointed. The majority of those positions are held by Ontarians.

The Liberals have indeed fulfilled one of their promises: They have replaced Conservative cronyism with a new Liberal version.

I want to remind the Prime Minister that order in council appointments should reflect the structure of the Canadian population as a whole, and not just favour members and friends of the Liberal Party.

In the Canada that he envisions, more and more room will be made for one group and less and less for another.

Referendum On Quebec Sovereignty June 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs stunned everybody this week when he stated that the federal government itself could organize a referendum on Quebec sovereignty. What contempt for Quebecers, for their National Assembly and for their sacred right to self-determination!

This right belongs positively, legitimately and unquestionably to the people of Quebec and to nobody else. This was recognized by the Conservatives and the New Democrats. It was even recognized by the federal Liberals as well as by the Prime Minister when they took an active part in the 1980 referendum in Quebec.

Officially, this government says it does not want to talk about the Constitution. Yet, in secret, they are preparing a new constitutional offensive. This double talk does not fool anybody. Quebec has now realized that the rest of Canada no longer wants to offer anything to Quebec. It is "take it or leave it". It will soon be up to Quebecers to draw their own conclusions.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act June 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it was refreshing to hear the hon. member for Louis-Hébert give us this historical reminder of what we always accepted in Quebec. The hon. member mentioned the rights of English-speaking Quebecers, rights that we respected to the point that, at one time, there were three English universities in Quebec: Sir George Williams, McGill and Bishop's, in Lennoxville, and only one French university, Laval, which had a campus in Montreal. This does not go very far back in the collective memory of Quebecers. We have to repeat it, over and over again, to show the degree of tolerance we exhibited in the area of education. Of course, we have caught up. The Montreal campus became the Université de Montréal, a university was created in Sherbrooke and then, in the mid 1960s, we had the creation and expansion of the Université du Québec network.

This being said, the rights of English-speaking Quebecers are well protected, and a sovereign Quebec would guarantee these rights in its constitution.

The bill in front of us questions the concept of opting out in the historical meaning of the term, in its constitutional meaning, a concept which was introduced at the time of the first agreements, the so-called Sauvé-Diefenbaker agreements at the end of the 1950s. Quebec could opt out, because at that time it was the only province to ask for the right to withdraw from a federal program in exchange for full compensation. That way, Quebec was not subject to what we call federal standards, and what others call national standards. The opting out provisions were always maintained. We had the Lesage-Diefenbaker, Lesage-Pearson and Johnson-Pearson formulas, and finally the Bourassa-Trudeau formula, although the agreements were scarcer at that time.

Essentially, what Quebec Premiers Sauvé, Lesage and Johnson have obtained is the right to opt out with full compensation without having to justify their decision. Finally, we are back to the concept advocated by Sir John A. Macdonald of a legislative union in Canada. They want to legislate here for all of the provinces while leaving them a small way out. Ottawa tells them: If you want to opt out, you will be able to do so provided you can convince us, the federal government, that your provincial legislation meets federal or national standards. In the end, the one giving that power, the federal government, under conditions precedent, is reserving the right to say: No, you have not convinced us and so we are keeping that power and we are going to continue to administer the program or else you will receive no transfer payments.

Misrepresentation of Canadian federalism did not start with Bill C-28. In fact, federal attempts to do so go back to 1867, but they increased at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s and have been growing steadily.

Quite possibly there may not be a single sector that has not been touched by federal legislation. To my knowledge, according to the research that I have done, the one area in which the federal government has really not been able to venture is the administration of provincial public servants. That was the gist of a Supreme Court ruling when the Trudeau government imposed wage and price controls. This government had succeeded in getting elected on the promise that it would not freeze prices and wages. However, once elected, it proceeded to do exactly the opposite, like any good Liberal government worth its salt.

I agree with my colleague from Kingston and the Islands who followed the events of the Trudeau era closely and who noted this massive incursion into fields of provincial jurisdiction, this disdain for provincial legislatures who are treated as junior level governments, whereas the senior level government for our friends across the way is the federal Parliament of Canada.

Why must we remind the member for Kingston and the Islands and our colleagues opposite, who are fully aware of the situation, that they conducted the same studies we did, that they have lived and will continue to live for the next few months in the same country as us and that they should know that provincial legislatures have as much sovereignty over their respective areas of jurisdiction as the federal Parliament has over its own?

We have to constantly remind them that this struggle for the recognition of provincial sovereignty dates back to our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. We hope that our generation will be able to complete the task undertaken by those who came before us in the House and in the Quebec National Assembly and who participated in all the struggles for the survival of the Quebec nation. Well, we are tired of merely surviving. We have now decided to start living. We will live as Quebecers under the authority that we will freely delegate to the Quebec National Assembly when we have freed ourselves once and for all from an institution that has more to do with feudalism than with modern democracy. We will rally Quebecers to a collective plan for Quebec's sovereignty and take back our powers so that we no longer have to beg and convince anyone of the legitimacy of our demands. We will quite simply make our own decisions as people who have full political maturity, and that is coming soon.

People in English Canada and elsewhere in the world are already waiting to see a new country emerge and take its place in the international community. The decision for independence is coming soon and we must prepare for it. And we must prepare even more when we see the kind of highly centralizing legislation presented to us by the present Government of Canada which is not so different from its predecessors.

The Gordian knot that has been strangling us for decades in Canada, the fact that there is a country missing in this country-we will have to make a decision on it in Quebec and then of course negotiate with our friends in English Canada on the consequences of our decision. But if we think about it carefully, historically, I believe that both sides can benefit from the decision that we will make in Quebec so that each of us can have our own decision-making bodies and instead of arguing bitterly over bills on which we can have extremely divergent views, we can each make our own decisions in our own legislature and then discuss what unites us as friends and neighbours instead of what divides us.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 June 9th, 1994

-was introduced by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and considered at all stages, where I took part in the debate, and to me it was clear that the government wanted Bill C-18 to be adopted as is, without major amendments in this House.

In fact, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said so on several occasions, not only from his seat here in the House, but also when he appeared, at least twice, before the Senate, to defend his amendments. I read and reread what was said by the government House leader in the Senate, and his replies to questions from Senators Prud'homme, Lynch-Staunton and others were a clear indication that he did not intend to add any amendments.

What happened between the time Bill C-18 was passed in the House and today? Basically, two things happened which made the Government House Leader change his mind.

We had the Liberal convention which voted on a resolution requesting that redistribution take place in time for the next election.

Resolutions on the subject all had the same goal. There was also the position taken by the Conservative majority in the Senate. The Conservative majority, seems more like a Reform majority. We now apparently have a reform majority in the Senate, since comments made in the Upper House by hon. senators who defended the majority position reflected the same arguments used by Reform members in this House. We can say there is a kind of strange osmosis between Conservative senators and Reform members. I think they are starting to find out they have things in common. The missing link lies somewhere between the Reform Party and the Conservative Party. The family is getting back together.

Just as the phoenix rose from his ashes, apparently the Reform Party has benefited from an electoral infusion of Conservative support. We shall see.

I am very sorry to see that the government caved in to the wishes of a House that is not elected and is dictating to us its concept of a democratic approach to setting electoral boundaries and guidelines for electoral boundaries readjustment, since basically, that is what we will have to do on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

All things being equal and the government having consented, despite denouncing what the Conservative senators appointed by former Prime Minister Mulroney had done with the GST, despite all this, today we realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Once again, the government bent to the will of the other house. This is one time too many since at the start of its mandate, the government had the unique opportunity to send a very clear message to the Senate and to show that the Upper House was and is the embodiment of democracy, according to the classic definition. The government missed this unique opportunity to make it very clear not only to the Senate, but to all Canadians that decisions are made in the House of Commons by the elected representatives of the people.

Of course, the other house may from time to time make some technical adjustments or indicate that a bill may have been poorly drafted. At times the Senate may serve this useful purpose. I also believe that a few extra legislative advisers could achieve the same results. The role of an unelected Senate in 1994 is not to propose such substantive amendments to a bill. For this reason, my colleague from Richmond-Wolfe proposed yesterday that funding to the other house be cut off, which to all intents and purposes amounted to proposing the abolition of the Senate.

Virtually everyone in this country objects to the idea of an appointed Senate like the one we now have. Since there is no chance whatsoever of reforming this institution either in the short or medium term, abolishing it outright is the simplest solution.

When we, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, have fulfilled our mission, working with Quebecers, to achieve sovereignty for Quebec, then of course the debate on whether Canadians want an elected Upper House, or a Triple E Senate, as mentioned by my colleague from Kindersley-Lloydminster, can be reopened. However, it will be quite another matter to convince Ontario which will account for probably more than half the population of Canada to agree to having one-ninth of the senators. I wish them good luck, but it will be their problem. That debate will take place in Canada. We will have our own debate in Quebec.

For all of these reasons, Mr. Speaker, given that the Bloc clearly stated its position, supported Bill C-18 as originally introduced, listened to the Reform Party argue that Bill C-18 should be amended and finally, voted against these amendments, we will not change our position. We stand by the original version of Bill C-18.

If the government has decided to bend to the will of the Senate, then so be it. Let it live with the consequences of this act of weakness. So as not to delay the work of this House, we will consent to the bill being passed on division.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I carefully followed the proceedings on Bill C-18 at all stages and also joined in the debate at all stages.

The hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata just made a comment I did not quite understand, and I am afraid I was momentarily distracted.

As I was saying, Bill C-18-