Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-65.
I want to point out right off that the bill before us exemplifies this government's approach to all legislation. Having sat here for some time now, we in the official opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge about parliamentary life. We are more experienced. This is the result of three and a half years of parliamentary debate. And now we have a new ability: the ability to assess, based on facts, to what extent the legislation passed by the Liberal Government of Canada complies with the provisions of the Constitution and respects provincial jurisdiction.
Since it took office, this Liberal government tried repeatedly, through several bills tabled in this House, to meddle in areas of provincial responsibility, ignoring their respective jurisdictions as well as the terms of federal-provincial agreements. In addition, as I was able to see for myself while participating in several debates on
the reorganization of the Department of Industry, the Federal Office of Regional Development, the Federal Business Development Bank, now the Business Development Bank of Canada, this government took every opportunity, every time a bill was introduced, to give itself, the department or the minister responsible more powers, thereby gaining more and more control in recognized areas of provincial jurisdiction, without going through the federal-provincial consultation process.
You will understand that, with the legislative experience it has gained, the official opposition now knows how to get in the way of the government's efforts to take powers away from the provinces by disregarding provincial jurisdictions.
What does the government propose today? Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act. I want to make four general observations before dealing more specifically with the bill.
First, when we read the bill, we realize that, as usual, the provinces' jurisdiction and responsibilities are completely ignored and overlooked.
Later on, I will point out some major contradictions by referring to statements made in the red book, and also by the environment ministers, both the former one, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the current one. This government, which always claims to want to co-operate and to establish partnerships with the provinces, does just the opposite with its bills. This government tries to get its hands on power. It gives itself special powers, at the expense of the partners it claims to respect.
Second, this bill does not take into account the sharing of powers. The sharing of powers in areas that come under provincial jurisdiction has always been a burden for the federal government.
Even though the government tries, as it has always done, to convince Quebecers of its desire to create a partnership with them, it invariably comes up with bills that give increased power to its ministers, or that confirm such power.
The provisions of the bill make it clear that the minister is giving himself a very broad discretionary power. This from a government which always claims to seek partnerships with others. Yet, it gives itself, through its own mechanisms, its department and its minister, very broad discretionary powers. In fact, after the talks on the internal trade agreement, this government went so far as to add to the bill things that had not even been mentioned in the discussions with the provincial ministers.
But such is the way of this government. We all know that. Everyone knows the federal Liberal government, particularly in Quebec, given its pattern of the last 30 years, which consists in promising one thing but doing just the opposite once in office.
This bill provides that the minister will appoint COSEWIC members. Later, I will define the COSEWIC, this committee set up to protect endangered species. The minister alone will make these appointments. It gives himself the power to do so. This government shares everything but, in the end, it always includes a little clause saying that "as a minister, I will appoint those who will sit on the committee". In discussions between the ministers and the provinces, they always say "we are acting in good faith, we will make sure that everyone is represented, that there is representation from all parts of the country and everyone is included".
So what happens? They table a bill in which the minister has the authority to appoint people without consulting his partners. Is that partnership? Is that respect? They said in the course of discussions and negotiations that they would reach an agreement on committee membership. So the bill is tabled, and what does it say? It says the minister will appoint the members himself.