Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for moving this motion. As I said earlier, she does wonderful work on the Standing Committee on Health. Unfortunately, this motion demonstrates that we do not share the same opinion on how Canada's health system should be managed.
What scares me is that we have the Conservatives on one side, and they are the first to say that they want to limit and structure the federal government's actions and respect exclusively provincial jurisdictions. On the other side we have the Liberal Party, whom we know very well, and they encroach on jurisdictions with so many national strategies in every area that they have no idea what to do anymore.
I am very surprised to see the Conservatives acting exactly like the Liberal Party. In committee, we see the Liberals propose national strategies on everything that may or may not exist. The Conservatives are starting to do exactly the same thing. It makes one wonder if being in power too long wears a party down and makes it lose sight of the objectives it originally sought. Of course I could list a number of files where the Conservatives have not followed their initial train of thought, but this example of health is particularly interesting.
The motion says:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should encourage and assist provincial and territorial governments, the medical community and other groups to lessen the burden on Canada's health care system...
The words “assist provincial and territorial governments” frighten me. The federal government always starts with minimal assistance, which leads to regulations and then to a national strategy. And it ends with us losing our power. That is the sad part.
As I said at the outset, when I asked my colleague a question, I am not against the primary purpose of the motion. We all want better access to technological innovations. We all want to recognize that health professionals' roles are changing, as are people's needs. We all want to focus on injury prevention strategies. We are not against the purpose of the motion, but we do not support the plan for achieving that purpose.
Earlier, I talked about the Quebec clause in the federal-provincial agreement signed by the Liberals when Paul Martin was in power. The clause stated that Quebec's health care system is not like the other systems and that the Government of Quebec should have the power to make its own decisions and not have anything imposed on it by the rest of Canada.
There are several examples of encroachment. Bloc Québécois members oppose the member's motion for constitutional reasons. When the Bloc Québécois resorts to defending the Canadian Constitution and using it to ensure that its areas of jurisdiction are respected, that is serious.
Under sections 92(7) and 92(16) of the Constitution Act, 1867, health care and social services fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. Since 1919, Ottawa has encroached on those areas repeatedly.
I can see that my colleagues would really like me to give some examples. Here we go: the creation of the Department of Health in 1919 despite the fact that it was not a matter under federal jurisdiction; the adoption of the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act in 1957; the adoption of the Medical Care Act in 1966; and the adoption of the Canada Health Act in 1987.
As we have seen, the federal government's good intentions can quickly take a turn for the worse and become problematic. Duplication is the fundamental reason I am a sovereignist. Duplication includes departments that should not exist, and the Conservatives should agree with me on that. The Conservatives and I are all in favour of limiting the federal government's power.
We support the idea that the federal government should spend less and less. Of course, ultimately, we hope to separate from Canada. We have nothing against them. It is for us. We have different outlooks, as seen in this issue, which demonstrates our difference of opinion on how the health care system should work. We have several other divergent opinions, including the AMF and defending our economic sector.
The Conservative government should listen to the provinces. That is what it promised us. It should agree with the fact that the provinces should have as much breathing room as possible in their own jurisdictions. Yet the Conservatives seem to have the same strategy as the Liberals.
I understand that the Liberals were in favour of more centralization, but the Conservatives promised us something different. They promised us openness. Unfortunately, they started out with good intentions, but they slowly and gradually began nibbling away at Quebec's powers. Our powers are becoming increasingly limited. At some point, this will be fatal for the Quebec nation.
I will give the member a few examples of Quebec's demands in terms of health care. If she had moved a motion addressing any of the demands I am about to mention, we would have gladly supported it.
Maurice Duplessis' second government asked that the following areas come under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces: natural resources; the establishment, funding and management of hospitals, asylums and charitable institutions; education at every level, including universities; regulation of the liberal professions, including admission criteria for the practice of medicine and relations between physicians and clients; social security; health; and public health.
The government of Daniel Johnson Sr. said that Quebec wanted to make its own decisions in certain areas, including “development of its human resources (i.e. every aspect of education, social security and health)”. I could also mention economic affirmation, cultural expression and the influence of the Quebec community. These are the traditional requests of the Bloc Québécois. And the members opposite wonder why we are sovereignists.
The second government of Robert Bourassa, who was not a great sovereignist, said:
Under the Canadian Constitution, social affairs and health are irrefutably matters of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Over the past 25 years [in Mr. Bourassa's day, of course], the Government of Quebec has carried out its responsibilities in a remarkable fashion and has provided quality administration in the sectors of health and social affairs. These successes are eloquent proof, and the people of Quebec are convinced of it, that Quebec society [back in the days of Meech Lake, it was called a society] would gain nothing from a new way of sharing jurisdiction in these sectors. Up to now, they have been under exclusive provincial jurisdiction and it is in the best interest of Quebeckers for them to remain so.
I was quoting Robert Bourassa, who was Quebec's premier from June 22, 1990, to January 11, 1994. These demands did not come from the sovereignist movement. They came from Quebec. All we want is for the government to respect the areas of jurisdiction established when the founding fathers signed the Canadian Constitution. We are not asking much. Maybe sovereignists are not so bad after all. I could mention others, but I do not have enough time.
I just want to say that Jean Charest's Liberal government wants the Government of Canada to respect the Government of Quebec with regard to health care. We just have a different vision. We see that every day in the Standing Committee on Health. Our problems are not the same as the rest of Canada's. We do not do things the same way as the rest of Canada. We just want to be respected.