Hon. Martin Cauchon (Secretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec), Lib.)
Madam Speaker, first of all I must thank my hon. colleague, for whom I have great respect, for his show of confidence. I would just like to point out that, notwithstanding the trust put in me, when in the same breath the will and the good will of the Prime Minister of Canada is put into question, it is also my own will and good will that is being put into question.
In that sense, I must say that the Canadian government's policy in the Montreal strategy is a noble one in that it acts on a serious situation.
I describe the situation as serious because there are more poor people in greater Montreal alone than in all of Atlantic Canada. When a government with a national vision wants to ensure that the country has a dynamic economy, is able to export and can be competitive-as I said this morning-it has to make sure that large urban centers throughout Canada have a dynamic economy. It is our duty to remain active, and I emphasize remain, because we were already active and will continue to be active in the Montreal area.
What we are asking official opposition members is basically to heighten the awareness of their colleagues in the Quebec government so that they work in partnership with us, a partnership already endorsed to a very large extent by city officials in Montreal.
I shall be brief, Madam Speaker. The issue of transportation was raised earlier, and many aspects were listed. Someone mentioned for instance that, on June 6, 1996, Via Rail Canada announced its was consolidating all its operations in the greater Montreal area. That is quite something.
Regarding the Canadian Securities Commission, I respectfully submit that it is wishful thinking on the part of my hon. colleague to say that Quebec will be swallowed up and will have to join in. In establishing a Canadian Securities Commission, my colleague, the Minister of Finance, is essentially acting on a request made by a number of provinces across Canada. With this structure in place, Quebec will not be required to join in. Its jurisdiction will in no way be affected.
I think criticism can be good, but it must be constructive criticism. Now that we have made quite extensively clear the will to act and plan of action of the government and the Prime Minister of Canada, I urge them to join in and fall into step.