November 27, 2006

CPC

Jacques Gourde

Conservative

Mr. Jacques Gourde

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question.

Perhaps, I should insert a short historical note about Quebec. It is a history that took place especially in my riding and in the whole Chaudière-Appalaches region.

In the years between 1800 and 1850, there was a great immigration by Irish communities that came to settle in our region. These were poor people who left their own country looking for new land, a new country where they could settle with their families. In our region, the Francophone community welcomed many needy families and we began a great tradition of cooperation between that Irish community and the Francophone community. We grew together in partnership.

Today, I am proud to say in this House that I and my colleague from Lévis—Bellechasse are direct descendants of those families who believed in a united Canada, a welcoming land of happiness and prosperity. Today, my colleague and I are very proud to be in this House and to say loud and clear that the Québécois are recognized as a nation in a united Canada; and that affects me very deeply.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, during the member's speech he made reference to how Canada and Quebec would have to deal with reality. Maybe the language is less precise than it should be, because clearly Quebec is part of Canada. That is one of the reasons why we are debating the motion: to beat back the threat that the separatist Bloc Québécois presents to Canada.

I want to ask the member a question. If we had a debate today about recognizing the Métis as a nation within a united Canada, would it be any different from the resolution that is before the House today?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Jacques Gourde

Conservative

Mr. Jacques Gourde

Mr. Speaker, today I prefer to talk about the recognition of the Québécois. What affects me so profoundly is that my children, who are between 10 and 16 years of age, asked me “Why has the Bloc Québécois caused this debate?”

Why, here in Canada, should we think that there could one day be a separation? That essentially is the reason why I am involved in politics. I wanted to assure my children and future generations that this was a false debate. I believe that debate is now over. This question wearies simple people like me, representing Quebeckers who work morning to night, who pay their taxes and who in the end want only peace and quiet. They are tired of seeing the Bloc Québécois always creating uncertainty in their lives. It is clear and simple; after the adoption of this motion a great majority of Quebeckers can say to themselves, “Mission accomplished. Let us move on to other things and build a great and beautiful country of happiness and prosperity.”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Deepak Obhrai

Conservative

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to rise today to speak to a motion that goes to the heart of what it means to be a Canadian and a Québécois. Today's motion is an opportunity to remind ourselves of what is at stake for the Québécois but also for all Canadians.

The success of our country did not happen by accident and it is not something that can or should be taken for granted. We think of Canada as young country, a country, as has often been said, with more geography than history. It is therefore ironic that this young country should also be one of the oldest democracies and one of the oldest federations on the planet.

Canada represents a paradigm shift from the nineteenth century nationalism of a nation-state based on cultural, linguistic and ethnic homogeneity. Canada was premised on the concept of diversity as a permanent characteristic.

The Fathers of Confederation chose a form of government uniquely suited to expressing and accommodating regional, linguistic and religious diversity. The most important example of this diversity was undoubtedly the existence of the two major language groups. One of the major factors in the creation of Canada as a federation was the presence of Quebec. The founders of our country wanted to build a country that embraced our diversity.

Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, said emphatically:

I have no accord with the desire expressed in some quarters that by any mode whatever there should be an attempt made to oppress the one language or to render it inferior to the other: I believe that would be impossible if it were tried, and it would be foolish and wicked if it were possible.

George-Étienne Cartier stated in the Confederation debates:

We could not legislate for the disappearance of the French Canadians from American soil, but British and French Canadians alike could appreciate and understand their position relative to each other...It is a benefit, rather than the inverse, to have a diversity of races.

From a historical perspective, we have a long tradition of dealing with the accommodations necessary in a society with two important language groups. The federal structure is perhaps the most obvious, but is by no means the only one.

In the context of a North America that is overwhelmingly English speaking, the Canadian federation has had to provide the framework for an effective commitment to the continuity and survival of the French speaking society centred in but not limited to Quebec. Today it is hard to imagine any other arrangement that could have served us so well and which, 140 years later, is still a model for the world.

The challenge of accommodating diversity is perhaps one of the most difficult facing the world today. The recent debate in Quebec on what constitutes a reasonable accommodation for religious minorities is echoed in similar debates across the globe.

Diversity is a modern reality. Most states in Europe, Asia or Africa contain a variety of languages, religions and cultures. Many of the most successful in dealing with diversity have chosen a federal system of government.

Looked at from a contemporary world viewpoint, it is the apparently homogenous states that are the exception. The nation-state, which implies the parallel occurrence of a state and an ethnic nation, is extremely rare. In fact, there are no ideal nation-states. Existing states differ from this ideal in two ways: the population includes minorities, and they do not include all the national groups in their territory.

Today Canada is a prosperous, politically stable country because we have made diversity an asset rather than a problem. Canadians are able, as a result, to make democratic choices based on respect of human rights. Today more than ever we understand that accommodating pluralism is not merely a political necessity but also a source of pride and enrichment, which reflects Canadian values.

Our capacity to adapt, as a society, and to build institutions that respond to the demands of its citizens has served us very well. Federalism is the natural response to governing a large, demographically and regionally diverse country. With 10 provinces, 3 territories, 6 time zones and bordering on 3 oceans, Canada's regional diversity is obvious.

Our diversity is also reflected in our two official languages. Almost all Canadians speak English, approximately 85%, or French, 31%, and one in five also speaks a non-official language. In Newfoundland and Labrador, 98% have English as their mother tongue. In Quebec 81% have French as their mother tongue. In Nunavut 79% speak Inuktitut, a language spoken by less than one in a thousand Canadians.

Today, nearly one million Canadians report an aboriginal identity. This is also a rapidly growing segment of our population.

Canada is increasingly urban and multicultural. In 2001 nearly 80% of Canadians lived in cities of more than 10,000 people. In today's Canada, immigration represents 41% of the growth, in 2004 figures, and new Canadians tend to settle in our major urban centres. Between 1996 and 2001, Toronto received more than 445,000 immigrants, 180,000 settled in Vancouver and 126,000 settled in Montreal.

Beyond accommodating regional preferences and diversity, Canadian federalism has provided an environment in which complementary national, provincial and cultural identities have flourished. Federalism allows and encourages experimentation in political, social and economic measures.

Quebec is inescapably at the heart of the Canadian dream. Canada's values have been shaped by the challenge of understanding each other and responding to the presence of two major language communities with courage, generosity and sensitivity. Each successive generation of Canadians has had to face this challenge.

The choices we have made express our shared hopes for the future of this vast land and have made us the envy of the world. Anyone who has travelled extensively outside of our borders knows that Canada remains one of the world's most favourite nations. Our prosperity and civility are the product of much hard work and cannot be taken for granted.

Canada is a pluralistic society not just because of the diversity in the makeup of the population, whether linguistic, cultural, ethnic or regional, but, more important, because we have come to understand that these differences contribute to our national community.

Across the country, Canadians work together in a variety of ways to build a better nation than either group could build in isolation. As a result, Canada has become a model for other countries. In a world with some 6,000 languages and only 200 states, pluralism is the norm, not the exception. Successes require a unique Canadian talent, the ability to work together and transcend our diversities.

This region of Canada as a nation, inspired by generosity and tolerance, has repeatedly triumphed over the narrow ethnic tribalism. Canadians in Quebec and across the country are proud of our successes. Our Canada includes a strong, vibrant Francophonie Quebec. Canadians have every reason to be proud of our Francophonie heritage, which is centred in Quebec and very much alive across Canada. It enriches our public life, arts and culture and is a source of cultural enrichment for millions of Canadians who speak French as their first or second language.

Canada's diversity is a source of strength from which all Canadians benefit. Our respect for diversity has, in no small manner, contributed to the enviable reputation we enjoy throughout the globe.

This great country, with its new economic plan, advantage Canada, unveiled last week by the finance minister, is fully assuming its role in world affairs and we stand on the best economic footing of any G-7 economy.

We are an emerging energy superpower and we are taking action to improve our environment. We are building a country that is a formidable economic player in the world. That is why I am proud today to speak in support of the government's motion recognizing the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Garth Turner

Conservative

Hon. Garth Turner (Halton, Ind.)

Mr. Speaker, I consulted with my constituents quite at length over the last three or four days at a town hall meeting in my riding. There were a few questions that emerged, which I would like the member to address if he could.

Also, we have been conducting an online poll over the last 48 hours. It is interesting that the polling results have been running 70% of people urging me to vote against the motion tonight and roughly 30% asking me to vote for the motion. We are getting about a thousand people ever few hours voting online.

I know Internet polls are notoriously unreliable. It is, however, an indication of where Canadians perhaps are on this issue. In the town hall meeting in my riding, people voted by a ratio of 30:1, asking me to vote against this particular motion.

I will pass along to the hon. member the questions my constituents have asked and perhaps he could answer them.

First, what is a nation? In the context of this motion it is rather ill-defined as to whether we are talking about a population group, an ethnic group, a culture group, a geographic group or a civil government. What would be the member's response to a definition of a nation as contained in the motion?

Second, why the rush? This is a very salient point. People want time to debate and understand exactly what is going on and right now people feel that they do not have that. They would like to know why the House is rushing to a decision in two hour's time and how are we possibly going to deal with something so fundamental in that period of time.

Third, what are the consequences? Do we know if there will be consequences in the long term?

I think our friends from the Bloc Québécois are rather happy that we are about to pass the motion in the House. They obviously are one step further along the road to sovereignty when the Parliament of Canada declares that the Québécois are a nation within Quebec. I can understand completely why they would support that.

Would the hon. member answer my constituents, please, frankly and without platitudes and drop the speaking notes? Could answer those three questions?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Deepak Obhrai

Conservative

Mr. Deepak Obhrai

Mr. Speaker, I will drop my speaking notes and address what the member asked.

Our nation was built by two founding societies, French and Canadian. Recognizing one society as a nation does not mean we are giving some special powers. The motion specifically states that it is within a united Canada.

The reason we are discussing this today is because the Liberal Party started this notion in its leadership debate. The Bloc Québécois wanted to exploit it. As a responsible government, we recognized that fact.

I agree that many Canadians would question whether special powers would be given by passing the motion. Is special status being given? There is no special status being given. It is a recognition that the Québécois, the people of Quebec, have contributed to the diversity of this nation and have made this nation such a strong one, one that is the envy of the world. That applies to every Canadian, new and old. That is why we are so proud of our country.

Nothing else changes the fact that this is a united country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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LIB

Sukh Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal (Newton—North Delta, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member on the other side. He mentioned that Canada was based on two nations. In fact, when we look at Canada, did he mean to include the first nations in that? If not, would the member consider amending the motion to include the first nations as well?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Deepak Obhrai

Conservative

Mr. Deepak Obhrai

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that the first nations have made many contributions to enlighten our country. They are as much a part of Canada as are the Québécois as are the rest of Canadians.

We ultimately still remain a united Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton—Lawrence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to address this issue as well. There are two issues for me. One is the substance of the matter and the other one is the way in which it has been foisted on us.

I am very unhappy, as I know all other Canadians are as well, with the fact that we would be dealing with such an important item as this motion in such a brief period of time. I realize the Prime Minister has wanted to put his stamp on the issue because he feels, I imagine, that it tests the fibre of a united Canada. He has taken pains to consult with my esteemed colleague, who has given him some counsel, about how best to put this language together.

However, nothing takes away from the fact of what the Prime Minister and the government are doing with this motion and what government members are arguing. We are moving away from the concept of citizenship and we are talking about something completely different.

We are barking up the wrong tree, looking for the semantics, the words, those little perceptions that will suggest, no matter what happens in the House with this debate, we will maintain unity. Of course we should, we must and we will. However, it will not be because people are looking for ways in which to differentiate one group from another.

We talk about the Québécois being a nation in Canada. I do not think anyone in the House would be able to tell a Québécois how he or she must be defined. We have said that every citizen in our country deserves the dignity that comes with being a member of this great society, this great country Canada.

We all acquire that equality through one common denominator, citizenship. With that citizenship, we are given the opportunity to nurture as well those diversities that make us unique. It matters not what our origin, our language, our religion, our personal preferences might be on anything. As long as we are citizens of this one great country and recognize the values that make us similar, we have nothing else to consider.

Personally, I have always liked the province of Quebec and the people of Quebec, be they francophone, allophone or anglophone. That makes no difference to me. Why? Because they are all equals as citizens of this country. Each and every one of them is a Canadian.

There should be no discussions about differences, becoming a nation or gaining recognition where such recognition entails rights that are different. Assimilation was mentioned, when there is no such thing in Canada.

I am not an anglophone; I speak English. I am not an English Canadian. I was not assimilated by anyone. In this country, what is sought is always integration in a citizenship in which each man and each woman are considered as equals. That is the foundation for building a real country, a country for everybody.

Personally, as an individual who came to this country 51 years ago, I am dedicated and have always been dedicated to the unity of this country, Canada. My province, Ontario, is a province like any other, and it allows its citizens to be equal to those of Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and so on.

This is why I think that motions like the one we are debating today and will be voting on later give people a certain impression.

Down the road, whether it is legal, constitutional or otherwise, it is absolutely counterproductive. It is counterproductive for all those reasons that every Canadian, every Québécois feels in his or her heart is against Canada.

We are here in the House as members of Parliament of one great country to build a country and to recognize the dignity that goes toward individuals as members of that country, not anything else. This is no disrespect to anyone else's culture. Lord knows, we all think of this place as our own, all of us. To say that no, this motion means nothing because it does not accord any rights is, as one of my colleagues in the leadership for the Liberal Party said, to have a debate simply for the sake of discussing semantics.

Why would we raise an issue like this? Why would the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party want to raise an issue that is divisive? We should be building unity. There was no reason for the government to present such a motion. I certainly will not be a part of it.

I dare say the vast majority of Canadians--I exclude of course those who have a different view, the sovereignists, the separatists, who would prefer to have a different perception--but there are so many Canadians who know there will be no difference other than to establish a climate where there is an incremental approach toward sovereignty and toward separation. It is no accident that the chief architects of the separatist movement in Canada have embraced this motion. For that reason alone we should look askance at the merits of such a motion. If in fact all of the separatist movement leaders in Quebec favour this motion, can we honestly say it is something that helps to unite the country?

The motion says that we recognize les Québécois et les Québécoises as a nation within a united Canada. I am sorry, I do not think that is being bought by any of them. If it accords them nothing more than an indication that they are who they are, they do not need us to tell them that, but if it gives anyone an opportunity to inch a little bit closer to providing disunity and counterproductiveness in this country, then they will applaud it.

My understanding is they will be unanimous in their support of the motion. That speaks volumes about the direction we should follow. The Prime Minister has done them a great favour. I do not want to share in the granting to any separatist the opportunity to advance his or her cause.

Mr. Speaker, I am splitting my time with the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

I would want to say to hon. members that there have been a couple of occasions recently where members have not indicated they were sharing their time and we have had to make it happen, shall we say, outside the rules. We will just assume the hon. member said that earlier in his speech. We will hear from the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, but we will first have questions and comments. The hon. member for Cambridge.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Gary Goodyear

Conservative

Mr. Gary Goodyear (Cambridge, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have been here pretty much all day throughout the debate on this issue, except of course for the odd committee meeting and other meetings that I have had. It is awfully nice to hear the Liberal leadership candidates come forward and take one last shot at getting a speech out.

I just want to ask the hon. member if we are not over-analyzing this thing and forgetting the historical evolution of this particular motion, which was in fact that the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore made a comment to the media about this issue of the nation, which allowed the separatist party to jump on the bandwagon and bring forward a motion that would force the House to make a distinction. I think frankly they underestimated the intelligence and the quick leadership skills of the Prime Minister.

I would like the hon. member to acknowledge the historic outcome of this motion. Perhaps he would like to comment on his own colleague's comments in the first place.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe

Mr. Speaker, regarding his leader's ability to handle political issues, nobody on this side of the House, at least in the seats over here, would ever put political skills ahead of the country's interests. This is not a question of discussing the political skills of the Prime Minister and his opportunity to seize on an issue raised by the separatists to my left when they said they did not want the kind of conditions that the Prime Minister put forward. There is no question on our side that we should not be discussing this issue in such a short period of time. It is an issue that is going to carry great weight in the rest of the country for decades to come.

I am not sure whether decades is a limiting number. I have been here for 18 years and I have seen many of these issues come and go on an incremental basis. I took part in the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accord debates. I took part in the debates on the second referendum and the clarity act. We have been through all of these things before. We have talked about the devolution of authorities to provinces and we have seen some of the outcomes.

If the Prime Minister wants to reverse all of those, I applaud him. But if he thinks that this particular motion is a reflection of political acumen and skill and nation building, then I think he is sorely wrong.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Marlene Jennings

Liberal

Hon. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am saddened by the fact that I have to speak to this motion, but at the same time I wish to make it clear that I will be supporting the motion. I think that the motion was not necessary, the same as I felt that the resolution that was brought within my own party was unnecessary. However, the motion is before this House and as a Canadian and as a Québécoise, it is my duty to speak to it and to explain why I will be supporting it.

The member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville expressed it better than I ever could when he explained the three definitions that can characterize the term “nation”. He said that when one looks in the dictionary, for instance, and when one researches documents from researchers and experts who have looked at the whole issue, three definitions come forth.

One is a definition of a group of humans who share a common ethnic origin. He gave the example of French Canadians. French Canadians within Canada form a nation. Primarily the majority of them are within the province of Quebec, but there are French Canadians outside Quebec. That is the ethnic definition of “nation”.

There is a second definition of “nation” which is that of a group of humans constituting a political unit within a defined geographical territory and personified by a sovereign authority.

As he very clearly explained, that is the definition of nation-state.

In fact, Canada falls under that. In the second definition of “nation”, that of a state, the only nation within the geographical territory of Canada that has a legal and judicial existence within international law is that of Canada and only Canada.

There is in fact a third definition of “nation” and that is the definition of nation in the sociological sense. That term refers to a group of humans who are characterized by their desire to live in common and a collective conscience.

The Québécois and Québécoises form that nation. Is it symbolic? Yes, it is. Is this motion symbolic? Yes, it is. Will the separatists attempt to use this motion, voted on and I hope adopted in the House this very evening, in order to fragment and divide Canada? Yes, they will. We just heard it from one of the Bloc members. They definitely will, in the same way that they used distinct society. The separatists have one goal and one goal only. That is to divide Canada, to create an independent country which may or may not have the name of Quebec, which is completely sovereign, which is recognized on the international scene. That is their sole goal. The Bloc and separatists have no desire, no wish whatsoever to work to ensure that the nation-state Canada remains united. They have no interest in that whatsoever.

The fears and preoccupation of some of my colleagues are well founded but my answer to these very same colleagues is that it is up to us, and me in particular as someone who identifies as being a Quebecker, a Québécoise, and who also identifies just as strongly with the Canadian nation and with my Canadian identity, to ensure that Canada remains united. It is up to us to ensure that the separatists' discourse has to make it clear that they wish to fragment our country and that the separatists have to justify why that should happen. It is up to them to justify it. Because Canada is a great country. It is a great nation-state and it is a nation-state within which we find other nations.

In my personal view, one of the most enriching characteristics of our country is the fact that we can belong to various nations within one nation. It allows us to do that and it does not in any way diminish our attachment for instance to the Québécois nation or to the Canadian nation in any way. That would be like saying to me and to many other Canadians, Quebeckers who live within Quebec, many French Canadians, that they have to choose. They will either be a member of a nation or they will have a certain gender. They will either have to choose between, in my case, being a woman who is of African descent, or a woman who is of aboriginal descent, or a woman who is of French descent, or a woman who is of Belgian descent.

I do not have to choose. All of those identities are found within me and they all make up who I am. I believe that they enrich my life in the same way that having a nation within Canada, and it is not the only one, but we are talking about the Québécois nation right now, enhances the Canadian nation and Canadian nation-state, but the Canadian nation and the Canadian nation-state enhance the Québécois nation.

Our duty is to ensure that the separatists are put on the hot seat to explain and justify why they would want to fragment Canada by removing the Québécois nation from Canada. It is up to them, not up to us.

I urge my colleagues in the House, those who have these preoccupations and worries, to vote in favour of this motion. I also wish to reassure Canadians from coast to coast that we federalists, whether we be francophone, anglophone or allophone, are committed to a united Canada that is in no way diminished by support for this motion.

I would simply like to say to Canadians who are listening to this debate that before they allow their anxiety to overtake them and before they sweep this motion away in a negative way, that they actually read, if possible, the speeches that have been given, in particular the speech given by the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, who is the father of the clarity bill, the bill that ensured that neither Canada nor Quebec would ever again be subjected to a referendum with an unclear question, a question that tried to hoodwink the Québécois into thinking they were voting to remain in Canada but with a special status, when the objective of the separatists was to divide Canada and remove Quebec and Quebeckers from Canada. Never again can that happen. The clarity bill was the result of the courage and intellectual rigour of the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.

I urge members in the House to read the blues and read what the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville had to say on this motion and to support it this evening.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Scott Reid

Conservative

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the member gave an interesting and intelligent speech. If we were to go to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, and type in a request for something that has more than one meaning, it would take us to what is called the disambiguation page. We would then signify whether we wanted to look up the member for Lanark--Frontenac--Lennox and Addington or Scott Reid the former public relations person for the former prime minister, and so on.

The member has done an excellent job of disambiguating between the multiple meanings of the word “nation” as they are used internationally and in the Canadian context.

This is a great service because she is doing what this motion is attempting to do, which is to disambiguate the different meanings that the separatists have deliberately attempted to conflate in order to cause situations in which Canadians of goodwill become reluctant to recognize the sociological facts of nationhood out of fear, on the one hand, that they will be giving recognition of an incipient national statehood to Quebec, but on the other hand, may cause Canadians to give their approval to that incipient statehood out of fear of causing another unity crisis over that misunderstanding.

The member is doing an excellent job of explaining why it is that one can support the notion of Québécois nationhood without giving any special status, aid and comfort to the overall separatist goal. I thank her for doing that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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LIB

Marlene Jennings

Liberal

Hon. Marlene Jennings

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member across the floor for his comments. In my opinion, it is very important to underscore once again that the indépendantistes, the separatists, will vote in favour of this motion. However, they clearly did not hide the fact that they tried to shift the meaning of the word “nation”. Rather than forming a nation in the sociological sense of the word, Quebeckers would form a nation in the state sense of the word.

The hon. member agreed earlier, by shouting “yes” when I made this point. I think it is very important that we, as federalists from Quebec and federalists from elsewhere in Canada, do not allow the indépendantistes, the separatists, to create confusion in the minds of Quebeckers and other Canadians about the sociological sense of the word. They will claim that, if Quebeckers form a nation, they can no longer remain within the country called Canada. This is absolutely not at all the case.

I thank the hon. member for his comments.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Luc Harvey

Conservative

Mr. Luc Harvey (Louis-Hébert, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will share my time with the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

To begin, I would like to read a quotation:

The waters of the Ottawa River unite with those of the Great Lakes to join with the waters of the St. Lawrence. Yet, though they unite, they do not blend; rather, they follow their parallel paths, easily distinguishable one from the other. Nevertheless, they form a single current flowing between the same banks, the powerful St. Lawrence, steadily making their way toward an ocean that carries much of our trade. This is a perfect metaphor for who we are.

These words were spoken 100 years ago by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.

I found these words very inspiring because, from the beginning, he talked about two currents, two of our nation's founders that followed the same path, working together and going in the same direction but maintaining their distinct character.

Over the past few years, I have travelled a lot. I carried a Canadian passport that I was proud to show. Yes, I was a Quebecker, but I was Canadian. Every time I showed my passport, I was treated with respect and dignity, but I also felt the responsibility that I bear, as a Canadian and as a Quebecker, to be the best possible representative of what it means to be Canadian.

I would also like to say that, contrary to what the Bloc Québécois representatives have tried to show, Quebeckers are not victims. We are in fact partners, pulling together for Canada to achieve progress.

In recent years, I recall a famous prime minister who said that Canada was “the best country in the world”. Since the advent of the Bloc Québécois and the internal upsets we have had, we have lost the title of best country in the world. This provides confirmation of the idea that we have to work as a team. When everyone works in unison so that a country can progress economically or socially or in terms of security, failure is impossible. We have always done things together.

I hear my Bloc Québécois colleagues laughing. They may well laugh, because so far they have changed their minds three times in a single week. It can be easy to change one’s mind when one comes from the Bloc Québécois because ultimately they have no direction, other than the duty to cause problems. They are hoping to create arguments, but there will not be any.

I would also like to quote something else. This is a passage from an article by Mr. Pratte in La Presse, written on November 25, 2006. I found it quite amusing. He said:

That is why Quebeckers must not allow the sovereignists to set the standard for the success of Canadian federalism. When it comes to that, they have zero credibility, because whatever gains are made by Quebec it will never be enough for them.

What a fine quotation.

I am pleased, because that comes neither from me nor from the Prime Minister, nor the Conservative Party. It comes from an independent journalist who has raised this question. I am pleased to repeat it for you here in the House. Thank you, Mr. Pratte.

In recent days we have solved a number of problems, whether we are talking about UNESCO, intergovernmental relations or an attempt to solve the problems that arise in respect of the areas under each province’s and each government’s jurisdiction. I am proud to have participated in this.

I heard my Bloc Québécois colleague saying that we were Quebeckers going after Quebeckers. We are not going after other Quebeckers; we are simply trying to achieve progress in this country without constantly arguing; we are trying to achieve progress in this country and not simply to ask questions; we are trying to achieve progress in this country rather than trying to destroy it.

I am sincerely proud to be Canadian and to speak in this House today for Canada, but as a Quebecker.

We are also talking about respect and the fact that the Prime Minister, together with the Liberal Party and the NDP, is reaching out to Quebeckers. I am pleased that, despite everything, the Bloc Québécois decided to support this motion. What more is there to say? I am pleased that we can now count this as another issue resolved, while we wait, of course, for the Bloc Québécois to raise the next issue, which could be the fiscal imbalance. However, given that that issue will also soon be resolved, specifically, in the next budget, we will not have much left to say. I heard my colleague the Minister of Labour say earlier that the Bloc Québécois will no longer have any purpose in this House. I was so pleased to hear him say that, because I share the same view. When it comes to false representations, the Bloc Québécois are the masters.

I found another quotation from Mr. Pratte interesting:

As they do every time Quebec makes progress in the Canadian federation, the indépendantistes did not waste any time before upping the ante, hoping to provoke new crises that might further their cause. In the past, they cited the exploitation of French Canadians and linguistic insecurity. When those problems were resolved, they moved on to the federal government's debt. When Ottawa pulled through that one, it was immigration, skills training, parental leave, UNESCO—

All of these impasses have now been resolved and overcome. Soon there will be nothing left to say to my Bloc Québécois friends, except for hello. We must certainly not allow them to tell us how to correct the fiscal imbalance.

In closing, I am proud to be Canadian. I am proud to be a Quebecker. I have always known who I am and we will pass a motion here today that finally recognizes that I am part of a nation. I am pleased. I am proud to be taking part in this historic moment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
BQ

Maka Kotto

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Maka Kotto (Saint-Lambert, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, we hear and read here and there in the book of history and on the news all around us these days about quests for liberty and quests for respect ending in wars.

This is not at all the case in Quebec and Canada. I heard my colleague speak earlier, and I quote, about internal wars. Would he like to say what he means by that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Luc Harvey

Conservative

Mr. Luc Harvey

Having visited the country of origin of my hon. colleague from the Bloc, I was talking about relations that can be difficult. I know that in his country of origin there are nearly 60 different nations, tribes or ethnic groups—whatever they are called—that live together in the same country.

Historically, the borders of this country have changed over the years because Cameroon has not always been exactly what it is today. To define an internal crisis or war in a way that is acceptable to the House, I would say that it is a crisis caused by a virus, a sickness, a senseless crisis that people take pleasure in perpetuating. In my view, it is something of this kind, generally speaking.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Joy Smith

Conservative

Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has given an insightful speech. From this side of the House it is very good to hear a Quebecker talking about how important it is to recognize every segment of our society, every segment of Canada, and within Quebec with the recognition of the Québécois. It has been very respectful of the Prime Minister to put forth a motion that recognizes the Québécois. It is very inclusive.

In the member's speech, he asked a question about internal wars. I think what we are trying to do is make a very inclusive Canada. Clearly our Prime Minister has taken a very strong leadership role in ensuring that all Canadians are included and in very respectfully recognizing the Québécois within a unified Canada.

Could my hon. colleague please comment as a Quebecker on how refreshing this is? I have heard this over and over again from people from Quebec. They have said that this should have happened a long time ago. There is real true leadership here in Canada right now.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Luc Harvey

Conservative

Mr. Luc Harvey

Mr. Speaker, the translation service may have missed a few words in the question. However, I will try to answer.

For me, the words “Quebec nation” mean something a little different from what is usually meant in Quebec.

I am married to a woman who immigrated to Canada. She was originally from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. She was raised in English in Ontario. I therefore married an immigrant Ontarian. We have four children.

I believe that the Quebec nation is more inclusive than exclusive. Earlier I quoted Mr. Laurier. I have always been proud to be a Canadian, even more so when I travel abroad. The work we have done over the last 100 years summarizes the history of Canada very well. Its national anthem is an example. Canada has always had values that should be universal, such as integration, a welcoming attitude and generosity toward others. These are values that are shared by Canadians and Quebeckers.

As I was saying, I am proud to be a Canadian, even more so when I am abroad. My family is Canadian first, then Quebecker. We are Quebeckers though.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink

November 27, 2006