November 27, 2006

CPC

Maxime Bernier

Conservative

Hon. Maxime Bernier

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his remarks.

Yes, it is true. It is a small step; but it is small step in the right direction.

I want to make it clear that the clarification of spending power is a commitment of our government that the Prime Minister formally stated in Quebec City December 19, 2005. It is an important issue for Quebeckers and for Canadians. I can assure my colleague opposite that we are working with all the provinces to ensure that at last the Canadian Constitution can make progress, and in the direction that all the provinces want.

Concerning the fiscal imbalance; that is a very good question. That is another commitment we made in Quebec City on December 19, 2005, and we repeated that commitment to deal with the fiscal imbalance in the last budget.

I know that on December 15 my hon. colleague, the Minister of Finance, will meet with his provincial counterparts to discuss the correction of the fiscal imbalance. Like my hon. colleague, I hope that can be settled as quickly as possible. We are a government that respects its commitments and we will act accordingly.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I do not disagree with most of the minister's remarks; in fact, I find I can associate myself with them to a large degree. I would like to ask him, though, about one issue that has come to our attention in recent days.

Technical difficulties make it impossible to amend the motion. However, given that the first Europeans to come to North America made contact with what they reported to be nations of indigenous people, would he agree if it were possible to amend this motion that we could and should in the context of this debate and the vote also recognize first nations aboriginal people in the same vein as we recognize the Québécois form a nation in this country?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Maxime Bernier

Conservative

Hon. Maxime Bernier

Mr. Speaker, I would simply say that the first nations are in the Constitution.

What we are debating right now is only Quebeckers as a nation and not Quebec as a nation. There is a big difference. I hope my colleague is going to vote with us on that, considering that the first nations have their recognition in the Constitution.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Cheryl Gallant

Conservative

Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is adjacent to the province of Quebec. They are separated only by the Ottawa River but very much are connected to one another.

The area of Allumette Island was largely settled by Irish immigrants and therefore its residents are mainly English speaking. Many of the residents work and attend school on the Ontario side of the river. Indeed, prior to the election of the current Minister of Transport, many attended my office for assistance on constituency matters. They are asking what this motion means to anglophones. How is it going to affect their day to day lives?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Maxime Bernier

Conservative

Hon. Maxime Bernier

Mr. Speaker, it will not change their day to day lives. It is a recognition that the Quebeckers form a nation, that Quebeckers are a nation within Canada.

I was in Calgary this weekend. I spoke with some of my colleagues from Calgary and Canadians from Alberta. They had that kind of concern. I can reassure people across the country and my colleagues across the floor that it will not change anything in their day to day lives.

What we are doing right now was not my first choice. My first choice is that Quebeckers know who they are and they do not need us to tell them who they are. But the Bloc Québécois brought this issue to the House and we had to respond. What we have brought forward is the right response. The most important thing in the motion is that Quebeckers are a nation within Canada. We will not give to Quebeckers more powers or other jurisdictions to the province of Quebec. We will respect our Constitution. That is why it is very simple for us as Quebeckers and for our colleagues to vote in favour of the motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, when the Bloc motion was initially debated, the leader of the Bloc said that the motion being proposed by the Conservatives in adding the phrase “within a united Canada” was a partisan condition. My view is that the addition of “within a united Canada” reflects a fact, a reality. I wonder if the minister would like to comment on whether he considers that addition to be a partisan condition.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Maxime Bernier

Conservative

Hon. Maxime Bernier

Mr. Speaker, no it is not partisan. It is a reality. Quebeckers are proud to be Canadian and are proud to be Quebeckers also. It is only the reality.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Pierre Poilievre

Conservative

Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we have watched the Bloc take three different and contradictory positions. Bloc members first said they defend provincial jurisdictions, but at the same time, they gave Ottawa the power to define what Quebeckers are and to determine whether they form a nation. They gave this House that power. We therefore moved a motion to define Quebec as a nation, which upset the Bloc. It was against recognizing Quebec as a nation and was going to vote against this motion. However, the next day, it changed its tune again—for the third time—and said that it would vote in favour of defining Quebec as a nation and for a united Canada.

We now see that the Bloc has completely lost its raison d'être. It is completely pointless.

Can the minister tell us why Quebeckers should keep this party alive? Why should the Bloc Québécois exist?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Maxime Bernier

Conservative

Hon. Maxime Bernier

Mr. Speaker, I believe that, as time goes on, the Bloc Québécois is proving more and more that its presence in this House is completely pointless. Bloc members cannot achieve any real results for all Quebeckers. With some ten Conservative members, we have done so much for Quebec, which the Bloc Québécois will never be able to do because, as we all know, it is doomed to forever remain an opposition party.

I think my fellow Quebeckers realize all this and, during the next election, they will make up their minds.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to join with my colleagues in support of the motion presented by the Conservative government. This is a historic occasion for our country. It is a time for all of us to reflect on who we are and to express our dreams for this country. In this context, the NDP supports the motion that recognizes the Québécois people as a nation within a united Canada.

For clarification purposes, I want to also indicate that the NDP will be opposing the original motion presented by the Bloc Québécois which very simply suggested that the Quebec people form a nation. Given all of the developments over the last few days, it is important to explain exactly why we feel this way and what is important about this occasion.

When this issue erupted on November 22, at first we felt considerable joy that there was this unity in the House over a longstanding matter that had to be resolved, that being the question of how to recognize Quebec within the federalist family within Canada. That soon turned into a heated debate between politicians, through the media, and among premiers and other leaders in this country.

I am not sure the debate filtered too far down into our community level, but it certainly took on a whole new dimension, especially when the Prime Minister, over the course of this weekend, chose to start muttering out loud about further developments on the constitutional front. He suggested that he was prepared to look at opening up the Constitution to address spending powers. Canadians suddenly started feeling a sense of déjà vu.

We have had Meech; we have had Charlottetown. We have had numerous other federal-provincial meetings and discussions, and heated debates. And here we go again with another attempt to open the door, so that this country could actually start to lose its unity of purpose because the hidden agenda is one of ceding federal powers to the provinces. This debate has taken on a whole new set of values and a heck of a lot of interest on the part of Canadians because they truly are wondering what this means in real terms.

I want to start by saying what it means to New Democrats and what it does not mean to New Democrats. I want to ensure that the House knows how we address the questions of our aboriginal people in the context of this motion and how we celebrate the ethnocultural diversity of this land given this motion.

The unease and concern of Canadians has to do with definition. For me and for some folks who have worked and talked, and thought about the issue of the unique status and the distinct nature of Quebec society, it might be clear. We therefore have little trouble putting down on paper that we see the Québécois people as a nation within Canada. For us it is a description that defines a people. It reflects a history. It is imbued with all kinds of meanings and values. It is important.

It is important for people like me to stand and say it is long overdue that we resolve this historical impasse and that we come to some resolution that will not open the door further to any thought of devolving federal powers or opening the door to the Québécois people to separate. That is what we must be absolutely sure about today.

We in the NDP support this motion on the basis of recognizing the role, the culture, and the people of Quebec throughout our history. We have done this since our party began. Whether we are talking about Stanley Knowles, who was a member of Parliament from my area for many years, or David Orlikow, who also was part of this place for 25 years, or going back to David Lewis and Tommy Douglas. Our leaders, our politicians, and our representatives have always tried to recognize that which is unique about Quebec and to stand proud in describing our country in those terms.

More recently, we have grappled with this notion in the context of federalism and how we define federalism while recognizing that status of Quebec. We as a country have debated that and we have come to recognize that asymmetrical federalism is probably a doable approach, that it can in fact lead to that which we all desire, which is a united Canada that recognizes the uniqueness of Quebec.

Under no circumstances have we, at any point, intended that to mean the debate is wide open for further diminishment of our federal government in the nation state, or for further encouragement to the Québécois people to consider separation or sovereignty. No, our debates have been on how to ensure a united Canada, how we can accommodate the demands and the place of history in this country without putting us on a path of losing something which is absolutely important. We come today to say that we support this notion that Quebec people constitute a nation within this country.

The NDP has long supported appropriate recognition of Quebec's national character. We know, and it is important to say so with respect to the Bloc motion, that the Bloc is playing political games. In our opinion, that is the case. The New Democratic Party will not play these games.

Since this discussion evolved on Wednesday, we have seen and heard statements from both the leader of the Bloc and the leader of the PQ suggesting that this was just the beginning. They began to put a spin on the debate that this was the wedge, the lever by which the forces for sovereignty and separatism would be able to gain further support and make inroads in this direction.

It became pretty clear in the course of the last couple of days that in fact we were part of this bidding war. There was an attempt on the part of forces to actually distort the concept that was part of the resolution, when we talk about Quebeckers being a nation within a united Canada, or just dealing with it on its own, Quebeckers forming a nation.

The members of the Bloc and the leader of the Parti Québécois are only interested in the sovereignty agenda. We have decided to reconsider our position on their motion.

We support the present motion because we are recognizing the historical fact that Quebeckers form a nation and we have done so for decades.

We are a proud federalist party. We have worked over the decades to find a solution to this fundamental question: what constitutes a united Canada and how do we recognize the unique nature of Quebec?

We do not for one second consider the nation state as divisible or an entity that can be weakened gradually over a period of time by changing the powers and looking at the question of the role of the federal government. Nor for a second do we accept any wording, any notion, any rhetoric, any policies, or any programs that will take us down the path to a separate Quebec, to a Quebec as a sovereign nation, because we consider ourselves as part of a great nation. We will fight to the end to ensure that Quebec never has reason to leave this country.

That does not mean we disregard the notion of self-determination and the right of the Quebec people to have a say in their future. Obviously, that is all tied up in this debate, but we have a role as federalists, we have a role as parliamentarians to ensure we have addressed all those questions and concerns. We have a role to ensure that we have taken away the debate, the arguments, the excuses, and the raison d'être to even consider a separate nation for Quebeckers. It seems to us that is what is fundamental here, why we support this debate and this motion, and why we cannot now support what the Bloc is proposing.

The objective of the Bloc and the Parti Québécois is clear: they want to see Quebec leave the great Canadian family. We will oppose this option.

We believe that ordinary Quebeckers will be better off staying in Canada. That is why we believe that despite our differences as federalists, we have to work together to create winning conditions for Canada and Quebec.

That explains why we support the motion, but we also understand what this debate is not even tapping into and that is our identity as a country. We are talking a lot about the identity of Québécois and Québécoises, but what does that leave in terms of this country? Part of this task rests in terms of identifying the original peoples.

Today we actually should have been amending this motion to reflect what first nations want, but we could not. We could not because the Liberals brought forward a deleterious motion and cut off all further amendments. We should be doing what the Assembly of First Nations has requested, which is to amend this motion with respect to ensuring that it in no way derogates from, diminishes or modifies “the unique status and rights of First Nations and their unique place in the past, present and future of this land”.

That would clarify, would it not? That would ensure that through this process we were not leaving any impression that we were diminishing the significance of the people who were originally here, notwithstanding the fact of the founding nations later on who came to develop this country, the French and the English, and not to even touch on the waves and waves of immigrants who came to this country to build this country and to create a great future.

Let us be clear, I say, that when we support this motion we in no way apologize for the ethnocultural diversity of this great land. Instead, we celebrate it. Let us be clear that when we look at this whole complex issue we stand in the context of our recognition for Quebec saying that we celebrate Canada as a diverse nation, as a model to the world.

How many people have actually described this country as the window on the world? Others have said that we are the world in one nation. Those are beautiful sentiments reflecting a beautiful notion about this country, sentiments that we have to celebrate and stand up and say on a day like today.

The biggest worry the NDP has about this whole debate is that in fact it might be used as a way for the federal government to open the door wider, to devolve powers from the federal government, to review the spending powers under the Constitution and in fact weaken our nation-state.

It is certainly a legitimate concern after listening to what the Prime Minister had to say over the weekend when he talked about limiting federal spending powers in exclusive areas of provincial jurisdiction and when he talked opening up the Constitution, which requires two-thirds of the provinces and territories and half the population. There is every reason to be concerned.

So while we stand today in support of this motion, we do not for one second give any legitimacy, credence, credibility or validity to an agenda that the Conservatives may have to use this as an opening to slip in changes to the Constitution that would weaken our nation-state and change the very nature of federalism.

We only have to look to last week, when the Minister of Finance gave us his economic update. In his document entitled “Advantage Canada”, he states:

To this end, the Government is committed to:

--Limiting the use of the federal spending power.

It is a fairly upfront, open agenda. We only have to look back to the federal budget address of May 2, 2006, when in fact the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance reflected on the issue of federal spending power.

The 2006 budget stated that initiatives may “have expanded the use of the federal spending power” and were “launched in areas of provincial responsibility” and:

Concerns have been raised that these initiatives have often imposed new conditions and cost pressures on provincial and territorial governments.

It is interesting to note that the government then used that as a legitimate argument for not advancing a national child care or early childhood development plan. It used that to argue why the federal government should not be involved in housing and homelessness issues. It used that, in fact, to explain why it should not be doing anything about literacy in this nation.

There are ominous signs on the horizon about which we must be very vigilant. We will not let the government take advantage in any way of unanimity and harmony in the House today around finally coming up with some wording that will address a longstanding historical unanswered issue.

Today we need to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going. I want to wrap up and say that we accept, as we have done throughout history, the notion of Quebec as a distinct society, and that, we believe, is reflected in this motion. We also recognize that there are many important influences in this country that have to be also acknowledged, whether they be aboriginal peoples or the many waves of immigrant populations who have come to develop this country.

We also recognize that hidden in this motion there in fact may be a power grab, as some have commented in the media, and that there may be a tendency on the part of the government to set the stage through this motion to open the door to a dismantling of this country.

We are left today with wanting to ensure that all members agree on the need to establish very clearly the unique identity of Canada, one that recognizes the uniqueness of Quebec as a nation within this country on a united basis but that also understands what has built this country and has contributed to our greatness: that is, those values of cooperation and compassion, the desire among Canadians to care about one another and to share wealth and resources, those values that actually led to the creation of medicare, the best health care program in the world, one that defines who we are as a nation, and those values that led to numerous programs that bind us together and ensure that no matter where we come from, whatever region we are from, whatever ethnic group we are part of, whatever language we speak, we are part of this nation, and we are one people, strong and united.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Scott Reid

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, in their discussions today, I noticed that a number of hon. members have been very careful to emphasize what they believe this motion is not about. I think that is a good thing to do when we deal with a motion that is as laconic in its language as this one is. It is necessary to make sure that no one understands us as having supported something for reasons that were in fact invalid and therefore imputes meanings to this motion that are not actually there.

I thought, therefore, that it was good and very valuable to hear the hon. member just a moment ago speaking about the things that she does not want to be understood as supporting when she votes for this motion. She is concerned about the government having an agenda to do a number of things to roll back the federal government's role in Canadian life.

I want to assure the hon. member that such is not the case. I think that is to some degree self-evident from the nature of the way in which this motion came forward after the Bloc Québécois had proposed another motion. This motion was introduced after that time.

I also want to be clear in indicating that my own support for this motion is based upon understanding it to have limited implications, on understanding it to be a reflection of a sociological fact and not to be understood as, for example, indicating that we are or I am supportive of some form of asymmetrical federalism, or for greater powers for one part of the country over another, or for having the kinds of implications that the distinct society clause had when it was introduced.

Some people here supported the distinct society clause back in the early 1990s. Others of us did not and campaigned against it. The distinct society clause had the implication that, among other things, the charter of rights would be interpreted in light of the fact that Quebec is a distinct society.

This motion, as I understand it, has no such meaning. The charter of rights and the Constitution apply equally. The equal status of the Canadian provinces is not changed. That is my understanding. My question for the hon. member is this: is this narrow reading of the motion also her understanding?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we clarify what this motion is about. I want the motion to be about, and I believe it is, addressing a longstanding gap in our history's policy development process, which is a way to recognize the contribution and the qualities of the Quebec people and a way to meet their longstanding grievances in terms of being a part of this country.

The motion does not explicitly suggest anything more than that. Why I worry is that the ink was barely dry on this motion when the Prime Minister of our country came out publicly talking about opening up the Constitution and dealing with spending powers.

We know from past discussions that the Conservatives are very anxious to put limits on federal spending powers so that they do not have responsibility in many other important areas, which in my view does a complete disservice to what this nation is all about. We have a national health care act. We have medicare. We have the Canada Health Act because we got over this jurisdictional haggling and wrangling and said, “This is a shared responsibility that involves both leadership from the federal government and spending powers from the federal government in an area that is largely a provincial jurisdiction”.

We need to make sure that we continue this part of our history. We need to do it in areas of education like never before, because in fact the federal share of education has dropped to less than 10% and we are struggling to find a way to make sure that all students have access to education. We need to do it in areas of child care and early childhood education. In fact, if we do not work together on the needs of children at a very young age, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

I know what the Conservative agenda generally is. I know what the Prime Minister said coming out of the discussion about national unity last Wednesday. I am worried. I want it to be clear that while we support this motion we in no way give any legitimacy or validity to a Conservative notion of decentralization or dismantling this country and eroding our nation-state.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, during her speech the hon. member referred specifically to the motion and the full wording, including the reference to the phrase “within a united Canada”.

She also talked about some of the historical positions of her party from way back when. She said twice, or in two different ways, that, first, we support the national character of Quebec, and that, second, we have long supported that Quebeckers form a nation.

I am curious as to whether the member could advise the House whether in coming to those policy positions on behalf of her party there was the presumption that Canada was a united country. The way it was stated by the member in her statement would seem to be supportive of the initial Bloc motion.

As we know, and as I believe all hon. members who are federalist members here understand it, this is simply a question of the fact that there are those in this place who support a strong and united Canada and there are those who want to break up this country. I wonder if the member would like to clarify her statements.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to clarify my statement. In the course of a debate that is 20 minutes in length, one tries not to keep repeating oneself in terms of all the descriptions and adjectives.

A t the outset, I said we were supporting the motion that says, “the Québécois are a nation within a united Canada”, and that we rejected the Bloc motion which stopped short of saying “within a united Canada”. I want to elaborate for a moment. As part of our history, we have always fought for that recognition within a united Canada.

I want to refer very quickly to the statements we have made over the years. Back in 1999, we said that Quebec was a vibrant, distinct society. It is a result of many historical developments and it is one that we respect and reflect in our policies in the context of a dynamic, varied, multicultural society which recognizes the first nations as our founding peoples.

Again, in our statement at our last convention in Montreal, in what has now been described as the Sherbrooke declaration, we very clearly described the need for recognition of Quebec's unique status or definition as a nation within a united Canada, as long as we were fully cognizant of the fact that federalism itself was something that must be nurtured, developed and worked on time and time again or we would be in danger of losing the very essence of who we were as a nation.

I hope that has clarified for the member what we feel, and to be absolutely clear that we only look at this question within the context of a united Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for raising the issue of the first nations, brought to us over the weekend.

In the context of the debate, there has to be some kind of non-derogation recognition that what we do today will not derogate from or diminish in any way the status of first nations within the context of the Constitution or the debate.

Could the hon. member reinforce for us today how the first nations are recognized with this status within Canada and we, in this party at least, will not have anything to do with anything that derogates from that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Mr. Speaker, we absolutely believe the motion should have included that qualifier, but the Liberals prevented us from doing so.

I commend the work of my colleague, the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, who brought to the House the words of Phil Fontaine—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Royal Galipeau

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau)

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Outremont.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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LIB

Jean Lapierre

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for York Centre.

I am pleased to take part in this debate, although we Quebeckers in the House find ourselves in a very strange situation. The House is being asked to define our identity. It is as if we had come here searching for it, and all that just because the Bloc Québécois wanted to play petty politics on the backs of Quebeckers. That is too bad, but while the Bloc claims to be their servant and the trustee of their interests, it actually wanted the House to say no to Quebeckers, to say that they do not constitute a nation.

Confounding their tactics, the hon. members of this House—the federalist members—decided to say that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada. Now that the federalist members have decided to join forces, we see the Bloc members going through contortions that could earn them a job with the Cirque du Soleil. They do not know which way to squirm and wriggle any more.

In light of this situation, I think that Quebeckers are being recognized here. I met a lot of people over the weekend who said it was nice, and that this helped them feel comfortable with their dual identity. It helped them say they are both proud Quebeckers and proud Canadians.

That is what this motion gives us today. I would not want people to nurse any illusions about the meaning or huge import—other than symbolic—of this motion. In addition, the issue of Quebec signing on to the Canadian constitution has not been resolved. In my view, that is on a future agenda. I know that the C-word, Constitution, is banned for now, but some day we will obviously want to find a way to bring Quebec back into the bosom of the Canadian family—if that vocabulary is not too antiquated—with honour and enthusiasm.

I think, therefore, that our colleagues realize today that they have to recognize the Quebec nation. I know that some are making an effort to do this because it is hard for them, and I can understand that. Ultimately, though, this is an olive branch extended from an outstretched hand.

Some day we will have to remember this. I may have too much personal experience in the House, but I remember the Meech Lake era very well. Looking back at the five elements we had at that time, ultimately we can say that things are quietly progressing. At the time, we spoke about a distinct society. Then, all of a sudden, the House passed a motion recognizing this wording. The vocabulary has evolved now: distinct society, people, nation. Who knows how our children will want to define themselves in 10 or 15 years?

Insofar as what we wanted in the area of immigration is concerned, it has been achieved and Quebec has power over the selection of immigrants. Some other provinces have taken on the same power because they think it is important.

Our discussion about spending power is still hypothetical, but this is an important element, nevertheless.

Perhaps the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities remembers former premier Robert Bourassa and the many speeches he made about spending authority. He repeated them so often we know almost all of them by heart.

With respect to the Supreme Court justices, that is a fact.

On the subject of veto rights, even this House passed a law saying that every region has a veto. As such, Quebec has a de facto veto right.

If we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we realize that things evolve. Little by little, certainly, but this gives us confidence in the future.

When history judges the past few days we have experienced together, it may be said that on this momentous occasion, Canadian federalists were united as never before thanks to the Bloc Québécois.

I honestly did not think that such unity would happen during this session with a minority government and a very strong opposition, not to mention a party in the throes of a leadership race. In the end, it took a major catalyst to make this happen.

That being the case, I would like to thank the Bloc Québécois because it gave us the will to fight. It convinced us that we can have two identities—Quebecker and Canadian—and that those two identities can co-exist and help us grow.

I think that even though nobody wanted it to happen, this debate has strengthened Canada and will enable us to exchange ideas about our deep roots and the very nature of Quebec as it is today.

I know it is very hard for the Bloc to say it—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Royal Galipeau

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau)

Order please. I must unfortunately interrupt the member. When debate resumes, he will have four minutes remaining to finish his speech.

We will move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Wild Rose.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
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CPC

Myron Thompson

Conservative

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to pay tribute to an outstanding central Alberta sportsman, Chester Mjolsness.

Chester has spent the past many decades hunting big game around the entire world. He decided to share his massive collection of wildlife mounts and it is now proudly displayed at the Sundre Pioneer Village Museum.

The collection is made up of more than 150 animals from all the continents in the world. Planning for the museum began about 12 years ago and, through a little grant money, local donations and countless volunteer hours, this is a display not to be missed.

Special recognition must be paid to Lorraine Hughes who painted the background scenes and Povl Munksgaard who prepared the mounts for display.

I was honoured to be part of the official opening of the Chester Mjolsness World of Wildlife Museum in my hometown of Sundre. I would like to invite every Canadian to take a trip to visit this world-class facility. That is Sundre, Alberta, my hometown.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Sundre Pioneer Village Museum
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November 27, 2006