Mr. Maurice Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, BQ)
Madam Speaker, my colleague for Beauséjour seems to be speculating about my chances to be back here, in this House, after the election. I would like to reassure him. I know he is about to leave us to assume other duties we do not know anything about yet. I wish him well. I suspect we will soon have a new Senator Robichaud in the other place.
That said, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-65 dealing with endangered species. It is a very serious bill that interferes in areas of provincial jurisdiction. I will get back to this.
It seems quite fitting to be discussing endangered species just hours from an election call. I want to draw a parallel with this absentee government, whose mind is elsewhere these days. One only has to watch Oral Question Period to realize that the ministers would rather be doing something else than answering questions.
Considering the way this government's piecemeal approach, I can say, like my colleague from the Reform Party, who just announced that his party would form the next government, that the Liberal government opposite is certainly an endangered species nowadays.
Our fellow citizens across Canada, and particularly in Quebec, are in a position to know we must get rid of this government. In fact, I would say the greatest threat is not that this government could be out, but that it could come back for another mandate, since we see, as I mentioned earlier, that the main concern of this government these days is to announce good news that the official opposition had been demanding throughout its mandate.
This week there was the manpower agreement announced by the human resources development minister, after 32 years of negotiations, I might add. If this is not a record in terms of stretching out negotiations, it is certainly a good average. At this rate, not many colleagues in this House will see the results of the next negotiations dealing with who knows what, endangered species perhaps. At the rate negotiations are going, the very future of this federal government, of this institution, is in danger.
Consider the intergovernmental affairs minister's attitude when the Quebec government asked for an amendment to the Constitution establishing linguistic school boards. The contempt of this government is obvious as election day nears.
When it is not delaying a decision it should be taking now, such as the one on linguistic school boards, the government is announcing amendments to a bill that has yet to receive royal assent-and I am referring to the tobacco bill. The Prime Minister has succeeded in this incredible feat of announcing, even before Bill C-71, the Tobacco Act, received royal assent, that it would be amended next fall. It is quite an achievement. If ridicule could kill, we would no longer have a Prime Minister.
That being said, I would like to deal briefly with Bill C-65 to point out how this bill is right in the tradition of this government. In their speeches, government members and the Prime Minister, who is here occasionally for question period, keep harping about how, these past few years, their government has been most open to the decentralization of our federation.
But each time the government introduces a new bill, it proves otherwise. Back home we have an expression for that. We say the Prime Minister talks from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, we are being told the government is more open to decentralization, but, on the other hand, whenever the government introduces a bill, like Bill C-65, it tries to centralize even more. The official opposition objects to this intrusion in a provincial jurisdiction. In
the area of the protection of endangered species as in many others, Quebec has already taken its responsibilities.
Since 1989, there has been a law concerning endangered species. There was a consensus in Quebec and all stakeholders asked their government, the Quebec government, to take action, which it did by adopting a bill that satisfied the aspirations and desires of the Quebec people.
It was the same thing in Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, the province you are from and of which you are justifiably so proud, Madam Speaker, which all adopted legislation on endangered species.
But the federal government, as it usually does, decided not to take into account the desire of the provinces to take things into their own hands and solve their problems by talking to each other to ensure that their respective laws are in sync. But no, the federal government decided to barge in and take this area of jurisdiction away from the provinces so it could impose its own views and decisions.
That is the essence of that bill. That is why the official opposition will take its responsibilities and defend Quebecers' interests as it always does when Quebec's jurisdiction is questioned, when Quebec's interests are threatened. And I know, Madam Speaker, that you are proud of the official opposition. We will vote against this bill and ensure that it will die on the Order Paper, so that we will not hear about it anymore, not only during the election campaign, but ever again.
I would also like to point out that the government, by invading this field of jurisdiction, is creating more problems than it is solving, as is usually the case. It would have been much more productive and efficient if the government had simply asked the provinces to reach an agreement in this matter, if it had recognized that a lot of work had already been done since similar laws have been adopted in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and of course Quebec, in 1989. The enforcement of these laws takes necessarily into account the needs of the people.
Madam Speaker, you are indicating that my time has expired. Since I respect the rules of the House, I will comply with your order and end my speech.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Canada Endangered Species Protection Act