Mr. Speaker, I notice the hon. member said "more or less excellent". He is probably short of vocabulary.
Mr. Speaker, in his motion the hon. member fcr Champlain deplores the lack of communication between provinces and the central government and the fact that it has been worsening during the last four years. I will quote from a few newspaper clippings to prove what I am saying, and I shall not rely only on evidence from opponents of the present government. Mr. Speaker, I have here a clipping from the March 5, 1968, issue of Le Devoir, bearing the headline "Provinces unanimously denounce central government fiscal policy" and where one can read:
All of them denounce what they consider as the law of the fiscal jungle which was proposed to them by the federal government in 1966.
All of them denounce the inflexibility introduced in fiscal relations as an aftermath of the federal government's determination to impose joint programs and its firm intention of withdrawing from them now.
I will also quote the words of former Quebec Prime Minister Jean-Jacques Bertrand, as reproduced in the November 5, 1968 edition of Le Devoir.
Alleged Decentralization of Policies What strange thing are we witnessing at the present time, more particularly since the last four months? We are witnessing-and I regret to have to deplore it-an arrogant and imperialist attitude on the part of the federal government.
Now let us read what the Ontario Minister of Finance, Mr. Charles MacNaughton, had to say as reported in Le Devoir of November 14, 1968:
Last week, those taking part in the federal-provincial conference have been assured that the federal government would reconsider the question of tax sharing. But since then, we heard the central government make another statement to the effect that the provinces must collect themselves their additional taxes if they need supplementary revenues.
This is certainly evidence of a lack of communication, a lack of exchange of views between the central government and the provincial governments.
What does the present premier of Quebec, Mr. Robert Bourassa, now say? In Le Devoir of November 16, 1971, one can read this:
Quebec premier, Mr. Robert Bourassa, blamed yesterday the federal government for failing to consult the provinces when formulating its policy against unemployment, and he called the conference of the premiers of the country, which he attends until tomorrow, an a posteriori consultation.
The Minister of Regional Economic Expansion (Mr. Marchand) would surely be offended, and he would probably accuse the Quebec premier of racism, if he heard the words the premier is reported to have said. I quote:
In fact, the premier stated that the activity of the Department of Regional Economic Expansion, headed by Mr. Jean Marchand, had not changed things very much. More specifically, Mr. Bourassa said, the report had not affected the overall situation in Quebec and on the whole, the results were not very satisfactory.
Mr. Speaker, were the Minister to hear this, there would be no end to his laments, to the effect that we merely want to destroy him. We have no intention of destroying anyone, but as members of the official opposition, it is our duty to ensure that the government produces the best possible administration for the Canadian people.
The quotation goes on:
Basically, the premier wants the federal government to adopt more selective economic remedial measures.
That is what we have been asking the present government all along.
As I said at the beginning this government interfered in fields of exclusively provincial jurisdiction, and later on warned the most interested parties, that is the provinces.
For instance, the federal government meddled in health insurance. Originally, the legislation was to have come into force on July 1st, 1967, but because of the objections of several provinces, its application throughout Canada was delayed by at least one year. We know that the Quebec government, through its premier, the hon. Daniel Johnson, had opposed the measure. He wanted Quebec to receive the tax levied in his province, the so-called social improvement tax. Not only was he the only one to demand that those payments be remitted to the province of Quebec, but after him, the provincial Liberal government has always done likewise while the federal and centralizing Liberal government has refused to accede to the
March 17, 1972
Alleged Decentralization of Policies demands of the Quebec government whose duty it was to look after the best interests of that province.
We know what was the comment of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) about the recommendations made by the then provincial secretary Mr. Mario Beaulieu. I will not repeat his first comment: it was the second time that he was using the term, but I will say however that he dismissed as stupid the claim of the Quebec provincial secretary.
Such refusals and arrogant attitudes give rise in Quebec to an antifederal feeling which is used as a springboard by those who wish to create dissension and promote separatism in Quebec. It is high time, Mr. Speaker, for the members opposite to throw off their own arrogance, to accept finally to hear the province of Quebec through its elected representatives, and to accede to their claims not only for its good, but also for the sake of good understanding and national unity.
Until our current leaders carry out that policy, Mr. Speaker, we will go from bad to worse and have one trouble after another.
The sooner this government becomes more flexible, the sooner it listens to reason, the better it will be for everyone.
And I hope, Mr. Speaker, that those who are from the province of Quebec, the friends of the Liberal party, will convince of that those who hold the reins of power, those who occupy the government benches.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY