Hon. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary Forest Lawn, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, this bill aims to withdraw Quebec from the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
To be absolutely clear, I have nothing in agreement with the Bloc Québécois. I do not agree with its philosophy. I do not agree with whatever it says because that party wants to take Quebec out of Canada. To put it simply and being straightforward, Quebec is part of Canada.
As I said in the House in May 2014, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.
Whatever I heard the member say, Quebec society is very large. It is represented by other parties as well. They do not agree with the vision of the Bloc Québécois about Quebec being excluded. Rather, those members are looking at the past when they say that Quebec is changing.
Quebec is part of Canada and Canadian laws do apply. However, Quebec has also been given a lot of leeway. It is recognized that it has a lot of decentralization issues.
We respect the Quebec jurisdiction. However, when it comes to major issues like multiculturalism, which applies all across the country, I had the honour and privilege to go to Quebec during the leadership race. I spoke in French because I recognized that French was very important. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Quebec. I love Quebec culture. I love the French culture there. I really enjoyed it and felt very proud that this culture was part of our larger mosaic, the Canadian culture, and part of our society.
Therefore, Quebec's culture and its French culture is a very important part of Canadian multicultural society. For my hon. colleague, indigenous Canadians are part of the multicultural society. They live in Quebec as well as a lot of other communities.
Indeed, I find it a little strange when it is said that because we have immigration coming here, we have a changing face of Canada. It is not only immigration that represents the changing face of Canada. Quebec is also changing as young Quebeckers leave and become more learned and multicultural within other countries. Quebec itself is probably like the rest of Canada.
To be very honest with members, Acadians in New Brunswick have their own thriving culture. There are francophones in Calgary, Alberta and they are thriving. Because we have this policy of multiculturalism, they can practice their own culture in Calgary and share it with us.
Therefore, I thoroughly oppose this bill because it makes it look like Quebec is not a part of Canada. I have always said, since coming to the House, that Quebec is part of Canada.
As a parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, I have been all around the world. I have seen the great respect granted to Canada, and that includes Quebec. Also, Quebec ministers were part of the many journeys which I went on. There is immense respect given to Canada because of our ability to be together.
This bill is a dangerous precedent that says, “I will dictate”. No, it will not dictate; the law will dictate. The law says that every Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian and is equal.
Henceforth, taking that into account, I want to say to my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois that I do understand that they are now having a complete review of their party because they seem to have lost touch with Quebec society.
Nevertheless, I strongly encourage them to look at it. I also view them as Canadians. I respect their culture. I respect their language, but it is part of the multicultural mosaic that has been built in this country, which is a strength.
I find it very strange to hear the member say that multiculturalism is a weakness. That is wrong. Multiculturalism is our strength wherever we go. My former colleague the member for Beauce said extreme multiculturalism. There is no such thing as extreme multiculturalism in this country. Our laws give respect to every Canadian irrespective of what his or her religion is.
During the leadership race, one of the candidates raised the question of Canadian values, which we then questioned. What are Canadian values? They are evolving values. As Canada grows, we evolve, so Canadian values evolve, but they are still very strong. It is respect for everyone.
I must say to my colleague who has brought the bill before the House that honestly, they are moving backwards. They want to go back to the old days. Everybody would like to go back to the old days, but the old days are gone. They are gone the way of the dodo bird.
We all maintain our culture. We all maintain what we share with everyone else. Canada has room for everyone.
I say very strongly that I and my colleagues will oppose this legislation.
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Canadian Multiculturalism Act