MATTE, René, L.Ped.
- Champlain (Quebec)
- Birth Date
- February 11, 1935
- June 25, 1968 - March 31, 1971
- RAChamplain (Quebec)
- April 1, 1971 - September 1, 1972
- SCChamplain (Quebec)
- October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
- SCChamplain (Quebec)
- July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
- SCChamplain (Quebec)
- April 11, 1978 - March 26, 1979
- INDChamplain (Quebec)
Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 199)
March 2, 1979
Mr. Rene Matte (Champlain):
Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 43, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to introduce a motion dealing with an urgent question of pressing necessity.
Considering that it is important to settle conflicts between the government and its employees, that it seems unacceptable to resort to walkouts to speed up negotiations and that most people will no longer tolerate those continuous labour unrests which disturb everybody and from which no advantage is gained, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Abitibi (Mr. Laprise):
That the House direct the government to introduce as soon as possible a general formula for the settlement of conflicts between employers and employees which would eliminate walkouts or strikes.
Subtopic: LABOUR DISPUTES
February 22, 1979
Mr. Rene Matte (Champlain):
Mr. Speaker, I rise under the provisions of Standing Order 43 and seek the unanimous consent of the House to discuss a motion relating to a matter of urgent and pressing necessity.
In light of the pessimistic remarks the Commissioner of Official Languages made when he presented his annual report; given the clear contradiction which exists between his remarks and the government's pretension about finding solutions to our national problems; given the fact that, without admitting it, the government realizes the failure of its policies by ordering, for instance, a cut of more than one-third in the staff of the Linguistic Training Branch; and given the fact that this government misleads all Canadians in general and all Quebeckers in particular by trying to monopolize all attempts to safeguard Canadian unity while denying the very existence of the Quebec nation, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. Allard):
That the House instruct the government to take into account the report of the Commissioner of Official Languages by putting it up for consideration and resolution in parliament.
Subtopic: OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
February 14, 1979
Mr. Rene Matte (Champlain):
Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 43, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to introduce a motion dealing with an important matter of pressing necessity.
In view of the consequences of the Official Languages Act and since for years this government has based its reputation in Quebec and in French Canada on its intention to implement bilingualism; in addition, since there was no possible justification for the substantial cuts to the budget of the language branch and that such a decision was necessarily interpreted as an admission of the government failure in that endeavour, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Villeneuve (Mr. Caouette):
That the President of the Treasury Board explain the major reasons which prompted him to reduce the staff of the language programmes branch by 33 per cent while the reductions for the entire civil service were set at 2 per cent, and that this House direct the minister to suspend that decision until a proper inquiry shows that it is sound.
January 31, 1979
Mr. Rene Matte (Champlain):
Mr. Speaker, the bill we are now considering seems to me to be an ill-advised response to a malicious expectation stemming from prejudice. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, if the present debate had been held five, eight or ten years ago, this bill could have been regarded as a reflection of the government's intentions to provide an opportunity for the grass-root participation in government's decisions.
However, even though we advocated, ten years ago, the use of referenda in order to know exactly how Canadians felt about, say the abolition of capital punishment or the legalization of abortion, the whole question was taboo, Mr. Speaker. The government was not the least interested in introducing a bill aiming at popular consultations. How come, then, that today we are considering a legislation dealing with referenda? Nobody can deny that this bill is the result of the government's reaction to the policies and, above all, the expressed philosophy of a provincial government.
And now they try to prove to me that we are dealing with something else; it is a shame to see a government act like that, a government about which the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) himself has said that it is merely a local government in a huge country, only one of ten provinces or of 12 provinces if we include the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. That is what the Prime Minister thinks. And yet he maintains a contradictory and unhealthy attitude towards the manoeuvres of a government which a growing number of people in Quebec seem to approve, at least for the administration it provides.
Mr. Speaker, this preamble is to show that we have to do with a controversy that the present government and especially the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) want to win and that they are not concerned about finding adequate solutions to the national problems facing this country. Rather it is for the Prime Minister a matter of winning a controversy that he triggered decades ago; indeed some 20, 25 years ago the Prime Minister was already talking about these issues with Rene Levesque and Gerard Pelletier and others and at that time the Prime Minister was already being stubborn the way he is today. This lack of intellectual evolution on the part of a man who is now leading the country means that Canada now faces a period of insecurity and that it is a little hard today for a Canadian to go abroad and see how his country is being ridiculed, at least as far as the dollar is concerned. A determination to resort to confrontation rather than seek fair and equitable solutions is the trademark of the right hon. Prime Minister and his government. Where does such an attitude stem from? Merely from its refusal to accept reality. The government is determined to ignore reality not only on the Quebec political scene but all over Canada nor does it make any reasonable effort to seek equitable solutions.
Mr. Speaker, when the government put forward so-called solutions to the constitutional problems of Canada, by adopting the Official Languages Act, and introducing a motion aiming at upgrading the status of French, I voted against it mainly because I felt that these were not adequate solutions, and now a few years later, the House must recognize that I was right. For what is the result of this band-aid designed by this government? It led to the decision, effective April 1, 1979, to reduce by over 33 per cent the number of civil servants responsible for the promotion of bilingualism in Canada. A cut
of over one-third; it was considered they were not important any longer.
On the other hand the top brass in the federal government has not significantly changed in number. And in the higher spheres of that administration, we find only 2 per cent for example in relation to research, with this figure increasing to 5 per cent and 6 per cent in some departments, and reaching 7 per cent and 8 per cent in others. Those are the opportunities for Francophones within that federal administration. On the whole, Francophone public servants account for about 25 per cent.
Mr. Speaker, I said then and 1 repeat it today: Even if the whole federal administration became bilingual, if French Canadians or Quebeckers do not take full and equal part in the administration of this country, absolutely nothing would have been solved. It is not a question of language. It is above all a question of participation. That is why the right hon. Prime Minister and the government would never find the solution in bilingualism. It is not there. It has been put to the test and we see today the results of such a policy. Mr. Speaker, I already said and I repeat once again because it is so true that the problem in this country is not related to a question of language, but amounts to a question of nationality, a question of participation with pride and dignity, on equal terms, in the development and the emancipation of this country.
That is what Quebeckers want. They want nothing less than equality. Equality does not means 25 per cent representation in the federal administration.
Equality does not mean saying in English or in French how much one owes the income tax people. Equality means working together to create the things we must manage jointly. It is as simple as that. Even today, Mr. Speaker, although the Irish people have decided to use the English language as their medium, I am sure they would resent being called Englishmen.
I am saying this to show the difference between national participation as a people and language difference. Those are two things quite different. And this is why the government failed. They forgot that the problem to be solved in Canada, in the first place at least, was not a language problem, but a nationality problem.
Quebeckers, having acquired an objective awareness of their strength and potential, never wanted to infringe upon the rights or privileges enjoyed by the rest of the country; they simply decided to be themselves and to offer their wholehearted co-operation to the rest of the country, so that the latter could truly develop. Our objectives should be aimed in that direction. There should be no more reference to destroying the country because a part of the country wants to rebuild it.
There is a world of difference between rebuilding a country to fit its inhabitants, and destroying it. But whenever someone rises to defend the particular interests of his nationality or his people, he is immediately branded a separatist, and this does away with any difference between that and the opportunity to
improve this country, on the basis of separate entities that are nonetheless willing to closely co-operate to promote everyone's well-being.
It is utterly ridiculous and irrational to think we will solve the Canadian problem with references to opportunities for bilingualism in B.C. It is just as ridiculous and irrational to think we will solve that problem with opportunities for total bilingualism in the Trois-Rivieres area. Mr. Speaker, let us be serious. We must see things as they are. This is the reason why today, if we want to build a Canada that will really fit our respective aims as Anglophones or Francophones, we must be objective not to fall into animosity and bickering. Unfortunately, there are no other words to qualify this legislation.
Yesterday, I listened to the comments made by the Minister of Communications (Mrs. Sauve). Hers was a vindictive contribution glowing with animosity, if not hatred, and she said things that were untrue if not clearly irresponsible. I feel it is unworthy of someone from the cabinet to find nothing better, in defence of a piece of legislation put forward by the government, than politicking and electioneering against a certain party in a certain province.
In her speech, the minister, for instance, stated that the present premier of Quebec was purposely trying to foster confusion. She went on and on along this line, talking about confusion as if this whole bill was not itself adding to the present confusion. It will be absolutely indescribable and it can create such a turmoil that it could end up jeopardizing peace and order in our country. There is confusion, indeed. This government is looking for it and is creating it. The minister said, for instance, that the Premier of Quebec was confused and dishonest when he was pretending he was following the same line as his predecessors.
Mr. Speaker, I still remember in 1960 and 1962 Mr. Lesage's fantastic team in Quebec, a team which had been elected because it went much further than the Duplessis government had ever gone before on the road to autonomy. They went as far as using, in 1962, the slogan "Masters at home" which became the leitmotiv of the Liberals in Quebec. In 1966, Mr. Daniel Johnson following the same line went even further and declared: "What Quebec wants is equality and if ever Ottawa denies us this equality, we will have to consider independence." Everybody knows it, and why is it that the hon. Minister of Communications does not know it? All this led to the victory of the Parti Quebecois in 1976. Their objective was to reshape and restructure the country so that Quebeckers would have absolute control in all areas under their jurisdiction and be able to influence the development of their province and work toward its cultural and social fulfilment. With this objective in mind, they say that this country must be reinvented and that its component parts should be
January 31, 1979
given sovereignty within an association which will create a new Canada, truly reflecting the national realities of the country.
What is so scandalous about it? What is so scandalous when one knows, Mr. Speaker, that we are the thirteenth generation descending from the French settlers who came here in Canada? I do not have any complex with respect to anyone whatsoever. I feel at home in Quebec, I feel at home in this country and at one point, without overriding anyone's rights, I declare that I want 100 per cent respect as I want to fully respect my own partners and to blame me for that, Mr. Speaker, would be just the same as to blame me for loving my own mother and my own father, because if I am a Quebecker today, Mr. Speaker, it is because I was born in Saint-Casimir, in the riding of Champlain, and that is that. If I had been born in Moscow, I would be a Russian; if I had been born in Rome, I would be an Italian, if I had been born in British Columbia, I would be very pleased, I would be a good English-speaking Canadian. Mr. Speaker, let us face the facts. Let us stop making the situation even more complicated in prejudging what is going to happen and looking for evil intentions and objectives which exist only in the mind of some poor frustrated people.
And we have before us a frustrated government that, on November 15, 1976, lost its head and managed to devalue our Canadian dollar from $1 to 82 or 83 cents compared to the U.S. dollar. A government that, for the sake of revenge, caused a flight of capital not only in the province of Quebec but throughout Canada, a mean and small government that tries to destroy our country when we only wish to establish harmony in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, as long as this government will speak with so much hatred and animosity, which is totally inadmissible from a government, from people who should be above all partisanship, there will be confusion like the minister said. We might laugh at the cat and mouse game the government is playing if the consequences were not so sad. In fact, we are studying a bill in case something should happen in Quebec. We never know! What if Quebeckers answer yes instead of no? Just in case the province of Quebec answers yes, we are drafting legislation in such a way that we too will answer yes just to oppose the other government. We are asked to take part in those childish manoeuvres and to give our support to this bill.
I understand perfectly the members of the official opposition who are against it as well as those of the Social Credit party. Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly normal. Why do they want us to take part in the four-ring circus? Why do they want us to play that little game where they say: In case they found the answer we are going to take it from them? Mr. Speaker, it is terrible. I understand my friends opposite who wish to expedite the matter. But, Mr. Speaker, I did not want to let this go by without making those few remarks and now I am going to give objective evidence of what I am saying.
A brief analysis of the report of the Pepin-Robarts commission, Mr. Speaker, forces us once again to realize that the personalities appointed by the government itself-although admittedly it had some difficulty in finding them, especially in Quebec-after making a survey of the situation all across Canada could do nothing but add to the objective conclusions one must inevitably come to. But, here again, what was the reaction of the Prime Minister? He immediately said his friend, Mr. Pepin, was naive; he said so right off the bat, without thinking-
Subtopic: CANADA REFERENDUM ACT
January 31, 1979
Someone across the way says it is true. See what I mean! So, the personalities appointed by this government come to the obvious conclusions. That task force was appointed to-It would appear that the Prime Minister wanted the commissioners to support his own views. In other words, the task force would have been appointed only to satisfy the egotistical wish of the Prime Minister to see a supposedly objective commission come to the same conclusions as he.
Since this is impossible since the Prime Minister and the present government are the only ones to support a position which is quite close to an absolute status quo which is totally inadequate for the solutions needed at this time. These public figures, Mr. Speaker, recognized the facts in their objective report, and as long as the members opposite will not recognize them as well, they will not be able to come up with a solution. The facts must first be acknowledged. With regard to confederation, the commissioners state on page 16:
"Ottawa," as we found on our tour, is for many Canadians synonymous with all that is to be deplored about modern government-a remote, shambling bureaucracy that exacts tribute from its subjects and gives little in return.
Mr. Speaker the team we have had in front of us for ten years now has managed to create that image of the federal government across the country, not only in Quebec. Here is the saviour of Canadian unity. They are the ones who put such ideas in the minds of people.
Mr. Speaker, as things stand, referendums will not settle anything. And if the Quebec government has already made a mistake by calling for a referendum, and I say "if', why is this government trying to do better by wanting a referendum also?
Allow me to quote once again the first part of the report where the commissioners say this:
The election of the Parti Quebecois, and all that it entails, has compelled or allowed Canadians to confront problems which they would have been obliged to face sooner or later. It would be foolish for Canadians to think of the challenge which lies ahead solely in terms of the forthcoming referendum on the independence of Quebec. A victory for the federalist cause in the referendum will accomplish little, if no effort is made to address the sources of discontent which have occasioned it.
Mr. Speaker, those proposals go clearly against this stupid and ridiculous piece of legislation which only show the petti-
January 31, 1979
ness and narrow-mindedness of its drafters. Mr. Speaker, if the commissioners reached such conclusions and dared state them, it must be kept in mind that normally they are prejudiced in favour of the government's position and in spite of this, faced with the facts and the plain truth, they are compelled, for the sake of intellectual honesty, to bring down such conclusions.
I did not have to wait for the task force report to say what I am saying now, because obviously I have always tried to reflect in the House the Quebec reality as it is. I repeat once more that on the night of November 15, 1976, there was at least one federal member who was not surprised, and it was the member for Champlain. I knew that the pride and dignity of an entire people could not be confined and restricted indefinitely. And if this pride and dignity is now ready to take a concrete form in a new Canadian context, what is wrong with that?
Let us now talk in a positive way instead of always talking negatively and let us start talking about restructuring this country. Throughout the report, the commissioners not only refer to cultural and ethnic duality, but they also deal at length with regionalisms.
Mr. Speaker, I wrote a book on that because it seems so obvious to me that in this country you have to take into account the geographical distribution, demographic entities as such and the economic interests that stem from it. It is quite obvious that this country is made up of five separate regions that could be associated in a new Canada. I think that suggestion I have been making for a long time is borne out in that report and I believe we should not be afraid of identifying the real sores to find the real solutions. As I say, and I want to be clear on that, I do not want to be 25 per cent or 33VA per cent of Canada.
What Quebeckers and French Canadians want is just to be equal in this country. And if my friends opposite are satisfied with being nonentities, I, Mr. Speaker, will not accept anything short of total equality in this country without wanting to take anything away from anyone. Only by moving toward that objective of equality and thinking about restructuring this country, always in that broad dimension, but within geographical, demographic and economic limitations shall we be able to find proper solutions, I am sure. But if from the outset you reject any solution that closely or remotely resembles the one advocated at this time by a ruling government, that is just electioneering. We should be responsible and decent enough to avoid displaying-at least in this House-that cheap electioneering which is the cause of many problems.
Mr. Speaker, I conclude by saying that it is increasingly urgent and essential to have a positive attitude when considering the future of this country. The government would have to change entirely its attitude by withdrawing such a bill that only proves his animosity, and shows his intention to fight a government with counteracting legislation. If you want to fight
an election campaign against the Parti Quebecois, then wait until an election is called in Quebec, and then go out and fight that government. It is despicable to use this parliament as a tool for vengeance. As worthy members of this House we should not take advantage of our power to legislate to go against the democratic will of any part of this country which, in this case, happens to be a people. That is just being mean, and the culprits are defeating their own purpose.
Yesterday I received telephone calls from people in federal political parties in Quebec and they were simply telling me: "We have just realized you were right". There is nothing to be done in this country. Other solutions have to be found if the Liberals are there. Therefore, we must get rid of these people in the next election and replace them with more responsible people who will know how to see the facts as they are in order to reach the goals and ideals of every Canadian. Therefore it is with this approach and these intentions that we should legislate in this House. And I feel insulted, Mr. Speaker, to think that I am being asked to co-operate and give my consent to a bill which only serves to satisfy some petty resentment. I simply wanted today to make known the views of my constituents and, I am sure, of the vast majority of Quebeckers who refuse to be insulted again in this way and who had enough of these methods. I hope they will have the opportunity to show it pretty soon in an election.
Subtopic: CANADA REFERENDUM ACT