Canada coa_shield

Debate concerning Bill C-10,
An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate term limits)

Extract from the Hansard, 40th Parliament, 3rd session: April 29, 2010  2

The House resumed from April 29  3

Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood–Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-10.  4

The first part of the debate started yesterday. We have had a very interesting debate. The minister was here and participated in the debate yesterday. We welcome that. It is the second time this week that we have had ministers from the government in attendance, and I think that is a very positive sign.  4-1

This is actually the fourth time that the government has tried to bring in this type of a bill to limit Senate terms, and I think this time could be the lucky time. I must tell the President of the Treasury Board that it all depends on several things, such as whether the government tries to engineer another election or whether it prorogues Parliament. That is why the bill did not make as far as it could have the last two times. Perhaps the first time around there were some other forces that scuttled his bill, but certainly the last two times it was self-inflicted.  4-2

As our critic, the member for Hamilton Centre, pointed out yesterday, we have no problem with this bill and with this concept. For many years now our party has been solidly on the record as being in favour of the abolition of the Senate. At this point in our history, I think many of us believe that incrementalism may in fact be the answer here. If we can chisel away at this structure a little bit at the time, we might get it into a better form than it is. For that reason, we think this is a positive step.  4-3

Eight years seems like a fairly long time for Senators to serve. Under an ideal structure, if we were to be electing Senators, we would more than likely want to be electing them on a five year cycle, like the members of the House, and maybe in alternate years so we did not have a total and complete transfer of political power in the country in one election cycle. We could build it like it is done in the United States over a two year cycle.  4-4

That is not what we are dealing with here because we have the constitutional requirements of the country. The government has nibbled around the problem sufficiently to be able to confidently propose this particular bill with the knowledge that this will in fact be constitutional, regardless of what the Liberals keep referring to, that they want to send it off to the Supreme Court. That would buy them another 10 or 20 years.  4-5

The fact is the government is on pretty solid grounds to make this particular incremental change to the Senate. What is exciting about the whole process at the end of the day is that some of the provinces are electing their own Senators. I believe Alberta has been electing their own Senators, but Saskatchewan and now Manitoba are planning to follow suit.  4-6

I do have the November 2009 report from the Manitoba all-party special committee on Senate reform. The President of the Treasury Board understands how Manitoba has worked in a minority government. He was there for that period. He knows that under the former Filman government and under the Doer government for the last 10 years, Manitoba's solution to many very controversial problems has been to resolve it through an all-party process.  4-7

We did that with the smoking in public places issue, which I believe was actually an issue introduced by one of the Conservative backbenchers at the time in opposition. We dealt with this issue very effectively during Meech Lake as well.  4-8

I once again encourage the government to look at a model that has worked in the past in other provinces.  4-9

What the legislative committee came up with was fairly interesting because it consulted broadly in the process. The mandate of the committee referred to the fact that the federal government would be moving forward with Senate reform and in response Manitoba would establish an all-party committee to ask Manitobans how senators should be elected.  4-10

The federal government asked the provinces to consult and asked for input on Senate selection. The all-party process on consultations reflected Manitoba legislation passed in 2006 and I will get to that fairly soon.  4-11

It is timely to move forward because the legislation to create an eight year term limit for senators was introduced recently in Parliament.  4-12

For the public who are watching, the fact that we are simply limiting Senate terms is not being done entirely in isolation. There are other things being done across the country.  4-13

The act to establish the committee was also set out in that particular mandate. The committee considered matters relating to the election of senators from Manitoba, the manner in which an election of senators should be conducted, including whether senators should be elected using proportional representation or any other type of voting. Therefore, we did not prejudge the situation and limit it to one option. We left it wide open and ensured that the election of senators would result in better representation for all the regions of Manitoba.  4-14

Once again, it was chosen by a fairly large all-party committee. There was a seven person subcommittee that was set up as well. It had public meetings all over Manitoba, in Brandon, Carman, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Norway House, Russell, St. Laurent, Steinbach and Winnipeg. It advertised these meetings on websites rather broadly actually. At the end of the day there were 51 presentations at the public hearings. There were 31 written submissions sent.  4-15

As I indicated before, on June 13, 2006, Bill 22, the election reform act was approved by all parties in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. The act stated that if it was not to be abolished, the Senate should consist of democratically elected members rather than members appointed by a process involving patronage appointments.  4-16

The Manitoba Senate was abolished in 1875 and a single legislative assembly has served the province well since then. I have never heard anyone in Manitoba ever asking me to bring back the Senate. As a matter of fact, I have never heard of anyone in my constituency, over 23 years as a provincial MLA, even knowing there was a Senate in Manitoba. It disappeared in 1875. It has been long forgotten and no one is concerned about it. So we would not want to be entertaining ideas of reconstituting a Senate in Manitoba. We have to deal with the one we have right now. That is the problem.  4-17

There was a clear consensus that evolved out of this particular process. The recommendations were that if the federal government moved forward on its commitments, elections would be held in the province of Manitoba to elect nominees to the Senate and forwarded to Ottawa. Elections would be administered through Elections Canada with the cost being the responsibility of the federal government. The method of voting would be first past the post.  4-18

That is controversial even in my own caucus. There are a number of people who are very strong supporters of proportional representation and there are some valid arguments for that proposal as well, but the Manitoba all-party committee, after hearing presentations, after discussing the whole issue of PR and other methods, decided that it would prefer the first past the post.  4-19

There should be a regional representation among Manitoba's allotment of six Senate seats. The committee took the six Senate seats for Manitoba and applied three to Winnipeg, which has actually more than 50% of the population, two in southern Manitoba, and one in the north.  4-20

Elections would be held in each of the regions. The persons with the most votes in each region would be placed on the list of nominees that would be submitted to the prime minister. Once again, the current proposal of an eight year term limit by the federal government is in keeping with what was heard from the presenters.  4-21

Regardless of my views on whether eight years is enough or not enough, the committee in Manitoba certainly was endorsing the eight year option. I understand that the Liberals are looking at a 12 year or 15 year option and it seems to me that they are probably just grasping at straws in this case. I actually feel the Liberals will maybe for the wrong reasons change their minds on this bill and support it as well because they are losing influence in the Senate.  4-22

The Conservatives are now, I believe, in a majority situation, not by much, but fairly close. Even when Liberals, on their good days, look at the Senate situation, they too will recognize there are some serious problems in appointing people on a lifetime basis.  4-23

Our critic, the member for Hamilton Centre, dealt with this issue brilliantly yesterday and for those who were here to hear his speech, it was certainly one for the ages. It was an excellent speech. He had the House rocking. He looked at the preamble of the bill and read it:  4-24

WHEREAS Parliament wishes to maintain the essential characteristics of the Senate within Canada’s parliamentary democracy as a chamber of independent, sober second thought.  4-25

He went on to detail the history of the Senate and how it is such a joke, that people would view this body as a chamber of independence. He pointed out that the government has a leader in the Senate. There are caucus meetings in the Senate. The senators participate and agree on strategies in the Senate. Even so, the Senate is loaded with political operatives. It is blatantly obvious that senators do not even try to hide the fact.  4-26

When John Turner was running against Brian Mulroney, Brian Mulroney was able to change the debate and flow of the election by attacking him for going along with the final Trudeau Senate appointments, which were just blatantly patronage appointments. I do not have the list of the recent Conservative appointments, but they are not any different than the Liberal appointments. We have a senator from Manitoba who was the national president or national director of the PC Party and guess what, he is one of the appointments to the Senate.  4-27

As was pointed out by one of the speakers yesterday, basically the entire Conservative national campaign team, including fundraisers and the whole gang, have been appointed to the Senate. The only difference from Liberal days is that they are there for eight years as opposed to, as the Minister of State for Democratic Reform pointed out, a maximum of 45 years, up until age 75. So there are eight year appointments in place.  4-28

In the Senate, as we speak, there could be a campaign committee strategy session of the Conservative Party of Canada over there because the players have all moved from the party over to the Senate. So the senators are travelling around the country, totally unaccountable, as the member for Hamilton Centre pointed out yesterday. They do not have public meetings.  4-29

I remember appearing before a Senate committee a number of years ago in Manitoba. So I know the Senate is active and that it does have hearings on issues. It has bills, like we do, and it deals with the process. However, from a public point of view, rarely do we see senators in the media dealing with issues. We do not see them having public meetings on issues or leading any sort of political discourse in this country. The result is that the public becomes very cynical.  4-30

If we were to ask people in Manitoba to name their senators, I do not think they could, other than Senator Carstairs who they know because she was the Liberal leader who took the party from obscurity to prominence in 1988 for a two-year period and then took it back to non-prominence. However, she is in the Senate and she might register on a poll asking people who their Manitoba senators are. However, I guarantee members that without mentioning the names of the senators, literally nobody will know who their senators are. Clearly, that is not even healthy for the senators. I can imagine how desolate it must be for them to be appointed to a body for 20 or 30 years and find out that nobody knows who they are and nobody cares and they do not really do anything. I have not talked to any senators about it but they must have some questions about this role themselves.  4-31

I know there have been initiatives in the Senate in the past to make themselves more relevant in the process but I do not think the public will ever agree that the Senate is in a position to reform itself. As dedicated as some of the senators might be to cause reforms to occur to their own structure, there is a believability gap there. The public will not believe that the Senate, at the end of the day, will make any fundamental break with the past. That is what the hunger is for out there in the population.  4-32

I draw members attention back to what some members of the Conservative backbench members might refer to as the “good old days” when Preston Manning was leading the charge about 20 years ago. I refer members to the triple-E Senate where the Reform Party wanted an elected Senate, an equal Senate and an effective Senate. It did make a lot of waves and had a lot of support right across the country, but particularly in western Canada where the concept started, for the idea.  4-33

I think it was during that period of time when people started to think that the idea of abolition was not the only answer. Up until that period, I think it was either a choice of living with what was there or, if we did not like it, to simply change the party in power so it would appoint a new brand of senator. However, they were either red ones or they were blue ones. Abolition was the only option at that time for people who wanted to do something with the Senate.  4-34

It was only when the triple-E people came in with their idea that a number of people who were only interested in opposition at that point started to change their attention to the triple-E idea as a different option. However, then they found that would not fly either because of the constitutional implications in the concept.  4-35

That is where we sit with this. I recognize that the government is moving ahead in a tentative fashion because it cannot push those constitutional bounds. It is also trying to do this because it has been frustrated for four years. It has not been able to get its legislative agenda through the Senate and this is one way for the government to try to clear the roadblock and enable it to function. The problem is that if the government does not get these reforms now it may get comfortable with the system the way it is and then change will stop.  4-36

Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Democratic Reform), CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is a little ironic that a member of the NDP would criticize the people who supported the triple-E Senate for being in opposition in perpetuity.  5

The fact is that the NDP is well established in saying that it would like the abolition of the Senate, which is fine, but that will not happen any time soon because of the obvious constitutional obligations and so on.  5-1

The government is taking a step by step approach that is within the purview of Parliament. The eight-year non-renewable limit is one of those things, and I appreciate the NDP supporting that.  5-2

The senatorial selection act, which was introduced in the other place, would allow people to have a direct say in who the nominees for the Senate would be. The NDP provincial government said that it would look into this, which it has with a bipartisan committee. This would give even the NDP the opportunity to run candidates for the Senate within eight years if both pieces of legislation go through as planned.  5-3

Why would the member not support Senate selection when he does support the eight-year term limit?  5-4

Mr. Jim Maloway: Mr. Speaker, I will ignore the member's first criticism.  6

The member is part of the government that chooses the pieces of legislation that it sees fit to put before the House. We are the opposition and we will decide whether we like legislation or whether we will amend it.  6-1

Our critic and I have said that we are willing to support the legislation and get it to committee. I am not certain whether there will be amendments at that point but, on the surface, I do not have a problem with the bill. As a long-term abolitionist of the Senate, I still hold that view but I am prepared to see incrementalism take its course here and see what comes out of this particular bill.  6-2

It is just a fact of life that in 2006 the Manitoba government moved ahead in anticipation of this and set up an all party committee, which has worked well on a number of issues. It has passed its set of rules, which first past the post will be the way it will do it. It will have three seats in Manitoba, two in southern Manitoba and one up north.  6-3

The Government of Saskatchewan, which I understand is doing roughly the same thing, may have a different take on it. It will elect its senators in the way it wishes to do it. As the member knows, Alberta was the first province to do this.  6-4

I was not criticizing the triple-E Senate people. I was just saying that up until they came around, abolition was the only option. When they came around, a number of people said that since we cannot get rid of the Senate that maybe the triple-E is a good idea. They then found out after a certain period of time that that idea would not fly because they ran up against the Constitution.  6-5

I am not precluding anything here to the minister. I am just happy he is here asking questions. All I can say is just bring on the bills and if we can support them we will and if we cannot we will tell the government why.  6-6

Mr. Guy André (Berthier–Maskinongé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the NDP member's speech, and I would like to ask him a question.  7

Bill C-10 is moving ahead in the House of Commons. The government introduced this bill without consulting the Quebec nation or the provinces. Quebec will certainly mount a challenge, and other provinces likely will as well. This issue will wind up in the Supreme Court. Once again, we represent our supporters and the people of the provinces and Quebec at the federal level, and we are having to debate a bill the government introduced without consulting the provinces or Quebec at all.  7-1

I would like the NDP member to explain why the members of his party are going to go ahead and study this bill in committee when it should not even be before the House. Quebec and the provinces should have been consulted before Bill C-10 was introduced.  7-2

Mr. Jim Maloway: Mr. Speaker, I agree with my good friend on a lot of political points but there are some on which I do not agree. I think the public is eager and hungry for change here and this could be a very popular move. I do not think that even the members of the Bloc would object to senators being elected by the people. I think their objection would be that this may run up against the Constitution. They may be right but I do not think so.  8

The minister pointed out that in the past 143 years there has only been one change to the Senate and that was in 1965 when the age of retirement was limited to 75 years where it had previously been unlimited. It is clear that the House can make certain decisions and the government obviously contends that this is one of them. I tend to agree with it. This should be one of the changes that the government should be allowed to make.  8-1

Where we get into the constitutional question is when there is more fundamental change to the structure. On that basis, I think the Bloc member may be right. If the government were making more fundamental changes, perhaps there would be room for a court challenge, but this is not, to my mind, a huge change that would require a challenge to the courts. The members say that may happen, and it may at the end of the day, but it also may not.  8-2

Yesterday the Liberals mentioned that they think there could be a court challenge here. On the other hand, they are saying that they might be able to go along with this bill if we were to limit it to 15-year terms. I think the Liberals are holding their cards open here and in that way they can win either way. Their argument is that if it is going to go through, they want to have a 15-year term. They are thinking that if they get it thrown over to the courts it will be another 10 or 15 year delay. However, when they lose their majority in the Senate, watch them change their view on that. Then they will be complaining that the Conservatives are dominating the Senate, ramming legislation through and being unfair to them. I think the Liberals, in particular, are in a very difficult, dicey situation here because no matter which way they turn they have a problem.  8-3

Mr. Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the only practical reason I can see for the NDP to support this particular motion is that perhaps when we are government in eight years we will want to see some changes in the Senate. Quite obviously, having a much more progressive legislative agenda than the House has ever seen, we would be having a lot of trouble with the people over in that house.  9

I will get back to the elected issue, which is the second phase of the Conservative plan. The arguments right now are regional based. We have a different system in this country than in the United States. If we had two houses elected here, we would have big trouble. We have strong provincial governments that represent themselves well and have very strong powers under our Constitution. They do not need the protection of another house here.  9-1

What the federal government needs is strength in order to provide national leadership. With an elected Senate, I am afraid that we would end up being stalemated on so many issues that are of national scope and yet regional concerns always play the biggest card. For that, I would never support an elected Senate.  9-2

Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-10, which would limit senators' terms to eight years. I am certain that in opposing this bill, the Bloc Québécois is like a goaltender, defending the interests and values of Quebec. I would even say we are the Halaks of this House.  10

To my way of thinking, the NDP member who just spoke is somewhat naive about the Conservative strategy. On its own, Bill C-10 may seem like a relatively minor change, but together with the bill currently before the Senate that would require that an election be held before a senator's name is placed on a list, it represents major changes in the nature of the Senate.  10-1

The position of the Government of Quebec, which was outlined by Benoît Pelletier when he was minister for Canadian intergovernmental affairs, is that these changes require constitutional negotiations with the provinces and Quebec. The government cannot get around that.  10-2

I find it rather deplorable that the government thinks Bill C-10 is acceptable, when another bill concerning the Senate is currently being examined in the other place.  10-3

Then there is Bill C-12, which would marginalize Quebec's political influence. Together, these three bills call into question the 1867 Confederation agreement. This is fundamental, and I would even say this is major. If Bill C-10 and the two other bills I mentioned are passed, it would be a clear sign to the Quebec nation that it has no future within the Canadian federation, and that it might be time to step up and move towards sovereignty, in order to take full control over its future.  10-4

We cannot consider debating Bill C-10 without considering the bill that is before the Senate and Bill C-12, which we will probably be examining next week. We are therefore not in favour of this bill, because we want such changes to be the result of constitutional negotiations with the provinces and Quebec.  10-5

The Conservative government is trying to indirectly do what it cannot do directly by slowly bringing in its Senate reforms, in an attempt to turn it into a chamber that is more legitimate than it is right now. It wants to ensure not only that Quebec is even more marginalized in the House of Commons, but also that all senators from across Canada can speak in the Senate with much more political legitimacy. We will be oppose that fiercely. The former minister of Canadian intergovernmental affairs, Benoît Pelletier, was very clear in 2007. He appeared before the legislative committee to speak about Quebec's traditional position:  10-6

The Government of Quebec does not believe that this falls exclusively under federal jurisdiction. Given that the Senate is a crucial part of the Canadian federal compromise, it is clear to us that under the Constitution Act, 1982, and the Regional Veto Act, the Senate can be neither reformed nor abolished without Quebec's consent.  10-7

That was in a press release issued by Quebec's Canadian intergovernmental affairs minister on November 7, 2007. It could not be more clear. Our position is that we want to abolish the Senate, and I believe that that was, until quite recently, the opinion of the NDP as well.  10-8

I remember that, seeing that his Senate reform would not get through, the Prime Minister started threatening the Liberals by saying that he would abolish the Senate. I do not know if he was also threatening the NDP. The problem is that if the Prime Minister wants to abolish the Senate, he will have to undertake constitutional negotiations with the provinces and Quebec.  10-9

Surely Quebec will want to ensure that in such an important reform of federal institutions, its relative political weight—and I am talking here about the 24.3%, not the 75 members—remains the same, regardless of the changes made to the Senate or to the number of seats in the House of Commons.  10-10

In fact, the same day, that is November 7, 2007, the National Assembly unanimously passed the following motion: “That the National Assembly of Québec reaffirm to the Federal Government and to the Parliament of Canada that no modification to the Canadian Senate may be carried out without the consent of the Government of Québec and the National Assembly.”  10-11

So it is not only sovereignist members who share this opinion, but federalist members from Quebec as well. Everybody in Quebec agrees that the change to the Senate, in fact both changes proposed by the Conservative government require constitutional negotiations despite the ruse employed by the Conservatives.  10-12

When the Conservatives realized that their first bill on public consultation to create a pool of candidates from which the Prime Minister would appoint senators would not get through because the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois were opposed to it, for completely different reasons, they decided to make a small change. The Liberals wanted the rights of their senators to be grandfathered. The NDP wanted the Senate abolished and was wondering why we should change in any way an institution that it wants to see abolished. As for us, we were adamant that such changes could not be made without constitutional negotiations. We will have the opportunity to discuss this further when the Senate is done studying this bill.  10-13

The Conservatives have made it optional. The provinces that do not wish to set up an electoral process to consult the people about who should be in the pool of potential senators will have to live with the current practice, partisan appointments by the Prime Minister.  10-14

They are attempting, through the back door, to apply pressure to implement a general practice that will become a constitutional convention. Subsequent prime ministers will appoint Senate candidates chosen by popular consultation. Why pick the second, third or fourth candidate when the first garnered the most votes?  10-15

We will end up with senators elected for a term of eight years. Perhaps the Conservatives will eventually introduce another bill to reduce the term to four years. It is very possible that in 10 or 15 years we will end up with two chambers, the House of Commons and the Senate, with elected members and elected senators. It would act as a counterweight to the presence of Quebec in the House, already under attack with Bill C-12.  10-16

We are not naive. The Conservatives' game plan is obvious and we will oppose Bills C-10 and C-12 with respect to the bill being studied by the Senate.  10-17

The Conservatives' game plan is clear because, for a long time, we have been hearing the Prime Minister promise his electoral base in the west that there will be a triple E Senate, one that will be equal, elected, and effective. That is the Conservatives' project. Given that their project is not going over well, they will resort to getting it in through the back door, as is their custom. They will do indirectly what they have been unable to do directly.  10-18

I will give another example to show that this is not the exception, but the rule. According to the Constitution, securities commissions are clearly the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. What is the Conservative government doing? It says it is putting in place a single pan-Canadian organization and telling dissenting provincial securities commissions that if they do not want its system, they can keep their own.  10-19

We know very well that, with a single securities regulator, there will be a great deal of pressure to integrate dissenting provincial commissions into this process. We are not naive.  10-20

Having said that, I am convinced that Quebec will fight until the last, until the moment it decides to become sovereign, because abandoning this important lever is out of the question.  10-21

What will happen to Alberta, which is opposed to this? I think we all agree that Alberta is not its own nation. It is part of the Canadian nation. Companies in Alberta would most likely prefer one commission instead of having to register twice, once in Alberta and once in Toronto to get a licence from the minister of finance. A single Canadian securities commission would slowly be built, even though the Constitution is very clear on this subject.  10-22

They are going about this indirectly because they cannot do it directly. As I said earlier, protecting our securities commission, from now on known as the Autorité des marchés financiers, is not the problem. We will maintain it no matter what, because when Quebec is a sovereign nation, we will need this type of authority to ensure that businesses have access to Quebec's financial market. We will make agreements, as is usually the case, with this Canadian securities commission if we have to, but we will maintain our own.  10-23

We will be following the debate in Canada closely. The federal Conservative government must not, and this is exactly what we are worried about, make registration with a single Canadian commission mandatory while registration with Québec's Autorité des marchés financiers would be optional. That would put an end to this financial authority. I can assure my colleagues that it would be a fierce battle and a constant fight and that we would win in the end, in any case.  10-24

We are wary of these bills because we know what the Conservatives are up to: they always try to do indirectly what they cannot do directly. But that is not all. There is also their pathological refusal to recognize the Quebec nation. They will say that the House of Commons recognized the Quebec nation in November 2006. In reality, however, since then, every time we seek concrete expression of that recognition, the Conservatives totally and completely refuse, with the complicity of the Liberals most of the time and that of the NDP some of the time.  10-25

We understand that the interests of the Canadian nation are the main focus of most of the members in the House, and we do not hold that against them. However, they must also understand that the main focus of the Bloc Québécois members is defending the interests of the Quebec nation. It should be the same for all members from Quebec. Unfortunately, that is not the case. To repeat the comparison I made at the beginning of my speech for the benefit of my colleague from Saint-Bruno–Saint-Hubert, we are the Halaks of the House. In fact, Slovakia is a good example for us to follow.  10-26

As I was saying, the Conservatives have totally and completely refused to recognize the Quebec nation. We introduced a bill to ensure that the Charter of the French Language applies to enterprises under federal jurisdiction. This would include banks, interprovincial transportation, airports and telecommunication companies.  10-27

What was the response of most members of the House, representing the Canadian nation for the most part? They completely rejected it. I would point out that a few NDP members supported us, and I encourage them to continue on that path.  10-28

When we talk about Quebec culture, and again my colleague from Saint-Bruno–Saint-Hubert can attest to this, we are constantly told that Quebec culture is a regional culture of the broader Canadian culture.  10-29

We do not have a problem with the broader Canadian culture. However, we think that Quebec culture is the culture of the nation of Quebec and not a regional culture. Nonetheless, we are denied that at every turn and the way the arts budget is divvied up is a good example. Another example is the film industry, which is viewed as two entities in Canada: English-language film and French-language film. In fact, there are two types of films: Canadian films with a French-language minority and Quebec films with an English-language minority. This means that Quebec gets penalized in Telefilm Canada's budgets.  10-30

Culturally speaking, the government is once again refusing to recognize the nation of Quebec in the way Quebec integrates new arrivals into society. We know this is a challenge faced by all countries that welcome immigrants, such as Canada, Quebec, the United States and Great Britain. We have developed a unique approach in Quebec. It is not an Anglo-Saxon multicultural approach, which Canada has borrowed from Great Britain. Nor is it a U.S.-style melting pot approach, which does not seem to be producing the results American society had hoped for. It is not the republic adopted in France. It is a model we call inter-culturalism, where new arrivals are invited to enrich the common culture. There is only one common culture, though: it is the culture of Quebec with one official language, one common public language, and that is French.  10-31

By promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism, the Canadian nation is taking aim directly at the recognition of the Quebec nation and, in a way, interferes with our development and the harmonious integration of newcomers.  10-32

As we can see, this is very widespread. As a further example, I could talk about telecommunications, where the same thing is happening. We are prevented from having our own Quebec radio-television and telecommunications commission. Legislation to that effect is currently under consideration. Overflowing with optimism, I trust that this legislation will eventually be passed, that those members from the Quebec nation and from Quebec who just did not get it will see the light and understand that this is a necessary tool to ensure the cultural and linguistic development of Quebec.  10-33

A bill will soon be put to a vote, but the last time, it was flatly rejected. It is very interesting to note that Quebec established its radio-television and telecommunications commission before Canada created its own commission. Let us hope this will meet with approval, but again, I am not too confident.  10-34

Last I will address the refusal to give tangible expression to the recognition of the Quebec nation in the so-called economic action plan of the Conservatives, where they systematically ignored the needs of Quebec with respect to industries and regions that needed and still need help. I am thinking, of course, of the forestry sector, but the same is true of the aviation industry. A great deal of assistance was provided to the automotive industry—$10 billion—and we had no objection because it did need a shot in the arm. Why is it, however, that when it comes to industries concentrated in Quebec, we have to rely on the marketplace?  10-35

Yesterday, during question period, the Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec again said about the forestry crisis, the problems facing the pulp and paper industry, that the issue was just markets. As if the crisis in the automotive industry was not a market issue. If we saw fit to help the automotive industry, notwithstanding the market, we should also help the forestry industry and the aviation industry. On the one hand, Canadian interests are promoted and, on the other hand, the needs and interests of Quebeckers are ignored. That is something that is widespread.  10-36

Quebec is opposed to Bills C-10 and C-12 and to the bill that is currently being studied in the Senate. A motion regarding Bill C-12 was unanimously passed in the National Assembly last week. Quebec's government is a Liberal and therefore a federalist government. Its leader, Jean Charest, once sat in the House as a member of the Conservative Party. He was part of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform in 2007. In a memorandum from May 31, 2007 we read:  10-37

The Government of Quebec is not opposed to modernizing the Senate. [Obviously, that is the position of Quebec Liberals.] But if the aim is to alter the essential features of that institution, the only avenue is the initiation of a coordinated federal-provincial constitutional process that fully associates the constitutional players, one of them being Quebec, in the exercise of constituent authority.  10-38

On one hand, a piecemeal approach to reform is not acceptable. On the other hand, reform would require constitutional negotiations.  10-39

I will finish by quoting another excerpt from the Government of Quebec's report:  10-40

The Government of Quebec, with the unanimous support of the National Assembly, therefore requests the withdrawal of Bill C-43 [a bill proposing an elected Senate]. It also requests the suspension of proceedings on Bill S-4 [which became Bill C-19 and then Bill C-10 on Senate term limits, the bill before us now] so long as the federal government is planning to unilaterally transform the nature and role of the Senate.  10-41

My colleagues can rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will shoulder its responsibilities, just as we hope the Canadiens and Halak will do tonight.  10-42

Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Democratic Reform), CPC): Mr. Speaker, in his comments the member talked about many things.  11

Bill C-10 is about an eight-year non-renewable term limit. The member talked about representing the interests of Quebec, but in fact he does exactly the opposite. An eight-year non-renewable term would allow the Senate to be refreshed. It would bring new perspectives. It would strengthen Quebec's voice in the Senate.  11-1

Taking that in context with the senatorial selection act, which is a voluntary suggestion on the provinces to have direct consultation with the people of the province to say who would go to the Senate, it would greatly improve the representation that Quebec has in Parliament.  11-2

Bill C-10 is one step. It is the eight-year non-renewable term. It would allow for new perspectives from Quebec. It is within the Constitution, as Canada did it in 1965 in regard to term limits.  11-3

I would ask the member to be frank with Quebeckers. We live in the greatest country in the world, and the Bloc's objective is not to improve Quebec representation in Parliament but really to do anything that would lessen Quebec's representation in Parliament. At the end of the day, the Bloc is advocating zero seats in the House of Commons and zero seats in the Senate.  11-4

Mr. Pierre Paquette: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his question. I would also like to congratulate him on his article in Le Devoir this week. The article was quite profound.  12

As for Bill C-10, we are not naive. We understand very well that if it were only a question of Bill C-10 and there were no other bills, this reform by the Parliament of Canada would probably be acceptable, as was the reform to create an age limit of 75 for senators.  12-1

However, we know that Bill C-10 is part of a suite of other bills: the bill that is currently before the Senate, which first creates legitimacy through consulting the public and then leads to the actual election of senators. There is also Bill C-12, which aims to diminish Quebec's political weight in the House. Accordingly, Bill C-10 cannot be examined in isolation.  12-2

I would like to say to the minister quite frankly that if we were dealing only with Bill C-10 and there was nothing else on the sidelines, we would probably be willing to agree that the Canadian Parliament could carry out this reform, limiting terms to eight years. However, we must take into account the fact that Bill C-10 is not alone, that there is other legislation involved, and that the intent behind that legislation is unacceptable.  12-3

I will close by reminding my hon. colleagues that our position is the same as that of Daniel Johnson, Robert Bourassa and René Lévesque. It is the position defended by Gil Rémillard in the days of René Lévesque, as well as the position currently taken by Jean Charest: no major Senate reform—and once again I am taking both bills into account—without constitutional negotiations.  12-4

Mrs. Carole Lavallée (Saint-Bruno–Saint-Hubert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Joliette for his excellent and very informative presentation on Bill C-10. I have a question for him.  13

The minister of state says he wants to refresh the Senate, and I believe that everyone takes the same basic view that the Senate as it stands is not effective.  13.1

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about this: if the Senate wants to change, then why does it not change what it can before the government introduces a bill and makes a constitutional change? The Senate is the master of its own affairs, and it can change its practices as it sees fit.  13.2

The senators can be present, they can play an active role, they can be energetic, they can work hard, they can change things.  13.3

Why do the senators not start by making changes themselves? Why does the Conservative government appoint senators who are not in the Senate? Why is the government itself part of the problem?  13.4

Mr. Pierre Paquette: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saint-Bruno–Saint-Hubert for her question. I think she gave a good overview of the situation. Léger Marketing conducted a survey a month ago, in March 2010, and 20% of Quebeckers and 23% of Canadians opted not to respond because they did not know the role of the Senate. Roughly a quarter of the respondents said they did not know what the Senate was and could not answer the survey.  14

I would also point out that only 8% of Quebeckers want in-depth reform of the Senate, while 43% would prefer that the Senate be abolished. Basically, what Quebeckers want is for the Senate to be abolished, but as I said, this will require constitutional negotiations.  14-1

The Speaker:  15

When the bill comes back before the House, the hon. member for Joliette will have four minutes for questions and comments.  15-1

Mr. Andrew Kania (Brampton West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of addressing the House today on the issue of Senate reform and specifically with respect to Bill C-10. I would like to state that I do support Senate reform. I do support sending this bill to committee so that the issue can be studied in full. However, any type of Senate reform must be logical, democratic and constitutional. I do not believe that this bill fits any of those three criteria.  16

Why has there been no consultation with the provinces at all by the government? The Conservative Party espouses provincial rights. The Conservative Party talks about that and tries to compare and contrast with other parties. Why has the Conservative government ignored provincial rights? Why have the Conservatives not consulted them? Why is this bill so urgent that the government cannot consult the provinces in circumstances where it had a virtually identical bill, Bill S-7, that was introduced prior to prorogation?  16-1

The Conservatives had no difficulty suspending Parliament and killing that bill through prorogation, yet they must now take the position that this is so urgent that, although they killed the bill through prorogation, they now do not have time to consult the provinces with respect to this bill. I think that is wrong.  16-2

If the government does not even know if the provinces will support any amendments, notwithstanding what the government is trying to do, or if the provinces are prepared to support amendments, what type they would be, why are we taking the time of the House of Commons to deal with this? Should we not first know that the provinces will support this?  16-3

In order to get a meaningful constitutional amendment through, which I believe is what needs to occur and not simply this bill, we need the support of 50% of the population representing at least seven provinces. Even on a basis of good faith, I would like to know why the government has not taken the time to consult with the provinces to see whether there is that form of support across the country for this.  16-4

I mentioned three criteria. One criterion is democracy. Whenever somebody talks about Senate reform, they assume that they are proposing something that should be followed or that there is some urgent need for it. If we are going to do this, we should not make the situation worse. My fear is that an eight-year term would be a risk to democracy, not a benefit.  16-5

Various people have thought about this. The Senate is supposed to be a chamber of sober second thought. In order to get that, we need people with some institutional memory and experience who have been around for a reasonable period of time. More than that, we need to consider what they will do when they are there.  16-6

I would refer to an article written by David Akin which appeared in the press a couple of weeks ago. There are arguments against the eight-year term. The main argument is:  16-7

For example, under the terms of [the Prime Minister's] initial proposals, any Prime Minister representing any party would be able, over the course of only two Parliaments, to appoint – yes, appoint – senators to every one of the 105 Senate seats. Talk about a rubber stamp! Any semblance of the institution’s independence would be gone.  16-8

The first issue, especially in circumstances where we have had minority governments since at least 2006, is that it would be a risk to democracy to allow any sitting prime minister to, in theory, appoint the entire Senate through only two mandates.  16-9

In short, the Liberal Party is in favour of Senate reform, but we have to work in conjunction with the provinces to get there. We would like to know what our provincial partners think. We do not think it is appropriate to ignore them and not consult them, as the government has done.  16-10

In terms of the exact proposals, other comments have been made. From that same article, I quote:  16-11

The proposals by the present government, one to limit the terms of senators to eight years, and another for indirect senate elections, are not real or meaningful reform, in that they do not propose to alter the Constitution in any way. In fact, they have been painstakingly designed to avoid doing so.  16-12

If we are to have meaningful, long-term, democratic Senate reform, it requires consultations with the provinces to get that required 50% of the population with seven or more provinces, and we need to amend our constitution in a proper manner. Anything short of that, frankly, is unacceptable.  16-13

There is another comment in terms of Senate reform and limiting the terms. We already have the risk that we have discussed in terms of having one prime minister potentially appointing the entire chamber if the term is eight years, but there is another issue also. I would like to go to a journal article of UBC entitled “Transforming Canadians Governance Through Senate Reform Conference, April 18-19, 2007”.  16-14

There is another issue, and I think this is actually the more important issue. It is not so much what the terms are for the Senators. I support doing something about this. I am not against it, but once again, it has to be democratic, constitutional and logical.  16-15

The bigger issue is not the term, but the legitimacy of the Senate once in power, because as indicated, having reference to the United Kingdom's House of Lords, the issue is to keep the chamber bipartisan, so we actually get sober second thought, the main original goal of the Senate, and we have some check, some thought about the legislative agenda of the House of Commons. I will read from this article as well. On the question of legitimacy, and it is talking about a presentation, it states:  16-16

—stressed the legitimacy of the currently constituted House of Lords in the sense of broad public endorsement of an appointed chamber challenging the legislation of a popularly elected government. The secret, Meg Russell argued, was in the partisan balance maintained in an the appointment to the House of Lords, so that neither government nor opposition alone had the ability to control the chamber. Legitimacy came from independent—or at least bipartisan—action by a parliamentary chamber, not only from the mode in which members were selected.  16-17

In short, the problem with the proposal in this legislation is that in theory it gives the Prime Minister the power to appoint the entire chamber and there is no check on how that gets done. We need a method to ensure that the bipartisan, the rough balance that we have in the Senate, is maintained so all parties are represented and so it is not simply a government Senate chamber, whatever the government of the day may be.  16-18

If we deal with Senate reform and spend the time of the House of Commons and of a parliamentary committee, bring witnesses in and incur expenses, should we also not know that it is constitutional? Why is there no reference to the Supreme Court of Canada?  16-19

In 2006 the Prime Minister, when he appeared before the Senate committee speaking on Bill S-4, said, “The Government believes that S-4 is achievable through the action of Parliament itself”. This is not democratic, and I do not think it is even constitutional. We have scholars such as Alexandra Dobrowolsky, the chair of the Department of Political Sciences, St. Mary's University, who clearly says “that the failure to consult with the province violates the constitutional conventions”.  16-20

The Library of Parliament of Canada disagrees with the Prime Minister. I will quote from its writings on August 17, 2009:  16-21

There is, however, an involved debate as to whether the constitutional amendment procedures introduced in the Constitution Act, 1982 would allow Parliament to modify the main characteristics of the Senate without the consent of the provincial legislative assemblies. The Supreme Court has issued an opinion stating that Parliament does not have that authority, but the decision dates from 1980 and thus precedes the amendment mechanisms introduced in the Constitution Act, 1982. The question is therefore unresolved.  16-22

I do not think it is responsible for the government to go through this process without first consulting the provinces, as I have already indicated, but also knowing whether this is constitutional.  16-23

It is common sense to state that there should be a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada to make this determination rather than requiring persons after the fact to engage in lengthy and expensive litigation to challenge this. I anticipate that if this goes through, some group will challenge this, there will be such legislation and we will be tied up. Why not, since the Prime Minister has the power, simply refer this to the Supreme Court of Canada now and seek a ruling?  16-24

There is a certain irony in terms of what is occurring with these proposals. I am going to read three quotes. The first is, “Only candidates elected by the people will be named to the Upper House”. The second is, “the Upper House remains a dumping ground for the favoured cronies of the prime minister”. Both of those quotes in 2004 were from the Prime Minister.  16-26

Another quote from the Conservative Party was “A Conservative government will not appoint to the Senate anyone who does not have a mandate from the people”. I am sure Canadians will find that most ironic considering what has taken place.  16-27

Another example from May 28, 1996, the Reform Party opposition day motion speaking to it at paragraph 3049, stated:  16-27

The Reform Party proposal for a triple E Senate, a Senate which is elected by the people with equal representation from each province and which is fully effective in safeguarding regional interests would make the upper House accountable to Canadians. Implementing changes to the Constitution to provide for a triple E Senate, an extension of Alberta's Senatorial Selection Act into other provinces, is the best means to proceed in permitting Canada's regions to have a greater say in Ottawa and bring democratic accountability to government.  16-28

What happened to that? What happened to the positions of the government members when they were in opposition? Why are they not fulfilling their promises in seeking an attempt to bring meaningful Senate reform to Canada with consultations with our provincial partners? Why this legislation in this form? It is not democratic and it is quite ironic that the government is doing this considering its various prior statements.  16-29

In terms of other broken promises, I already read the quotes of the Prime Minister in terms of never appointing senators who have not been elected. I find it ironic that a record was broken with the Prime Minister appointing 27 senators in one year. There have now been 33 unelected senators appointed by the Prime Minister, despite very clear promises that he would never do that. That must go to the credibility of the government. Of course this is not the only promise that has been broken.  16-30

We also had the promises of income trusts, the public appointments commission, to never run deficits, to follow fixed election dates, which we know did not take place during the last election, and to not raise taxes, although we have a huge payroll tax, which, according to economists, will kill 200,000 plus jobs. This is just a litany of broken promises by the government that Canadians frankly need to know about.  16-31

Since this is under the democratic ministry, let us talk about democracy. With the 33 Senate appointments that the Prime Minister has made, let us examine them. These were not bipartisan appointments for the benefit of Canadians. Essentially these were Conservative mainly defeated candidates. I think Canadians need to know this.  16-32

I quote an article, once again by David Akin, of January 20, 2010. He states:  16-33

There is an irony to the appointments [the Prime Minister] has made that is not lost even on some of [the Prime Minister's] own advisers and supporters. As a young Reform party organizer and MP, [the Prime Minister] campaigned vigourously to make the Senate more independent of the prime minister. And yet, to create the Senate he wants, [the Prime Minister] now needs a Senate that will do precisely what he wants. 16-34

With the five members he is expected to appoint Friday, [the Prime Minister]—who once said he would never appoint senators—will have named 33 senators since taking office in 2006...  16-35

Who are those people? He goes on to state:  16-36

In fact, 20 of the 33 appointees were failed Conservative candidates, former political staff to Harper or the party, or were members of the Conservative party or its predecessor parties, the Reform party, the Progressive Conservative party and the Canadian Alliance.  16-37

I think Canadians have a right to know who those people are. This is the lost: Bert Brown, Reform Party organizer; Claude Carignan, failed Conservative candidate; Fred Dickson, adviser to former Nova Scotia Premier John Buchanan, a Progressive Conservation; Nicole Eaton, writer and community leader who chaired the Conservatives last two national conventions; Doug Finley, Conservative national campaign manager; Michael Fortier, co-chaired of Conservative national campaign; Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis, former Progressive Conservative MP; Stephen Greene, Reform Party staffer; Michael MacDonald, Conservative Party executive; Fabian Manning, former Conservative MP, lost re-election in 2008; Yonah Martin, failed Conservative candidate; Percy Mockler, New Brunswick Progressive Conservative; Richard Neufeld, provincial politician active in social credit reform and B.C. Liberal Party; Don Plett, former Conservative Party president; Michel Rivard, failed Canadian Alliance candidate; Judith Seidman, co-chaired the Prime Minister's 2003 leadership bid; Carolyn Stewart Olsen, long-time Prime Minister communication aid; and the last, John Wallace, failed Conservative candidate.  16-38

In terms of John Wallace, I will have to admit I know him. He is a good appointment. However, did the Prime Minister actually ask Senator Wallace before he was appointed to limit his term to eight years? Did he know this was coming? Senator Wallace gave up his lucrative business to come here. Maybe he should have asked him. Maybe that would have been fair. Maybe that would have been trustworthy.  16-39

There is a history here. Why are we dealing with this Senate reform package now? Obviously it was not urgent, because if it were so urgent, the government would not have killed it by proroguing Parliament, which also killed the legislation. It would have continued with Parliament to ensure this was taken care of before.  16-40

We do have urgent matters, though, that the government has sought to avoid by bringing forward this type of legislation, Senate reform at this stage. I am not saying we should not do this at some point, but why now? I have made this point in terms of the law and order legislation as well. Although I support almost all of it, why now? Why not deal with the issues that are urgent for Canadians when we are living through the worst recession since the last depression? Why now?  16-41

I am going to give one example. I have a top 10 list here that, frankly, the government should have dealt with already or should be dealing with, which it is seeking to avoid. This has nothing to do with the recent scandals and everything that has been going through question period. It has to do substantive issues that matter to Canadians for their ordinary daily lives. They are simply being ignored.  16-42

I sat in the transport committee this week, but I am not on the committee. I was shocked. In questioning pilots, as one example, members talked about these new SMS safety standards. In 2007 there were amendments to the Aeronautics Act contained in Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act. This would have clarified Transport Canada's authority to regulate SMS, enhanced the sharing of safety data with Transport Canada and provided protections for employees who reported safety concerns internally under SMS.  16-43

The pilots who testified clearly stated that this was something they needed, that it was important, that it was required for the safety of air passengers across Canada. How many Canadians travel on aircraft? Yet it has not been reintroduced and the pilots, who were before the committee, want it introduced. Why has that not been done rather than go through with this law and order legislation and go through Senate reform at this stage? Why not pick other meaningful things that should be dealt with for the benefit and safety of Canadians?  16-44

As I essentially have no time left, I will not have a chance to go through the entire list. That is one example, and there is a whole litany of those that have been ignored.  16-45

Mr. Dean Del Mastro (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech and frankly, I cannot understand why the member does not get it.  17

Confederation in this country occurred in 1867. The Senate is still stuck there. A lot has changed but not the Senate. It is still a place where political patronage extends for life.  17-1

What possible objection can the member have to Senate term limits? I just do not understand.  17-2

I can tell the House that in my riding my constituents want more democracy in this country. They want change in the Senate. Senate change must occur. Frankly, the member knows well why it has not occurred. He knows that for years and years, and decade after decade, the Liberal Party used the Senate as nothing more than a house of political patronage.  17-3

It is time to change. It is time to get into 2010. It is time for the member to stand for his constituents. It is time to stand for accountability. It is time to stand for democracy. It is time to stand for the Senate reform bill that is before the House.  17-4

Mr. Andrew Kania: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the hon. parliamentary secretary obviously did not have an opportunity to listen to my speech. Rhetoric does not solve the problem. Facts and figures do.  18

We talk about democracy. Could the Conservatives please explain why they have not consulted the provinces? We talk about risking democracy for an eight year term because in theory the Prime Minister could appoint the entire chamber and many independent persons have indicated that it would not be constitutional. What we really need is some method to ensure the bipartisan or balanced nature of the Senate. How is talking about democracy a response to that?  18-1

I am looking for reasoned responses and logic so we can actually debate the issues rather than debating conclusions and rhetoric.  18-2

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member about the concerns he has with the bill. He itemized and went through a role call of all the government's patronage appointments to the Senate. I heartily agree with the member that it is not the right way to go, but the question is this. Is the Liberal Party's position different from that?  19

I do not have to tell the House about how the other place has been treated by both the old line parties. It is a place to stuff one's friends; it is a reward system.  19-1

I hear the member's critique. We will listen to independent voices and references to the Supreme Court which is fine, but that is process. I would like to know from the member, what is the Liberal Party's position on the Senate? Is it fine the way it is? I do not think Canadians are in line with that. If not this, then what?  19-2

Mr. Andrew Kania: Mr. Speaker, I indicated that the Liberal Party's position is not that the Senate is fine in its current form. The Liberal Party's position is that it must be changed in a reasonable and logical manner, working together with the provinces.  20

If we are going to have meaningful change, it means actually doing something substantive, which means amending the Constitution of Canada in a method that the provinces will accept.  20-

The Liberal Party does not want to tell our provincial partners what is going to be done and then challenge them to go to the Supreme Court of Canada to seek a ruling that what the federal government has done is unconstitutional.  20-1

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Mr. Speaker, just to be clear because I want to take the answer the member has just provided to the next step.  21

I gather from his comments that the member agrees that there should be Senate reform. He thinks it is a good time right now in Canada, when the primary concern of most Canadians is the economy, although judging by the questions for the last month from the Leader of the Opposition we would not know that, to open up a constitutional debate in Canada. Would that not be wonderful?  21-1

Why not just move with simple democratic reform measures for the Senate now? He has the ability. He was elected in the last general election. He has the ability to be a proponent of change, to bring democracy, and to bring the Senate into the 21st century to represent the views of his constituents.  21-2

He is saying no. Here is a can of worms. Let us open this up right now while Canadians are concerned about the economy. Nonsense. This is a good bill and the member should support it.  21-3

Mr. Andrew Kania: Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is absolutely right. This is not the time to deal with Senate reform. If it is going to take place, it has to be legal, which means constitutional, which means consulting the provinces.  22

The government should instead be dealing with things like Kelowna and Copenhagen. We are an embarrassment on the international stage with respect to the environment.  22-1

The government should be looking at making EI changes to help individuals. It should be looking at affordable housing, day care, the huge deficit that we have, the Nortel bankruptcy and the ignoring of pensioners, the waste that we have, and the loss of 500,000 full-time jobs. It could also look at the Aeronautics Act that I just mentioned.  22-2

You are absolutely right. Now is the time to deal with issues that matter to Canadians, which are mainly economic issues. The reason you are not dealing with these things is because you do not want people to know that the Conservatives are bad economic managers.  22-3

The Deputy Speaker: I would just remind the hon. member for Brampton West to address his remarks through the chair and not directly at other members.  23

Questions and comments.  23-1

Mr. Dean Del Mastro: Mr. Speaker, we are economic managers who are leading the G8 in growth, economic managers who have just produced six consecutive month of economic growth, and economic managers who are creating jobs while other countries are still losing them.  24

Canadians see what this government is doing on the economy and they are impressed by it. I am very proud of this government's record on the economy. The Liberal Party has no record on the economy recently at all because the Leader of the Opposition has not asked a single question on it in at least a month.  24-1

Let us go back to the issue at hand. We have a bill before us for democratic reform, something that would put more power back in the hands of the people we serve. That is what we are here for. This is not just some place of process, just some place of patronage, some place that is removed from the people. We are the representatives of the people.  24-2

It is time to move the Senate forward to make it more accountable. The member mentioned senators that we have appointed recently. Those senators are committed to Senate change, committed to Canadians, committed to the initiatives that this party has undertaken to bring the Senate into the 21st century. The Senate offers great value to Canadians, of that I have no question.  24-3

We can do much better when we can bring democratic reform that each and every Canadian will appreciate. That member has that opportunity. He should support the bill.  24-4

Mr. Andrew Kania: Economic managers, Mr. Speaker. The Conservatives, under former Prime Minister Mulroney, left us with a deficit of approximately $43 billion, which the Liberal Party cleaned up when it was in office. Before the recession took place, the Conservatives gifted us with a deficit of approximately $14 billion. They took a $14 billion surplus and turned it into a $14 billion deficit.  25

The member talked about economic management. Recent independent information shows that the stimulus package is not working. We are going to have a $60 billion-plus deficit. Is this a gift for our children?  25-1

You talk about the loss of 500,000 jobs. Yes, some part-time jobs are being created. I do not think the people in my riding who want a full-time job are very impressed that they might, maybe if they are lucky, get a part-time job.  25-2

If you want to talk about economic management, then you should talk about day care. How are poor families supposed to work when they receive a taxable $100 per month for a child under six? Everybody knows that these people cannot afford that. For poor families--  25-3

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The time for the answer has come to a close.  26

I would just remind the hon. member to address his remarks through the chair and not directly at other members.  26-1

I would remind all members that we are at second reading on a bill regarding Senate reform. The Standing Orders regarding relevance do apply. While members may wander into other areas as they make their points, we should try to keep our questions, comments, and speeches directly on the subject-matter of the bill.  26-2

There is enough time for a very brief question or comment, perhaps 30 seconds. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.  26-3

Mr. Paul Dewar: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could speak to the fact that while this bill would put some parameters around the Senate, it is a problem in terms of how senators get there. In other words, there would still be this fundamental problem around the way senators, at the end of the day, even with this mechanism of local elections, are appointed.  27

Is this not really denying the fact that we need real Senate change and not just this incrementalism to get to a legitimate Senate?  27-1

Mr. Andrew Kania: Mr. Speaker, my friend is right. One of the quotes that I read said exactly that. UBC has already stated that this is not what should be taking place; it is not logical.  28

If we want to have true Senate reform, we need to amend the Constitution Act in consultation with our provincial partners. We should not be telling the provinces what they should be doing but rather working with them.  28-1

There are more important issues right now, such as the economic issues that I mentioned. They should take priority for the benefit of Canadians.  28-2

Mr. Guy André (Berthier–Maskinongé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose Bill C-10, which was introduced by the government to limit to eight years the tenure of senators who are summoned after October 14, 2008.  29

As a number of my Bloc colleagues have already explained, Bill C-10 does not take into consideration a unanimous motion passed by the Quebec National Assembly.  29-1

We are opposed to Bill C-10. Just as it does with Bill C-12—the side legislation to Bill C-10—which seeks to reduce the political weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons, the Conservative government wants to reform the Canadian Constitution without the consent of the Quebec government and its National Assembly. The Conservatives have the support of the Liberals who, unfortunately, still have not learned their lesson from the sponsorship scandal and the 1982 patriation of the Constitution. The government wants to ignore the powers of the Quebec nation and of all the provinces of Canada.  29-2

This attempt by the federal government to amend the Senate without consulting the Quebec government shows that it cares very little about the recognition, by the House of Commons, of the Quebec nation.  29-3

It is increasingly clear that this recognition was just an election strategy by the Conservative Party, which proposed the motion. Since the Conservative government recognized the existence of the Quebec nation, it has systematically targeted that nation—which it claims to have recognized—and rejected any proposal to give tangible expression to this recognition. It refuses to recognize the language of the Quebec nation, which is a francophone nation. Indeed, when the Bloc Québécois introduced legislation to this effect, the government refused to recognize the French language in all federal institutions. It recognizes Quebec as a nation, but it does not give it any right.  29-4

We see this again, here in the House, with respect to securities. The government recognized the Quebec nation, but it interferes in Quebec's jurisdictions.  29-5

Instead of giving expression to this recognition, the Conservatives, often with the support of the Liberals, propose changes that only seek to weaken Quebec and to punish it for not voting for them.  29-6

Bill C-12, which, like Bill C-10, aims to diminish Quebec's political weight, completely disrespects the Quebec nation. Now they want to call into question political party funding in order to further diminish Quebec's voice, which is expressed by the Bloc Québécois, in the House of Commons. We are the only party, as we have seen again here today, that fully defends the wishes of Quebeckers. Now the Conservatives want to reform the Senate without consulting Quebec and all the provinces.  29-7

It is as though we were from another planet. I am a Quebecker; I am from Quebec. Other members come form other provinces like Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario. We are elected in our provinces and we are here to represent our constituents. Yet the Conservatives are introducing and passing bills without consulting the provincial level, the Quebec nation.  29-8

It is unbelievable. It could almost be described as collective schizophrenia, as though we are members of this House, yet in no way accountable to the people who elected us.  29-9

We believe that any reform affecting the powers of the Senate—the method of selecting senators, the number of senators to which a province is entitled or the residency requirement of senators—can only be made in consultation with the provinces and Quebec.  29-10

We are not the only ones to think so. The Supreme Court of Canada has answered that question. In the late 1970s, the Supreme Court of Canada considered the capacity of Parliament, on its own, to amend constitutional provisions relating to the Senate. According to a ruling handed down in 1980, any decisions related to major changes affecting the essential characteristics of the Senate cannot be made unilaterally. Thus, any reform affecting the powers of the Senate can only be made in consultation with Quebec and the provinces. The Supreme Court clearly states this. But, no, the government continues to go ahead with a bill that will likely be disputed as far as the Supreme Court. Of course this will cost Quebec and all the provinces a great deal in legal fees.  29-11

It is hard to understand why the government has done this. Before making any reforms to the Senate, would it not have made more sense for the government to consult with Quebec and the provinces and work together with those on the front line and with the public? No, it is pushing ahead. Any reform affecting the Senate's powers can only be made in consultation with Quebec and the provinces.  29-12

Historically, Quebec's position on the Senate and possible Senate reform has been very clear. Since the unilateral patriation of the Constitution by the Liberals in 1982, successive Quebec governments have all agreed on one basic premise: they have made it very clear that there can be no Senate reform until Quebec's status has been settled. But what are the Conservatives and the Liberals doing? They are pushing ahead.  29-13

Why such contempt for this federal parliamentary institution? It is not just sovereignists from Quebec who share my position. Federalists share the same position on Senate reform as sovereignists in Quebec. For example, there is the former Quebec minister for Canadian intergovernmental affairs, Benoît Pelletier. He is a Liberal and every Quebecker and Canadian knows that he is a strong federalist. We all know it. He himself reiterated Quebec's position on this on November 7, 2007. To Mr. Pelletier, it is quite clear that for the Government of Quebec the Senate does not come solely under the federal government's jurisdiction and there cannot be any reform or abolition of the Senate without the consent of the Government of Quebec.  29-14

What is more, the very day he made that statement, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion. All the parties, the Liberal Party, the ADQ, the right, the sovereignist party, the Parti Québécois, adopted a motion. I want all hon. members from Quebec in the House to listen closely:  29-15

That the National Assembly of Québec reaffirm to the Federal Government and to the Parliament of Canada that no modification to the Canadian Senate may be carried out without the consent of the Government of Québec and the National Assembly.  29-16

Can it be any clearer? That is what was said by Quebec's democratic institution. This government, in a moment of schizophrenia, we might say, has introduced Bill C-10 in the House and unilaterally wants to reform the Senate with the help of the Liberals. What can we say? It is disappointing and distressing. It goes around and around and comes back to life. They are repeating the mistakes of the past.  29-17

The members of the Bloc Québécois will defend the following position without hesitation and without compromise: Quebec and the provinces must be consulted about any desire to reform the Senate. As our opposition leader stated in his speech, we are the Halaks of the House. We must once again block the blistering shots on Quebec by the Conservatives and the Liberals. However, as we have demonstrated, we are in great shape. This bill directly attacks the rights of the Quebec nation and its National Assembly and we cannot accept that.  29-18

Unfortunately once again, the Quebec members on the Conservative side, in particular the members for Jonquière–Alma and Mégantic–L'érable—as good tame, token Quebeckers—support this bill. Whose interests do they represent? Certainly not those of Quebec. The unanimous motion from Quebec's National Assembly clearly states that no reform of the Senate may be carried out without the consent of Quebec. They are not defending Quebeckers' interests. They are defending the interests of the House, and have isolated themselves. It is shameful. They are defending the Conservative Party and the Liberals are defending a few of the other provinces in Canada interested in this reform, but they are not defending Quebeckers and that is shameful.  29-19

They do not respect the voters and the Quebec nation that they represent. They have voted against other bills. These Quebec members voted against French being the sole language in Quebec and having all Quebec institutions use French. They voted against that. In Quebec, people believe in the right to abortion, but these members, once again, rise and vote against the interests and values of Quebeckers. That is also what they are doing by supporting Bills C-10 and C-12.  29-20

No surprise there. Let us not forget that these are the federalists who imposed on Quebec the 1982 constitutional amendments. It is deplorable and disgraceful for this Parliament to defend this bill as it does. The federalists never learn. They do not understand Quebec. They are simply unable to stand up for Quebec and support our desire to have a Quebec nation respected for what it is, which promotes our culture and values within the global community.  29-21

As with Bill C-12, the Conservative government and the Liberals are showing how little they care about the recognition by the House of Commons of the Quebec nation, this unique francophone nation.  29-22

With bills like that, the federalist parties are clearly showing that they get along extremely well on at least one thing: they will stop at nothing to deny any significance to the recognition of the Quebec nation. To us in the Bloc Québécois, recognizing the existence of a nation is much more than a symbolic gesture or nice words spoken in the House of Commons. Nations have fundamental rights like the right to control their societies' social, economic and cultural development themselves.  29-23

However, since recognizing the existence of the Quebec nation, the Conservative government has continued to use every power and means at its disposal to try to impose bilingualism on Quebec, and refused to ensure that corporations under its jurisdiction are required to adhere to the Charter of the French Language. It will not take into account the existence of our national culture in the administration of its laws and the operation of its institutions with cultural or identity significance. It will not even consider letting Quebec have its own radio-television and telecommunications commission to make regulations based on the interests and challenges unique to Quebec.  29-24

Of course, the Conservatives and the Liberals will refuse to limit federal spending power, even though that was a promise made by the Conservative Party to buy votes in Quebec. This is shameful.  29-25

For the Conservative government, recognizing the Quebec nation does not mean anything, and its will to amend the Senate without the consent of the Quebec government is an example, among many others, of that government's disrespect for Quebeckers' wishes.  29-26

In this context, Quebeckers have a very clear view on this issue, and the government should listen to their needs. In a poll conducted in Quebec a short while ago, only 8% of the respondents believed in the Senate's role, which is quite low. According to that same poll, 22% of Quebeckers would prefer an elected Senate, but 43% would rather see that institution abolished altogether, because its annual costs to taxpayers are in excess of $50 million, and they get nothing in return.  29-27

Mr. Pierre Paquette: It is social assistance for the rich.  30

Mr. Guy André: The Conservatives are saying that they respect the will of the public, but that is not true. If they did, they would not go forward with this legislation. Instead of focusing on this bill, they should reform the employment insurance program by waiving the waiting period, or by increasing the number of weeks of benefits. There are some people in my riding who are battling cancer and who get only 15 weeks of EI benefits. At the end of that period, they have to turn to social assistance. These people get poorer and must sell their belongings.  31

In conclusion, if the House passes this bill, as it is about to do, that will be taken as an insult to the Quebec nation. Quebec abolished its legislative assembly in 1968. A number of other provinces have abolished their Senate. Has that changed anything? I personally think that the legislative and democratic institutions of the provinces and of the Quebec nation work very well.  31-1

In any case, it does not matter whether we support the Senate or not. Before introducing this legislation and moving forward on this issue, the government should have consulted Quebec and all the provinces.  31-2

Mr. Roger Pomerleau (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear the member for Berthier–Maskinongé, who gave us a comprehensive reminder of the number of times the Quebec National Assembly has adopted unanimous positions.  32

I remind the House that a unanimous position at the Quebec National Assembly is the position of the four political parties represented there, which represent both federalists and sovereignists, and these four parties represent all of Quebec. That is what a unanimous position of the Quebec National Assembly means.  32-1

The Quebec National Assembly has taken unanimous positions a number of times for or against bills. I will mention some examples that were brought up by my colleague. It took a unanimous position against Bill C-12, which would reduce Quebec's political weight; a unanimous position against the creation of a single securities commission—this came up during question period today—; a unanimous position calling on the government to hand over the $2.2 billion we are owed for harmonizing the GST, which the government refuses to pay. Federalists and sovereignists alike have called for that. We often hear that sovereignists talk about how they never get anything, but federalists are not getting what they are asking for either. The National Assembly also took a unanimous position against Senate reform without consultation with the provinces.  32-2

Every time they took a unanimous position, all of the federalist members from Quebec, whether they are Conservative or Liberal, good little Quebec members, elected by Quebeckers and paid by Quebeckers to defend the interests of Quebec in Ottawa, always took Canada's side over Quebec's.  32-3

Does my colleague, who is well aware of this, not think that this explains why the Bloc Québécois has been winning elections, the majority of the votes in the House, since 1993?  32-4

Mr. Guy André: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that excellent question.  33

The real question is why these Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec act this way.  33-1

I will try to explain. They are in the minority in these political parties, so they take a certain attitude in order to rise through the party ranks and achieve greater prominence or even become ministers in some cases. We can see this in the Conservative Party with the member for Beauce, who is travelling across Canada denigrating Quebeckers to try to get more votes and please Canadians.  33-2

This is how these Quebeckers, who are in a minority situation in these federal parties, choose to take their place within these parties and get more respect from their colleagues from the other provinces. They become what we call token Quebeckers. It is the only way they can survive in these federalist parties.  33-3

What makes the Bloc Québécois strong is that we are all members from Quebec. We can take a stand in favour of Quebeckers, defend unanimous positions of the National Assembly and defend Quebeckers' identity, values and language.  33-4

Mr. Royal Galipeau: Especially demagogy.  34

Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Democratic Reform), CPC): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's comments. We live in the greatest country in the world. Quebec is an important part of this great country. Bill C-10 is trying to make our democratic institutions better. The fact that the member and the rest of us are here in the House of Commons demonstrates what a great democracy Canada is.  35

Parliament includes the Senate. Bill C-10 would allow for eight-year, non-renewable terms. This would strengthen the representation of Quebec in Parliament by allowing fresh and new ideas from Quebec to come into Parliament. We have the senatorial selection act. If Quebec chose, it could implement this, and the people of Quebec could decide who comes and sits in the Senate.  35-1

Let us be honest. The real reason the member does not want us to improve Quebec representation in the House is that the member's party does not want Quebec to have any senators in Parliament and zero members in the House of Commons. The reason for that party is not to increase or improve representation of Quebec in Parliament. It is to ensure that Quebec has no representation in Parliament.  35-2

That is not good for the people of Quebec and it is not good for the people of Canada. That is why we work together in this democratic institution to move forward in the interests of Quebecers and all Canadians. Will the member just admit that we live in the greatest country in the world at the best time in human history to be alive? Will the member just acknowledge that Canada is the best country in the world, with Quebec?  35-3

Mr. Guy André: Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell my colleague something. He wrote an article in Le Devoir this week on euthanasia. I took the time to read the article, and I congratulate him on the ideas he put forward. He has added to the debate on this issue, and I have heard good comments from some of my colleagues.  36

Never mind whether or not we want to abolish the Senate. He talked about a democratic institution. The government did not act very democratically when it introduced Bills C-10 and C-12, because the members of Quebec's National Assembly unanimously opposed reforming the Senate without first consulting Quebec.  36-1

Before introducing the bill in the House for debate, the government should have consulted Quebec and the provinces, as Supreme Court rulings require. If this bill goes ahead, it will be challenged, which will mean legal costs for the provinces and Quebec.  36-2

What will be gained by this? Absolutely nothing.  36-3

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, one of the things my colleague talked about was consultation. It is interesting to look at the current government and its consultation on this file. I recall well that, when I was on the procedure and House affairs committee and we were dealing with democratic reform, and I know that the minister responsible will remember this, we had a motion in place to have a consultation process in this country.  37

Do members know what the government did? It contracted the consultation out to the Frontier Centre, for instance, a centre that claims not to believe in things like proportional representation. That report was useless. I do not see it anywhere in these bills. The government paid a lot of money, did not consult Canadians and claimed it had done its consultation. It said democratic reform was taken care off and checked it off the list.  37-1

Does the member think that consultation for the current government is simply a matter of contracting out? Or does he think it actually has it somewhere in its plans to consult Canadians when it comes to democratic reform?  37-2

Mr. Guy André: Mr. Speaker, I have been sitting as a member since 2004. It happens quite often that people are consulted and a report is written. That report then sits on a shelf. We spend a lot of money doing that. That is what happens in the various House committees. There is money here. We can hold committee meetings and have people testify. We can undertake large-scale consultations and research and then ignore it. It is incredible.  38

I agree with the member who is wondering what consultation means. We have to listen to the citizens. It goes to the very heart of the Constitution. If they had done consultations, I know that they would not have introduced Bill C-10, which will surely be contested by Quebec and other provinces anyway.  38-1

Ms. Meili Faille (Vaudreuil-Soulanges, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill C-10, which was introduced by the Conservative government. This bill would amend the Constitution Act, 1867 by limiting Senate terms.  39

Earlier, I spoke about Bill C-12, which would reduce Quebec's political weight. The Bloc Québécois is in Ottawa to defend Quebec's interests, and issues related to its political weight here in Ottawa are important. We are fighting for the rights of francophones. As we will see, the people of Quebec and the National Assembly believe that Quebec should be consulted before any constitutional changes take place, especially because Bill C-10 would change the structure of the Senate and shift the political weight for strictly ideological purposes.  39-1

The minister's comments about Bloc Québécois members is another example of the Conservatives' preconceived notions. The consultations were sloppy and the introduction of this rushed legislation is not justified. Throughout history, many governments and legislatures have tried to change the Senate.  39-2

The public is beginning to seriously question the legitimacy of senators. Newspaper headlines demonstrate this every time there is a new appointment to the Senate. Senators are chosen by the Prime Minister. These are partisan appointments. Each province has a certain number of seats and many people have criticized how they are distributed. Could that chamber be much more effective? Could the measures proposed by the government improve how the Senate operates? I doubt it.  39-3

The Bloc Québécois opposes Bill C-10. We wonder about the real intentions of the Conservative government, which for the past few weeks has been introducing one bill after another that aim to change fundamental aspects of our democracy, without the provinces' consent and under false pretexts.  39-4

We believe that the Conservatives want to reform the Constitution on the sly by going over the heads of the provinces and Quebec. We have become accustomed to these ploys. Considering the number of times they have hidden obscure and discriminatory provisions in bills, no one can blame us for asking for clarification about their real objectives. Furthermore, why do they bother creating laws and regulations when they are the first to disobey laws and regulations in order to satisfy their partisan appetite?  39-5

Limiting Senate tenure is merely the beginning. In order to make any changes regarding the Senate, the Conservative government must consult Quebec and the other provinces.  39-6

The changes proposed by the Conservatives serve only to undermine Quebec and the Quebec nation. Our analysis of the concept of open federalism has been extremely disappointing for Quebeckers. There has been no concrete recognition of the Quebec nation and its attributes, and the Conservatives have missed a number of opportunities to restore the balance between the two nations, which only increases the level of scepticism among the people of Quebec.  39-7

The open federalism vaunted by the federal government has instead been restrictive for Quebec.  39-8

We simply have to look at the bills recently introduced by this government, such as Bill C-12, which reduces Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons, the various proposals for Senate reform or the fact that they have called political party financing into question.  39-9

Who is this government really targeting? In order to better understand the Bloc Québécois' position, one must analyze what the Conservative government is proposing, while keeping mind that this government is always trying to diminish Quebec's influence.  39-10

I must mention that any reform affecting the powers of the Senate, the method of selecting senators, the number of senators to which a province is entitled or the residency requirement of senators can only be made in consultation with Quebec, the provinces and the territories. Why did the government not think it necessary to seek consent from the key players on an issue that affects the Constitution Act, 1867?  39-11

Let us look at this together. What is the impetus to the bill and what does it offer to Quebec? Currently, a senator is appointed by the government, by the Prime Minister, and that appointment is effective until the maximum age of 75, at which point the senator must retire. A person appointed at age 30 would receive a term of over 45 years. The Conservative government is proposing to uphold the retirement age of 75 and, in addition, would impose an eight year term on senators. Despite being appointed for an eight year term, if the senator reaches age 75 during that term, he or she must retire from the Senate. There is another provision whereby no senator can request that their eight year term be renewed.  39-12

Although this seems like a good idea, what impact could an eight year term have on democratic life?  39-13

If this bill is passed in its current form, it would mean greater turnover of senators. And since senators would still be unelected, there would be an increase in partisan appointments.  39-14

It is not a stretch to think that a government could change the composition of the Senate by making partisan appointments, thereby taking control of the Senate and having every government bill passed or defeated according to the whim of that very same government.  39-15

It could change the parliamentary agenda of the House of Commons by systematically obstructing bills it did not like or that came from opposition party members.  39-16

When they are elected to power, Canada's old parties try to make changes that favour their base. They even contradict what they may have said when they were in opposition. I have an example. The Prime Minister, who questioned the Senate's partiality when he was first elected, is now introducing a bill that will boost partisan appointments. Obviously he has changed his tune, but why? In order to impose a regressive Conservative program and satisfy the Reform Party members of the Conservative Party.  39-17

When I read the wording of Bill C-10, I get a better grasp of the government's intentions and, more importantly, a better idea of how it wants to get its legislation passed.  39-18

The first paragraph in Bill C-10 provides that the Senate must evolve in accordance with the principles of democracy. That paragraph includes examples of institutions which, over time, have had their structure amended. The second paragraph seeks to explain how the Senate can better reflect the democratic values of Canadians. Finally, it is in the third paragraph that mention is made of the change to Senate terms.  39-19

What I find disturbing is that the government mentions too often that Parliament can amend the Constitution. It uses as an example what the government did in 1965, when it set the retirement age for senators.  39-20

It is in the fifth paragraph that the Conservative government confirms its intention to ignore Quebec and the other provinces to make changes to the Senate. The fifth paragraph of Bill C-10 reads, “Whereas Parliament, by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, may make laws to amend the Constitution of Canada in relation to the Senate;”.  39-21

May I remind hon. members that Quebec did not sign the 1982 Constitution? I also remind them that the patriation of the Constitution was done unilaterally, without Quebec's agreement. Lastly, let us not forget that the minimum condition set by successive governments in Quebec on Senate reform has always been clear: there will be no Senate reform without first settling the issue of Quebec's status.  39-22

That is why the Bloc Québécois is opposed to Bill C-10. It is very clear that the Conservative government wants to ignore Quebec and the other provinces. Need I remind the House of the reasons why the Bloc Québécois was founded?  39-23

It was because of the record of failure in constitutional negotiations that the Bloc Québécois was established. In order to avoid discussing the Constitution with Quebec, the Conservative government claims to have the power, under section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to unilaterally change the provisions dealing with the Senate.  39-24

This is yet another attempt by Ottawa to work against the interests of Quebec, and even those of the other Canadian provinces and territories.  39-25

In November 2006, the Conservative government tabled a motion recognizing the Quebec nation. Since then, no action has been taken by the government to follow up on that recognition. It looks as though the Conservative government does not want to accept that Quebec is a society that developed by itself and that applies its laws based on its specificity and its own attributes.  39-26

I invite parliamentarians to read certain documents to better understand Quebec's claims. I also invite my colleagues to be prudent and vigilant, because by changing the length of senators' terms of office through this bill, the Conservative government is opening the door to various changes to the Senate without obtaining the consent of Quebec, the provinces and the territories.  39-27

In the brief submitted by the Government of Quebec in 2007 on federal Senate bills, the Government of Quebec stated that:  39-28

...the Senate is an institution whose basic composition forms the very basis of the compromise that created the federation. The Senate is not simply a federal institution in the strictest sense. It is an integral part of the Canadian federal system. The Senate is an institution whose future is of interest to all constitutional players within the federation.  39-29

In a press release dated November 7, 2007, the former Quebec minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Benoît Pelletier, a Liberal Quebec minister, reiterated the position of the Quebec government:  39-30

The Government of Quebec does not believe that this falls exclusively under federal jurisdiction. Given that the Senate is a crucial part of the Canadian federal compromise, it is clear to us that under the Constitution Act, 1982, ... the Senate can be neither reformed nor abolished without Quebec's consent.  39-31

The Government of Quebec is not opposed to modernizing the Senate. However, if an attempt is made to alter the basic characteristics of this institution, the only avenue is engaging in a coordinated federal-provincial constitutional process that will fully engage all constitutional players, including Quebec, the provinces and the territories.  39-32

Senate Bill S-8 proposes the appointment of senators by the Prime Minister after elections held by the provinces. This bill is called An Act respecting the selection of senators.  39-33

The government claims that it could fundamentally alter the process for appointing senators without necessarily requiring a round of constitutional negotiations.  39-34

Although this type of appointment was carried out once in 1990 and there was no challenge, does it justify not consulting Quebec and the provinces?  39-35

As I mentioned earlier, the people of Quebec are questioning the usefulness and effectiveness of the Senate in particular. There are certainly many ways to reform the Senate. In March 2010, Quebeckers were polled about the Senate. The results are very interesting and indicative of how they feel about the Senate in its current form.  39-36

In looking at the data, we can see that the majority of Quebeckers do not see a value in the Senate as it is currently configured, and 43% of Quebeckers agree with abolishing it. I should point out that only 8% of respondents believe that the Senate plays an important role and that the system for appointing senators works. Only 8%.  39-37

Let us talk about the place of francophones in the Senate. Considering the number of francophone senators, the government could consider making changes that would ensure francophones are fairly represented in the Senate. Elections could end up decreasing their representation in the Senate and could create an imbalance for francophone rights in the Senate. This is something that concerns us as well, which is why it is important not to ignore Quebec and the provinces. The bill before us does not take that into account.  39-38

If we are going to change the fundamental role of the Senate, why not abolish it altogether? The Bloc Québécois believes that any Senate reforms must be the result of constitutional negotiations.  39-39

I have many reasons for believing that the Senate should be abolished. Historically, many upper chambers have been abolished and the operations of these institutions were not affected. The main motivation for provinces to abolish their upper chamber was financial. Second chambers were extremely expensive for the provinces.  39-40

That logic should lead us to consider studying this aspect of the Senate. Is the $50 million we spend on Senate operations essential and justified? As with any major reform, abolishing the Senate also requires amendments to the Constitution.  39-41

To have a constitutional change approved, the government needs to obtain consent from seven provinces representing at least 50% of Canada's population or the unanimous consent of all the provinces.  39-42

Until proven otherwise, Canada is a confederation. Provinces have to be consulted before any amendment to the Constitution, which means that in order to pass Bill C-10, an act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 by limiting Senate terms, the federal government would have to enter into constitutional negotiations. It is obvious from reading the bill that the Conservative government wants to ignore Quebec. It ignores francophones.  39-43

The sixth paragraph in the bill tries to legitimize the Conservative government's position that senators' terms can be amended by regulation.  39-44

In the late 1970s, the Supreme Court of Canada examined parliament's ability to unilaterally amend constitutional provisions relating to the Senate.  39-45

According to its ruling, decisions pertaining to major changes to the essential characteristics of the Senate cannot be made unilaterally. In view of the fact that senators would not be able to renew their terms, we assume that there would be even more partisan appointments and, more importantly, that this change would alter an essential characteristic of the Senate. For that reason, the Bloc Québécois is not in favour of Bill C-10.  39-46

It is sad to see that this government is governing according to a Conservative ideology that does not correspond to the values of Quebeckers. I have now been sitting in this House for six years and have seen that the Conservative government is using every means to diminish the influence of Quebec. We need not look too far to find examples. Bill C-12 will reduce Quebec's political weight.  39-47

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges has five minutes left to finish her speech the next time the bill is before the House.  40

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.  40-1

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Jim Maloway (NDP)
Hon. Steven Fletcher (CPC
Jim Maloway
Guy André (BQ)
Jim Maloway
Dennis Bevington (NDP)
Pierre Paquette (BQ)
Steven Fletcher
Pierre Paquette
Carole Lavallée (BQ)
Pierre Paquette
The Speaker
Andrew Kania (Lib.)
Dean Del Mastro (CPC)
Andrew Kania
Paul Dewar (NDP)
Andrew Kania
Dean Del Mastro
Andrew Kania
The Speaker
Dean Del Mastro
Andrew Kania
The Speaker
Paul Dewar
Andrew Kania
Guy André
Pierre Paquette
Guy André
Roger Pomerleau (BQ)
Guy André
Royal Galipeau
Steven Fletcher
Guy André
Paul Dewar
Guy André
Meili Faille (BQ)
The Deputy Speaker