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View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-04-11 16:47 [p.2145]
Mr. Speaker, the situation is critical. Everyone here knows it. We are facing an unprecedented crisis. We are literally making history. People will be talking about this for years to come, 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Maybe I will not do it myself, but when this crisis is talked about in 30 years and explained to future generations, they will have a hard time believing that the streets of Montreal were deserted, that the movie theatres and restaurants were empty because everything was closed, and that we all stayed home, self-isolating. Everyone made their own daily sacrifice.
Quebec has 12,292 cases of COVID-19, that silent, invisible killer. So far, there have been 289 deaths in Quebec. That number is not just a statistic. It represents 289 people whose families are grieving. That is important.
The situation is critical, and I am going to prove it in a simple way. Back when I was elected on October 21, if someone had told me that in six months, the House of Commons would be voting on a bill providing for a one-time expenditure of $73 billion and that the House would support it unanimously, I would never have believed them. Even the Conservatives are supporting it. It is unbelievable. No one would ever have believed it could happen. This goes to show just how unusual the situation is.
This situation is critical. This is no time to be partisan. That would be easy. The government makes decisions, reconsiders, adjusts. It is constantly looking for solutions. We can criticize, we can be partisan, and we can play the political game, but this is not the time for that. This is a time for vigilant collaboration, as my leader would say.
We have collaborated from the start, but that does not mean we went along with whatever they said. We put ideas forward and defended them. We discovered that, when facing an extreme emergency, the government listened. Had anyone told me on October 21 that the Liberals would listen to me, I would have said no way, but sometimes, when we come up with a good idea, the Liberals themselves acknowledge it.
This is a time for teamwork. We all have constituents to serve in our ridings. We need to think of their well-being. I want to thank the amazing team at my riding office, who are there to help when people call. We all have amazing teams on the ground. I am pleased to say that, yes, we have solutions and we have worked together.
Is the Bloc Québécois responsible for coming up with certain ideas? Obviously, yes, sometimes that is the case. However, the most important thing is ensuring the well-being of the population. That is where we are at. Now is not the time for the one-track neo-liberal thinking that we often hear and that claims that less government is better. That is not where we are at. As my leader said, the government is not necessarily a hindrance to the economy. If there were no government, we would have even bigger problems than we have today. The government has its uses.
I heard my colleague, the opposition leader, talking about the deficit, which will total approximately $180 billion. When faced with such a deficit, we need to work hard to find some good news, but at least we can say that this is not chronic or ongoing spending. At least there is that. It is not as bad as a $30-billion deficit with ongoing spending.
This is therefore not the time to reject everything the government is doing. Now is the time to say that the government has an important role to play and that it can resolve many problems. Now is not the time to look for a scapegoat. We could say that the government did not manage our borders properly in the beginning. We could have gotten into all that and brought that up. We are past that point.
Now is the time for solidarity, and when I talk about solidarity, I always think of our seniors. They are in a difficult situation. They are the ones who are suffering the most from our current situation.
That is why when I say we need to keep working, I mean we must not stop with this bill; further improvements can be made. The Bloc Québécois has already made some very clear suggestions to help seniors specifically.
When we talk about collaboration, that is what we mean. We make suggestions and hope they will be picked up. We must help our seniors; we must support them.
It is rare for me to quote the Prime Minister, but I want to take this opportunity because he said something that I thought was pretty good. He said we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.
Well done, Prime Minister. That is great, so now it is time to think of them and take care of them.
In addition, some might consider the issue of seasonal workers to be of secondary importance, but I certainly do not, and many of my colleagues share my concerns. Indeed, there are foreign workers in my riding.
Imagine: we are working hard, remaining isolated, making sacrifices to forgo certain activities and to stay away from each other. We are putting our everyday lives on hold. If, by some misfortune, some of these people who come here in good faith end up carrying the disease because their health was not checked and they infect people here, lives could be lost. More people will be in mourning. Think about it. It is serious. Some people might die because of some flaws in the government's response that we could correct immediately.
We are not looking for political gains. We are looking to act in solidarity, in furtherance of the common good and in service to the public. That is what we have to stand up for. In every one of our actions we have to think of the repercussions that could be catastrophic for some people and some families.
That is why the leader of the Bloc Québécois mentioned earlier that it is important that we sit down together and find solutions quickly so that the people coming to our region are coming because we need them to and without jeopardizing the health and safety of our own. Once again, we are appealing to the government.
In conclusion, yes, the Bloc Québécois will collaborate, but we will be vigilant. Much like I told my children that I was watching them, we are watching the government because it has a job to do. The government has a huge job ahead of it, and we are here to help, because the Bloc Québécois cares about the whole. The Bloc Québécois cares about public service, in addition to social conscience. What is good for Quebec in these tough times is certainly good for the Bloc Québécois.
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