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Results: 1 - 23 of 23
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:32 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois does not oppose the implementation of the new NAFTA, now known as CUSMA. We had two conditions for agreeing to consider the bill. We stated our reasons more than once, and I even wrote about them in the U.S. media. First, we wanted the issue of the steel and aluminum tariffs to be resolved. That has been done. However, there is also the issue of supply management, which has not been resolved.
The government wants to ram through the implementation bill for the agreement, and we are opposed to that. As I indicated in my previous question, more than 400 witnesses were invited to appear before the committee when it was studying the trans-Pacific partnership. However, to date, no witnesses have been invited to speak about CUSMA, the new NAFTA. We are therefore opposed to its implementation, because it puts the cart before the horse.
In Washington, Congress has barely started looking at the new agreement, and Congress has the authority to sign international agreements. The text that the Prime Minister signed in November may change. We know that the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, disagree with the Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, about a number of things. The Democrats may well demand changes to the agreement before they endorse it. As of now, Congress has not even drafted the bills to implement the agreement, yet here we are debating ours. This makes no sense. Implementing an agreement that has not even been finalized is nothing more than pre-election smoke and mirrors.
Where is the fire? NAFTA is still in force and will remain in force after the dissolution of the House. There is no rush. I understand the government wanting to cross a few things off its to-do list, but doing a sloppy job is not the right way to bolster its record. Doing things properly means waiting. Furthermore, this agreement has some very real implications, and the government has not even bothered to listen to the people it will affect. That is a major problem.
Like all agreements, this one has winners and losers. The losers will need compensation, guidance and help, and that needs to happen at the same time as ratification, not afterwards, on the 12th of never. We know that promises made before ratification are quickly forgotten. Just look at the workers in the shipbuilding industry. They were told they would be compensated, and the next day, they were forgotten. We can also think of workers in the clothing, furniture, agriculture and automotive industries. They are getting no support.
We all know that this agreement was signed at the expense of our supply-managed farmers, our regions and our agricultural model. There is nothing to help them deal with this, nothing but vague promises. There was nothing in the notice of ways and means motion tabled a few weeks ago either.
After four years, we know what this government's promises are worth. It has been two years since CETA and the TPP were signed, but our farmers have yet to see even a hint of any cheques, and they will not get one red cent before the election. Despite its lofty promises, the government has done nothing. It should be ashamed. Because of its inaction, any commitments made in the budget have become campaign promises. Canadians have been burned, so all trust is gone.
With respect to CUSMA, the programs should already be in place when the agreement comes into force. Our farmers have been fleeced twice now, but they will not be fleeced a third time.
I want to address another issue of concern to dairy farmers. With CUSMA, Donald Trump will have control over the export of milk proteins, class 7. That is an unprecedented surrender of sovereignty by this government. Our farmers can currently sell surplus milk protein on foreign markets. If the agreement comes into force too quickly, there is a good chance that Washington and President Donald Trump will completely block our exports. It is worrisome. The risk is very real. That would completely destabilize Quebec's dairy industry.
If we get our protein exports in order before the agreement is implemented, there is a chance that the Americans will see the matter as resolved and will let it go. That is what we want. The last three agreements were signed at the expense of our producers. If the government implements this agreement in the worst way possible, it will cause irreparable harm. I think our farmers have been punished enough by the government. Enough is enough. For this reason alone, it is worth waiting. I think we all agree on that.
As I was saying, we do not systematically oppose every free trade agreement. We support free trade in principle. Quebec needs free trade. I also want to say that CUSMA, the new NAFTA, is not all bad. If I were a Canadian, I would probably think that the Minister of Foreign Affairs got a good deal. For example, she shielded Ontario's auto sector from potential tariffs. She also protected Canada's banking sector from American competition. That is not nothing. It is good for Ontario. She maintained access to the American market for grain from the west. This is good for the Prairies. This is a good agreement for Canada.
She also took back Canada's control over the oil trade, which Brian Mulroney abandoned in 1988. Alberta must be happy. For once, I am not being heckled too much. She did away with the infamous chapter 11 on investments and preserved the cultural exception. That is good. However, the specific gains for Quebec are less clear. I talked about supply-managed producers. I could talk about how the Government of Quebec will have to pay more for biologic drugs and will no longer be able to collect QST on packages arriving from the United States from Amazon or other web giants. Small retailers will find themselves at a disadvantage. What is more, copyright will be extended from 50 years to 70.
In short, we need to look at all of those things in order to implement measures that will help Quebeckers benefit from the new opportunities that are available and put programs in place to compensate those the government abandoned during the negotiations. We need to do all that before we vote on this legislation. No party in the House deserves to be given a blank cheque.
I hope that, after the election, the Bloc Québécois will have the balance of power. That is what political analysts are saying could happen. Then, there will be no more blank cheques.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Madam Speaker, the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert will see. For the first time in years, Quebeckers will be able to rest assured that their interests are being taken into account. In order to do that, we need to wait before voting on the NAFTA implementation bill. There is no hurry.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-02-10 12:04 [p.8795]
Mr. Speaker, let me tell you what the Prime Minister will do about it: not a thing.
This morning, against the backdrop of the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to Washington, Agropur expressed concern that our dairy producers could be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with Donald Trump. The co-operative has every reason to be concerned.
The government has been in power for over a year, but it has not settled any of these issues with the United States. Its strategy for defending our interests boils down to this: do nothing. Do nothing about diafiltered milk. Do nothing about softwood lumber.
Can the government confirm that it will keep doing what it has been doing since the start to protect us, in other words, nothing?
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2017-02-07 15:01 [p.8582]
Mr. Speaker, the Americans are engaging in unfair competition by generously subsidizing dairy products, but the federal government is turning a blind eye and letting our people down.
The reason supply management is not covered by NAFTA is to protect Quebec dairy producers, who are the first to pay the price for Ottawa's neglect.
Now that he has his limousine and his portfolio for betraying Quebec to the banks, will the Minister of International Trade do something to protect supply management?
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-11-14 15:05 [p.6678]
Mr. Speaker, the same government that promised to resolve the diafiltered milk problem in 100 days is once again mocking us.
It is compromising the very heart of Quebec farming once again, for the benefit of industries in western Canada. Let us not kid ourselves; fine cheeses are a Quebec specialty, since we produce over 60% of Canada's total production. Quebec also makes up 40% of Canada's dairy industry.
Why is Quebec agriculture always the sector sacrificed in free trade?
Here is the real question: is letting Quebec's dairy producers starve yet another Canadian value?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2016-09-19 14:06 [p.4748]
Mr. Speaker, I toured all over Quebec this summer in order to meet with farmers in every region.
I came across some inspiring and very hard-working people. They are the artisans to whom we owe the delicious meals we shared with family and friends over the summer. Unfortunately, these people cannot enjoy their work because the government has abandoned them.
The issue of diafiltered milk clearly shows the federal government's lack of interest in our farmers and the regions. Those dairy producers that have not yet thrown in the towel are losing thousands of dollars a month. Morale is very low out there. Our farmers are being forced to resort to farm outreach workers, respite houses, and so on. It is extremely troubling.
I would like to take this first opportunity to speak in the House to send the following message to the people I met: Do not give up. The Bloc Québécois will not give up on you. We will take care of you. We will be vigilant and we will hold this government to account.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-06-10 12:01 [p.4337]
Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, Canada is not a banana republic. That remains to be seen.
Take the diafiltered milk issue as an example. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Commerce said, “We have made clear to the Canadian government that we expect that they will not take any action to disrupt current U.S. exports of dairy products.” That is interesting, because that is exactly what the government is doing: nothing.
In order to please the Americans, the government is deliberately dragging its feet on the issue, when it would actually be quite simple to resolve.
What is the name of this country, again? Is it Canada or Santa Banana?
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-06-07 12:35 [p.4129]
Mr. Speaker, to start off, I will take it upon myself to remind some of my colleagues what supply management is and what benefits it has.
The dairy sector, as well as the poultry and egg sectors, operate under this system. Supply management is based on a number of basic principles that prevent overproduction and shortages thanks to a production quota system designed to fully supply the domestic market without creating surpluses.
This system allows producers to cover all production costs and earn a decent income. With supply management, governments do not have to subsidize the industry. That is not the case for the U.S. My colleague from Beauce will like that. I understand that he supports cutting the size of government. However, I think that he is having difficulty understanding what is at stake because he wants to abolish the current system. I would advise him to go back to doing what he does best, which is election campaign jingles.
On May 16, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food adopted a motion urging the government to do four things: recognize the problem and recognize that the industry is calling for the problem to be resolved, meet with stakeholders in the dairy industry, propose a sustainable solution, and present a plan to the committee.
The government has been telling us for a year that it has a plan. I hope it will tell us what that plan is, because we cannot wait to hear it.
The Liberal members on the committee felt the need to adopt the motion, to encourage the government to recognize that there is a problem. That is a start. Since they have a habit of saying nothing, this meaningless position is already an improvement. At this rate, they may get the job done in 40 or 50 years.
Incidentally, 40 or 50 years is about how much time has passed since the Liberal government expropriated 97,000 acres of agricultural land in my riding for an airport that is now being demolished. Parliamentarians who live in Quebec see this historical fiasco every time they take highway 50 to get here, to Parliament.
The diafiltered milk problem could have been a major issue for the thousands of families that were kicked off their land, but since the government stole this land from them nearly 50 years ago, the only issue for these families is the return of the expropriated land.
Let us come back to the committee. The report is really weak, toothless, and ineffective. Rather than calling on the government to recognize the problem and continue to discuss it, the committee should have called on the government to enforce its own regulations. That is what likely would have happened if the Bloc Québécois had been a part of the committee, because we are not in the habit of kowtowing to the government like the Liberal members from Quebec sitting on the other side of the House. All they do is repeat the government's talking points.
It is important to remember that an MP from a pan-Canadian party is not very reliable when it comes time to stand up on a major issue for Quebec. The energy east pipeline and the oil sands make for a good example, but that is not what we are talking about here, even though that remains a major issue.
What we are talking about here is supply management. Most of Canada's agricultural production occurs in the western part of the country on farms that produce one crop for export. That is the opposite of what we do in Quebec with our food sovereignty model. The federal government wants to open the borders to make western Canadians happy. It opens them a little from time to time: 5% under the WTO, 7% under CETA, and another 4% to come under the TPP.
Every time negotiations are held, western exporters gain foreign market shares and Quebec loses domestic market shares.
Pan-Canadian MPs are torn between supporting western Canada and supporting Quebec, and they go through the motions of signing this type of agreement even if they are not truly convinced that it is a good idea.
That is why we have such a weak report before us today. I do not see any other reason for such a weak report when the regions came to Parliament Hill last week to express their outrage and were ignored by the government and by a minister and his parliamentary secretary who have clearly chosen to forget where they came from in order to further their careers.
Earlier, the parliamentary secretary gave a lovely speech. I liked the way he spoke about himself in the third person when he talked about meetings with dairy industry representatives.
There are three theories here. One, the parliamentary secretary has become really full of himself. Two, he is not the parliamentary secretary and did not attend these meetings. Three, he is only reading the lines his party gives him. I will not ask him to choose among these three options, but none of them is very positive.
I would have liked to see the Liberals march with us in the rain last Thursday, with my colleague from Joliette and my many colleagues who were there on the Hill. I would have liked to see them trade in their dress shoes for work boots and stand up for their people, like I do every day when I come to Parliament. I would have liked that, but that is not what happened, because they were too busy taking limo rides.
Power corrupts, and since the Liberal Party did not change its corporate culture during its 10 years in opposition purgatory, the minister and the parliamentary secretary have let power go to their heads.
The Bloc will support today’s motion because one cannot be against the right thing. However the motion remains totally trivial and void of value because the government has not the courage to enforce its own regulations and follows the whims of the American market, which decides what it does. At this time, the government is thus nothing but the puppet of the American government.
The Liberals have no interest in defending the agricultural industry as a whole. All they do is neglect the families that feed us and bring them to bankruptcy. That way they will not have to buy back the quotas before abolishing supply management. This is in fact what will come of their economic liberalism. With this sort of Liberal colonialist policy, Canada simply proves once again, as it did in numerous files, that Quebec and its agriculture would be much better served if Quebec controlled its own laws, taxes, and treaties itself. Canada is simply proving, once again, that Quebec would be better off free and independent.
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-06-07 12:46 [p.4130]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I am glad to know that, like me, he is concerned about such an important issue that must be resolved as quickly as possible, namely, Quebec independence. However, my understanding is that this is more about the fact that the problem of diafiltered milk needs to be resolved.
I wonder how many farms will have to disappear. Probably as soon as the Liberal members start losing the farms in their ridings, they will finally start doing something. In any case, the Liberal members from Quebec never say anything, so the chances of this being resolved are pretty slim.
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-06-02 15:01 [p.3962]
Mr. Speaker, dairy farmers are in Ottawa to urge the government to solve the diafiltered milk problem.
The Minister of Agriculture says that it is not a dairy product when it goes through customs, but that same minister says it is a dairy product when the time comes to make cheese with it. We have been hounding the minister week after week for months, and he has been telling us for months that he is taking care of it, but he has done nothing.
Instead of repeating the same thing and reading his notes over and over again, will the minister show some backbone and solve the problem once and for all?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2016-06-02 15:02 [p.3962]
Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, we care about our food sovereignty.
Twice, our National Assembly was unanimous in demanding that the diafiltered milk problem be solved. In Canada, when the federal government talks with western GMO exporters, it says that we must open the borders, but it tells Quebec dairy farmers the opposite. There are more holes in supply management than in Swiss cheese.
Does the government realize that, through its inaction, it is proving that the best thing that can happen to Quebec farmers is for Quebec to become a country that can make its own decisions, based on its own best interests?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2016-05-31 14:00 [p.3827]
Madam Speaker, Quebec's agricultural model is a reflection of Quebec: fair, just, and diverse. We are proud of our agriculture.
However, although Quebec supports and values its agriculture, the federal government has completely forgotten about it. It is ironic and sad to see the federal government handing empty plates to the people who are responsible for filling our larders.
Yesterday, dairy farmers began a three-day journey by tractor from Quebec City to Ottawa in protest of this government's indifference. Among them are men and women from all walks of life who support their initiative.
They are hoping and still waiting for Ottawa to block the importation of diafiltered milk, which is hurting our dairy farmers. They are hoping and still waiting for the compensation they were promised when international treaties were signed.
Farmers have waited long enough. It is time for the government to take action.
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-05-30 15:02 [p.3711]
Mr. Speaker, today, dairy producers began a three-day tractor trek from Quebec City to Ottawa to remind the government of its election promises.
They are travelling across Quebec to protest the importation of diafiltered milk, which robs them of thousands of dollars every week. They are criss-crossing Quebec to remind the government that compensation was promised when international agreements such as the trans-Pacific partnership and the European Union agreement were signed.
When will the 40 Liberal members from Quebec speak out in support of Quebec's dairy producers?
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec is calling on this government to protect our dairy industry from diafiltered milk imports. It urged the government to enforce the spirit and the letter of the cheese standards and to treat diafiltered milk as a dairy ingredient. The Fédération is joining the Union des producteurs agricoles and the Quebec National Assembly to protect our dairy producers.
Will the government respect the Quebec consensus and enforce the letter of the existing regulations?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-05-03 15:02 [p.2781]
Mr. Speaker, half of Canada's dairy farms are in Quebec. Imported diafiltered milk is hurting my home province. We are talking about thousands of dollars lost every week. Our regional economies are in jeopardy. In a show of solidarity, the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord poured a bag of powered milk on his head. Imagine that. However, in the House, there has been no show of support for our farmers, and nothing is being done to resolve their problem. What will it take for government members from Quebec to start representing their constituents, a nod from Toronto?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-21 11:05 [p.2511]
Mr. Speaker, I am surprised by what the Liberal members have been saying this morning.
Like everyone else in the House, they recognize the importance of our farmers, who do the vital job of feeding our world. Like everyone else in the House, they say that they fully support supply management, and they decry the entry of diafiltered milk.
Now, it would be easy to resolve the issue of diafiltered milk: simply enforce the law. After six months in power, the Liberals, breaking their election promise, have still done nothing, despite their very nice-sounding words this morning. It is disappointing. It is a flagrant lack of willpower. Why is that? We know that those who are profiting from diafiltered milk are the big processors, like Parmalat and Saputo.
This is my question for the parliamentary secretary this morning: who would the government prefer to listen to and defend, the big processors or our dairy producers? I would like him to respond.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-21 11:38 [p.2516]
Mr. Speaker, we are most impressed by the fine speeches made by the Liberals this afternoon in defence of supply management and our farmers, and in tackling the diafiltered milk issue. However thus far nothing has been done. So the government is going back on its Liberal promises.
The hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière has offered some possible solutions. We think that the solution is simple: enforce the law. In our view, this should be done immediately. It is simple. It can be done right now, even though the Liberals say that time is needed, that this is a long and complex matter.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague the following: In his view, what is long and complex about enforcing the law and resolving the problem?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2016-04-21 13:19 [p.2530]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague says that it is going to take time, but that it will be done. What is going to take time? Why does it take time to enforce a law that is already in effect?
We think that the problem is simple and that it could be resolved today with a bit of good will.
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-04-21 13:46 [p.2534]
Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I rather agree with some of the comments by my colleague from Outremont, especially as they relate to the empty rhetoric we heard from the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. We often hear empty rhetoric from that source, so this is par for the course.
We see now that the Liberal Party did not really change its stripes during its 10 years in opposition. The old Liberal tradition of giving to the party's friends is still alive and well.
Does my esteemed colleague agree? Is there a chance that the minister and the parliamentary secretary will one day get out of their limousine, put on their workboots, and go back to the stables to see what is really happening?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2016-04-21 17:02 [p.2565]
Madam Speaker, let us say it outright: dairy farmers are paying the price for government inaction. Foreign companies violate our rules. Canadian laws are circumvented. The government is failing to ensure that Canadian laws are upheld. Regulations on cheese composition are not enforced. The Quebec National Assembly needs to bring the federal government into line and demand that it do its job.
Throughout the debate I have heard the current Liberal government blame the Conservatives, who in turn blame the Liberals.
Does my colleague not agree that we need to know who is in charge? Are the Americans the ones with the real power on this file?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2016-04-14 15:03 [p.2251]
Mr. Speaker, we did not ask whether the government is aware of the issues; we want to know if it is going to enforce the regulations.
For the parliamentary secretary's benefit, I repeat that the National Assembly called on the government to ensure that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces its own regulation on cheese composition, using the same definition of diafiltered milk that the Canada Border Services Agency uses, namely, a protein concentrate.
Will the government commit to respecting the unanimous will of the National Assembly and dairy producers, yes or no?
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-04-11 15:07 [p.2001]
Mr. Speaker, last week, the UPA and the Government of Quebec both called on the federal government to regulate imports of diafiltered milk. This morning, a central-Quebec-based group of agri-food advocates known as the Front commun de la filière agroalimentaire weighed in.
On page 127 of the budget, the government talks about eliminating tariffs on food manufacturing ingredients other than supply-managed products.
Does the government really want to eliminate tariffs on diafiltered milk, which is contrary to the wishes of Quebec, the UPA and the Front commun?
View Simon Marcil Profile
BQ (QC)
View Simon Marcil Profile
2016-01-27 15:12 [p.486]
Mr. Speaker, we recently learned that last year alone 257 Quebec dairy farms were forced to shutter their operations. Two hundred and fifty-seven. That is a lot of farms. We are talking about families, men and women who are essential to the development of the regions. Our dairy producers need federal support now.
Will the minister do something right now about rising imports of milk protein?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2016-01-25 11:04 [p.325]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the voters in the riding of Rivière-du-Nord for placing their trust in me during the last election. During my time in office, I will represent them with humility, wisdom and dedication.
I would also like to thank the hundreds of thousands of Quebeckers who decided to put their faith in the Bloc Québécois to speak on their behalf in the House.
The Bloc Québécois is Quebec's party. Our purpose and our primary function here in the House is to stand up for Quebeckers' interests and values. We have a solid team made up of men and women of conviction. Our team will do a great job of representing the thousands of voters who chose to put their faith in our party and who believe in our mission: to fight for Quebec's independence and champion the interests of the Quebec nation.
Since its creation, our party has always acted responsibly in the work it does. Over the years, successive governments have been able to rely on our support when their policies served the interests of Quebec. Our party has also vigorously objected, and rightfully so, any time the rights of Quebeckers have been violated or ignored. For instance, the Bloc Québécois supported Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's work to create the now-defunct long gun registry. We did the same thing when it came time to ratify the Kyoto protocol in order to fight climate change.
We also supported the same Prime Minister in introducing same-sex marriage and imposing a moratorium on the criminalization of cannabis. However, governments that ignored Quebec or abused the rights of Quebeckers remember the opposition work of the Bloc Québécois.
I am sure that no one in this House is proud of the notorious sponsorship scandal. In any case, it was because of the hard, tireless work of the Bloc Québécois and its members that Quebec and the rest of Canada learned of the extent of the corruption surrounding the government of the day.
Hundreds of thousands of Quebeckers have long put their trust in the Bloc Québécois because doing so is good not only for Quebec, but also for democracy. The reasons are clear. First, making Quebec a country is still on the table. I can assure everyone listening that our caucus' commitment to the cause remains unwavering. Another reason we are still in the House is that the Bloc Québécois has always been beyond reproach and devoted to its work.
The Bloc Québécois is not a conventional opposition party. We do not oppose something simply because we are in the opposition. That would serve no purpose or make any sense and, as such, would be disrespectful to those who gave us our mandate. The Bloc Québécois stands up for the interests of Quebec. Until Quebec becomes a country it is critical that its choices are respected. Provided the federal government's decisions reflect such respect then the Bloc Québécois will support the government's policies. One day Quebec will collaborate with Canada, side by side within the community of nations.
We watched the sad spectacle put on by the previous government for far too long. The rights of parliamentarians were violated for nearly a decade. The House of Commons was reduced to playing a supporting role to a prime minister who did not believe in parliamentary work. The public service, scientists, women and workers were muzzled and treated with disdain, and the Conservative government basically ignored the environment, when the time has long since passed for critical action on climate change.
The Conservative government worked to achieve a single goal: to use its power to remain in power. A change in direction and tone was needed. In that regard, all the parties that ran against the Conservatives in the last election can congratulate themselves for expressing and doing something about Canadians' frustration and dissatisfaction with that government by removing it from power. That is why we commended the Prime Minister's announcement in the throne speech of his intention to return to a parliamentary tradition where respect for the opposition is a given.
There is no democracy without the work of a real opposition. The Bloc Québécois supports a number of the objectives set out by the Prime Minister. We will support some of those initiatives in keeping with our tradition of working together constructively.
First of all, we are thrilled to see that the government shares our concerns about climate change. However, we are asking that the efforts to combat climate change that Quebec has been making for a long time now be taken into account in the plan that the government will be putting forward in this regard.
That being said, all states must do their part, and there is a consensus in the scientific community to that effect. Even former U.S. vice-president Al Gore recently pointed out the major efforts Quebec has made to help combat climate change. The government cannot ignore that fact. If the government wants our support, it needs a plan that takes into account the leading-edge work that the Quebec nation has done to date.
The same is true for the matter of end-of-life care. We believe that Canada must enter into an informed and thorough debate on this issue, similar to that undertaken by the Quebec National Assembly.
However, Quebec cannot be penalized for having led the way in this area. On the contrary, we believe that the government must acknowledge Quebec's invaluable contribution, get the rest of Canada up to speed and adjust the targets for each province based on the efforts made since 1990 and the Kyoto accord.
In his speech, the Prime Minister claims that he intends to strengthen the employment insurance system. We support that. We believe it is high time that employment insurance truly was an insurance program and not a tax on labour. At present this is not the case, as EI seems to be a deficit reduction tax.
For the past 20 years, the EI fund has been ransacked time and again. If the Prime Minister is serious about strengthening the program, he must agree to make the fund truly independent. We are still adding up the billions of dollars that have been looted from this fund since 1996.
It is time to put a stop to that practice and to ensure that workers have real support when they lose their jobs. There is currently no indication that the Prime Minister intends to solve this problem once and for all. We are asking him to do so.
The Bloc Québécois has always been a staunch defender of workers' rights. We urge the Prime Minister to listen to our proposals if he truly wants to find appropriate, sustainable solutions for employment insurance.
Health is another very important issue. The Prime Minister has told us that he plans on talking to the provinces to reach a new agreement. Again, we have some conditions. Ottawa will have to increase federal health funding by 6% until 25% of Quebec's system costs are covered. Ottawa must also consider that our population is aging.
The Bloc Québécois will remain opposed to any law to implement the trans-Pacific partnership or the Canada-Europe agreement if the following conditions are not met. First, supply-managed cheese and agricultural producers will have to be fully compensated for any revenue losses. In addition, the federal government will have to provide considerable support for the next generation of farmers, to the tune of $100 million a year in investments. Lastly, the government will have to bring in border controls to prevent milk proteins from entering.
The fiscal imbalance is still a reality, and it could doom Quebeckers to decades of austerity unless something is done.
In the not-too-distant past, the Bloc Québécois was instrumental in partially addressing this issue. However, let us not kid ourselves. Everyone here is well aware that the expenses are in Quebec City, but the money is here in Ottawa.
The Prime Minister can get the Bloc's support if he acknowledges this situation and starts restoring the spending balance between the federal government and the Government of Quebec.
We salute the government's intention to renew its relationships with first nations. We fully support the Prime Minister's plan to tackle, at long last, the many issues they have been facing for too long. The Prime Minister said that he will initiate a nation-to-nation dialogue with aboriginal peoples. This is a noble initiative, and we will make sure that what is good for first nations is also good for the Quebec nation.
We will also support the government's plan to reduce taxes for the middle class. We believe that the middle class in Quebec and Canada must be strengthened. However, we would also like to see the government do more for low-income citizens. The middle class has been shrinking over the past 30-plus years not because the people of Quebec and Canada are getting richer, but because the number of people with low incomes is growing. If the government really wants to be progressive, it has to tackle poverty. Yes, we have to do whatever we can to strengthen the middle class, but all governments have an even more pressing duty to eradicate poverty. We would like the government to take meaningful steps toward that goal.
For all these reasons, we see many areas on which the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal government can agree and work together. The Prime Minister's wishes and goals are in line with many of the Bloc Québécois's demands and commitments. However, some important issues were ignored in the throne speech. We believe that a tax-free UCCB would be far more beneficial to Quebeckers than the proposed Canada child benefit.
We also believe that scrapping Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, would be better than a lengthy process to reform it.
In terms of infrastructure development, we want to make sure that Quebec's jurisdictions will not be violated for the umpteenth time by a federal program that ignores federal-provincial jurisdictions. If the federal government is serious about coming up with solutions to modernize our infrastructure, it needs to provide the Quebec government with the resources. It is up to Quebec City to decide the best way to modernize its infrastructure, with support from and by working with the municipalities in Quebec.
Allow me to reiterate that our work has always been accountable and honourable. That said, we have a duty to work together and ensure that our constituents can get the most out of every Parliament. Ever since the Bloc Québécois has been in the House, that motivation has made our party one of the most respected parties by Quebeckers. Over the years, we have even received praise and encouragement from the rest of Canada on our constructive work. Today, we are continuing in that vein with our tradition of promoting and defending Quebec's values and interests regardless of the circumstances. That is why we support, with reservations, the general scope of the Speech from the Throne.
That is also why we are asking to be heard and to join the government in a discussion with our parliamentarians in order to meet the needs of Quebeckers. We have always taken this approach because we represent Quebec. Our nation is our raison d'être. Our nation adopted a model more than 50 years ago when a tremendous group of people set out to make Quebeckers masters of their own house. This model is universally supported in Quebec. Under this model, no citizen is left behind.
We cherish a just and fair society. Modern Quebec is a society with a thirst for social justice and self-determination. However, the government in Ottawa always seems to stand in the way of the Quebec model. It has become increasingly obvious over the years that Quebec would be in a better position to develop its economy, environment, society and social programs if it alone could choose its priorities.
Earlier I mentioned that we unequivocally support the Prime Minister's efforts to engage in real nation-to-nation dialogue with our aboriginal peoples. This should set an example for the government's relations with the people of Quebec.
The Bloc Québécois is the standard-bearer for an ideal that is shared by millions of Quebeckers and that cannot be ignored.
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