Clarity Act (Bill C-457)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my colleagues for their speeches, and particularly my colleague from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, who has done a lot of work on this issue and was the architect of the Clarity Law, which we are debating again today.
First, I would like to say that I have a great deal of respect for my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska and for all of my Bloc Québécois colleagues. The work done by all members of the House is of equal value. However, I obviously do not share the opinion held by the Bloc Québécois on this issue. The Green Party therefore cannot support Bill C-457.

I will explain. The Green Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois support the principle that, as a people, the population of Quebec has the right and the power to make decisions regarding its future. Only the Quebec people can make decisions of that kind.

The question is how an amazing, democratic country like Canada can make clear and just decisions about sensitive, fundamental issues raised in the past, such as Quebec sovereignty and the rights of Quebeckers.

The bill introduced by the member for Richmond—Arthabaska revisits the motion moved in the House of Commons recognizing that Quebeckers form a nation. The Green Party is the only party in the House that did not agree to that motion.

When it came out that the Prime Minister had decided to put forward a motion that Quebeckers are a nation, there were a lot of questions as to what this would mean. At the time, and it may be a bit in our history, the current member of Parliament for Wellington—Halton Hills was the minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs. He could not agree with the position and he had not been consulted by the Prime Minister. It is unfortunate in this particular administration that the Prime Minister presumes to run all portfolios. The member, who was minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs at the time, did something quite extraordinary and with great integrity: he chose to leave cabinet and sit on the backbenches voluntarily because he could not agree with that position.

I agree with the member for Wellington—Halton Hills that when a motion is put forward, it either means something or it does not. This particular private member’s bill rests on the reality that the motion did not mean anything. If it meant what it said, then this Bloc Quebecois private member’s bill would have to pass. If all members of Parliament in the House who voted for the motion that Quebeckers are a nation really meant it, then this private member’s bill would have to pass.

We all recognize there is very little support in the House for this private member’s bill because we want the Clarity Act. We want to make sure that in the process of coming up with a question on an issue as important as another referendum on the question of Quebec leaving Canada, which we all hope will never occur, the Clarity Act will be followed.

As a political ploy, as a convenient motion which in effect meant nothing, every other party in the House, other than the Green Party, supported a motion that Quebeckers are a nation. Today those members are all hoist with their own petard. The reality is that if the motion meant anything they would have to vote for this private member’s bill being put forward by the member of Parliament for Richmond—Arthabaska. It would be a shame to turn a vote on anything as important as touching on the sovereignty of Quebeckers and Quebec as a nation into a political point that means nothing.

Evidently, the motion that Quebeckers form a nation, in principle, has had no effect. If it had, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska would be perfectly correct: it would not be reasonable for a clarity act to require clear questions and assign this kind of role to the Parliament of Canada.

We obviously need the Clarity Act. It is essential for the people of Quebec and for all Canadians who respect the rights of Quebeckers that there be a clear question. I hope that everyone will honour that principle. It is essential that there be a clear question regarding the future of the people of Quebec. This is a very important issue for the future. For that reason, the Green Party supports the Clarity Act. Unfortunately, the motion stating that Quebeckers form a nation has no real meaning.

The Green Party will not be voting for Bill C-457, but I thank the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for demonstrating very clearly that the motions supported by all the other parties in this House in the past are not effective. It is unfortunate for Quebeckers that such a motion was passed.

I am sorry to say that the motion that Quebeckers are a nation was, as I always suspected, a bit of political theatre without effect. I thank the member of Parliament for Richmond—Arthabaska for pointing it out so clearly.