|| That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, commencing upon the adoption of this Order and concluding on Friday, June 20, 2014:
||(a) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment shall be 12 midnight, except that it shall be 10 p.m. on a day when a debate, pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1, is to take place;
||(b) subject to paragraph (d), when a recorded division is demanded in respect of a debatable motion, including any division arising as a consequence of the application of Standing Order 61(2), but not including any division in relation to the Business of Supply or arising as a consequence of an order made pursuant to Standing Order 57, (i) before 2 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions at that day’s sitting, or (ii) after 2 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or at any time on a Friday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions at the next sitting day that is not a Friday;
||(c) the time provided for Government Orders shall not be extended pursuant to Standing Order 45(7.1);
||(d) when a recorded division, which would have ordinarily been deemed deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on a Wednesday governed by this Order, is demanded, the said division is deemed to have been deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday;
||(e) any recorded division which, at the time of the adoption of this Order, stands deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on the Wednesday immediately following the adoption of this Order shall be deemed to stand deferred to the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday;
||(f) a recorded division demanded in respect of a motion to concur in a government bill at the report stage pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(9), where the bill has neither been amended nor debated at the report stage, shall be deferred in the manner prescribed by paragraph (b);
||(g) for greater certainty, this Order shall not limit the application of Standing Order 45(7);
||(h) no dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown, after 6:30 p.m.; and
||(i) when debate on a motion for the concurrence in a report from a standing, standing joint or special committee is adjourned or interrupted, the debate shall again be considered on a day designated by the government, after consultation with the House Leaders of the other parties, but in any case not later than the twentieth sitting day after the interruption.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the government's motion proposing that we work a little bit of overtime over the next few weeks in the House.
I have the pleasure of serving in my fourth year as the government House leader during the 41st Parliament. That is, of course, on top of another 22 months during a previous Parliament, though some days it feels like I am just getting started since our government continues to implement an ambitious agenda that focuses on the priorities of Canadians. We still have much to do, and that is the basis for Motion No. 10, which we are debating today. Regardless of what other theories that folks might come up with, our objective is simple: to deliver results for Canadians, results on things Canadians want to see from their government.
As government House leader, I have worked to have the House operate in a productive, orderly, and hard-working fashion. Canadians expect their members of Parliament to work hard and get things done on their behalf. We agree, and that is exactly what has happened here in the House of Commons. However, do not take my word for it. Let us look at the facts.
In the previous session of the 41st Parliament, 61 government bills received royal assent and are now law. In 2013 alone, which was a shorter parliamentary year than normal, the government had a record-breaking year with 40 bills becoming law, more than any other calendar year since we took office, breaking our previous record of 37 new laws in 2007 when I also had the honour to be the leader of the House. That is the record of a hard-working, orderly, and productive Parliament. With more than a year left in this Parliament, the House has accomplished so much already, handing many bills over to the Senate for the final steps in the legislative process.
Just as we had a record year for legislative output, Canadian grain farmers experienced a bumper crop with a record yield in 2013. Understanding the real challenges faced by grain farmers, our government acted quickly on Bill , the fair rail for grain farmers act, moving the bill through three readings and a committee study before handing it over to the Senate. This bill would support economic growth by ensuring that grain is able to get to market quickly and efficiently. The House also passed Bill , the fair elections act, which would ensure that everyday citizens are in charge of democracy, ensuring the integrity of our electoral system and putting rule breakers out of business.
Two supply bills received royal assent, thereby ensuring that the government has the money it needs to continue providing services to the people.
When we passed Bill , we fulfilled our promise to protect the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation's enrolment process, making it fair and equitable while ensuring that only eligible individuals will be granted membership.
Earlier this spring, royal assent was also given to Bill , making the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation the first self-governing nation on the prairies and the 34th aboriginal community in Canada to achieve self-governance.
Next on the agenda is Bill , which will implement the agreement with the Tla'amin Nation. Bill C-34 will give the Tla'amin increased control over their own affairs. They will have ownership of their land and resources and will be able to create new investment opportunities and make decisions determining their economic future.
We considered and passed through all stages of Bill , which will enhance safety standards for workers in Canada’s Atlantic offshore oil and gas industry to protect Canadians and the environment while supporting jobs and growth.
Bill , the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, became law just a few weeks ago. This act will ensure that public safety should be the paramount consideration in the decision-making process involving high-risk accused found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.
Also, this spring, our government passed Bill , the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which honoured our government's commitment to giving northerners greater control over their resources and decision-making and completing devolution all before the agreed-upon implementation date of April 1, as well as Bill , the First Nations Elections Act, which supports the Government of Canada's commitment to provide all Canadians with strong, accountable, and transparent government. Bill C-9 provides a robust election framework, improves the capacity of first nations to select leadership, build prosperous communities, and improve economic development in their communities.
However, despite these many accomplishments, there is more work to be done yet before we return to our constituencies for the summer, let alone before we seek the privilege of representing our constituents in the 42nd Parliament.
During this mandate, our government's top priority has been jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.
It is worth saying that again. During this mandate, our government's top priority has been jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity. That continues. Through three years and four budgets since the 2012 budget, we have passed initiatives that have helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadians, as part of the one million net new jobs since the global economic downturn. We have achieved this record while also ensuring that Canada's debt burden is the lowest in the G7 and we are on track to balance the budget in 2015.
As part of our efforts to build on this strong track record, our government has put forward this motion today. Motion No. 10 is simple. It is straightforward. It would extend the hours of the House to sit from Monday through Thursday. Instead of finishing the day around 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., the House would, instead, sit until midnight. This would give us an additional 20 hours each week to debate important bills. Of course, the hours on Friday would not change.
Extended sitting hours is something that happens practically every June. Our government just wants to roll up its sleeves and work a little harder a bit earlier this year.
Productivity is not just a function of time invested, but also of efficiency. To that end, our motion would allow most votes to be deferred, automatically, until the end of question period to allow for all hon. members' schedules to be a bit more orderly.
Last year, we saw the New Democrats profess to be willing to work hard. Then, mere hours later, after the sun would go down and people were not watching, what would the NDP do? It would suggest we pack it in early and move adjournment, without any accomplishment to show for it.
In order to keep our focus on delivering results and not gamesmanship, we are suggesting that we use our extra evening hours to get something done, not to play idle, unproductive games. We are interested in working hard and being productive, and doing so in an orderly fashion. That is the extent of what Motion No. 10 would do. Members on this side of the House are willing to work a few extra hours to deliver real results for Canadians. What results are we seeking? Bills on which we want to see progress, that are of great significance to Canadians, are worth spending a little extra time to see them considered and, ideally, passed.
Of course, we have the important matter of passing Bill . This bill implements our government’s budget—a low-tax plan for jobs, growth and a stronger Canadian economy. It is also an essential tool in placing the government on track to balanced budgets, starting in 2015.
We have a number of bills that continue to build on the work we have done in support of victims of crime. Bill , is another essential piece of legislation that will crack down on cyberbullies and online threats by giving law enforcement officials the tools necessary to investigate and tackle these crimes. We are taking clear action to combat cyberbullying and I ask the opposition to join us in this pursuit.
Every day in Canada, our most vulnerable—our children—are the victims of sexual abuse. This is truly unacceptable and as a society we must do our part to better protect our youth. With Bill , we are doing our part.
Our government's comprehensive legislation will better protect children from a range of sexual offences, including child pornography, while making our streets and communities safer by cracking down on the predators who hurt, abuse, and exploit our children.
Therefore, I ask the opposition to work with us, support this important piece of legislation by supporting this motion.
It is also important that we move forward with one of the most recent additions to our roster of other tackling crime legislation. Last month, we introduced Bill , the victims bill of rights act, which will give victims of crime a more efficient and more effective voice in the criminal justice system. It seeks to create clear statutory rights at the federal level for victims of crime, for the first time in Canada's history. The legislation would establish rights to information, protection, participation, and restitution, and ensure a complaint process is in place for breaches of those rights on the part of victims. It would protect victims, and help to rebalance the justice system to give victims their rightful place. I hope we can debate this bill tomorrow night. By passing Motion No. 10, we will make that possible.
Our efforts to protect families and communities also extend to keeping contraband tobacco off our streets, so that the cheap baggies of illegal cigarettes do not lure children into the dangers of smoking. Bill , the tackling contraband tobacco act, would combat this by establishing mandatory jail time for repeat offenders trafficking in contraband. Aside from protecting Canadian children from the health hazards of smoking, it will also address the more general problems with trafficking and contraband tobacco propelled by organized crime roots. With luck, I hope we can pass this bill on Friday.
Just before the constituency week, the announced Quanto's law. Bill , the justice for animals in service act, would pose stiffer penalties on anyone who kills or injures a law enforcement, military, or service animal. I know that the hon. member for , having previously introduced a private member's bill on the subject, will be keen to see the extra time used to debate and pass this bill at second reading before we head back to our constituencies.
Bill , the drug-free prisons act, could also have a chance for some debate time if we pass Motion No. 10. This particular bill will tackle drug use and trade in the federal penitentiaries to make the correctional system a safer place, particularly for staff, but also for inmates, while also increasing the potential for success and rehabilitation of those inmates. As a former public safety minister, I can say that this is indeed an important initiative.
Delivering these results for Canadians is worth working a few extra hours each week. Our clear and steady focus on the strength of our Canadian economy does not simply apply to our budgets. We will also work hard next week to bring the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement into law. Bill , the Canada-Honduras economic growth and prosperity act, would enhance provisions on cross-border trading services, investment, and government procurement between our two countries. It would also immediately benefit key sectors in the Canadian economy, by providing enhanced market access for beef, pork, potato products, vegetable oils, and grain products.
As a former trade minister, I can say first-hand that this government understands that trade and investment are the twin engines of the global economy that lead to more growth, the creation of good jobs, and greater prosperity. Trade is particularly important for a country like Canada, one that is relatively small yet stands tall in terms of its relationship and ability to export and trade with the rest of the world. If we are to enjoy that prosperity in the future, it is only through expanding free trade and seizing those opportunities that we can look forward to that kind of long-term prosperity.
Through Bill , the agricultural growth act, we are providing further support to Canada's agriculture producers. This bill would modernize nine statues that regulate Canada's agriculture sector to bring them in line with modern science and technology, innovation, and international practices within the agriculture industry. The act will strengthen and safeguard Canada's agriculture sector by providing farmers with greater access to new crop varieties, enhancing both trade opportunities and the safety of agriculture products, and contributing to Canada's overall economic growth.
As the House knows, our government has made the interests of farmers a very important priority. We recognize that since Canada was born, our farmers in our agriculture sector have been key to Canada's economic success. As a result, Bill will be debated this afternoon. It would be nice to have the bill passed at second reading before the summer, so that the agriculture committee can harvest stakeholder opinion this autumn.
Over the next few weeks, with the co-operation and support of the opposition parties, we will hopefully work to make progress on other important initiatives.
My good friend, the , will be happy to know that these extra hours would mean that I can find some time to debate Bill , the red tape reduction act. This important bill should not be underestimated. It would enshrine into law our government's one-for-one rule, a successful system-wide control on regulatory red tape that affects Canadian employers. Treasury Board already takes seriously the practice of opining that rule, but we want to heighten its importance and ensure that it is binding on governments in the future. We want to ensure that Canadians do not face unreasonable red tape when they are simply trying to make a better living for themselves, and creating jobs and economic growth in their communities.
Another important government initiative sets out to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. For the first time in more than 35 years, our government is taking action to update the Citizenship Act. Through Bill , the strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, we are proposing stronger rules around access to Canadian citizenship to underline its true value and ensure that new Canadians are better prepared for full participation in Canadian life. This legislation will be called for debate on Wednesday.
The health and safety of Canadians is something that our government believes is worthy of some extra time and further hard work in the House of Commons.
Tomorrow evening, we will debate Bill , the protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs act. Under Vanessa's law, as we have called it, we are proposing steps to protect Canadian families and children from unsafe medicines. Among other actions, the bill would enable the government to recall unsafe drugs, require stronger surveillance, provide the courts with discretion to impose stronger fines if violations were intentionally caused, and compel drug companies to do further testing on a product. In general, the bill would make sure that the interests of individual Canadians are looked out for and become a major priority when it comes to dealing with new medications and drugs.
Bill , the energy safety and security act, would modernize safety and security for Canada's offshore and nuclear energy industries, thereby ensuring a world-class regulatory system, and strengthening safety and environmental protections. This legislation, at second reading, will be debated on Thursday.
Bill , the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act, could pass at third reading under the extended hours, so that we can secure these important updates and improvements to transportation law in Canada.
We could also pass the prohibiting cluster munitions act. As the explained at committee, the Government of Canada is committed to ridding the world of cluster munitions. Bill is an important step in that direction, but it is just the beginning of our work. Extending the relevant elements of the Oslo Convention into domestic law would allow Canada to join the growing list of countries that share that same goal. I hope members of all parties will support us in this worthy objective.
By supporting today's motion, the opposition would also be showing support for Canada's veterans. The extra hours would allow us to make progress on Bill , the veterans hiring act. The measures included in this legislation would create new opportunities for men and women who have served their country to continue working for Canadians through the federal public service. As a nation, we have a responsibility to ensure that veterans have access to a broad range of programs and services to help them achieve new success after their time in uniform is complete. This initiative would do exactly that.
Of course, a quick reading of today's order paper would show that there are still more bills before the House of Commons for consideration and passage. I could go on and on, literally, since I have unlimited time to speak this afternoon, but I will not. Suffice it to say that we have a bold, ambitious, and important legislative agenda to implement. All of these measures are important, and they will improve the lives of Canadians. Each merits consideration and hard work on our part. Canadians expect each one of us to come to Ottawa to work hard, to vote on bills, to make decisions, and to get things done on their behalf.
I hope that opposition parties will be willing to support this reasonable plan and let it come to a vote. I am sure that members opposite would not be interested in going back to their constituents to say that they voted against working a little overtime before the House rises for the summer.
I commend this motion to the House and encourage all hon. members to vote for adding a few hours to our day to continue the work of our productive, orderly, and hard-working Parliament, and deliver real results for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I saw the member for rising. I am sure he would have pointed out that, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in 2013, of the jobs the current government managed to cobble together, 95% were actually part-time, and we have 300,000 more unemployed than we did the year before. Therefore, the Conservative government, I guess in keeping with not showing up to evening sessions, is a part-time government. The Conservatives are only able to stimulate the economy with part-time jobs, and that is not even going. I know my colleague for would also mention the fact that tens of thousands of jobs were lost last month.
We are talking about a government that right now does not seem to be doing much right.
It is rather sad that the government is again moving this motion that it is imposing with its majority. The NDP is always willing to work evenings. There is no doubt about that and we have proven it many times. Every June since 2011, NDP members were always in the House ready to debate bills and provide advice. The problem is that this government does not listen and is not prepared to listen to good advice. I will come back to that in a moment.
We are very familiar with the results. We know that bill after bill has been rejected by the court. The government is then often required to make amendments to the botched parts of the previous bill. The government seems to want to bungle everything, not just services to Canadians, but also the legislative process that leads to the introduction of appropriate bills and proposed amendments to improve bills in order to help Canadians. This process does not seem all that complicated, but it is unfortunately often botched by this government.
I am referring to the Conservatives' use of closure and time allocation motions, which is on par with their use by the Liberals when they were in power. It is appalling that this government systematically wants to shut down debate and deprive members of their right to speak. Each time, 280 members, on average, are deprived of their right to speak. The Conservatives vote for these closure motions. That is ridiculous.
In ridings where a Conservative member was elected—I am not so sure they will be re-elected the next time—that member takes away his own opportunity to speak on behalf of his constituents. The Conservatives say they want to shut down debate and therefore they do not want their constituents in Calgary, Red Deer, Lévis or any other riding to be represented in the House of Commons. They want to shut down debate. Thus, the vast majority of Conservative members seldom talk about the needs of the people in their riding or bills introduced in Parliament.
The has just stood up and said that the Conservatives are going to work harder, but that also happened last year. My colleague from knows what I am talking about. Last year, the Conservatives were not in the House to speak. One evening, there was six hours of debate and only a single Conservative member was in the House to speak. Only one Conservative member spoke in six hours. The government moves time allocation and closure motions, and the Conservative members remain silent instead of speaking.
Members of the NDP, on the other hand, are always in attendance when the sitting hours of the House are extended. We are always there to fight, to improve bills and to solicit comments about bills. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are nowhere to be found. They do not come to the House, or perhaps one of them will show up over the course of the evening. As we said earlier, during the debate on S-12, no Conservative members came to speak about the bill. Not one, and we were there for six hours. What were they doing?
I do not know. It is not as though they were out consulting their constituents. The Conservatives are not here. They are not speaking.
I am going to come back to this momentarily, but the result is that we end up with botched legislation because the government does not listen and the Conservative members do not even speak on behalf of their constituents. Honestly.
We receive a generous salary from our constituents, the taxpayers. We are here to work to help our ridings move forward. I represent the riding of Burnaby—New Westminster. It is my duty to be in the House to stand up for the interests of the people of Burnaby—New Westminster.
If members decide to stop speaking, to systematically go along with the government's time allocation and closure motions and therefore deprive their ridings of the right to speak and if, on top of that, members do not even show up for the evening sessions in the House of Commons to contribute to the debate and the legislative process, then this approach becomes a complete sham.
I am fairly certain—and I would take a bet with any Conservative member—that this year, we will have the same problem as we did last year and the year before: 90% to 95% of the time, the NDP, or sometimes other opposition members, will be speaking and the Conservatives will not even be here.
The reasoning behind this motion does not make sense. The Conservatives are not the ones who will be here working. The Conservatives will not be here representing their constituents. The Conservatives will not be here giving passionate speeches about their ridings. They will not be here.
The proof, as we will soon see, is the way this motion is structured. The way the government decided to structure the motion is evidence of how much it will once again diminish the democratic rights all Canadians value so strongly. Canadians across the country want us to be in the House. They want us to represent them, regardless of where we are from.
For example, my colleague from is an extraordinary young man, and he does a good job representing his riding. He is always in the House and speaks often. He is here; he represents his riding. He understands how important it is to represent Sherbrooke in the House of Commons. The same goes for my colleague from . Her riding is not the wealthiest riding in Canada. The average family income in her riding is below the average. She is always here representing the people of Hochelaga and talking on their behalf. She gives speeches on the importance of affordable housing. That is because she understands her role as member of Parliament.
Members on the Conservative side, on the other hand, refuse to speak at second reading or at report stage because there is a time allocation motion, and they refuse to show up on evenings when we have extended debates. How can the government expand the scope of its activities when it does not listen and when government members refuse to speak on behalf of their constituents? They refuse to defend government bills, they refuse to take action, they refuse to present amendments and they refuse to offer anything at all when it comes to legislation.
In such circumstances, voting Conservative does not mean a great deal. When people voted for the Conservatives, they voted for members who are controlled by the 's Office, not members who rise in the House, defend their constituents' rights and speak on their behalf.
I want to speak to the motion now because I know that many of my colleagues are reading it. We want this to be a useful study of an important motion. For those who are watching, I will go step by step.
To begin, the majority government, as usual, wants to force a decision on the House. Unfortunately, debate and democracy are foreign concepts for the Conservatives.
They are proposing that commencing upon the adoption of this order and concluding on Friday, June 20, 2014, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment shall be midnight, except that it shall be 10 p.m. on a day when a debate, pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1, is to take place.
As I said, we do not object to working until midnight. However, what actually happens is that the members opposite rarely show up to speak in the House. Opposition members are the ones who really contribute to the debates, and that is a major problem. If the government listened to us, it would not be problem, but that is not the case.
This has caused many problems with bills in the past. More than once we had to make amendments to botched bills with subsequent legislation, or, again, the Supreme Court clearly indicated that the bills were not in order.
Today, the Conservatives are proposing that we adjourn at midnight, or 10 p.m. if a debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1 is to take place. That refers to emergency debates.
My colleagues in the House, including the hon. member for —who works very hard for the people in his riding—and the hon. member for , are always listening to their constituents and are always ready to raise questions that often result in an emergency debate.
A few weeks ago, in fact, an emergency debate was held in accordance with Standing Orders 52 and 53.1. That debate on the kidnapping of young Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram was proposed by the member for . Many people from across the country came here to attend the debate, and people were still talking about it when I returned to my riding, , last week.
Now the government wants to prevent us from holding emergency debates before 10 p.m. If the Chair decides that there is to be an emergency debate, that debate cannot begin before 10 p.m. For working people in eastern Canada, who have families and work hard, that is late. They will be denied their right to tune in.
It will not be so bad in my riding because of the three-hour time difference. For example, 10 p.m. here is 7 p.m. back home. That is a reasonable time. However, for the vast majority of Canadians, this government motion deprives them of their right to tune in to the emergency debates that will take place in the coming weeks.
Second, when we look at the second clause of this motion, which deals with recorded divisions, we see that what the Conservatives would now do is put in place a voting system that would have votes occur at the conclusion of oral questions, in the middle of the afternoon. This proposal reveals the whole intent of the government.
The Conservatives say that they want to work harder. We have already ripped up that argument by showing that when they said they wanted to work harder that last year, over 90% of the time it was not Conservatives but New Democrats doing the work. Only one Conservative member would show up every night to speak in the House of Commons, so this idea that somehow the government wants to work harder is simply not true.
Paragraph (b) deals with recorded divisions demanded in respect of any debatable motion before 2 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. In this case the vote would stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on that day, while if a division is demanded after 2 p.m., it would stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the next sitting day.
What the Conservatives would do is basically do away with those evening votes. Not only do they not show up to speak, but they also do not even want to show up to vote. This could be perhaps the laziest motion ever put forward in the House of Commons by the government. It is far from wanting to work harder, as we have shown quite clearly when 90% to 95% of the time it is the New Democrats carrying the heavy load.
We are fine with carrying the heavy load. We come from humble roots and we are hard workers. Everybody acknowledges that, and that is why 90% to 95% of the time it is we who do the hard work in the House.
However, now the Conservatives want to even do away with evening votes. They are saying, “No, that is too hard. It is too hard voting at 6:00 or 7:00 at night. We do not want to show up to speak”.
This is a licence for laziness. That is what the government has brought forward. The Conservatives want to make sure that motions are voted on around question period time so that folks can show up around question period and then do whatever it is that Conservative MPs do in the evening. I have no idea of that.
I should also point out that, in this motion, the same goes for private members' business. Where this motion mentions Wednesdays governed by this order, it says that recorded divisions will be deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday. As for other private members' business, the motion says that this too will be deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday. That is the same thing.
This is really a licence for laziness. As we have shown, 90% to 95% of the time, the Conservatives are not the ones showing up to speak in the House. They do not want to vote in the evening, not even on private members' business. They want to curtail all of these activities and make sure that no votes happen in the evening.
What difference will that make? The NDP will still be here working. We work hard. We have a reputation for working hard. We come from humble roots and we represent our ridings well. I know that the members here this afternoon are very hard-working, and we will continue to work hard. Votes, including votes on private members' business, will now be held in the afternoon. That means the Conservative members will have their evenings free.
That is really the problem. As we move through this motion, we see time and time again that this is like a giant recess for the Conservatives. They have structured this so that they do not have to have votes in the evening anymore. They do not show up to speak in the evening 90% of the time, depending on the evening. It is New Democrats who actually put in the representation of their ridings. What we are seeing again is the Conservatives, through this motion, giving themselves an evening off.
The real clue to what the Conservatives are doing, this licence for laziness, is that they will not show up to speak or to vote, but they are telling the NDP that we can do our stuff and speak on behalf of our constituents. They have also proved that they are not willing to listen to the good advice we offer them, which is why they got into so much trouble having to amend legislation they brought forward previously and having pieces of legislation rejected by the Supreme Court. If they had listened to us and to Canadians, they would not be in so much trouble.
The key to this is paragraph (h): “No dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown after 6:30 p.m.” The essence of the motion is that Conservatives will not show up to speak in the House of Commons. They will not show up to participate, because they do not do that; they let harder-working members do that. They will also not show up to vote in the evening. They will not show up to vote on private members' legislation, and they will not show up to vote on public legislation. That is why they want the votes after question period, when it is convenient.
That means that the Conservatives are shutting down the rules of the House so that only they can use them. It is incredible. If we had not been through Bill , in which they were trying to cook the next election campaign, it would be unbelievable that after all the decades, a century and a half and more of Canadian parliamentary democracy, a government would say that the rules will exist, but the government members will be the only ones who can use them. Only Conservatives can use these rules. Only a minister of the crown can use these rules.
We will have this period. I know it, because we went through it. The member for knows it full well, because I think he probably spent more time in this House than any other member. Night after night, there will be no Conservatives here wanting to speak, or maybe one member of Parliament from the Conservative Party will want to speak. However, the Conservatives will not show up to vote, because they are having all the votes deferred to question period, when it is convenient for them, and they are now saying that all the rules of the House apply only to them. Only they can use them. They are basically putting handcuffs on every single member of the opposition. They are saying that only a Conservative can use the rules that normally function that make this democratic place a democracy. Only the Conservatives can use them. It is unbelievable.
If we had not been through the unfair elections act, where the Conservatives were trying to subvert the next election campaign, we would actually think this could not be Canada. These are not Canadian values. That is what they are doing. They are putting in, and writing it out so that any Canadian can see, “No dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown after 6:30 p.m.”
This is not an approach to try to work harder. The was trying to slide that by us a little while ago, and we simply do not believe it. The evidence simply shows that this is not the case. Conservatives will not be showing up to speak in the House. They did not last year. They did not the year before, and 90% to 95% of the time they let the heavy lifting be carried by New Democrats. We are strong, we are tough, and we do not mind doing it. We will do an even better job in 2015 once we are the government. That is when we will really see changes, when the heavy lifting actually benefits people directly through good governance.
I can tell members something else we will not be doing. It is what I mentioned half an hour ago.
I am enjoying this. I am not sure when I am going to sit down, actually. I think my colleagues from the NDP are appreciating it too.
I just want to mention what happens when due diligence is not done. Conservative members should know this, but they are muzzled. They vote for time allocation and muzzle themselves, so they do not actually speak on legislation in the House. There are 280 MPs, on average, who have their right to speak on legislation ripped away every single time, the dozens and dozens of times, the government has used closure techniques. Sometimes it calls it time allocation, but it amounts to the same thing; it is closure. Every time the government does it, 280 MPs, on average, are denied their right to speak. They do not show up to the evening session to speak. One does, and that is normally it. Then 90% to 95% of the heavy lifting is done by the NDP.
What is the result of this? I will give three examples. I could give tons of examples. I could probably speak for 14 hours on bad, botched Conservative legislation. I could do that, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you and the public would find it interesting, but eventually we are going to have to go to question period. I am going to mention only three examples.
The Conservatives rammed Bill through the House without due care and attention and without showing up for evening sessions. Bill C-38 was one of the omnibus bills. The member for raised major concerns about it at the time. The Conservatives botched the bill. They botched it so badly that the next bill they introduced had to fix the mistakes they made in the first bill. They rammed Bill C-38 through the House with time allocation. It was omnibus legislation, which was quite all right, except it was wrong. It was badly botched in a way only the Conservative government could do it.
It was so badly botched, the government had to introduce another piece of legislation, Bill . Bill C-45 had to fix all the problems in the previous bill. Was that a good use of taxpayers' money? Was it a good, use of this legislative process? The government rammed through Bill but botched it so badly that it had to bring another piece of legislation in to fix it. That is like bringing one's car in to get fixed and driving off without the wheels. It is incredible. We went through another process, with Bill C-45, to fix what was wrong with Bill C-38.
That is just a snapshot of how the government handles legislation. It is like the guy who has a hammer and thinks everything is a nail. Conservatives think everything is pavement and they can steamroll over all of it, except that when legislation is badly botched, there are consequences.
That brings me to another piece of legislation, Bill . It is the same kind of thing. The Conservatives tried to throw a whole bunch of things in the bill, a laundry list, except that the Supreme Court rejected part of that legislation. As we know, the has been raising this repeatedly in the House.
We have a problem whereby botched legislation leads to more time wasted, because the Conservatives have to introduce other legislation to fix the bad legislation they forced through in the first place without listening to the NDP. If they had listened to the NDP, they would not have had the badly botched legislation in the first place. If they do get it through the House, then, as we saw with Bill , the Supreme Court says, “Sorry, you badly botched this legislation and it is not constitutional”. As a result of that, we have to reject part of this legislation.
This is the real problem. It is not that the government, as it likes to say, does its job and produces a quantity of legislation, so everyone should give it a pat on the back. It is bad legislation in so many cases. It is legislation that has to be fixed. New Democrats always offer the amendments and the fixes. We are always there to try to direct the government. We often feel as if we are trying to direct a puppy, because it seems to get distracted often.
The reality is that the work the government does should be very important. The legislation the government presents in the House should be very important. There should be a proper legislative process. There should be amendments that are considered. There should be a process people can actually respect. That is not what happens under the government.
The government just throws legislation out without due respect for parliamentary traditions. It refuses to listen to the opposition to develop the legislation so that it can actually accomplish what it purports to set out to do when it puts the legislation on the floor of the House. The government will not take amendments, will not listen to debate, actually shuts down the debate, and rams legislation through. This costs Canadians enormously.
Every time the government has to provide new legislation to fix the old legislation, and as has happened a number of times in the past few weeks, every time the Supreme Court says that what the government is doing is simply not constitutional, it costs Canadians.
We have this motion that is a licence for laziness. It dismisses Conservatives from voting in the evening. It dismisses Conservatives from having to participate in debates that are actually quite important, because that is how we get legislation fixed, particularly the shoddy legislation the government tends to present in the House.
Now we have a government that has such profound arrogance that it says, quite clearly, “No dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown”, which means that no dilatory motion may be proposed except by a Conservative, except by a minister of the crown, after 6:30 p.m.
What the government is doing, at the height of its arrogance, is saying to Canadians, “Hey, we are just going to run this government, this country, exactly how we want, and we do not care about the consequences”.
We care about the consequences. We care when we see shoddy legislation that has to be corrected, and it takes months of work, because the government did not get it right in the first place. We care when the Supreme Court says that what the government is doing is unconstitutional.
We care when we see, right across this country, growing concern about the government's arrogance and its attacks on a whole host of institutions, not just in the elections act but in the attack on the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Sheila Fraser. How could anyone attack Sheila Fraser? The Conservatives have been doing just that.
When we see all those attacks, we see a government that has simply done its time. It no longer has any sort of legitimate agenda but just wants to lash out at its perceived enemies and wants to set a perception that is simply not true.
With this motion, this licence for laziness, Conservatives get off scot-free. They do not have to vote in the evening. They do not have to show up in the evening. The government has said it is going to handcuff every single member of the opposition to their desks and not let them use any proper parliamentary procedure after 6:30 p.m. Only the government can.
That arrogance is something Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of. That arrogance is something Canadians are saying they have had enough of. In the most recent poll, the had an approval rating of one-third of Canadians. Two-thirds of Canadians disapprove of the work he is doing.
The has falling approval levels, but he did better. It was 50/50.
The top approval level in the country is for the . Two-thirds of Canadians see his work in the House of Commons and approve of it. They see him as strong and as defending Canadian democracy.
That is what we are going to continue to do. We are going to ensure that legislation is effective. We are going to continue to speak out and work hard on behalf of our constituents. We are looking forward to that day, October 19, 2015, when we can get rid of the government and start having an NDP government that is going to fully respect our democratic traditions here in the House of Commons and right across the country.
Mr. Speaker, I rise with a number of comments about the motion at hand because it is a motion that we have seen before. It is a motion about how the House of Commons will be run.
With some passing comments to my friend from the Liberals in the corner there that somehow the way Parliament—
Mr. Nathan Cullen: I will be very careful, Mr. Speaker, because as my friend across the way knows, one must be delicate when talking to our friends across the way.
It is important to know that the way the House conducts itself, the way the House performs its function on behalf of Canadians, the way we study legislation and vote on legislation seems incredibly unimportant to my Liberal colleagues right now. I express this with some concern and sadness, because the function of Canada's Parliament should matter to all of us, regardless of our political persuasion.
The motion in front of us directs how the House of Commons will operate over the next four weeks. Specifically, it proposes to extend the hours. It would also give the government unilateral control over how the House would conduct itself past a certain time of day. Only those sitting in the Conservative cabinet would be allowed the basic tools and the basic rules that govern this place. Not even my friends on the Conservative backbench would be allowed the basic tools under the motion. Those rules would be given over exclusively to the Conservative cabinet.
To my friends in the Liberal Party who attempted to belittle the conversation going on here today, it is only going to last so long. I would remind them that the motion would guide the House not on just this one moment but on what will happen over the next four weeks, including a number of important pieces of legislation on which the opposition and my Conservative colleagues in the back would be prohibited from exercising their democratic values and rights.
The Liberals can make fun and talk about bubbles in bubbles, but the constituents that I represent care about our fundamental democratic values. I do not know about or about or all the rest, but my constituents care about our fundamental democratic values. The place where that happens the most is right here.
If the Conservatives introduce draconian motions that extend hours and limit the power of MPs to debate pieces of legislation and those measures are not important to my Liberal friends, then so be it. That is fine. That is a decision they can make. We stand opposed to this motion specifically because it would prevent members of Parliament—
An hon. member: It will only take an hour.
Will the real House leader please stand up.
Mr. Nathan Cullen: Mr. Speaker, it is amazing how easily shocked the Liberals are to see New Democrats stand up and oppose anti-democratic measures.
They talk about a breath of fresh air. What that means is that when we are pushed by a bully, the real reaction and the proper democratic reaction is to stand up and resist that bully, rather than roll over and pretend that it is not important. I say to my Liberal friends that if we want to correct the abusive behaviour by Conservatives in the House, we must stand up to that abusive behaviour from time to time. That means being here. That means asking questions. That means debating legislation.
At least we can agree with my Liberal friends on this next point, and I will end on this point and then turn my attention to the motion.
The Conservatives put forward absolutely atrocious pieces of legislation, often under time allocation. That technique limits the amount of debate that is allowed to take place on any bill, and those bills were so fundamentally flawed that when they attempted to enact those bills into law in Canada, they not only caused Canadians millions of dollars in real terms but also hundreds of hours of grief.
The laws are designed very badly, yet they are rushed through this process. The Liberals can belittle all they want, but the fact of the matter remains that the Conservative government has used time allocation and closure, which are techniques to limit and shut down debate in Canada's House of Commons, more often than any government in Canadian history.
Let us rest on that moment for a second. Let us rest on that fact just in passing. No government under any other circumstances—times of war, times of peace, depressions, recessions, all of those things—has shut down debate in Parliament more often and with such latitude as the present Conservative government has.
What strikes me as passing strange is that when in opposition, the Conservatives, many of whom are now sitting in cabinet, used to hate when the Liberals did this very same thing. We have all the quotes from the , from the , from the showing that when the Liberals had a majority government and used these same techniques, it was the Conservatives who were holding up democratic rights and showing some flame for the hopes and aspirations of all Canadians when they look at our Parliament. It was Conservatives, along with New Democrats, who said it was wrong.
However, what they actually took from those days in opposition were the wrong lessons.
They said they were going to use the techniques that the Liberals were using when they were in a majority government and that they were going to expand on them. They were going to put them on steroids and shut down debate more often. As a result, on average, we see two members out of the whole Conservative caucus stand up and speak to any government bill.
One could say that they do not have a lot to say about these pieces of legislation. That is worrisome, because some of them are incredibly complicated and affect the lives of millions of Canadians in some cases. We find Conservatives simply uninterested in speaking and representing.
Liberals may say that nothing that happens here matters, and the Conservatives may join them. One would then question why they ran for office in the first place, if they did not want to speak in the House of Commons or did not think that what happens in this place matters. I join my New Democratic colleagues and say that what takes place here does matter, that our words do matter, and that our words should effect change for the positive.
Hopefully, when we all signed our nomination forms way back when and decided to run for the various political parties here, there was some hope in that exercise. Hopefully there was some belief that we were going to stand in this place and speak on behalf of others, because when we take this place to its fundamental principles, that is all it is. The design of Canada's Parliament is simply to hold the government to account on spending and legislation. That is not solely the responsibility of those of us in opposition, as we are as New Democrats right now; it is also the responsibility of all of those not in cabinet. That includes the majority of my Conservative colleagues across the way.
How are we doing on that account? Conservatives and, I suppose, Liberals support the actions by the government House leader in Motion No. 10. The motion will unilaterally offer all of the tools of Canada's House of Commons, but exclusively to those in cabinet. It will then again extend sitting hours, which is fine. If we look at the attendance records and those who speak to motions at 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, or 12 o'clock at night, we will see that New Democrats are taking the majority of those opportunities to address the legislation before us. That is because we believe in the process.
I am sorry to offend any of the real-world sensibilities of my friends across the way, and now of my Liberal friends as well, by pointing out that New Democrats are so naive that they believe that contributing to the debate in the House of Commons means something. We are naive enough to believe that our best ideas, our best hopes, and our best research should mean something to legislation before Parliament.
Heaven forbid that the job of MPs should not just be to say whatever the Prime Minister's Office tells them to say but to speak on behalf of our constituents with our best guided intelligence and the best information that we have. Heaven forbid that the House of Commons should be that place once more in Canada's life.
We all know that there is a lot of reason for cynicism and despair on behalf of the Canadian people. They look at the unfair elections act, to take one example of one bad piece of legislation. The government seems to be unable to find one expert witness anywhere to defend its act. At any point in this conversation about our democracy and the way in which Canadians will vote, the government was unable to find anyone who would support it outside of the Conservative Party of Canada. Despite that, it rammed this bill through as well. It rammed this act through that will make it easier to cheat and harder to vote.
Conservatives stand up day after day and suggest that they are the holders of all wisdom when it comes to voting. They suggest that all the experts, such as the head of Elections Canada, the former head of Elections Canada, and the former head of Elections B.C., whom the Conservatives hired to give them advice on how to run elections, are all wrong. Sheila Fraser is wrong. She must be partisan, biased, or ill-informed. Conservatives understand how elections should work.
Maybe they do for Conservatives, but not for Canadians. Unfortunately for us, the Conservatives too often offer those Canadians who are losing faith and hope in our democracy even more reason to become cynical and even more reasons to turn away from the ballot box. What does that say to young Canadians in particular? All parties have talked about encouraging young people, or at least New Democrats have. I cannot speak for the others in terms of their efforts to get young Canadians out to vote. Young Canadians in particular are watching the actions of a government that has completely lost its moral compass.
I believe that Reformers and Conservatives used to believe in things aside from just power, but now power is their exclusive view on the way things should work, and we see it again here in Motion No. 10.
It says that the government is not content to just use time allocation, closure, and all of the different tools to shut down debate, and I love what the government House leader said earlier today. For those colleagues of mine who missed it, he said that it was the economy that made them do it. In terms of becoming fundamentally undemocratic, it was the crisis in Europe that forced the Conservatives to shut down debate in Canada's House of Commons.
This is the same Conservative Party that, as the world was entering into the great recession, introduced an austerity budget. The Conservatives said that the solution to caving financial markets was to bring in a budget that would severely cut government spending. As Europe, the United States, and the entire G20 all moved in the opposite direction, the sages in the Conservative Party said that they knew better. On these global recessionary talks that are going on, I remember one Conservative pundit in this place saying that these rumours of a financial crisis are overblown and what we need to do is bring in austerity.
If we set the record straight and clear, it was only when the own job was threatened—not the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Canadians that were on the line—and his own government was on the line and he feared for the loss of that government, did the Conservatives flip and suddenly introduce a new budget and go all “Keynesian”. As the finance minister said at the time, “We're all Keynesians now”. That was when they actually believed in the role of government in having some sort of influence over what happens within a country's economy.
The Conservatives introduced a stimulus budget, and they were dragged kicking and screaming into the conversation. It was only that near-death experience for the Conservative Party that opened them up to the idea that there could be an actual reason and role for government.
This is a government that, in its legislation, has decided that omnibus bills are the new answer to governing in Canada; that is, hundreds and hundreds of pages of legislation rammed into one bill. The debate around that legislation is completely shut down. When the opposition introduces amendments based on what we hear from experts who actually know what they are talking about—not from my friends across the way—the government refuses and rejects all of them. I do not mean most of them, I mean all of them. They are rejected from those government omnibus bills.
Then, the mistakes show up. The Supreme Court and other such important bodies show the legislation to be unconstitutional. What does the government do? It introduces another omnibus bill to fix the mistakes from the last omnibus bill, and the Conservatives say that this is good governance. Well, it is atrocious, and we see it here again.
The government wants to introduce a motion to extend hours to which government members will not show up, will not speak to the bills that they say are so important, that Canadians need to have and have yesterday. Then they introduce a set of rules that would allow them, and exclusively them, to alter what happens in the place just for cabinet members, as if they were better.
This is going to be opposed by New Democrats. It should be opposed by all right-thinking members in this place. We will stand proudly for Canadians.