Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the opposition day motion moved by the hon. member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader.
The motion recognizes the role of the House in ensuring government accountability. As we know, that is the primary function of Parliament in our Westminster system.
More specifically, the motion at hand calls for three things: first, that the Standing Orders of the House be changed with respect to the scheduling of allotted days this fall; second, that the House calendar be altered to accommodate the G20 meetings in September; and third, that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget.
I will touch on these three points very briefly, as it is the government's intention to support the motion. I will devote the remainder of my remarks to a more general discourse on the successful functioning of Parliament and my experiences of this past session.
The opposition day motion provides for a change to the rules of Parliament with regard to how the government may allocate opposition days this fall. Since coming to office in 2006, as a general rule our government has always tried to evenly distribute the opposition days in the parliamentary calendar. In certain circumstances we recognize that legislative priorities can force a deviation from this practice. However, we do support the idea of amending the Standing Orders to ensure that this usual practice becomes a rule.
The second provision of today's opposition day motion provides for a change to the House calendar for the fall of 2009. Under this provision the House would open a week earlier than currently scheduled and it would then adjourn for the week of September 21. This will enable the government to focus on the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 24 and 25.
The G20 is the chief forum for the world leaders, as a group, to address issues resulting from the global economic crisis, and Canada has played an active and important role in these discussions. At the fall G20 meetings, the Prime Minister and other world leaders will discuss progress in promoting economic recovery and they will consider new ways to address global economic and financial challenges.
I think we can all agree that there is no more pressing issue before Parliament than dealing with the global economic downturn, which has caused personal hardship and job loss around the world. Unfortunately, as we all know, Canada has not been immune.
Our legislative program of this past session has reflected that the economy is the number one issue for Canadians. As such, I am pleased to support a motion that permits the Government of Canada to give its undivided attention to the critical economic discussions that will be taking place at the G20 summit in September.
The third provision of today's opposition motion requests that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget. In the face of global economic uncertainty, this government presented a budget in January with a comprehensive economic action plan to stimulate economic growth, restore confidence and support Canadians and their families during this global recession.
This economic recovery program is unprecedented in our history, and it is working. Canada was the last group of seven country to enter recession and the International Monetary Fund expects that we will have the strongest recovery coming out of it.
The government has also taken unprecedented steps in reporting on our economic action plan. We tabled an initial budget report in March. A week ago we tabled a second budget report, which outlines how 80% of the measures in our economic action plan are already being implemented. This government welcomes the opportunity provided by today's opposition day motion to table a third budget report in September. In fact, we committed to such a report in our budget presentation earlier this past winter.
The Minister of Finance announced at the time that he would be tabling an economic report in the fall. This being the case, I commend the official opposition for echoing the government's pre-existing intention and commitment to provide quarterly reports on the economy in and through the House to all Canadians. As we debate this today, I think it is important to remember that the government was already committed to providing that report in September.
As all members in the House know, the last few weeks have not been easy in this place. In fact they have not been easy on Canadians from coast to coast to coast. During this time of economic challenge, Canadians did not want to hear about the possibility of an election. Canadians want us to continue to work to achieve results for them. They know we cannot afford an election, which would put Canada's economic recovery at risk, halt stimulus investment across the country and limit our ability to continue to implement our economic action plan for Canadians.
By avoiding an election, we have enabled the government to continue its course of doing everything possible to turn this global recession around on our own soil. The cooperation we have seen emerge over this week, spearheaded by our Prime Minister, has not only avoided a costly and unwanted election but has clearly demonstrated to Canadians that their Parliament can work for them.
Despite the partisan political drama played out during the daily 45 minutes of question period, Canadians may be surprised to know just how cooperative and productive this past session of Parliament has been. Since January, our government has worked with all opposition parties to advance many important bills that will help Canadian families. We have moved forward on our electoral commitments, and I am pleased that much more has been done.
Since January, the government has introduced a total of 54 bills. By the time the Senate adjourns for the summer next week, I expect we will have royal assent on 26 of those bills, including such important legislative initiatives as Bill C-33, which will restore war veterans' allowances to allied veterans and their families; Bill C-29, to guarantee an estimated $1 billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and co-operatives; Bill C-3, to promote the economic development of Canada's north; Bill C-28, to increase the governance capacity of first nations in Canada; and Bill C-14, a critically important justice bill to fight the scourge of organized crime.
Although much work has been accomplished, a good number of bills that continue to be priorities of our government remain on the order paper, including Bill C-6, to enact Canada's consumer product safety act to help protect the health and safety of all Canadians; Bill C-8, to provide first nations women on reserve with the same rights and protections enjoyed by all other Canadians; and Bill C-23, to open new doors for trade between Canada and Colombia.
Furthermore, our government has continued to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to fighting crime and violence in this country. Our justice minister, the hon. member for Niagara Falls, has been unrelenting in his determination to hold criminals accountable and protect victims and law-abiding Canadian citizens.
Over a dozen justice related bills have been introduced since the beginning of this parliamentary session, which include Bill C-15, Bill C-26 and Bill S-4, to help fight crimes related to criminal organizations, such as drug-related offences, identity theft and auto theft; Bill C-25, which will return truth in sentencing and eliminate the two for one credit; Bill C-36, which will repeal the faint hope clause, and Bill C-19, the new anti-terrorism bill.
Unfortunately none of these bills have completed the legislative process during this session of Parliament. Again, due to the leadership of our Prime Minister, thankfully our country will not be plunged into an election and these bills will remain on the order paper. We hope to pass them into law in the fall.
I look forward to continuing the spirit of cooperation in this place in September to accomplish this unfinished business for all Canadians. Five of these bills have already passed one chamber of Parliament and they are before the second House for consideration. On behalf of vulnerable Canadians in particular, we have to keep moving to get the job done on this important legislation.
In closing, I am pleased that the government has been able to develop today's opposition day motion in cooperation with the official opposition. This House of Commons should more often focus on what all of us have in common rather than what divides us. While I would have liked to have seen some debate on some of our newer bills that we have just introduced and passed more of our justice and safety bills, this parliamentary sitting is winding down in the age-old Canadian tradition of compromise.
We all know that this place is about debate, trade-offs, negotiations and compromise. This is how Parliament works. This is how our very country was born, has grown and continues to develop and flourish.
As I have already indicated, the government will be supporting today's motion. I again salute our Prime Minister for his leadership in staving off an election, which I think would be dreaded by the vast majority of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I wish you, and all colleagues in this House, a very happy summer.