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View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, before we start this debate, I have a few words for you. You are at the end of your term as Speaker of the House, and I would like to express how much fondness and respect we all have for you. Your rulings have left their mark on our country's history.
Mr. Speaker, you have taught us all, sometimes with a modest rebuke, sometimes with the sharp sting of focused argument, to understand, to respect and to cherish the rules of Canadian democracy, and for that your citizens will always hold you in highest honour.
This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, the democracy that you, Mr. Speaker, have served so well. I have to inform the House that the official opposition has lost confidence in the government.
The government no longer has the confidence of the official opposition.
Our motion asks the House to agree with the finding in the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented on March 21. This was a historic finding. It was the first time that a parliamentary committee has found the government in contempt.
Today, with this motion, we ask the House to do the same, to find the government in contempt and to withdraw the confidence of the House.
With this motion, we are calling on members of Parliament to condemn the government for its contempt of Parliament and to withdraw the confidence of the House. This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, but it is also an opportunity for us to confirm our commitment to parliamentary democracy and its fundamental principles.
What principles are we talking about? That the government has the obligation to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
The principle at stake in this debate goes to the heart of parliamentary democracy: the obligation of a government to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
We are the people's representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. Parliament does not issue blank cheques. For four months, the opposition has asked the government to tell the Canadian people the true cost of its budget plans. For four months, we demanded to know how much Canadian taxpayers were being asked to pay for fighter jets, prisons and corporate tax breaks. For four months. this House and the Canadian people were stonewalled by the government and they are being stonewalled still.
For four months, we have been trying to hold this government accountable. For four months, we demanded to know the real cost of the fighter jets, prisons and tax breaks for major corporations. For four months, we did not get a single answer, aside from the contempt and arrogance of this government. And today, still, we have no answers.
We were shocked, but we were not surprised. After all, this is the same government that shut down Parliament twice, the same government that was forced, by one of your rulings, to hand over documents to do with Afghan prisoners, and we are still waiting for those documents.
In the case of the Afghan documents, the government's excuse for withholding the truth was national security. In the case of the budget documents, it invented something about cabinet confidence, but actually it did not even bother with an excuse at all.
But you, Mr. Speaker, would have none of it. You, Mr. Speaker, held that the rules of our democracy require the government to answer the questions that Parliament wants answered. The matter was sent back to a committee for action and it came back with a finding of contempt. That is why we are where we are today. The House must decide whether the government has broken a basic rule of our democracy and therefore, whether it can remain in office.
For our part on this side of the House, there is no doubt. You, Mr. Speaker, have spoken, the committee has spoken, and now the House must speak with a clear voice. It must say that a government that breaks the rules and conceals facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office.
With one clear voice, the House must declare that a government that does not respect democracy cannot remain in power. We have had enough. If this vote results in an election, the Canadian people will have the opportunity to replace an arrogant government with one that respects democracy.
To those who say an election is unnecessary, we reply that we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that does not respect democracy with one that does, I cannot think of a more necessary election.
It is not just democracy that the House will be called upon to affirm this afternoon. The House should also affirm Canadians' hunger, nay their longing, for change. It is time to change Canada's direction. It is time to get us on the right path. After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough. Enough of the politics of fear. Enough of the politics of division. Enough of the politics of personal destruction.
Enough is enough. We need to look at the government's priorities. It wants to spend 1,000 times more on fighter jets than on helping students in CEGEP and university. We reject the government's priorities. It is offering less to seniors for an entire year than what it spent on one day of the G20. We say no to this kind of waste. The government wants to spend 1,000 times more on prisons than on preventing youth crime. Again, we say no. This government's priorities are not in line with the priorities of Canadian families. We have had it. Enough is enough.
The priorities of the government laid bare in that thin gruel that we saw earlier this week reveal a government out of touch and out of control. There is no credible plan to tackle the deficit because there are no numbers any reasonable person can believe in. There is no vision of how to sustain our health care system. There is not a word about affordable housing, not a word about child care, and nothing for the pressing needs of Canadian families in poverty.
Instead, we get jets, jails and giveaways to oil companies, insurance companies, and banks that are doing just fine, thank you very much.
So we need a change. We need to focus scarce resources where they really matter: early learning and child care; college and university education for all, especially for aboriginal and immigrant Canadians; energy efficiency and green jobs; family care for our loved ones in the home, and security and dignity in retirement. We need all of this plus a clear plan to clean up our country's finances and get us back to balance without adding to the tax burden on Canadian families.
These are the priorities of our people. These are the needs that we must serve. These are the priorities at home. However, let us not forget the priorities abroad. We have so much ground to catch up. We have a government that has lost our place in the world and lost our place at the Security Council of the United Nations.
We need a government that restores our honour, our credit, and our prestige on the international stage, a government that understands the deep and committed internationalism that dwells in the hearts of all Canadian citizens.
We need a government for the people, a government that is accountable to the people and that serves the people and democracy.
I want to conclude by saying a few words about democracy. Some members of this government have been charged with electoral fraud. A member of the Prime Minister's inner circle is accused of influence peddling. Enough is enough. People are fed up.
I return to where I started, to democracy, to the abuse of power. We have a government whose most senior members stand accused of electoral fraud. We have a Prime Minister who appointed, as his top adviser, someone who served prison time for stealing money from his clients, someone who now faces accusations of influence peddling, and is under an RCMP investigation.
Canadians look at that picture and they say, “We have had enough”. This House has had enough, enough of the abuse of power and enough of the bad economic choices.
We have a government with unique distinctions. We have a government with the largest deficit in Canadian history. It is the highest spending government in Canadian history. It is the most wasteful government in Canadian history. Finally, it is the first government in Canadian history to face a vote of contempt in this House.
This is a government and a Prime Minister that is out of touch and is out of control. It is time for a change.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all of the members to support our motion.
View Libby Davies Profile
View Libby Davies Profile
2011-03-25 10:43 [p.9250]
Mr. Speaker, the government House leader certainly has been trying very hard to spin Conservatives' record as something that is supporting Canadians.
We have seen him do this day after day in the House of Commons. I think he has become very familiar with it. Maybe in the most generous of moments I could give him an A for effort. There he is smiling. He could not even keep a straight face yesterday as he tried to ram through a whole bunch of government bills that he knew was impossible.
The fact is that the real record of the government is that it has the worst record on scandals in this country. It has the worst record of disclosure and of not providing information, not only to parliamentarians but to the people of Canada. It has the worst record on insider scams.
Day after day we have had to go through a litany of these issues and expose what the government refuses to disclose to the people of Canada. The fact that we are now, at this moment in this Parliament, finding contempt surely must be something that deeply disturbs even Conservative members.
We are talking about the institution of democracy. We are talking about the work that we are sent here to do—
View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, for the first time in Canadian history a government stands on the verge of being found in contempt by Parliament.
For four months the government has refused to tell Canadians the true cost of its jets, its jails, and its corporate tax giveaways. The Prime Minister, in effect, demanded a blank cheque from the House and this afternoon the House will give its answer.
How can Canadians trust a government that is so out of touch and so out of control?
View John Baird Profile
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:18 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. That information has been tabled not just in committee but also in this place.
The leader of the Liberal Party wants to talk about contempt. It is the Liberal Party that is demonstrating contempt for the Canadian electorate. It has said that it will not accept the results of the next election and it wants to form a coalition government with the NDP and the Bloc. The worst part of that contempt is that those members will not be open, honest and transparent with the Canadian people. Shame on them.
View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, that is completely absurd. I would never reject the results of a democratic election. I personally support the principles of democracy; they are the ones who are demonstrating contempt. It did not need to go this far. The Conservatives could have listened to families. The Conservatives could have listened to Parliament. They chose not to. Instead, they chose fighter jets, mega-jails and gifts to corporations. Instead of an election, the Prime Minister would rather—
View John Baird Profile
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:19 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, with respect to that coalition, we know the leader of the Liberal Party sent a letter to the Governor General endorsing a coalition between the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP. Just this week, when asked about whether he would revisit that coalition idea, he ran away from the media.
Not being honest, not being upfront, and not being transparent with Canadians will not work. The leader of the Liberal Party can run away from the media, but he cannot run away from Canadians.
View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we welcome an encounter with Canadians. We welcome a debate with Canadians. We welcome the opportunity to take our choices to Canadians.
It is prisons or pensions. It is corporate tax breaks or child care spaces. It is fighter jets or family care. These are the choices that will face the Canadian people.
One choice will matter most of all: which government will Canadians trust with the democratic institutions of our country?
View John Baird Profile
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:21 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, what Canadians want is stability. They want a steady hand on the wheel. They want a strong government that will focus on jobs, the economy and economic growth.
Again, the member mentioned choices. The choice will be clear. Do Canadians want a government led by this Prime Minister and the Conservative Party, or do they want an unstable, risky, reckless coalition with the Liberals and their friends in the Bloc Québécois and the NDP?
We saw in Ontario how badly the NDP did for this country. We saw how bad it was for this country in British Columbia. We will not let the socialists take power in Canada.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2011-03-25 11:21 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, in contempt of Canadians, the Conservative regime is hiding $70 billion in bad choices: $10 billion for mega jails, $30 billion for extra corporate tax cuts, and $30 billion for stealth war planes, so that family care, health care, seniors and students get crowded off the agenda.
The government is spending one thousand times more for war planes than for students. These will cost $1,000 for every man, woman and child in this country.
Why no competitive bidding? This smells like a scheme designed by Bruce Carson.
View John Baird Profile
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:22 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, this government has brought forward major reforms to the justice legislation to ensure that violent offenders who commit offences against children spend more time in jail. We are pleased with those reforms.
We believe that tax cuts are an important part of economic growth. That is why the Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty was supporting those tax cuts with us every step of the way.
We also believe that when men and women sign up for the Canadian Forces, the Canadian people should stand behind them. We do not want to turn the Canadian air force into a no-fly zone like the Liberal Party would.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2011-03-25 11:23 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer demolished Conservative war plane calculations. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says that, indeed, the price has doubled to $30 billion. It is stealth pricing. The Pentagon says that it is even worse.
That is what we get with no competition. We do not get the right plane at the best price with the best industrial benefits, and it crowds out seniors and students, child care, health care and housing. Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians say that the government is wrong on the jet plane fiasco.
Why that choice?
View Peter MacKay Profile
View Peter MacKay Profile
2011-03-25 11:24 [p.9257]
Mr. Speaker, none of that is true, as the hon. member himself knows. Professional public servants have looked at the Parliamentary Budget Officer's numbers and they reject his methodology.
The reality is that we will be buying these aircraft at the best price. They are the best aircraft, in fact, the only aircraft available.
We will take no lessons from the member opposite and his party, which gutted the Canadian Forces during its time in office, which cancelled important helicopter programs and is prepared to do the same thing and put men and women in jeopardy with underfunded equipment.
That is what we get with the Liberal Party.
View Gilles Duceppe Profile
View Gilles Duceppe Profile
2011-03-25 11:24 [p.9258]
Mr. Speaker, today we are facing a government that has repeatedly deceived us and attacked democracy. It is also a government that has clearly decided to ignore Quebec and its economic priorities. This same government is determined to make us believe that it does not want an election, even though it has made every effort to trigger one.
Does the Prime Minister realize that, based on his body of work, Quebeckers have lost confidence in him?
View Christian Paradis Profile
Mr. Speaker, we have presented a responsible budget. Our country is in the best position of all G7 countries. We were the last to enter the recession and the first to come out of it. We are in the best position ever. We have measures that will increase the productivity of our SMEs. Yesterday, we signed a historic agreement with Quebec for the development of offshore oil and gas. The Bloc is obviously complaining because it does not want such a thing to work within the federation. However, we want it to work and it will work.
View Gilles Duceppe Profile
View Gilles Duceppe Profile
2011-03-25 11:25 [p.9258]
Mr. Speaker, we are not complaining about this agreement. We are pleased about it, but we find that the minister has very little to be proud about. After all, the government signed an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005, and it took 12 years to come to an agreement with Quebec; the government compensated the provinces that harmonized their sales taxes within the first year, and it has yet to settle with Quebec after 19 years. This minister does not have a lot to be proud of.
This government has been tarnished by patronage, influence peddling, electoral fraud and RCMP investigations.
Do they realize that Quebeckers have lost all confidence in these clowns?
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