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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 Bob Rae Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bob Rae Profile
2011-03-25 10:40 [p.9250]
Mr. Speaker, I have always listened with interest to the comments of the government House leader, but rarely have I heard a more inaccurate account of what actually has taken place over the last several months.
I find it astonishing that a government House leader, who pretends he is respectful of the House and respectful of the Speaker's rulings, would make no reference at all to the Speaker's ruling, which responded to a four month effort on the part of members of Parliament to try to get information from the government for expenditures totalling $40 billion. The government has failed to account for that, has failed to respond to it, has failed to address it and now pretends it does not even exist. It is like talking about Moby Dick without mentioning the fact that it also happens to be a whale. There is a whale of a problem over there and the whale of the problem is that it is inaccurate.
Then there are the tiny inaccuracies. For three months the government refused to bring forward Bill C-49. There were no debate, no comments, no discussion. Yesterday the minister stood up and said that he would like to get it all done in three seconds. He is not telling the truth to the Canadian people. He is not coming clean to the Canadian people. He should know that is the problem.
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 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 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
CPC (NS)
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 Jack Layton Profile
NDP (ON)
View Jack Layton Profile
2011-03-25 11:29 [p.9258]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's stubbornness is remarkable. He has been sulking in his office for three days. Why? If he truly wanted to avoid an election, he could have shown some initiative and some flexibility. He could have picked up the phone and called the others to try to find some common ground. But no. The truth is that the Prime Minister would rather have an election than—
View John Baird Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:30 [p.9258]
Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the New Democratic Party genuinely wanted a solution, then why has his campaign bus been idling in front of the House of Commons for the past week?
The reality is that we saw the leader of the NDP rewrite the budget of the member for Wascana. Simply put, the NDP's company is just far too expensive. We saw that in Ontario, where taxes rose dramatically, when spending spiralled out of control. We need a low tax pro-job agenda for our great country.
View Jack Layton Profile
NDP (ON)
View Jack Layton Profile
2011-03-25 11:31 [p.9259]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives actually had an opportunity this week to help Canadian families by listening to practical, affordable New Democrat proposals: to take the federal tax off home heating, because constituents do not like it and it is making life hard for them; to lift Canadian seniors out of poverty, all of them; to ensure Canadians can retire with some dignity and security by doing something significant about the Canada pension plan; and to take immediate action to help the millions of Canadians who do not have a family doctor.
Those things could have been done. Why not help Canadians instead of provoking an election?
View John Baird Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:32 [p.9259]
Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. We brought forward a budget this week that had substantial new resources to help vulnerable low income seniors and volunteer firefighters. We increased health care transfers to the provinces by 6%. We put measures in there to support small businesses, the real economic engine of our country.
However, every time we bring forward these good measures, the New Democratic Party votes against it. What it wants to do is to form a coalition with the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois and raise taxes by tens of billions of dollars. Canadians will not let it get away with it.
View Jack Layton Profile
NDP (ON)
View Jack Layton Profile
2011-03-25 11:32 [p.9259]
Mr. Speaker, when we persuaded the Conservatives to put $1 billion forward to help the unemployed, we voted for it. They accepted our good and practical proposal.
I will match the Conservative stubbornness to not work with other people with a relentless focus on helping Canadian families, day in and day out.
The Conservative government does not have to go down like Joe Clark or Paul Martin. The Conservatives could change their ways and they could change their budget. However, they are just plain stubborn. If they are serious, we are ready to work.
Why are the Conservatives intent on provoking an election?
View John Baird Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Baird Profile
2011-03-25 11:33 [p.9259]
Mr. Speaker, we do not want an election. Canadian families do not want an election. They want all hands on deck focused on jobs and the economy.
The reality is that we will not follow the example of the member for Wascana and have hotel room meetings in Toronto with the leader of the NDP and have him walk out with $5 billion in his pocket. It is financially irresponsible and it is not in the best interest of Canadian families.
We brought forward initiatives to cut taxes for Canadian families by more than $3,000, and every time we did, the NDP voted against it.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2011-03-25 11:44 [p.9261]
Mr. Speaker, on the radio, Mr. Smith claimed that the cost of the F-35s went from $16 billion to $30 billion because of inflation. That is quite the inflation rate.
Did the Minister of Finance suddenly change his forecasts because of inflation? Did the Governor of the Bank of Canada change his inflation targets or is Mr. Smith making this up?
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
View Peter MacKay Profile
2011-03-25 11:45 [p.9261]
Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is feeling the heat.
Let us consider one fact. The previous Liberal government actually spent more money on the development of the F-35s than the current Conservative government and yet we intend to buy it and they want to cancel it.
Does the Liberal Party really believe that we would invest millions of dollars into an aircraft to build it for other countries and not to buy it? I think it secretly would buy it.
However, the reality is that our government intends to support the men and women in uniform and give them the equipment they need to do the dangerous jobs we ask of them.
View Tony Clement Profile
CPC (ON)
View Tony Clement Profile
2011-03-25 11:50 [p.9262]
Mr. Speaker, this government has done so much to ensure that people around the world have access to ARVs and other medications. We have added $950 million to the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We have doubled our international assistance.
What I find curious is that the hon. member cites democracy as the reason to pass the bill and yet her party is short-circuiting this 40th Parliament to go to an unnecessary election with its coalition buddies. If they would just let Parliament continue, this bill could be reasonably debated.
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