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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2019-05-27 12:29 [p.28033]
Mr. Speaker, I stand today to speak to the government motion that would, among other things, extend the hours we would be sitting in this place until we have completed this Parliament on June 21. It would also take away a lot of the tools we have as the opposition to hold the government to account.
As we listened to some of the answers by the government House leader, it is no surprise that in the dying days of the scandal ridden, promise breaking, tax raising and very severely ethically challenged disaster of a Liberal government, we are seeing Liberals use disrespectful, draconian and bully-like mannerisms to get their agenda accomplished.
It was quite interesting and telling when the government House leader was answering questions and referring to a couple of things. First of all, when I asked her about our opposition day and whether she was going to make those days short, she stood and said to my colleague, the House leader for the NDP, as well as to me, that somehow our behaviour earlier in this Parliament was the reason she was going to punish us with shorter days.
That speaks volumes, and not in a positive way, to the utter lack of respect the Liberals, under the leadership of the Prime Minister and the government House leader, have for the work we do in the opposition. We are not doing anything on this side of the House outside of the rules. We are using the rules, mechanisms and the tools we have to hold the government to account. What is the answer from the government to that? It is going to punish the opposition because it can. It is going to punish the opposition by giving us a very short day and not extend our hours of opposition. That answer was very indicative of the attitude of the Liberal government and the Liberal Party in general to this House of Commons and Parliament.
Secondly, when the government House leader was giving answers about debate, she talked about members of Parliament repeating themselves or speaking about partisan issues. She felt that that was when she should tell her members not to speak quite as long and that they should shut down their comments. Are we now in a new day and age when the Liberal House leader will tell duly elected members of Parliament that they should not use all of their time, and that she is going to shut down the opposition as well because she thinks that what we are saying is not relevant and that we are repeating ourselves?
When the Prime Minister appointed the House leader to her position three years ago, a lot of us had concerns because she was a very newly elected MP. She had not been in the House as a backbencher or sat on committees. She had been in her role for I think 70 days or so. She has really done a commendable job in that time with the hand she has been dealt. However, I do believe that with her comments that I mentioned, it is clear that is the message she is getting from the top. That is what she is hearing from the Prime Minister and the people at the top who direct her. She has been told by them to shut the backbenchers down. If members are talking too much on our side, she is to shut them down, as well as do whatever she can to shut down the opposition.
At the end of the day, the Liberals are in charge and are the bosses, so they are going to tell people what to think and members of Parliament what they can and cannot say. If they are talk too much or for too long, or the Liberals think their remarks are repetitive or partisan, because God forbid, Conservatives act like Conservatives and New Democrats act like NDP, they must be shut down. The Liberals are clearly partisan, but the Liberal belief is that if something does not align with what they think, then it must be dismissed and shut down. We have seen that on a number of occasions.
Sadly, the House leader's comments in the last few minutes regarding opposition days and that she is going to punish us, as well as telling her own members not to speak because it would be repetitive, are absolutely unbelievable and a very sad reflection of what we have seen over the last four years.
Now here we are. We have all returned from another May constituency week to another Liberal motion to extend our sitting hours. I have already acknowledged, and will say for the record, that our previous Conservative government did the same thing in 2013 and 2014.
In the last election year, 2015, however, we did not have to extend our sitting hours, because we managed the House in an efficient, respectful way. Stephen Harper's government had a well-managed parliamentary agenda. His House leader, my former colleague, the very well-respected Peter Van Loan, would often remind the House of the ambition to have a hard-working, orderly and productive Parliament. That is what Canadians enjoyed up until the 2015 election.
Since then, things have changed, and they have changed drastically. That change is where the seeds for today's motion were planted. In came a new Prime Minister in late 2015, heavy on charm and light on substance, as it would turn out. One government, ours, with a track record of delivering, was replaced by a government obsessed with something called “deliverology”. Do members remember those days? I think my colleagues opposite were also kind of interested in what deliverology meant and where it was going to take us.
Deliverology was like a lot of things from the government. There are a lot of buzzwords. No matter how many buzzwords the failed Liberal government has repeated, it has conjured up pretty well zero results.
Let us go through some of those buzzwords, because they really are interesting to reflect on. Let us look at what was presented to Canadians, what was advertised and what was actually delivered, which was not as advertised.
Let us begin with the buzzwords “hope” and “hard work”. I am afraid the Liberals put way too much emphasis on a lot of hope and very little emphasis on hard work.
There were some things they worked hard on. The Liberals worked very hard on mastering government by Instagram and Twitter. They worked hard on posturing and, unfortunately, on dividing Canadians. The Liberals worked hard on finding ways to run endless deficits, to the point where it would take decades for the budget to balance itself, as our Prime Minister said. The Liberals have also worked hard on virtue signalling. In fact, they have that one down to an art form.
What about actual hard work and actual accomplishments here in the House of Commons? So far in this Parliament, 48 government bills, other than routine appropriation bills approving spending, have received royal assent, with 17 more passed by the House. Some of these bills were simply matters initiated by us, the previous Conservative government, such as a number of the bills related to the border. Those were bills we initially brought forward.
There were also free trade agreements, such as with the European Union and the Trans Pacific Partnership, as well as bills on victims' rights in the military justice system. Obviously, we agreed with those bills. We basically brought the government to the one yard line, and it took it across the finish line. The Conservatives know that we did the heavy lifting, but we were in agreement with those bills. Those are among the bills the government passed.
These numbers are also in spite of the government regularly using time allocation and relying on omnibus bills, even though that flies in the face of all the sanctimony the Liberals have thrown our way. Let us remember that. Let us remember that during the 2015 election, the Conservatives were preached at by the then-Liberal candidate, soon to be the Prime Minister, about how Parliament was going to be respected. He was not going to use time allocation. The Liberals would not be using omnibus bills, and they would allow parliamentarians to have their say. Let us remember the sanctimony.
By comparison, when the 41st Parliament drew to a close, a total of 95 government bills, other than appropriation bills, had received royal assent. That was under the Conservative government.
The contrast gets no better for the Liberals when it comes to private members' bills. Since the 2105 election, 20 private members' bills have received royal assent. At the close of the previous Parliament, 41 private members' bills had become law. That is why the previous Conservative government was able to claim that it had posted the strongest legislative results in a generation. No matter how many midnight sittings the Liberals plan, they simply will not be able to match our record.
I think of all the time the Liberal government has wasted. I think back to a year and a half ago when the Liberal government tried to bring forward changes to the Standing Orders. Those changes would have given us a four-day work week, when the rest of Canadians work all week long. The Liberals wanted us to get Fridays off. The Liberals wanted to make changes so that the Prime Minister would not have to come and answer questions in this place.
The Liberals wanted to make a number of massive changes, and they fought tooth and nail for them. Thankfully, between the NDP and the Conservatives, we were able to put a halt to that. With the small tools we had that they had not tried to take away, we were able to stop that.
We have seen, again, the lack of hard work on matters of substance that needed to be completed in the House of Commons on the legislative agenda. It never really happened. That is one buzzword we heard.
Here is another buzzword we were all really interested in. That was “Canada is back”. Do members remember that one? Boy oh boy. That one has not turned out well at all.
Right now, under the present Prime Minister, Canada has probably fewer friends than ever. The Prime Minister has managed to tick off and offend just about every one of our major friends and allies. It has been shameful to watch. We know that we will have our work cut out for us when the Conservatives win government in October. We will once again restore respectful, principles-based foreign policy on the world stage so that countries around the world know that they can respect us. They will know that we are not just lecturing them. We will have a relationship with our trusted allies, and we will build on those relationships.
The Liberals first talked a big game on peacekeeping, then they stalled and dithered. Then, when the rubber had to hit the road, they put forward a token effort, limited in time and scale, yet quite dangerous and misaligned with Canada's national interests.
In the NAFTA talks, the Prime Minister capitulated and failed to get Canada a better deal. Instead of negotiating, the Liberals focused on opportunistic leaks, photo ops and sound bites.
The Liberal leader, in the presence of the Japanese Prime Minister, twice mistook him as a representative of China. Do members remember that? That was only a few weeks ago. I am still shocked by that.
Then there was the strident, knee-jerk virtual signalling tweet sparking a diplomatic standoff with Saudi Arabia, with ramifications in a range of areas, including front-line health care in Canada.
Speaking of social media, the Prime Minister's infamous “Welcome to Canada” tweet sparked a massive, unprecedented surge in illegal border crossings into Canada.
In foreign relations, we were told what wonderful doors would open in China for Canada with the arrival of the new Liberal government. Tell that today to canola farmers. Tell that to our pork farmers. Tell that to any number of Canadian businesses, large or small, trying to do business in China. Tell that to individual Canadians who have been harassed by the Chinese government, denied visas, detained and arrested on political grounds.
Of course, there was the Prime Minister's unforgettable trip to India. It was a seven-day trip with half a day of government meetings. Each outfit was more colourful than the last; each development was more embarrassing than the previous one. The Prime Minister spent tens of thousands of dollars flying in a celebrity chef to cook supper, a celebrity chef who happens to be on his hand-picked Senate selection panel.
However, that was hardly the worst. The Prime Minister invited a convicted attempted murderer to hobnob with him at two receptions, and when that was discovered, the fingers started pointing. Wow. Of all the things that happened in the Liberal government, when we look back at the India trip, it was probably one of the most embarrassing for Canadians, not only because of what their Prime Minister did in India but because of the aftermath and the blame that was levelled. It started with it being a backbencher's fault. The Prime Minister threw one of his own backbenchers under the bus. He does that quite often.
Then it was an Indian government plot, then maybe it was someone else. In the end, Daniel Jean announced his retirement. In no circumstance would the Prime Minister fess up and acknowledge that he had blown it and that his office had blown it with a bad decision and bad judgment.
God forbid that the Prime Minister would actually apologize for something he did. He will apologize for all kinds of things, but there have been so many opportunities, as we have seen in the last four years, when he has done things that are wrong, when he has done things that are unethical and when he has done things that are on the borderline of illegal. That remains to be seen. He has fired people. He has treated people disrespectfully. He has done things that have shocked and appalled us.
The India trip was one of those where the Prime Minister could have stood up and said, “I am sorry. I made a mistake. I have issues with bad judgment. I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. All of you are paying for it, but I am human. I err a lot." He should have said that, but no, he did not. Everyone else got the blame.
Saying “Canada is back” really has not panned out very well, has it? It certainly did not help the Liberals advance their agenda here in Parliament.
Let just try another one on for size. How about “Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways”? Do members remember that one?
To start with, I think this is one of the things that has disturbed Canadians across the board, even those who voted for the Prime Minister. There were a lot of people, obviously millions of Canadians, who voted for the Prime Minister, believing him, believing his promises, believing that he was a fresh face who was going to do things differently. One of the things that is so frustrating and disappointing is his lack of ability to really embrace diversity. People may wonder how I can say that, because the Prime Minister always says that diversity is our strength. Just like everything with the Prime Minister, he says one thing with his words, but his actions are completely different.
The Prime Minister has very little tolerance for diversity of thought and different opinions. He wants to embrace diversity when it is easy for him and when it might help him score some political points. However, if an individual dares to disagree with him, that is when his real character seems to be exposed.
One of those items became very clear when illegal border crossers started crossing into Canada. There were a lot of concerns. A lot of Canadians, including in my riding, have been doing a wonderful job helping refugees who are coming into this country who need solace, who need protection and who need to be able to be in a country where they can live, worship and raise their families. Canada is welcoming them. We have so many private sponsors and Canadians across the country who are helping them, but there have been concerns raised about people coming across the border illegally. However, the minute these concerns were expressed, the Prime Minister, Prime Minister “Sunny Ways”, began the reckless name-calling, calling people racist, or, as his minister said, “un-Canadian”. It is un-Canadian if someone dares to ask questions of the government.
We will remember the Canada summer jobs attestation, where if one disagreed with the government on matters of conscience, one would not be allowed to have government funding. So much for diversity, again.
We should have seen this from the very early days and early months of this Parliament, when the Prime Minister almost lost a vote, and certainly lost his temper. Everyone will remember, after his legislation to help his friends at Air Canada squeaked through on the Speaker casting a vote, the Liberals proceeded with the draconian and outrageous Motion No. 6. Does everyone remember Motion No. 6? I think we all remember Motion No. 6, an outrageous and scandalous power play to silence the opposition and sideline critics.
In the midst of the uproar over Motion No. 6, the Prime Minister, as everyone will recall, stormed across the floor of the House, jostled some MPs who were slowing down his day and fiercely elbowed one of my colleagues. It was clear then that this was a prime minister who would have his way when he wanted it. We understood those words just recently with respect to the SNC-Lavalin scandal and how the Prime Minister would ensure he would get his way. We saw this tactic coming, foreshadowed by Motion No. 6.
Then, a year later, the government House leader released the so-called discussion paper, which I alluded to earlier, about standing order changes. It was a naked power grab that her colleagues on the procedure and House affairs committee were keen to rush through.
I also remember the government noting that committees were free to do what they wanted to do. That has become the biggest punchline around this place. Committees are not free to do what they want to do. They are completely directed by the Prime Minister. We saw that at the procedure and House affairs committee regarding the Standing Orders.
This would have eliminated 20% of question periods, would have the Prime Minister show up once a week, would have silenced the opposition at committees and would have created a new time allocation on steroid procedure. Thanks to the efforts of the opposition, the Liberals would back down some six week later on the worst parts of their proposal. That did not represent a very sunny ways type of government.
With respect to name-calling, I want to mention something particularly disturbing. We heard the finance minister call our deputy leader a “neanderthal” because she dared challenge him on some of the policies he was bringing forward. Then the Prime Minister called her an “ambulance chaser”. I think that was during the time when we were asking why in the world Terri-Lynne McClintic was being moved to a healing lodge. At around that time, the Prime Minister called the Conservatives ambulance chasers.
Not only are the Liberals trying to shut us down in what we do in the House of Commons, but they are trying to shut down Canadians through this name-calling. We have been specifically called names by the Prime Minister, again, with no apologies at all. I think the former attorney general has also been victim to the same kind of thing. She has been accused of things, called names, maligned and has not been able to defend herself. She not only has not received an apology from the Prime Minister, but has not been able to defend herself.
This brings to mind somebody else who needs an apology from the Prime Minister. In all honesty, this man more than anybody deserves an apology from the Prime Minister, and it is Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
All of us on this side are used to these kinds of attacks from the Liberals and the Prime Minister, but not Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who has served his country with such distinction. Before any charges were even brought against him, the Prime Minister was already saying the issue would go before a court. It looked as if the Prime Minister and the PMO tried to bankrupt him. They accused him of things and put him and his family through such an emotional ordeal. I am sure it affected his family's physical health, financial, mental health and reputation. It is absolutely disgusting to see what the Prime Minister and his minions did to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
I do not like that the Conservatives were called neanderthals and ambulance chasers and that Canadians were called racists and un-Canadian, but above anyone, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman deserves an apology from the Prime Minister. All of us, including those on this side, need to remind the Prime Minister that before he writes up any more apologies to anybody else, for whatever reason he thinks might do him well politically, he needs to apologize to that man, this honourable Canadian. He needs to show the courage that he should have as a prime minister and apologize to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
The actions and this attitude reflected in the Liberals' relationship with Parliament have only served the paralyze the House, not facilitate the passage of an agenda. As I said, so much for sunny ways.
I have given a few examples of all these empty gestures and slogans, but I want to highlight a few of them.
The next one is, “Better is always possible”. That was another one from the government. After watching how the Liberal government has approached the criminal justice system, I cannot help but think this. After the Liberals leave office, things will get better for Canadians on a lot of fronts. Better will definitely be possible.
For example, the Prime Minister sees the criminal justice system as a toy. We saw the Prime Minister weigh in and condemn a unanimous jury verdict that he did not like in Saskatchewan. However, that was just small potatoes, as we would learn later.
As I said, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman would be charged with the breach of trust. That was his interference in that case. The charge was not a surprise, of course. The Prime Minister had been musing for months, a year actually, that Mark Norman would end up before the courts. How could he have known that?
He had demanded an investigation into an embarrassing leak that some members in the Liberal cabinet were looking to do the bidding of well-connected friends. The RCMP had clear signals from the very top that something must be done. Therefore, once before the courts, the government denied the vice-admiral access to the material he needed to defend himself. He was not even allowed access to his own emails. Things kept getting worse and worse for the Liberals. Finally, a well-respected MP, the Prime Minister's former chief whip, announced he would testify against the government. Days later, the charges were withdrawn.
I refer back to that case because I want to link it to the SNC-Lavalin affair. Even though a lot has been said, again it very much shows the disrespect of the Prime Minister.
In short, the Prime Minister wanted yet another friendly corporation to enjoy the blessings of its well-groomed Liberal connections. Amendments to the Criminal Code, as members will recall, to let SNC-Lavalin off the hook from a trial for foreign corruption and a ban on government contracts were shoved into a mammoth omnibus budget bill, the very thing Liberals swore off, and whisked through Parliament last spring. However, the Liberals were stumped, even though they got this bill passed. The director of public prosecutions was simply not going to do what the Liberals expected her to do.
Therefore, the Prime Minister set all kinds of pressure from various angles upon the former attorney general to get her to overrule the Public Prosecution Service, but she was not going to do it. She said no to the Prime Minister. How dare she, but she did. She said no not only to the Prime Minister, she told the finance minister that he and his staff needed to back off. She told the Prime Minister, his chief of staff and the clerk of the Privy Council, as we all heard on that tape, to back off, that they were interfering.
However, let us remember that the Prime Minister is used to having his way all the time. Some people who feel they are entitled and have never had to go through a hardship in their life and have a lot of privilege are used to getting their way. Clearly, the Prime Minister is one of those. When the former attorney general stood up to him and stood by her respect for the rule of law in Canada, she stood up to political interference in the criminal justice system. For that, she got fired. Sadly, we have not been able to hear her full story because the Prime Minister has not waived that privilege, but we have seen enough that we can connect the dots. We can see that when she was fired as attorney general and moved to Veterans Affairs, that was the reason why.
Thankfully, courageously, all of this has been exposed. Although we still do not have the full truth of what the Prime Minister has done, again it has shown Canadians that the Prime Minister is not at all as advertised. So much for hope and hard work, so much for sunny ways, so much for diversity, so much for tolerance, all of that is a sham under the Prime Minister.
We do hope the Prime Minister will one day lift the gag order. If he will not, the next prime minister probably will, and I think there will be an opportunity for that to happen. Canadians will hear the truth at one point or another.
What happened? Both the former attorney general and the former president of the Treasury Board stood up to the Prime Minister. and not only did they get fired and resign from their positions, they got kicked out of the Liberal caucus in violation of the Reform Act, again in violation of the law. That is a day in the life of the Prime Minister.
How many laws did he break with respect to conflict of interest and ethics? Four. He is the first Prime Minister in the history of Canada to break those laws. Then he broke the rules and the law regarding the Reform Act.
That entire episode gripped this entire House and paralyzed the government. It was in chaos. I think it had 10 cabinet shuffles in three weeks. The government was in absolute chaos. While there were all kinds of issues going on across the country, the Liberal government and the Prime Minister could only focus on one thing. It lost the clerk of the Privy Council. The principal adviser, Mr. Butts, resigned. It lost a number of cabinet ministers. It was in absolute chaos and shambles. We were gripped with this in the House of Commons as well.
In fact, it is the continuing mismanagement by the government that has brought the need for it to propose government Motion No. 30, which we are debating right now. It is the mismanagement that comes from the very top.
The Prime Minister is so infatuated with his own image and so focused on being a celebrity that he overlooks the substance and hard work of leading a government. That is a very sad reflection of the government and where we are in the country today. This is a prime minister who does not understand that being a prime minister is not a ceremonial role, not something just for a celebrity, but the top job in the country. It is governing not only the people of the country but the budget, the economy and foreign affairs. All of these aspects of a country like Canada should be at the forefront in the mind of the Prime Minister. Instead, he is focused on his celebrity status and getting on the pages of Vanity Fair or Vogue. Perhaps it is GQ, People or TigerBeat, if it is still a magazine. Imagine Donny Osmond and the Prime Minister on the cover of TigerBeat. He is sadly overlooking the substance and hard work of leading a government.
I have been here for almost 11 years and it really has been quite a privilege. I started as a backbencher. Backbenchers are underrated. They do such tremendous work.
I was on a committee for a number of years and learned so much about how committees worked. I was then privileged to chair a committee. That also helped me understand the rules of this place. I chaired a committee during a minority parliament. Even more so, when chairing the committee, I had to ensure I was impartial and applied the rules equally to both sides, the government members as well as the opposition, which at that point was a smaller Liberal opposition, the NDP and the Bloc. It was such a privilege to learn and work with colleagues. Then I was privileged to be a parliamentary secretary. In 2013, a number of years later, I became a minister. I believe that experience really helped me become a good minister, and now the opposition House leader.
Many of us on both sides have worked our way up from being backbench MPs to maybe working on committees and into other offices.
As I watched, I was inspired by the example set by our former prime minister, Stephen Harper, an exact opposite of the current Prime Minister. Stephen Harper knew every file backward and forward. He was not concerned about celebrity status. He wanted to connect with Canadians to know what their concerns were and to govern in a responsible way. He was an example of tireless devotion and hard work on behalf of Canadians.
The current Prime Minister has not helped his case by building a PMO where everything is reportedly bottlenecked through just one or two staff. We are hearing a lot about that. Even current Liberal MPs are very concerned with what is going on in the PMO and how decisions are being made there. As the House leader just confirmed, she tells her backbenchers whether they should shorten or lengthen their speeches.
Another example, and I already mentioned that, is the government House leader's early appointment. As I said, the hon. member for Waterloo had been here 70-some days when she was appointed as the government House leader. I felt that it sent a message. This is with respect to the House leader. She and I work well together. We certainly disagree, and I am certainly not happy that she is giving us more short opposition days, but as I said earlier, I think she has done the best she could with the hand that was dealt to her.
When the Prime Minister appoints as a House leader an individual who has been here only for 75 days, it tells all of us that he really is not very serious about getting things done. Maybe he thinks her position is just a ceremonial role as well. We certainly have seen her have to carry a lot of very difficult answers and non-answers to questions for the government. She has been put in a position where unfortunately she has lost a lot of credibility. While the Prime Minister is sitting there silently or signing autographs, she is having to defend his trip to billionaire island. While he is sitting in question period staring off into space or thinking about things, she is the one who is standing and answering or not answering very difficult questions. It is sad because I feel that the Prime Minister set her up to fail, and it is very disappointing to see that he has done that.
I did give a longer speech about this point previously. It was a speech around the Prime Minister's so-called approach to feminism, which I find to be fake. It is a lot of signalling and not true respect for the equality of women, and for us as women in this place being able to be where we are based on merit, based on our ability and our strength, being able to speak truth to power, being able to stand in this place knowing that we got here absolutely on our merit. When the Prime Minister appoints people just because they are women and then does not even respect them and listen to them, as he did with the former attorney general, we have seen time and time again that his approach to feminism is a lot of words and no action.
I am going back to the power of the PMO. I imagine the House leader has had a lot of struggles with the PMO behind the scenes trying to line up a legislative agenda and trying to get departments to hustle and bring their long-overdue proposals to the cabinet table and convert them into bills, and trying to get her colleagues to meet what a coordinated plan requires of them. However, it sounds like she is basically just telling her colleagues what to do.
News flash for them, that is not the way it happens. In the previous government, not only did we pass many private members' bills, but we had more government MPs vote against the government's position. We had more free votes than any other government. It was really quite remarkable.
I would never betray caucus confidentiality, but I will say this. I think this is a departure for the Liberals and it might be a good thing for them to think about when they are the third party again or maybe opposition after the next election, which remains to be seen, but they may want to allow their caucus members to speak their minds freely and not have to set their agenda ahead of time or allow the Prime Minister and his minions to tell them if they can speak. It is wonderful in caucus to be able to stand and not get permission, but be able to speak to the leader freely. He or she listens, and sometimes decisions are changed.
That actually happened in our previous government, and it is wonderful to be able to speak freely in our caucus to each other and to our leader. That would be a nice thing. Maybe those who have served under previous leaders like Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin or Michael Ignatieff were able to speak freely, but it does not appear that they are able to do that with the current government.
It is the Prime Minister's way, or they are out. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more members of Parliament who were Liberals and who, under various circumstances, were disrespected and did not feel welcome anymore in the Liberal caucus. That is very sad to see.
Let us get to the next mess that the Prime Minister has made, and that is in the Senate. It is quite something to see what is happening in the Senate. The Prime Minister has a leader of the government in the Senate whom he tries to disavow. The Prime Minister has, however, done an excellent job appointing ideological fellow travellers to the Senate, though he likes to call them “independent”. At the end of the day, though, when something comes to a vote, the Prime Minister has always been able to count on his so-called independent senators' votes. However, getting there has not always been very pretty. I have to say it is a bit entertaining to watch on this side.
The real litmus test for his so-called independent Senate will be whether it heeds Liberal political imperatives in an election year, follows the spirit of Motion No. 30 and passes all of the Prime Minister's bills in the way that he wants. I guess time will tell.
In the meantime, it means that we have seen a number of Senate amendments to current legislation. Of course, at the end of the day, the Senate has backed down to the government's opinion every single time. It is quite interesting. While there is something generally reassuring about an elected House, even under the thumb of a majority government carrying the day, it has nonetheless meant that the House spends an extra two days or more on every government bill that gets bounced back from the Senate.
It is also a reflection of the government's lack of consultation with Canadians over many of its pieces of legislation. Bill C-69, Bill C-48 and Bill C-71 are all bills where, had the government just taken a little time to listen to Canadians, had it admitted that maybe it made some mistakes and had it made those adjustments, it might not be seeing the problems it is seeing with the current legislation in the Senate. However, that is what the government is getting.
The Prime Minister's mismanagement of the Senate has directly contributed to the mismanagement of the House of Commons, hence the need for government Motion No. 30. Here is the present scene: a scandal-ridden, disastrous Liberal government flailing about in the dying days of this Parliament in a rush to just do something, to get something done, something other than making pot legal. That is about the only thing the government has done, and it has actually done that pretty poorly. The legalization of cannabis is really the only notable accomplishment of the government to date. Even with that, it turned out to be a disaster.
What does the government have left to do, which it is in such a hurry to achieve? The government has horribly failed in meeting any of its lofty commitments to indigenous peoples. Now it is in a panic to rush through Bill C-91 and Bill C-92, the indigenous languages and indigenous family services legislation, so that it can say, “Look, we have done something.”
There is, of course, yet another omnibus budget bill that it is ramming through the House at this moment. The government will no doubt want to see that piece of legislation and all of its provisions to implement another promise-breaking, deficit budget through Parliament. Rumours have also started to fly that the government will seek to implement, before the election, the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement, the new NAFTA, where the Liberals capitulated to the American administration on replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement.
On the NAFTA negotiations, the Prime Minister wasted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a better deal. However, Conservatives worked hard to get tariffs removed, and we recognize how important free trade with the United States is. We will be voting to ratify the deal in Parliament, but the Liberals cannot take this as a licence to abuse Parliament. We are already well into the 11th hour for this Parliament. I can confidently predict that the House will not be a happy place if the implementation legislation is brought forward at the very last minute and then we are called to rush through the bill with little or no scrutiny to make fundamental changes to the world's most important bilateral economic relationship.
Again, we need the government, at this very late hour, to show some responsibility and let Canadians know, let members know, what it is planning to do with this agreement and with the ratification.
Turning to other priorities the government will seek to advance this spring, we see other economic legislation that is really hurting our economy. The government is the proud owner of a $4.5-billion pipeline, which has not even started to be built. Government members are scrambling to shore up the support of environmental activists, whose votes they heavily courted in 2015 but clearly are losing. Today we are going to be seeing the welcoming of a new member of Parliament from the Green Party. I think when the Liberals talk about an emergency, that is an emergency they are very much seized with, the emergency of their losing their so-called environmentalist vote.
However, there is some legislation that is really problematic, such as Bill C-88, which is a bill that would restrict pipeline and resource development in Canada's north. Bill C-68 would make negative changes to fisheries laws, which would result in economic activity being hampered. Bill C-48, and it is quite interesting to see what is happening in the Senate with that one, is a symbolic gesture; well, it is more than a gesture, as this bill would ban tanker traffic from part of the B.C. coast, which is where many first nations are calling for greater pipeline development and economic opportunity. At the same time, there is no proposed tanker ban on the east coast, where Saudi Arabian and Venezuelan oil is coming to Canada.
Of course, there is Bill C-69, the no-more-pipelines bill, which would absolutely stop any energy infrastructure development in Canada. We have heard from experts, stakeholders, provinces and first nation groups that Bill C-69 is an absolute disaster for this country. We would not have any more pipelines built. They will be built in other countries. Canada will miss this window of opportunity. Again, the government does not seem to understand the consequences of its actions. However, I understand there have been many amendments by the Senate, up to 200 amendments, so it will be interesting to see if those are overturned by the Liberals, who are hoping to regain their environmentalist votes.
In Canada, majority government policies are usually assured of being put into place. Therefore, the shadow cast by these bills has, unfortunately, already done a huge amount of damage in our resource sector and in other parts of our country, putting a chill on investment and development long ahead of these bills becoming law.
Adding to that is the sad, sorry spectacle of the duelling climate emergency motions before the House this month, which is another interesting thing to watch. Before Victoria Day, the New Democrats put forward an opposition day motion declaring a climate emergency, and the Liberals defeated it. Lo and behold, the very next day, the Liberals brought forward their own climate emergency motion, which we debated for just a few hours. Then, the day after, they were on to something else, and the Prime Minister was flying somewhere in his jet. Can members imagine that there is a climate emergency and the Prime Minister gets on his jet and flies away? It is pretty unbelievable. I call that a high-carbon hypocrite.
Here we are this morning, back from our constituency break. Where is the emergency debate? I do not see it. The government's emergency is worrying about what is happening on its left flank, worrying about the senators and worrying about getting legislation through. However, this morning we have this debate, which is something different still. This afternoon, the Liberals are going to squeeze in another two or three hours on their climate emergency, hoping that some of their environmentalists are listening and they can fool them into thinking they care about the environment, when in fact the only plan the Liberals have for the environment is a tax plan. Who knows? The motion goes back into the parliamentary ether under the who-knows-when category.
I think this is just a political emergency. As I mentioned, the Green Party won a by-election on Vancouver Island, with the Liberal candidate running fourth, which is really quite something. I think the Liberals are very worried. They have to be worried about what is going on in B.C. The Prime Minister, as I said, scrambled and stuck something in the window to look like he was doing something. It is sort of fun to watch them do this.
I know what the Liberals are going to do. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change actually mentioned it on the weekend. Their approach, according to the minister, is that if they stand in the House and say it loud enough, as well as yell it in question period, Canadians will just believe it. Now we know why the Prime Minister and that minister stand and yell. It is sad to say, but they believe that if they say it loud enough and yell it enough times in this place that Canadians will believe it. That is horrible. It is cynical, disrespectful and shameful. I certainly hope that maybe at their next caucus meeting, some of those Liberals will have the courage to speak up to their boss, the Prime Minister, and maybe a few of their ministers, and tell them that it is about time they respect this place and respect Canadians.
Here we are debating government Motion No. 30, because the Liberals claim they are working hard to pass legislation. Then we will turn to a virtue signalling motion that will not change one law or do one thing. It is really interesting to see what the Liberal government is doing.
Let us go back to Motion No. 30. Those were my opening remarks, and now I am getting into the real substance of my speech. I appreciate the encouragement. Motion No. 30 before us today calls us to sit until midnight on four days a week, as well as for most votes to take place after question period. These are understandable. We were in government and understand it, but we did not have to do it in 2015. We were able to manage things so efficiently under Peter Van Loan and Stephen Harper that we did not extend into night sittings in the summer of 2015. However, for all the reasons I have pointed out, the Liberals had to.
Some of these measures can be understood by us, as Conservatives, as they are things we have asked the House to do. There is one addition to the motion that is truly a nice one, and I am going to compliment the government on it. There is a provision in this motion to have a couple of evenings that are dedicated to statements by retiring members from all sides. We will have the opportunity to set aside partisanship for a short period of time to hear the farewell speeches by our departing colleagues. That is something we do not always get to enjoy when we have one-off statements made in the midst of one political battle or another. I am really glad to see that provision. There are members on every side of the House who are retiring and not running again for various reasons. In the last Parliament, we set aside a couple of evenings for those members, who could invite their families, friends and staff members. It is a really good thing and I am grateful. I thank the government for putting that provision into this motion.
However, the motion is not perfect. This is where I am going to discuss the parts of the motion that we do not like and believe are a greedy approach on behalf of the Liberals. I have already talked about 2017 and 2018 when the government motion proposed reducing opposition days to opposition half days. We objected then, and we object again.
This year's motion is very aggressive in some other ways also. The rules normally require report stage votes and third reading debate to occur on separate days. Under government Motion No. 30, that waiting period would be eliminated. Again, this is another way that the government can rush through legislation.
With regard to the way that the previous motion on extended hours worked, there was a one-day delay between a vote on the previous question and a vote on the main motion. That would be eliminated under government Motion No. 30. In previous years, all dilatory motions were banned after 6:30 p.m., but now ministers would be allowed to propose them. The government wants us to sit late every night, yet wants to keep for itself the power to send us home early.
On the last opposition day in each supply period, we vote on the estimates. That is when we go through the government spending plan line by line and approve the items. Unfortunately for the current government, these have often fallen at times when the government was being particularly arrogant, like in March when the Liberals were insisting on preventing the members for Vancouver Granville and Markham—Stouffville from speaking. Therefore, we did have to hold the government's feet to the fire and we triggered marathon voting, which is one of the very few devices left for us to make our disagreements felt.
Now, government Motion No. 30 would create a backdoor procedural trick to group and apply these votes. That is in an effort to spare the Liberals from standing and voting for their spending proposals, and that is if a voting marathon even happens this spring. Again, this is one of the small tools we have to hold the government to account and draw attention to what the government is doing. The Liberals have taken that away as well. It is shameful. The takeaway from this is that while the Liberals are setting long hours, they want to make light work. Again, it is a lot of hope but very little hard work.
There is also one small curious difference between this motion and those from the previous years. Normally, when a concurrence debate is interrupted, the government has 10 sitting days to reschedule the conclusion of that debate. Under past motions for extended hours, whether Liberal or Conservative, that 10 days has been increased to 20 days to avoid further extending some House sittings from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. Instead, the government motion proposes 31 sitting sitting days, not 20. It is an interesting little change, nuance, in this motion. Since there are only 20 scheduled sittings days left, that tells me one thing: The Liberal government now recognizes it has mismanaged its agenda so badly that it could be preparing for the House to have a summer sitting. I am wondering if all the Liberal members were aware of that little nugget. Again, it is going to be a matter of our watching this space to see what happens.
Finally, something that is not in the motion also has us concerned. That is the prospect of amendments to the Standing Orders getting rammed through this spring under the cover of midnight sittings. On one hand, there is a private member's motion, Motion No. 231, sponsored by the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard. It did not come through this morning, but many of us have had a chance to look at that private member's motion and have to wonder if it is not under the direction or the support of the Liberals. The Liberal government did—
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