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View Corey Tochor Profile
View Corey Tochor Profile
2020-02-28 13:19 [p.1760]
Madam Speaker, Canada needs more democracy. Better yet, Canada needs better democracy.
The frustrations of the opposition over the government's decisions and its policies can be seen in the streets, on the rails and online, but the Prime Minister is not getting the message. Our country needs more debate and more opposition days if Canada is to be saved.
Our economy and large sectors of our job creators are on their knees. Canada is tearing itself apart. I love our country, but I do not think the Liberals love my province or my people. The Liberals should want to enter into more debate on how we can fix Canada. Our country is at a crossroads.
This week, we witnessed massive nation-building projects shut down. The government is ignoring the pleas for help and support from the 20 elected band chiefs who want the Coastal GasLink and the 14 reserves that support the Teck mine. These are projects that support good-paying jobs, are environmentally friendly and can help Canada grow and get us off our knees, but the government is ignoring them. Instead, the Liberal government is listening to the pollsters, the UN and the elites. The Liberals need to start listening to the majority of MPs who were sent here with an agenda that is different from theirs.
Before being elected federally by the good people of Saskatoon—University, I was honoured to serve two terms in the Saskatchewan legislative assembly. I was lucky enough that my colleagues elected me the 25th Speaker of our assembly. I know what it is like to work in consensus with government, the opposition and the NDP to find ways forward. I believe we can do that in this Parliament, and it is with this experience of reference that I enter the 43rd Parliament.
I have seen first-hand how an effective opposition can challenge a government for the betterment of all. I have sat in government, I have sat in the Speaker's chair, and now I sit in opposition. I bring a unique viewpoint on how our democracy does or does not work. It is not a zero-sum game, as some would have us believe. My experience is that when governments grant time and availability to opposition, ultimately it is democracy, the governing party and the people themselves who benefit.
I would say this to the Liberal members who are here today: When governments fight against transparency and scrutiny, it is their public support that hurts. We have seen in recent polling that the government is failing our country. I challenge the Liberals not to fight for less debate. Now more than ever, I believe debate is needed in Canada. Too many important issues are at stake. If the government truly values transparency, it will champion motions such as this one.
I am fearful that the Liberal government will desire to stay in the shadows and hide from debate. Some Liberals will want other opposition parties to join them, but I believe the human spirit and a desire to fulfill our honourable work as members of Parliament will overcome this darkness.
Our Westminster-based democracy works best only when we witness vigorous debate in this chamber. This chamber was set up for that reason, with the government to the right of the Speaker proposing an agenda, opposition parties across the aisle vigorously debating what is at stake, and independent media watching over the top. That is is how Westminster democracies properly work. This configuration has been our tradition for over 150 years in this country.
I believe everyone in this chamber is honourable and wants a better nation. We need more debate on the big issues we face today. Through these debates and honest dialogue, we will get the best solutions for Canadians.
I propose that liquefied natural gas exported from Canada will lower the use of coal and greenhouse gases around the world and provide jobs and wealth to Canada. I ask fellow parliamentarians to change my view if they disagree with that statement, and that is the debate we need to have.
This is the forum to have that debate. We should be encouraging more debates, not less. I might be new here, but I still believe my arguments can change the direction of the country. However, I have been here long enough to know that others can change my opinions. It is how democracy should work. It is how we should get the best decisions for all of Canada.
If the Liberal government is so sure that it is correct, then providing more opportunity to debate its policy should be welcomed. On October 21 of last year, the Liberal government was punished and lost its majority, because, in part, it could not defend its agenda.
This motion today would grant the Liberals this forum to defend their agenda. If the Liberals believe in their agenda, democracy and this country, I hope they will vote in favour of the motion.
For the other non-government members of the House, why were we sent here? We have the honour to sit in this chamber because the majority of people in our home ridings wanted a new and different direction for our country, a different direction than what the Liberals were proposing. We won the right to be called members of Parliament, because people wanted their voices in Ottawa, a voice different from the Liberals. Today, we have the opportunity to let that voices be heard. Granting more debate will result in more real democracy.
Another important part of the Westminster democracy that needs attention and could benefit from more debate is the press.
I find it shocking that during most question periods, we have a handful of press members watching the proceedings. I know other people watch electronically, but that is a sad state when we compare the press we had 10 to 20 years ago. That decline is seriously jeopardizing our democracy and needs to be addressed if we are going to be a successful country.
We only have a strong democracy if we have a strong independent press. I along with many in Canada are concerned with the direction of media in our nation. We should be welcoming new media platforms, new stories, new sources and new reporting of our debates. If this motion to increase debate in the House of Commons is successful, it could encourage more media coverage, more attention and itself help save independent press. The alternative is more taxpayer dollars subsidizing the slowing of the decline of media in Canada. We can change that.
If we are successful, more debates will happen, democracy will be enhanced and Canada can be saved. Opposition days for other parties will welcome new and different motions to be debated. Who would not want to hear different views and beliefs from different ridings across Canada? The Liberals believe only their views are to be heard and thought.
I cannot say that I will vote in favour of the motions of other parties in future days, but I do welcome that debate. We as Parliamentarians have the honour to be that voice in that debate.
If the solutions to the problems our country is facing are to be found, this motion needs to be passed.
All of us will be returning to our ridings next week. Many of us will be hearing directly from Canadians. We hopefully will hear about solutions, what real people are facing and hopefully exchange ideas on what we can do better in our great country. We need the ability to bring those new ideas forward. The motion would allow for that: more opposition days, more debate and more ideas to be shared. It is what well-functioning democracies should be like.
Motions such as this one highlight how a minority Parliament can and should work. Opposition members have shown Canadians how we can work. Let us continue this work.
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