Madam Chair, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague and friend, the hon. member for Montarville.
Beyond that, I am a bit unclear about the rules, but I will trust your good judgment. I do not know how allocation of speaking time works, but I get the impression we are attending a Liberal Party caucus meeting. I did not want to bother the Liberals, so I decided to politely allow them to talk among themselves.
I was surprised that the NDP did not join them, but that's fine. Speaking of that, I will digress slightly at this moment of heightened tensions in the House, where the temperature indoors is higher than the temperature outdoors, which is already quite high.
Yesterday I had the great privilege of reading a statement by Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador. That in itself is a rather clear indication of our position. Yesterday we also accepted the NDP's request to recall the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to address the issue of systemic racism. We agreed to that request, even though I believe there needs to be some distance between partisan politics and an extremely sensitive topic that is currently in the news.
The motion seemed to be dictating the findings of the committee that would ultimately be recalled. It did not make sense to us to support the tabling of the motion and it seemed more logical to allow the committee to do its work. If anyone is looking for the person who is largely responsible for rejecting this motion, it is me.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Oh, you are the racist.
Mr. Yves-François Blanchet: That would be me, Madam Chair. However, I am deeply convinced that there is nothing here that cannot be easily resolved with a simple and sincere apology. Then we can move on to another debate, and that will be on the votes. Things may get heated again. In fact, I am convinced that the government House leader’s blood may suddenly come to a boil. It happens.
The votes seem to be a foregone conclusion, unless all the NDP members are expelled one by one. The votes seem to be a foregone conclusion, and the Liberals will essentially talk about programs that have already been funded by legislation, and so on, and for which spending is generally done or allocated. This makes the exercise almost a mere formality, but it is still relevant. It allows us to take some time to look back on government commitments and programs and evaluate their effectiveness.
As part of an exercise that should have taken place last week, we hope to be able to improve the programs. That is our job. We are parliamentarians. We were all elected the same way, and that is what we do. We simply want to do our job, but we were refused the opportunity. I am worried about the kind of message that sends.
Let us look at the list of requests, recommendations and proposals. In particular there is the issue of enhancing the Canada emergency response benefit to make it easier for Canadians to return and transition to work, an express request by the Quebec government. The Leader of the Opposition will probably tell us that Quebec is very happy with the CERB. I have my doubts. The answer was no. We also asked for increased health transfers. All the Liberals said was that they spoke every Thursday and their answer was no. We asked for a First Ministers’ conference on health transfers. The answer was no. We asked that political parties be excluded from the wage subsidy, because it is rather despicable for a political party to dip into its own program. The answer was no.
Before that, we had talked about a commitment on fixed costs. The government made a commitment through a motion addressing fixed costs for small businesses. It ended up changing its mind. Its answer was ultimately no. We proposed a tax credit for fixed costs for small businesses. The answer was no. We asked for adjustments to the CERB on several fronts, especially with regard to employment. The answer was no. This week, we made a few proposals. Once again, we talked about health transfers and, once again, the answer was no. We talked about paying compensation to supply-managed farmers now. The answer was no. We asked for a second cheque for seniors, because they will be receiving a cheque after the end of the first period for which they received a cheque without even knowing whether they will be receiving a cheque, even if the crisis persists for them. The answer was no. We asked that the bill be split and that we again consider giving assistance to people with disabilities. Without a shadow of a doubt, we support doing so. The answer was no. We asked that the bill dealing with delays in the justice system be brought back and split. It was a good idea, but the answer was no.
Instead, they said that they would invest $14 billion in personal protective equipment, child care, municipalities, sick leave, initiatives in long-term care facilities and so on. However, these are all areas under provincial jurisdiction.
There is a rather broad consensus in Quebec and the other provinces that this constitutes interference. They do not agree. There is something to be learned from that.
This morning, I brought this up. Around noon, the Prime Minister’s advisers wrote something for him to say. He rose to thank us for our extraordinary collaboration. We are always ready to accept thanks, but they did not always seem so sincere—