Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in this august House for the first time in 2018. We were elected in 2015 and here we are in 2018 already. Life goes so fast. I would like to wish all of the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are tuning in today, a very happy New Year, health, prosperity and happiness. I am very happy to have seen them throughout Parliament’s winter break and during door-to-door events and various activities, including the Christmas gala at my constituency office. I thank them for attending in large numbers.
It is unfortunate that the member across the way has left, but in February 2016, the Gartner report said quite clearly that the Phoenix system had major problems and should not be implemented. The report also featured some important recommendations that would have allowed us to avoid the considerable problems now facing public servants, if only the Liberal government had shown as much wisdom as we have, and followed those recommendations and if it had not given the project the green light in February 2016.
I would like to respond to certain allegations by my Liberal colleagues today, but I must first say that Bill C-62 is an outright abdication by the executive for electoral gains. In 2015, we Conservatives were forced to call an election four months early because the major unions in Canada would not stop making electoral expenditures day after day, week after week, to help either the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party, because those parties had apparently given them what they wanted. They absolutely wanted to defeat the Conservatives and were spending millions of dollars on advertising against us on television, on the radio and in print media. That is why it was the longest election in Canadian history. We were honourable and we had to respond to those daily frontal media attacks from the unions. We therefore triggered the election campaign to be able to use electoral funds ourselves to respond to those attacks.
Without even realizing it, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge accurately described this bill when he said that his government is working hand-in-hand with the major unions. He could not have said it better. With Bill C-62, the government is not only abdicating its responsibilities to the benefit of big union bosses, who claim to be great leaders who want to protect workers, but it is also returning the favour to the major unions that supported the Liberal Party in 2015 to bring down one of the best governments in the history of Canada. In 10 years, the previous Conservative government got Canada through the biggest economic crisis in world history since the Great Depression in 1929 and 1930. In short, it is shameful that these unions interfered in an election campaign without the support of their members.
Furthermore, I am fed up of hearing our colleague from Winnipeg North portray himself as the paragon of universal virtue, as if the Liberal government was the only one to have good intentions and to work for the well-being of public servants, for Canadians and for humanity. It is completely ridiculous. Every Canadian government, be it Liberal or Conservative, works for the well-being of this country. Will they one day stop harping on about these platitudes, telling us that Conservatives do not work for the well-being of all Canadians or all of humanity? It is utter nonsense, and I am starting to get really fed up. It is extreme arrogance. We respect public servants, and that is why we had two objectives when we introduced Bills C-377 and C-525.
First, we wanted to ensure the sustainability of public service pensions. If there is one thing we can do to show respect for our public servants, who work very hard for Canada, and keep the government apparatus running smoothly, it is to ensure that, when the day comes, they will retire with honour and dignity, and have access to a sustainable, vital pension that really exists.
When we came to power after the era of Paul Martin and the Liberals from 1990 to 2004, we had to face the facts. Not only had millions of sick days been banked, be we could foresee some major deficits in the public service pension fund in the following decades. Together, both of these things threaten not only existing pension funds as they now stand, but also access to these pension funds for any public servant retiring in the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years.
We have so much respect for public servants that we made difficult decisions for them. They are not the executive, the government is. We made decisions to ensure that they could retire with dignity when the time came. That was Bill C-377. There was also Bill C-525 to promote democracy in labour organizations and unions in Canada.
This House is one of the most democratic in the world, if not the most democratic. Is it any wonder that we did everything in our power to further promote democracy within unions?
It is unfathomable that one of the first things the Liberals did after arriving on Parliament Hill was to try to repeal the provision of Bill C-525 that allows for a secret vote at union meetings. There are sometimes thousands of people at union meetings. There is intimidation. There is strong-arming. Things get rowdy. Not all Canadians have the courage to voice their opinion, as they may be afraid of being bullied. Have we not been talking for weeks and months about the many types of bullying in Canadian society? In the world of unions, there is bullying. It is no secret. It is a huge factor.
We were working not only for public servants, but also for workers. We wanted to give them a secret ballot so they could vote transparently and without fear of recrimination to determine the direction of their union leadership and the decisions made.
With the Liberals, we are dealing with a party that is completely blind. It is blind to the sustainability of pension funds in the public sector and sometimes the private sector. It is even blind to the sustainability of insurance for seniors in Canada. We made a decision that I found to be very interesting as a young man. I am now 31 years old and was 27 at the time. We decided to raise the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67. That was probably one of the most courageous decisions for an OECD country, for a G7 country. It was clearly something that needed to be done.
When he was a Bay Street tycoon in Toronto, the Minister of Finance wrote a fantastic book in which he said that this was exactly what needed to be done and that Mr. Harper’s government had made a very good decision.
The member for Winnipeg North should set a better example for all his colleagues. He should stop being arrogant, truly work for public servants, resolve the problems with Phoenix, and stop claiming he has the moral high ground.
We worked for workers with Bill C-525 to give them a secret ballot. We worked with public servants to ensure the sustainability of their pension funds with Bill C-377.
I will close by saying that Bill C-62 is an abdication by the executive in favour of the major unions. The purpose of this bill is to reward them in order to obtain electoral gains in 2019.