Mr. Speaker, I wonder where I should begin my speech about Bill C-63. I do not necessarily want to repeat what I already said at second reading. Today, we are at the report stage. I was lucky enough, if you really want to call it lucky, to be the vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Finance. I had the honour of being a very involved, even proactive, participant in the study of the bill in committee.
This huge bill required all of our attention during its final weeks in committee and I wanted to report on how things progressed. I also wanted to report on how the Liberals behave in committee.
It seems that they just plug their ears. When we hear witnesses about a bill, and the witnesses are in general agreement on an issue, it seems that by the end of the process the Liberals have not heard anything. They are practically deaf.
They look at their notes and stick to the guidelines they were given on how to vote on amendments. Even if they can hear as well as I do—I do want to give them the benefit of the doubt, as they are obviously not deaf—when it comes time to vote on the NDP or Conservative amendments, they seem to have completely forgotten what they heard from the witnesses.
I will give a few examples. In the bill, significant amendments were made to the Canada Labour Code to add leave for various reasons. The first types of leave added are for indigenous cultural practices. I moved a very simple amendment, which would ensure that indigenous peoples are consulted about their practices. I must say that in addition to the list of indigenous cultural practices already included in the legislation, which are accepted and which employers will also have to accept, the Governor in Council may make regulations to add other practices. We said that indigenous peoples needed to be consulted first and that this obligation had to be put into the bill. This was rejected. However, it was very clear that this was needed. The Liberals rejected this amendment.
We welcome the initiative of leave for family violence in the Canada Labour Code, but it is for 10 unpaid days. Several witnesses who came before the Committee found that this did not make any sense. How can a victim of family violence be told that she can simply get out of her family violence situation, take unpaid leave and everything will be quickly worked out. Come on.
It defies logic that someone could take unpaid leave to get out of critical and vulnerable situations like those. We tried to amend the labour code to turn it into paid leave, but the Liberals refused to listen to the witnesses and experts who said that it would take at least paid leave.
The same thing is true for family-related leave. Family responsibilities are very important today. Often, both parents work. Family responsibilities can vary widely. The government was proposing three types of leave, again unpaid. Experts agree that it made sense to give paid leave. That is what we proposed. We even proposed five days of paid leave and the Liberals refused that proposal as well, for reasons that they cannot even explain themselves. They simply voted against the proposal without giving any explanations. It is from the opposition, so it surely is not good.
We tried to amend the bill so the leave could be taken in blocks of less than a day. It is very clear, in the bill, that employers can require that employees take a full day of leave or more. Leave related to family responsibilities or family violence may only be for two hours. Nevertheless, for the Liberals, that is out of the question. The leave must be one day or more. They again refused our proposed amendment.
We put forward other amendments on other topics in Bill C-63 that have been extensively discussed. There was the one regarding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
In addition to the Conservatives’ amendment aimed at reducing the allocation to the government’s poorly designed and misguided bank to zero, we attempted, even though we knew that the government would reject our amendments, to make the process more transparent. Given that most experts were opposed to the bank since, in their opinion, there would be no real return on the investment for Canadians, we asked the Liberals to have the finance minister report to the House on the money invested in the Asian infrastructure bank for each project, so that Canadians would know exactly where their money had gone and which infrastructure project in Asia they had financed.
In my opinion, the Minister of Finance has a strong obligation to be transparent. We are being asked to spend up to $480 million Canadian dollars on this infrastructure bank. Canadians are being asked to invest all this money in a bank, and they are not even being given information about what their money is being used for.
In Asia, there are many diverging interests, and officials who are at the very least questionable will probably benefit from that bank. That is why we asked questions about the transparency of the bank’s accountability mechanisms. Unfortunately, once again, the Liberals closed their eyes and plugged their ears, and refused another amendment, one that made sense. It was not to prevent the bank from existing; it would simply have made it possible to obtain transparency for Canadians, which is a bare minimum.
Bill C-63 also covers another topic, the sharing of cannabis revenues. This topic is in the news and the sharing of revenues is highly contested by the provinces, as we know. The Minister of Finance began to hold preliminary consultations at one point and the provinces were adamant: equal sharing is not acceptable. Most of the responsibilities related to the legalization of cannabis fall to the provinces. It was therefore sensible, in our opinion, to include an obligation in the law setting forth transfers and taxation mechanisms.
The minister should have been required to consult all his counterparts to come to an agreement before being able to set up this type of cost sharing. Once again, the Liberals rejected this sensible amendment that would have prevented the minister from pursuing an approach that imposes the Liberals' way of seeing things onto the provinces.
After the preliminary discussions, the minister made a more definitive proposal on splitting the proceeds from cannabis legalization equally. The cities and provinces are categorically against the idea. They know full well that they will have to bear the full burden, that they will have to change their own regulations in their own laws and in their own jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the federal government is being stubborn and simply does not respect the provinces.
That being said, the Minister of Finance's fingerprints are all over the more than 300 pages of Bill C-63. Today we know how he divested himself of his shares in his company, of which he was still a shareholder when he introduced this new legislation on taxing individuals and corporations. Once again, in this bill, we get the impression that the Liberals want to protect their own interests.
The Minister of Finance left his mark throughout this bill. We might wonder whether he is working for himself or for Canadians, but this bill makes it clear that he is working for himself and that is why I am voting against it.
I hope that all my colleagues will join me in voting down Bill C-63 at report stage.