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View Tom Lukiwski Profile
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Malpeque on November 27, 2008, concerning a letter that the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board sent to grain producers to encourage them to support particular candidates in upcoming elections for directors of the Canadian Wheat Board.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Malpeque, who kindly provided the Chair with a copy of the letter sent by the parliamentary secretary, for having raised this important matter, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, and the hon. member for Yukon for their comments.
In raising this question of privilege, the hon. member for Malpeque alleged that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board inappropriately used confidential mailing lists and the franking privileges of the House for political purposes. He argued that the use of a member's parliamentary letterhead and franking privileges to influence a democratic process constituted a violation of members' privileges.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, in his reply, suggested that the actions of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board did not impede any member’s ability to carry out his or her parliamentary duties. He added that there was no evidence that the Parliamentary Secretary had used any confidential list.
The members for Winnipeg South Centre and Yukon reiterated the concerns expressed by the member for Malpeque regarding the use of franking privileges, parliamentary letterhead and confidential lists, and questioned whether the parliamentary secretary's use of some of the House's resources for this purpose was appropriate.
It might be useful to remind hon. members of some of the principles involved. Franking privileges are granted to members of Parliament by way of the Canada Post Corporation Act.
The question of franking privileges has arisen and been ruled on in the past. One of the cases dealt with the use of the frank by some members of the House to send messages in support of a political party in a provincial election. In his ruling, found in the Debates of October 16, 1986, on pages 405-6, Mr. Speaker Fraser stated:
--I think it is clear that there could be cases where, depending upon the content of the communication sent under the frank, it could be a question of privilege if the content worked against the right of Members to free expression and the carrying out of their obligations as Members.
In that instance, he ruled that there was no question of privilege.
Another case pertained to a member's use of householder mailings of a partisan political nature in the course of a by-election. Just as with the interventions of the members for Winnipeg South Centre and Yukon, several members at that time questioned the interpretation of the House's guidelines and use of resources in this regard.
In that case, Speaker Fraser stated on March 18, 1987, on page 4301 of the Debates:
“In any case, the breach of guidelines does not necessarily constitute a breach of privilege. (…) It seems to the Chair that nothing which has been complained of has in any way obstructed the House or any of its Members in carrying out the activities for which they were elected.”
As in the cases cited, the current dilemma contains two elements. First, the question of whether the franking privileges granted by law to members were used appropriately. Such questions are better addressed through administrative avenues.
The second component is whether the mailing affected the member's privileges. The Chair could find a prima facie privilege in this case if arguments had been made that the distribution of the material in question defamed or in some way interfered with the member's ability to carry out his or her parliamentary duties. But no such arguments have been made in this instance and there is no evidence to this effect.
The Chair listened carefully to the arguments of hon. members and reviewed the content of the letter sent by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board. I have considered the matter in light of earlier Speakers’ decisions on the same subject and the wording of the House of Commons Board by-laws.
The Chair has concluded that there are not sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie breach of privilege in this case.
The member for Malpeque may wish to pursue administrative avenues on the general issue of franking privileges or the contents of frank mail.
I thank hon. members for their interventions in this matter.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2008-12-04 10:19 [p.608]
Order, please. I would remind the hon. member not to use proper names but riding names or titles. I thought I heard the proper name of a member of the Bloc Québécois.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
2008-12-04 11:03 [p.613]
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to speak in debate on the government’s economic update document. This debate is rapidly morphing into one of the most controversial debates in Canadian history. For all its merits, the economic update presented by the Minister of Finance on November 27 has singularly flushed out the opposition’s pent-up need to wrest power from the government.
I have received many phone calls from my constituents. They are puzzled, disappointed and outraged by the opposition’s unprecedented attempt to form its own government illegitimately.
The three opposition parties are desperate enough to form an unholy alliance that runs counter to the conventional wisdom, and worse, counter to the desire of voters in the recent federal election. I have constituents who believe the leaders of these parties should not only be thwarted in this gluttonous attempt to grab power, but should spend their time in leg irons. Canada is laid low by this coalition, and if power is allowed to change hands on this issue, we stand to become an international black hole at this critical economic juncture.
Let us consider for a moment why the economic update is a credible document that is custom made to plot Canada’s course through an economic storm. The opposition’s antics have unfortunately put the document’s real intent on the back burner.
Let me interject something here: the opposition had decided to seize power in a bloodless coup even before they saw our economic update. They have admitted as much. Even before we brought in a budget, they feared Canadians might really like what we were doing and what we were presenting. The agreement between the NDP and the separatist Bloc had already been made long before this fiasco unfolded. Any scheme, any plan would have been enough to precipitate what they are doing here today.
The naysayers have obscured the fact that the government has reduced the federal debt by $37 billion. That is unprecedented. That is something many predicted would be impossible to do. We have done it. Over 2007-08 and the five years following, we will have reduced taxes by nearly $200 billion. That too will be an unbelievable accomplishment. We will have reduced the tax rate on new business investment to the lowest level in the G7 by 2010.
When people talk about an economic stimulus, we have already done it. We have made unprecedented investments in job-creating infrastructure. We have invested in science and technology. We are investing in education and training. We all know that an intelligent investment provides financial returns to workers, to industry and to government.
The opposition would see that we have already addressed the things they are complaining about, if they would only look at the document. The opposition contends that this government has failed to provide fiscal stimulus for the economy. Perhaps they should get around to reading what we have done and looking at how we compare to the other industrialized nations. Nothing could be further from the truth than their accusations.
No advanced industrialized economy in the world has enacted measures as large as those in Canada. We have done more than any other country. It is notable that the stimulus measures in most countries are temporary, yet the Canadian measures are permanent, and when compared to the permanent measures chosen by some other countries, Canada’s are the highest. Since 2006, the government has announced stimuli equal to 1.4% of GDP. They are incremental in 2008-09 and are almost 2% of GDP in 2009-10. Most countries with permanent stimuli are closer to 0.1% to 0.3%. We are many times higher in this country.
I think the opposition is frustrated by the fact that we are being so successful. This government understands trends. When stimulus measures are temporary, their impact on GDP the following year is negative.
We see some of these things happening in other countries. The stimuli being suggested by the NDP, Liberal and separatist Bloc have been tried in other countries, including the U.S., and they have not worked. It would be irresponsible for us to carry out some of the suggestions the other side is contemplating. It would be blindly putting money into programs that in other areas have already been proven to be ineffectual.
In the year after the measures expire, the government is contributing less to GDP than the year before. It subtracts from year-over-year growth when we put in place ineffective measures to stimulate the economy. Does the opposition want this country to grow or not?
Let us consider the opposition's real motive for cobbling together a power grab that millions of people find unsettling, undemocratic and downright un-Canadian. One has to seriously consider what is not to like about a government that has changed the economic face of an entire country for the better.
I would be pleased to tell the House what is not to like about this document from the opposition's perspective.
The initial draft of this document was going to remove the taxpayer subsidy paid to political parties, one of three subsidies they receive. It was about cutting spending, which would have hurt three opposition parties, because their fundraising tactics are all about entitlements. It is about abject greed. Again, I want to emphasize that we were only removing partial subsidies to politicians.
The opposition's public relations and media relations machines have been cranking out top-notch propaganda ever since November 27. The scale of the opposition's abject greed was something we did not foresee. That was a misjudgment on our part. That is where we went wrong.
We gave the opposition too much credit for being genuinely concerned about preserving Canada's superior economic status. We should have known opposition members would react this way, but we had a modicum of faith that they too would see fit to curtail the handover of Canadians' hard-earned wages to parties that were really doing nothing to earn it.
My own party would have taken the biggest hit of all, but we were convinced that old-fashioned political fundraising would have kept us strong. The other parties were not. All parties should be supported by people who have enough faith in their policies to open their wallets voluntarily and invest in our collective future. That is democracy.
The opposition parties do not see it that way. That is why they pretend to object to the economic update as a whole. My constituents have seen through this, and I suspect Canadians from coast to coast have seen through it as well. That is why the opposition parties have chosen to hide behind each other's skirts rather than to take that issue to the people. Our government would prefer to have another election. It is a cowardly solution for the opposition to smugly threaten to snatch power without an election.
All three parties need the taxpayer subsidy because they do not have grassroots support to carry on their viable political parties. This is a cowardly position and I can only hope Canadians will punish them for it.
I fear for the country. If this coalition is allowed to form a government, I fear that the reaction from western Canadians will be one of intolerance for a kangaroo government that will almost surely neglect their needs. This is a very divisive move on the part of the opposition.
The Bloc Québécois gets up in the morning to rip this country apart, yet it is an integral part of the coalition that can dictate policy to government. How have we arrived at a point where the Liberal Party and the NDP will take the Bloc into their tent? Attempting to bring down the government is a slap in the face to all Canadians, and to none more than those who live in my province.
The coalition is adding insult to injury for the people who grow our food. The Liberals, NDP and separatist Bloc are turning a blind eye to Canada's real risk takers, our farmers, whose livelihoods depend solely on good weather, decent prices and hard work. The coalition parties should not be surprised if there is a wholesale revolt against their power grab by rural people all across Canada. They are, by all indications, extremely angry at the entire parliamentary institution, and all of us in this place bear the blame.
This government is attempting to restore parliamentary equilibrium. We have offered concessions by removing specific controversial issues from our original economic update in an effort to restore calm.
We have offered concessions. We are willing to work together with the opposition parties. We have invited them to submit their proposals. No, they want to simply grab power. They are not interested in restoring calm. The new coalition will have nothing of our offer to have it work together with us. This is clear evidence that the fiscal update was not the issue. It was an excuse for their banana republic-style, bloodless coup. Parliament has plummeted to perhaps the lowest ebb in our nation's history and it is up to us, all of us in this place, to fix it.
Hon. Joseph Volpe: You believe that so intensely that you have to read it over and over and over.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I think I have struck a nerve, Mr. Speaker. I think some of them do not like the fact that we have pointed out that the Liberals have joined together with the separatist Bloc. Let me continue.
If we fail in our quest to put the economic well-being of Canadians first, we will surely deserve all the vitriol and derision that comes our way from across the nation, and believe me, it will come. If we do not relent, if the coalition does not stand down, how can we expect anything but cynicism and outrage in return?
It is painfully obvious that the coalition was created to provide it with a quick and easy access to the public purse. That is what it is all about, to get hold of the treasury of Canada. It is all about getting drunk on power that it has not earned.
On October 14, the electorate told each one of those parties that they did not deserve to form a government. That is just six weeks ago. We have not even had time to bring down a budget, and budgets should be the point at which a government lives or dies. That is when confidence motions take place. The opposition was not even willing to wait for that time.
It is incumbent upon the Governor General to remind the coalition parties that the electorate made it clear they were not invited to govern this country.
If I were still a school teacher, I would be tempted to send all three parties to their separate corners to think carefully about what they are threatening to do. Perhaps more appropriately, they should consider what they are about to undo. They can tear this country asunder as they cater to their own self-interests. Punks and street gangs know there is safety in numbers, and these parties are using their collective numbers to bully the country in letting them ascend to power.
Ms. Yasmin Ratansi: Who created that word?
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Opposition parties point to the results of the last election. They say the Conservatives did not get 50% of the votes, but I would like to point out to the person heckling me across that the separatist coalition that was formed got zero per cent votes in the last election, yet those parties want to grab power.
The gangs can become unruly mobs when leadership is challenged and the pecking order is disputed. If this gang is allowed to govern our country, I predict we will all bear witness to a sad litany of internal bickering, distrust and mutiny from that side of the House.
Canadians deserve better. Canadians deserve an economic future that is sculpted by a party with compassion, the Conservatives. We must not be hoodwinked by the tub-thumping coalition that bleats long and loud that it is about the people. In its case, it is about the people, the people who are glueing themselves together across the floor into an alliance that is going to systematically decimate Canadian economic policy. It will undo all the responsible planning that this party has taken pains to establish.
We saw the economic mess coming and we were ready for it. To bully us into the cheap seats now will put all we have done at risk, and with it goes the envy of the G7 nations, the stable fiscal policy that has so far averted disaster and kept Canada relatively secure.
I stand here today concerned about the direction the opposition is threatening to take us. I stand here today concerned about where our country might end up if we hand the reins to a coalition that is rife with spendthrifts, opportunists and separatists. No good can come of this ugly act of desperation.
The government removed the segments of the economic update deemed most offensive to the opposition parties, yet the smell of blood still permeates this place. The signing of an unholy alliance on December 1 means that they will not rest until they taste blood. It lies with all of us to stave them off. In the meantime, I would urge the opposition parties to stand down, think hard and cool off.
The government has demonstrated a willingness to alter the economic update to better suit the opposition's needs. We have done what we can to appease and assuage the ire because the stakes are too important, but there is one thing I believe the three leaders in this coalition should share with all of us: How did that handshake really feel? Why do they not reveal the agreement that they made? How much money was promised to come out of the treasury of Canada to appease certain elements in this coalition?
I want to address some of the questions now that I have finished my main remarks. We have heard the separatist coalition say that we are not stimulating the economy enough. We are putting money into infrastructure. We have already started doing that. We will continue to do that. It is complaining that we have not done that. We are doing more and we have a program. We want to continue with that program to improve the infrastructure in Canada, more than was ever done by a previous government, and that will help business. It is being done in a very responsible way, and in a way that will help the country.
It also talked about the fact that we are not stimulating the economy. We have done a phenomenal amount already. The tax measures that will take place on January 1, 2009 and that are being put at risk are the tax-free savings accounts that Canadians will be able to establish. They can put $5,000 every year into an account that will accumulate and be there for anything they would like to use it for in the future, without having to pay any taxes on the interest or any increase in the value of that fund. It could be phenomenal. Young people with a tax-free savings account, where they put in whatever savings they are able to, could have a tremendous amount of money to buy a house, to do whatever, or to retire with a very good and secure pension.
We are increasing the basic personal exemption amount to $10,100 this year. We are reducing the general corporate income tax to 19%. I know some of my opponents opposite will complain about this, but that is a very effective economic stimulus, something the government has done.
I would also like to elaborate on some of the things we have done already: 1.4% of GDP, incremental in 2008-09, and almost 2% of GDP, total in 2009-10 since 2006, has made us the top nation in the G7 when it comes to stimulating the economy. The opposition parties say we are not doing anything. We are the envy of all these other nations. It is a shame that they would make that accusation when it is totally false. They are repeating a lie so many times in the expectation that Canadians might accept it.
Let Canadians look at the facts. We are better poised than any other country to really weather the economic storm. Yes, there will be tough times ahead. We do not deny that. We have asked the House to wait for our budget. However, there is a fear there that when Canadians see what we are doing, we will get more support, and this coalition, this unholy alliance that has been formed, will have to sit in the cheap seats for a long time.
Money will be spent to hold this separatist coalition together. Whether it is effective or not, it will be spending money from the treasury of Canada. I warn Canadians about this. This is upsetting to me. That is why we should be very alarmed. This secret agreement, not available for the public to see, will give politicians things that we do not know about. These parties made agreements that they are not revealing, not on their website, not anywhere. These are secret agreements. This is a power grab by the opposition parties, which is irresponsible, to get their hands on the treasury of Canada.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2008-12-04 11:25 [p.616]
The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
2008-12-04 11:25 [p.616]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague and I have been in Parliament together for a long time and I respect his judgment in a lot of different respects but on this particular issue he is not right. He is misleading Canadians by what he is saying.
I really would have a question for him if it was the other way around. I would like to know why the Liberals are doing this. It just does not make sense. He knows better. I know he has enough sense to realize that most of the things that we have done are very effective.
He is citing some quotations. Let me cite some quotations. I see that I am running out of time. In fact, I just had a friend of mine, we grew up together in my little town and he was head of the credit unions in Canada, tell us to do whatever we can to maintain power because he is so afraid of the coalition and what it would do to the economy of the country.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
2008-12-04 11:29 [p.617]
Mr. Speaker, I think the member who just asked the question made the point that I have been trying to make all the time. It is extremely dangerous to form a coalition with the separatist Bloc.
An hon. member: Why?
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: The question was, why. I will tell the House why it is so dangerous to make a coalition with the Bloc. Bloc members do not necessarily support budget items that help all of Canada. They would gladly see Canada decline so they can ask, “Why would anyone want to be a part of this country”.
Our economy could be destroyed. I witness now what is happening in the stock markets as they already are anticipating that there may be a bloodless coup taking place here. That is why it is so dangerous.
Bloc members do not give allegiance to the Queen. They do not sing O Canada in this place. They do not even want the Canadian flag behind them when they have a photo taken.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
2008-12-04 11:31 [p.617]
Mr. Speaker, in the photos that I saw there was not a single Canadian flag.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
2008-12-04 11:33 [p.617]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the decent question. It brings the debate to a much higher level than when being asked about some extraneous issue that Canadians do not really care about.
I would gladly work with the member opposite in strengthening the employment insurance program. I was the critic when I first came to Parliament in 1993 and it is vitally important that we have a strong employment insurance plan. That would be something that would come down in the budget, so please allow us to present a budget and have input into that.
As far as the member's comments on social programs, I agree that we need strong social programs and we have done much to strengthen them. One of the best things we can do to strengthen social programs is to have a strong economy so we can fund them. If we do not have a strong economy to fund social programs, they will be ineffective. In fact, we will have more poverty and more problems if we do not have a strong economy.
The stimulus package that is being proposed by the coalition opposite has a lot of top notch economists in the country concerned. Don Drummond of the Toronto Dominion Bank said, “That would be a disaster that would launch into a structural deficit. Canada's economy is one of the few in the world in which the domestic side of the economy is still growing. No one can point to Canada and say 'you are the cause of this international problem'. I've seen a lot more failures of short-term stimulus than successes. A lot of them just don't work”.
Also, the Scotiabank chief economist, Warren Jestin, stated:
...the Canadian economy already has stimulus built into the books.
He admits that we already have a stimulus built in the books. He goes on to state:
The GST cut and reductions to corporate and business taxes taken last fall...will...have a greater effect on the economy than a short-term stimulus.
Unlike the U.S., which has tried ad hoc measures such as giving people cheques ... we were following a much more rigorous process.
View Pat Martin Profile
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-04 11:35 [p.618]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. John's East.
The member for Yorkton—Melville is far too good an MP to honestly believe much of the speech that he just gave in the House of Commons today.
As we speak, history is unfolding in front of Rideau Hall. I understand the podium has been set up and the microphones are being set up so the Prime Minister can make an announcement, and he will likely announce that the Governor General has allowed him to prorogue this House of Commons.
I think this is a terrible shame and it would set a terrible precedent. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our parliamentary democracy that the executive must be accountable to Parliament, to the legislative wing of our democracy. In this sense, the legislative wing, Parliament, the House of Commons, has decreed that it has lost confidence in the government and all it wishes is the opportunity to express that non-confidence in a majority vote scheduled for Monday. The Prime Minister has run behind the apron strings of the sovereign to avoid that necessary vote that should take place on Monday.
It is worrisome if the sovereign, in fact, overrides the will of Parliament. Kings have been beheaded for such things. If that is the case, if this is unfolding as we predict, then we are in a bigger crisis than just the death rattle of a bad government. We are in fact watching just that, the death rattle of a bad government, for the simple reason that the Prime Minister blew it.
The Prime Minister had every opportunity, when he won a minority in the last federal election, to reach across the aisle and cobble together a working coalition, so to speak, of all Parliament because of the economic crisis that we are in. In fact, the evidence of this is how simple and straightforward it was for the three opposition parties to come to agreement in a very short period of time that we needed to work together. That tells me that the Prime Minister could have done the same thing if he had reached across the aisle in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation that one might expect in a period of crisis. If we were all paddling our canoe in the same direction, we could navigate these turbulent waters without this unrest that is unfolding as we speak.
However, no, instead of that simple gesture of goodwill, he reached across the aisle all right but he reached across the aisle to slit his enemies' throats in an aggressive act, a bombastic act and an unnecessarily antagonistic act. Instead of extending his hand in friendship, he slapped the opposition parties in the face. He tried to unleash a veritable wish list of neo-conservative diatribe. He used every little irritant he could think of.
The Conservatives decided to exploit the financial emergency, the crisis we are in, and get rid of the right to strike for public sector unions. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy? They also decided to get rid of all the nuisance pay equity claims. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy? They decided to pull the rug out from under our political oppositions' ability to participate in the next federal election. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy?
That is what has sorely offended Canadians and certainly all three of the opposition parties to the point where they said that enough was enough, that it would not tolerate the bullying any longer. We wanted to get down to business.
The second thing I will speak to is another historic event that is unfolding across the nation as we speak. At this very moment, crowds are gathering in 10 cities across the country, one of which is right outside the House of Commons. A large pro-coalition rally will be taking place there, as it will be in Winnipeg where they expect a crowd of over 1,000 people. Right across the country, Canadians will be expressing their support for the coalition government that is cobbled together between the NDP and the Liberal Party.
I want to take a bit of my time to condemn many of the speakers for the Conservative Party, in the context of this debate, who have been gnashing their teeth and rending their garments in a reckless and irresponsible way, fear-mongering to the point that they are actually hate-mongering toward the people of Quebec.
I have heard people vilify the people of Quebec, with spittle spraying from their mouths, just vehemently condemn the good people of Quebec. They are burning bridges. They are engaged in a scorched earth policy they will live to regret. How are they ever going to go to the people of Quebec in a subsequent federal election to ask for their confidence with the things that those people have been saying in the context of this debate? They are setting the cause of national unity back by decades with their irresponsible, reckless and, I suggest, hateful debate. It really has been an awful thing to witness.
What happened with the coalition that is developing, this exciting prospect, is giving effect to the will of the people as expressed in the last federal election.
A true democrat would accept that majority rules. The majority of Canadians as represented by their elected members of Parliament oppose the Conservative government and oppose the direction in which the government is trying to take us. We are a multi-party democracy. Maybe the era of majority governments in Canada has come to an end. Maybe the government will have to water down its wine somewhat and work with the other parties if it wants to govern this country.
Maybe that is the new political reality the Prime Minister was too slow to realize. Perhaps it was not the Prime Minister, but Tom Flanagan who was too slow to realize. Surely this strategy has Tom Flanagan's stamp all over it. The idea is one of exploiting the economic crisis to smash one's enemies; never let an economic crisis go by without exploiting its virtues. Members should read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. I think it would be a revelation to my colleagues opposite.
In many ways the type of co-operative collaboration between the parties is exactly what Canadians would expect their representatives to do if we are going into a period of economic turbulence. They want Canadian representatives and politicians working together with a common agenda.
Let me say how easy it would have been for the Prime Minister to do the same thing. He could have been a real statesman. He could have stood up and brought the leaders of all the opposition parties into a room and said, “Look, we are going into a really rough period, and just as in a time of war, we are going to have to work together. Let us set aside the things that divide us and agree upon the things that unite us, and move together as a nation until we get past this turbulence”. At least postpone those things that divide us.
That took real leadership from my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois. They admit they are still dedicated to a sovereign nation of Quebec. That is what they care about. That is their right. They were democratically elected to be here. However, they said that they would set that aside for a period of 18 months and maybe longer while we all worked together to get through this turbulence. That is leadership. That should be recognized and acknowledged. I think the Canadian public sees that.
The rest of us have left our political baggage at the door of this place. The Liberals and the NDP have been squabbling and scrapping for as long as anybody can remember, but we have agreed to set aside those things that divide us and work on those common things that we all care about.
One of the nice things about Canada, as all would agree, is that the political spectrum is really quite narrow. We have more things in common than divide us. It is a longer list of things that we jointly care about than what we fight over.
We have simply identified a half dozen important things that we all agree need to be done and we set about creating a coalition that would implement them.
The Prime Minister could have done the exact same thing if he had chosen to be a statesman. Instead, I believe he has created a problem from which he will not recover. Even if the Governor General agrees to prorogue Parliament, this problem will not go away, because no amount of money in the next six weeks is going to buy back the credibility that the Conservatives lost by choosing to be aggressive and bombastic instead of statesman-like.
We had a valuable insight into the true nature of those guys. The veneer was scraped off. We got to see who they really are. They kept up this illusion for a couple of years that they can set aside their radical fringe, but the radical fringe seeped through at the first opportunity and dominated. I believe it skewed the reason of an otherwise decent man, the Prime Minister of Canada. I think he was misled, he got bad advice, and he blew it. We see the consequences today.
He has lost the confidence of Parliament and a new government will take over that represents the majority of Canadians. Its agenda will be one that is necessary and well crafted and it will be implemented quickly.
I am sure my colleague from St. John's East will be able to expand on some of the agenda.
View Pat Martin Profile
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-04 11:48 [p.619]
Mr. Speaker, it is one of the basic fundamental tenets of a parliamentary democracy that the executive must be accountable to the legislature.
All we are asking for is the opportunity to vote on the financial update or the FU as it has come to be known across the country. We want to vote on the FU on Monday and I believe the Conservatives will lose that vote. It is a vote of confidence and we will be able to express our non-confidence in the government.
What could be more fundamental than the executive being accountable to the legislature? There have been rebellions fought on that issue.
I would also be critical if the Governor General did prorogue Parliament as per the request of the Prime Minister. It is a very worrisome situation that the sovereign of this country would be overriding the will of the legislative arm of our democracy. There have been kings beheaded for such a thing and it is extremely worrisome.
My colleague, the government House leader, is far too good a member of Parliament to ignore these basic fundamental tenets of our parliamentary democracy even if it does have adverse consequences for the party that he represents.
View Pat Martin Profile
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-12-04 11:51 [p.620]
Mr. Speaker, what is clear, given the outpouring of support we are seeing from across the country, is that in the absence of any leadership whatsoever on those important issues raised by my colleague, the general public is welcoming an action plan that is clear, concise and well crafted and which can be implemented in short order by a new coalition government.
There is a wave of optimism sweeping the nation as we speak. Once again, there is hope in the land.
View Judy Wasylycia-Leis Profile
View Judy Wasylycia-Leis Profile
2008-12-03 14:11 [p.567]
Mr. Speaker, today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a celebration of the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a recommitment to inclusion through its theme, “Dignity and Justice for All”.
Celebrations are taking place across Canada hosted by Independent Living Canada, along with People First, all of this following on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Association for Community Living. But our celebrations are marred by the Conservative Party's foot dragging on ratification of the UN convention and the Conservatives' failure to address disproportionate poverty and unemployment among Canadians with disabilities.
The Conservative government has no plan and no will to address the economic crisis that puts the most vulnerable in our society at even greater risk. How can we have confidence in a government that denies those living with disabilities the means to help themselves in a time of economic crisis, condemning them to further impoverishment and hardship?
Now is the time to end exclusion, and stand up for the rights of all people.
View Shelly Glover Profile
View Shelly Glover Profile
2008-12-03 14:12 [p.567]
Mr. Speaker, this coalition is having disastrous consequences for Canada. The coalition is dividing Canadians as we stand on the brink of an economic crisis. We do not need a constitutional crisis on top of everything else. When Jacques Parizeau is happy, I start to worry. It is not surprising that the Liberals are again adding fuel to the sovereigntist fire, but it is completely absurd that the NDP is in on this strategy.
Why is the opposition trying to divide the country when our government corrected the fiscal imbalance and recognized the Quebec nation, thereby showing Quebeckers that they are an integral part of Canada? Once again, francophones in Canada will find themselves isolated, and once again, they can thank the Liberals.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2008-12-03 14:21 [p.569]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister ignores the truth. Just for the record, the Bloc Québécois has supported the Conservative government at least 140 times, including 14 confidence votes, so let us not be distracted by the red herrings and stick to the real issue, and that is the economy, abject Conservative economic failure.
Beyond all the same old stuff, why is there nothing new for Canadians, for infrastructure, for housing, for manufacturing, for forestry and autos, and for training? Why do the Conservatives have no new plan right now?
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