Thank you. It's a pleasure to be a guest here.
I wasn't going to weigh in. I was listening intently, and after listening to Mr. Gerretsen and Mr. Badawey, I had to, as they spoke in hushed tones, very serious tones about Parliament properly doing its work and about accountability and transparency. I know my constituents would be astonished if I didn't weigh in on their behalf, because it is unbelievably ironic to hear those words being used in the discussion we're having here today.
Of particular interest to me was Mr. Badawey's assertion that we should all be rowing in the same direction. How unbelievable that statement is, given that about eight weeks ago the Liberals not only stopped rowing but threw all the oars out of the boat so none of us could row either. It's absolutely astonishing to hear that being said in the middle of a global pandemic in order to avoid accountability and transparency, to use Mr. Badawey's words, to stop Parliament from functioning properly. “Properly” again being M. Badawey's words.
They shut down Parliament so that the COVID committee, for example, couldn't function and hear from expert witnesses from across the country on best measures that we could take as a country to address a global pandemic.
We're in a situation where, by the time this is over, we're probably going to be spending as much money or run up as much debt in months, maybe in a year, as we ran up in over 150 years of Confederation. Canadians expect that Parliament will sit and parliamentarians will hold the government to account, and in a minority Parliament, if anything, the government should be working with parliamentarians from all sides to get the best results for Canadians.
I had to weigh in. When I put my hand up at first, I think it was before Mr. Badawey even said the things he said. It was in response to Mr. Gerretsen, who made the comment that opposition members, particularly Conservatives, haven't moved legislation or bills or motions to better the lives of Canadians.
In the spring of 2017, the one time I had the opportunity to move an opposition day motion, I remember working with members of the New Democratic Party, the Bloc and the Green Party, members from all sides of the House, to come up with a motion that I thought was the biggest no-brainer. In fact, I reached out to Liberals. Between a dozen and two dozen Liberals told me they would support my motion on a Canadian autism partnership. Talk about something that should be as easy to support as just about anything.
I put forward the motion. First of all, an expert committee put forward a proposal to government for a budget. It got rejected in the budget. Then we brought forward an opposition day motion to further the issue. New Democrats and Conservatives don't always agree, but on this point, we were in full agreement. At the end of the day, when it came time to stand up and vote, every Conservative, New Democrat and Green Party member voted in favour. Do you know who didn't vote in favour? Not one member of the Liberal Party voted in favour because they were whipped to vote against it.
I'm looking at all of you. Mr. Fragiskatos, Mr. Easter, Mr. Gerretsen, Mr. Badawey, Mr. Fraser, you voted against it. All five of you voted against it.
To hear Mr. Gerretsen give the lecture that he gave here earlier, a lecture that was born out of a situation where he has to waste as much of the committee's time as he can because he wants to avoid losing a vote that he's almost certainly going to lose eventually, to hear him make the points he made, I just couldn't stay silent.
On behalf of my constituents, on behalf of stakeholders whom I work with across the country, I had to weigh in. I will now, I assume, cede the floor so that we can listen to hours upon hours of Liberals standing up one after the other to lecture us in the way that they've been lecturing us for hours upon hours already.
With that, I hope, maybe hope against hope, that at some point we can come to a little bit of common sense and understanding and come to a vote.