House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.

Topics

Government Business
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Government Business
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Government Business
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Government Business
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Government Business
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to.)

[English]

Government Business
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, this motion calls for the reinstatement of any government bills at the same stage under the same legislative procedure and process at which they stood at the time of prorogation.

Why is this necessary? Why not introduce legislation from the session before we prorogued which is new and improved? All those bills that are at various stages and which all members know can be improved upon, why not bring them back in their new forms?

Why did the Prime Minister prorogue? To give a confusing throne speech? He talks about a national referendum in the throne speech or is there not a national referendum? He talked about creating jobs and not creating jobs. He said that maybe it is not the government which should create jobs, it should be the business community. He talked about national unity: Is it plan A, plan B or no plan at all?

Government Business
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

An hon. member

No plan at all.

Government Business
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

No plan at all. That is probably what he has.

The point is, why did the Prime Minister prorogue if only to introduce this motion to bring back any of the legislation, anytime the government wants at any stage at which the legislation was if it is similar to the current bill? Why did we prorogue?

Government Business
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

An hon. member

For a photo op.

Government Business
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

For a photo op. I never thought of that one.

We were happily working along in the 35th Parliament. We were happily going about our business trying to make the government be held accountable. We were working along trying to ensure that the bills that were being passed were as good as possible and trying to give our constructive criticisms.

What happened? The Prime Minister said: "Whoa, let's clean the slate. Let's just take three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine weeks", how many weeks did we take off? He said: "Let's just take that time off. We will prorogue and we will come back with a new slate. We will come back here with a new throne speech, a new direction, a new vision and new ideas for Canada". What do we get? Motion M-1: "Let's bring back all the old bills whenever we want. We will not tell the opposition when; we will just sneak them in there when we can and at the same stage".

That is anti-democratic and very autocratic. The use of closure which we just voted on is a violation of the freedom of speech within the House. It is a violation of the freedom to openly express our thoughts and our points of view. By limiting the debate, by limiting the time in which we can debate this, we are forcing members of Parliament to be quiet. We are allowing this freely, democratically elected Prime Minister to be a dictator and he is dictating to us by his very action.

Why is the government acting just like the previous government, but only worse? When the Liberal members were on this side of the House they accused the Tories of using closure and time allocation and the hue and cry went out. I can remember watching them on television saying it was anti-democratic and asking why debate was being limited. All the arguments they were using I am using now, except they are over on the other side and they are laughing. Already the Liberals have used time allocation and closure in the 35th Parliament more times than the Conservative government did during its mandate of four years.

The Prime Minister when he was opposition leader sat here criticizing former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney asking: "Why are you travelling outside the country? Why are you going all over the world when the problems are here in Canada? We have to solve our problems with Quebec; we have to solve our problems with Alberta, B.C., Ontario and the Atlantic provinces? Why are you travelling all over the world?"

Now that he is Prime Minister, the current Prime Minister has already travelled more outside this country. He is very close to being outside this country more, while we have to run this government, than he has been in the country. This Prime Minister has travelled more than the previous Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Why is he doing this exactly in contradiction? I have already mentioned prorogation. When the Conservatives prorogued the House and they came back in, all they wanted to do was bring back five bills. That is all the Conservatives wanted to do, bring back five bills. When the Liberals were on this side in opposition the hue and cry that went out about those five bills, about how it was anti-democratic, how it was short circuiting the system, how it was changing the parliamentary rules. They said: "We would never do that if we were over there because we are better than you guys. We would be different".

What did they do now that they are over there? Exactly the same thing as the Conservative Party did, only worse. They sat over here

and watched the Tory GST come in. They said: "That is not the way to do it. We should look at tax reform. We should look at other ways of replacing this manufacturers' sales tax. We would get rid of it. We hate it. We would kill it". What have they done in two and a half years? They have not got rid of it. They have not killed it.

On Senate appointments, how they used to sit here in opposition and criticize those Senate appointments and they are doing it the very same way. They are doing it for the very same purposes, the very same reasons as the Conservatives.

What has changed? All that has been done is change the faces of the people in government. The system has not been changed. In fact, it is worse. What about the latest appointment to the Senate? I am sure the gentleman is a fine, outstanding Canadian citizen but he is eight months away from having to retire after he is appointed to the job. Does it not take six to eight months to learn the job of a senator? It takes at least a year to learn the job as a member of Parliament. By the time this gentleman learns the job he is out and is replaced by someone else. Why not put someone in the Senate who has some time to learn and contribute something?

Government Business
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Noon

An hon. member

He is just holding it for another Liberal.

Government Business
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Noon

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

The action by this government on Motion No. 1 is anti-democratic, is short-circuiting the system and is a very lazy way of governing the country. That is, I think, the secret of the success of this government. It is a do very little or do nothing and keep the Canadian public asleep and quiet. Do not get them upset with any controversial issues. Distort the truth. Tell the Canadian public that we have broken the back of the deficit. Tell the Canadian public that this is the best bill that has ever come along since sliced bread. Then, as the leader of the country, stand up and say: "Don't worry. Be happy. Everything is okay. Quebecers are happy. All Canadians are happy. Everything is fine".

I am disappointed in the government's actions. I am disappointed that government members will not act and behave the way they said they would when they were in opposition.

I submit the following as being the real reason the government is doing this. It has no real, new, substantive legislation planned for this session. Therefore, it needs an inventory to draw on. What better inventory than the 32 bills that are sitting in abeyance somewhere in various stages? If it has a slow Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, when the member for the opposition party gets up on the Thursday question and asks: "What is in store the next week?", the government will be able to just pick one out here or there or knowing that a committee is not very busy and it will just pick another one out and get the committee busy. That is why the government did this. It has nothing planned.

Look at the throne speech. What is in the throne speech that sets out anything newer than what it said in the first throne speech? What is in the throne speech that gives it a new direction or a new focus so Canadians can feel there is something to look forward to? What is there?

Government Business
Government Orders

Noon

Some hon. members

Nothing at all.

Government Business
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Noon

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

This prorogation was strictly for the purposes of general appearances, to make it look as if the government is still in control. As members will recall, before we prorogued things were unravelling, unsettling.

This Prime Minister bragged about that red book. He bragged about the people he was attracting to that party. He said he had the plan. He said he had the people. However, we very quickly found out that there was no plan because they spent all those months in committees trying to come up with the purple book, the green book, the lavender book and the grey book.

Talk about the people. He fired everybody. His people were so good he fired them all. He fired all the parliamentary secretaries. He fired some cabinet ministers. Where are the people? Those people he brought in, I believe 178 of them, were so good that he had to bring in two more from the outside. Now we have byelections to bring in two new members. Not only have they never been elected before, not only have they never served in public office before; they are cabinet ministers. Right away they are cabinet ministers. How good are these people? For general appearances, that was my point.

Liberals brag about how wonderful their first two years were and how the wonderful finance minister in two years of rolling targets is meeting these soft targets, how great he is and how much better he is than any previous finance minister. I will give him credit for this: the previous finance ministers have been a sorry lot. They could not even project three, four or five months ahead. At least I will give the finance minister credit for setting a target, no matter how soft, and meeting it. He made some cuts, no matter how meagre, and met them and beat them. That is good for the investment community. It just has to be done a little bit quicker.

However, that is about the only thing government members can brag about. Do they brag about abrogating the NAFTA? The Prime Minister in opposition said: "If elected I will abrogate NAFTA unless they change certain clauses". Do members know what really happened? They signed it as was. They did not change one word or one letter in the agreement. They just signed it.

The Liberals said that when they were elected they would protect civil servants. They did a good job of that. They fired 45,000 of them. They promised no big spending cuts. Since they have been in office, during the past two and one-half years, they have announced $15 billion in spending cuts. That is less than what Reformers would have cut but where did they cut the most? Right

where it hurts people the most: in education, in health care and in welfare.

The Reform Party, the party that has been accused of being slash and burn, would have cut $3 billion less than the government on health care, education and welfare. The government's combined cuts with its Canadian social and health transfer is $6.6 billion and ours would have been only $3 billion; that is $3 billion more than we would have cut.

Talk about slash and burn. Talk about draconian. That is the party that should be embarrassed. That is the party that is down loading its problems to the provinces. The provinces now have to deliver the programs for education, health care and welfare. Now they just sit back over there on that side of the House and say: "Boy, did we pull a good one on the provinces, eh? We give them less money, we made our cuts. Now they have to administer it".

Guess whose Parliament gets rocks thrown in the windows? Not the House of Commons but Queen's Park. Guess which premiers get all the flack? Not the Prime Minister but Mike Harris and Ralph Klein. They have to take all the flack over health care and education when they are trying to administer the diminishing funds they are getting. They should have had $3 billion more.

Talk about smart. That is smart. It is smart politics but it is not smart government. It is not smart investment of money.

Mr. Speaker, in the throne speech did the Liberals brag-I believe the only reason they prorogued the House was to do some bragging-about eliminating that GST? No. Once again that is smart politics. What did they do? They are now going to introduce a new national sales tax that combines provincial sales taxes with the goods and services tax, calling it the national sales tax.

Do we think the federal government is going to reduce its take from 7 per cent? No. It will expect the tax to go through, combine it with the provinces and call it one tax. I recall when the finance minister was in opposition. He criticized the GST as the replacement for the manufacturers' sales tax. I cannot quite remember the quote, but to paraphrase the finance minister he said that replacing one bad tax with another new bad tax, it still remains a bad tax. Is that not the same logic as that exhibited by the finance minister now? Does a national sales tax which combines a provincial and a federal tax not leave the rates the same? They were bad taxes separately. Is it still not a bad tax to combine them? Does it not remain a bad tax under a different name?

Government Business
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

An hon. member

What will it do to Alberta?