House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

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11:55 a.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Say that outside.

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11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I will gladly say it outside.

Let me say it here first. He took in fees of $350,000 to $400,000. He went to the company that paid them and forced them to pay them back because they were illegal. They were wrong and Mr. Dingwall is still sitting with them.

I am talking about a culture of entitlement. Liberals believe they are entitled to their entitlements. It is a culture of arrogance. Those are the facts. That is what has happened. That is what we have seen for eight years. That is why the sponsorship program went on and the subsequent scandals continue to this day. The government needs to be defeated to restore integrity in this institution and bring back some type of accountability. Those are the facts.

Let me remind the member that the Liberals stole millions of dollars. If he claims they are innocent, why did the Liberals pay $1.14 million dollars back? They have admitted their own guilt.

Unfortunately, in our justice system, what is the Liberal justice of the worst scandal in this country, where millions of dollars were stolen? Not one person has gone to jail. After a scandal that is over eight years old, one person is sitting in his living room serving house arrest and running across the country teaching ethics to university students. That is the idea of Liberal justice. Those are facts. They cannot be refuted.

It is time that the government was thrown out. It is time that Canadians had a say. I look forward to one week from now when there will be a clear motion of non-confidence in the government. It is too arrogant to accept a proposal, a compromise reached by all other parties, to allow Canadians to avoid a Christmas election. Its own arrogance is coming across right now and I look forward to the judgment from the Canadian people.

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Noon

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I would appreciate it if the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands would make it clear that the Conservatives did have a very different position. They have been very clear that they wanted to have an election as soon as possible. They wanted to have a non-confidence motion.

It is to the credit of that party and also the Bloc that their leaders did, in a spirit of compromise, come up with a motion that we are debating today to actually give the Prime Minister a real choice. It gives the Prime Minister an opportunity to have an election that meets the criteria that he himself set out and allows legislation to go through. It allows the aboriginal affairs conference to be held. It allows the business of the House to continue. It allows an election not to be held during the Christmas period.

I would also agree with the member that the culture of entitlement is something that is so pervasive here, and obviously we can see that even today from Liberal members. Does the member believe that, based on the ethics package put forward by the NDP and I know the Conservatives also put forward a package, this culture of entitlement can actually be changed?

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12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I believe it can be changed. I think it can only be changed with a new government. I will give the House a commitment that a new Conservative government would listen to ideas from people from every party and bring forward those good ideas, to bring changes, and to bring that respect back.

The bottom line is that the only way we can change people who believe that they are entitled to the entitlements is to remove them. It has spread through this Parliament like a cancer. Its tentacles have reached every single corner of this Liberal government. The only way we can bring back and restore integrity, accountability and respect to this place is by removing the Liberal Party from office.

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12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Madam Speaker, the leader of the NDP introduced a motion today with the support of the Conservative Party, the leader of the official opposition, and the Bloc Québécois. This motion reflects the belief of all three opposition parties, which form a majority in the House of Commons.

Although the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois disagree on many matters—that is virtually a truism—we can say that we agree on the fact that the Liberal Party and its leader, the current Prime Minister, no longer have the moral authority to continue governing.

The Liberal Party is a disgrace. It instituted a bribery system in its own favour and broke the most basic rules of democracy. The leader of the Liberal Party made a solemn promise to clean things up. But he has done the very opposite. He is the one who perpetuated the Liberal culture of cronyism, patronage and cover-up. He is the one who broke his promise.

The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada also promised—and this was virtually a commitment he made during his leadership campaign—that he would eliminate the democratic deficit. What is the democratic deficit? It means that most of this government's powers are centralized in the hands of the Prime Minister, his department, the Privy Council, and one could add to this circle, the government leader and other advisors. He promised to eliminate the democratic deficit. But he did the very opposite by systematically refusing to take the opinion of the House of Commons into account and compromise with the opposition parties, which make up the majority in this House.

We do not suffer from collective amnesia in this House and the people listening to us have good memories as well. On June 28, 2004, the people of Quebec and Canada decided, through the election result, that the next government would be a minority government. In a British parliamentary system such as ours, a minority government means that more members were elected from the opposition parties than from the party forming the government. That is the case. It is the government, but it is a minority government. This means that the government cannot do whatever it wants. It must take the opinion of the three opposition parties into account because they have a numerical majority in the House.

The problem with the Liberal Party and this Prime Minister is that they refused to take the democratic choice of the people of Quebec and Canada into account. That is the source of the whole problem. Here too, the Prime Minister broke his promise. The Prime Minister also showed he has learned nothing from the sponsorship scandal when he introduced a budget like this on Monday. It has to be called a budget and not some economic statement, which is the official term chosen by the government. All the printed materials speak of an economic statement, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a clearly a budget.

In tabling this budget, the leader of the Liberal Party has shown that he did not learn a thing from the sponsorship scandal. Let me explain.

It is an election budget—let us admit it—that perpetuates Liberal tradition at its worst. First, the Liberal government was completely dishonest in its estimates. Have you ever wondered, Mr. Speaker, like those watching us have, how this government and this incompetent Minister of Finance can make such obvious mistakes in calculating the surplus? This happens year after year. The same thing kept happening under the previous finance minister, the person who was finance minister under Jean Chrétien for nine years.

In this case, we are talking about being off by 300%. The budgetary surplus was estimated at $4 billion, but now it seems it will be closer to $11.2 billion. Allow me to convey what a journalist said. He was wondering why it is that the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, the Bloc Québécois finance critic, was able to predict the surplus, but the finance minister could not. We ask ourselves the question: Which side of the House is competent? This happens systematically, year after year.

On one hand, we find it odd that a surplus suddenly appears on the eve of an election. It grows. It is like raspberries that ripen overnight. When you pick berries at the end of the day, you realize that some are not ripe, but when you go back the next morning, they are. It is much the same thing with the surpluses under this Liberal government. The surpluses grow just when the budgets are being drafted. It is just more evidence of incompetence.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister brags about these budgetary surpluses, forgetting that acknowledging these exorbitant surpluses only proves that a fiscal imbalance exists. Just this morning there was an article in Le Journal de Québec or Le Journal de Montréal . Yves Séguin, the former Quebec Liberal finance minister, says that given the surplus, like the one the federal government is amassing, and given the clear evidence, day after day, of the fiscal imbalance, he understands why a majority of Quebeckers are sovereignist. He is beginning to understand it. This from a former Liberal finance minister, who does not have a reputation for being sovereignist. He was the MNA for Outremont.

In my view, it demonstrates clearly what we in the Bloc have known for a long time: this government no longer has the moral authority to govern, and the surpluses are in Ottawa while the needs are in the provinces. To be convinced of this, one only needs to go and talk to the people who are trying to manage hospitals and schools these days. That will give further proof of the fiscal imbalance. The money is here.

In this, the current Prime Minister is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Jean Chrétien. He is in fact compounding the intrusions into Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction. And it is getting worse: this time, with this election budget, the Liberal Party and its leader are trying to buy the voters with their own money. Let us not forget that the federal government has surpluses on the order of $11.2 billion, money that does not come out of the pockets of any of the elected members on either side of this House. That money comes from the people who pay taxes, the middle class. They tell us constantly that they are paying too much tax, that their pay slip, listing all the deductions, is longer than the cheque itself.

We will be going back to our ridings on the weekend and we will find out what the people think of this budget. They will tell us that the government should not think it is giving them a gift , since it is their money and it amounts to a repayment of a small fraction of the taxes they pay to Ottawa.

This cynical attitude clearly shows us that the Liberal Party has learned nothing from the sponsorship scandal. It continues to behave as if nothing had happened. It is business as usual, just the same old happy routine, and nothing has changed. They are continuing to operate according to Jean Chrétien’s tried and true method. That is why we say that Jean Chrétien and the current Prime Minister are like Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The voters will not let themselves be bought by the Prime Minister's sneaky little blackmail. The three opposition party leaders, during a normal week or weekend of activities, do in fact meet with the voters. They have come to exactly the same conclusion that I am presenting on behalf of my party.

It is in this spirit of compromise that the three leaders have agreed to support this NDP motion today. It should be re-read seriously. The meaning of this motion is to agree on proposing to the government that this fall session be terminated and to call an election after the holidays, on January 4.

If, however, the Prime Minister is sincere and truly wants to help those affected by energy prices, as he claims, reverse the onus of proof with regard to the proceeds of crime or still hold a conference with the aboriginal nations, there is nothing preventing him from agreeing to the proposal put before the House in the NDP's motion. This would give him the time to do all that and call an election on January 4. The Prime Minister could compromise, if he had an ounce of good faith. For now, he is refusing, on the pretext that the current parliamentary system does not allow this. He prefers to use demagoguery and accuse his adversaries of pushing the country into a mid-winter election, during the holidays.

We need to refresh our memories. We should remember that, when the Prime Minister made his televised statement last spring, with his hand on his heart and his heart on his sleeve, he was clinging desperately to power. He had fallen from the third floor and was literally trying to grab onto the bricks of Parliament.

Let us remember what he proposed. He gave a televised statement broadcast across Canada, for which he mobilized all the networks. He proposed calling an election on December 30 at the very latest. Why do I say December 30? Because, originally, the second Gomery report was to be tabled December 1. He made the commitment to call an election within 30 days after Justice Gomery tabled his second report. Thirty days after December 1 brings us to what date? December 30. Is that not during the winter? Is that not during the holidays? The Prime Minister himself proposed that date. Why hide behind false pretexts now, as if to say that it makes no sense to hold an election during the holidays? In any case, people want an election as soon as possible so they can get rid of this government.

The Prime Minister is condemning something he himself suggested a few short months ago, when he had no legal requirement to do so, during his solemn televised statement. He did so of his own volition.

Last weekend in Montreal, at his biannual convention, surrounded by the elves of the Liberal Party, his goose was cooked.

He made fun of the proposal by the opposition parties, but in reality the joke was on him.

The Prime Minister, and only he, is responsible for setting an election date. Even if the government is defeated before the end of this month, the election campaign must last at least 36 days. There is nothing to stop it from being 39, 42 or 48. The Prime Minister will set the date. That is his prerogative. The purpose of the NDP motion is to ask him to defer that date until after the holiday period, after January 4.

Once again, as he did with the sponsorship scandal, the Prime Minister is trying to shirk responsibility. A compromise is on the table. If he refuses the offer of the three opposition parties, he will have to take responsibility for the decision and face the consequences.

The Prime Minister is making a big thing about the House having to continue to sit for this or that reason, and keeps on inventing more of them. In this, as in many other matters, we feel that the Prime Minister is being hypocritical. If I am wrong and the leader of the Leader Party really wants to complete the parliamentary session, let me remind him that the NDP motion offers him that possibility by deferring the election call until January 4. So let him give up on his red herrings and instead act on this NDP motion. The election will then be called on January 4, and by then he will have been able to get through his parliamentary agenda, as well as hold the national conference with the aboriginal peoples at the end of next week. He has that possibility. If he refuses, we will know that, once again, the Prime Minister is being a hypocrite.

The Prime Minister likes to say that he will not play political games. Yet this is the same man who last spring used every procedure in the book to avoid a confidence vote, mainly by denying the opposition parties their opposition days that had already been scheduled under an agreement between the House leaders. I am not about to say my father can take his father, and I am not going to try to find out who is right. However, it was definitely procedural games we saw last spring when this party and this government House leader cancelled opposition days in order to avoid a confidence vote. As far as tricks and procedural games go, we have absolutely nothing to learn from the Liberal Party and the people opposite.

In conclusion, I will say that the Prime Minister is afraid to face voters because he knows full well that Canadians are not stupid. People in Quebec and the rest of Canada have not forgotten for a minute that throughout the sponsorship scandal, he was second in command in the government as Minister of Finance and Vice-President of the Treasury Board, and he was running for the leadership of the Liberal Party. He thus had the chance to survey all of the provinces, every legislature and all 301 federal ridings at that time. He had the chance to survey Canada and the party.

Now, he is trying to make us believe that he did not know Jacques Corriveau, Marc-Yvan Côté, Michel Béliveau or any of the other people who have been banned from the Liberal Party for life. He wants us to believe that when he bumped into them at conventions, party events and cocktail parties where people savoured hors d’oeuvres at $500 a pop, he did not meet with them and did not talk to them about all that.

People in Quebec and the rest of Canada are no dummies. They know who is responsible for the sponsorship scandal. They know which party wallowed in corruption. They know which party built a system of kickbacks. They know which party brought shame upon itself. They know which party tried to buy the 1997 election and which party thumbed its nose at Quebeckers.

It was the Liberal Party, and the leader of that party is the Prime Minister. If he will not call an election, it is because he is not willing to accept the judgment that Canadians will pass the next time they go to the polls.

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12:25 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Liberal

Claude Drouin Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Rural Communities)

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised by the comments of my colleague the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. He is very angry and is attacking people. I am all the more surprised given the events surrounding the separatist head office in Quebec. I would like very much to hear what he has to say on that.

When the Oxygène 9 problem arose, it was so serious that Mr. Landry, the premier at the time, took no chances. He called for the resignation of minister Baril and appointed him vice-president of Hydro-Quebec in Chile, to ensure there was no inquiry and no guilty party. We on the other hand have acknowledged our responsibilities. Criminal charges have been laid on four people. Thirty-two civil suits have been brought representing a figure of $57 million. We have taken many steps to prevent such things from recurring. But we hear nothing of that.

Today, we are debating a motion stating that the government no longer has the moral authority to govern. However, it can still govern until the holidays. It is a good thing that ridiculousness is not deadly, because the member opposite would drop dead on the spot. We do not have the moral authority to govern, but we can govern until January.

This is not the first time we have heard this. The member speaks of fiscal imbalance. I would point out that the government worked with the Parti Québécois. It took out loans over 10 years with the municipalities instead of taking the proper course of action, as we did, to reduce the $62 billion debt. Had the PQ government done its work, Quebec would not be facing its present difficulties.

This is not the first contradiction by the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. We hear them here regularly. We increased transfers to the provinces by $75 billion. We established day care and childhood education programs, among other things, and a lot of other assistance measures in keeping with jurisdictional areas. The credit reductions people are looking for are an extension of the $100 billion we injected over five years. Our solvency is such that we want to continue in this regard.

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12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, you have no idea how happy I am that the hon. member for Beauce asked me a question. I saw him taking notes. I was thinking about him and there was something I wanted to say to him. Since he asked me a question, I will be able to address him and I will ask him a question. We would be prepared, if there is unanimous consent, to give him a chance to respond to that question.

My first comment is on what he said about the Quebec National Assembly. I do not know if the hon. member for Beauce is currently preparing for a career after federal politics; perhaps he will be a candidate in future provincial elections in Quebec.

Nonetheless, I must say that I cannot answer his question because I am not in the chamber of that assembly. If we were face to face at the National Assembly, I would be able to respond, but I cannot do so here. We have a great expression at home: right church, wrong pew. We are not in the right place to talk about this.

The hon. member for Beauce has certainly read the Gomery report. He certainly heard Marc-Yvan Côté's testimony when he said he handed out $120,000 of dirty sponsorship money. Marc-Yvan Côté was in charge of 21 ridings in eastern Quebec, including Beauce. Eighteen ridings received money and 10 or so candidates received money personally.

I would like the hon. member for Beauce to tell me whether he was one of the ones who received dirty sponsorship money from Marc-Yvan Côté.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I found the speech of the hon. member very enlightening. We seem to be seeing some strange spectacles with the Liberal Party in its dying days of government.

Last month we saw the first results of the Gomery report, which was one of the low days in parliamentary history. The Prime Minister came out, with obvious relief on his face, and said that it was a great vindication for the government. Yes, people were caught stealing money, yes, they had taxpayer money, but he said that they would give it back. They had been caught. What an absolutely appallingly low standard of ethics.

Now the Prime Minister is challenging the other parties that are trying to work on compromise and trying to work together. He is double daring us to have a Christmas election. Our party has made it clear that we do not want a Christmas election. We believe we should be moving to January, yet one party is insisting on defying the will of Parliament. It is hanging the thread of a Christmas election over the people of Canada.

Does the hon. member feel that the Liberal tactic is based on a contempt for the people of Canada or a fear of facing the people of Canada?

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12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. In fact, all the time the government is trying to save by putting off the inevitable, ultimate deadline, only proves that the Liberal Party, under the current Prime Minister, has no respect for the public or taxpayers. Every day, we see examples of arrogance. This week's election budget was yet another egregious example.

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12:30 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Liberal

Claude Drouin Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Rural Communities)

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Bloc members are prepared to attack individuals and try to tarnish reputations, although the Gomery report is clear. All those who are members of the current government are not involved.

Before I ask my question, I want to tell the member that I did not receive any money and that everything was done in compliance with election legislation. In the future, if his party has any comments to make, I invite it to make them outside the House. It will be my pleasure to respond. As for me, I respect the members opposite on a personal level. We all have families and people around us. Individuals should never be the subject of attack, but rather ideas. However, when members run out of ideas, they attack individuals.

Nevertheless, I understand the Bloc member not wanting to respond with regard to the situation at the National Assembly. He says that it is a case of the right church, wrong pew. Above all, we cannot mention the Laval metro scandal, Gaspésia and the interests of Quebeckers because their mother house was involved. However, this should have convinced them to be more careful. A great deal of money was wasted.

Today, they are trying to teach us a lesson. However, we have admitted that there is a problem. Someone has already pleaded guilty and others are awaiting trial, before either the criminal or civil courts. All this proves that we want to take action to remedy the situation and that we have the moral authority to govern, not just until January, but for 30 days after Justice Gomery tables his final report, as we proposed and as they agreed.

As a matter of fact, the motions they introduced last spring were defeated. They cannot say that they have not had any opposition days. The motions were defeated. What does that mean? We had the confidence of the House. This is their problem, not ours.

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12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must point out to my colleague from Beauce that I was not attacking him personally, but merely asking a question. This is a mathematical exercise. At the Gomery inquiry, Marc-Yvan Côté said he had distributed dirty money in 18 of the 21 ridings he was responsible for. That means there were 3 that did not get any. The hon. member for Beauce has just said his riding is one of the three. Ms. Gosselin, the candidate in Levis in 1997, has also said she did not receive any money. So that makes two ridings, with one still to discover.

It is indecent that the Liberal Party has used this sponsorship kickback system to fund campaigns with the taxpayers' money against the Bloc Québécois in eastern Quebec.

We in the Bloc Québécois finance our campaigns with the $2, $5 or $10 donations of ordinary citizens. They are the ones who contribute to our campaigns. When the election is over, we are not beholden to big business or to the banks.

It is all the more indecent that the sponsorship money went to finance the Liberal party. The Gomery report is clear on this. It describes a kickback system in which people in advertising firms were paid by their agencies to work full time for the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is corrupt. It should be kicked out in the next election, and that election should be as soon as possible.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

The NDP leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, referred to this as an historic day, thanks to this motion, to get things done for Canadians over the next few weeks and to advance a reasonable compromise that three parties, the majority of the House, support. We can get important legislation passed, such as Bill C-55 to protect the pensions of workers. We can get the fuel rebates in Bill C-66 to the people who need them the most.

We know nothing prevents the Prime Minister from setting a date at the advice of this Parliament. The motion provides a real opportunity to address the democratic deficit that the Prime Minister promised to fix. An election delayed until the spring would only make that democratic deficit worse. The Liberals would like taxpayers to fund an extra two months of pre-election spending announcements and travel around the country. This is wrong and it will not happen.

I would like to speak about the first nations conference because it has been raised here as a difficulty that we may in fact be creating. This is important to me, my caucus and my riding where there are two great first nations communities, Garden River and Batchewana. I want to address the aboriginal concerns regarding an early election.

First nations leaders have been in touch with me with regard to concerns about an early election disrupting the first ministers meeting in Kelowna next week. The NDP has a long, proud and clear record of support for first nations, Métis and Inuit objectives, unparalleled by any other party.

The member for Winnipeg Centre campaigned against the first nations governance bill. My entire caucus stood behind his aboriginal affairs committee filibuster to bring attention to Indian residential school abuse. New Democrats believe we must finally achieve fair compensation for survivors and lasting reconciliation for all of us.

The whole compromise will have the effect of protecting that first ministers meeting. All the opposition parties now agree that meeting should be protected. It also honours the principles of first nations of consensus and compromise.

I came to Ottawa wanting to do politics differently, to work positively with elected officials locally at all levels and from different parties. We came to the House of Commons in a minority Parliament to make it work and to be productive. To the best of our ability, we have done this. Our better balanced budget produced results for working Canadians in housing, protecting pensions, post-secondary tuition, the environment and aboriginal communities.

The government did not want to recognize what Canadians told it on June 28 of last year. Canadians said no to the Liberals ruling again as a majority government. Canadians elected the House with the majority of MPs from different parties other than the Liberal Party. We have had confirmed by the Gomery report the width and breadth of the culture of entitlement that has Liberals putting themselves and their party before the Canadian people or our country.

I have come to work but have not seen much of the government's recognition of a minority Parliament or working collaboratively.

First, there is a paucity of legislation, except for housekeeping bills. Even the housekeeping bills, like the ones to give legal standing for the Departments of Social Development and Human Resources and Skills Development, came a year after those departments were up and running and budgets were being spent. Even when we tried to bring amendments to that bill, every last one of them was turned down.

In committee we see the lack of recognition of a minority Parliament, refusing to work productively to get things done for Canadians.

We raised the deplorable treatment of the voluntary sector by the government's new call for proposals process. For the longest time, rather than getting to the bottom of this, the Liberals were more interested in censuring me than in doing the investigation. God help the whistleblowers under any legislation if this is the way people who bring out grave injustices that need righting will be treated.

My motion to conduct hearings across Canada on the Canadian social transfer was passed in June in the human resources committee. Roy Romanow said that these hearings would be the most important dialogue Canadians would have, even more important than health care. However, since we came back in the fall we have seen nothing but foot dragging in the committee not to have these hearings actually take place. These hearings have not happened and it looks like they will not happen before the government falls.

The Liberals' culture of entitlement has them believing in some divine right to rule and to ignore the will of Canadians and the will of Parliament. This Liberal culture is alive in my own riding, as well, with riding executives sending statements to the media that voters should elect a Liberal MP if they want to get anything in the riding.

Has the Liberal Party learned nothing from the sponsorship scandal, of government ministers ignoring the will of those who were elected by voters and not inviting those members of Parliament to announcements of the federal moneys being spent, Canadian money, I might add, not Liberal money, as they believe? In my riding this has lead to the unprecedented resolution of city council to ensure that politicians at all levels of government, regardless of their party, are invited to these announcements.

This motion introducing this compromise is a hallmark of what can happen in a minority Parliament. Usually, with a compromise, it takes people a little while to get around to accepting it. I hope the government will listen to Canadians and to the majority of the members of Parliament and agree to this sensible approach.

The Prime Minister himself said that he wanted to get some work done this fall, including the first ministers' meeting with aboriginal and first nations. The second thing he said was that he did not want an election over Christmas. The third thing he said was that he wanted to ensure that Gomery's second report was in front of the voters before an election. Those were the things he wanted.

We said yes to all those things and our proposal to have the election called in January for a vote in mid-February would accomplish all those goals.

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November 17th, 2005 / 12:40 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, what struck me about the comments by the hon. member was the fact that he clearly indicated throughout his speech that he had confidence in the government and in the many things the government was bringing forward. He said that he wants these things to come along, to be voted on and that many of them he wants to see brought into law or into policy. Now, from what I heard him say, he clearly has confidence in the government.

He went on to complain about the fact that the Prime Minister would not accept something which is not within the normal rules of the House and not within normal parliamentary practice. He went on to say that because the opposition parties agree that this contorted, convoluted way of proceeding should be adopted, the Prime Minister somehow should ignore the normal procedure in the House and follow that.

It seems to me that the member simply does not have the courage of his convictions. Does he want the government defeated or does he not, as of now? If that is the case, I will have a much better idea of what I heard him say. However right now I am puzzled by his clear indication that he does not want the government defeated.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, members have heard me and members of our caucus over the last number of weeks say that we have a common sense, reasonable compromise that we are hoping the Liberal Party will accept.

I have confidence in Parliament, and Parliament, as we will see at the end of this debate either tonight or Monday, is telling the government that it should get some business done between now and Christmas and then move to calling an election in early January that would be held in mid-February. We believe we have every right to do that.

As a matter of fact, the Deputy Prime Minister of the government said the other day that there was nothing to stop the government from reacting positively to this common sense, very practical compromise that we have put before the House today.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member refers to a common sense principle but my understanding is that the motion today calls for an election to be called during the first week of January for an election day on February 13. The member knows that the three opposition parties entered into an agreement already and it has been stated clearly by the Conservatives, the Bloc and his own leader that next Thursday there will be a non-confidence motion put that will put us into an election immediately and the election date would be on January 9 or January 16.

If we are going to have a non-confidence motion put next Thursday for a vote, what is the purpose of the motion today? The motion today would be pre-empted totally, calling for a February 13 election, because their planned non-confidence motion next week will have an election that would take place on January 19. So that means prima facie that today's motion is not only non-confidence, it is just nonsensical.