House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elections.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

March 8th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to take the floor today, and I want to say to the people here present, and those watching on CPAC, how totally absurd the Conservatives' discourse has been for several days now. Unfortunately, I greatly appreciate many of them outside this chamber. They are very nice individuals. However, when it comes time to defend the errors and wild imaginings that go on here, they put the blame on the Liberals.

One hon. member asked a question and said that the Liberals had done the same thing. I have the real impression of being back in the high school recreation yard, with “Same to you!” going back and forth. It is completely absurd. The Conservatives’ rhetoric is completely incoherent. They are ridiculing so important a situation as this, which in daily life affects the fundamental human rights contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Day after day, they are laughing in the face of Canadians and those members who are doing their job here. It is truly intolerable.

It is important today to point out the deep roots of the word “democracy”. Its etymology is derived from the word “demos”, which means people, and “kratos”, which means sovereignty. So in fact, democracy is a political system founded on the principle that sovereignty belongs to all the citizens, who can express themselves through universal suffrage. All western societies are familiar with this basic principle, whatever electoral system they have. It is part of the very foundations of our society.

When the right to vote, fundamental rights, elections and the political system of a country are violated, what can work in that country? As a law student, I always admired democratic institutions. I have always fought for people’s fundamental rights. Today we hear the government’s watchdog barking in question period that the Liberals should provide evidence that they are not the ones who made calls. Why would they have made calls so that their own members would not be elected? Frankly, this is totally incoherent.

The NDP made calls in Quebec to tell people not to go and vote for the NDP? Frankly, this is totally incoherent. It is clear here that the Conservatives are running in circles, chasing their own tails, as my colleague was saying, and no longer know what to say to justify the scandal that is now blowing up in their faces.

Canadians expect the electoral process to be honest and reliable. An honest process means respect for the law. It is important that full light be shed on this scandal. If the Conservatives had nothing to do with it and are absolutely sure that there was no election fraud, why do they continue to hide behind responses that are totally absurd and accusations that have no foundation whatsoever?

They say the Liberals are making unfounded accusations, but they are doing exactly the same thing. They should stop running in circles, answer the questions and do the job for which they were elected by Canadians, instead of doing what they think they ought to do. It is very clear: Canadians have the right to know. Every day the Conservatives say they want to protect future generations, and that is exactly what the NDP motion does. It protects the democratic system for future generations; it protects the electoral system for future elections.

They come every day to this chamber claiming they want to protect old age security for future generations, but that would surprise me. What is more, they say they want to protect future generations and the economy, but then when we try to change the laws so that things as fundamental as the electoral system are respected, they want nothing to do with it. This is completely intolerable.

Then when they come back to us in question period talking about future generations, about protecting young people, I do not believe them, Canadians do not believe them anymore, it is all false. I hope that the government will take our motion into consideration and vote in favour of it. Then, they will perhaps be able to say that they really do want to protect our electoral system, our democracy and our future generations. We will see what happens next Monday, when members vote on our motion. Will the government vote for it? And more importantly, will they take it into account and implement it?

When they talk about a higher voter turnout, I would like to draw attention to the fact that, comparatively speaking, voter turnout in Canada is lower than it is in many other countries. We have heard a number of Conservative MPs say that the rate of participation has increased. However, we are one of the western countries with the lowest voter turnout rate, particularly among young people. It is a fact. I do not want to compare Canada with other countries, but I would just like to say that the mere fact that there has been a slight increase in voter turnout does not justify the Conservatives' refusal to give more power to the Chief Electoral Officer and Elections Canada. In any case, this argument has no significance here. We are one of the countries with the lowest voter turnout rate, especially among young people.

It is important today to make a decision for future generations, to protect our democratic system and especially to stop people from losing confidence in this House. We are all here for the same reason; we are all here to represent Canadians. It does not matter whether you are in the government or in the official opposition. That does not change the reason why we are here, which is to defend the interests of Canadians, to protect our Constitution and our democracy. I am completely outraged today to see the Conservatives trying to make the Liberals and the NDP take the blame, when they should be here for the same reason: to protect our democracy and our electoral system.

It is obvious that if they vote against the motion, it shows that they are not here to do that. I am really looking forward to finding out what questions they will ask me. We will find out what their position is. I invite them to ask me questions and to tell me whether they are going to support our motion, whether they are going to support our democracy and our electoral system. We will see when I have finished my speech.

We also know, according to the government, that we are either with them or against them. We know that, for this government, a good idea is an American idea. We know just how perfect the Americans are, and that Canada should try and imitate them because their country is so wonderful. The Conservatives completely neglect everything that Canadians have accomplished in our country and that makes us the most wonderful country in the world. I am so proud to say this, and to say that I come from the most beautiful province in the country, Quebec.

We know that several Conservatives are enrolling in Karl Rove's summer school. Everybody knows who Karl Rove is. He is one of George W. Bush's greatest American strategists, known for his master strokes. So, let us all go to class and learn how to rig the election in Canada! It is time to let go of the ideological “Rovian” vote that brought the Canadian Pierre Poutine into the world, leave behind underhand political tactics, and take a stand against election fraud.

If there has been no election fraud, why did the Conservatives refuse to participate in any investigations? Why did they try and blame the opposition parties? Why not simply hand over powers to the Chief Electoral Officer? He will conduct his investigation and discover that there was no fraud. That would be fine. So why refuse that? It is especially hilarious that, every day, this government comes and beats us over the head with its tough on crime ideology: follow the law, put criminals in prison, do this, do that, spend money to build prisons. Yet, when it comes to something as fundamental as our democratic system, they say no, that is not possible, and that Elections Canada has the powers it needs. They do not want to give Elections Canada any more power.

Why? I do not know. We will probably never know unless the Conservatives decide to give this power to the Chief Electoral Officer, so that he can conduct his investigation. It is at that point that the government will be able to truly say that it is transparent, open, and tough on crime.

I would like to talk about a week in the life of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister ; it is hugely exciting. The parliamentary secretary has stated on several occasions that there is no evidence that fraudulent calls were made to voters in the last election. Yet, in addition to the evidence sent by the NDP to Elections Canada, 31,000 people contacted Elections Canada. Is the parliamentary secretary denying the participation of these 31,000 people? Is he saying that these 31,000 people lied and that the opposition parties concocted the whole scandal? Is that really what he is telling us? Throughout the week, all of my colleagues and I have been accused of conducting a smear campaign. Can the parliamentary secretary rise and say to these 31,000 Canadians and to many others in a dozen ridings that they are liars and that they never received these calls?

Is he prepared to rise and tell the House now that Canadians are liars and they have made this up? That is truly absurd. He is not going to do it because he knows very well that there has been election fraud and there has to be an investigation. But when will Elections Canada be able to get the powers it needs? That is the question the government is being asked. A motion has been brought forward today to do that and I sincerely hope the government is going to wake up.

The Prime Minister has said several times, elsewhere in the world, how democratic and just a society Canada is. That is true. I am genuinely proud to be part of this society, but I am going to be even prouder when the government passes our motion today and gives Elections Canada the justice it is calling for. Canadians are also entitled to have justice done.

The government is blaming Elections Canada. The member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin said he suspects that ultimately, if Elections Canada has the resources to carry out an adequate investigation, it will realize that it is itself largely responsible. The government is putting the blame on Elections Canada, on the opposition parties, on Canadians, but it is refusing to put the blame on itself.

I feel like I am in a schoolyard here. We are hearing things like “I know you are, but what am I?”, that we have no proof and so we cannot say anything. That is not how it works. We are adults and we are in the House of Commons. We represent Canadians. Can we not act accordingly and live up to our responsibilities?

You are the government. You have to enact laws. You have to make sure that justice is done. You have to make sure that Canadians have confidence in our Parliament, in our system of justice. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to you.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

An hon. member

Stop shouting, we can hear you just fine.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

I am sorry, but I have the right to speak. I will speak as I wish in the House and no Conservative will tell me how to speak and what to say. It is the last straw, to tell me how to speak. I speak here on behalf of Canadians, of the people from my riding. If I want to shout at injustice and at this government’s failure to act, I will do it today, in this House. I am sorry, but if I want to shout and tell the government members that they are completely incoherent, that they have committed election fraud, that they have broken our electoral system...

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order. The hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans is rising on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could inform the hon. member opposite that the sound system works very well and that we can hear everything just fine, without even using the listening device. We find her speech very interesting. If she is ready to vote on the motion, so are we.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup wish to speak on the same point of order?

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to point out that my hon. colleague is under 30 and is just beginning her political career. She is making a very simple point, that is, her indignation. If she needs to shout to express her indignation, she has every right to do so.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I do not really see a point of order here, but I do thank the member for Ottawa—Orléans for his intervention. Members will know that there is a great deal of liberty and freedom for members to express their views in the way they choose. We do not have a point of order. We will continue.

While I am on my feet, I will remind hon. members that at 5:15 p.m., we will come to the end of the time allocated for government orders.

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, our friends across the floor are asking my colleague to keep her voice down. I believe this is a breach of members' privileges. It is a question of privilege. It is a breach of the member's privileges, since she has the right to express herself in this House, using respectful language of course, in whatever tone she likes. It is a question of privilege.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

As I said, this is not a point of order. As I told the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans, members have quite a bit of freedom. It is their choice.

Members have some liberty in how they wish to express their ideas. The hon. member has every opportunity to express her views in the way that she chooses.

The hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude my speech by saying that if some Conservative members were insulted, that was not at all my intention and I apologize. I did not insult anyone. I insulted the government as a whole.

I would simply like to say that if the government really wants to maintain any credibility with Canadians, all it has to do is give Elections Canada the power to conduct investigations. Then we will see what happens next.

I now leave the floor to my colleagues, if they wish to ask me any questions.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we really appreciate the hon. member's comments and point of view.

I have an urgent question for her because, unless I am mistaken, she was one of the parachute candidates who started out with credibility issues. The only thing likely to blow up in her face is her own credibility. That is the expression she herself used.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—Elections Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, we must not slide down the slippery slope of judging the credibility of an elected representative. We were all elected by universal suffrage. She was elected.

I would ask my hon. colleague to withdraw his suggestion that one elected representative has more or less credibility than another.