Mr. Speaker, I was quoting from a letter but what you are telling me is fair. I apologize for that.
The premier goes on to say in his letter to the Prime Minister:
The...President of the Treasury Board, in her replies to questions in the House of Commons by (the member for Cumberland--Colchester) on 15 February and 22 March of this year, indicated that discrimination on the basis of residence is permitted by the Public Service Employment Act.
May I point out again that article 706 of the agreement on internal trade specifically forbids any party to require a worker of any other party to be resident in its territory as a condition of access to employment opportunities.
Furthermore, on February 4, 1999 the first ministers of the provinces and territories, with the exception of the premier of Quebec, agreed that:
Governments are...committed to ensure, by July 1, 2001, full compliance with the mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade by all entities subject to those provisions, including the requirements for mutual recognition of occupational qualifications and for eliminating residency requirements for access to employment opportunities.
It could not be clearer than that. The premier went on to say:
All governments believe that the freedom of movement of Canadians to pursue opportunities anywhere in Canada is an essential element of Canadian citizenship.
He goes on in detail to quote from the Constitution Act of 1982.
Why do these practices continue? One member suggested it was political opportunity on the part of the government. There is some merit to that argument. Maybe we should debate the politics of hiring in the federal public service.
It would be surprising what we would find out if we were a mouse in the corner, an expression sometimes used in Atlantic Canada and perhaps also used in western Canada. Could members see federal public servants attempting to support policies in a public forum? They could not support them because they are wrong.
Why do we not hear about discontent and unease within the public service about these hiring practices? Because they are scared of the government. They do not want to rat on their own government because some are there at the pleasure of the government. Some are appointed by what is called an order in council. That simply means that the Prime Minister suggests a name to cabinet, which agrees with the name, and the name is given to the Governor General. Suddenly some man or woman has a job. Sometimes there are these very highly paid civil servants, like the deputy minister status, but purely at the whim of the government.
There is a lot of unease in the public service with regard to hiring practices. Why people do not rat on the government is simply because they have no protection. That is why I introduced my private member's bill, Bill C-351, about six months ago in the House. Bill C-351 is an act to assist in the prevention of wrongdoing in the public service by establishing a framework for education on ethical practices in the workplace, for dealing with allegations of wrongdoing and for protecting whistleblowers.
The NDP member for Winnipeg Centre and I, in a non-partisan way, held a press conference along with Senator Kinsella of New Brunswick, a great senator and a great advocate for the underprivileged in the country.
We had a joint press conference to outline the merits of the bill. The reason I brought the senator into the equation was simply that he introduced a bill simultaneously in the Senate when I did in the House of Commons. The story gets complicated, does it not? We brought in the NDP member for Winnipeg Centre, and I always want to say south centre but I think that is the other side.