Mr. Speaker, as I begin I would like to offer my congratulations on the important position you now occupy and I shall also take a few seconds to thank the people of Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, a riding that has undergone profound changes. Some 65% of my constituents are new and they have placed their confidence in me. I am very happy to represent them. Today, I am very proud to speak about Bill C-11, which revives the former Bill C-25.
During my second term of office, and particularly between February and the election call, I spent hundreds of hours on the sponsorship scandal. The report of the Auditor General came out as our committee was beginning its work. The President of the Treasury Board was eager to tell us about legislation, measures, provisions that would protect public servants who might have been involved or who could have given us clarifications with regard to the work we were doing. And then we never saw him again. He disappeared. He became complicit in all we later heard about the Department of Public Works, that is, a good obedient Liberal who was trying all the time to hide the truth.
Here again, the President of the Treasury Board, reintroducing Bill C-25 as new Bill C-11, is offering the House just half a solution. Once again he is showing this House his lack of transparency. A step has been taken, but just one small step. There is still one giant step to take so that these things do not happen again. In this bill, we do not find the provisions that the Bloc Québécois was hoping for, such as what exactly disclosure is. Could disclosure not be a form of political pressure?
I sat on the public accounts committee. I sat on that committee in camera and I saw dozens of public servants tell us with embarrassment that they had been forced by the Gagliano gang to do things that led to the sponsorship scandal. In Bill C-11 there is nothing to define exactly what a disclosure is.
The bill uses the word serious. I would say that the situation is very serious. In fact, this government must understand that it is now in a minority and that its trademark arrogance will not work any more, because now, the opposition has the majority. This Liberal government must demonstrate that it is taking steps to ensure that public servants are protected for some of the actions they had to take during the Jean Chrétien administration, during the Alfonso Gagliano administration.
I do hope that this bill introduced by the President of the Treasury Board will protect people from political pressure. We all remember the Liberal big wigs who appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. One after the other, Alfonso Gagliano, Canada Post president André Ouellet, Via Rail CEO Jean Pelletier, Marc Lefrançois and many others lied to the committee, and the Liberals tried to put the blame on civil servants. This is shameful! It does not reflect what really happened.
Bill C-11 does not do enough to protect civil servants, who are often under political pressure. They often have to answer to a small time manager appointed by the big Liberal machine. They are afraid to act, to tell the truth. Bill C-11 should do something about that.
Let us not forget about labour relations mechanisms. Civil servants are represented by unions. Whatever measures are stipulated in Bill C-11 must be taken in cooperation with the unions.
The civil servants who have the fortitude to disclose partisan decisions and cover-ups will need the support of their unions. That has not been provided for in Bill C-11.
Yes, we in the Bloc Québécois support Bill C-11 in principle, but we also happen to believe that major changes need to be made to this piece of legislation.
I would like to ask a question of the President of the Treasury Board. We do have something called the Policy on the Internal Disclosure of Information Concerning Wrongdoing in the Workplace. We rarely hear about it, but it does exist. What does Bill C-11 introduced by the President of the Treasury Board add to this famous internal policy concerning wrongdoing in the workplace?
The Liberal government must realize that, with this scandal, which made the headlines not only at home but also abroad, Canada has been discredited. The image of our parliamentarians—not Bloc members but those of the ruling party—has been discredited throughout Canada. During the election campaign, people were asking me what would happen after the work of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Gomery commission was completed, whether any actions would be taken against those found guilty, at fault or otherwise involved in the sponsorship scandal. The first action taken by the Liberal government is once again only half a solution. The efforts made by parliamentarians, witnesses, the Gomery commission and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts must not be wasted. With no follow-up, the Parliament of Canada will lose its credibility, and our image as parliamentarians will again be tarnished because of the Liberals' past.
The meaning of disclosure needs to be clarified. The people across the way also need to get through their heads what the word “transparent” means. The proposed process is not a transparent one. Once again, the plan is to appoint someone who will be both judge and jury. The president of the Public Service Commission runs the whole public service. Is this the right person to be the judge, receive disclosures, perhaps have to criticize his right-hand, or left-hand man? The most credible person right now is the Auditor General. Through her work, she revealed the sponsorship scandal. If this shortcoming of the bill is to be remedied, the person would have to be independent and accountable to Parliament.
It is time for an end to cover-up and secrecy among the friends of the government. It is absolutely essential that this minority Liberal government understand that things must change, as they said in the 1960s. And it has to show that there is a change. We in the Bloc Quebecois pledge to work hard on the committee to bring about changes that will meet the public's expectations.