Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to this issue this evening. I must say, though, here we go again, yet another piecemeal legislative solution to a problem created by the same government's stubborn shortsightedness.
Worse yet, the Conservatives are contorting themselves to support this bill when they angrily railed against it just seven months ago. Members will remember how, on November 7 of last year, the Conservatives voted against Bill C-626 as proposed by the Liberal member for Kingston and the Islands.
They heckled the member for his work and said there was no reason for his bill to pass, but that bill contained this very same provision. Therefore, it is perplexing that the government would both oppose and support this measure. I am very interested to hear how some of the members opposite plan to justify their most recent flip-flop.
I do not say this lightly, but let us not forget that it was the current government that created the problem in the first place. It was the Conservative government that attacked the long form census and rendered the information collected scientifically skewed. It did this all based on the argument that scores of people were being put in jail because they refused to fill out the paperwork.
We have heard from my colleague. We have yet to see any people, other than the one individual, ever end up in jail and he went there clearly because he was making a point. Of course, this is not true. There were not a lot of people put in jail.
However, the Prime Minister never lets the facts get in the way of an ideological position. That is right, the government's 2010 decision to cancel the long form census was shortsighted and driven by pure ideology again. Short of old-fashioned incompetence, there is no other explanation for the long-standing process that has led us to this moment today.
The bill verifies what I am saying and tries to correct a handful of the many faults exposed and created by Conservative incompetence on this particular matter. Conservatives just do not get it. Perhaps this is a great example of why committees are supposed to actually consider the thoughts and opinions of expert witnesses.
Functioning committees are a device that most Conservative MPs would not recognize, but they do, indeed, serve a purpose. That is when we get a chance to thoroughly debate a variety of issues and look at legislation for the pros and cons. When committee members work together, they make the kinds of changes that are necessary.
Perhaps the Conservative members opposite would do well to remember this example the next time they vote down reasoned amendments from the opposition parties, en masse, in committee, which is done every single day that the House is sitting and committees are meeting.
The strangest part of this entire mess is that the measures contained within this legislation were also contained within the 2011 Conservative election platform. Clearly, the government is so embarrassed by its own legislative and policy ineptitude that it has relegated the matter to a private member's bill rather than in government legislation as a priority. We all have to be honest about how and why it is here.
Again, this is a trend with the government. We saw it with gun control and countless other subjects that are introduced through private members' bills rather than dealing with them properly within a solid piece of legislation that would be debated. However, I guess it would probably be subject to the same thing that 98 other pieces of legislation were, time allocation and all of the other things that mess up everybody's schedules.
What is the government so afraid of? I am trying to be fair. It is true that the government has messed up the policy process, the committee process, the collection of the census data and most of the legislative process, which is the reason there has been closure on legislation 98 times.
It is not all bad news, though. The Liberal caucus is committed, as it always has been, to evidence-based policy. In order to develop this evidence-based policy, we must have access to reliable and trustworthy data. This legislation is a small step in the right direction.
That is right, Liberals are okay with what is being proposed here today, and that is precisely why we proposed it last November through my colleague, the member for Kingston and the Islands. It was a good bill. We had expected the government to support it.
That would have shown some level of co-operation here in the House, but because it was a Liberal member who introduced it, there was no way the government was going to support it. Therefore, by piecemeal legislation, the Conservatives end up today, at the last minute before the House adjourns for the summer and for the next election, trying to get a private member's bill in to handle that other small part when it comes to sending someone to jail.
As embarrassing and uncomfortable as this must be for the Conservatives, who try to give the impression that they know what they are doing, I am actually happy to see their flip-flop. I only wish they would reverse themselves on a few more matters that could really make a difference for all Canadians, particularly their current attack on the Canada pension plan.
As members know, the Conservatives have long hated the Canada pension plan. They voted against it when it was created, and at every opportunity since. Now they want Canadians to think they have changed their ways and have seen the value of a voluntary Canada pension plan. However, that is nothing more than an avenue to start talking about it to say that we should eliminate the mandate of the Canada pension plan and have the whole thing voluntary. Companies could then contribute if they wanted to, and individuals could contribute if they wanted to.
Between having no CPP and the $30,000 Canadians will lose by having to wait until age 67 to get their pension, just imagine Canadians out there struggling. Clearly, they will be working much longer, because they will not have much of a pension plan if they do not have the Canada pension that they rely on today. Of course, Canadians are not so foolish as to believe this line.
I am still hopeful that the Prime Minister will one day make the leap and actually start to support seniors in this country rather than just leave them as an afterthought, or only when it is election time and he needs their votes as he makes promises.
The same could be said for the Conservatives' so-called economic action plan. Canada is halfway to yet another recession, consumer confidence is down and jobs are bleeding from the manufacturing sector, yet the government continues to spend taxpayer dollars on TV ads saying all is well. Even the member for Nepean—Carleton, the government's most accomplished and shameless spin master, has admitted that forcing bureaucrats to film partisan videos on the weekend was a bad idea, but I guess almost anyone can change.
This brings us to today. The government's most recent flip-flop is a real demonstration of the vison and leadership that the Conservatives have been able to bring to the table. In contrast, the Liberal caucus is committed to evidence-based policy, and we propose to put in place the tools needed to allow governments to do just that.
The government has its eyes closed and the Conservatives are hoping that no one is going to notice. However, Canadians are starting to see that the current government and Prime Minister are out of ideas.
The bill before us is the most recent in a very long line of government missteps and failures that are the benchmark of the Conservatives' record over the past decade. Canadians deserve better.