An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act


Bardish Chagger  Liberal


In committee (Senate), as of March 21, 2018

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This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Salaries Act to authorize payment, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, of the salaries for eight new ministerial positions. It authorizes the Governor in Council to designate departments to support the ministers who occupy those positions and authorizes those ministers to delegate their powers, duties or functions to officers or employees of the designated departments. It also makes a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Dec. 13, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act
Dec. 11, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act
Dec. 11, 2017 Failed Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act (report stage amendment)
June 12, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act
June 12, 2017 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act (reasoned amendment)
June 7, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 7th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an absolute honour for me to stand on behalf of the residents of Davenport and speak on Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.

As this will probably will be one of my last times to address this House this year, I want to wish everybody in this House a happy holiday, a very Merry Christmas, or whatever members celebrate in this wonderful holiday season.

For those watching at home, whether now or in the future, I want to make sure everybody is clear on what I am talking about on Bill C-24.

The changes being proposed to the Salaries Act would formalize the equality of all members of cabinet and modernize the act to allow for more flexibility. The current act allows for 35 cabinet positions, including the position of the prime minister. The bill would amend the act to include five additional titled cabinet positions, which are the minister of la Francophonie, minister of small business and tourism, minister of science, minister of status of women, and minister of sport and persons with disabilities.

The bill would also add three new untitled positions to provide flexibility to structure future ministries to reflect the priorities of the government without resorting to minister of state appointments. These changes would not impact the Ministries and Ministers of State Act. Minister of state appointments would remain an option at the discretion of the prime minister. As the Minister of Employment mentioned earlier, allowing us to make these changes would actually provide flexibility for the current and future governments to be able to appoint ministers to various positions depending on the priorities of the government of the day.

Why are we doing this? We want to make sure there is a one-tier cabinet and not have two tiers of cabinet ministers. We want to make sure we only have one tier, and not have senior and junior cabinet ministers. Everybody within our cabinet would be at the same level. Therefore, it would just be ministers working very hard to deliver results for all Canadians. We also want to update the Salaries Act to modernize it, in addition to formally equalizing the status of the government's ministerial team. We want to recognize the equality of cabinet members, and this bill would allow us to do so.

As I mentioned, we would add five additional positions, and I would like to speak specifically to one of them more directly.

I am very proud that we have a Minister of Small Business and Tourism. It is of great importance to Davenport residents that we are putting a huge emphasis on small businesses. We are very proud of the fact that we are reducing the small business tax from 11% to 9%. It will move to 10% at the beginning of January 2018 and then move to 9% at the beginning of 2019. We are very proud about that and all the support we are providing to small businesses.

In addition, there is a wonderful emphasis on tourism as well. Just last week, I was very proud to attend the Canadian Tourism Awards. A group within my riding, SESQUI, won one of the Canadian Tourism Awards. I was very proud to be there to honour them, and the Minister of Small Business and Tourism was there as well. I want to give a shout-out to both Joanne Loton and Andrea Stewart of SESQUI, who won a Canadian Tourism Award. I am very proud of them.

The Minister of Employment mentioned this, but I think it is important to highlight the fact that our government has a very strong feminist agenda. One of our first acts when we came into office, as everyone knows, was to put into place a gender-equal cabinet. We are all very proud of that, and this bill would help to formally equalize all the positions within that cabinet.

I am also very proud of some of the additional steps we have taken. One of the other steps we have taken is to add a gender lens into our budget process in 2017. It is the first time in Canadian history that this was done. Our Minister of Finance is stepping it up and has started consultations with a number of groups. I was at one of the consultations in Toronto to talk about what the next level is in addition to the gender lens. How can we do better in budget 2018? I was very proud that I was part of those discussions that took place in Toronto less than two weeks ago.

Just so people know, by adding a gender lens into the budget process, what we are essentially doing is asking every department to put on a gender lens whenever they make proposals for budget 2018. One of the statements our Minister of Finance made during our consultation with a number of groups in Toronto was that he has told every cabinet member they should only be coming with proposals for budget 2018 if they have applied a gender lens. I very much appreciate the importance he has put on the gender budget lens moving forward. I very much appreciate that he has met with a number of feminist organizations and organizations that work on issues affecting women and girls, both in Canada and abroad. Our 2018 budget will be stronger for it.

I also want to talk for a minute about pay equity legislation. I was sitting in the House and listening to some of the questions, and I know there is great anxiety, which is very well placed, about the fact that we still do not have pay equity in this country. I was very blessed about a year ago to be asked to join the special committee looking at pay equity legislation at the federal level. Unfortunately, we did not have pay equity legislation at the national level. We put a committee in place to look into it. We actually made very strong recommendations, and the title of the report is “It's Time to Act”.

I know that the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is about to introduce pay equity legislation at the national level. I very much look forward to that. It is very much based on the hard work the committee did, as well as all other groups and advocates who have been pushing for this for a very long time. It is way past the time that we should be addressing this issue, and I will be very happy when that actually comes into place.

Personally, I am also trying to see what more I can do in terms of larger society and how we, as a national government, can help to ensure that more women get into senior leadership roles, not only in politics but also in business, in addition to ensuring we do everything we can to close the gap around pay equity outside the federal government system.

We have done a lot of really great things. We have a lot more steps to take, a long way to go, but we are making progress. We should be very proud of the steps we have taken.

I want to mention a couple of other things I am very proud of in terms of our feminist agenda. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Minister of International Trade have all talked about how they have incorporated the feminist agenda into each of their portfolios. Our Minister of International Development has incorporated the emphasis we are making in terms of the dollars we are giving to organizations abroad, and it is very much focused on women and girls around the world. There is a particular emphasis as well in some of the humanitarian assistance we are giving in the Rohingya state and the situation happening outside Myanmar right now.

I know our Minister of International Trade would say he is very proud we have a gender equity chapter that is part of the Canada–Chile trade agreement. It was a historic agreement from that perspective, and that set the stage for more of these types of chapters to be added to future trade agreements as we move along.

Lastly, I was very proud when our Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated to the world, to Canadians, and to all of us that she is promoting Canada to take on a very strong role to ensure we have more female peacekeepers in the world. By adding more women, we think it will be the next way that Canada can take a leadership role in peacekeeping in the world.

I see that my time has ended. I want to thank this House for allowing me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 7th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments. Many times today, the government has referred to gender equity or equality and gender parity in cabinet. However, the expert that appeared at committee clearly pointed out that there is no substance to that fact in terms of this bill. She said, “Really, there's no gender substance, no equity substance on the basis of gender equality, to this legislation”, referring to Bill C-24. In fact, she went further than that. In response to a question about whether the Prime Minister's claim of a gender-equal cabinet was cynical, she said, “I would say it's dishonest.”

How can my colleagues continue to argue that this is causing gender equity in cabinet when, clearly, it does no such thing?

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to my report stage amendments on Bill C-24. There are four main amendments that would adjust this bill in a major way.

In all ways, this is a very poor bill that would have a detrimental effect not only on what we are doing here in the House of Commons, but, just as importantly, on what is happening across the country in terms of regional economic development.

I want to begin by recapping what Bill C-24 would do. Essentially, Bill C-24 would paper over the ministerial changes the Liberals made when they took office two years ago. Two years later, they are here in Parliament asking us to bless what they did.

I will remind the House what those changes are. First, the Liberals are seeking to give ministers of state full ministerial status, and full ministerial salaries to boot. Second, the bill would permanently scrap the six regional development ministerial positions. They would also add a provision to let them swear in, in the future, an additional three full-rank ministers, yet to be named. We can only imagine what they may have planned for those three additional ministers.

There are only 10 minutes, so I am going to speak briefly about one of the issues I have spoken about before, and that is the elimination of the economic regional development ministers. It is something that has not gotten a lot of media profile. For those of us who are not from Ottawa or Toronto or Toronto areas, those of us from western Canada, the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and northern Canada, this is a huge blow to what is happening in our areas. We had ministers in previous governments, previous Conservative and Liberal governments, who were directly responsible for their regional economic development portfolios. That meant that they would be able to speak at the cabinet table directly to issues in their regions, and they would be in charge of their regional economic development agencies. The Prime Minister made a decision that he wanted to change that.

Let me quote what the Prime Minister said this summer in Charlottetown. He told an interviewer that his decision to appoint one minister, from Toronto, to run all the economic development agencies, such as ACOA, was “a way of reducing the kind of politics we've seen from regional development agencies.”

What a cynical slur, not just against, at that moment, Atlantic Canadians but against all the regional development areas and regions of this country. To somehow suggest that ministers from Quebec, western Canada, northern Canada, and Atlantic Canada could not advocate for their regions and bring issues and good projects forward without it becoming political shows that the Prime Minister has zero confidence in the rest of his ministers and seems to think that only one minister, from Toronto, would be able to get the balance right between representing the regions, making solid decisions, and not being political.

There is so much more to be said on this, but I will have to wait until I give my speech at third reading to talk a little more about the regional economic development minister issue.

I want to go to another part of Bill C-24. When the government House leader introduced it, she hailed it as a bill that would equalize the status of ministers. Members will recall the great fanfare about a gender-equal cabinet when the Liberals took office, “because it is 2015”, we were told. Lo and behold, the fine print was released, and it turned out that the junior ministers of state roles were all assigned to women.

The Liberals told us not to worry. Even though they were giving all the women those smaller roles, it would be okay, because they were going to pay them just as much as the full ministers. In fact, the PMO communications director is quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, “What needs to change, from a statute perspective is their salaries, so they get the full ministerial salaries”. Wow, thanks a lot. The ladies should not worry. They would get junior roles, but the Liberals would pay them for the full role. However, they would not actually be able to bring full ministerial memos to cabinet, they would not have deputy ministers, and they would not have full portfolios. However, they should not worry their pretty little heads, because they would be paid the full amount. Boy oh boy, what an absolute insult.

Do not take my word for it. Margot Young, a law professor from the University of British Columbia, with a specialty in gender equality, appeared before the government operations committee. I will tell members a little of what she said. For starters, she said, “[T]his particular piece of legislation really doesn't, as far as I can see, have much to do with gender equality.” To those Liberals who showed up with platitudes, the professor said, “[D]on't describe something that is clearly not about gender equality as speaking to gender equality. That's disingenuous”. She said, about the “because it's 2015” quip, “[It] loses a key leadership moment to articulate and shape opinion about what it means to actually have women in positions of equality, in positions of leadership and power.”

That is where we have seen, from the very beginning, that this Prime Minister is very good at quips and saying the right thing, but in following through on his actions on many issues, but specifically on being a feminist and treating women equally, we have a seen a lot of talk but not always a lot of action and substance. The Liberals are definitely obsessed with optics. When something is presented or framed, it is of the utmost concern.

Professor Young graded their efforts on Bill C-24 by saying, “I think to frame it as a piece of legislation that speaks substantively to the issues of gender equality and cabinet composition is wrong, and it's dangerous.” It sounds like she gave this bill an F for gender equality. That was the main point she was talking about.

As I mentioned, there are many areas where we have seen this Prime Minister fail on gender equality. As I mentioned, in this specific one, ministers were given junior portfolios but not given full responsibility. We have seen this a number of other times when the Prime Minister has had an opportunity to really stand up and take direct action that will help women.

A couple of examples come to mind, such as helping Yazidi women and girls who are tormented, persecuted, and much worse. This Prime Minister had so many opportunities to allow them refuge and safety in Canada, and he has not done it.

This is a very difficult topic, but it has to be said. Most recently, he removed female genital mutilation from our citizenship guide. A very important message to send to the world is that Canada is not a place where FGM will be tolerated or allowed, and instead of making that statement, he shied away. He got scared and worried, so he withdrew it. We saw it previously when the Liberals had an opportunity to stand up for women on reserves who did not have property rights, a basic right.

The Liberals get scared when the big bullies say not to threaten them or their power. The Liberals get scared, and the Prime Minister gets scared to stand up for women.

I believe this bill is wrong in many ways, certainly on the economic development side.

We are two years in, and I have seen some really good women cabinet ministers who maybe were given these positions because it was, as he said, 2015. I think many are growing and have grown, but we also have seen some put in positions where they were destined to fail. It has been very disappointing to see.

All of us, not just the government and the Prime Minister, need to stand up for women who truly need help, women who are systemically discriminated against and hurt. Many times, it is in other countries. Just giving lip service in Canada by saying to a woman that she can have equal pay but not equal responsibility is disingenuous and hurts the authentic feminist movement, which is really about true equality for women.

This bill is damaging, and we are disappointed to see it continue.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. opposition House leader for explaining to the government the various tools at its disposal to build a cabinet. Part of the genesis of Bill C-24 was that the Prime Minister and the people around him did not understand all the different tools they had at their disposal to build a cabinet, how they work, and the fact that there are different positions. That is why when the bill was first tabled, we thought it might have something to do with gender equity. That was the context out of which the bill came, as the member rightly explained. The Prime Minister had screwed up, essentially, in terms of his commitment to gender parity at the cabinet table.

If it is not about that, then the struggle is to define the relevant sense of “equal”. In our study of the bill, we have not been able to find any relevant sense that this really makes ministers more equal in a way they are not already. I am wondering if the member's study of the bill has led her to find what that relevant sense of “equal” might be.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-24, a bill that would formalize in statute the one-tier ministry that was sworn in on November 4, 2015, and ensure that this government and future governments have the flexibility to deliver on their commitments to Canadians.

To recap what has been explained previously about Bill C-24, the Salaries Act authorizes the payment out of the consolidated revenue fund of a ministerial salary to individuals who have been appointed to a ministerial position in the act. Currently, there are 35 ministerial positions listed in the Salaries Act, including the position of prime minister. The list of Salaries Act ministers changes from time to time to align with the priorities of the government of the day and the prime ministers' preference with respect to the composition of their ministry. This is not new. Legislation amending the list of Salaries Act ministers was enacted in 2005, 2012, and 2013.

Canada needs a modern, agile, and flexible government that is organized in a way that is suited to delivering on its priorities and commitments. These amendments would help us do that. The bill would do away with certain administrative distinctions by adding to the Salaries Act five key ministerial posts, which are currently in the ministry, but as minister of state appointments.

Conventionally, ministers of state have been considered junior ministers because they have most often been appointed to assist other ministers with their portfolio responsibilities. However, this is not the case in the current ministry, where ministers of state have been given, by mandate letter and legal instruments, their own responsibilities and authorities specific to subject matter areas that are important to the government and Canadians.

The five new ministerial positions to be added to the act are minister of la francophonie, minister of small business and tourism, minister of science, minister of status of women, and minister of sport and persons with disabilities. Our government believes these are important positions for Canadians and for our economy and therefore merit full ministerial status. Formalizing these five appointments as ministers in full standing reflects the importance of the subject matter and the expectations placed on those individuals who occupy those ministerial positions. Once these positions are added to the Salaries Act, with the enactment of Bill C-24, the orders in council that assign these ministers to assist other ministers will be repealed.

I would now like to take a moment to address the question of whether there would be incremental costs associated with adding the eight new positions to the Salaries Act. To be clear, there are no incremental costs associated with the current ministry. The ministers currently appointed as ministers of state receive the same salaries as their cabinet colleagues and have office budgets commensurate with their responsibilities. This would not change under this legislation.

The legislation does, however, increase the number of ministerial positions that could be paid under the Salaries Act by two, from 35 to 37, including the position of prime minister. It is important to note that the current ministry comprises the Prime Minister and 30 ministers. This is a stark contrast to the ministry under Stephen Harper, which at one point comprised 40 members, the largest in Canadian history. The bill is not fundamentally aimed at growing the ministry. Its goal is simply to formalize in legislation the composition of the current ministry and to modernize the act to enable more flexible and adaptive ministries in the future.

It has been asked why it is important that the minister of science and the minister of la francophonie do not have the legal title of minister of state for science or minister of state for la francophonie. Why not just continue with the current framework under the current act? To be clear, these ministers are not junior ministers. Our government wants to send a strong signal to Canadians that it has a one-tier cabinet, and that these new positions and their mandates are essential to delivering the commitments we made to Canadians. We want to remove distracting administrative distinctions.

However, Bill C-24 amendments are not just about addressing government priorities in the immediate term, but about ensuring that future ministries can be structured in a way that meets emerging priorities. That is why Bill C-24 also updates the Salaries Act to enable a modern, adaptive ministry. These are achieved by adding three untitled ministerial positions to provide the government with the capacity to deliver on future priorities.

These three positions can be filled and titled at the prime minister's discretion. They offer a degree of flexibility to the prime minister to design cabinet in response to emerging challenges and priorities without having to resort to minister of state appointments.

Furthermore, the alignment of all regional development agencies under one portfolio, especially under the minister responsible for national economic development, is another example. We would now have regional national expertise working together under one roof. By adopting this change, we allow for better synergy and provide the flexibility needed to make real impact in communities across Canada.

The regional development agencies continue their hard and valued work in each region. For example, they support small and medium-sized enterprises and help them become more innovative, productive, and export-oriented. The synergy among them will help grow the economy and allow RDAs to deliver the results that Canadians in all regions of the country expect.

I would like to emphasize that removing regional development positions from the Salaries Act does not affect the regional development agencies or eliminate the need for ministerial oversight of them. On the contrary, ministers will continue to be appointed to these positions. In this ministry, the minister of innovation, science and economic development would continue to be responsible for all regional development agencies.

Finally, the legislation also changes the legal title of the minister of infrastructure, communities and intergovernmental affairs to the minister of infrastructure and communities to reflect the fact that the Prime Minister has taken on the role of intergovernmental affairs minister.

In conclusion, these changes formalize in statute the current composition of the ministry and build a degree of flexibility in the future. These amendments address administrative constraints in the current legislation and catch it up with the structure of the ministry as it operates today.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 11:15 a.m.
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Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I suppose that the government deserves to be congratulated for having achieved something truly unique with Bill C-24. Typically when a government presents legislation, a member of the opposition party will either find something to vehemently oppose or support. There is something at stake in the legislation and opposition parties can expect that after the legislation passes, it will be a difference in Canadian law that matters.

Usually, government legislation makes a difference. However, the government has found a way to produce a bill that, even if it passes, virtually everything will stay the same. Never has this government, and perhaps any government, unless some past government has achieved something similar, managed to creatively waste the time of Parliament in the way this government has done with this bill. I suppose that is an achievement of sorts, yet not the kind that Canadians expect. Nonetheless, it is a form of achievement, and I would like to recognize it for what it is, so congratulations are due. They might not want to put that in their householders, though.

The reason this bill is ultimately a colossal waste of time, after reflection and study on our part anyway, is that it does not manage to achieve any of the objectives the government has set out for the bill. What are some of those objectives?

I will not harp too much on this point because we have heard it already in some of the speeches in the House. We thought this bill might have to do with the Prime Minister's commitment to gender parity in cabinet, but we have Liberals on record at committee categorically denying this bill has anything to do with gender parity. It is not about that, they said. Okay, fine. I am not quite sure what it is about.

However, the press release issued when the bill was presented talked about making all ministers equal and establishing a one-tier ministry. What does that mean? A one-tier ministry in which all ministers are equal, I guess, means that they are all called “minister”. Of course, that is happening already. We have ministers who are technically ministers of state under the act, but who have been installed as ministers, and so we do not need this legislation to be able to call them “ministers”.

One might say they will be paid the same, but, again, those ministers who are technically ministers of state are already paid the same. Whether they should be is an open question. They do have different administrative responsibilities. It is not abnormal to pay people based on the level of their administrative responsibility within an organization. The legislation is not needed to do that, and it is not clear that it should be done in the first place.

What other sense of equality can there be? We have heard from the Liberals that this is about taking ministers seriously at the cabinet table. That causes one to wonder at the superficiality of the Prime Minister who has to introduce legislation to call his ministers of state “ministers”, just to help him take them seriously at the cabinet table. That is really weird.

Parliamentarians are always happy to help the Prime Minister do his job better. However, this seems like an excessive burden on Parliament just to have the Prime Minister take the very people he named to cabinet seriously at the cabinet table. That is not a great reason for us to be here today discussing this bill.

Administrative responsibility, I suppose, is another sense of equality that remains. This act does not change the fact that, in a myriad of ways, different ministers have different levels of administrative responsibility. Essentially, ministers of state will migrate over to a new category that has been created, one that is called ministers for “whom a department is designated”. A characteristic feature of a minister for whom a department is designated is that the resources they use for their job are carved out of the department of another minister. They do not have their own department. Rather, that is decided by another minister. That that more or less sounds a lot like what goes on already with ministers of state.

For instance, there are departments with ministers that answer to other ministers, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs where the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the top minister. It is very clear in the legislation that the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of International Development answer to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They are unable to do whatever it is they would like to do in their capacity of minister without the concurrence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This legislation does not speak to that at all, and they would continue to have a two-tier ministry in terms of administrative responsibility and having ministers answering to other ministers. This would not create an equal cabinet in that sense. That is okay. That is not an issue of principle. No one except the Liberals has come up with the idea that it is somehow wrong in principle to have an organizational structure in which some ministers answer to other ministers, because it makes sense in the context of a department. By the time they run that whole circuit, they have pretty much exhausted the senses of equality that they could address within legislation, and even some they cannot. This bill would do nothing.

What it would do is cause some collateral damage, which in itself is interesting given the arguments of the government, because it would prevent future governments from establishing separate regional economic development ministries. We believe there is value in doing that; the Liberals do not. That is fine, because there are different ways of doing things. On balance, we think that the Liberals have chosen an inferior way, but that is their right as a government. Canadians can judge them accordingly. Why they would want to tie the hands of future governments and deny them the ability to adopt a model with separate regional economic development ministries I do not know. That would be one negative consequence of this bill and one that we do not support.

However, that is passing strange because when I asked the government House leader at committee why the Liberals were getting rid of governments' ability to have separate regional economic development ministries, she said that a goal of the legislation was to update the legal framework to reflect the current practices of government. It is the current practice of government that it got rid of all the separate regional economic development ministries. When I put to her the question of why, if that is the goal of the legislation, the Liberals did not eliminate as an option the position of ministers of state, the government House leader had no answer.

If the goal of the legislation is to reflect the current practices of government, and if the current government has principled objection to the use of ministers of state because that establishes a two-tier ministry, their failure to eliminate that position does not make sense for all the reasons I have just enunciated, particularly the two-tier aspects of the ministry that would persist past Bill C-24. Nevertheless, that is an argument of the government. By the logic of that argument, the Liberals ought to be deleting the provisions for ministers of state, because that is what it would take to have the legislation reflect the current practices of the government. However, they are not doing so. I find that strange. Never mind that the legislation establishes a whole other legal mechanism for what is a minister of state, essentially by another name.

Consequently, the Liberals are not succeeding in establishing a one-tier ministry in all sorts of ways. They are not succeeding in updating the legislation to reflect the current practices of government, despite that being the stated objective of the bill. To the extent there are some other senses of equality in terms of pay and title, the Liberals have not demonstrated that the changes contemplated in the bill are necessary. If we take the time to consider this bill seriously, which is something I recommend to the government—I do not think it has tried that yet—it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that it is a poor bill that would not meet its stated objectives.

Its real objectives are not legal objectives, but political objectives responding to the mistake of the Prime Minister, who initially failed to understand how to compose a cabinet with gender parity. That is the real thing about this bill, but we are not talking about that in this place. From a legal perspective, this bill is a complete waste of time. There are just no two ways about it.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It is always a pleasure to listen to him even though we do not share the same point of view, which is not necessarily the case this morning.

To the general public, the title “Minister of State” is not very meaningful and is hard to grasp. I know that analogies can be clumsy, but I have one that might work. I would like to know what my colleague thinks of it.

I will use my teaching background to explain how I see Bill C-24. At a school you have principals, class monitors, teachers, and lab porters, but they will all get the same salary because they all work in education.

Is the Liberal model as absurd as that sounds?

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-24, which amends the Salaries Act.

I have had the great privilege of representing my riding in the House of Commons since January 23, 2006, and the royal treatment that the Prime Minister and his ministers have been indulging in since they took office in 2015 is completely unheard of. It is insulting to the Canadians that we are.

Since this Liberal government took office, no one has been spared. The regions, families, companies and every sector of the economy are hurting. It is important to point that out. Everyone is hurting except, of course, the Liberal's little clique. Canadians never expected that they would be misled like this after the election.

I would first like to tell the people of Lévis—Lotbinière that only the Conservatives will continue to fight to put an end to the Liberals' improprieties and to show Canadians that the old Liberal culture shell games that have always benefited the Liberals are still going strong. We will fight back against the practices of Liberal ministers, such as the Minister of Finance, who is currently showing a clear lack of ethics . He is gouging Canadians to build his family empire on the sly in a nice safe tax haven in Barbados.

There is a great deal more that could be said about the Minister of Finance, but I will simply offer him a piece of advice. He may not like having his personal spending discussed in the House, but Canadians expect those who hold high office in the Canadian government to adhere to the principles of transparency, accountability, and trust, in accordance with the spirit of the Conflict of Interest Act.

All of us here in the House, including all the ministers in this government, are required to comply with this act. There is a Canadian legal principle that stipulates that a person cannot plead ignorance of the law to avoid compliance.

This Liberal government is unique in Canadian history for its boundless hypocrisy. Worst of all, its word means nothing. It is truly appalling. Bill C-24 creates eight new Liberal ministerial positions, including five for ministers of state who were appointed after the 2015 election and three as yet unspecified.

Members may recall that this time last year, we found out that preferential treatment was being given to supporters willing to make a contribution to the party in exchange for access to ministers, who were all too willing to prioritize the interests of a minority over the common good.

Bill C-24 will eliminate the positions of regional development agency ministers and transfer their many responsibilities to a single minister, one with special privileges, naturally. We are very concerned about Canada's regions. Indeed, how can a single minister be expected to replace 5 other ministers and fully grasp the situation in every region of a province, for instance Quebec?

I have had the privilege of visiting Quebec's regions and I can say that, like everywhere else in Canada, our situation is unique. This summer, the Prime Minister said that appointing a minister from Toronto to oversee all the regional development agencies would do away with the sort of politics that we always had. What a joke.

We have known for a long time that Toronto is the one pulling the country' strings, not the Prime Minister's Office, which explains the finance minister's huge influence. He is one of the government's untouchables, though we cannot understand why.

Worse still, when the Prime Minister said he was putting a minister from Toronto in charge of ACOA because of the kind of politics in Atlantic Canada, that was a defamatory insult to Atlantic Canadians. Since the government did the same with the Quebec regional development agency, can we infer that the Prime Minister's attitude toward Quebeckers is just as cynical?

The Liberal-dominated committee responsible for studying Bill C-24 did not hear from a single witness about the plan to cut regional development minister positions. That kind of political manoeuvring from a government that claims to make its decisions based on evidence is not acceptable. Unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives will fight for appropriate regional representation and authority without insulting Canada's regions.

The most basic right in a democratic country is the right to be heard. This kind of thing is unprecedented. Bill C-58, which limits access to information in Canada, is yet another example of the Liberal Party's conceit and lack of transparency. Canadians are ashamed of this government.

The Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates only heard from a government house leader and a teacher during the course of its study. That is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians and our most fundamental right of expression as full participants in the decision-making or policy development process.

Since when is a decision like this made in Canada? The arrogance it must take to have the audacity to make such an important decision without consulting the grassroots, those who understand the situation in every region.

As if that was not enough, Bill C-24 also amends the Salaries Act to grant equal salary to all ministers, giving junior ministers the same salary as ministers with more important portfolios without having new responsibilities. This is a bit surprising. Given the government's poor record, we wonder if anyone over there is actually working in the right direction here, in other words, working to ensure our economic prosperity in Canada.

On this side of the House, we believe that taxpayers’ money belongs to the taxpayers, not the Liberal Party. I prefer making my own investments rather than the Liberals making them for me. The announcement by the government of a new minister does not mean additional rewards for friends, and these budget allocations will not benefit all Canadians. Our official critics on this side of the House are more productive, and at no additional cost to Canadians.

Moreover, the Minister of National Revenue does not even know what is happening in her own department, as she has said so well in the national media and as I heard her say again last night. Clearly, the net is tightening on the Minister of Finance.

What we have here is a careless government. They have given up on defending democracy, accountability, their commitments, protecting everyone regardless of status, their responsibilities and the common good, all to benefit a minority. Most reprehensibly, they have given up on future generations, whom they leave in a financial abyss. By delighting in showering today's taxpayers with money, the government is misleading voters, because governments never really give money away, as they can only do so by mortgaging our children’s future.

Currently, the Liberal debt represents $2,500 more per year for a family with two adults and two children. This means that, for the next 30 years, because the government has told us that we will undoubtedly have a deficit for the next 30 years, an extra debt of $100,000 per Canadian family will be left to future generations by this government opposite. That is shameful. Only the Conservatives can ensure a financial balance that will eliminate the deficit by not living on credit at the expense of our future generations.

We can never say it enough: the Liberals, who believe they are above the law and have to be caught out before admitting their mistakes, have no claim to the label they gave themselves; they are anything but a responsible, open, and transparent government. The mistakes that led them to explain themselves before the Ethics Commissioner are multiplying, but there is worse: now they want to play a guessing game with Canadians. With Bill C-24, the Liberals are also asking Parliament to approve the appointment of three mystery future ministers. What nonsense.

I often rise to seek answers from the government. Like many, I remain in the dark, surrounded by the Liberal fog, a thick fog that will very soon mix, I’m afraid, with marijuana smoke. I will close by saying that too many Liberal decisions remain unjustifiable, irresponsible, unethical, and illogical. It costs too much to elect a Liberal government with a parade of preferential ministers, when it is us, the official opposition, who do all the work in Canada.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / noon
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Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I am a staunch defender of pay equity between men and women, but it seems to me that equity is equal pay for equal work. However, if I understand Bill C-24 correctly, there is no equal work, so there is no injustice in having a pay scale.

Our salaries as members are publicly known—we cannot complain that we are poorly paid—and many social groups are pushing, for example, for a minimum salary of $15 per hour, which is not a fortune, we must admit. Why is it not the work, but titles, that we are evaluating in Bill C-24?

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / noon
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Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise.

I would like to take a few moments to tell the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening right now that I am truly very disappointed with what the Finance Minister did last week and this week. Canadians have become aware that he misled them for two years and that he did not put his $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares in a blind trust. I seriously expected him to rise last week for his final response in question period to say that he regretted it, and that not only did he no longer have his shares, but he was donating to charity the $65,000 in additional monthly profits that he pocketed for the last two years. That would have been the least he could do. He is an extremely wealthy man. He should have done that, and I do not think that it would have jeopardized his retirement.

With respect to Bill C-24, I will be addressing primarily the aspect of the ministers and the administrative change that means absolutely nothing, as well as the supplementary estimates. I will also very quickly address the issue of regional development. The Liberals are abolishing regional development minister positions. These positions are key, because today 60% of Canadians live in large cities. The same is true almost everywhere in the world. These positions are also important because the voice of rural Canadians is being less and less heard in the House. There will no longer be ministers representing regional development agencies in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec or western Canada. These agencies will no longer exist, or at least they will not have any ministers. These ministers sat at the cabinet table to ensure that every region of Canada had a voice.

The first thing the Liberals did was to make sure that there would no longer be any ministers representing the regions and to entrust all decisions to a single individual, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Toronto. This has already had a serious impact. Last fall, $150,000 in funds earmarked for economic development in northern Ontario was allocated to a company based in the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s riding of Mississauga. This is precisely the new type of politics the Liberals have been playing.

This spring, an Atlantic liberal caucus subcommittee indicated that they had been told that processing times at ACOA were three times longer since the appointment of a minister from Toronto. It is not surprising, since he himself, as a minister from Toronto, is completely overwhelmed by the affairs of Canada’s great city of Toronto and completely overwhelmed by the affairs of his own department. That is why we need independent ministers who can focus on the region they represent. We are saddened to see the government go ahead and abolish these key minister positions in Canada.

I spoke about Bill C-24 here in the House about six months ago. It was late spring. At that time not so long ago, I was still a permanent member of the powerful Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. It was quite the learning experience for me. I had to read a huge number of documents and learn about many financial, economic, and structural issues. The committee deals with government operations and estimates.

Every four or five months, the committee reviews and analyzes the supplementary estimates, in other words, the credits the government wants to have approved by the committees so that it can close its fiscal year on a sound note. I observed one thing. I do not remember exactly whether it was credit A, credit B or credit C, or which department it was. I think it was the Treasury Board. After it was elected, the government immediately wanted to raise the salaries of the ministers of State, as is proposed in the bill. Normally, to do so, the government must introduce a bill like the one we are debating today concerning ministers’ salaries and allowances.

That is not what they have been doing for the past two years. In fact, the Liberals used the supplementary estimates, by including the votes in the supplementary estimates and getting them approved through the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates for two consecutive years. We Conservatives were a minority. We voted against that funding, but that did not change anything.

If this bill were so important, if it were true, as they claim, that this bill is intended to foster ministerial pay and gender equality, then why did they use the back door to increase salaries? Why did the Liberals not introduce Bill C-24 when they first came to power in 2015? If gender equality were that important to them, they would have introduced this bill as a priority at the outset.

Something about this really surprises me. An hon. member for whom I have enormous respect and who served in the military said that a minister is a minister is a minister. First, that is an extreme extrapolation. One can say that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, but at the same time, a minister is still a Canadian like any other. The part that concerns me is that ministers of state are not on the same footing as ministers. The question is simple: do they have deputy ministers? No, and this bill will do nothing to change that fact, either.

Ministers of state will not have deputy ministers or cabinets, which have a staff of about 40 to assist their minister perform difficult tasks. They will not have the right to submit memorandums to cabinet explaining government issues. Most importantly, they will not have any officials serving under them. For example, the Minister of National Defence has 80,000 public servants under him. Not only is there the civilian administrative wing comprising some 20,000 employees, but there is also the military wing, because military troops are public servants. All told, we are talking 100,000 people.

Ministers of state will not have 100,000 people to manage and give orders to. Neither will they oversee an actual institution, or have headquarters from which to work. For example, Public Services and Procurement Canada is across the beautiful Ottawa River, and there is a huge building there with Public Services and Procurement Canada written on it. About 10,000 people work there.

Ministers of state have none of the prerequisites that would make them equal to ministers. This has nothing to do with gender equality or equity between individuals. Ministers of state simply do not have a minister’s workload. That is the only thing Canadians need to know.

Remarkably, the hon. member of St. Catharines himself said it a thousand times in his speech on administrative changes. That is exactly what it is: an administrative change. It is not a substantial change. The Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, who comes from the Eastern Townships, will not have a building with 10,000 public servants or a cabinet. She will not have anything a real minister has. I am on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, so I recognize that the files she manages are extremely important, but her workload will still be quite a bit lighter than that of the Minister of National Defence, for example.

My colleague from Calgary Shepard made me think of something. It is not true that all cabinet ministers are equal. No one can tell me that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Canadian Heritage are on equal footing. I must say that I prefer heritage to the economy. That being said, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has a portfolio because she is the House leader and she is the Minister of Small Business and Tourism. She has more to deal with than another minister who does not have these two portfolios and these two responsibilities. It is as simple as that.

I wanted to say one last thing, something a little more philosophical. Imposing a gender-equal cabinet comes with its own share of risks. At the end of the day, philosophically and legally speaking, what does it even mean? It means that we will never see an all-female cabinet in Canada. I would even go so far as to say that this is good way for the Prime Minister of Canada to make sure that women never make up more than half a cabinet.

In fact, I would even say that this will stop the advancement of women in politics.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to carry on along that theme, as this is one of the interesting windows into the Liberal mindset with Bill C-24. The Prime Minister has ostensibly brought forward legislation to help the Liberals take their cabinet ministers seriously. Presumably, if they do not have a minister's title, the Prime Minister will dismiss their voices at the cabinet meeting saying, that they are not serious, that they are called a minister of state, so what they say is not important as what the other people have to say. That tells us something about not only the legislation or the composition of cabinet. That tells us something about the Prime Minister.

I know the Prime Minister might not be the only one to not take the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader seriously, but it does make me wonder if the Prime Minister is able to take him seriously because he is not a minister. What does that mean for parliamentary secretaries in the Liberal caucus? What does that mean for Liberal backbenchers? What does that mean for Liberal chairs of committees? They are not called ministers. Are we to understand that the Prime Minister does not take good ideas seriously, that he just takes the title of the person who is talking seriously? Is that the lesson of Bill C-24?

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be joining what is becoming a more spirited debate this morning.

I want to reflect for a moment on something the member for Elmwood—Transcona said when he called this debate a creative waste of time. I do not think there is a better description of Bill C-24 so far. There really is no better way to describe it.

I have also reflected on the Minister of Finance's approach to his small business tax changes, which I would call creative destruction of wealth. There has never been a minister of finance who has been this creative in attempting to destroy so much wealth.

I wanted to mention that because it is worth reflecting on. It is an old tune that keeps on playing. The best Yiddish proverb I could come up with to describe what the Liberal government is doing, and continues to do, especially with respect to Bill C-24, is “to every new song one can find an old tune”. This is the old tune of the same old Liberal Party. Nothing has changed. The Liberals are back to doing the same old things. The Liberal Party will take care of anyone who is a Liberal, but a small business owner, or anyone else for that matter, is going to feel the pain.

A Fraser Institute report stated that the average Canadian is now paying $800 more in taxes. After-tax income is down, and that should be the best metric for the government.

Instead of dealing with economic issues today, we are debating pay hikes for ministers, in fact pay hikes that they have already received. As the member for Beauport—Limoilou mentioned, the Liberals have already taken care of their own. They have already taken care of their pay. Every time the Liberal government talks about transparency, equity, and fairness, taxpayers end up paying more, never less. More money is going out. Instead of lowering the pay of all ministers down to the rate of pay of a minister of state, which the government could have done and would have showed fairness and equity, the government chose to raise everybody's pay.

Many members have mentioned this before, that this is an administrative change. The government's main argument right now is that this is just an administrative change, and members question why we are debating this. We could ask them the same question. We are debating this because the government has put this forward as the important issue of the day, not NAFTA negotiations, agricultural legislation, another free trade agreement, small business taxation, or mortgage rules. No, the important issue of the day is pay hikes for Liberal ministers. That is what the government wants to talk about.

In this much-vaunted attempt to talk about transparency, there are three mystery ministers. In a previous debate when I participated on this at second reading very late on an evening in June, I talked about the different types of ministries the government could set up. The government purposely did not put forward a minister responsible for seniors, something that many seniors associations have asked for. The Liberal government does not have one.

Perhaps some of the present ministers could come forward to help the Minister of Finance deal with the ethics shield. Maybe a minister for ethics shields would be good. In case anything about Morneau Shepell, Bombardier, or anything related comes up, the minister for ethics shields could shield the Liberals from the trouble they could get into. Perhaps that is what the Liberals should do.

I mentioned pay for performance in my previous debate. That is how we should be rating every single minister on that side. They are responsible to the crown, but they are also responsible to the House. They are responsible for the mandate letters that the Prime Minister delivererd to them, telling them what they would do and telling them to deliver results. That is done on behalf of the House, not just members on that side.

The mandate letter is how we rate the effectiveness of a minister. So far, we see that whenever a minister fails in the House, he or she is not fired but rather receives an ambassadorship overseas. That former minister gets a pay increase. Perhaps he or she will get a pay increase like the ambassador to France, who received $120,000 pay increase above what a career diplomat would get. Perhaps a failed Liberal candidate will be sent to the consulate in San Francisco and get double the pay of what a career diplomat would get in that role.

The Liberals say that the pay hikes will be for five ministers of state. Maybe they will get a new title, which every single member here has mentioned. They say this is just a title change; there is no effective change to their mandates.

The Liberals talk about fairness. They called this an adaptive bill, a modern bill. It costs more to taxpayers every single time they mention those words. Thirty ministers are supposed to be equal. The member for Beauport—Limoilou raised a great point. The mandate letters are not equal. They are not equal in workload and they are not equal in content. Nobody can tell me that the government House leader has the same amount of work as the Minister of Health.

The government House leader has two mandate letters to deliver on. The Minister of Finance has an extremely long mandate letter with detailed tasks to undertake. Nobody can tell me that these letters bring the same workload on them, the members of their staff, and the departments that they use, as the letter of another minister with a smaller department and a smaller mandate. It is the content of the work that they are supposed to do. Of course, they are all equal. They are all persons, and they are all equal, but ministers are not created equal by the Prime Minister. They have different tasks, roles, and priorities to undertake on behalf of the government to supposedly deliver on those promises. A great example of one of the promises we saw, which the Liberals forgot at first, was the small business tax reduction, which they cancelled and now uncancelled and are now really committed to doing, but they have not done it quite yet.

However, it is in the mandate letters where we truly find the value of a minister, and truly find the quality of ministers. No one can tell me that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has an equal workload to the Minister of Science or the Minister of Public Services and Procurement. The workload is immense at this point in time, because the mandate she is required to deliver on is far larger, which is why other ministers are then assigned to assist her with those tasks.

In politics, I think we have all heard that it is a team sport. We play as a team, and we lose as a team. I do not think there is a single individual who finds politics to be a solo adventure or journey. However, what they are saying on that side is that they are going to treat everybody equal by title, and keep piling on the workload, whichever way the Prime Minister wants to. The member for Beauport—Limoilou and the member for Elmwood—Transcona mentioned the delivering of value.

Listening to the voices at the cabinet table and listening to other perspectives has nothing to do with what is written in a law, but it has everything to do with personality, character, and leadership skills. Whether one chooses to listen to an alternative point of view, or to a minister who does not have a title, or even to a member of Parliament who has expertise in an area or field that perhaps a ministry lacks or the cabinet lacks, it is up to the leadership, ending with the Prime Minister, to bring them in, hear what they have to say, and to take that into account.

However, it is the same old tune, because in a lot of ways, a lot of these ministers are invisible. We have been watching this sideshow with the Minister of Finance answering some questions on small business taxation, but the minister responsible for small business has barely stood up in the House to speak to what probably is the most important change or impact on her particular mandate. She has barely been allowed to speak to what will in fact make or break her success as the minister responsible for small business.

Ministers come with departments, buildings, civil servants, and budgets that they are responsible to manage. Nobody here can tell me that there is equality among the mandates of the ministers and equality of the tasks. I do not see that in the private sector either. When I was a director in a human resources professional association, I had a smaller budget than every single other director there. The value I brought was that I took care of corporate affairs and research for the membership on what members wanted. I had an equal voice at the table because my CEO allowed me to speak to defend the points I had to make and to challenge others at the table when they were making mistakes.

This is all about leadership. We cannot legislate leadership, and that is what the Liberals are trying to do with this. It just does not work that way. Therefore, as I said before, this entire debate is worthy of an episode of the Yes Minister series, which I love to quote here. In fact, I will make a suggestion to the government. The show has, as a central character, a minister of administrative affairs. The government could use that. It could have that single minister stand up and answer all the questions in the House and defend all of the government's initiatives by simply saying, “In time, we will consider your ideas”, and simply avoid answering all the questions, as the Liberals have done so far, at times successfully and at times less so.

However, nobody can tell me that this pay hike for Liberal cabinet ministers is the issue of the day, the issue of the month, or what Canadians at home are talking about. In fact, they are not. I will be very pleased to be voting against the bill at all stages.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak this morning. I say “happy”, but that depends on where people are in the House. Right now, I think that Bill C-24 is a travesty. The LIberals are trying to push something through the back door, or the front door, or the side door, that Canadians are not really concerned about. While the Minister of Finance is still gracing the front pages this morning, they are talking about increasing the number of ministers.

Maybe their time would be better spent looking at existing ministers and making them do their jobs properly and ethically. In my opinion, adding more ministers, when they still cannot figure out where to send three of them, is another thing in the Liberals’ DNA that makes them want to please everyone, especially their special friends, without giving any thought to the fact that Canadians will once again be the ones paying for it.

When we speak of gender equality and equity, we speak of equal work for equal pay. Everyone agrees. It is a fundamental principle. Therefore, if ministers do not all have the same level of responsibility, why should they be paid the same salary? That means that they want to give them still more. Here again, I have not done the math, but it means that, if everyone gets the same salary, they should have the same level of responsibility, new ministerial cars, government departments, and employees. They will need more than one or two employees, because when you have such important files you need the necessary resources.

In my opinion, gender equality is when women and men are allowed to speak. That is gender equality. It is being able to express ourselves as human beings, to say the things we need to say. No one needs to be a minister for that. A simple member of Parliament, if given the chance, can speak. Unfortunately, we have a Prime Minister who takes up a lot of room. When he arrives for question period, no one on the other side of the House is allowed to speak. He is the only one who can answer questions. However, there are ministers across the aisle. They are all equal, or so they tell us, but they do not have the right to speak. That is dangerous.

The Liberal government wants to add new ministers, but is abolishing the regional development minister positions. Instead of appointing other ministers, let us return these ministers to their functions so that they can give a voice to their regions.

I have nothing against the Minister of Economic Development. He is in his tower in Toronto and already has his hands full with that city. However, if I were to go to him tomorrow to discuss what is happening in Saint-Urbain or Saint-Irénée, I am not certain that he would know that they are in Charlevoix. He might think that they are in Europe. If I were to speak to him about the problems of farmers in Saint-Irénée or Saint-Urbain, I am not certain that he would understand what I was saying. I find this absurd. The Liberals want to increase the number of ministers, but they are eliminating ministers that are important to our regions.

If the Liberals want to add ministers, so be it. However, they should appoint them in the regions, where the people need to be heard.

Earlier, I was listening to the Liberal spokesperson, who was shouting rather loudly, because the Liberals act as though we, on this side of the House, understand nothing. Now, he should perhaps listen to me. When trying to ensure equality of men or women, the Liberals should give them their rightful place rather than putting on a dog and pony show. There is enough of that on Twitter and Facebook, not to mention Instagram. There are shots of the Prime Minister's socks as he visits a business and I really could not care less. However, I do care about the small businesses and farmers in my riding who have pressing needs.

In my view, Bill C-24 is a fine little bill that the Liberals have pulled out of a hat—hooray for Halloween, which is almost here—to avoid talking about the real issues of concern to the members of the House and Canadians. For example, did the Minister of Finance recuse himself from any discussions that could be in some way related to his interests? This morning, we learned that Morneau Shepell signed multiple contracts with federal departments. In the meantime, the Liberal Party is making us debate Bill C-24.

Are we on a reality TV show? We want to know the facts. When will the Liberals bring back regional economic development ministers? If they want to appoint solid ministers, now is the time. They should go and find them in the regions. I am sure there are solid people across the aisle. I am thinking in particular about Atlantic Canada. In Quebec, I think we are stronger than the Liberals, but elsewhere, they could find solid people.

It is insulting that the Liberals have introduced such a bill today, when Canadians need answers to their questions. What the Liberals are doing today is a sad charade. The Liberals have said themselves in committee that they do not believe in this bill, and yet those same members will stand up and vote in favour of it. They always say that the Liberals have free votes. We saw that yesterday, too.

Bill C-24 will not achieve any of the objectives the Liberals claim it will. Earlier the Liberal member was trying to say that he wants everyone to have an equal voice in the House. All 338 members have an equal voice. They can all say whatever they have to say. However, that does not appear to be the case across the aisle. Every time we ask them a question, it is always the same members who reply. It would seem that not all members across the aisle are allowed to speak. Rather than introducing this kind of bill, perhaps the Liberal Party should simply give its own members some air time.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, again, I appreciated my colleague's speech.

I would like to focus on the art of setting pay. Typically, this depends on the job description. I find it hard to believe that ministers with different workloads are paid the same.

Even more startlingly, Bill C-24 seems to suggest that we create three new ministerial positions whose job descriptions we know nothing about, but that will come with the same salary as the others. This means these new ministers could have a higher or lower workload than ministers of state, yet earn the same salary. By extension, everyone in the House could be paid the same amount, because it would seem that the relationship between pay and job description no longer exists.

Speaker's RulingSalaries ActGovernment Orders

October 26th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his very relevant question.

I completely agree with him. The government is trying to make us believe things, and that is the problem with the Liberals. They introduced Bill C-24 by saying that they are going to create three ministerial positions, but no one here in the House knows what these ministers will do. Before we vote on a bill like this one, we need to know where those ministers will be going and what they will be doing. Will those ministers represent regions? Regional development is important. I am going to vote against this bill because it is a smokescreen, as usual. The Liberals are not strong enough to introduce something clear and concise.