The hon. member says the Liberal party is not dying. I would go back to the original comment I made that if it forgets the past, it is condemned to repeat it. We will see how well the Liberal Party does.
What is striking about this new government is its willingness to allow the direct interference of politicians in a long standing practice. In 1990 the majority Conservative government interfered in a long standing practice and wanted to legislate the GST despite the opposition of the majority of Canadians in this country and opposition parties, including the majority of Liberal senators.
In order to get its way, however, the government at the time with the help of the Queen appointed eight political hacks as senators just to get its legislation passed. If the public does not like it, ram it down its throat is what the government said, which is kind of indicative of things here today. It is the cod liver oil approach, I say, as someone from the maritimes originally.
Canadians are not going to swallow cod liver oil politics any longer. Not only will the Canadian taxpayer have to pay the bill for supporting these political hacks until the age of 75, but the government established a terrible political precedent. If we do not get our way in the House of Commons or we disagree with the accepted rules of our country then we change them to make them fit our political agenda. It is quite similar to Bill C-18.
The fact is that very few people in Canada today really get excited about the political boundaries because they have always changed as the population changes. The only people who have concerns at the moment appear to be the Liberal Party members. Like the Conservatives and the GST, they will interfere in an issue, that of redistribution.
This is neither their right nor any of their business. If this government were really in touch with the people of Canada today it would be attempting to reduce the number of ridings to 200 or 250 and save some much needed money as well as making the job of members of Parliament a little easier.
Having 295 members of Parliament in the past has not really served us that well, has it? For instance, MPs would be able to handle the workload much better if we did not waste so much time passing unnecessary laws like this one.
How could we be spending this time? Look at the state of our economy. Look at the state of our criminal justice system. Look at the number of unemployed people in Canada and look at the stagnating parliamentary system we have today, one which refuses to recall MPs, one which refuses to give Canadians the right to referendums, and one that will not even elect senators.
All these things merit our attention much more than deciding if we are going to postpone a decision we have no business interfering with in the first place.
Is the government that desperate for new legislation? As in the case of the GST, let us look at what a desperate government might do after it sets the precedent of monkeying around with the electoral boundary process.
I am not saying that this is a desperate government, yet. I predict that this Liberal government will be fighting for its very existence in 1997, and then who knows?
If this government interferes with the realignment of electoral seats what is to stop it from realigning seats by interfering with the process in 1997? Perhaps the government may wish to add seats in a particular part of a province that is typically held by a majority of that party's voters. That is why the process has been set apart from politics in the first place.
The action put before this House may mean instead of freezing the number of MPs to be added the public will see more seats eventually. At an average cost of $1 million per MP, do we really need more MPs?
We have already spent $5 million on the process. Now, because politicians do not like the realignment, there is another $5 million out the window-what is $5 million today, they ask.
This government seems willing to throw away tax dollars like this with no regard for common sense. This government wishes to pass the bill before the Easter break, suspending the current process for 24 months. If a new bill is not passed by Parliament within 24 months the process will be restarted under the existing legislation.
The member across in the Liberal Party says he is saving money. Talk about a waste of money, how does one save money by spending it that way?
It is absolutely amazing to me that this government again wants to change the constitutional item relating to electoral boundary redistribution. The government is already embarking on complicated changes to the Constitution related to aboriginal
self-government. The government has recently elected to change the constitutional item relative to Prince Edward Island ferry service.
When it comes to the Reform Party's constitutional issue of insisting on a Senate that is elected, what do we get? The government says the issue was defeated in 1992 in the referendum so Canadians do not want it. Liberal Party members across the way say that they defeated the referendum in 1992. That is the narrow focus we get today.
This government wishes to pass a bill before the Easter break. Why? What is the benefit? Is it to save money? No, I believe it is to fulfil a political ambition.
Why is it when there are majority governments in this country they do what they want and not what the people want? There is nobody crying and screeching about this today other than a party.
It makes one wonder about the Reform Party's platform on referendums, citizens' initiatives and free votes, does it not? Those are things where the people finally get to say what is right or wrong rather than the politicians assuming they know best what is in it for the people.
There is a process in place on redistribution, one that allows all Canadians, including MPs, to state their case at public hearings. They have been established. The new proposal would see Ontario getting four new seats and British Columbia the other two.
I can speak against this issue even though my riding is one of the ridings that will be drastically changed and not for the better. Unlike some members opposite they would prefer to get involved in a political process to change the process rather than address the issue through the appeal process.
The government should do a number of things. It should come clean with the Canadian people and admit it is letting a political concern override a process that has been set up to ensure politicians will not be involved. It should introduce legislation that freezes the number of MPs at current levels. It should get on with the business of really running the country instead of tampering with an already overly complicated system.