Madam Speaker, I listened to the debate and especially to the introductory speech of the Liberals this morning. They said that we should be talking about more relevant things in this place.
The theme of my speech today is, and I have said a hundred times, that unless the system in this country is changed, nothing much else can be changed. The system needs to be changed to bring in democracy. I am going to say that over and over again.
When I was first elected by the people of Yorkton-Melville, they told me two things. They said: "We want you to speak up on our behalf. Breitkreuz, we want you to go to Ottawa and be our voice in Ottawa". I have tried faithfully to do that on issues like gun control, justice reform, reduction in the size of government, preservation of health care, education, pensions, protection of agricultural issues, more recently on the issue of sexual orientation, and yesterday on the funding of abortions.
They also asked me something else. They wanted me to tell them what is going on in Ottawa. They wanted to know. I want to tell the people of Yorkton-Melville and all Canadians what is going on in the Senate today.
The Senate is not elected. How then do we get our senators? The Prime Minister appoints them. How does he decide who goes into the upper chamber? He chooses the people who have worked the hardest on the Liberal Party campaign, or in the Liberal Party, or in the case of Mr. Mulroney when he was Prime Minister, those who worked hardest for the Conservative Party. The other place is full
of faithful Liberals and Conservatives, those who have helped those respective governments to get elected. Senators are patronage appointments.
Patronage appointments go to the party faithful, the Liberals and Conservatives who have helped get those parties elected. It is their reward. It is an incentive for them to do what they are told in an election campaign. They do not get to the Senate on merit.
Some people may ask: What is wrong with this? It gets people involved in politics for the wrong reason. They do not get involved to serve their country. They do what they are told to do by the Prime Minister. If they do what they are told they get appointed to the Senate.
The whole system stinks. There is no democracy in it. Those senators are there because they were faithful campaign mangers, fundraisers or whatever.
They are still faithful party workers. They are still working for the Liberals and Conservatives raising funds and managing campaigns. Just because they were appointed to the Senate does not mean they begin doing the work of senators, at least not solely. They are still campaign managers, faithful party workers and fundraisers.
Listen to that, Canadians. That is what you are paying for. That is happening right now. That is what is going on here in Ottawa.
I am a watchdog. I was sent here for that reason by my constituents. I am barking loud and long about what is happening here. Taxpayers' funds are being used to pay campaign workers and fundraisers through the Senate of Canada. Public funds go to senators' salaries, expense accounts and travel. Over $100,000 per senator goes for blatant political reasons. That is wrong.
Some of the names which are coming to light are Joyce Fairbairn, Dan Hays, Ron Ghitter. Joyce Fairbairn and Dan Hays are faithful Liberals. Ron Ghitter was appointed by Mulroney. His whole purpose in being in the Senate is to be the western campaign manager for the Conservatives in order to build that party up. That is happening today and it is wrong, plain and simple. The people ought to know that and I am objecting.
When I came here over two and half years ago I actually thought there was some mechanism by which Parliament was accountable to the people between elections. I am sad to report to Canadians that there is no accountability existing in this House or in the Senate. Frankly, I think that the House of Commons is masquerading as a democracy. It is pretending it is a democracy. The hon. member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia said it best about this time last year when he said: "Canadians elect 295 members of Parliament to represent them in Ottawa, but with all the decision making power resting with a dozen or so ministers who refuse to be influenced by reasoned argument and persuasion, I have to question the purpose of all the shenanigans that go on in the House in the name of parliamentary debate".
When I was elected I told the voters of Yorkton-Melville that I would be their voice in Ottawa. If all the members in this House had the same attitude the entire process would be opened up so that real democracy could express itself. The Reform Party believes in true democracy, not democracy by cabinet decree as we have it here.
The Liberal government reminds me of a leader of the Soviet Union who once said: "How can you expect me to run a country if no one obeys my decrees?" That was said in the Soviet Union but what is happening here? The Liberal cabinet has nothing to worry about because it has all the power and the full force of government to have all of its decrees implemented.
Under a Reform government all MPs would be able to vote freely on bills such as those concerned with gun control, sexual orientation, immigration, the GST and MP pensions. Another topic I wish I had time to discuss today is the obscene MP pension plan. I hear members opposite mumbling. They do not like some of the comments I am making as they are feeding at the trough of that MP pension plan.
Principle number 16 of the Reform Party constitution states: "We believe in the accountability of elected representatives to the people who elect them, and that the duty of elected members to their constituents should supersede their obligations to their political parties".
A Reform government would not only give MPs the power and responsibility to represent their constituents but would also transfer the power to the people by giving them the right to recall their MPs. There would be MP recall if their member failed to represent them properly in the House, which is a very important democratic measure. Once put in place there would seldom be a need to exercise it.
A Reform government would also give power to the citizens to initiate a referendum by petitioning government to put a question on the ballot at each federal election. That is called citizens' initiative. It would allow people direct input into what is happening in their country. It is very very important to have those kinds of changes made.
I remind everyone that my theme is that unless we change the system we will not change much else in the country. We need to bring democracy back to Canada. Four democratic reforms will guide government between elections when Reform forms the government: free votes, recall, referenda and citizens' initiative.
The next step in making any federation work is an elected, equal for all provinces and effective Senate, commonly known as the triple E Senate. This is not only essential to making Canada operate more democratically and more effectively, but it is also necessary to ensure that the Senate is accountable to the people, not just the Prime Minister who appointed them in this perfect patronage plum I just described.
Why is this called the highest court in the land? Because we should be sitting here debating the laws that are laid before Parliament. We should be discussing the pros and cons. We should be deciding if it is good legislation that is before this House.
Why do we see very few people here? Because it is not a democratic institution. The people opposite are not allowed to vote on the legislation in a free vote to decide whether or not it is good legislation. They are simply told how to vote. Why sit and listen? This is not the highest court in the land. We are not debating these things and deciding whether or not they are good laws.
Similarly, that is what should be happening in the Senate. Elected senators would not be able to thumb their noses at a request from the House of Commons to explain how they will spend $40.7 million a year. They would be accountable. Right now they are not accountable to the taxpayers. If they fly across the country on the Liberal or Tory election campaigns, there is nothing the taxpayers can do even though it is their money. The senators are not accountable to the taxpayers of Canada for the $40 million being spent. "Just give us the money and shut up" is the attitude of the Senate.
The question on whether the Senate is accountable for the money it spends would not even arise if the Senate were doing its job. And if senators were elected, if the Senate was effective and made each province equal in the upper chamber, this question would not even come before this House but that is not the case. They are not doing their job.
For a true federation to work it must have both a lower House and an upper House. The lower House, the House of Commons, gives voters representation by population based on the principle of one person, one vote. The upper House, the Senate, is supposed to represent the regions or the provinces based on the principle of Canada being a federation of 10 equal provinces. Unfortunately Canada's federation of equal provinces was corrupted from the start by giving the Prime Minister the power to appoint senators instead of letting voters in each province elect them.
There have been 16 Senate seats vacated since the election in October 1993. The Prime Minister has appointed a Liberal 16 times. Even Brian Mulroney had a better record than that. The blatant patronage that is going on in this place rewarding party workers by giving them these hundred thousand dollar positions in the Senate is unconscionable.
Another unfortunate development was when the Senate seats were divided among the four regions of the country instead of equally among the provinces. Because Quebec and Ontario are defined as regions, they have 24 senators each while a province like Saskatchewan only has six senators. There are those who are going to complain that Ontario has more people than Saskatchewan and should have more senators, but remember that Ontario already has 99 members of Parliament to represent its large population. Saskatchewan only has 14 members in this House.
The state of California has two senators, as does North Dakota. We do not hear Californians clamouring for more senators because they know that the only way a true federation can work effectively is if each voter is equal and each state or province is equal.
Remember that the purpose of the Senate is to provide equal representation to each province in the federation. Until our Senate is reformed along these lines, our federation will always suffer from the tyranny of the majority in central Canada. That is one of the key objections the people in my province have about what goes on in this place.
The Prime Minister wants puppets in the Senate so he can simply pull their strings and have them do as he wishes. That is why there are no, or very few, Liberals present today to debate this issue. It makes them very uncomfortable. Absence and silence make a huge statement on this issue.
Why do the Liberals and the Conservatives not want to make changes to the Senate? I have already explained that briefly. They would not have a place to put their party faithful. Where would they put there faithful fundraisers and campaign managers? How would they reward those faithful Liberals who tirelessly worked to get the Liberals elected to the House of Commons? Liberals and Conservatives cannot defend an appointed Senate and that is why they are silent on this issue today.
What is the purpose of the Senate? It is to ensure that legislation does not pass and become law without being properly vetted and to make sure that minorities, regions and certain provinces are protected. The province of Quebec has some valid concerns if it is not properly protected in the Senate. It should ensure that minorities are properly protected and that is one of the reasons we have the Senate. It also could be a control on government spending, spending that is often out of control.
One of the Liberals who introduced the topic on that side of the House asked: Are the two Houses not independent of one another? How can they be independent when the Prime Minister appoints those who will faithfully carry out his wishes? That cannot happen.
I heard the member complaining that Reformers tried to get the Senate to overthrow Bill C-68. I would like to remind the House that it was the justice minister who lobbied hardest to get his bill through the Senate. It was the justice minister who lobbied hard and the member talks about the need for them to be independent or that Reformers were concerned. Reformers were responding to what the justice minister did.
Until we change the system we will not change much else in this place. We need democracy, not just one day out of every four or five years.
I should also point out that when Bill C-68 on gun control went to the Senate, the Prime Minister ensured it would get through by appointing more senators. Is that independence between the two Houses? Are they separate? Hardly.
One of the reasons members of the Reform Party received the support of 2.5 million Canadians in the last election is that they objected strongly to the elitist system of government. Traditionally Canadians have trusted their leaders. That trust is seriously eroding as they find out more and more how the system works, or in this case does not work.
The government often engages in an exercise called public consultation. It looks at public input as being nice but it never listens to it. If the government would listen to the public input on the Senate, this motion today would become votable. If a free vote were held and if government members were representing their constituents, things would drastically change in this place.
I was involved in some of the public consultations. I was on the human resources committee in 1994 and we went across the entire country. What happened when we were all done? There was hardly a room big enough to hold all the papers the committee received, but nothing ever happened. The same thing happened on the gun control issue. Now the government is doing it on agriculture. What a joke. These public consultations are not even taken into consideration.
What should the Senate be doing? It should be the chamber of sober second thought. Instead of running across the country campaigning for the Liberals and Conservatives, senators should be consulting Canadians in their home provinces to see if the legislation that is being brought forward and intended to be passed is acceptable to them.
I want to talk about one more issue while I am talking about accountability. This issue has been raised with me by my constituents. It is the huge issue of the Supreme Court of Canada. We cannot just talk about the accountability of the Senate without talking about what is also happening in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Through our charter of rights and freedoms our country's fundamental rights are in the hands of nine judges, judges who are not accountable. They are appointed. They interpret laws and determine the direction of justice taken in this country. The laws and the rights in our country are very general and not well defined. Their ultimate meaning is determined by these nine people who may not represent the same views of most Canadians. They can in fact destroy the very fabric of our country. These judges can actually impose their views on the country with disregard for the intent Parliament may have had when the legislation was put in place. They even provide guidelines for legislation that Parliament should pass.
The fear Canadians have with the recent inclusion of sexual orientation as a category in the Canadian Human Rights Act is an example. How do those judges get where they are? They are appointed by the Prime Minister, just like senators are appointed. Will they redefine marriage, the traditional family? These are all concerns people have.
The topic we are discussing today is whether the Senate should be accountable to the taxpayer for the $40 million it spends. Let us ask the people of Canada. Let us do as I have done. Let us put out an item on a people's tax form-