Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support Bill C-250 put forward by my colleague from Kindersley-Lloydminster. The bill proposes to have fixed election dates. For instance, this year the election date would be October 20 and elections thereafter would be held every four years on the third Monday of October.
In his opening remarks the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster said: "Along with the Reform Party's other proposals for democratic reform such as recall, referendums and citizens initiatives, we intend to show how Canada's political system can be made more accountable, representative and fair". Those are three points in favour of fixed election dates: accountability, better representation and fairness.
First, I will consider better representation. I very much believe in this bill. It is part of the Reform platform. When I campaigned in 1993 I felt there was something wrong with our political system because at any given time, on the spur of the moment, behind closed doors the Prime Minister and a few of his selected strategists could secretly determine when an election would be held. That is a great disservice to the Canadian public. It denies the opportunity for a lot of potential candidates who would be willing to run, who would otherwise be willing to seek nomination and become involved in the political process.
Some excuses used for not running are: inappropriate timing; an insufficient amount of time to prepare for entry into public life; insufficient time to raise money; insufficient time to become known in the community. These excuses would be eliminated with a fixed election date. This would affect the number of people who would consider running for election, including women. There is a big cry that there are not enough women in politics, that the ratio is not 50:50, that there is a lack of balance between male and female representatives.
This is the case because they cannot plan. If women knew there would be an election every four years on the third Monday of October, family planning could be a lot easier. Men and women could decide after an election that next time one of them would run. The quality and number of candidates who would step forward would greatly increase. There would be more respect for politicians.
The accountability point was put forward by the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster. Politicians who were elected knowing that the duration of their terms would be four years would be more interested in and intent on carrying out the responsibilities of their portfolios, including representing their constituents. They would do the best jobs they could and would let their records speak for themselves. Then they would not have to rely on the prime minister of the day prior to an election to fast track certain bills in order to improve their visibility or their standing in the polls. They would not have to rely on the prime minister to hand out goodies in weak areas where they wanted to reinforce their strength.
This bill and fixed election dates every four years would provide more stability in the political system. This factor of not knowing when an election will be called ends up causing more doubt and more debate about when is it going to be called. That causes more focus on elections than it does on the issues of the day.
I have been here for close to four years and I have not read too much about the debt that faces this country. I have not read too much about the rising interests costs to service that debt. All I have heard is that the interest rates are the lowest they have ever been and the government has done a wonderful job.
The Canadian economy is not on as strong a footing as the finance minister and the Prime Minister would like us to believe. There is an underlying danger in that the real problem facing this country is not being addressed. I believe if we knew when an election would be called, all politicians would be more intent on identifying and solving the problems of the country instead of talking about those issues that make a party and the member as a representative more popular.
I feel Canada is behind the times. We are one of the few nations that does not have a fixed election date. By having a fixed election date we plan for it. A party or a government can be better judged and evaluated on what its real intent and purpose is.
We had an example this past week where the Liberal government closed more deals and did more in the space of 10 days that it had in the first three years. Even Premier Bouchard says the transfer of manpower training to the province of Quebec is nothing more than a pre-election ploy. He is going to sign the agreement today. He goes on further to say that he has to sign it as a provincial premier
because he has a responsibility to the unemployed of his province and he feels that this responsibility at his level will help more people get work. I agree with him on that.
All provinces should be looking after manpower training, not the federal government. Why has it taken three and a half years to happen? Why has it been signed after no less than five days of political pressure?
Another pre-election ploy is the anti-gang legislation for Quebec. I am not making this up. The Bloc members have pointed it out. The premier of Quebec has pointed it out.
It is making a mockery and a joke out of our political system. The government of the day controls the agenda and gains an unfair advantage on an unsuspecting, trusting general public. If nothing else, Canadians generally trust their government. They expect their government to perform according to the platform that they get elected on.
We were hugely disappointed by the two Tory governments. When these Liberal members were in opposition, when they were trying to seek the confidence of Canadians to govern, the Prime Minister on January 20, 1993 talking about Canadians said: "They have had enough of the abuses of Parliament and the arrogance of government".
I would need another 30 minutes to talk about the abuses that this government, when it was in opposition, talked about. Now it is guilty of them as government. There has been the abuse of parliamentary committees, abuse of free votes, abuse of jobs, jobs, jobs, abuse of Pearson, abuse of Airbus, abuse of Somalia, abuse of Krever, abuse of devolution of powers, abuse of the GST, the broken promise of the GST, as well as broken promises of what it would do when it was elected. In a lot of cases it did exactly the opposite.
I hope the Canadian public has had enough of this. I hope they start to reward honesty rather than misrepresentation. I hope that they give a reward to truth in politics rather than the perception of politics.
This same man said that the Canadian public deserves good government. He talked about the abuses of Parliament, of which his government is even more guilty than the Conservatives, and the arrogance of government. Consider the arrogance of the Prime Minister who said: "If you can't get a job, tough, move". That is pretty arrogant.
We should consider the arrogance of the Prime Minister.
Usually we are here for five years and somewhere in the fourth year the government starts to hand out its goodies for an election. It is only 3.5 years. I wonder what it is hiding. It is hiding something with Somalia. It is hiding something with Krever. It is hiding, hiding and hiding. It is hiding something with Pearson airport. It is hiding in everything it is doing. What is it hiding about the economy? What does it know that we do not know that it has to call an election in 3.5 years?
This is the same Prime Minister who said: "In politics perception is everything". The government is trying to create the perception that everything is wonderful and that the Canadian public, when they go to vote, will stay asleep. Certainly the Reform Party candidates are going to say it. I am going to say it. I hope the Canadian public wakes up, demands more of their politicians, demands some honesty and truth in politics, rewards the people who have been telling the truth, rewards the people who have kept their promises and rewards those who vote in favour of fixed election dates every four years, which we will vote on today.