The hon. member for Elk Island is asking a question. Why are we amending the legislation? This is the nature of this place. We are constantly amending, updating and refining laws. This is the Small Business Loans Act. This is a bill which normally all members of parliament in all parties get behind. This is the first time in the history of this bill where we have the Reform Party using a delaying tactic.
In the end the bill will go through. The Minister of Industry and his parliamentary secretary have done a great job in listening to witnesses and in listening to literally thousands of small businessmen and women who participated in the Small Business Loans Act. Anything the government has done in the bill in consultation with opposition members and with the small business sector is a result of that listening experience. Yet here we are today and Reform Party members are almost being obstructionists. We should put the bill through with a snap of our fingers.
If there is one thing we have done in this House in the last 10 years—and I believe we have done it with the help of all parties—it is that we have created a sense of importance and a sense of urgency that we all must get behind the small business community.
Here we are on the eve of Christmas and they are doubting and questioning. I have heard remarks from members of the Reform Party on the bill over the past couple of weeks. They are wondering whether or not small business deserves the legislation. We have heard them say that the legislation is essentially no different from another tax on all Canadians.
There is nothing further from reality than that assertion. The loan loss provision in the Small Business Loans Act is absolutely minuscule in comparison to the number of jobs that are being created which are generating billions of dollars worth of income tax revenue for the treasuries of Canada, the provinces and the municipalities. That activity emerging from the small business community is something we can all be proud of.
The notion that the Reform Party would try to take us off focus by proposing amendments and distractions linked to tax reform is going in the wrong way. We will lose some of the momentum we have been building in the House. Over the last 10 years we have been a fist in support of small business. It does not matter whether it was the Reform critic of Industry, the NDP, the Bloc or the Conservative Party. We have all worked together. We have all been in unison. This legislation was one of the prize pieces that managed to go from first reading to third reading in no time flat.
I hope members of the Reform Party would reflect on whether it is good to be seen as breaking rank from the special collegial approach we have always had in terms of the Small Business Loans Act. Before they drag out the debate much longer maybe we could say they have some concerns and made their points, but it is time to put the legislation through the House and obtain royal assent so that all financial institutions in Canada use the Small Business Loans Act to keep the focus, to keep the morale and to keep the energy of small business moving forward.
I appeal to members of the Reform Party to end the debate so that the bill will go through all readings and bring the act up to date.