Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this group of amendments today. I find it rather interesting that with over 150 Liberal members in this present government, none of them feel compelled to get up and defend why these amendments should not pass.
I believe that part of a debate is to put both sides of an issue on the table and to argue back and forth the merits of the case. What we have here today is a government which is totally abdicating its democratic responsibility. The Liberals not only do not want to debate this matter themselves, they just want to ram it through, but they have also said we cannot debate it. Both of these are rather insulting.
It is insulting that the government would use its majority to force through a closure motion, or time allocation as it is technically called, in order to restrict the length of time of the debate. It is also very insulting that the Liberals will not engage me in debate. I am really nonplussed by it. The silence on the other side probably says that they will support this motion.
When I am debating with someone, for example if I have a difference of opinion with one of my children, we debate things back and forth. I will say something and my son will say something else. We will go back and forth giving opposing points of view. Eventually we have to come to an agreement. I hope it does not characterize me as a soft father when I say that sometimes things go my way and sometimes my son is able to convince me of his point of view and things will go his way. That is what the process of debate is about. We do not have that here which is most regrettable.
Just as the government has used its majority to ram through the time allocation motion, it is also going to use its majority to pull the strings of the members opposite who will then dutifully vote against these amendments. These are good amendments. These are amendments which protect the taxpayer. These amendments protect businesses across the country. These amendments really are worthwhile. The government will not tell us its reasons for opposing them.
I do not know if this is parliamentary but I will be corrected if it is not. Is it because the government members are cowards? That is asked as a question so I hope the Speaker does not stop me. It is just a question. Why are the government members afraid to defend their position on this debate?
The government will go ahead and use this process and ram through whatever it thinks is right. We see this over and over in this government. We saw it big time when we were discussing the wheat board issue. This government was totally out of touch with the aspirations of farmers in western Canada. The government used time allocation, used closure debate and control of its members, even from the west, in order to do something which is diametrically opposed to what Canadian farmers need.
I know I am straying a bit from the specific amendments that we are talking about but I am using it to illustrate a very important point. The point is that democracy only works when we have true representation from the members who were sent here and elected by the people in their respective ridings. I wish that would actually occur. Instead we have another dog and pony show where the master in the centre of the ring snaps the whip and everybody else jumps through the hoops on cue. It is very depressing.
It is time for me to say a few things about the actual amendments. We should recognize a couple of things.
It is absolutely true that small business is one of the most important factors in a vibrant economy, and in Canada there is no doubt that is the case. We are told over and over again that the highest proportion of jobs are created by small business. The role of the government should definitely be to provide an environment in which small business can thrive.
I believe quite strongly in the principle of free enterprise. I believe very much in the forces of the free marketplace in determining who is successful and who is not. I have observed over and over in my short life that individuals who have been risk takers and hard workers very often have good luck. There seems to be a correlation there. Those who are timid and pull back say “I want everybody else to look after me”. In Canada we often think there is an inalienable right that “I do not have to work. I do not have to take any risks. Somebody else has an obligation to look after me and my family”. This has become a way of thinking.
I have genuine concern for the many who have absolute needs such as those who are disabled and cannot work. We will make sure they do not suffer. However there are many people who are able bodied. We now have a string of governments that has arranged the affairs of the country in such a way that the motivation for people to take risks, to do things that are unusual, to work hard, to get up early and to go to sleep late because they are working hard all day, has been somewhat taken away. A principle has been adopted that somehow it is an appropriate role of government to take away from the person who has earned it and to use it to subsidize the person who has not earned it.
Small business is important but we need to be careful the public policy we develop is such that small business can survive and thrive because it is successful, not because of having made the correct political donations to the correct party and thereby being eligible for subsidies from the government, which is a legalized form of taking away from the person who earned it and giving it to the person who did not earn it.
Am I opposed to small business loans? Absolutely not. I have had experience with loans. I was fortunate in the sense that my partner and I had a good business plan and good backing. We went to an ordinary bank, got a loan, got our business started and away it went. I wish I could say that it was very successful, but unfortunately it was in the farming industry and in the end it did not work out that well, again partially because of government policies.
I emphasize that some people have very good ideas but do not have the capital or have not accumulated capital in their lifetime to be able to access loans. In this amendment we are saying that perhaps there is a role to play. I know that my colleagues and I have had representations from some individuals who say the Small Business Loans Act and the small business financing act have some merit and have helped people to get on their feet who otherwise would never have been able to do so.
Let us make sure that we do not put the taxpayers at a huge risk that ordinary financial institutions are not willing to take. If the bank down the street is not willing to give an individual with a business plan a loan, maybe it is because the business plan is not workable. Maybe it is because there are too many flaws. Maybe it is because the individual has not demonstrated a record of financial accountability. For us to say that we should limit the value of the loan is a valid comment.