Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to this bill today.
Before I start talking about the corruption bill, I would like to make a couple of points before the House. The first one is that this bill came into our hands late on Friday and depending on what happened in the Senate determined whether it was actually going to show up today or not.
This is an important bill to businesses and to the international community and, as usual, we are ramming it through the last week of parliament. There has been very little planning on this bill. It was signed in December of 1997. We have waited or stalled or put it off and now all of a sudden this bill is so vitally important that we have it before us today.
This is government management. This is the way it handles things. This is the way it takes care of business. Of course we have seen a lot of this. We have seen it in the case of the Somalia report. Murders were committed. There was a cover-up. A commission was set up. It held hearings for months, which extended into years, and finally the cabinet waffled it away and suspended any action on it. A few little guys took the fall and then we moved on.
Right now there is the APEC inquiry. It is the same sort of thing, mismanagement of the issues. Among the APEC protesters was a very well known teacher from my community who is a student at UBC. He has told me all about what happened. He was standing on the front line, around the pepper spray.
Again we have the government's mishandling of this sort of situation, stalled investigations and stalled handling. I point this out because this is how the government manages things, or mismanages things. It waits until it has a crisis. Someone in the OECD said this thing has to be signed and it should have been done yesterday. All of a sudden, here it is in the House and we are expected to ram the thing through with little time to look at it.
The second part of this motion, to which I object strenuously, is the fact that it is coming straight from the unelected, unaccountable Senate. We have a body proposing that this legislation is good for Canadians and good for our businesses. However, it is coming out of a place that has absolutely no credibility, a place that totally lacks legitimacy.
Obviously there are solutions. For instance, Alberta has recently held Senate elections. Mr. Brown receive 331,000 votes. Mr. Morton received more than 261,000 votes. And yet this government, in its wisdom, will not even acknowledge that this happened.
The government is proposing a bill on corruption and, literally, on credibility when it has made so many inappropriate actions and has such a lack of ability to deal with any kind of an issue.
Our concerns are obvious. We would like to have the opportunity to call witnesses. We would like to have the opportunity to look at the various problems and the good points of this bill. We would like to have the opportunity to become informed on this issue. However, it was handed to us on Friday afternoon and we were told that on Monday we were going to deal with it and ram it through the House.
The OECD is made of up of a group of 29 of the most industrialized countries. It is one of the most important think tanks in the free world. Obviously combating bribery in business transactions and what that would do for the international trade scene is something that all of us care about. However, we have desperately handicapped ourselves because of the lack of management.
While the whole bill is very credible, and while we support the principle of it, we have to raise some very great concerns. Above everything, when we look at this we see how naive the government has been in dealing with this.
I cannot help but think of our most recent look at the nuclear situation in our foreign affairs committee. Would it not be great if we had no nuclear weapons? Obviously it would be great to not have nuclear weapons. But what is the reality of the situation? The government seems to have a great deal of problem dealing with reality. It likes to live in a glass house. It likes to think that everything is going along so nicely, so friendly and so well organized. What is the real situation?
The OECD says, above other things, that Canada has a big problem. Our dollar is too low. Our debt is much too high. We have a $600 billion debt which is dragging us down every time we try to get ahead. Will that ever be dealt with?