Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 1 which would amend Bill C-37 by deleting clause 5, a clause that outlines the calculation of a judge's salary for the 12 months commencing April 1, 1997 and April 1, 1998. Not only should this clause be deleted but the whole bill should be deleted.
This is the third time the Liberals have amended the all important Judges Act. During the last parliament in 1996 they introduced Bill C-2 and Bill C-42, both which were inconsequential pieces of legislation of little significance to Canadians who were more concerned about their safety.
Here we are again spending precious time on judges' salaries and benefits when this Liberal government has failed to introduce anything that addresses the victims bill of right or the Young Offenders Act. They failed to limit the use of conditional sentences for violent offenders. They have failed in so much and here we are debating this kind of bill regarding judges' salaries.
It occupies the justice committee's valuable time with these administrative matters at the expense of more important issues like amending laws on drinking and driving or a lot of things that would so much more protect society. That whole thing has to change. At the heart of this legislation is that it increases judges' salaries retroactively from April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998 by 4.1% and by an additional 4.1% from April 1 1998 to March 31, 1999. In other words they will get an 8.2% increase over two years. I understand the average salary of a judge is approximately $140,000. This will mean the average will go up to in excess of $151,000. That is a substantial increase. The salaries are $208,200, $192,900, $177,700, $162,300, another $177,700.
Those wages are going to go up in the amounts that were described by my colleague from Crowfoot. They are going to end up really making big bucks.
The whole thing that is really perturbing about this is that we have people called public servants who have not received a pay raise for a long time, certainly not a pay raise of 8.2%.
This government continually awards judges and senior bureaucrats, including its own ministers, with large pay raises and bonuses while frontline police officers and low level public servants receive little to nothing. This government does not care about frontline peace officers who risk their lives every day to protect Canadians. It does not care about the lowly prison guards who put their lives on the line constantly, every time they show up and go to work in these penitentiaries. They are at high risk and we do not talk about a retroactive pay raise for them. That would be the wildest of dreams to these people. These frontline workers have not had a pay raise for many years and here we are talking about the elite once again getting more money.
I have seen Liberals in this House, including the two who are here now, at one time or another every week since 1993, through a member's statement or through some kind of process, bringing forth the topic about the millions of children, thousands and thousands of families suffering in this country, living below the poverty line, having a tough time making ends meet. Some of these raises are $17,000 or $15,000. I know people with families of two or three children trying to get by on a salary that big, let alone an increase.
These members keep talking about what a shame it is and that we have to do something about it. Here it is 1998 and they have done diddly squat. They have not done one thing to help the people who are living in poverty. Those same numbers are still out there. People are still suffering. Young families are still being evicted from their homes because they cannot meet the high rents now or they cannot meet the mortgage payments. People are eating meals that would not even compare to half as good as what prisoners in penitentiaries get. People are not able to play in a big park or shoot pool or take in any movies because they cannot afford to go out.
We spend time with legislation that says to people who are drawing anywhere from $170,000 to $200,000 and down to $130,000 that we have to do something for them, we have to get them a raise. What kind of hypocrisy is that?
I will almost guarantee that before we leave here some Liberal member will stand and boldly say we must do something about the poverty in our land and help these people who are suffering.
I am really getting tired of their constantly making those kinds of statements and then turning around and taking $25 million to give away free flags and saying “aren't I a nice girl?” or boy, or whatever.
In the meantime, imagine what $25 million would do for children on the streets of Ottawa and how people who work in child services and in child poverty situations would love to have a little teeny chunk of that $25 million. I do not understand where they are coming from. The last thing we should ever talk about is how much more money we should make in a raise without addressing the problems that face this country because of poverty stricken people.
For that reason alone it is a really sad day. It is of extreme importance, though, that judges' needs be met. We have to address this issue immediately. I do not know what their needs are. I would like to have a little problem with some of those needs. I do not understand.
We hear about all these difficulties. Why are we not addressing that? Why are we not standing to talk about those who are genuinely suffering out there instead of talking about things like this? It is because we have a greedy Liberal government in charge. It is all yap, yap, yap. It talks but does not act.
It acts all right. It acts on giving judges raises. I know some fine judges, people who work hard in their profession and they deserve to be paid for what they are worth. But I also know what some of these fine judges would say, “why do we not try to help out some of these people who are standing in my court every day because poverty sent a lot of them there?”. Why do we not do that? Because it is not in the Liberal philosophy. They all went to university. Most of them are lawyers. They majored in bleeding heart 101 and tear drop 102 and they do not think of anything but themselves, so it is difficult for them to understand.
The Minister of Justice is able to table a copy of the commission report but parliament is given no opportunity to respond. This is the reason for my honourable colleague from Crowfoot's motion that is coming up next to rectify this situation.
The creation of this commission also provides the federal government with, guess what, more opportunities for good old fat cat patronage appointments, making more positions available to those little boys and girls out there in our wide country who have been good little Liberals. What a sick way to run things. It is absolutely pathetic.
That member over there talking now and heckling would stand on her feet and say is it not a shame we have all these starving children. If it is a shame, she should get up and say cancel these things and let us look after the real needs of people instead of heckling over whether judges should get pay raises. Here we go again, patronage heaven coming back.
Liberal philosophy has to go, and the sooner the better.