Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm. He is a lawyer himself and could become a great judge. However, he is an MP today and represents his fellow citizens as I do mine, and he is totally convinced that clause 5 should be deleted. And that is what he is proposing.
Earlier it was said that the chief justice of the supreme court could have a retroactive increase of $25,000. Most of the people in my riding do not earn $25,000.
When we put poverty insurance on trial here. the members opposite laughed. Today these same people are prepared to give judges increases. We are not criticizing judges. We all know that judges, some of them at least, are fine judges. They work very hard. That is a fact, and everyone is aware of it, including us. But that is not what we are talking about today.
We are saying that, in a society where people suffer, where children in certain schools do not eat enough, where parents suffer from depression because they run out of money for food at the end of the month, everyone should be treated fairly.
When a person earns $150,000 a year, I think he or she can manage to buy groceries, to go to hospital, to buy prescription drugs.
When a person earns $15,000 or $20,000, that is something different. In my riding I have seen many forestry workers who start work at 5 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m.; they work for four or five months a year and, even with poverty insurance, do not manage to earn more than $25,000 or $28,000. They have children, and it is hard for them to manage their budget and meet the needs of every family member.
Now they are proposing to raise judges' salaries by an average of $17,000. Tell that to the people in my riding of Matapédia—Matane. This is unacceptable. A little raise, fine, but this one makes no sense. I am therefore asking my colleagues on the other side of this House to reflect on this and to accept deletion of clause 5. I think everyone stands to gain as a result.
I am sure that the judges themselves, those who are really not in it for the money, but to serve their fellow citizens, will understand that the House is not giving them the increase recommended by the commission.
On the other hand, it must be realized that a lot of lawyers put their names on the waiting list. They know what their salaries will be and what conditions they will be working in. If they really need more money, let them stay in private practice and leave room for others, for there are many interested in the position. Money must always be secondary, it must never come first.