Madam Speaker, I will get this speech under way.
I would like to acknowledge the eloquent defence of the Senate by the government House leader, but unfortunately it was not just a defence of the Senate, it was a defence of the status quo, do nothing Liberal government. We already heard in speeches by the Prime Minister how he was going to do something about the Senate. Now that the Liberals are in power, they do nothing about the Senate.
We have to go all the way back to 1867, to the time the constitution of Canada was written and which we are unable to change because of circumstances that seem to be beyond our control. There are two things about the Senate. It is not elected and every Canadian knows that. The other thing the constitution has required of senators since 1867 is that they be able to demonstrate a net worth in excess of $4,000. That is nothing today, but in 1867 $4,000 was a heck of a lot of money. If candidates could not come up with $4,000, they could not sit in the Senate. That was the magic dividing line between the commons, which is everybody, and the elite, the powerful, the moneyed who could sit in the other place.
When the constitution was written in 1867 it was modelled on the example of Westminster in London, England. It had the House of Lords, the aristocracy, the rich, the powerful, the people who inherited the money from generation to generation and the House of Commons, the plebes who had to struggle to survive under the leadership of the aristocracy.
The aristocracy said they did not mind giving most of the power to the House of Commons, but they wanted the sober second thought. They were basically saying “If they stomp on us too hard, we are going to slow them right down, if not put a stop to it. We do not mind the House of Commons thinking it has all the power, but sober second thought means if it is going to trample on us too much, we will shut it down”.
The Senate is this age old tradition of the aristocracy, the rich and the powerful keeping a short leash on the rest of the country. That is the reason we in the Reform Party say things have got to change.
I was glad to hear the government House leader say that he is all for an elected Senate. This has got to be called progress. We now have an admission by someone on the government side right here in the House on the record saying that he favours an elected Senate. I can see by the smiles on the other side that perhaps they do not all agree. We know where the NDP comes from. Progress may be glacial in its speed, but progress is being made.
The Senate needs reform. The government could provide the impetus for reform if it wanted to. Obviously, while the rhetoric of the Prime Minister says he would like reform, he has no intention of instituting reform, hence the impasse. The Reform Party has said let us move on Senate reform. The government talks about Senate reform. The NDP says to abolish the Senate. Maybe one day we will make progress.
The Senate is one area where a lot of money is wasted, but there are other areas where money is wasted. I can think of no finer example of waste than the National Film Board. The National Film Board makes all kinds of films, some about the Senate, some about other things.
I published a waste report today. It is available on the Internet. I do not have my website address here, but the report is available on the Internet and if anybody wants to get a copy of it they can find it.
I brought out some interesting little things on how the National Film Board spends taxpayers' money. We are talking about taxpayers' money today as this is the business of supply. In the House of Commons later on this evening we are going to vote on about $160 billion worth of spending. We started the debate at 6:30 p.m. and we will be wrapping it up at 10:00 p.m. In three and a half hours we are going to get the job done, all $160 billion. There will be close, analytical inspection. Every dime is going to be checked over in three and a half hours, if you can believe that, Mr. Speaker. I do not.
Let us look at a couple of things at the National Film Board. Democracy à la Maude , a profile of Maude Barlow and her crusade for social justice and economic sovereignty as the head of the 100,000 member Council of Canadians. We spent $288,336.52, do not forget the cents, on a profile of Maude Barlow.
The 100,000 Canadians who belong to the Council of Canadians are going to say this is great stuff. But for every member of that organization, I am quite sure I could find 10 others who would say it is a waste of money, which is why I put it in my waste report because I let Canadians judge. It is their money that is being spent. When I ask them if this is good value for money, or is it a waste of money, they say it is a waste of money.
What else do we have in here? And So To Bed . We spend a lot of time in our beds, not all of it sleeping, but I am not going to get into that debate. We spent $249,007.75, do not forget the $7.75, on a delightful look at the evolution and the history of the bed. I have to admit that I have not seen the movie, but if we are going to take a delightful look at the evolution and the history of the bed without talking about what people do in the bed, I do not know what is in this movie, but my imagination starts to go on a little bit, especially when we have been talking about same sex benefits and everything else recently in the last few weeks. There has been Bill C-78, same sex benefits and conjugal relationships, and now we have beds. When we bring it all together our imaginations can run riot.