Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak once again to Bill C-4 and to speak to Motions Nos. 3 and 4. I will start by repeating my position that the bill has real merit. If the government sees fit to support my amendment in Group No. 3, we may yet have a chance as a party to support the bill at third reading.
Motions Nos. 3 and 4 are a credible effort by the member for South Shore to tighten up the bill, at least to some degree. Even if he were to achieve what he is suggesting in the motions, the bill would still leave a lot to be desired, but at least it would be a step in the right direction. We would be willing to support those two motions.
The whole bill has been created like a sieve, and I suspect that was deliberate on the part of the minister and the government. When the minister was before committee he suggested that some of the vagueness and loose wording in the bill was put there to allow maximum flexibility in the application of the principles of the bill.
That was admirable, but I think it is incumbent upon us, as an opposition to the government and in representing the concerns of Canadians, to demand some checks and balances in the bill that would protect value for money when we are spending taxpayer dollars. The issue of this particular group around the membership of the foundation and the directors of the foundation is one of the areas of concern.
The government refers to reasonable expenses and reasonable costs. To some degree it addresses the issue of remuneration for directors. It specifically leaves out any mention of remuneration for the chairman who is appointed by the governor in council or by the Prime Minister. This is reason to be concerned.
When we last visited the bill some days ago some members presented a number of examples of extravagant or ridiculous use of taxpayer dollars in government operations, boards, foundations and departments. Some of those examples were a bit extreme but they did point out why we should be concerned.
The example I would use concerns Mr. Ted Weatherill who was a government bureaucrat. He was under the same guidelines of reasonable expenses and reasonable remuneration. He turned in a bill to taxpayers for $21,000 in three years for his travel expenses. These things actually happen. It is not a figment of anybody's imagination. The concern is legitimate when we are dealing with this matter.
We could fix the bill. We could make it a bill that we could support in the interests of cleaner air and a cleaner environment. However we cannot support it because it is custom made for the abuse of tax dollars. It would not take an awful lot to fix it.
When we were last debating the bill the minister said that the criteria and the funding agreement would be tabled in due course and that if we or other members of the House had a problem with it we would have an opportunity to bring it forward and discuss it.
That is quite true, but if there is one thing I have learned in the seven years I have been here, it is that a member can bring things to the House and discuss them until he suffers from premature failure of his vocal chords and nothing will happen. The fact that we can discuss issues in the House does not mean that the concerns are ever addressed.
It would be much more prudent to fix the bill before we passed it and to address our concerns so that we could then support the bill.
We support this group of motions. They are well intended and move in the right direction, although they fall far short of fixing the bill. At least it is an honest effort in the right direction. When it comes time to vote we will be supporting the motions.