Mr. Speaker, so that I can complete my comments without all this heckling, I have never accused a member of the House of being a criminal or a member of a criminal conspiracy. Let us be clear about that so that we can move on.
Let us talk about the serious concerns that this package raises. The recommendation here is not a truly independent ethics commissioner, appointed with the agreement of all parties as all four opposition leaders have recommended.
What is recommended is an ethics commissioner who is effectively appointed by the Prime Minister. That prime ministerial recommendation is only reviewed by a committee with no powers to refuse. Standing Order 111 would be used, which allows the committee to scrutinize the appointee, but does not allow a vote on the appointment itself.
Since this man or woman's recommendations impinge upon all members of the House, we will never accept to be subject to a prime ministerial appointment unless it is approved by this party. I believe all opposition parties should take the same position.
Let me point out the difference in the government's proposals between how it would treat cabinet ministers and how it would treat ordinary members of Parliament. In the case of cabinet ministers there are no statutory reporting deadlines on individual complaints. On top of that, disciplinary advice given to the Prime Minister on ethical violations by ministers would not be contained in any public report on a minister's conduct.
In the case of ordinary backbench members of Parliament the situation is different. The opinions in that case would be communicated to the House as a whole. The opinion itself would be binding and action would be left to the government majority in the House of Commons to decide on the appropriate discipline. The House could see why members of the opposition would be concerned about that.
This is a government that talks about reform, but what we have here is the possibility of an unprecedented attempt to bind backbenchers to the power of a government official appointed by the Prime Minister himself. It is another missed opportunity by the government to deal seriously with ethics. It is an opportunity missed not just because of its lack of ethical standards, but because of its desire to put pressure on the opposition to get itself out of the difficult ethical questions it face here everyday.
I am not here to offer the government any congratulations at all for this. In fact, I say to the government, thanks for nothing.