Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the members who took part in this debate. I want to thank them for their very positive and very constructive comments. However, I cannot refrain from saying openly that I truly deplore the duplicity shown by the parliamentary secretary who spoke on behalf of the government in this debate tonight.
I say duplicity because he tried to minimize the importance of the objective pursued in the bill by saying that the Prime Minister has already taken several measures to ensure greater transparency and greater integrity in the system; that this bill and what it proposed to do, including creating the position of ethics commissioner, would just take away the Prime Minister's responsibilities, when it is exactly what he himself had proposed in the 1993 red book.
Does it mean that the Prime Minister made false promises to Canadians when he was just the leader of the opposition? He is trying to justify himself today by saying that the people elected his party once and then twice more.
The other side of the House is easily satisfied. As I mentioned in my remarks, they have no reason to boast when they were elected by only 40% of the 60% of admissible voters who did vote. They have been elected by a minority of voters, and they seem to be satisfied with this. It does not take much to satisfy them. This level of support is alarming, but the government uses it to justify its action, and it takes it as a sign that the public is supporting its action. The majority of Canadians voted against this government, which was elected by a minority.
The Liberals have no reason to be proud and to suggest that their action is supported by the public. The government should do its homework and take responsibility for its action before the public and members of parliament.
Did this party, which has already been in power for too long, never realize that citizens are just waiting for a signal to renew they confidence in our political institutions?
As I said previously, Bill C-388 seeks to establish a code of ethics for ministers and provides for the creation of the position of ethics commissioner, this being an independent commissioner reporting directly to the House of Commons. One might argue that the Prime Minister made good on his promises, as I indicated a moment ago, by creating this position of ethics commissioner. But he was very careful to appoint one who reports directly to him and to him alone.
When the ethics commissioner cleared the Prime Minister in the Auberge Grand-Mère affair, it became clear that he was in fact a political advisor to the Prime Minister and the government, and not a guardian of transparency and federal administration, as the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology candidly admitted in its fourth report dealing with the Lobbyists Registration Act tabled in the House of Commons in June of last year.
The whole Auberge de Grand-Mère saga, eclipsed by the tragic events of September 11, served to point out the urgency to tighten up the legislative and regulatory framework guaranteeing the integrity which the public is entitled to expect from federal cabinet members.
Gilbert Lavoie, an editorial writer for Le Soleil , wrote the following on January 26, 2002:
The cleaning-up of politics under René Lévesque was noticed everywhere in Canada. This effort by the Government of Quebec went a long way toward erasing the old Duplessis-style political reputation that Quebec had been dragging for so long. Unfortunately, our representatives in office in Ottawa did not seem to follow Quebec's lead. They did not establish clearly that ethics and transparency were among their priorities, to the point that the government's ethics counsellor has become a joke.
If government members have nothing on their conscience with regard to ethics, they should confidently and openly accept that this bill be made votable.
Therefore, I ask the unanimous consent of the House to make this bill votable.