Mr. Speaker, I am sure some members opposite will be pleased to rise in questions and say a similar thing, that they appreciate the tone I intend to bring to this particular debate. I do not care if they do, but it might be interesting if they did.
I should point out this is the worst part of political life. I have been on the other side of accusations in the provincial legislature in Ontario. Knowing that we have been falsely accused of something in a public place, seeing it in the newspaper and attempting to prove our innocence is one of the most frustrating and difficult experiences that any politician can ever go through.
It is also an interesting phenomenon that quite often it is members with whom we may have developed friendships in working on committees or travelling to various places who will lead these charges. So the acrimony just adds to the acidity that develops in a place like this. I honestly believe that the word respect is thrown around much too loosely in this place by many members who indeed have no respect for the institution or for the members who got here.
Let me say at the outset that I do not care what party members represents. They got to this place the same way I did. They put their name on a campaign piece of literature, on a ballot, they knocked on doors, went to meetings, talked to people, defended their integrity and that of their party. They deserve to be in this place, one of only 301 members. It is quite an honour. It is a shame when the wheels come off and we spend question period after question period on issues that I frankly and honestly believe the majority of Canadians do not care about.
What happened to questions about health care? What about our infrastructure? We have a major new infrastructure program. Not once has anyone stood in this place and asked about the $2.6 billion infrastructure program which includes $600 million for border security. Not once have I heard anyone in the last 14 or 15 question periods ask the Deputy Prime Minister about his 30 point plan worked out with Governor Ridge on border security.
What happened to questions about security in our skies? What happened to questions about Afghanistan? What happened to questions about agriculture? Do we not care about that any more? Were we simply sent here to beat up on one another? I do not think so. I think it denigrates the role of parliamentarians when we lower ourselves to the level that we are at today.
I believe this is about frustration by the official opposition much more than it is about $800 for a chalet for a weekend. The frustration is that a regional party has grown up literally from nothing in a short time, roughly a decade. It has grown from one member elected in this place to become the second largest opposition party eventually becoming the official opposition. Opposition members are frustrated because they have not been able to win seats east of the Manitoba border, except for two in the last election. They are frustrated because in essence what they have done is shown up at the front door of this place and said they want to take over. When they find out that Canadians do not want to let them take over, they decide that the best route is to destroy the institution and everything it stands for.
We have ample examples. We have a member opposite who reaches over and grabs the Mace and waves it around in the air. We have members who make accusations and it takes only the Speaker's persuasiveness to get them to withdraw those accusations. Are either one of those acts of respect of this place or its members?
I have no difficulty. I served five years in opposition to Bob Rae and the New Democrats in Ontario. It was scandal du jour, believe me. I have no difficulty with opposition members seizing a particular issue and fighting on behalf of their constituents. To become so myopic and to use the words they throw around of corruption and the aspersions that they cast on the Prime Minister and everyone is so counterproductive.
This is sometimes our biggest problem and it happens on both sides of the House. We think that everyone is seized with whatever it is we are talking about. I talked to a constituent today who happens to be a well informed businessman in Mississauga. I said that everyone was looking over our shoulders here. I told him what was going on, and he did not know anything about it.
I am not saying that things should not be done. Our Prime Minister has introduced some substantial changes that will be brought in. I would agree with the opposition on one point, and that is that they are overdue.
In the Ontario legislature, we have had a commissioner that reports to the legislature for many years. Judge Evans was the judge when I was an MPP. It did not matter whether one was a parliamentary assistant, a minister or a backbencher in the opposition or in the government. We all had an interview with Judge Evans. We would simply lay out what our assets and liabilities were, and he would give us advice as to any conflicting problems that might arise. I found it comforting to be able to go to someone to whom I could say that my wife or my son was involved in this or that and ask for his opinion. He would analyze it, give me an opinion and we would clear the air right away.
It is a good thing that we are doing this. All members on all sides should be prepared to do it. Somehow we must get over this mentality that democracy is broken because a majority of Liberals were elected to parliament three times in a row, because that is what I hear. It is not that democracy does not work because someone lost. That is not true.
This is the most democratic country in the world. All one has to do is travel around the world to see what people think of this country and this place. It is only in this place, in this media, in this political atmosphere, that we destroy and denigrate the institutions and the people who dedicate their years and service. I believe we are all in that category.
We does not come to this place without some serious sacrifice to our family and community, and without the dedication that it takes to work long, hard hours. Every single member in this place deserves that recognition. What I find interesting is that I will talk to constituents who will say that politicians are all corrupt and they do not believe them. Then they say they do not mean me. I talk to other members and they get the same thing.
It is sort of like if we want to make people think something we should keep saying it often enough. I do not suggest that the opposition should stand and sing our praises but why can we not get back to the business of this nation, of building this nation, of continuing to make this the greatest country?
What about our immigration bill? I have not heard a question in weeks about the biggest reforms to immigration since 1952. Does that mean the opposition does not care about that? I find that hard to believe.
The feeding frenzy must stop. We must somehow find a way to work better together. We must be able to define the issues and the roles and respect the opposition. It has a job to do. It is called Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Whether it believes in the Queen or not, that is what the role is. It is an important role. It makes government and parliament a better place.
When it falls down on the job, as I submit is happening now, it destroys the credibility of each and every member of this wonderful institution. We owe it to Canadians to get back to the business of the nation.