Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-15, an act to amend the Lobbyists Registration Act.
The Bloc Quebecois will support the amendments, but we do not support the act as introduced by the Liberal government. We are opposed to it, because this legislation does not give more teeth to the rules governing lobbyists. There is nothing in the bill to compel lobbyists to mention the type of public officials they meet, the type of work they are involved in, and the money paid for their services. Moreover, lobbyists are not required to disclose the amounts of money that they spend while lobbying.
This makes me wonder why Parliament is now discussing the issue of lobbyists. The reason is simple.
The work of parliamentarians has been impeded. The role of parliamentarians is no longer to listen to the public. Their role, particularly for members of the Liberal Party of Canada, is no longer to listen to those who represent their communities and who come to Parliament Hill to discuss issues with them. No, this is too complicated; they have to meet too many people and they have to deal with too many problems.
Since the Liberal Party of Canada has been in power, it has been holding discussions with representatives of influential companies and with influential people representing influential groups. My colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles has seen the Boisbriand GM plant close. The Liberal government is not here to listen to representations and grievances from the GM workers at Boisbriand. No, it is here to be lobbied by GM Canada. That is the reality. That is the way things work.
Today we are discussing lobbyists. My colleague from Berthier—Montcalm is currently experiencing problems in agriculture in his riding. Everywhere in Canada there are serious problems in agriculture. But they are not listening to the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec in Berthier—Montcalm. They are listening to the powerful lobbyists. That is what they are doing. There are utterly ignoring what the workers' representatives have to say.
Often, in agriculture, where international relations are concerned, in the dairy industry for instance, Canada will sacrifice Quebec's dairy producers. It will put supply management, which is so staunchly supported by all agricultural producers in Quebec, on the table. In this case, the lobby is the Government of Canada.
Today we are discussing a bill on lobbyist registration. Lobbying has now become a tradition. To gain the Liberal government's ear, one has to go through middlemen. That is what the bill we have before us is all about, dealing with middlemen. That is a harsh reality for the Quebeckers and Canadians who are listening to us.
The opposition parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, are the ones pressuring the government. We have not stopped harassing the government about the agricultural question. My colleagues from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles and from Laurentides continue to do the same about the GM plant in Boisbriand. They constantly demand that the government get to work to keep the only auto plant in Quebec open.
This is a plant in the region, in the country, of Quebec. One of the biggest producers of aluminum and magnesium in the world is unable to keep an auto plant operating, and why? Because the industry lobby is pro-Ontario. That is the situation.
The Liberal members of this House, the ministers responsible, including the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, those with responsibility for Quebec, are the ones who come to give us the bad news.
When the GM plant in Boisbriand closed, the minister himself said, after a meeting with GM Canada lobbyists, “That's it. It's over. There is nothing we can do”.
Now, he is Minister of Justice. He is a member from Quebec and he told Quebeckers that, in the end, the GM lobbyists won and that the GM plant in Boisbriand would be closed. The same thing will happen with agriculture.
I would encourage my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm to keep up his good work, and not to let up in badgering the Liberal government here in the House and to defend supply management in Quebec's dairy industry. It does exist.
Quebec farmers have set up a supply management system in the dairy industry that is unique. It ensures revenues for farmers that allow the industry to thrive. This is not an industry that is getting rich off the backs of the people; but they do make a decent living.
Once again, the Liberal Party, through the Minister for International Trade, will negotiate all kinds of measures that could threaten Quebec's supply management system. Once again, this government is bowing to pressure from multinational corporations. In agriculture, it is under pressure from processors, because they are the ones, in the end, who want to be able to do as they please with the industry, to the detriment of farmers. That is the reality.
So, once again, the lobby for dairy products processors is more important than the representatives of those who work in the industry. That is what happened with the GM plant in Boisbriand, and that is what will happen with the Union des producteurs agricoles, supply management in agriculture and supply management in the dairy industry.
Obviously, we will support any amendments to limit the role of lobbyists as much as possible, to provide transparency regarding their work, and to limit their election campaign contributions to the ruling party. That is the reality.
So, we will support amendments to limit as much as possible the work of lobbyists. However, you will understand that we are against this bill, which does not go far enough and which should likely never have been drafted.
As a matter of fact, representatives of every association and group can meet members of Parliament. Bloc Quebecois members' office doors are always open. Why do we need lobbyists? Because the office doors of Liberal members and ministers, of the government in power, are not open to Quebeckers and Canadians. They are open to lobbyists who have money to dole out. That is the reality.
You will have understood that every amendment and every proposal made by the Bloc Quebecois at report stage was defeated in committee. Naturally, Liberal members succeeded in defeating every suggestion by the Bloc Quebecois to try once more to place stricter controls on lobbyists' activities. Our proposals were defeated at report stage. Of course, the few amendments moved by our colleagues are important, and we thank them, but those amendments do not go far enough to put controls on the political structure.
You will have understood it is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Lobbying is a political structure that parallels everything members do, both Liberal members and members from the other parties in the House. Ministers would rather deal with lobbyists than with members, irrespective of their ridings or political allegiance. That is the reality.
People are confused because the most influential lobbyists on the Hill should be the members of this House. It is our role; our job is to stand up for our constituents, various associations and groups.
Again the problem is that the few members who are ministers find there are too many people to listen to. They prefer dealing with a few so-called experts in fields in which their expertise definitely has more to do with the money they can give to campaign funds than with the quality of the work they can do. That is the reality.
The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles experienced this when the GM plant in Boisbriand closed down. The hon. member for Laurentides also experienced this. And the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm is experiencing it with agriculture. It is difficult to defend the interests of Quebec farmers when in Canada efforts are being made to eliminate supply management and wipe out the work of an entire generation of farmers in an attempt to bring the standards down to what they currently are in Canada. Naturally, not all provinces are as far ahead as Quebec in terms of management.
However, care should be taken not to penalize Quebec farmers. We would not want either to penalize those processors who are trying not only to expand plants but, more importantly, to increase quarterly profits for their shareholders.
So, all we in this House wish is for workers, whether in the automotive industry or in agriculture, to be able to earn a decent living in this state known as Canada and in the country of Quebec.