Madam Speaker, I compliment you for the work you do in the chair. We are always glad to see you there.
The supply day motion is a very timely motion, on behalf of the new Conservative Party. It comes at a time when we are returning to this historic chamber with a new leader.
I want to take a moment of my time to congratulate the new leader of the Conservative Party. I also want to congratulate him on the work he did in achieving the broad support and overwhelming victory which he received on the weekend.
I want to take just a moment to congratulate the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada on his great victory. It is a momentous occasion for the new party to be represented by a new leader who is extremely capable and talented. All the party members are extremely enthusiastic about working with him as their new leader.
For the first time in over a decade, the Liberal government will face a very united, very focused and determined Conservative Party. To that extent, we are stating the obvious in the motion that is currently before the House. I want to recite that again for the record. It reads:
That, given the lack of new legislation introduced by the Liberal government during the Third Session of this Parliament, this House recognize that the current government is not new, but rather one that is intricately linked to the past decade of mismanagement, corruption and incompetence, and has accordingly lost the confidence of this House.
I believe those words echo the sentiment that we would find at any Tim Horton's, mall, bingo hall or legion anywhere in Canada where Canadians are extremely troubled by the mismanagement and the level of corruption exposed by the Auditor General. The information that is dribbling out in the House of Commons from the Liberal side, as well as what we see not forthcoming in committee, is unsettling and shaking the very confidence of Canadians in their government.
Further to the point, the Auditor General's report speaks of hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone missing or, more frightening, can be accounted for if we go to those Liberal friendly firms that received that work, in many cases work that was not done, work that was not complete or work that was duplicated.
At this time more than any other, as Canadians are huddled around their kitchen tables filling out their income tax forms thinking about whether they should be sending their money off to Ottawa, what an unsettling feeling to have this type of scenario, this type of corruption and graft playing out in the government at the highest levels.
The government has been in limbo. It has essentially been idling since the new leader took over. Great effort and great aplomb was made to put a new face on the new Prime Minister of Canada and great effort made to try to detract from any previous association he might have had with the Chrétien government, knowing of course that he was second in command. He was, as has been described by one of our leadership candidates, the second mate on the good ship Chrétien, not a stowaway.
The current Prime Minister, by trying to put a new face on government, is really telling Canadians that he is the man of a thousand faces. He can put on any face they want and be all things to all people but the people are not buying it. More than that, they are angry at the way in which he has refused to take any responsibility for his own actions and involvement in decisions made by the government. I need not list them at length, but I will say that most Canadians are quite clear in their recognition that this man who wrote the red book was part and parcel of every decision and every big whopper that was put out there in that document, that red-faced reversal document known as the red book where the Liberals promised to get rid of the GST and to renegotiate free trade. They were going to clean up government. Do members remember that whopper? They were going to reinvigorate Canada's military. They were going to fix health care. They were going to work with the provinces.
What have we seen in this decade of debacle and debauched government promises? The man who was in the passenger seat, the man who was, as they used to call that seat in high school, riding shotgun, the man with the road map giving instructions to the man driving the car, was the man telling the Prime Minister where he thought the government should go.
Where did the government go? Where is the country going? It is slipping. It has fallen significantly in the areas of health care, of relations with other countries and of interprovincial relations. Our military capacity has been severely diminished. Our armed forces personnel is so much in decline. We are stretching those resources to the max. Our justice system has been undermined. Our national police force has been politicized to a large degree, as was noted in a recent article by Lawrence Martin in the
Globe and Mail.
The government is rotten to the core. The corruption is now starting to rise to the top like the film on an old cream can. It is rising to the top and some of the other scum is sinking to the bottom. It is time for a change. This Conservative Party is poised, ready and primed with new policies to present the country with a clear alternative.
The Prime Minister, upon achieving his reign over the Liberal Party and over the country, has seemingly backed away again from the commitments that he made. He talked about changing the way things would be done in Ottawa. One of the phrases he was so prone to using during his time undermining his predecessor was a democratic deficit in Ottawa. That democratic gulf has widened, even in the interim period that he has been here.
Before arriving here the democratic deficit was a major issue and yet we see very little change in the attitude and the approach taken here in the House of Commons. It did not take the Prime Minister more than a few days to invoke closure on a debate in the House of Commons, both here and in the other place. It did not take the Prime Minister any time at all to soften those promises.
We all remember how committed he was to a gas tax rebate to the municipalities. It is out the window, gone. He tells the provinces he will get back to them.
I know I cannot comment on the Prime Minister's absence, but he has become very much like the invisible man during question period. While this is the place in which he can be held to account, he has been on the mad as hell tour. Pardon my use of that term. He has been out touring the country. It reminds me of an angry mob gathering outside a window, yelling up at the king, “We're mad at you”. However, rather than come out and face the crowd, what does he do? He goes out and joins the crowd and yells up at the empty window. This is an absolute farce, an abdication of his own responsibility.
Yesterday was March 21, a significant day, the first day of spring. It marked the 100th day of the Prime Minister's reign and this little slogan of immediate action that he brought into play and the promises he made on dozens of priorities. He had all kinds of number one priorities and if he did not like those priorities, there were other priorities.
I would like to point out some of the promises that have been broken already. Before his cabinet was even unveiled, the Prime Minister spoke of the need to increase the representation of women in the Parliament of Canada. He was going to make dramatic increases in his own cabinet. One additional woman was added to his cabinet.
We had a female candidate in our race who fared extremely well. She knows she will not be knocked on the head in the same way we saw in the Liberal leadership contest. She will be running for a seat.
The Prime Minister also promised greater representation for the west in his government. His cabinet actually includes fewer ministers from the west; seven rather than eight. There are now more ministers from New Brunswick than there are from Alberta. I know my colleague from Saint John might like that.
He also promised to address the democratic deficit that I mentioned and yet six days after coming into office his government invoked closure and cut off debate in the House of Commons. He also delayed the reopening of Parliament. What a very democratic approach, to delay the opening of Parliament.
He used the Senate to force through a bill to allow for electoral redistribution by the April 1 deadline.
Similarly, despite promising more democratic reform in this place, more independence and more votes for MPs, the House leader of his new government, supposedly called, has made it clear that Liberal MPs will not be allowed to vote freely on votes on funding for such things as the flawed gun registry. There will be no free vote on the gun registry.
We are used to this flip-flopping on issues and Canadians are certainly used to it from this Prime Minister.
There is a tendency to flip off more of these controversial issues to the Supreme Court under this new Prime Minister. That is a new trend, is it not, to see the Prime Minister avoid taking those issues head on here in the House of Commons?
This place should be doing the important work of Canadians on those issues that matter most. That is certainly a commitment we will find from the new Leader of the Conservative Party and from this Conservative Party when it forms the government.
The Prime Minister also promised gas tax changes without delay, without equivocation. Delay and equivocation is all we have seen on that and many other issues. He repeatedly promised, and which may go down as one of his best in his first 100 days, a new appointment process for an independent ethics commissioner for Parliament.
This important watchdog may have been able to bite some of the members who needed it during the ad scam. This supposed watchdog I could only describe as a toothless, anemic, emaciated chihuahua that has no bite. It is time we put some bite back in that office if it is to mean anything.
I am quick to add that the ethics counsellor, who is still sitting in that office drawing a salary, cleared the previous prime minister of any wrongdoing on Shawinigate only to have a Quebec Superior Court judge absolutely castigate the Liberal government, the Prime Minister's Office and the BDC for the way that they persecuted François Beaudoin. This treatment of a senior bureaucrat will go down in history as one of the country's most atrocious cases.
There was also discussion on the legislative agenda. What an active agenda this was going to be under this new Prime Minister. Out of the 23 pieces of legislation that have come before the House since the Prime Minister took office, 21 of those bills are exact duplicates of bills introduced by his predecessor, Prime Minister Chrétien. These bills were not only reintroduced but they are part of the so-called legacy of Mr. Chrétien.
It spells it out pretty clearly that the current Prime Minister is very much a part of that legacy, and it is not a very proud legacy, if I might say so. Canadians are looking for new ideas that will get results and address the issues of equalization, health care, military, foreign affairs, environment and education. Action needs to be taken in so many important areas and yet all the Prime Minister and his cabinet could do was reintroduce, rehash, bring back and recycle--