Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the supply day motion put forward by my party regarding fixed election dates.
I have been in Parliament for the last two terms, six years. I am one of those members who originally came here with good ideas and with all kinds of energy. My constituents were looking at me to bring initiatives to the floor of Parliament and talk about what concerns them. I thought that I had finally come to a place where we could debate, where we could talk, where we could put forward issues, where we could do many things, but lo and behold, like everyone else, I hit the wall, what everyone now calls the democratic deficit. Over a period of time it has taken away the power of this Parliament and slowly has put it into the PMO.
The PMO has become a bigger entity than the Parliament of Canada. That erosion has been going on and on for many years. The Liberals call themselves the natural governing party of Canada. Why do we have a democratic deficit? Because those members started the erosion of parliamentary privileges.
When members go back to their ridings, people ask, “Why are you not doing something? Why can there not be effective change?” We tell them what is happening. We see time after time when Canadians vote that they are becoming cynical. They are asking why they should vote when there is going to be no change, when their members of Parliament do not have the right or the authority to bring issues forward that are important to them.
The tragedy of the whole situation in Parliament is that it not only affects the opposition party, it affects the government backbenchers. What do we see now? We see a little change here; some of the backbenchers have moved to the front and some of the other guys have moved to the back.
The motion put forward today is to improve one of the major democratic deficits. The motion suggests that there be fixed election dates. When I returned after the 2000 election and we were at the Governor General's ball on the evening of the opening of Parliament, the former prime minister looked at me and said, “We pulled the rug out from under your feet”. I said, “No, you did not pull the rug out from under our feet. You manipulated the system to your advantage. You called an election after three and a half years. You felt that things were in your favour, so you manipulated the system to win an election. You did not pull the rug out from under our feet”.
If we have fixed elections dates, then Canadians will make the real choice, not the Prime Minister. That is the difference. Canadians will make the real choice. They will then see that they are connected to this House which sets the rules under which they are governed.
Look at the spectacle that has been going on. Since coming back, what have we seen in the last two or three weeks? Every day we read in the newspapers that there is going to be an election or there is not going to be an election. There was a dinner yesterday at 24 Sussex Drive where they talked about whether we are going to have an election or not going to have an election. They look at the polls and decide whether we are going to have an election or not going to have an election.
What nonsense. The Liberals are supposed to be governing the country, not spending their time talking about whether or not we are going to have an election. That is all they do. In the last three weeks, nothing has happened in Parliament, as my colleague pointed out.
There is only one question, will we or will we not have an election? Nothing else. In the meantime, the country is drifting. The vision from the throne speech has gone out the window. The vision is still hanging in the air because the question is, will we or will we not have an election? That is all.
It is becoming pretty obvious that time, energy and everything this country has spent are being wasted on this one little question, will we or will we not have an election? If we were to have a fixed date, then we would know when elections would be held. The government would be able to plan its agenda. Everybody could plan. Everybody would know what is out there. The bureaucrats would know. Right now, I am sure most bureaucrats and most government agencies are now in limbo waiting for the answer to the question, will we or will we not have an election?
Look at the cost to the country of this ridiculous notion that the only person who can call the election is the Prime Minister and he will only call it when it suits him. We have to give the power back to the people. By having a fixed election date, we would be giving the power back to the people. We would be telling them, this is how it will be and they would decide, not us.
This motion that we have brought forward today on the eve of this same question, will we or will we not have an election, is pointing out to Canadians that it is time for them to take back the power and decide. The only way we can do this is if there is a fixed election date.
When I was campaigning on this question, as my friend from Fraser Valley rightly pointed out, the Reform Party put this out as a campaign issue and everybody on the street said yes, they wanted fixed election dates.
I have been here now for two terms. I will be going into my third election in seven years. It costs a huge amount of money to have an election. Sure, money is not the only criteria. The voice of the people is the criteria and that is why we have elections, to let the people decide.
The House leader on the other side raised some questions. I am sure when he was a backbencher, he was totally in agreement with what we were doing. Now that he is the government House leader, of course, why should the government give up its power?
The point is that Canadians need to know. We need to engage Canadians. We need to have them go back to the polls to vote. We do not need them to sit at home and say they will not vote because they feel they have no say in our political institutions. The reason the serious democratic deficit exists is because we do not give the Canadian on the street the opportunity to speak. Where did the democratic deficit come from? It came from the so-called natural governing party. It has taken the power away from this institution.
I am the international development critic and I see what is going on around the world. We tell other nations that they must have democracy, they must have elections, and that we will help them with elections. Elections Canada is a highly respected institution. However, when we go out to preach to somebody else, we need to look back at ourselves and ask, is our house in order before we preach to other people?
Right now, even the Prime Minister is acknowledging that there is a serious democratic deficit. Let us not even talk about the other place that is over there to show how serious is the democratic deficit.
The motion that this party is putting forward is again highlighting the point that Canadians want a fixed election date. Any other argument that the government puts forth is not valid.