Mr. Speaker, I begin with repetition of the motion which is before the House that was put forward by the New Democratic Party leader. It states:
That, in the opinion of this House, during the week of January 2, 2006, the Prime Minister should ask her Excellency the Governor General of Canada to dissolve the 38th Parliament and to set the date for the 39th general election for Monday, February 13, 2006; and
That the Speaker transmit this resolution to Her Excellency the Governor General.
I wish to make it clear at the outset, that the preference of our party since mid-April has been that the government does not have the confidence of the House, on account of the corruption we have seen from the Liberal Party and the Liberal government of the day. I refer in particular to one passage from Justice Gomery's report in the summary wherein he said:
The LPCQ as an institution cannot escape responsibility for the misconduct of its officers and representatives. Two successive Executive Directors were directly involved in illegal campaign financing, and many of its workers accepted cash payments for their services when they should have known that such payments were in violation of the Canada Elections Act.
I will return to that report.
The corruption and illegality we have seen from the government caused the Conservative Party to lose confidence in the government some time ago. We have demanded an election since that time and we continue to do so.
The compromise motion put forward by the New Democratic Party is being supported by the majority of the members of the House, and certainly by the Conservative Party. It is a compromise motion because the government has been unable to even face up to the prospects of non-confidence motions until this time. The Liberals have carefully gerrymandered the democratic schedule of the House to avoid dealing with the reality that they do not have confidence of the House of Commons.
This takes us to the culture of entitlement, the arrogance shown by the Liberal government, a government which feels it is so entitled to its entitlements. In the face of democratic tradition and the clear fact that the Liberals do not have the confidence of any of the opposition parties in the House, they cling to power tenaciously, showing complete disrespect for the House of Commons and for the people who elected us to this chamber.
I will reflect upon where this leaves us as Canadians. I will return to the whole concept of where the government is in terms of its culture of entitlement. It has been clear, since the inception of parliamentary government going back to the Magna Carta of King John, the original Charter of the Forest in 1215, that the government of the country and of our English forefathers must have the confidence of the House of Commons. Absent the confidence of the House of Commons, there is no right to govern and the government is illegitimate.
That has been the case in the English-Canadian tradition of Parliament since 1264. It has certainly been the case in Canada since 1841, when in the riding that the Speaker himself represents, Kingston, the first united Parliament of Upper and Lower Canada met. Since then, there has never been a government that has shown the degree of contempt for Parliament that the current government has.
From time to time people mention that Canada is a young country, and perhaps it is. However, we are an ancient parliamentary democracy. The first legislative assembly was established in our country in 1758, some 227 years ago. Since that time, we have had a balance in the country where there has been respect for Parliament and for the legislative assemblies of Canada. Only that Liberal government has abrogated that respect with the degree of contempt that we have seen by the Liberals.
Frankly, this matter did not have to reach the House of Commons and get to this extent. The compromise motion could have been resolved outside of any confidence motion. It could have been resolved simply through an agreement on the part of the Prime Minister, acting in concert with the leaders of the opposition parties. The leaders of the opposition parties have offered a compromise and have made it clear that the government does not have the confidence of the House of Commons and accordingly an election should be called, and they have put forward a suitable date.
Quite apart from the confidence convention to which I will speak, it would have been very easy for the Prime Minister to have agreed to that resolution. It would have been very easy for the Prime Minister to have avoided a Christmas election. The only reason this is before the House is because the Liberal government is disrespectful of everyone else in this chamber and disrespectful of the Canadians who have sent us here. The Liberals are trying to force an election over Christmas upon the people of Canada.
Liberals have taunted and cajoled the opposition parties today saying that confidence is indivisible and if we do not have confidence in the government, vote it down and they will have an election at Christmas. On those taunts, there will come a day when they will have to face the reality of that. There will come a day very shortly when they will have to face a clear confidence motion. The Liberals will have no choice but to get out from behind their barricades, acknowledge and face up to their filth and corruption and deal with the Canadian electorate.
More than anything else I am struck by the hypocrisy of the Prime Minister and the government. This is the democratic deficit Prime Minister. This is the Prime Minister who promised to respect the House of Commons.
Let me take this House back to the throne speech of 2004. These are the words of this government:
The path to achievement begins with making sure that Canadians believe their government, so that they can believe in government....
We must re-engage citizens in Canada’s political life. And this has to begin in the place where it should mean the most--in Parliament--by making Parliament work better. That means reconnecting citizens with their Members of Parliament....
The Government of Canada is determined to return Parliament to the centre of national debate and decision making and to restore the public’s faith and trust in the integrity and good management of government. To that end, it will, as a first step, immediately table in Parliament an action plan for democratic reform.
Those are the words of the government about Parliament. It has not done any of it. The Liberals do not respect Parliament. How can one believe a government in its throne speech could offer to restore Parliament to the centre of the national democracy, yet when confronted with a clear motion from three opposition parties in the House of Commons that they do not have confidence in this government and they want to see an election, the government turns its face on that and its own throne speech? The hypocrisy, the cunning, the self-treachery of all this is unbelievable.
The throne speech further states:
Significantly enhancing the role of all MPs will make Parliament what it was intended to be--a place where Canadians can see and hear their views debated and their interests heard. In short, a place where they can have an influence on the policies that affect their lives.
This is hypocrisy. Imagine the government promising to restore this chamber to the centre of our democracy, yet refusing to accept this motion and refusing to move to an election on a schedule that has been put forward by the opposition parties, in fact by a majority of the House of Commons.
The hypocrisy that I speak of, the false piety, does not stop there. There was a message from the Prime Minister himself. There was an ethics responsibility-accountability document filed by the government with a message from the Prime Minister dated February 4, 2004. At that time this Prime Minister said:
Parliament should be the centre of national debate on policy. For this to happen, we must reconnect Parliament to Canadians...
He believed in that, until it came time for his government to invoke closure on Bill C-48. Suddenly, Parliament would no longer be connected to Canadians. There would no longer be a national debate. There would be closure and contempt for Parliament. He did not believe that when the Liberals rammed through Bill C-48, the budget bill.
The Prime Minister and the government believe in nothing more than truncating the democratic process in the House when it suits their convenience and when they can hang on to office at all costs. At the end of the day, this is all that matters to the Liberal government.
In the face of the filth and corruption of the Gomery report, which ties the Liberals directly to criminal conduct and the misuse and abuse of taxpayers dollars, they still refuse to acknowledge the democratic choice of Canadians in the House of Commons and they refuse to be accountable to Canadians at the polls.
I will carry on with the Prime Minister's letter of February 4, 2004. He states:
Democratic reform affects all parties and all Canadians. I ask the leaders of the other parties for their support in implementing this action plan so that Parliamentarians and Canadians can be reconnected to the democratic process.
The Prime Minister of Canada asked the opposition parties for their support to restore democracy in the House of Commons. Yet we have before the House today a very simple motion that reflects the wishes and the clear desires of all opposition parties in the House. We have the opposition leaders asking in return that the Prime Minister might respect the House of Commons and the silence is deafening in the House.
The low cunning of the government, the deceitfulness, the guile and the falseness of the Liberals is remarkable. They will not face Canadians because they know what they are in for when the time comes.
It was not just the Prime Minister. There was a message from the leader of the government in the House. He had this to say on February 4, 2004, “we must restore Parliamentarians' role in generating authentic, thoughtful, and constructive debate”. Except the Liberals do not want debate when it comes time to determine whether we should have an election and when that election should take place.
That letter of February 4, 2004 concluded as follows:
That is why I invite all my fellow Parliamentarians, as well as citizens from across the country, to share their ideas and inspire me with their experiences. We need to work together to ensure that democratic reform succeeds.
I, for one, am not inspired. I am not being allowed to represent the views of my constituents. Their view is that we should move forward with an election on the timetable that has been put forward by the leader of the New Democratic Party as a compromise to get this issue before Canadians.
It is very clear why we need an election. I would turn to the Gomery report and the stunning indictment that report contains of the government, the major findings of the Gomery report. Why is it that the Liberal government does not enjoy the confidence of the House of Commons? It is very clear, and it can be found by all Canadians at pages 5, 6 and 7 of the summary volume of the Gomery report.
The commission of inquiry found, first, clear evidence of political involvement in the administration of the sponsorship program.
Second, it found insufficient oversight at very senior levels of the public service, which allowed program managers to circumvent proper contracting procedures and reporting lines.
Third, it found a veil of secrecy that surrounded the administration of the sponsorship program and an absence of transparency in a contracting process.
Fourth, it found a reluctance for fear of reprisal by virtually all public servants to go against the will of a manager who was circumventing established policies and who had access to senior political officials.
Fifth, it found gross overcharging by communications agencies for hours worked and goods and services provided, inflated commissions, production costs and other expenses charged by communications agencies and their subcontractors, many of which were related businesses; the use of the sponsorship program for purposes other than national unity or federal visibility because of a lack of objectives, a lack of criteria and guidelines for the program; and, very seriously, deliberate action to avoid compliance with federal legislation and policies, including the Canada Elections Act, the Lobbyist Registration Act, the Access to Information Act, the Financial Administration Act as well as federal contracting policy and the Treasury Board transfer payments policy.
Sure to figure prominently in the coming election as well is the complex web of financial transactions within Public Works and Government Services Canada involving kickbacks and illegal contributions to a political party in the context of the sponsorship program. Sadly, that political party is the Liberal Party of Canada, the government of the day, a government that professes its faith for democratic renewal in the House of Commons and yet, in the face of findings of criminal conduct, cannot understand how it does not enjoy the confidence of the House of Commons and is prepared, through guile and treachery, to hang on as long as it possibly can before surrendering to democracy.
Justice Gomery spoke of the existence of a culture of entitlement among political officials and bureaucrats involved with the sponsorship program, including the receipt of both monetary and non-monetary benefits, and the refusal at the end of the day of senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office and public servants to acknowledge their responsibility for the problems of mismanagement that occurred. That is a stunning indictment.
The reason the corrupt, arrogant, deceitful Liberal government does not have the confidence of the House of Commons, the reason the leader of the New Democratic Party put this motion forward and the reason it enjoys the support of the majority of the House of Commons is that we do not have confidence in people who steal public money. We do not have confidence in people who are engaged in kickbacks of public money to their political party. The Liberals should not be running this country. They are not worthy of this country.The sooner we have an election so they will face the wrath of the Canadian voters the better our nation will be.
I must say, as a reasonably new parliamentarian, that what I find most disturbing about the refusal of the government to accept the democratic will of the House of Commons is that it flies in the face of our entire democratic history. It flies in the face of the rule of law. It flies in the face of the understanding that we have in this democracy. Our Constitution is not entirely confined to paper. It exists in tradition and in the respect that we have to show one another.
I will take everyone back to something that was written hundreds of years ago by Blackstone when he said:
It is highly necessary for preserving the balance of the constitution, that the executive power should be a branch, though not the whole, of the legislature.
He further stated at page 150:
--this very executive power is again checked, and kept within due bounds by the two houses, through the privilege...
What I am getting at is that what we see from the Liberal government is a focus upon narrow legalism and upon a strict interpretation of what is or is not a confidence motion. We see none of the respect that we need to have a system of democracy that is functioning and flourishing.
The executive branch cannot treat the House of Commons with the degree of contempt, guile and treachery that we have seen from the Liberal government since the day that I took office in this chamber as a member of Parliament. It has to stop and it will stop when we get the government to recognize that it does not have the confidence of the House of Commons and we need to go to the polls where Canadian citizens, one by one, will have a chance to throw the filth and corruption of Liberal treachery out of office.