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House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Yes, you do not have any respect and you do not have any respect for the members either. Yesterday you said that the Quebec members said no. Not one member from Quebec said no yesterday. I wanted to say that too.

I would like a clarification, Mr. Speaker. We voted yesterday to ensure that this bill would be sent to committee. We were ready to send it to committee, but it is the Bloc that wants an election, not us.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

We really have a debate here. There was a request for unanimous consent to continue with this bill in two phases. That was refused. Even if we had got consent, it was impossible for the Speaker to put the question at third reading without a royal recommendation. This is a constitutional requirement. In my view, it is not necessary to continue this debate at the present time.

The hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster has the floor on another point of order.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, this morning during routine proceedings I had the privilege of hosting a delegation of Chinese agricultural people. That meeting ran a little long so I missed the routine proceedings.

I have a report to table from the agricultural committee. I would ask for unanimous consent from the House to return to reports from committees so I could do that at this time.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to revert to presenting reports from committees?

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, on the current World Trade Organization negotiations.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

November 24th, 2005 / 3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not wish to belabour this point but I would ask that you reserve the right to take a look at Hansard and the apology or so-called apology from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. He unequivocally called my colleague from Simcoe—Grey a liar. I think that is quite serious. The nature of his apology, such as it was, I think is completely unacceptable. Upon review I think you would ask that he apologize properly to my colleague and to the House.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I will examine the words that the member used. They were not all one might have expected in terms of an apology. I thought the word was retracted and others substituted, but I will, at the request of the House leader for the official opposition, have a look at Hansard and get back to members if necessary.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I should inform you that I will use only half of my allotted time, that is ten minutes, because I will be sharing it with my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord, who will no doubt enrich this debate.

That said, the question we are asking ourselves today, to which the public deserves an answer, is this: For what fundamental reason does Parliament want to withdraw confidence from the government opposite?

I was not planning to open my speech with that, but we were just provided with a perfect illustration of how completely morally bankrupt this government is. Let me explain.

This is a point that the hon. member wanted to address. Last night, the government showed up in this chamber. After years of work, demanding on behalf of seniors that they receive the GIS, denouncing the complicated forms issued by the government, which was purposely depriving dozens and dozens of our most vulnerable seniors of this supplement, my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain introduced a bill. This is a goal he pursued throughout his career. This bill was asking that government show some humanity. It was asking that it stop squandering money right and left and making countless announcements of all sorts, as we are used to it doing at the beginning of every election campaign, and instead, that it take the time to render justice to the most disadvantaged in our society: seniors who need the guaranteed income supplement.

The bill on which the House worked was adopted at second reading. While all hon. members of this House were in favour of this bill, we have seen how uncomfortable that made the government, which has for years been denying retroactive payments to those seniors deprived of money they were owed.

Why was the government uncomfortable? Because it will have to face the people very soon, as Parliament will by all accounts be passing a vote of non-confidence. The members of the government therefore realized that they will have to meet with senior citizens and admit that they opposed this bill whose purpose was to treat seniors fairly. A wave of panic swept over the other side.

People are entitled to know these things. When all parties supported the bill put forward by my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain to ensure full retroactivity for senior citizens, the Liberals opposite had no idea what to do. The word then went around that they were going to stand up and vote in favour of the bill, as if they truly agreed with it.

This would allow them to go into an election campaign and tell all the senior citizens that they were in agreement and had voted in favour of the bill. That is what they tried to say yesterday. However, they thought that it was not going to go any farther because it was only second reading and Parliament was going to be dissolved. The Liberals’ reputation would be left intact. They would be able to convince senior citizens that they were going to agree to the Bloc’s demands.

We tricked them. We know that Parliament can do anything here. It is a matter of being on the same page and deciding unanimously to work on a bill. There was unanimous consent for Bills C-53, C-54, C-55 and C-66, and for the ways and means motion and there will undoubtedly be other bills that merit unanimous consent between now and the end of the session. When we want to, we can do anything.

I stood up and said there was unanimous consent. The Bloc has been demanding justice for senior citizens for a long time now so it is clear the Bloc agrees. The Conservatives and the New Democratic Party agreed as well, and—miracle of miracles—because they wanted to save face, the Liberals gave their support. People are entitled to know these things. Since there was unanimity, the Bloc therefore sought the unanimous consent of the House to vote at third reading on the bill put forward by my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain and finally be fair to senior citizens, the most disadvantaged segment of our society.

No one on the other side stood up to talk about royal assent. There was panic, and the Liberal MPs cried no because they were suddenly being forced to assume their responsibilities and see through what they had undertaken to do on second reading. They were exposed.

I call that a government with no morals. This is what people can no longer abide in Liberals from Quebec and the rest of Canada. People are fed up hearing a message that does not reflect careful thought and concrete action. The government says one thing but thinks the opposite. I call that hypocritical, and this government has shattered the record for hypocrisy.

Take the Gomery report. I will give another example of thus unmatched level of hypocrisy. The government said it created this sweeping Gomery inquiry and that when the report was tabled the sponsorship issue would be considered resolved. The government says it highlighted two consequences of the Gomery report: first, the judge cleared the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing, and second, the Liberal Party cleaned house. Let us see what the real implications are.

After numerous questions have been asked in this House, the government keeps repeating that Judge Gomery stated that the former Minister of Finance, the current Prime Minister, did not have the ability to monitor the government's expenditures day after day. It is true that he wrote that. Let us stop there, however. They say that he cleared the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing, but they forget to mention that Judge Gomery also wrote, a few pages further on, that Treasury Board had abdicated its responsibilities, that it was as if it longer existed, that it had not applied the rules nor kept track of the money as it should have done.

It must be remembered that the current Prime Minister was at that time the vice-president of the Treasury Board. The members on the other side avoid mentioning that. They have two different stories. The Liberals always leave in what is to their advantage and leave aside half or three quarters of the truth when it does not suit them. That is why people want no more of this government.

They say the Liberal Party has cleaned house. The Prime Minister has indeed announced the suspension for life of 10 people. How splendid. We are talking about 10 bad Liberals who received dirty money. They suspended the one who collected the money, and we approve of this decision. They suspended the one who carried the money, and we also approve of this decision. They did not, however, suspend those who received the money and who got elected with the help of the dirty money that certain people slipped into their pockets. They are still good Liberals.

That is the reason people want no more of this government. They can no longer stand having a government devoid of any sense of morality, a government that tells only a small fraction of the truth, a government that always finds a turn of phrase to get itself off the hook, whereas the reality is quite a different story. That is what we call a government devoid of morality, a government that we want no more of.

Let us indulge in some political fiction and imagine that I have the good fortune to work for an advertising agency that gives advice to the Liberal Party for the next election. There is not the slightest possibility that this will ever happen because, as we know, the Liberals only hire their friends. Nonetheless, if that were the case, I would not keep the slogan proposed by the member for Honoré-Mercier, the president of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada. His slogan is not polite: “Hold your nose and vote Liberal.” I do not think it does them justice. In any event, if I worked in the communications field, I would avoid this slogan and propose one on a fine red background: “Vote Liberal—or With the Liberal Party—your money at our service”. That is the slogan of the Liberal Party: our money at its service. And we want no more of it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the hon. member. He is so angry and insulted. I wonder why he has so much fire in his belly. I can tell you that I am proud to be a Liberal. I am proud to be a member of a party that is here for the entire country, that is here to build an important and successful country.

We have here the Bloc party, an eternal opposition party that can do nothing but oppose everything. That is what we hear. We, the Liberals, want to convince Quebeckers that Canada can work, that we can do many things together and that we will continue to do so.

Nonetheless, with all their fine speeches, I really want to know what this party can do for French Canadians throughout the country other than criticize, blither, yell and trigger an election that people do not really want at this time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would not want to hurt the former minister's feelings, but she missed a thing or two. Let me give an example. The Bloc Québécois never opposed a government measure without proposing a credible alternative.

Let us take the example of softwood lumber, since the member finds this very funny. We will try to inform her. From the outset of the softwood lumber crisis, the Bloc Québécois, without waiting to find out what the government was going to do, proposed a comprehensive action plan that took into consideration affected workers, as well as small and large companies in the forest industry. In addition to the measures dealing with workers and small companies, one proposal involved loan guarantees.

For five years, the Bloc Québécois has kept telling the government that, in order to deal with the crisis affecting the industry, an aid plan and loan guarantees were necessary. The government never acknowledged that. Now, it is rushing to put in place a small loan guarantee program at the last minute, because everyone is asking for such a program, because the industry is crying for help, and because hundreds of jobs are disappearing in our region. Why? Because this government would not listen.

The Bloc Québécois had proposed a credible solution, a solution approved by the industry and supported by everyone, except the Liberals, who are the holders of the truth. However, over the last number of months, they have lost touch with the people, and this is why people are now distancing themselves from the Liberals.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware—and we have mentioned this on numerous occasions—that the Government of Canada has made a mockery of democracy. I think that it has ignored the public, both in terms of departmental responsibility and democracy. Its time is up.

We also know that the Liberal government specializes in scandals: human resources, firearms and the sponsorships. Furthermore, we learn that this government is insensitive. There is child poverty. We talked earlier about preventive withdrawal, and now about seniors. So, as the House leader of the Bloc Québécois just said, this is a government that has no morals, it is heartless.

I have a question for the member. Now that we know the public's verdict, what would be an appropriate sentence for this government?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the member belonged to a different political party, I would say that he is being kind in giving me a few minutes of the House's time to tell the public and the members here what sentence the government deserves.

Let us go category by category. If I were a senior and I knew that I had been done out of thousands of dollars because the government did not want to make my benefits retroactive, I would fire the Liberals.

If I were a worker in the regions dealing with casual jobs and the springtime black hole because the government raided the EI fund and did not listen to my demands, I would fire the government.

If I were a worker caught in the softwood lumber crisis because the government refused to listen to me, I would fire it.

If I worked in the textile industry, which the government did not want to help and assist in any way whatsoever, I would fire the government.

Everyone wants to fire this government. All we need is time. In five weeks, we will fire this government.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I may not have the eloquence of my colleague, but I think we all have a lot to say today.

There is great nervousness on the other side of the House, and I think that they may be afraid that they are going to make a wrong move and find themselves in opposition. That would perhaps do them some good, however, for it would allow them to clean up their party.

I have been here for 12 years and the Liberal Party has been in power all that time. During that time, I have seen scandal after scandal. As far as the sponsorship scandal is concerned, we are criticized for focussing only on what suits us in the Gomery commission report. Judge Gomery himself says the following, which I will quote, as it is important that people remember it:

The Commission of Inquiry found: clear evidence of political involvement in the administration of the Sponsorship Program [...]

Judge Gomery said it, not us. He also noted the existence of a “culture of entitlement”—this is something that is said every day here, in the House of Commons—“among political officials and bureaucrats involved with the Sponsorship Program, including the receipt of monetary and non-monetary benefits”. We are not the ones who said that. The Gomery commission said that "the Liberal Government had betrayed the people". We are not the ones who said that either.

For the past 12 years, the Bloc Québécois and other opposition parties have been trying to find solutions to things and make changes to benefit the people. We have been working for 12 years to save people, to help the unemployed, pregnant women and nursing mothers. On this subject, a bill was unanimously approved yesterday on second reading. And what is the government going to do with it? Its response is appalling.

I have heard some things today. I am very familiar with this bill, as I introduced it in turn, and another of my colleagues also did so. We will introduce it again and again in the House of Commons until it is passed. This bill should be included in part II of the Canada Labour Code, which covers occupational health and safety. That is where it belongs. And then we are told today that part III is to be revised and that it will be looked at after that.

That makes no sense. The government always postpones things when we know full well that it will do nothing. We know very well that it will not move on this, but we will not give up, we will continue to prod them constantly.

A pregnant woman has the right to bring a child into the world in good health, and these few weeks can be of the utmost, vital importance for the women and for their babies. People are no longer having children. Would it not be possible to allow pregnant women to have a child—since they have maybe one, sometimes two—and to experience this precious moment in their lives as they should? The government refuses to grant them that. It wants to do nothing; it prefers to squander our money.

As far as the employment insurance fund is concerned, what they have done with it is unbelievable. They refloated the Liberal Party, they refloated the government with the money from the fund. They used this money to give it to others, whereas the employment insurance fund should be for the benefit of the unemployed. That has not happened. They have reduced the number of hours and the percentage of income. Let us imagine ourselves unemployed. It is no joke. It is difficult, as you have to take the time to find a new job and do the necessary research.

We see textile industry plants closing their doors, one after the other, and jobs being lost in softwood lumber. Are these workers going to find another job the next morning? They need employment insurance benefits. But on the other side of the House, they turn a deaf ear. These people do not count. My colleague spoke about a guaranteed minimum income. That is a priority.

Not many poor people know what it means to have $5,000 in one's pocket. They have never had that. They work for minimum wage and earn around $8,000 a year. Imagine them getting retroactive payments. Then they might be entitled to about $5,000 at most. Would that not help a little bit? These are people who paid into employment insurance all their lives. They paid employment insurance premiums and taxes. Now they are told no, because the government is too cowardly to wake up and do something for them. This is unacceptable.

I can say for sure that we will not be afraid to talk about it during the election campaign. Nor will we be afraid to say how hypocritical they have been with this. They voted in favour of a bill and then they try to make us believe that they could not have done anything afterward.

Where there is a will, there is a way. We have done it for other bills here. We have negotiated and reached agreements with the government. All the parties, whether the Conservative Party, the Bloc or the NDP, have agreed to comprise so that bills could pass, and this one should have passed. The government is hiding behind anything at all so that it does not have to face up to its responsibilities. It is a disgrace.

As I was just saying, the Liberals should spend a little time in the opposition. Then people could go and see them and tell them that they are living in dire poverty and need help. But no, it is not the Liberals who see these people but we. These people come to see us and speak with us in our offices. They are furious with Liberal policy. They hate having millions and millions of dollars stolen from them and given to friendly companies. Not only that, the money is then given back to the party to keep it going. It is indecent and unacceptable. It can never be said enough, and we will continue to repeat it.

The sponsorship scandal is not all of it. The firearms issue, too, will be huge. A budget of $2 million was allocated for the gun registry. How much has it cost? Two billion dollars, and the meter is still running. Where did the money go? What happened? We asked the Auditor General to look into the matter, to do a study, investigate—to be sure, it was not the government that made the request—and she will be reporting to us in February. Who knows what she will find. Think of what we could do with that $2 billion. How many people and small businesses could we help? The Liberals do not care about that.

It is odd: barely three weeks ago, we were told that there was no money left. All of a sudden, billions of dollars are dropping from the sky. The promises made this past week total $20 billion. Where is this money coming from? It is coming from the unemployed and the employment insurance fund, because the money is not being put back where it should go. The employment insurance fund should be increased and made fully autonomous. I guarantee my colleagues that until that happens, we will be fighting for fairness and justice. That is not the case right now; the fund is controlled by a small clique that makes decisions on its own without taking people’s real needs into account. Liberal politicians are out of touch with the real world. We, however, are still in touch and will remain in touch. We want to continue helping people in need who pay taxes. Everyone pays taxes except those who cannot afford to, and that is a good thing.

These people have the right to speak and will have their say come the next election. Their message will be loud and clear. The Liberals can quit blaming us for wanting to have an election during the holidays. On Monday, they had the chance to vote with us and pass a motion that allowed the government to call an election after Christmas, on January 4, for a vote in mid-February. They declined that offer. It will be their fault if an election is held during the holidays. That is what we will keep telling the public.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about integrity and abuse of democracy.

I believe that all those who have the honour of sitting in this House, who are paid by it, have a duty to respect and accept the laws that they pass in this chamber. Even though we may not always agree with these laws, if we are paid by Canadian taxpayers, by the Parliament of Canada, we have a duty to accept them.

Consequently, would rejecting out of hand the Clarity Act not be an abuse of democracy? This act was passed by the House, by all the members of this House, by individuals who came to sit in Ottawa and who, because of that, gave legitimacy to this House. This is my question for the hon. member. Do we not have a duty to respect this act and not reject it out of hand?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thought we were debating a confidence motion today.

Quebec will make its decision, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. It will be a political decision and Quebec will manage this issue.

In the meantime, we will not lick anyone's boots here. We will always and forever protect our voters' best interests. We deserve our salary, and we will continue to deserve it to the very end. The same cannot be said of certain people.

Be that as it may, we, Bloc members, will definitely work very hard here, and we will truly represent our voters. We will work for them, and we will try to improve their situation through various bills and acts. We will table motions in the House to try to improve the situation of our fellow citizens.

I would like members opposite to pay more attention to those citizens who are in need, and to sometime take the initiative of drafting legislation designed to help these people.

What will the member do with the guaranteed income supplement? What will he do about the seniors in his riding who need it? Will he ignore them? Will he avoid them? This is what is important: to remain in touch with the reality and with our people, and to represent them here with dignity and honesty.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, what hypocrisy are we hearing from the perennial-opposition party. Even the most long term supporters of the Bloc Québécois wonder what they are doing by supporting the ultra-right Conservative Party.

I will read excerpts from an open letter from Father Raymond Gravel, parish priest at Saint-Joachim-de-la-Plaine and chaplain of the Laval police brotherhood. This was written last March.

Father Gravel starts by declaring himself a “member of the Bloc Québécois since its inception and a sovereignist in heart and soul”. He says he could not believe his eyes when the leader of the Bloc Québécois espoused the cause of the leader of the Conservatives.

Here is an excerpt from his letter:

--what is there in it for the Bloc Québécois to support the Conservatives in order to defeat the government of (here he names the Prime Minister)? If it is just to get two or three more MPs elected in Quebec, this is sheer opportunism.

One cannot but agree with that comment. Father Gravel is right.

I wonder how the members of the Bloc can look their fellow citizens in the eye and tell them they are supporting an ultra-right party, which is totally contrary to the values of Quebec and of Canada.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a fault of logic here somewhere. If what she says is true, we would never have voted with the government, as we have done on numerous occasions.

When something is good for Quebec, fine, we vote with the government. She is well aware of that. This is nothing but petty politics, and I will not get involved in it.

I can sense the frustrations on the other side of the House and I can understand them. It is tough, they are going to go through some tough times in the weeks to come. That is life. It is the same for everybody.

In conclusion, I would like the hon. members across the way to do some thinking. We will soon all be out on the hustings. I hope that, when they are talking with their fellow citizens, they will not just be mouthing pleasantries but will be finding out what is going on with them, in order to represent them properly.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Medicine Hat and speak to the non-confidence motion moved by my leader and seconded by the leader of the New Democratic Party. The motion affirms and reaffirms that the Conservative Party is withdrawing its support for the government. I want to speak to why we are doing that.

Much has been said in this place in the last while about Judge Gomery, about his report on the sponsorship program and the levels of dishonesty and corruption that he found. In fact, he named the Liberal Party in his report. That is certainly a very damning indictment when it comes to a scandal that saw $100 million stolen from the taxpayers of Canada.

However, I want to talk about something other than just the culture of entitlement. I want to talk about the culture of press releases and announcements, a culture of feeling their pain without getting any results for Canadians.

The other side of all this, of what we have been through in the last year, such as the Gomery report and the sponsorship scandal, is the fact that the government has had 12 years to resolve big problems that grip the country today and they have not been resolved.

I feel very comfortable standing here and speaking on behalf of my constituents when I say that Canadians deserve better. They deserve better than these vague assurances and spending announcements without plans, these press conferences, things that are designed to take important issues off the front burner, put them on the back burner for a little while and let them disappear from public view. We see this over and over again. Canadians deserve a lot better.

What we are seeing are the final death throes of a government that is tired and out of steam. It resorts to taking shortcuts in the end, throwing all this money out of the back of the truck, hoping Canadians will be duped into voting for the government again based on a bunch of announcements. People need more than announcements. They cannot eat an announcement. They cannot drink a press release. People need some real results, and I want to talk about that.

I want to underline this by giving a few hard examples. One that comes to mind is something that I talked to somebody about the other day. I said, “Did you know that you are the recipient of the largest tax cut in Canadian history?” The person did not know what I was talking about. That is my point. The government runs around claiming that it gave Canadians the largest tax cut in Canadian history, but people cannot see it on their paycheques.

We are talking about real results, not a bunch of spin or press releases with the government saying that it is going to do something. People want something that makes a difference in their lives. It is amazing that the government's claim of $100 billion in tax relief has never shown up on anybody's paycheque. There are very good reasons for that. The $100 billion was not really $100 billion, and it was offset by tax hikes with the other hand.

My point in saying all of this is that people are tired of this. They do not want the spin any more. What they want are real results. They do not want to rhetoric.

I am splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Niagara Falls.

The government, on the eve of an election, has brought down its third budget in nine months. I am sure it is a record. I have never heard of that. On the eve of an election, it has decided it wants to reduce taxes by $30 billion. The last time it was $100 billion and people never felt the impact of that one. This time it is $30 billion and probably we will end up owing the government money. The point is that we are not seeing the results.

The other example I want to give is that in the last five years, spending has gone up 48%. We spend $50 billion a year more today than we did five years ago, but where are the results?

We have looked at the issue of health care. A dozen years ago, when the it came to power, the government said that health care was its number one priority. Today, a dozen years later, waiting lists for acute and critical health care has doubled, even though we spend all that much more money.

Another example is we have this massive ramp up in spending for all these services. Today it takes much longer to deal with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration than it did a few years ago. The government has put all this money into that department.

In 1997 the government spent about $18 billion a year to provide salaries and compensation to the public service. Today it is well over $30 billion. The spending has gone through the roof. It now takes longer than ever to get government services from the public service. People are not getting results. That is the bottom line for the public. Canadians do not mind paying taxes if they get results.

There are many other examples to which I could point. I could talk about the firearms registry and the sponsorship program, how the government threw money at a problem. There were no results except bad results. We got not only corruption and scandal, but we also saw a huge rise in support for separatism in Quebec. The government blew that one completely.

I could talk about Davis Inlet, which I have talked about many times in this place. The government threw a bunch of money at a problem, $360 million for 900 people, or $400,000 a person. What did we get? All the problems were moved to a new location. Canadians are not getting results.

Let us talk about something that is very current. Not long ago the government came under tremendous fire for the situation in Kashachewan. Natives on that reserve were forced to live through a boil water order for a very long period of time. The government built a water filtration plant that did not meet provincial standards. The government could not even count on its own water system, even though it had spent millions of dollars to bring this about.

The Prime Minister has said this is his number one priority. I guess he has many number one priorities. Everything seems to be his number one priority. He said that 12 years had not been enough time to deal with this issue. Now we need 12 years and five months to deal with the issue. This is simply ridiculous. It is time for the government to yield to a new government that has a vision for the country, a government that believes in results over rhetoric.

My leader and the Conservative Party are committed to the country. We love it and we want to see it become an even better country than it is today.

We have a lot of problems in the country. We can fix those problems and we can do it, working cooperatively with other parties. We have done that over the last year and a half in this minority Parliament. We are prepared to do that, if we end up in a minority situation again. The Conservative Party is prepared to work with other parties. We believe in democracy. We will ensure that people have the right to stand up for their constituents and represent them in this place. That is part of the commitment of the Conservative Party.

We believe Canadians should have opportunities. We believe the government has an obligation to bring about an economy that ensures all Canadians have opportunities. Not just because it means giving people jobs and raising their living standards, but because it means more revenue for the government so it can provide for those who cannot help themselves. Canada should be the most prosperous country in the world, so we can also be the most generous country in the world. That will happen under a Conservative Party.

We have a vision for the country that will bring these things about. What we are asking for today, in moving this motion, is that we defeat the government and bring it to an end and clear the path for an election so we can engage Canadians in a great debate about where this country should go. Ultimately, we will ask for the support of Canadians to wipe the Liberal government away. If I were a Liberal, I would ask that this happen. Then I could start all over again with a new crew at the top who have some ideas and vision.

Canadians deserve better. For my friend across the way who is heckling, he will have lots of time to heckle when he is in the opposition.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the speech of my colleague from Medicine Hat. He hit the nail on the head. The Liberals over the years have thrived on announcements. They love announcements and announcing. They will announce the same money once, twice, three times, four times and then they will re-announce it. Meanwhile, the Liberals are travelling around the country on government jets announcing their money, taxpayer money. I commend my colleague for pointing this fact out to us and to Canadians around the country.

Could my colleague go a bit further on this topic and indicate exactly what kind of financial and fiscal responsibility a new integrity bound Conservative government would give the country?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to answer that question. I think it is important to give Canadians the best Christmas gift of all, a new government, and I can say that the very first commitment the Conservatives will make when it comes to the finances of the nation is to ensure that we have clean government and that people's money is spent properly. My leader has made a commitment to bring in as his first piece of legislation an accountability act that would put severe limits on lobbying and buying access to public officials.

It is, of course, born out of what we have seen come out of Justice Gomery's report. It has won overwhelming support from those people who are committed to trying to clean this up, from groups like Democracy Watch and others, who are as concerned as anybody about the slide of this country toward the sort of unsavoury government that we see in other parts of the world. We do not need to go there. Canadians deserve better than that.

Therefore, the first point I would make is that we would put that accountability act in place to ensure that we have independent officers of Parliament to oversee the actions of government and make sure that they are not motivated solely by politics and personal gain. That is a very important point.

The second point I would make is that Conservatives understand that one can never have a government or a standard of living or a society rise above the ability of one's economy to generate wealth. This is why we would move very vigorously to remove the barriers that stand in the way of entrepreneurs, farmers and small business people who are trying to create jobs and better their lives so they can look after their families.

My leader and I have spent the last number of months sitting down with groups representing small business, farmers, fishermen and people who are frustrated by the barriers that stand in their way today because we have an unresponsive federal government that will not do anything about these things. We will be releasing in great detail exactly how we will remove some of those barriers, propel these groups forward, and give them an opportunity to raise their own standard of living to create jobs and really bring about the type of success that I think we should have in this country.

I think it is an insult to Canadians that Canada is not today the most prosperous country in the world. We have an extraordinarily wealthy country in terms of natural resources, human resources and access to the most wealthy market in the world, but we are not allowed to exploit it because of these artificial barriers that government has put in place over a period of years. It is time to knock those barriers down. It is time to ensure that Canadians are better off. That will not happen with a tired, out of steam Liberal government.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate on the non-confidence motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and seconded by the leader of the New Democratic Party, which simply says that the House does not have confidence in the government.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you have an encyclopedic memory of Canadian history. I am not quite sure when a clear question like this, certainly a successful one, was last put to the House of Commons. It seems to me that most of the time governments collapse as a result of an amendment to a budget. I believe one collapsed in 1979. Certainly a budget is a confidence measure, but this is a very clear question.

For those of us who are prepared to support this, I think it is important to enumerate why we think this government should be removed from office. I realize I only have 10 minutes, which is somewhat confining, but be that as it may, I am pleased to be able to touch on a couple of points.

One of those points is the complete lack of leadership by the government in and its mismanagement of our relationship with the United States. I am not alone in believing that the Prime Minister has bungled this very important relationship.

I found it of passing interest yesterday to notice the headline in the Ottawa Citizen , which stated, “Report blames PM for chilled U.S. relations: Ex-ambassador cites 'erratic' policy, 'knee-jerk anti-American reactions'”. If I may, I will read the first paragraph, which states:

The biggest barrier to improved relations with the United States is the “uncertain, erratic policy stewardship” of [the] Prime Minister and his ministers, says a former Canadian ambassador to the United States.

I could not agree more, and those of us who live right on the border are the ones who feel this immediately.

I remember speaking earlier in this Parliament about the problems that we have at our bridges. Somebody said that of course we have a lot of bridges in Niagara so of course I would be concerned. What I said was, “Yes, it is an important local issue, but I am concerned because it affects Canada nationally”. If Canada's bridges do not work, then all of Canada will suffer.

Mr. Speaker, you know and I know and the members of the government should know that people who make decisions about investments do not just make those decisions for what they think is going to happen in the next couple of months; they make them for the next five or ten years. This is why I believe it is absolutely critical that the government deal with some of the issues that touch Canada's borders.

There has been an infrastructure program. In fairness, members will note in Hansard that I agree with money being put into infrastructure. I can say that I was not very happy when I was told there was no extra money for border guards in the Niagara area, as we have four bridges, but nonetheless, I applaud any money that goes into this area. But this is only one part of the problem.

One of the problems is the question of capacity. It has taken this government an inordinately great amount of time to make a decision in some of these areas. I noticed recently that the government is finally starting to move ahead in the Windsor area. I asked the Liberals what took them so long. How much traffic, how many traffic jams, how much of a backup, how much of a slowdown in commerce does it take before the government realizes that we need increased capacity? I see that some tentative steps have been made in the Windsor area, but we in the Niagara area are still waiting.

I have brought up this matter before with respect to the Peace Bridge and the Fort Erie crossing. There is an application to put in a new bridge. The Peace Bridge Authority is proposing to double the span. When is the government going to step forward? At this point, I have told people that they will now have to wait for a Conservative government to make these decisions because it is obvious that the Liberals are not going to do that.

With respect to the passport initiative, I have been urging the government to make this a higher profile matter with our colleagues in the United States. A proposal is before the United States Congress right now that would require those returning to the United States to have a passport or other secure document.

I have been to Washington twice on this issue. I talked to the commissioner for U.S. customs and I pointed out to him what a difficult thing this will be and what a chilling effect this will have on tourism. He asked what the problem was, saying that the program was not going to be coming in for a couple of years. I pointed out to him that the problem is now: people think they need this extra documentation now when they enter Canada and when they return to the United States. I have pointed out to them and to the government that we need action on this now. It is hurting tourism in Canada, in the Niagara area in southern Ontario and certainly across the country right now. The government has to make this a higher priority.

I have pointed out to the government as well that it has relied on the Niagara regional police for much of the security along the Niagara River. I have encouraged the government to do something and put more resources into security. That will allay some of the fears of our friends in the United States. I have told people on this issue as well as others that a Conservative government will do better.

On the question of agriculture, we heard what was in this third budget. Did we hear anything about agriculture? There was nothing there. There were all kinds of spending announcements, but some of the things we have been talking about are completely absent. On a number of occasions I have pointed out the CAIS program to the government. I have asked the government why it does not take some leadership, make changes and make it better for the farmers of this country. For the most part, the response is, “Well, the provinces are involved with this and it is very complicated but certainly we are looking into it”. That is not good enough for the farmers of this country.

I pointed out to the Minister of Agriculture not long ago that one of the problems we are having at the Canada-U.S. border is the fact that the words “no sugar added” cannot be used on fruit juices. The Canadian companies comply with that. They have an understandable complaint when they tell me that foreign companies are shipping fruit juices into this country and using the term “no sugar added”. I asked why there is a double standard. The Canada Border Services Agency says it does not have the resources to police this. Again I say to give farmers a break in this country. Let us help the people who produce these fruits.

My colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook and I have introduced a bill in the House to reduce the excise tax on wine. What we are proposing would cost the government less than $10 million. It has made billions of dollars of announcements. I noticed that yesterday the Ottawa Sun said the government was “dishing out more than $4 billion yesterday alone”. Could we not have had a little bit for the Canadian wine industry? Would that have been so bad?

It is not just the member for Niagara West--Glanbrook and I who have been pushing this. The finance committee of the House of Commons has unanimously endorsed the idea. Members of the Liberal Party sitting there want their own government to do this. Again, I am at a point where now I am voting for this motion and I have to tell people a Conservative government will make this a priority. We all know the responsibilities of the member for Medicine Hat in the area of finance. Let me tell members this: as soon as there is a Conservative government, I am going to be knocking on his door. I am going to say, “Put this in. Make this happen. This would be a tremendous benefit to the Canadian wine industry”.

There are many reasons to have the government moved out. Certainly the Gomery commission is one of them. It is a national disgrace. Anyone who listened to it saw the litany of kickbacks, fraud and illegal election spending. That last is one of the things that irritates me the most. For every election I run in, I tell my campaign manager to be very careful. Last time, I sat down with my campaign manager, Mr. Jim Craig, and told him, “Please, spend less than the amount to make sure that we are in complete compliance”. Just in case we missed something along the line, I thought, we would still be well within the limits.

As we found out, though, all kinds of illegal dirty money was going into the last couple of elections, apparently at the behest of the Liberal Party. I thought to myself how unfair that must have been for candidates who were honest, for people who abided by the rules. How did they like finding out later on that the fix was in and all kinds of dirty money was going in to make sure they did not have a chance? That is not what this democracy is all about.

I think we can do better. I remember the words of the late John Diefenbaker, a great Conservative prime minister, who said that he and his party could build a country from the Atlantic to the Pacific with “equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are going to be heading into an election and there is much unfinished business in the House that is going to end. We were doing lots of work in the citizenship and immigration committee.

We have legislation that is not going to pass, but let me say this to the member opposite. I really believe that most of my colleagues are honourable members. The discourse that has taken place over Gomery does no credit to any one of us. It hurts the credibility of the democratic system.

Before I came to Parliament, I used to be in crime prevention. I used to work at Youth in Conflict with the Law. I can say to all members that there is not a segment of society that is not touched by some bad apples. That is why we have a judicial system. That is why we have police and that is why we have prisons. In cases where people have broken trust, that is where they belong.

I mentioned to the House that no party has the corner on honesty. We all have some people who will do things that neither party in this House would approve. If the Conservatives really want to look at a scandal, all they have to do is pick up a copy of On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years . If they want to look at specific members of their party who are brought into question by this book, they do not have to look further than page 314 which names the deputy leader of the Conservative Party.

I do not take any satisfaction in this. I think what we are doing is hurting the democratic process. Allan Gregg, who used to be a Conservative, wrote a rather good column entitled “Get a grip, Canada”--

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Niagara Falls.