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.