Madam Speaker, the time has finally come.
For months, we have been watching the sad spectacle of a government up to its neck in the sponsorship scandal, the worst scandal in Canadian political history.
During the Gomery Commission hearings, we learned a great deal about the Liberal Party of Canada led by the Prime Minister. What we learned is that the Liberal Party of Canada broke laws, diverted public funds and tried to buy votes using our own money.
Judge Gomery's report says that the Liberal Party of Canada brought shame upon itself, that it instituted a system of bribes from which it reaped the benefits and that it broke the most fundamental rules of democracy. That is what we know.
It is impossible for this House, in all good conscience, to have confidence in the Liberal government. The motion we are debating today is therefore the result of a common finding by the three opposition parties which, I remind you, make up the majority in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois may disagree on many issues, but we agree that the Liberal Party and its leader have lost the moral authority to govern.
Judge Gomery did not have a mandate to punish those responsible for the sponsorship scandal. That mandate falls to the public. And with this motion, voters will be able to pass judgment and punish the members of the Liberal Party of Canada when they cast their votes.
The Prime Minister, who is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, vowed that he was going to clean house. He did the exact opposite by perpetuating the Liberal culture of cronyism, patronage and concealment.
He appointed his friends and Liberal Party organizers Dennis Dawson, Francis Fox and Art Eggleton to the Senate. He gave diplomatic postings to Yvon Charbonneau and Mario Laguë. That is cronyism. Despite all his lovely promises to bring in new mechanisms to eliminate what he termed the democratic deficit, the Prime Minister has become the very incarnation of that deficit.
He continues to approve the Liberal Party of Canada appointing Liberals as returning officers; that is patronage. Elections Canada, through Mr. Kingsley, has been asking for years for the same process we have in Quebec, that is, an independent commission that appoints qualified people rather than Liberal supporters to serve as returning officers. The Prime Minister rejected that idea.
He also refused to allow the House to inquire into Option Canada, even though that organization contravened the Quebec Referendum Act and clearly broke federal Treasury Board rules; that is concealment.
Here we have an organization created at the last minute getting $4.8 million two or three weeks before the 1995 referendum, one week after it was created. Never before did the federal bureaucracy move so fast. What a strange coincidence.
We can see why the Prime Minister is afraid to bring things into the light. Option Canada was run by Claude Dauphin, a man the Prime Minister later hired as a special adviser on Quebec. What a great message for the Prime Minister, defender of rights and the law, to send us in making that appointment.
The Prime Minister also promised that the inquiry would get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal. However, there is still much we do not know about the sponsorship scandal.
For example, to which Liberal Party candidates did Marc-Yvan Côté, who was himself expelled from the Liberal Party of Canada, distribute tens of thousands of dollars in envelopes which he slid into the pockets of these candidates? We know how that happened: it was Brault to Corriveau, to Béliveau, to Côté. You would think it was a hockey game. And Côté shoots and scores. In this case, we would like to know where Côté was aiming. He told us that 18 ridings had received money, along with 10 candidates. If they do not want to give us the names of the guilty, they should at least give us the names of the innocent.
We would be satisfied with that.
The Liberal Party expelled him, but not those who received the money; it is forbidden to give, but not to receive.
They tell us that they have repaid the $120,000 in dirty money. They have reimbursed this amount, but those who received it have spent it. But they do not go after them.
And to cap it all, in the last election, they managed to lose $40,000 in the riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, which does not appear anywhere in the election report. The president of the riding association has said he was disappointed at the Liberals, adding that, after spending 40 years in their service, he was going elsewhere.
This Prime Minister who refuses to answer us thus has his reasons for doing so and for investigating. This Prime Minister has broken all his promises.
By tabling a budget instead of an economic statement last week, the leader of the Liberal Party gave us proof that he had learned nothing from the sponsorship scandal.
This is an election budget, which perpetuates all that is worst in the Liberal culture.
The Liberal government was completely dishonest nature in its estimates.
The Bloc had the same figures last February, and it was right on target. We said it was $11 billion, the government said it was $4 billion. They were only 280% out. Just a little mistake. It was the loaves and the fishes, because it offered the same figure, namely $11 billion, a few days ago.
Just before the election, enormous budget surpluses suddenly appear, as if by magic—it is enough to make Houdini jealous.
These enormous budget surpluses are the absurd proof of the existence of the fiscal imbalance: too much money in Ottawa for its own areas of jurisdiction; not enough in Quebec and in the provinces to address the challenges of health and education.
Just think about it: Health Canada employs 10,000 public servants in Ottawa, but does not run a single hospital. What is wrong with this picture? These people know everything, however. Ottawa knows best. It is no business of theirs, but they know best. Now they are going a bit further: they do not recognize the existence of this fiscal imbalance. They created it, however, just as this Prime Minister created the tax havens. He has eliminated some; but there is one he has forgotten: Barbados.
Why did he forget Barbados? In 1998 he introduced legislation excluding Barbados from the list of tax havens. One has to wonder, why make this legislation retroactive to 1995? It seems that his company, Canada Steamship Lines, left Liberia to set up shop in Barbados—what an extraordinary coincidence—with ships built in China and—not proud enough of Canada—with flags from other countries, except Canada in most cases.
And this Prime Minister claims to be a person of integrity and honesty.
He goes further by increasingly interfering in Quebec's jurisdictions in the name of national interest, he says. Children are of national interest. He discovered that there are children in child care, so he interferes in child care. There are some in primary schools, so he interferes in primary schools. Just think, there are some in hospital. Then it must be a federal jurisdiction. What is more, there are some living in towns, imagine that! So, he interferes in towns on behalf of children, who are of national interest.
Such is the reasoning of this Prime Minister and, once again, he is trying to buy voters with their own money. It is the sponsorship scandal all over again. However, he is not correcting the injustices he himself created.
I am thinking of last night, and this is as cynical as it gets; for years, together with the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, we have been fighting for low-income seniors to get the guaranteed income supplement. The Liberals told us it was not true, but then they had to admit that it was. Some $3.2 billion was extorted from the poorest in society. The Liberals have always refused to meet our demands.
Yesterday, during second reading of Bill C-301, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (monthly guaranteed income supplement), surprise, surprise, the Liberals voted in favour of our request. The result of the vote was 259 in favour and 0 against. During the election campaign, they will be able to say that they supported the request and that they are taking care of seniors. We got unanimous consent in the House. When there is unanimity here—we got it four times this week—we move on to third reading.
Then, what everybody agreed on here is immediately put into effect. We figured, “They're going to agree to third reading. They finally got the idea”. The NDP said, “Yes, let's proceed”. The Conservatives said, “Yes, let's proceed”. But Liberal voices rose, saying, “No, no, no. We do not want to proceed”. Essentially, this is utter hypocrisy, and it is reaching new heights.