Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River.
I want to say straight off that I do not agree with Bill C-2, which is being debated at third reading tonight, and the fate of which, if I understand correctly, has already been decided. When time is up, it will be declared passed on division. I therefore want to put my opposition to this bill on the record.
There are too many complications and too many provisions that have not gelled sufficiently and have not been given enough thought. Too many problems may arise out of this bill, if it were somehow to be passed in the other chamber as it now stands.
Let us hope that those in the other chamber will have the time they need, and the will, which they certainly have, to fine-tune the bill, to fix it and improve it, and that the government will allow them the time they need to do that.
I will mention some of the reasons why I am opposed to this bill. I may have a chance, in the 10 minutes I am allotted, to explain some of them in more detail.
First, there is the question of post-employment restrictions. I believe that the period specified, five years, is unreasonably long. That is one of the reasons I do not support this bill.
I know that there was a brief discussion tonight about how returning officers will be selected. I had an opportunity to appear before the standing committee, I talked about this, and I will come back to it.
There is also the question of the contribution limit that Canadians will now be subject to.
There is the question of the Access to Information Act, which has not been resolved at all. On the contrary, we seem to be going off in the opposite direction from where we should be going.
There is the entire question, which was referred to tonight, of the effect of this bill on the public service and the inflexibility that will result.
There is also the entire question of the omnibus nature of the bill. This often means that some of our colleagues try to take advantage of the situation and introduce amendments to other bills. There have been at least two examples in this case. One well-intentioned colleague—I am not questioning his intentions—wanted to change the structure of the National Capital Commission, without any discussion on that subject having taken place.
Another colleague also wanted to introduce the idea of switching parties into the bill, for a member to be able to cross the floor.
I would have been against this bill, if the virtually totalitarian big brotherism of the provision that public servants who inform on other public servants would be paid $1,000 had not been deleted. In that case, the committee had the wisdom to delete that clause of this omnibus bill before us.
There is also the entire question of the general climate of the debate on this bill. This has been a cause of extreme concern for me, and this is where I will begin.
It is very easy to use a broad brush when you want to tar as widely as possible on the whole question of corruption. The government says that this is the main reason for this bill. Forgive me if I doubt that rationale. Forgive me for thinking that in some cases, there are partisan motives behind the government’s decision to concoct this bill, which is really a crazy quilt, a patchwork of pieces that clash with each other, provisions that will complicate everyone’s life without necessarily achieving the intended objectives.
The Bloc Québécois said that this bill would do nothing to prevent future scandal. I hope the Bloc is wrong, but I am not sure it is. I hope it is wrong. If another scandal were to surface during the tenure of my colleagues opposite, for whom I have great respect, the temptation to use that same broad brush would be very strong. Then all of Parliament would be sullied.
When they were in opposition, I often asked my colleagues across the way—who are now in government—to be careful with their comments and circumspect in their accusations and their tendency to wantonly and unfairly cast aspersions on all and sundry.
I hope that the tables have not turned.
As I said, it would probably be very tempting for members on this side of the House to do the same thing. Of course, they are the ones who would suffer, along with the rest of Parliament. We must therefore take great care not to be motivated solely by partisanship when discussing public policy. We must consider the common good and good governance.
This is why I will vote, or rather, would have voted against the bill, because we know the vote has essentially been carried on division. I guess that makes me a dissident.
The five years that is being required is far too long. If the government insists that certain persons will not be able to work in their field for five years, we should perhaps consider the costs this will incur. It could well be that we are obliged to issue severance pay for two years, two and a half years or three years. That has not been provided for.
Take the case of Elizabeth Roscoe. I do not know her. I met her only once or twice at society parties. This lady is being denied the chance to work for five years in her field, when she served the Prime Minister for two weeks during a transition period. It is unacceptable that the rules should have been changed retroactively. A Parliament should never legislate retroactively, and in this case we seem to be doing that. I am opposed to it.
It is the same thing for returning officers. I know that my colleagues are listening to me on the other side and on this side. When I appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I said that the way that returning officers were chosen had to be improved. But I also said that we had to be very prudent about what was proposed. If we give an authority the ability to choose certain people and to dismiss them from their service, we will likely be asking ourselves questions about the governance model, that is, whether it is the right one.
This is what the bill seems to be proposing. So I must necessarily stand in opposition to it. I am hesitant. I have doubts about the wisdom of this. Maybe I am wrong. I hope I am, but Parliament will have to be very vigilant about this situation.
The issue of contribution limits is probably another shocker. There is an incongruity here in the discourse of the party opposite. On the one hand, when the Prime Minister was with the National Citizens Coalition, he fought in court. He appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm the right of individuals to contribute as much as they wanted. If this bill were adopted, I would be subject to a limit of $1,000. However, any company or individual could contribute, in the riding I have the honour to represent, over $3,000, or $150,000 at the national level. In fact, third parties are not subject to the same limits. I believe that this is not only unfair, but probably unconstitutional. I would like this measure to be confirmed and tested before the courts, because in my opinion, what we have before us at the moment is pure partisanship, a purely partisan attempt unfortunately supported by the New Democrats, as regards its coming into force as soon as the bill receives royal assent.
Those are two of the reasons. There is also the whole issue of access to information. The Information Commissioner issued a special report on this matter. He wondered how it was that the government, which had said it would be going in the opposite direction, was tabling a dozen measures that made access to information more difficult.
Given this whole list of measures, I find myself obliged to oppose this bill. I repeat that I sincerely hope that the other chamber takes the necessary time and has the necessary will to correct these shortcomings. I also hope that when this bill comes back to us, we have an opportunity to do likewise in this House.