That, in the opinion of this House, the government is failing to act in accordance with the democratic and open values expected of its office by imposing a narrow minded, socially conservative ideology as reflected in its approach to the judicial appointment process to dramatically increase the influence of right-wing ideology in the judiciary, its refusal to honour Canada's international obligations under the Kyoto Protocol including a refusal to act immediately to introduce regulations under the Canada Environmental Protection Act, its misconception that Canadians don’t want or need a dramatic increase in child care spaces on a national basis, its budget spending cuts directed at aboriginal people and silencing advocacy work done on behalf of women and the most vulnerable Canadians even in the face of budget surpluses, its failure to protect and promote linguistic and cultural diversity, and its undemocratic assault on farmers who support the Canadian Wheat Board.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
We have a motion in the House today that calls on all of us to take a hard look at the government's record. It is a moment to ask some questions. What is the big picture? Where is the Prime Minister taking the country?
The official opposition is concerned about the direction the government is taking and this is the day on which the House of Commons gets to call it the way we see it.
We on this bench start with the standard that we set in government. We have been nation builders. We create the institutions that make our country strong: the Canada pension plan, old age security, employment insurance, medicare, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Kelowna accord and a national child care program, that is until the Prime Minister scrapped both of them.
Thanks to Liberal leadership, Canadians benefited from sound public finances and enviable economic growth. The contrast between the Liberal record and the record of this minority government is striking.
This government has no plan for economic growth, no plan for employment, no plan for post-secondary education and no plan for investment in science and research. That means no plan for Canada's future. That means no plan to help Canadians succeed.
This Prime Minister is governing only to win the next election. He has forgotten his country's future, and the future will judge him.
The government just does not understand that we cannot have a successful and united country unless we have a just society and a just society is one that offers everyone in Canada an equal chance.
Canadians have built a society with less poverty and less crime, a society that sends more young people to college and university and fewer to prison.
Canadians have abandoned the 19th century notion of a single dominant culture in favour of a constitutional and institutional framework that promotes a bilingual and multicultural diversity of peoples, including our aboriginal fellow citizens.
We on this side of the House have come to see that our differences are our strengths, unlike the Conservatives who see differences as wedge issues to exploit.
Thanks to the Liberal governments in the 1990s, Canada has had a budget surplus for a decade now. All Canadians should be proud of what we have accomplished together. These achievements are now threatened.
After just one year in office, the government has shown its true colours. The Prime Minister is turning back the clock on the social reforms of the last 30 years. It is not surprising that the Conservative Party decided to drop the word “progressive” from its name. That means we are no longer faced with the conservatism we know but with an ideological conservatism, a movement conservatism that will take Canada backward.
Bit by bit, the Prime Minister is shaping Canada into his vision and it is less progressive, less fair, less just and less equal. He cut funding for women's advocacy groups, and he was wrong to do so. If we want Canadians to have an equal chance, we need to do more to reduce economic and social inequality between the genders and not less.
In the last election, the Prime Minister told Canadians that our court system would protect them from the Conservatives if they pursued an ideological agenda.
But then he cut the court challenges program, the very program that funded a number of important cases that sought to advance equality rights. Abolishing this program is a serious step that directly reduces Canadians' ability to defend their charter rights.
The government also wants to appoint socially Conservative judges and rig the judicial appointment process to shift our courts to the right. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister told the House that he wants to choose judges on the basis of whether they support his criminal justice agenda. This fails to respect the separation of powers that is the basis of Canadian freedom. Governments pass laws, judges enforce and interpret them. One branch does not seek to bend the other branch to its will, except under the present government.
I again urge the Prime Minister to reverse the changes he has made in the way the government selects judges. I urge him to stop trying to politicize our judiciary.
The Prime Minister has even politicized the issue of equality in our country. He tried to reopen the same sex marriage debate and most Canadians regard this as a settled matter. We need to ask why a sitting Prime Minister would want to put into question the equality gains made by his fellow citizens.
The Conservatives have also cut funding for adult literacy programs, calling such programs “repair work after the fact”. For the government, adults who cannot read do not count.
This government inherited a $13 billion surplus, but still made $1 billion in cuts, mainly at the expense of those people who need help the most. These Conservatives have promised to cut another $1 billion before the next budget. What other social programs will be axed? When will it be enough?
This is a government that has plans to build more prison cells instead of child care spaces.
This is a government that has scrapped the historic Kelowna accord between Canada and its aboriginal citizens. For this government it appears to be acceptable to break faith with aboriginal Canadians once again.
Yesterday evening, this House adopted Bill C-288, which requires the government to step up to the plate and introduce a plan to achieve the Kyoto protocol targets. Instead of a plan, all we are seeing is fear and denial. This is not leadership. This is not governance. It is shameful. We need action and a comprehensive sustainable development plan, with accountability and targets, and we need it now.
This is a government obsessed with cutting taxes, not tax cuts that create jobs or enhance Canadian competitiveness or make it easier for Canadians to make ends meet, but tax cuts which weaken our capacity to build a just society for all. The Conservatives will strip back the government until the cupboards are bare in Ottawa and across the country, and that will weaken Canadian citizenship and it will weaken the national unity of our country.
The Prime Minister will try to hold onto power by using so-called wedge issues in the hopes of dividing Canadians. When will these politics stop? Canadians do not want a country where the values of a right-wing minority are imposed by stealth on a progressive majority. Canadians sense the reactionary drift of their government. They can feel the daily descent of their country into a place where opportunity is shrinking.
This is a progressive country, a place held together by faith in compassionate, smart and accountable government, and we are not going to get compassionate, smart and accountable government from a party that loves power but actually dislikes government.
We are not going to get national unity from an ideologue. We are not going to get the country pulling together under a party that governs for its base and not for all the people.
I urge all the opposition members to vote for this motion and send a clear message to this Conservative government and the people of Canada.
Let us declare that it is the opinion of this House that the government is failing to act in accordance with the democratic and open values expected of its high office. Let us draw a line in the sand. Let us say together that enough is enough.
Enough is enough.
My fellow parliamentarians, this country deserves better.