Mr. Speaker, I want to outline what the Conservative government has done to our country because we have never seen anything like this before.
A large social engineering project is occurring, masterminded by the Conservative government, and it is below the radar screen of many Canadians. The implications of this are quite enormous. Although much of the package sounds good, it goes against common good public policy.
It is not only retail politics trumping fact based public policy, it is much more than that. It is seeding a rigorous social Conservative view in politics, education and the bureaucracy. It is a marriage between social Conservative religious groups and one political party, the Conservative Party.
All people have an absolute right to believe in whatever they want. Indeed, any religious group can lobby any political party or government as hard as it wants. However, we draw the line at responsibility. A government is responsible to ensure that religion and politics are separate. This is an unsaid but widely accepted viewpoint of most Canadians. Out of respect for people's religious views, we do not marry or mix religion and politics. However, that is not what has occurred.
I will speak about the implications of this in a moment. The fact is it will affect and has affected everything from Parliament to the courts, to the media, to education and to the bureaucracy. Parliament has largely become, at least within the government, a dictatorship where power has been centralized within the Prime Minister's office, ignoring good advice from bureaucracies, his own MPs and cabinet.
It must be an unsatisfying and soul destroying experience to be members of the government now and to be seen as little more than potted plants, not listened to or respected by the Prime Minister. This is a very dangerous situation for all who voted for individuals and expected their members of Parliament to advocate for them in a constructive way in the House.
The courts have also been changed, as we saw recently. The current grouping, in terms of deciding who will be judges, has changed quite significantly and has been stacked with individuals who reflect the social conservative values of the Prime Minister.
The media is in the hands of a small number of people. I know this is not a very satisfying situation for many journalists. That does not have anything to do with the government, but having media centralization in a small number of hands stultifies different viewpoints and does not allow the Canadian public to see the breadth of views out there. It is not a healthy situation for strong public discourse.
The implications are quite serious, and I will go through some of them.
The first is the loss of democracy. We have a situation where the power is controlled by and large within the Prime Minister's office and the hands of a very few. We know that party would have supported Canada joining the U.S. in the war in Iraq. Imagine if the U.S. invades Iran. If the U.S. were to ask the government to join in that fight, what would it do? Would it support it? If it did, It would be a devastating.
On cuts to the poor, the government does not even pretend to advocate for the poor. It raised the income tax rate on the poor and dropped the basic personal exemption. As a result that, the poorest in our society have been hammered and have less money in their pockets now than ever before. The discrepancy between the haves and the have nots are widening.
On child care, as colleagues have mentioned before, $3.5 billion have been cut. In my province of British Columbia as well as in all other provinces it has had a profound impact on child care workers, spaces, parents and families. They do not have the choice that the party across the way professes to give Canadians.
Furthermore, the $1,200 child care benefit is taxed. Because of that what ends up in people's pockets is a fraction of that $1,200. In fact, it amounts to about $2 a day. That is not child care, those are not spaces and that is not a choice. The 25,000 spaces that were promised by the government so far amount to zero.
On the issue of human reproductive technologies, another board has been stacked by the government, filled with people who are anti-choice. The implications of this in terms of embryonic stem cell research are devastating for our researchers. As a result, Canadian research into embryonic stem cell activities will be crushed and the ability of our researchers to engage in the lifesaving research required to deal with diseases, such as cancers, will be snuffed.
On the issue of productivity, the government has been silent, riding on the wave of the Liberals, who created a healthy economy for Canada.
On health care, we fought hard to keep the needle exchange program in Vancouver. Did the government extend it for three years as had been requested? No. It extended for one year in a sudden death decision. This is a research program that saves lives and money and reduces crime. However, because of an ideological approach, the government has not extended the program past the one year, a program that has proven to save lives. In fact, the government has ignored the facts in The Lancet and other world renowned medical magazines.
The Prime Minister's foreign affairs platform can basically be described as improving Canada-U.S. relations. What happened to the rest of the world? Clearly, Canada-U.S. relations are exceedingly important, but the world is a lot bigger than this continent.
Where is the government on the Sudan? It is missing in action. Where is the government on the Middle East? Quite rightly, it supports Israel and its peace and security, as we all do. However, where is the government on the crisis in Gaza? It rightly removed funding from Hamas, but it is nowhere in being able to alleviate the catastrophic situation taking place on the ground in the Gaza Strip. People dying of preventable causes right now.
Afghanistan is one of the most egregious situations that has taken place while the government has been in power. The public, and unfortunately members of our beloved military, believe the government is doing things in their favour. What they do not know is the government has used our troops as a political pawn for its own political benefit.
The government gave the House 48 hours to make a decision, which was the most important decision that any of us had to make, on whether to put the lives of our troops on the line for our country. Yet, the public does not know that.
The government got it wrong. It did not have the development package correct. It did not have the political package correct. As a result and as we see from Senlis Council briefings and other people on the ground, we are losing the war in Afghanistan. Why? The government does not have a plan for dealing with the poppy crop. It does not have a plan for training the Afghan national police. It does not have a plan for dealing with the insurgency coming from outside. As a result, our troops, which are bleeding for our interests and those of Afghanistan, do not have the backup they require to do the job.
Political solutions are required to deal with Afghanistan and the government is missing in action. It did not get it right when it rammed this through Parliament and it does not have it right now. It is leaving our troops bereft and on the side to do the hard work without giving them the backup on the ground. That is reprehensible.
The government needs to listen to the solutions that are being offered. They would make that mission a success and would allow our troops to be safe and get out by 2009, with respect to the combat aspects.
I might add that the poppy crop eradication process taking place right now is going to dramatically increase insecurity for our troops. Therefore, I demand that the government speak to the United States and the United Kingdom and stop this plan. The farmers have said that if we take away their poppy crops, we will destroy their ability to provide for our families and because of that they will join the Taliban.
Why does the Prime Minister not pick up the phone and speak to President Bush and tell him to stop? Why does he not do the same for Mr. Blair? If it that does not happen, the attacks against our troops will increase. I demand that the government do this, and do it now.
I know government members do not have the power because the Prime Minister controls everything, but I encourage them, within their caucus and publicly, to speak out on the good public policies they would like to have their government adopt in the interest of their constituents and in the interest of our country.