Mr. Speaker, I regret to have to rise on this very cheap and tawdry trick by the government to try to slip the budget through. It is very clearly an acknowledgement of the fact that the Conservatives realize this budget does not fly.
We have seen the destruction of the Atlantic accord and we have seen the reaction from the Atlantic provinces. We have seen the reaction of British Columbia where the Conservatives are now in third place in the polls because of their complete disregard for the interests of British Columbians. As we know, the finance minister when he presented the budget initially talked about Canada going from the Alberta Rockies to Newfoundland and Labrador, completely excluding British Columbia.
The government very rapidly has managed to alienate virtually every single part of the country with this budget. So it is no surprise that the Conservatives would try to invoke this special emergency Standing Order to try to slip it through on Friday afternoon as they do with so much of their despicable legislation. When they know the public will not accept it, they try to slip it through on a Friday afternoon. That is not appropriate for a budget vote and it is not appropriate for something of this magnitude.
I am not going to speak too much on the budget because the NDP is on the record. We know this budget gives billions away to the corporate sector, as always. The budget does not deal with the real problems that real people are facing from coast to coast to coast. I would like to touch on the issue of invoking Standing Order 53, which is a Standing Order that is supposed to be invoked in times of emergency and where the government normally needs to make an immediate call to the House.
Traditionally up until a few years ago this was used in a prudent way by governments. We saw in the 1960s this special order being invoked in an immediate outbreak of hostilities in Cyprus and the immediate need of Canada to send a peacekeeping force to Cyprus. Lives were in danger at that time, and it would be normal to invoke Standing Order 53 when lives are in danger.
In the 1970s it was invoked when air traffic controllers were not at their positions because of a labour dispute. Regardless of how we feel about the merits of how the government treated the labour dispute, one could say that lives were in the balance then.
We fast forward to the 1990s and we have seen the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party invoke Standing Order 53 as a cheap and tawdry procedural trick to try to get legislation through that would otherwise not get through.
There is no doubt this budget is in trouble. We have seen the outcry from Atlantic Canada this week and discussions on how there was a complete and total betrayal of Atlantic Canada. We have seen the reaction from the Saskatchewan government. We have seen the reaction from British Columbians. We have seen alienation throughout the length and breadth of this land. So the government in desperation now on Friday afternoon, shortly before adjournment, invoked Standing Order 53 because it seems to be incapable of managing its own agenda and seems to be incapable of bringing it forward in a measured and effective way.
We have seen how the Conservatives have managed the summer employment program for students. We have seen how they have managed the festival program. We have seen complete incompetence in sector after sector. Now we see this cheap and tawdry invocation of a Standing Order that was put in place for when lives are in the balance. Lives are not in the balance on this budget. What is in the balance is billions of dollars of corporate tax cuts that the Conservatives hand out like candy to their friends and lobbyists in the oil and gas industry, in the pharmaceutical industry, and the banks. They love handing out corporate tax cuts; it is their favourite occupation.
The finance minister will not do much for health care or access to post-secondary education. He will not do anything for housing except for the NDP money that we forced through in the last budget. No, the Conservatives will not do anything for those issues that affect real working families from coast to coast to coast. They do absolutely nothing to address the catastrophic hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs. One quarter of a million jobs have been lost. In the last few years a quarter of a million working families have seen their jobs disappear, replaced by flipping burger jobs, minimum wage jobs, jobs that are temporary, jobs that are part time. Now Canadians have to put together a couple of part time jobs just to keep a roof over their heads.
What is urgent is 300,000 Canadians sleeping in the parks and on the main streets of our towns and cities across this country, but the government has never invoked Standing Order 53 to address that crisis.
What about the softwood lumber crisis provoked by the government's foolishness, recklessness and irresponsibility in shoving through the softwood sellout that has resulted in 6,000 jobs being lost so far? Did it ever address that crisis? No siree, there was no invocation of Standing Order 53 there.
What we have seen time after time are real crises getting nothing but lip service from the government, and now we see this cheap, tawdry trick to try to get a budget through, a budget that the government knows is experiencing massive problems, with rejections from Saskatchewan, rejections from the people of British Columbia, and rejections from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. There are rejections throughout Atlantic Canada, great hostility in Quebec, a reaction from the Ontario government and the Ontario legislature, and a reaction from coast to coast to coast, which I think symbolizes how quickly the government has eroded the trust that was placed in it last year.
We have never seen such a rapid reversal. The government said it was going to stand up for Canada and instead we have seen capitulations to the Bush administration. Time after time we have seen the sellout of working families. There has been no action on some of the key issues like the pine beetle in British Columbia.
Now we see the invocation of Standing Order 53. And for what urgent reason? What is the urgent reason? The government does not have an urgent reason. We know very well what the precedents are on this. Speakers have actually disallowed this kind of tawdry procedural trick in order to get a budget through.
Conservatives are admitting today that their budget is in trouble. They are admitting today that they are having problems from coast to coast to coast. There has been an erosion of public confidence in the government, which has occurred so rapidly because the Conservative government works in exactly the same way that the former Liberal government worked. That erosion has led to this invocation of Standing Order 53.
Is it appropriate to invoke it? Absolutely not. It is not like sending an immediate crisis team of peacekeepers to Cyprus in order to save lives. It is not like the government tried to act to make sure that air traffic control is maintained and that lives are saved in the balance.
There is absolutely nothing to the invocation of this standing order. It is simply a very cheap, very tawdry, very irresponsible and very reckless way of getting a budget through, a budget that Conservatives now know Canadians do not accept and want to see defeated. That is why they have done it. That is why in the NDP corner of the House we are standing up to say that this is absolutely inappropriate. It shows the desperation of the government.
Rather than taking action on the pine beetle, rather than taking action on the floods we are seeing now in British Columbia, rather than addressing the concerns raised in Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada, rather than actually addressing the crisis in manufacturing jobs, the crisis in homelessness, the crisis in the health care system and the crisis in post-secondary education, rather than addressing any of those using Standing Order 53, they try to pull off a cheap, tawdry trick that only a magician who has lost his licence would dare to raise in the Parliament of Canada.