Mr. Speaker, I have been involved in parliamentary democracy in a direct way for about the last 21 years, first in this House and then for 16 years in the legislature of Newfoundland and Labrador. I was happy to be re-elected to this House in the October 14 election. I have never been so concerned about the state of parliamentary democracy in this country as I have become in the last week.
I know hon. members are rising in the House and thanking their constituents for electing them or returning them to office, and I have applauded each and every one of them. Then they have proceeded in some cases on the government side of the House to talk about the Prime Minister and the government having been elected. There they veer from the path of parliamentary democracy. The current Prime Minister was not elected as the prime minister. That is not the way our Parliament works. Each and every member of this House is a member of Parliament and has the right and duty to represent his or her constituents.
This morning I heard one hon. member opposite talk about the cheap seats in the House of Commons. I am assuming he was referring to either his own backbenches or to the opposition members’, I do not know, but let me say this: There are no cheap seats in the House of Commons. We are all equally elected to represent our constituents and our interests.
Parliamentary democracy allows the leader of the party with the most seats in the House to go to the Governor General, and in the case of a minority government, either resign or advise the Governor General that he or she wishes to seek the confidence of the House. That is our system. That is what makes a person prime minister: having the confidence of the House. It is assumed that if the person's party has the majority of seats in the House of Commons, that person is the prime minister and can form a government.
However, after this election, a new government was sworn in, not the old government. That new government was sworn in because the sitting Prime Minister was able to say to the Governor General that he would seek the confidence of the House. That is what we are doing now. We are now in a situation where the confidence of the House has been lost by the actions and failure of leadership of the Prime Minister of Canada.
What is the response? The response is a refusal to face the House, a refusal to govern with the support and confidence of the House of Commons and an attempt to use the notion of prorogation. Let us not use a fancy word; he wants to shut down Parliament because he cannot face the music. The reality is that he does not have the support of this House. The government does not have the support of this House. He has failed in his obligation to try to maintain the support of this House.
There has been a lot of talk about a government that works for Canada and supports working with other parties in Parliament. We all pledged to try to do that. However, someone broke that pledge last Thursday. That pledge was broken by refusing to reach out to all parts of the House and to devise a plan that meets the support of at least the majority of the House to come up with a recognition that the recession that is upon us requires some immediate action.
In my own province of Newfoundland and Labrador today, it was announced by AbitibiBowater that a newsprint mill that has been there for over 100 years will close. Eight hundred people will be thrown out of work. Two weeks ago, I raised in the House the question of whether the government would support a program for older workers and training for younger workers that could save this mill. Nothing happened, and the mill is now closed as a result.
There is only one party in this House that is standing in the way of a government that works for Canadians. The opposition parties have worked together to come up with a plan that would allow us to have a government that would work for Canadians, and that is a Liberal-NDP coalition. That coalition has a policy accord that is designed to address the present economic crisis. There has been a lot of misinformation.
There is no secret deal. The deal is right here on the website. It is there for everyone to see. Not only is it on the website but it is very clear and plain what the arrangements are. The arrangement with the Bloc Québécois is that it will not defeat an NDP-Liberal coalition for a period of 18 months.
What we have is a promise of stability for 18 months. The government cannot deliver that. Conservatives could not deliver stability for two or three weeks in Parliament. What prospect does the government have to continue for the next 18 or 28 months, or even the next three months? None. The instability is coming from the government and from the failure of the Prime Minister to show the kind of leadership that is required.
There is a lot of talk about working with other parties in the House and trying to vilify the Bloc Québécois, in the course of which to create a very divisive country. It has been said by Harold Wilson that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. I am not calling anyone in particular a scoundrel and it may or may not be unparliamentary, but the tactics being used by the government members and the Prime Minister in trying to save their own necks are very divisive. I hope--