Mr. Speaker, today Canadians are witnessing the anti-democratic, ideological agenda of the Conservative government.
Western Canadians are today witnessing a government take a position without listening to the very voices of the people they claim to represent. Today many Canadians will realize the way in which the federal government does not represent us and why it is time to talk about the need to have real representation about the real issues that matter to Canadians.
I want to begin by responding to the allegations made in the House these last few days that have involved my name. I am very disappointed by the allegations made by the member of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre and the Chief Government Whip.
The government whip approached me last week after a disruption in the gallery and accused me of organizing it. I made it clear that this was not the case. In Parliament we are all hon. members and the acceptance of the word of a member of Parliament is fundamental to the functioning of the House.
Instead of accepting my word as a member of the House, the Chief Government Whip approached me in this very Chamber and indicated to me the phrase “you will get attacked”. He went on to repeat the fictional story that he and his colleagues shared in this House.
I want to make it clear that I provided gallery passes to a group of western farmers who support the Wheat Board. I provide passes, like so many members of Parliament, to people who visit their House of Commons. I had no knowledge there would be a disruption. For the record, that member of the public who protested in this gallery just hours later apologized to me and noted that I had no knowledge of his intentions and certainly had no part in organizing.
The government members, instead, were eager to make unfounded accusations and attempts to intimidate me. This attitude is not fitting for a government that was elected to represent Canadians. The House operates on the basis of honouring members, of honouring the word of members and of honouring the fact that we have been elected to represent Canadians.
I believe the whip should withdraw his statement and apologize to the House. This attitude is a reflection of the government's contempt for anyone who disagrees with them.
I want to make one thing clear. I will not be intimidated by members opposite. I know they have a difficulty with the fact that I represent a rural western Canadian riding. I have news for them. If they continue down this path of arrogance, ideology and contempt for the voices of western Canadians, they will see lot more New Democratic Party members of Parliament representing western Canada.
The lessons of the government's desire to pursue its extreme ideological agenda on Bill C-18 and dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board is a reflection of patterns we have seen in history before. Might I reference the Mulroney Conservatives who after taking western Canada for granted time and time again were rewarded by being re-elected with only two seats in the House of Commons, and none of them were from western Canada.
That process led to the beginning of the social movement and a political movement in western Canada known as the Reform Party. Many of those members of Parliament came out of that movement. Some have since retired, some are still, today, here. Those people came out of a movement that spoke about democracy, that talked about listening to the grassroots, that talked about respecting the democratic voice of people across western Canada. They talked about the west wanting in and people from western Canada wanting to be heard.
These very same people, these same members of Parliament, have today denied western Canadian farmers the right to vote. Along with that, they have denied western Canadians--the people who live across the prairie provinces and whose livelihoods depend on the work of the Canadian Wheat Board--the ability to speak to oppose them.
The Conservatives talked about having campaigned in the election to dismantle the Wheat Board. For many of our constituencies, that statement is completely and utterly false. They buried it in a platform, and we have heard from people across the Prairies that nowhere was it actually talked about in debates, in campaign events or in the pamphlets that they handed out during the election.
I can speak to the fact that in Churchill the Conservative candidate, who was based in the community that stands to lose the most directly from the loss of the Wheat Board, never once made public reference to the government's plan to dismantle an institution on which so many of the people I represent depend.
We even have the minister's quote in Minnedosa, Manitoba, when he talked about respecting farmers' right to vote. However, days later, after winning a majority government, the government became extremely arrogant and became dismissive of its own commitments during the election campaign. It became so dismissive of the very statements government members had made to western Canadians that we now have it pursuing the exact opposite approach. The government has put forward an agenda and a timeline in this debate that is unprecedented in the way in which it has been able to muzzle any kind of opposition across Canada.
For the last while, I have had a chance to talk a lot about the old politics, the politics of this government, the politics that Canadians are sick and tired of, the politics of hidden agendas. They are tired of hearing one thing during the election and then, upon electing a government, hearing something completely different. Once the Conservatives got a majority, they were willing to steamroll the rights of western Canadians and steamroll anyone in their way who might have a different point of view.
The Conservatives have brought in closure time and time again, and in a most shocking way when it comes to Bill C-18. This is a tool that signifies their complete lack of respect for Canadians' voices, Canadians who have something different to bring to the table, Canadians who simply want to be heard.
Instead of listening, they have managed to keep busy in a number of other ways. They have kept busy by making videos that insult aboriginal people in the statements they make and videos that demean western Canadian producers.
They have sought ways to bury debate. They use public relations stunts and government money for ads in order to take away the important role that Parliament has to debate these very issues. Instead of being up front, they obfuscate and hide the facts that we need to know as we move forward.
On the contingency fund, it is clear that the government is taking the money from farmers and putting it toward its own state-run agency, having lifted the ceiling, instead of giving that money back to farmers.
I want to acknowledge the work of people who were elected to represent western Canadian farmers: Stuart Wells, Bill Woods, Allen Oberg, Cam Goff, Kyle Korneychuk, Rod Flaman, John Sandborn and Bill Toews. The voices of young farmers such as Sid Stevenson and Matt Gell and the voices of the people of Churchill, of the Bay line, of Winnipeg, as well as voices across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and even parts of British Columbia need to be heard in this House. These are the people the government is taking for granted.
The Conservatives should mark our words: as we stand here to bring voice to those very people, to western Canadians and to all Canadians, we are going to make sure that they know that the arrogance, the ideological agenda and the undemocratic approach of this government is unacceptable, and that next time around we will build a government that actually represents Canadians.