Madam Speaker, we are here talking about Motion No. 10, a closure motion. It is about shutting down debate. That is why I am going to speak about democracy.
If the members choose to heckle, they must be afraid of what we have to say as members of Parliament. They do not want to hear what other members of Parliament have to say in the House of Commons because they are afraid of open government, they are afraid of accountability and democracy.
For 19 days we have seen democracy in action in Egypt. People have shed their blood for democracy, for a chance to speak out, for freedom of speech. That is what this House of Commons is supposed to be all about. I am here to talk about open and accountable government but that is not possible if we do not talk about prorogation, closure and the Senate. We are talking about accountability.
What is open government? An open government is about taking in everyone's point of view, having a chance to talk about issues.
The issue before us is Bill C-59. How can we possibly talk about it within a few hours? The closure motion before of us says that we have to finish everything by the end of the day.
This reminds me of another debate, the harmonized sales tax debate. Two Christmas' ago, the Conservatives were very afraid of the public's resentment of this tax, because they had campaigned on having no tax increases. However, they decided to ram the bill through the House in one day. They introduced the bill with less than 24 hours notice and tabled the closure motion with the support of the Liberal Party of Canada. Within 24 hours that bill passed the House of Commons just before Christmas, because the Conservatives were so afraid of people saying no to the very much hated sales tax. That is precisely what is happening in this case.
Soon after introducing that bill, the Conservatives closed the door on the House of Commons because they were afraid of what members of Parliament would do. They called it prorogation. They did not do it once but twice. That was a government that said it had run on open and accountable government. However, the Conservatives were so afraid of the House that they had to prorogue Parliament: they locked out all of members from the House of Commons and we were not able to do any work.
People are afraid of democracy when there is something to hide. What is there to hide in this bill? Maybe the government wants to hide the cost, just like it has something to hide with respect to the Afghan documents. That is why the government does not want to bring forward the Afghan documents, even though the Speaker said that all of the documents should be given to members of Parliament. However, that did not happen. The Conservatives have something to hide.
The Conservatives campaigned on open and accountable government. How is the Senate accountable, especially a Senate that includes the chief fundraiser of the Conservative Party and the chair of PC Canada Fund, Mr. Gerstein? He received a good income of $341,000, including expenses, as chief fundraiser of the Conservative fund. The Quebec co-chair of the Prime Minister's leadership bid is also a senator. The Conservative Party president, Mr. Pratt, is also a senator and receives a salary of $262,000. The Conservative Party spokesperson, the famous Mike Duffy, is also very much a partisan person. These folks, these senators, use our tax dollars to do partisan work.
Madam Speaker, tell me how it is open and accountable government when we have a Senate full of people who are out there fundraising, doing partisan work, attacking members of Parliament and saying no to bills that have been collectively passed by the House of Commons? That is not democracy. That is not what Canadians want. It is not government we can trust, particularly a government that came in saying “Trust us; we are going to be open and democratic”, and yet in everything it does, including this closure motion before us on Page 41 of the order paper, it is not democratic.
We have seen a lot of examples of how democracy and the voices of the people are being completely ignored. If we look in detail at the bill before us, we notice that the Conservatives do not want us to find out how much it will cost.
Let me talk about the spending. We noticed on the prison agenda, for example, that the Minister of Public Safety announced one day that it was going to cost taxpayers close to $90 million. Then the next day he said it would cost $2 billion. That is a twentyfold increase in 24 hours.
What is the cost going to be? How much are all of these crime bills going to cost? We need to know the figures. Is that why we have a closure motion before us? Is that why they are afraid of our getting to the truth? Is it because we do not know how much it is?
The non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that the prison costs would be much higher. He estimated it would be $10 billion over five years for only one of the crime bills, with the costs being downloaded to the already over-burdened provincial prisons.
When we have a Conservative government that refuses to release any cost information on its crime bills and then turns around and works with the Bloc to inflict closure on the bill so that by 8 o'clock today we will have had no chance to debate Bill C-59, that is not democratic. It is certainly not an open government. It is certainly not accountable, and we certainly cannot trust this government to run the business of the country in this way.