Mr. Speaker, I inform you straightaway that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead. It is an honour for me. She is a member I hold in great esteem. Not only does she do marvellous work here on Parliament Hill, but I know how devoted she is to her constituents, the people of her riding. I have had the opportunity to share responsibilities in human resources and social development with her for more than four or five years. I am mentioning this file first of all because it is most interesting to realize that the Conservatives are using this file, this responsibility, to engage in propaganda.
There are two things at issue today on this Bloc opposition day: the Conservatives’ hijacking of democracy and the propaganda they are spreading with the resources that the House makes available to the government and to ministers.
I shall not repeat the examples given by my colleagues, but I will use one very particular example, that of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development. On February 26, 2011, the Canadian electoral authority formally charged the Prime Minister's Conservative Party with fraud, along with two senators from the party in power, namely the Conservatives. They allegedly concealed cost overruns during the 2006 election in an amount in excess of a million dollars. Two individuals have been targeted as respondents in this case: Mr. Irving Gerstein and Mr. Douglas Finley. The latter is not only a senator, but also the spouse of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
There are some rather troubling things. Since this morning, we have been highlighting all the methods and stratagems that this government is using in order to deprive Parliament of the means it has to oversee, however slightly, what goes on in government, or at least to acquire information, and also in order to engage in propaganda. Here is what I am getting at. For four years, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and the Status of Persons with Disabilities was engaged in a very thorough study. This committee went all around Canada. We went to the provincial capitals, and often as well to villages and towns, to study, on site, the issue of poverty, which was the topic of our study. We held 68 different meetings, I believe. We also heard over 200 organizations. This led us to make 58 recommendations proposing ways of combatting poverty. You will recall that in November 2009, this House unanimously reiterated its desire to see poverty eliminated, or at least reduced, within 10 years.
This report was therefore entirely appropriate and entirely relevant. The only response that the minister was able to give us, which I have here in my hand, is a propaganda document. We have had no response on the 58 recommendations made by the committee.
The minister responded to each of the problems we raised by mentioning existing programs and giving the Conservative government credit for having instituted them. But there is no new program to reduce poverty. What is even more infuriating, and even scandalous, is that the minister simply disregards all the testimony from all over Canada describing the poverty of aboriginal populations and single-parent families, the fate of seniors and of people who lose their jobs, and the plight of children living in poverty. If there are poor children, it is because there are poor parents. Rich families do not decide that some of their children will be poor and live in poverty. Some families simply do not have the means and have to deal with situations that they cannot control or that are forced upon them. Such is the case of native communities, for example.
There are some very specific recommendations highlighting the plight of women living in various places all over the country. This week we marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The minister’s answer coincided with this anniversary, making it all the more outrageous that she did not take the trouble to announce anything at all to reduce poverty.
The House has reiterated its unanimous motion from 1989, which was never implemented. The motion was brought forward again on November 22, 2009. The government and the House took it up, but the minister thumbed her nose at the opportunity given her by the Standing Committee on Human Resources to announce some measures. Her actions showed her contempt for all the work that has been done here.
I encourage my colleagues in the House to study this document sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. I have re-read it because I thought I must have made a mistake. It is 17 pages of coarse, outrageous remarks and propaganda. We have to connect the dots because there are political families. The senator who supervised the operation that the Conservatives are accused of using to circumvent the Canada Elections Act is the husband of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. People might wonder what the connection is. The answer to this question is just as serious as or even more serious than the misappropriation of funds because it involves all the people who are struggling in our society.