Mr. Speaker, it is inconceivable that the Conservatives could present a bill that is 421 pages long and then limit debate to the bare minimum. It is clear they want to pass this bill quickly, but does that not suggest that perhaps they are afraid of the public's reaction to the bill if we were to take the time to properly examine it?
I have examined this bill thoroughly and I can assure you that I have never seen such a hodgepodge in the House of Commons. In true Conservative style, this document is not at all what it claims to be: rather than a budget implementation bill, it is a bit of a free pass for businesses and politicians who have no use for transparency.
Bill C-38 is much more than just an omnibus bill, like those we have become accustomed to with these Conservatives. This bill constitutes a brutal and unreasonable seizure of power that leaves Canadians unable to challenge any of it. We are therefore very surprised as we watch this government getting rid of anything that could limit the damage caused by its blind ideology. After taking a laissez-faire approach for so long, now they want to dismantle everything.
This bill ridicules the institutions of the very government that introduced it. Is that not ironic?
We have already seen the Conservative government's bias in favour of employers in certain disputes, for instance, those involving Air Canada and Canada Post. However, this government does not seem to care at all about well-paid, stable jobs for Canadians, because this new bill will cause even more poverty.
This government is allergic to basic rights and has restricted the right of free association by giving a minister—a minister, mind you—the power to veto collective agreements.
In other words, this government thinks it is okay to scuttle a good-faith negotiation between two parties to further a partisan and ideological political agenda. That applies to all workers. In addition, a significant number of federal government workers will also be affected: women.
I have fought for women's rights for 40 years. There are no words strong enough to describe how angry I was when I realized that the government no longer intended to make its contracts compliant with the Employment Equity Act. The Conservatives seem to believe that father knows best and a woman's place is in the home. All the historic progress we have made toward achieving equality is being recast as purely cosmetic.
Women have the right to be treated fairly, and trying to make women pay the price for the government's penny-pinching is downright disgraceful. How can the government justify such an irresponsible decision?
By so doing, the Conservatives are saying that feminist struggles, which were particularly successful in Quebec, were simply a glitch in history's patriarchal plan. Well, that is not how I see this country and I am certain that many of my fellow Canadians agree with me.
While the Conservatives are throwing the door wide open to privatization, I am saying that we are soon going to take over this government and give the control and the benefits back to Canadians. This government, which seems to work harder for shareholders, has gone too far this time. Canadians are not fools and they can see that the Conservatives are trying to deceive them.
And what is all this for? Over a third of this giant bill is dedicated to doing away with environmental protection measures in a clear path that goes from the plains to the Pacific Ocean, where the Conservatives hope to get a share of Asia's wealth. What a plan.
Promoting the economy is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, Canada used the approach of putting all its eggs in one basket for too long for us to want to go back to it.
Focusing all our energy on oil can only lead to a historic dead end of monumental proportions. It is a well-known fact that the wealth of economies that depend on a single resource is short lived and poorly distributed.
In any case, sustainable development is not of interest to this government, which is also doomed to be unsustainable. The champions of “bigger and better” will end up realizing that irreversible climate change has already begun to transform things.
Although some believe that they are in the Texas of the 1950s, I would like us to be rooted in 21st century Canada.
In terms of the environment, it is not surprising to learn that the Conservatives intend to broaden the definition of prohibited political activities for environmental groups, but only so they can place more restrictions on these groups.
While this government cozies up to oil companies and eliminates all the so-called legislative constraints with respect to the environment, it is also limiting the fundamental right of freedom of expression for hundreds of Canadian groups.
Do Canadians who have been given the right to assemble under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and who choose to express their opinions, again by virtue of this Charter, not have the right to enjoy the full benefits of their citizenship?
On another matter, Bill C-38 confirms what we already knew: Rights & Democracy will be abolished. It was obviously an embarrassment to this government to support an organization that was neutral, independent and dedicated to the cause of democracy. Totalitarian governments, oil dynasties and, worse, communist dictatorships do not favour the independence of institutions. Have the Conservatives become communists?
For the Conservatives, it is all about the open market, except for matters under state control, which they manage with an iron fist. The Conservatives seem quite motivated to give more and more arbitrary powers to their ministers. That is the case for the Minister of Health, who will now be able to approve certain products without having them go through the usual inspection process, which is supposed to take place with any imported product.
Based on the government's priorities, Canadians' health has taken a back seat to profitability. But who will benefit from this profitability? When we consider that so much freedom is being given to business and so little to the people, we are justified in wondering who this government is working for. The answer is obvious.
More proof that this government does not care about well-paid jobs is that it thought it would be a good idea to enshrine in this bill the possibility of allowing 2,500 foreign workers to fill highly specialized positions in Canada and then leave again. Now the government wants to contract out Canadian citizenship.
Neo-liberalism loves outsourcing because it sets workers in a race to the lowest wages. This government has taken that to a new level. If it cannot outsource our resources, then it will import workers. Importing workers means the commodification of human beings by virtue of an ideology that would eliminate all trade barriers, but add many barriers to life for the general public.
With the Conservatives, it is law and order for the people and anarchy for big business. It was not enough for the Conservative government to considerably reduce the powers of the Auditor General and to completely get rid of the inspector general of CSIS, who was getting in the way of its agenda; now the government is opening the door to privatizing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
In other words, by playing with alliances and subsidiaries, a business could wind up doing its own inspections. Is that the kind of rigour that Canadians deserve? In addition to the Conservatives' devious behaviour and their refusal to submit their bill to thorough examination, we also see a threat to freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, transparency and oversight.
While perhaps not an outright coup d'état, this bill places Canada on a dangerous path towards dictatorship. This bill's shortsighted short-term vision is eclipsed only by the long-term, harmful effects it will have. We all want a prosperous economy, but that should not be a government's only goal, since a government has many roles to play. There are many important responsibilities that only a responsible government can assume with authority. Otherwise, it would be too easy.
With this bill, the Conservative government is undermining its own legitimacy and giving up on what it sees as inevitable. It is high time that this government started showing some leadership and did us the honour of behaving like a real government for this orphan country. Instead, it seems to be doing everything in its power to destroy our institutions, sully our international reputation and shoot down everything that reflects basic common sense.
The Conservatives do not think like us. They spend. They spend money on prisons, on F-35s and on $16 glasses of orange juice, yet they slash away at the very essence of our democratic way of life. It makes no sense. This government already looks old, used up, wasteful and tired. It seems incapable of assuming the most basic responsibilities towards the public. The government must always remember this: Canadians are not fools. No, we are not fools.