Mr. Speaker, Bill C-38 is so huge that the media have called it a mammoth bill. For those who may never have seen one, because you cannot just go to a zoo and see a mammoth, elephants are descended from mammoths, but mammoths are larger. So when the media called this a mammoth bill, the analogy was clear. As my former colleague from Montcalm would say, this is a thick document.
To further educate everyone, I should explain that mammoths have disappeared. We would like Bill C-38 to do the same. Unfortunately, we are stuck with this bill because the government has a majority. But this is not the first time the Conservative government has handed us a poison pill in one of its implementation bills. It did that even when it had a minority.
We all remember the crisis that erupted when the government made the not-so-subtle decision to eliminate funding for political parties in an implementation bill, thinking that the measure would slip through unnoticed. It also decided to start messing around with pay equity and remove the right to strike from certain officers and public servants. That did not happen because the majority, which was the opposition, decided that it was ready to topple the government and trigger an election.
Refusing to back down, and playing cheap partisan politics, the Conservative government decided to prorogue Parliament to prevent an election. That is how it operates. That is how it does business. When things are not going its way, it behaves utterly undemocratically. That is what it did once. Other times, it decided to trigger elections even though the House had passed a law to set fixed election dates.
A whole bunch of measures were included in this bill. The Conservatives are taking advantage of their majority, since they know they can pass the bill despite challenges by the opposition and the public. The government wants to muzzle not only the opposition, but also all organizations and all individuals who might be affected by Bill C-38. The government put things in this bill that were not previously announced. I heard some other members earlier giving a list of these things. For instance, Bill C-38 includes a complete overhaul of employment insurance.
Everyone was surprised, because never, ever—not in the election campaign or since coming to power in 2006—had the government even suggested that it would make any such changes that would penalize the regions in particular. I know that Quebec and the Atlantic provinces will be especially hard hit by this reform. Many seasonal workers back home will of course suffer as a result of this new reform, which this government should have presented in a separate bill.
That is also what the government should have done for many other measures that were included in this bill without any forewarning. Another example is adding two years to the retirement age for seniors. I heard a Conservative member rhyming off a bunch of quotations. Well, I have some quotations of my own, including one from the Fédération de l'Âge d'Or du Québec, which said that this government is behaving like a dictator and abandoning seniors with this decision to increase the retirement age in Bill C-38. I quote:
Not only is there a complete lack of measures to improve the quality of life of seniors, but the government is restructuring programs in a way that will jeopardize the future for generations of seniors to come.
That is what we heard in response to this change, which the Conservatives also had not announced during the election campaign. They also want to change the Bank Act. We have heard about this. The Bloc Québécois has raised this issue here in the House. We are not the only ones. This also caused a stir in Quebec City, when the finance minister unilaterally decided to disregard Quebec's Consumer Protection Act, saying that banks fall under federal jurisdiction.
However, he forgot to mention that contracts fall under Quebec's jurisdiction, as does the province's Consumer Protection Act. That is simply telling the banks that they can now do whatever they want in the province and there is no longer any legislation that applies. The Quebec justice minister, Mr. Fournier, even wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance of Canada, in which he said:
...we wish to inform you of our concerns with respect to your proposal. The federal Parliament cannot decide in a peremptory manner that provincial laws do not apply to a given sector.
The rejection of Mr. Fournier's arguments will undoubtedly make him want to push a little harder for a sovereign Quebec, given that he himself said that he no longer saw himself as part of today's Canada as a result of the Conservative government's decisions.
We do not want to achieve our own country in this way, because we want to build a country with honour and enthusiasm, as someone already said, and not because the government knocks us on the head. Nevertheless, more and more people are thinking about it because this government is sweeping away all Quebec's values.
The same principle applies to food inspection. The budget implementation bill contains changes to food inspection. This government does not seem to have learned any lessons from the listeriosis crisis. I was a member of the agriculture sub-committee established to identify the problems that unfortunately caused the death of 22 people at the time. Even today, the government is knowingly playing with people's health and safety, which defies all logic.
What the government wants to do is limit debate as much as possible; all these time allocations have made that clear. It is the same for Bill C-38.
Although the general public has been warned by the opposition parties in the House, it does not change the fact that we are continuing to discover many new measures in this document, which is over 400 pages long. These measures are going to affect the public, perhaps not right away in some cases, but certainly within a short enough period that the government will hear a lot about it during the next election.
Although the government did not want to talk about the measures it was going to insidiously add to Bill C-38, I am certain that it is going to get an earful about them from Canadians between now and 2015, when the next election is held. Some aspects of this bill are completely unacceptable, particularly those that affect the environment.
For instance, we know that division 1 of part 3 enacts a whole new piece of legislation on environmental protection, whose purpose is to expedite the approval of large projects, particularly those involving oil sands exploitation. The same is true of division 2 of part 3, which amends the National Energy Board Act in order to allow the Governor in Council, or cabinet, to decide whether a certificate should be issued for any large pipeline projects.
What the government wants now is clear: it wants as few environmental assessments as possible in order to fast-track these large projects, which are often harmful to the environment, as much as possible.
These projects can be implemented but things must be done right. An assessment must be conducted using the strictest possible standards. If the project meets those standards, then it can be implemented.
Finally, the government wants to help the large oil companies—as though they need any more help—and the gas companies by approving all their projects as quickly as possible.
This example pertains to the environment. I do not need to reiterate—it has been said often enough—that this bill puts an end to the Kyoto protocol once and for all. I am wondering what this is doing in a budget implementation bill.
However, we have been asked many times, during questions and comments, what is good about the budget implementation bill.
The government listened to the Bloc Québécois when it asked that the Governor General be required to pay income tax, just like all Canadians and Quebeckers, except the Governor General's salary was doubled by the Conservative government. That is rather ironic.
I have not done the exact calculations. It is not easy, because in addition to his salary, he receives other compensation, but at the end of the day, he will earn more money after being taxed than if we had kept things as is. That is rather ironic on the part of the Conservative government. I imagine they gave this gift to the Governor General in celebration of the Queen's jubilee.
Nevertheless, it is a symbolic gain: The Governor General of Canada will finally pay taxes.
It is no surprise that for these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-38. We will obviously be here tomorrow to try to make this government listen to reason, to make it pass certain amendments that would shorten this mammoth bill a bit. Nevertheless, what will remain is a massive, unacceptable bill.