Madam Speaker, I am not certain that I am happy to rise to speak to this bill, because, seriously, there are so many errors in it that it makes no sense at all.
People have to understand that Bill C-38 is the act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures. I would say that the key phrase in the bill is “and other measures”, because it seems that it has everything in it but the budget. It has a little of anything and everything under the sun.
And yet, listening to the hon. members opposite, one would think that this bill is the greatest thing since sliced bread. People are asking why the opposition is so fired up about this 421-page document, of which 192 pages talk about the environment without really saying anything—that is quite an art—and 29 pages discuss fiscal measures. It is a bill with 753 clauses, and only 51 of those deal with fiscal measures. And these people call themselves great managers. Saying that Conservative members are great managers may be one of the country's greatest myths. Every day, more people are figuring that out.
We receive tons of email, without exaggeration. I invite everyone to look at the messages. My Conservative friends who have access to my Facebook page can see that I am not lying; it is full of comments.
If the Conservative members do not listen, they will have some surprises one day, we hope.
While doing a comparative analysis of various budget implementation bills—for such is the task of a parliamentarian—I was amazed to realize that from 1994 to 2005, such bills had an average of 77 pages.
But since this wonderful Conservative government, this almighty public administrator, came to power in 2006, these bills have had 309 pages on average. The Conservatives try to shove this down our throats. Then they turn around and insult us. For the next year, they will probably be telling us that we voted against this and that, until the next bill, which could be even longer still.
Some members have surely said so, but we perhaps have not said it enough, because the members opposite do not seem to be actively listening. The problem with this kind of bill is that it may contain some excellent measures that the opposition could have supported, but that is unfortunately not true of the vast majority of the measures. However, since the government decided to introduce this omnibus bill, this mammoth bill, this Trojan Horse—whatever you want to call it—the fact remains that this bill is hiding a lot of things. This bill gives us a clear picture of the government and what it is trying to do. That is what is unfortunate.
I once had high hopes. In 2006, when I lost my first election, I told myself that the incoming government believed in democracy and transparency. I told myself that it would do everything in its power to do things differently. I told myself that was a small price to pay to see democracy in action. Wow. It did not take long for me to wake up and see that the Conservatives were not going to make that happen. That might be part of their long-ago history and the legends they tell themselves when they party it up and engage in mutual admiration, but it has nothing to do with reality.
On the contrary, they have adopted some good old Liberal habits, such as introducing huge omnibus bills that they can hide all sorts of things in.
Here is what I do not understand: they have a majority. They can do what they want because they have the seats. We can do math as well as they can, thank you very much. We know full well that at the end of the day, it will be time to vote. So what is the problem? Why not study these issues thoroughly? I am not asking them to do it for our benefit, but for the people we are all supposed to represent.
From everything we have been hearing for the past few weeks, you would think this is all-out war between the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party.
That is absolutely not the case. It is our duty to represent our constituents. At times, our Conservative colleagues have stood up—not in the House because they do not have permission to do so from the great Prime Minister—when they were in their ridings. They forgot that these days there are cameras everywhere and images are easy to get. We have more opportunity to see their true colours.
I have been a government backbencher, and I know that can be frustrating at times, because sometimes we are the last to know. However, at the time, in 2004, we had a system whereby for some bills we literally had the right to vote how the people of our riding wanted us to vote, as the Conservative member just explained to us.
As a newly arrived member of Parliament in 2004, this was probably the part I liked best, because we had an opportunity to have some influence on what was happening in Parliament. Unfortunately, we soon realized that these attempts were quickly crushed, which is rather sad.
I defy anybody—and I am tempted to challenge backbenchers—to know all the subtleties included in so many pages and measures. I studied law and I read and reread the bill. This is not necessarily the easiest and most exciting reading. At that level, the devil is often in the details, and there are many details in this bill.
What we do know is that it will change the face of our country. Perhaps that is what the government wanted to do, and it is certainly its prerogative as a majority government. I am not challenging this right, but there is a proper way to do things, and this is certainly not the case with Bill C-38.
The government often says that is creates jobs. That is its new hobby horse. That is what it claims, what it keeps repeating, what is written on its cards and what is in the black binder of answers for parliamentary secretaries and ministers. It is the government that creates jobs. There was a time when it talked about 600,000 jobs. Now, the number is 760,000. Sometimes, government members forget 60,000 jobs and talk about 700,000 jobs. These are nicely prepared answers, but they do not say much.
How polite and gracious is the government? Not only does it have a majority to impose a 421 pages budget bill in which 69 acts are amended or repealed, and which contains 751 clauses on tax measures, but it does not even let the opposition express its views without saying silly things through and through. So much for that government.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that job creation is a totally erroneous notion. He estimates that, in fact, this budget will result in the loss of 43,000 jobs in Canada. When this figure is combined with the previous cuts made by this government, the number rises to 102,000 lost jobs. That is not what we call job creation.
The government is eliminating programs and changing measures in order to conduct fewer assessments. This will definitely not create any jobs. At a time when the global economy remains shaky, to say the least, this is not necessarily the easiest time to create tons of jobs. If the Conservative government is counting on the private sector to create jobs, I have some news for it.
In my region, in my riding of Gatineau, which is located right across the river, there is a great deal of unease. This government is cutting jobs in the public service and taking services away from people who need them. This hurts, and it is definitely not the right way to do things.
This bill warranted a lot more thorough examination so we could tell our constituents “mission accomplished”. We certainly would not have agreed with the policies, but we would have had the chance to express our opinions on this.
I would have liked to dissect this so-called budget bill quite a bit further, but unfortunately, I am out of time.