Mr. Speaker, to begin, I would like to say that I have the honour and privilege of sharing my time with the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.
As the member for LaSalle—Émard, I spent the summer talking with my constituents when I met them at various events or at their homes when I went door to door. They told me they were concerned about our democracy and the fact that they feel that members of the official opposition are having an increasingly difficult time having their voices heard in Ottawa. We can see that here today with yet another time allocation motion on an omnibus bill that is more than 400 pages long. It is a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. We have seen this before and we see it over and over again when we come back to the House of Commons.
I do not want to spend too much time on that unfortunate situation, despite the fact that it upsets me greatly. It prevents me, and every other member sitting in the House of Commons, from truly representing our constituents, and it prevents us from reading and studying this omnibus bill in detail.
My constituents told me they are concerned especially about the services that are customarily provided to Canadians. They are being eroded. I am thinking about those provided by Service Canada, those involving employment insurance and old age pensions, and Immigration Canada's services.
In addition, I can attest that in my constituency office, specifically, we see a lot of constituents who are upset that front-line services to Canadians are increasingly threatened. These are services that Canadians deserve but can no longer use—or they are being cut. Service Canada offices are being closed. Programs of all kinds are being closed. My constituents are really worried about this.
Moreover, it is becoming obvious that every time these omnibus bills are introduced—and these are actually budget bills—they contain mistakes. These bills are hastily put together. A lot of them could not be thoroughly studied and considered for lack of time. This has long-term consequences.
It is well known that this government is reluctant to rely on evidence and statistics and to conduct truly scientific studies to determine the impact of the bills introduced in the House. The government really has a strong dislike for what we know as evidence- and fact-based policy.
We see how this government has gutted Statistics Canada and how it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the economic health of our country and our communities. Canada is a vast and beautiful country made up of both great cities and small communities scattered from coast to coast. It will become more and more difficult to find out exactly what is happening all over this great country, as the government has deprived Statistics Canada of the tools it needs to build an accurate and realistic portrait that could help us, as parliamentarians, to make fair and informed decisions.
It is also becoming increasingly obvious that the hastiness in preparing these omnibus bills and massive budgets creates errors that have huge consequences. I will just talk about one of them.
A major mistake slipped into the last budget that more than doubled the tax rate on caisses populaires and credit unions. Again, this government has completely destroyed the program for credit unions, the Co-operatives Secretariat, as well as a program that was greatly appreciated by co-operatives across Canada, the co-operative development initiative.
We want small businesses to start up and become medium and large businesses. We have programs to help those small businesses. Why not do the same thing for co-operatives? No, after two or three years, the government decided just to eliminate the co-operative development initiative, which helped new co-operatives start up and become larger co-operatives.
This kind of decision did not take into account the realities facing existing co-operatives across Canada. The co-operative system is part of our heritage and our economic system. This government did not take that into account whatsoever. It does not realize how much co-operatives contribute to the Canadian economy. They create jobs, they participate in local economic development and, what is more, they are able to weather the ups and downs of our current economy.
On top of all that, they are 100% Canadian. They are never going to decide one day to pack up and relocate. They are well established here and are part of our lives.
Caisses populaires and credit unions are financial institutions that are established in communities across Canada. Unlike banks, they stay because they meet the needs of the communities.
The last budget ended up more than doubling the tax rate on caisses populaires and credit unions. This would have had disastrous consequences for those institutions.
That is what happens when the government introduces a mammoth budget bill that disregards what MPs and committees can bring to the table when they get a chance to study these bills in detail.
When the last budget bill was introduced, we asked that the bill be split up so that it could be studied in detail at the appropriate committees. The government refused, of course. It is the same thing this time around. We see that there is a lot in this bill, but nothing is really taken into account.
I would once again like to talk about the contributions made by co-operatives, because since my appointment as the NDP critic for co-operatives, I have had the opportunity to meet with many associations, whether here in Ottawa, in Saskatchewan or in Quebec, and I will continue to consult such groups. Co-operatives are businesses that work in a number of sectors in Canada. As I mentioned, they make an important contribution to the Canadian economy.
In closing, I would like to remind the government that the co-operative sector is part of our economy and it deserves its fair share of support from the federal government.
The federal government can be an active partner in developing co-operatives and can act as a lever in partnership with the provinces and the co-operative sector.
This is not the last time I will be speaking about the co-operative sector, nor is it the last time I will criticize the attitude of this government, which is depriving all of us of the ability to thoroughly examine an omnibus bill that will have a tremendous impact on the lives of all Canadians.