Mr. Speaker, I stand in opposition to Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, for two main reasons. First, is the content and the second is the process.
With respect to content, this budget implementation bill impacts much more than the Conservative budget. This is an omnibus bill. The word “omnibus” is derived from the Latin and it means “for everything”.
The Conservative government has thrown practically everything into this omnibus bill, as is its habit. This is the fourth omnibus budget implementation bill. This omnibus bill would amend 70 laws or regulations in one bill. That is a massive amount of content. How is a member of Parliament, how is an opposition expected to thoroughly analyze and study all the amendments in this one bill, especially with the introduction of time allocation? I will come back to that in a moment. That particular Conservative tactic deserves a few special moments.
The content in this omnibus bill ranges from changes that got health and safety protection for workers to reductions at the Veterans Review and Appeal Board to gutting the National Research Council. Hundreds of our country's top scientists and researchers have been laid off or muzzled. They cannot speak their minds. They are not free to outline their research or their findings. Why? For fear of retribution, that is the answer. They cannot speak for fear of losing their jobs, for fear of being blackballed, for fear of being blacklisted.
Now with Bill C-4, the Conservatives are cutting nearly half of the positions at the National Research Council and giving more power to their hand-picked chairman.
Mr. Speaker, a question is, “Have I lost you yet?” The content goes on and goes on. This omnibus bill also includes two entirely new bills, the Mackenzie gas project impacts fund bill and the public service labour relations and employment board bill. This omnibus bill repeals the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board.
Have I lost you yet, Mr. Speaker? This bill pushes ahead with a tax hike on labour-sponsored venture capital funds. This omnibus bill even gives new immigration powers to the minister. Bill C-4 allows the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to create a requirement that foreign nationals wanting to enter or remain in Canada as permanent residents must be issued an invitation from the minister, or must express their interest to the minister through an expression of interest.
Have I lost you now, Mr. Speaker? Do I sound like I am all over the place? I should sound like I am all over the place, because I am all over the place. More specific, the Conservative omnibus bill is all over the place with everything in it but the kitchen sink. The tabling of such a wide-ranging bill in such a short time frame undermines Parliament.
Why does this omnibus bill undermine Parliament? It denies MPs the ability to thoroughly study the bill and its implications. That is the short answer.
I want to move on now from content to process.
Earlier today the Conservative government introduced time allocation on Bill C-4. With this motion, the Conservatives have shut down debate 58 times since the election in the spring of 2011, 4 times alone since the opening of the new session. The Conservatives are setting records, the worst kind of records.
The Conservatives rushed the bill through the House at second reading in order for the finance committee to start studying it. However, the finance committee was busy with prebudget consultations so it took almost three weeks before it could start studying the bill.
That is the Conservative process. Then what happens when the Conservatives rush a bill through the House? They make mistakes. The government is using its omnibus budget bills to fix mistakes it made in previous omnibus budget bills.
What would this omnibus budget bill do for the Canadian economy? Let us see. Despite what the Conservatives claim, it eliminates thousands of jobs. It cuts direct program spending. It weakens GDP growth. The Conservatives told Canadians to wait an extra month for Parliament to resume this fall so they could reset their policy agenda, press the reset button. Only they missed the reset button, or ignored it entirely and they hit the carry on as if things were normal button. Only the Conservatives are not normal. They are so far right they have lost sight of the Canadian way of balance between development and the environment, balance between industry and regulation and balance between health and safety and profit.
The Conservatives claim the economy is their flagship. That is what they boast most about. To that sentiment, I quote Michael Harris. He is well-known in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador for his writing and for his journalism, but he is known just as well here on the mainland. He says:
The PM and his government are not good managers. The nauseating repetition of the claim that the Tories know what they’re doing with the country’s finances will not make it so. They've pissed away more money than Madonna on a shopping spree—a billion on the G8-20 meetings that put a dent in the world’s Perrier supply and little else. They just plain lost $3.2 billion and the guy in charge over at Treasury Board is still there....They are such good fiscal managers that we now have the highest deficit in our history.
Over the last couple of decades, or more, the median wage rate has hardly changed.
Let me make another point on omnibus bills. This omnibus bill, as I said earlier, would amend 70 laws or regulations. As conservative commentator Andrew Coyne has pointed out:
We've no idea whether MPs supported or opposed any particular bill in the bunch....There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet.
It will not be long now before a Conservative MP stands up in the House and rips into an opposition MP for not supporting a particular piece of legislation, when the legislation the Conservatives are ripping us for was likely contained in an omnibus bill and it was that omnibus bill that the opposition MP voted down. It is an insane Conservative circle. This government stuffs as much non-related legislation into an omnibus bill as possible to get as much passed, to get as much by Canadians as possible.
Conservative MPs stand in the House day after day and sidestep or outright ignore pointed questions on scandals, on abuse and on government itself, but Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are paying attention. Canadians are paying attention. The deception is sinking in. We will work tirelessly on this side of the House to ensure Canadians do not forget these massive omnibus bills or the non-answers. We will work tirelessly to ensure they do not forget the government's undemocratic and un-Canadian ways.
Jack Layton once said that the moment one was absolutely sick and tired of repeating a message, so tired that one could not possibly repeat it another time, it was only then that the message would sink in, that it was getting across. I will never tire of spreading the truth about Conservatives and their agenda.