Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand to speak on this motion by my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso. It is important, after this long a debate, to remind the House what the motion really is. It states, “That the House recognize that the use of temporary foreign workers to replace Canadian workers in jobs Canadians are qualified and able to do is an abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program...” It goes on to state that a special committee “have all of the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada...”
This is a serious issue. The need to consult Canadians on the temporary foreign worker program is critical and one that the government should support if it has been honest about how the program has been working. There have been a lot of answers from the government claiming it is concerned, we heard the word “concerned” used about 20 times by Conservatives, that there will be an internal review, it is going to fix any problems, and so on. Why not show some openness and transparency? Why not allow Parliament to do its function? Why not allow MPs to do their jobs without the strings of the PMO attached to the shoulders of the backbench members on the government side?
If the government has been truthful in its remarks thus far that it has not allowed deliberate abuse of the program, then it should be the first to support this motion. We now know, though, sadly, that the government, by the remarks of the parliamentary secretary, will not support the motion. The parliamentary secretary speaks for the government. Conservative MPs stand time after time and talk about “our government”. They still do not seem to realize that they are not members of the government but members of the governing party. They are members of the House of Commons. They can speak in their own right. They could support this motion.
I hear the member for Brant squeaking a bit over there. He can stand in his own right. That would be wonderful to see. I have listened to quite a number of backbenchers and I suspect this summer there will be a cabinet shuffle. Maybe the backbenchers are vying to get into cabinet and they do not want to cross any lines. However, for the backbenchers on the Conservative side who have been speaking out there is a real opportunity here.
There is a real opportunity for us to show Canadians that this place can work and that members of Parliament from all parties can do their jobs, hold hearings and, yes, have differences of opinion, but come back with recommendations for the government. If backbenchers in the Conservative Party support a recommendation in a committee, that does not mean they are undermining the government. They are making a recommendation as part a committee based on what they heard across the country for the government to do something better and the executive branch of government can reject or accept that recommendation. That is how this place is supposed to work.
What backbenchers in the Conservative Party seem to fall back on, and it obviously comes from the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, is the following:
[The] Minister...has launched a review of the temporary foreign worker program in the wake of allegations that the Royal Bank of Canada is laying off Canadian citizens for immigrant labour.
That is what they are falling back on: an internal review.