Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the point that you have made, but I am setting the context. The context is that we have a government that purports to want to help small and medium-sized businesses. The reduction of red tape, especially if it is useless red tape, and regulations would help them, as would the other issue that I raised. I was just using it as another example in the way of educating my colleagues across the way.
What I hear from owners of small and medium-sized businesses is that they hear a lot from government and members of Parliament in their ridings and all across Canada about how much they want to support small and medium-sized businesses, but the owners often tell me that what the government says it is going to do does not always end up helping them or tackling the real issues.
We are looking at the track record of how the government has managed this in the past. Being New Democrats, very practical and down to earth people, of course we want to support any common sense solutions. Common sense should prevail. We want to use those common sense solutions to reduce the paper burden and compliance costs small businesses face when dealing with government. We absolutely want to do that.
We also want to assist small businesses and support the government by eliminating unnecessary red tape and allowing them to focus on what they do best, which is growing their businesses and creating jobs. We know that small and medium-sized businesses are the engines of Canada's economy. I always say that when people shop locally and invest in small and medium-sized businesses and when we make it easier for them by taking away a lot of the bureaucracy, they are the ones that grow jobs. They are the ones that hire people from the community and the people they hire then spend and put money back into the community, and the economic engine is invigorated. We absolutely need that.
It is said that the devil is in the details, and once again, there are details in this bill that are causing New Democrats concern. I mentioned it at the beginning, but let me stress it again. Bill C-21 would give the President of the Treasury Board arbitrary powers that would make him the arbiter of eliminating regulations that he deems unnecessary.
There are colleagues across the way who seem to have an allergy to science, data, experts or the people who actually do the work. I would say that in order to do this, we need to consult and engage the small business community so that they have a say in this, not to have a minister go behind closed doors and do some kind of pseudo-consultation online, talking to his buddies or the people who give him money. That is the not the kind of consultation or partnership needed as we move forward on such an important issue.
The other thing is that there are the important critical areas of the health and safety of Canadians and there is nothing specifically in the bill that says this bill does not apply to those regulations. It is mentioned briefly in the preamble, but I am always concerned when things are in preambles due to what I did in my other life, because things in preambles are just that, a kind of lead-up. However, those are the kinds of things we need enshrined in the bill. Health and safety are absolutely critical and nobody should be more conscious of that than members of Parliament after having seen what played out over the last few weeks and especially this week in the House.
Also, in the bill there is absolutely no mention of environmental issues. I know that a lot of my colleagues in the House across the way are in denial about climate change, but we are getting dire warnings in new reports coming out that the time to act is now and the time to talk is over. Therefore, there had better be something in the bill to address environmental protections as well.
I believe many of my colleagues across the way are absolutely serious about the health and safety of Canadians. I know some of them. I have worked on committees with some of them. They do care about the health and safety of Canadians, and they do care about the environment. I would urge them to urge that part of the House to accept our amendments, but also to bring forward changes themselves so that the health and safety of Canadians is an integral part of the bill, as well as the environmental issues.
Sometimes we talk about regulation and getting rid of red tape. Red tape is always a bit of a downer. No one ever wants red tape, the useless paperwork. At the same time, we have to remember that some regulations are good.
I am very nervous when the minister has that kind of arbitrary power, that on a whim, from a lobbyist pressuring him or her, what could happen in the future is deregulation occurring in areas where it should not. I do not want anyone to stand up and say that would never happen. We have seen that happen in this House, over and over again.
We are not the only ones saying this. Many people talk about the red tape irritants, and of course we want to get rid of those. We want to focus on growth and innovation. As parliamentarians, it behooves us to make sure that we do all of those things.
The government adopted a red tape reduction action plan that outlines 90 actions to be taken by government departments and six systemic reforms, including the implementation of the one-for-one rule. This guideline would require the government to eliminate one regulation for every new regulation it adopts. I think that is so that we do not run short of storage space, which would happen if we just keep adding regulations and never take any away.
Buried in this, is the fact that we have to look at which regulations actually do good and are there for the public good and to the protect businessmen, and which are not.
There are many things in the bill alone that will create more bureaucracy. The bill mandates a review after five years, thus triggering more administrative red tape. Then of course we will need the red tape police, and the red tape police will have to oversee those things.
I was looking at some of the failures that we have seen when regulation is looked at in such a limited way that all regulation is seen as just being in the way. What we are saying is that now is the time for a real consultation.
In the coming months, the NDP small business critic will be launching a national consultation with representatives of small businesses. That is the kind of parliamentary work we need. Young entrepreneurs and family businesses are key to a prosperous economic future for Canada. New Democrats will make sure that we focus on practical, common sense solutions to help them succeed. We are not going to do that by sitting here in Parliament. We are going to do that when we listen to those on whom our legislation is going to have a direct impact, in this case, the business community.
Only recently a businessman was telling me how much the hiring credit for small business in the 2014 budget would have helped him, but of course that is not there. When it comes to taking real action, my colleagues across the way just talk. Then we see this bill being rushed through.
I want to talk a little about the Conservatives' track record when it comes to safeguarding regulations and protecting the health and safety of Canadians. I say that because those are not protected explicitly in the legislation.
Let us just look at the Canadian aviation regulations when WestJet lobbied and got its staff to passenger ratios changed, just at a whim like that. That is what really scares me more than anything else, that the minister is going to be so prone to these lobbyists that will come forward. Of course, the Liberals do not have a clean record on this either because in 1999 the Liberals deregulated rail safety by continuing to implement the safety management systems approach adopted by Mulroney's Conservative government. They did not start it, but they did not stop it either.
We have seen some of those things happen, so finally and absolutely let us look at making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to function but let us look at the full story on how we can support them.