Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend. I find this very interesting. Canadians have considerable fears about this government. Clearly, our political system as it exists now is broken.
That is the report we are talking about right now. I wish the Conservatives would also contribute to this debate, but I doubt they will. This report, prepared by the NDP, outlines a system that would work very well for Canadians. This system would preserve the responsibilities to and the respect for Canadian taxpayers.
As my colleague alluded to, we New Democrats thought—and perhaps naively, I now reflect—somehow when we passed a motion in Canada's Parliament, unanimously, with Conservatives and Liberals voting for that motion to improve things for Canadians, that they actually wanted to do what was in the motion.
There was a plan and an idea in the text of that motion to improve transparency and accountability for all Canadians. One would think that this would be a non-partisan issue, that there is not really a wedge to drive here, that it is not a left versus right, but it is just right versus wrong, and that all parliamentarians would agree that, due to the series of Conservative and Liberal scandals, the only good thing that might come out of it is some true and honest reform of the way we do business in Parliament.
No one has made the case for Senate abolition better than the current Prime Minister with his appointing of the nefarious characters who are now under investigation by the RCMP. No one has made a better case that we need improved systems for accountability at the very highest level than the Prime Minister has, as the RCMP continues to investigate members of his office, his inner sanctum, his most trusted advisors.
For generations now, New Democrats have been making the case for Senate abolition, but it took the Prime Minister and his incredible inability to find talent. One would think that if he had to appoint 59 senators and break his promise to Canadians—the promise he made time and again that he would not appoint unelected senators—that he could have found some better characters to choose from.
I guess Brazeau, Wallin, and Mike Duffy were the best of the Conservative lot. It was thought that these folks would go out and do what was most important for the government, which was raise money for the Conservative Party of Canada. They were good at that, but being accountable and honest with taxpayers, not so much.
For years we have seen the Board of Internal Economy conduct itself entirely behind closed doors. Up until recently I sat on the Board of Internal Economy, and I watched how the system worked and how it did not work. We, as New Democrats, realize that the best disinfectant is sunlight. If we want to really expose what is going on, we have to bring it out into the light of day.
Canadians are properly concerned with the way the Conservatives are handling not just the money they collect from taxpayers but also the various so-called watchdogs that we have instituted over generations to protect the public from power that goes unchecked.
We have the Auditor General, who has done incredible work and who helped expose the Liberal sponsorship scandal, which went to the very heart and top and through the Liberal Party of Canada and showed that corruption was rife. People properly went to jail.
Thank goodness Sheila Fraser was there. If she had not been, would we ever have had exposure of the corruption that had been going on in the Liberal Party of Canada? It is unlikely. Jean Chrétien was not about to tell us about it. Paul Martin was not about to admit to anything. It took a good Auditor General, digging, finding, and calling people to testify. We have seen the government take the Auditor General's office and cut its ability to do its job on behalf of Canadians.
The Parliamentary Budget Office was a function created by the current government to help bring truth to government. That was the whole reason for the institution, to find out what the actual numbers were for things like expenditures and whether the government was telling the truth about what things actually cost.
As soon as that Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, did his work, the government made him an enemy of the state. It threatened his budget, threatened him personally, and attacked his credibility, time and again, and not with facts, of course, because that is not how Conservatives do these things. No, it was all personal.
It was a vendetta against all the poor Conservative victims, again, one of the conspiracy theories that they derive about themselves, that everyone is out to get the poor Conservative Party of Canada. That is what it is. It must be a conspiracy of all these bureaucrats out there trying to do something so awful as to hold them to account.
We have also seen this with Elections Canada. Elections Canada was moving a pilot project forward that would allow Canadians to vote electronically online, which the younger demographic in particular, which has a voting rate south of 40%, was very keen to engage in. This is something other democracies around the world are looking for. That pilot project got cut by Elections Canada, not because it wanted to but because the Conservative government cut its funds. I shy away from conspiracy theories, but that is a direct link. Elections Canada said that is what it wanted to do: engage more young people. Perhaps they would vote Conservative, or perhaps not. One hopes they have not grown that cynical by the age of 25 or 35. The fact is that it would help improve democracy, something the government is obviously not interested in. We see that in its, ironically, cynically entitled new election act with respect to fair voting.
This motion was concrete and specific. It was backed up by the Auditor General. One would think that the Conservatives and Liberals would have listened to what the Auditor General had to say. The fundamental principle that self-policing does not work is one we should all agree with. Self-policing is inherently fraught with problems because inevitably someone will not tell the truth.
I do not accuse the Liberal leader of knowingly lying when he said that he had not taken any money from taxpayers while he was out earning speaking fees. However, the fact was that there was a self-policing and self-reporting procedure that the Liberals had adopted, which proved not to work. What he said was not true. He had taken money and used public money to go and get speaking gigs and fees. That is a problem.
The Conservatives said they would put all of their expenses online to self-report and self-police. When we went through the Conservatives' websites to find the reports, we found there was no information at all. They do not tell us what the trip was for or what they were doing. They do not tell us most of the trips they go on. They do not report their budgets. They pretend they do and hope the media and public take the headline only and ignore what actually goes on.
We need something better. The New Democrats propose that we would not be self-policed. Rather, we would have the Auditor General or an external body make sure that every dollar that members of Parliament spend on their budgets is reported and accounted for properly.
We also said that the very concept of the Board of Internal Economy in 2014, where members of Parliament secretly meet and decide on what is a very large budget that governs all of Parliament, is something from a bygone era. Of course we made conditions that some things need to be taken into camera, such as security measures and the security of the Prime Minister. Any of those sensitive issues would be done in private, as is appropriate and as is done in the public and private sectors. However, let us apply some normal standards and rules, because that is what Canadians expect of us.
The Conservative government came into power essentially based on a previous government scandal. It came into power promising great things around accountability. It must feel some regret with respect to those promises, because they are being shown right now not to have been true.
When it comes to government accountability, the Ethics Commissioner, the Information Commissioner, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer have been unanimous in describing the government as the most secretive in Canadian history. They cannot get basic information to report back to Canadians. I thought those used to be Conservative values. I thought the Conservatives used to talk about those kinds of things and that they would be different. They said they would be different from the Liberals. Then we look at their record.
Therefore, because of the extenuating circumstances the government has put before us, I move:
That the House do now adjourn.