Mr. Speaker, I saw the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley rising. I am sure he would have pointed out that, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in 2013, of the jobs the current government managed to cobble together, 95% were actually part-time, and we have 300,000 more unemployed than we did the year before. Therefore, the Conservative government, I guess in keeping with not showing up to evening sessions, is a part-time government. The Conservatives are only able to stimulate the economy with part-time jobs, and that is not even going. I know my colleague for Skeena—Bulkley Valley would also mention the fact that tens of thousands of jobs were lost last month.
We are talking about a government that right now does not seem to be doing much right.
It is rather sad that the government is again moving this motion that it is imposing with its majority. The NDP is always willing to work evenings. There is no doubt about that and we have proven it many times. Every June since 2011, NDP members were always in the House ready to debate bills and provide advice. The problem is that this government does not listen and is not prepared to listen to good advice. I will come back to that in a moment.
We are very familiar with the results. We know that bill after bill has been rejected by the court. The government is then often required to make amendments to the botched parts of the previous bill. The government seems to want to bungle everything, not just services to Canadians, but also the legislative process that leads to the introduction of appropriate bills and proposed amendments to improve bills in order to help Canadians. This process does not seem all that complicated, but it is unfortunately often botched by this government.
I am referring to the Conservatives' use of closure and time allocation motions, which is on par with their use by the Liberals when they were in power. It is appalling that this government systematically wants to shut down debate and deprive members of their right to speak. Each time, 280 members, on average, are deprived of their right to speak. The Conservatives vote for these closure motions. That is ridiculous.
In ridings where a Conservative member was elected—I am not so sure they will be re-elected the next time—that member takes away his own opportunity to speak on behalf of his constituents. The Conservatives say they want to shut down debate and therefore they do not want their constituents in Calgary, Red Deer, Lévis or any other riding to be represented in the House of Commons. They want to shut down debate. Thus, the vast majority of Conservative members seldom talk about the needs of the people in their riding or bills introduced in Parliament.
The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has just stood up and said that the Conservatives are going to work harder, but that also happened last year. My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley knows what I am talking about. Last year, the Conservatives were not in the House to speak. One evening, there was six hours of debate and only a single Conservative member was in the House to speak. Only one Conservative member spoke in six hours. The government moves time allocation and closure motions, and the Conservative members remain silent instead of speaking.
Members of the NDP, on the other hand, are always in attendance when the sitting hours of the House are extended. We are always there to fight, to improve bills and to solicit comments about bills. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are nowhere to be found. They do not come to the House, or perhaps one of them will show up over the course of the evening. As we said earlier, during the debate on S-12, no Conservative members came to speak about the bill. Not one, and we were there for six hours. What were they doing?
I do not know. It is not as though they were out consulting their constituents. The Conservatives are not here. They are not speaking.
I am going to come back to this momentarily, but the result is that we end up with botched legislation because the government does not listen and the Conservative members do not even speak on behalf of their constituents. Honestly.
We receive a generous salary from our constituents, the taxpayers. We are here to work to help our ridings move forward. I represent the riding of Burnaby—New Westminster. It is my duty to be in the House to stand up for the interests of the people of Burnaby—New Westminster.
If members decide to stop speaking, to systematically go along with the government's time allocation and closure motions and therefore deprive their ridings of the right to speak and if, on top of that, members do not even show up for the evening sessions in the House of Commons to contribute to the debate and the legislative process, then this approach becomes a complete sham.
I am fairly certain—and I would take a bet with any Conservative member—that this year, we will have the same problem as we did last year and the year before: 90% to 95% of the time, the NDP, or sometimes other opposition members, will be speaking and the Conservatives will not even be here.
The reasoning behind this motion does not make sense. The Conservatives are not the ones who will be here working. The Conservatives will not be here representing their constituents. The Conservatives will not be here giving passionate speeches about their ridings. They will not be here.
The proof, as we will soon see, is the way this motion is structured. The way the government decided to structure the motion is evidence of how much it will once again diminish the democratic rights all Canadians value so strongly. Canadians across the country want us to be in the House. They want us to represent them, regardless of where we are from.
For example, my colleague from Sherbrooke is an extraordinary young man, and he does a good job representing his riding. He is always in the House and speaks often. He is here; he represents his riding. He understands how important it is to represent Sherbrooke in the House of Commons. The same goes for my colleague from Hochelaga. Her riding is not the wealthiest riding in Canada. The average family income in her riding is below the average. She is always here representing the people of Hochelaga and talking on their behalf. She gives speeches on the importance of affordable housing. That is because she understands her role as member of Parliament.
Members on the Conservative side, on the other hand, refuse to speak at second reading or at report stage because there is a time allocation motion, and they refuse to show up on evenings when we have extended debates. How can the government expand the scope of its activities when it does not listen and when government members refuse to speak on behalf of their constituents? They refuse to defend government bills, they refuse to take action, they refuse to present amendments and they refuse to offer anything at all when it comes to legislation.
In such circumstances, voting Conservative does not mean a great deal. When people voted for the Conservatives, they voted for members who are controlled by the Prime Minister's Office, not members who rise in the House, defend their constituents' rights and speak on their behalf.
I want to speak to the motion now because I know that many of my colleagues are reading it. We want this to be a useful study of an important motion. For those who are watching, I will go step by step.
To begin, the majority government, as usual, wants to force a decision on the House. Unfortunately, debate and democracy are foreign concepts for the Conservatives.
They are proposing that commencing upon the adoption of this order and concluding on Friday, June 20, 2014, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment shall be midnight, except that it shall be 10 p.m. on a day when a debate, pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1, is to take place.
As I said, we do not object to working until midnight. However, what actually happens is that the members opposite rarely show up to speak in the House. Opposition members are the ones who really contribute to the debates, and that is a major problem. If the government listened to us, it would not be problem, but that is not the case.
This has caused many problems with bills in the past. More than once we had to make amendments to botched bills with subsequent legislation, or, again, the Supreme Court clearly indicated that the bills were not in order.
Today, the Conservatives are proposing that we adjourn at midnight, or 10 p.m. if a debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1 is to take place. That refers to emergency debates.
My colleagues in the House, including the hon. member for Laval—who works very hard for the people in his riding—and the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, are always listening to their constituents and are always ready to raise questions that often result in an emergency debate.
A few weeks ago, in fact, an emergency debate was held in accordance with Standing Orders 52 and 53.1. That debate on the kidnapping of young Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram was proposed by the member for Ottawa Centre. Many people from across the country came here to attend the debate, and people were still talking about it when I returned to my riding, Burnaby—New Westminster, last week.
Now the government wants to prevent us from holding emergency debates before 10 p.m. If the Chair decides that there is to be an emergency debate, that debate cannot begin before 10 p.m. For working people in eastern Canada, who have families and work hard, that is late. They will be denied their right to tune in.
It will not be so bad in my riding because of the three-hour time difference. For example, 10 p.m. here is 7 p.m. back home. That is a reasonable time. However, for the vast majority of Canadians, this government motion deprives them of their right to tune in to the emergency debates that will take place in the coming weeks.
Second, when we look at the second clause of this motion, which deals with recorded divisions, we see that what the Conservatives would now do is put in place a voting system that would have votes occur at the conclusion of oral questions, in the middle of the afternoon. This proposal reveals the whole intent of the government.
The Conservatives say that they want to work harder. We have already ripped up that argument by showing that when they said they wanted to work harder that last year, over 90% of the time it was not Conservatives but New Democrats doing the work. Only one Conservative member would show up every night to speak in the House of Commons, so this idea that somehow the government wants to work harder is simply not true.
Paragraph (b) deals with recorded divisions demanded in respect of any debatable motion before 2 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. In this case the vote would stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on that day, while if a division is demanded after 2 p.m., it would stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the next sitting day.
What the Conservatives would do is basically do away with those evening votes. Not only do they not show up to speak, but they also do not even want to show up to vote. This could be perhaps the laziest motion ever put forward in the House of Commons by the government. It is far from wanting to work harder, as we have shown quite clearly when 90% to 95% of the time it is the New Democrats carrying the heavy load.
We are fine with carrying the heavy load. We come from humble roots and we are hard workers. Everybody acknowledges that, and that is why 90% to 95% of the time it is we who do the hard work in the House.
However, now the Conservatives want to even do away with evening votes. They are saying, “No, that is too hard. It is too hard voting at 6:00 or 7:00 at night. We do not want to show up to speak”.
This is a licence for laziness. That is what the government has brought forward. The Conservatives want to make sure that motions are voted on around question period time so that folks can show up around question period and then do whatever it is that Conservative MPs do in the evening. I have no idea of that.
I should also point out that, in this motion, the same goes for private members' business. Where this motion mentions Wednesdays governed by this order, it says that recorded divisions will be deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday. As for other private members' business, the motion says that this too will be deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday. That is the same thing.
This is really a licence for laziness. As we have shown, 90% to 95% of the time, the Conservatives are not the ones showing up to speak in the House. They do not want to vote in the evening, not even on private members' business. They want to curtail all of these activities and make sure that no votes happen in the evening.
What difference will that make? The NDP will still be here working. We work hard. We have a reputation for working hard. We come from humble roots and we represent our ridings well. I know that the members here this afternoon are very hard-working, and we will continue to work hard. Votes, including votes on private members' business, will now be held in the afternoon. That means the Conservative members will have their evenings free.
That is really the problem. As we move through this motion, we see time and time again that this is like a giant recess for the Conservatives. They have structured this so that they do not have to have votes in the evening anymore. They do not show up to speak in the evening 90% of the time, depending on the evening. It is New Democrats who actually put in the representation of their ridings. What we are seeing again is the Conservatives, through this motion, giving themselves an evening off.
The real clue to what the Conservatives are doing, this licence for laziness, is that they will not show up to speak or to vote, but they are telling the NDP that we can do our stuff and speak on behalf of our constituents. They have also proved that they are not willing to listen to the good advice we offer them, which is why they got into so much trouble having to amend legislation they brought forward previously and having pieces of legislation rejected by the Supreme Court. If they had listened to us and to Canadians, they would not be in so much trouble.
The key to this is paragraph (h): “No dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown after 6:30 p.m.” The essence of the motion is that Conservatives will not show up to speak in the House of Commons. They will not show up to participate, because they do not do that; they let harder-working members do that. They will also not show up to vote in the evening. They will not show up to vote on private members' legislation, and they will not show up to vote on public legislation. That is why they want the votes after question period, when it is convenient.
That means that the Conservatives are shutting down the rules of the House so that only they can use them. It is incredible. If we had not been through Bill C-23, in which they were trying to cook the next election campaign, it would be unbelievable that after all the decades, a century and a half and more of Canadian parliamentary democracy, a government would say that the rules will exist, but the government members will be the only ones who can use them. Only Conservatives can use these rules. Only a minister of the crown can use these rules.
We will have this period. I know it, because we went through it. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley knows it full well, because I think he probably spent more time in this House than any other member. Night after night, there will be no Conservatives here wanting to speak, or maybe one member of Parliament from the Conservative Party will want to speak. However, the Conservatives will not show up to vote, because they are having all the votes deferred to question period, when it is convenient for them, and they are now saying that all the rules of the House apply only to them. Only they can use them. They are basically putting handcuffs on every single member of the opposition. They are saying that only a Conservative can use the rules that normally function that make this democratic place a democracy. Only the Conservatives can use them. It is unbelievable.
If we had not been through the unfair elections act, where the Conservatives were trying to subvert the next election campaign, we would actually think this could not be Canada. These are not Canadian values. That is what they are doing. They are putting in, and writing it out so that any Canadian can see, “No dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown after 6:30 p.m.”
This is not an approach to try to work harder. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was trying to slide that by us a little while ago, and we simply do not believe it. The evidence simply shows that this is not the case. Conservatives will not be showing up to speak in the House. They did not last year. They did not the year before, and 90% to 95% of the time they let the heavy lifting be carried by New Democrats. We are strong, we are tough, and we do not mind doing it. We will do an even better job in 2015 once we are the government. That is when we will really see changes, when the heavy lifting actually benefits people directly through good governance.
I can tell members something else we will not be doing. It is what I mentioned half an hour ago.
I am enjoying this. I am not sure when I am going to sit down, actually. I think my colleagues from the NDP are appreciating it too.
I just want to mention what happens when due diligence is not done. Conservative members should know this, but they are muzzled. They vote for time allocation and muzzle themselves, so they do not actually speak on legislation in the House. There are 280 MPs, on average, who have their right to speak on legislation ripped away every single time, the dozens and dozens of times, the government has used closure techniques. Sometimes it calls it time allocation, but it amounts to the same thing; it is closure. Every time the government does it, 280 MPs, on average, are denied their right to speak. They do not show up to the evening session to speak. One does, and that is normally it. Then 90% to 95% of the heavy lifting is done by the NDP.
What is the result of this? I will give three examples. I could give tons of examples. I could probably speak for 14 hours on bad, botched Conservative legislation. I could do that, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you and the public would find it interesting, but eventually we are going to have to go to question period. I am going to mention only three examples.
The Conservatives rammed Bill C-38 through the House without due care and attention and without showing up for evening sessions. Bill C-38 was one of the omnibus bills. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley raised major concerns about it at the time. The Conservatives botched the bill. They botched it so badly that the next bill they introduced had to fix the mistakes they made in the first bill. They rammed Bill C-38 through the House with time allocation. It was omnibus legislation, which was quite all right, except it was wrong. It was badly botched in a way only the Conservative government could do it.
It was so badly botched, the government had to introduce another piece of legislation, Bill C-45. Bill C-45 had to fix all the problems in the previous bill. Was that a good use of taxpayers' money? Was it a good, use of this legislative process? The government rammed through Bill C-38 but botched it so badly that it had to bring another piece of legislation in to fix it. That is like bringing one's car in to get fixed and driving off without the wheels. It is incredible. We went through another process, with Bill C-45, to fix what was wrong with Bill C-38.
That is just a snapshot of how the government handles legislation. It is like the guy who has a hammer and thinks everything is a nail. Conservatives think everything is pavement and they can steamroll over all of it, except that when legislation is badly botched, there are consequences.
That brings me to another piece of legislation, Bill C-4. It is the same kind of thing. The Conservatives tried to throw a whole bunch of things in the bill, a laundry list, except that the Supreme Court rejected part of that legislation. As we know, the Leader of the Opposition has been raising this repeatedly in the House.
We have a problem whereby botched legislation leads to more time wasted, because the Conservatives have to introduce other legislation to fix the bad legislation they forced through in the first place without listening to the NDP. If they had listened to the NDP, they would not have had the badly botched legislation in the first place. If they do get it through the House, then, as we saw with Bill C-4, the Supreme Court says, “Sorry, you badly botched this legislation and it is not constitutional”. As a result of that, we have to reject part of this legislation.
This is the real problem. It is not that the government, as it likes to say, does its job and produces a quantity of legislation, so everyone should give it a pat on the back. It is bad legislation in so many cases. It is legislation that has to be fixed. New Democrats always offer the amendments and the fixes. We are always there to try to direct the government. We often feel as if we are trying to direct a puppy, because it seems to get distracted often.
The reality is that the work the government does should be very important. The legislation the government presents in the House should be very important. There should be a proper legislative process. There should be amendments that are considered. There should be a process people can actually respect. That is not what happens under the government.
The government just throws legislation out without due respect for parliamentary traditions. It refuses to listen to the opposition to develop the legislation so that it can actually accomplish what it purports to set out to do when it puts the legislation on the floor of the House. The government will not take amendments, will not listen to debate, actually shuts down the debate, and rams legislation through. This costs Canadians enormously.
Every time the government has to provide new legislation to fix the old legislation, and as has happened a number of times in the past few weeks, every time the Supreme Court says that what the government is doing is simply not constitutional, it costs Canadians.
We have this motion that is a licence for laziness. It dismisses Conservatives from voting in the evening. It dismisses Conservatives from having to participate in debates that are actually quite important, because that is how we get legislation fixed, particularly the shoddy legislation the government tends to present in the House.
Now we have a government that has such profound arrogance that it says, quite clearly, “No dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown”, which means that no dilatory motion may be proposed except by a Conservative, except by a minister of the crown, after 6:30 p.m.
What the government is doing, at the height of its arrogance, is saying to Canadians, “Hey, we are just going to run this government, this country, exactly how we want, and we do not care about the consequences”.
We care about the consequences. We care when we see shoddy legislation that has to be corrected, and it takes months of work, because the government did not get it right in the first place. We care when the Supreme Court says that what the government is doing is unconstitutional.
We care when we see, right across this country, growing concern about the government's arrogance and its attacks on a whole host of institutions, not just in the elections act but in the attack on the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Sheila Fraser. How could anyone attack Sheila Fraser? The Conservatives have been doing just that.
When we see all those attacks, we see a government that has simply done its time. It no longer has any sort of legitimate agenda but just wants to lash out at its perceived enemies and wants to set a perception that is simply not true.
With this motion, this licence for laziness, Conservatives get off scot-free. They do not have to vote in the evening. They do not have to show up in the evening. The government has said it is going to handcuff every single member of the opposition to their desks and not let them use any proper parliamentary procedure after 6:30 p.m. Only the government can.
That arrogance is something Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of. That arrogance is something Canadians are saying they have had enough of. In the most recent poll, the Prime Minister had an approval rating of one-third of Canadians. Two-thirds of Canadians disapprove of the work he is doing.
The leader of the Liberal Party has falling approval levels, but he did better. It was 50/50.
The top approval level in the country is for the Leader of the Opposition. Two-thirds of Canadians see his work in the House of Commons and approve of it. They see him as strong and as defending Canadian democracy.
That is what we are going to continue to do. We are going to ensure that legislation is effective. We are going to continue to speak out and work hard on behalf of our constituents. We are looking forward to that day, October 19, 2015, when we can get rid of the government and start having an NDP government that is going to fully respect our democratic traditions here in the House of Commons and right across the country.