Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour that I stand here to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay.
We are dealing with yet another Conservative game of shadow boxing; that the Conservatives actually understand the economy. It is fascinating that they are talking about helping small business when they cannot even bring a budget into the House because they have stripped the fiscal capacity of the country to the bone. They were going to allow people, through their income splitting scheme, to claim it even though it had not passed in law. Everything was dependent in their world view on the high oil prices. The government has banked the entire economy, like a drunken gambler, on the roulette wheel of commodities, not understanding that commodities go up and down. A balanced national economy can withstand those. We have done this in Canada for the last 150 years, but we have had a government that has been completely unbalanced.
We saw all the members from the 401 area stand again and again and praise the tar sands, while the manufacturing sector was going down the toilet. Now the Conservatives have suddenly discovered the manufacturing sector.
We are talking about red tape and this chimera the Conservatives have created, that they will slay the red dragon of red tape.
It reminds me of H.L. Mencken. I am sure he is probably glad he is not alive to see that group in action. He said that for every complex problem, there was an answer that was clear and simple and was wrong. We could probably use that to define the Conservative Party over the last hundred years, but definitely under the current government.
Let us look at the issue that for every new regulation we will strip an old regulation. It sounds so simplistic, but what it speaks to is incompetence, the incompetence of the ministers in the various departments who are not overseeing the regulations right now. They think the Muskoka minister is somehow going to be able to handle the thousands and thousands of regulations, and we should trust him to cut through this.
Folks back home will remember that the Muskoka minister was the man who took $50 million in border infrastructure money, when he had only won by 14 votes, and blew it on pork barrel projects of zero significance. Then when he was asked for the paperwork, he claimed there was none. He took taxpayer money, spent it on the gazebos, the sunken boats, the lighthouses, where there are no waterways, created a fake lake, even though we had no need for one, and then said that he did not have any paperwork, which was not true. It was false. There was lots of paperwork. He made the paperwork up himself out of his constituency office and he ran it through the municipalities.
He misrepresented the spending of money. However, under the government, that kind of malfeasance and incompetence is not punished; it is celebrated. He was given the job of being the oversight for all government spending based on that behaviour.
Do not get me wrong, getting rid of red tape that is meaningless is sometimes very important. I live in the little mining town of Cobalt. Our neighbour is Haileybury where all the mine managers live. It had on the books for many years that it was against the law to walk in the streets of Haileybury with a lunch pail. That was to keep the miners from coming and using the local watering holes in Haileybury. That law was never used and it sat on the law books in the municipality for decades and decades. Most Canadians did not realize it until Paul Soles pointed it out on This is the Law in the 1970s. Maybe they got rid of it then. We should get rid of those kinds of regulations.
We would believe that if we had a government where we had ministers who were actually competent and took responsibility, they would be overseeing their departments regularly to see what kind of red tape was no longer needed, such as what has become redundant and where there are two regulations that are working at cross purposes. However, they are not interested in that. They are interested in creating these sideshow chimeras to take attention from the fact that they have mismanaged the economy substantially.
It seems the Conservatives have put their poor finance minister in a bag and have him hidden away. He cannot explain why he cannot add up the money, because he was counting on the high oil prices. Now they are saying that they are going to help small business. We know that is not true.
Let us look at the Conservatives' idea of red tape. Red tape is a particular buzzword for the neocons. They love this. They use red tape all the time, but they never like to talk about the effects of the red tape.
For example, it was under Mike Harris, their great guru, that they were going to privatize Ontario Hydro, which helped create the Province of Ontario as an industrial powerhouse. However, Mike Harris had it in his head that it was brilliant idea to privatize it. He blew it so badly that we are still picking up the pieces. Perhaps the only people on the planet who could mismanage a hydro resource worse than Mike Harris are the Kathleen Wynne Liberals.
We can talk to any senior citizen in the Province of Ontario on the mismanagement of hydro under the present Liberals. It is so corrupt that they spent $1 billion moving two gas plants to save three lazy Liberals their seats. Imagine what a billion dollars would do for the Ontario health economy. There was the privatization guru.
Let us remember 2008, the horrific listeriosis outbreak. How many people died in that outbreak? I believe it was 22 people with 57 confirmed cases. From the internal reports, we learned that the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency, under the government, was being told that it was no longer going to be ensuring the safety of the plants. That was red tape. The government was going to allow the companies to look after themselves, and people died.
Speaking of incompetence, what did the agriculture minister have to say to families who died because the government chose to trust the cattle and beef giants over public safety? He had lots of jokes to make about listeriosis, he thought it was funny. We remember what Conservatives did with their cutting of the red tape.
We have seen debate after debate in the House. I remember in previous Parliaments, when Bill Blaikie was here, there was a brilliant idea, which came from the Liberals originally, to let the rail companies police themselves. We were told that we did not need the oversight, that we could trust the rail companies. A cheesy little rail company running past Montreal and not following all the rules caused a huge rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic and people died because of the lack of oversight. That was the kind of stuff Conservatives were praising, getting rid of red tape.
The Transportation Safety Board came out with its report on Lac-Mégantic and expressed its deep concern about the need for government to have oversight. Speaking of incompetence, the member for Essex was out there blowing off the need for safety, blowing off the need for the report and then saying that he had not even bothered to read the report. People died because of these decisions and he had not bothered to read the report. We know what Conservatives think of red tape.
Some of the newer neocons have their sense of history which begins in 2008 or 2011. I remember when they were talking about the deregulation of the banks when Citibank was the future and Canada could not compete with all our little banks. We were the economic backwater. That was the scheme the Liberals were totally into at the time. We would allow banks to make investments, allow them to take our savings and speculate on the market because that was the way the world was going.
I remember how members were laughing at the NDP, the nanny state NDP, afraid to compete. We were saying that we needed regulations for the banks to protect people's savings. That is a fundamental principle. We stopped the deregulation. When the rest of the world that had followed the neocon-neoliberal route went down the economic toilet, it was staggering to see Jim Flaherty standing and talking about how glad he was that we had regulation. The Conservatives ridiculed regulation as needless red tape, but it saved our economy at the time.
What is some of the other red tape the Conservatives hate? They get backbenchers to stand on their hind legs and beat their chests about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is red tape to them. The Supreme Court is more red tape. God, they hate the Supreme Court. Ensuring the rule of law interferes with everything.
We have a justice minister who is so incompetent. Speaking of the incompetence of this world, this man has had more recalls of legislation than Ford had with the Pinto. He ignores the legal reviews of legislation, brings it into the House time and time again, and is told it will not pass a charter challenge at the Supreme Court. He bangs his head against the Supreme Court and then is outraged when it says it will not pass a charter challenge and he has to return it. One would think he would be chastened. In the private sector, he would probably be gone if he had that many recalls, but no. Conservatives stand, beat their chests, and go on about that outrageous Supreme Court defending the rule of law.
I see my friend has just entered the chamber, Mr. Enemy of Red Tape, who is going to allow new anti-terrorism measures and all manner of control to CSIS with no oversight, because it is red tape that is protecting the private rights of Canadian citizens, this needless red tape. That is staggering. Conservatives say not to worry, the oversight body is already able to do the job, the oversight body that the Prime Minister appointed, Arthur Porter. Is he still in a Panamanian jail for gun running, money laundering, or fraud? He was a friend of the Prime Minister. He is just one of the many criminals with whom the Prime Minister has chosen to hang around.