Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for so generously sharing his time with me. I would particularly like to thank the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who did an extraordinary job on a file that—let us be honest—is not the most exciting file that we could study in Parliament. We are talking about the issue of statutory instruments, which is nonetheless a cornerstone of democracy.
We vote on laws, but we sometimes forget that those laws affect all sorts of statutory instruments, which often come from third parties or other countries. Take for example free trade agreements. These are fundamental issues.
Such information can sometimes be extremely complicated and require a lot of work and study, even by MPs. This information is not always easily accessible to Canadians or easy for them to understand. That is why it is important that we debate Bill S-2 and that we oppose it.
First of all, I would like to point out that the trend continues. The government is still not accepting any amendments in committee and it keeps imposing time allocation and closure. This government managed to impose such measures to limit debate in the House a record number of 100 times. That is a shameful record.
Nonetheless, one would have thought that we could find some common ground on Bill S-2. We are talking about procedures that have existed for 174 years, since before Confederation, if I understood correctly what my colleague from Gatineau said in her speech. However, although very important changes are being made, the government is unwilling to agree to amendments to obtain the support of the opposition parties. That is unfortunate, and it is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence.
We are nearing the end of the 41st Parliament, and this has been the trend throughout this Parliament, from beginning to end. Unfortunately, we cannot expect otherwise from this government.
Let us talk about the substance of the bill. It contains procedures for incorporating statutory instruments. The parliamentary secretaries of the Minister of Justice and the President of the Treasury Board have explained that the government intended to facilitate the incorporation by reference of statutory instruments.
One issue that keeps coming up is that facilitating trade transactions seems to be the focus of the government’s efforts. There has been a lot of talk about streamlining regulations. There are legislative aspects to this, of course, but many things are based and rely on statutory instruments.
In talking about statutory instruments, we can also talk about legislation in other countries. For instance, when we sign a free trade agreement, the other country’s legislation affects the way in which we draft our legislation. However, then we have to determine the extent to which we commit to proceeding with these changes to the legislation.
For example, if we agree to sign a free trade agreement according to the provisions on labour protection in another country, the laws of that country may change in the meantime. If these changes are made, pursuant to Bill S-2, we would not be compelled to follow up, publish these changes in the Gazette and follow a process of heightened parliamentary oversight, as is done by the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations. This committee, composed as it is of members of the House of Commons and senators, brings together both Houses of Parliament.
When we look into this matter, we note that the government tends to put forward legislation that is poorly crafted in order to reduce paperwork and facilitate different types of transactions, especially trade transactions. This is a goal that is shared by all members and all parties in the House.
We certainly understand that it is important to reduce paperwork. In a digital era marked by heavy reliance on the Internet, we understand that improvements must be made in order to share this information more effectively with Canadians and to make certain changes to regulations and to statutory instruments as effectively as possible.
However, this should not be done to the detriment of either parliamentary oversight or the intent of legislation already in place. I will use an example from the past: the red tape reduction bill. This initiative was put forward by the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, Agriculture and the President of the Treasury Board. We were opposed to this bill, even though we supported its intent. We noted that the desire to reduce red tape also reduced protection for workers, for instance. In trying to reduce red tape in certain work environments, the government also reduced the obligations of some employers to ensure that they had protections in place for their workers and workplace protections. This is a good example of cases where the government’s intention to make things easier for private enterprise took it in a legislative direction that was neither adequate nor appropriate.
The same problem faces us today with Bill S-2. As I said earlier, there may well be changes, and not only in other countries, but also in third-party codes. We as legislators do not necessarily have the power to legislate on these codes, but the legislation must take them into account. As parliamentarians' power is more limited in this respect, having a committee that oversees the regulatory process and regulations takes on even greater significance. However, the government appears to want to get these regulations through more easily, without their being published in the Canada Gazette, which is highly problematic.
We only have to look at the readjustment of electoral boundaries to see the importance of the Canada Gazette in informing Canadians about regulatory changes, or changes that, without necessarily being legislative changes, affect our work and the way in which Canadians relate to their democracy. My riding was drastically changed in the initial proposal put forward by the federal electoral boundaries commissions. The process was very important and I took part in it. With my participation and the participation of other stakeholders, we managed to have changes made to the initial proposal. People were extremely concerned and became very involved in the electoral boundaries redistribution process. Articles in our local newspapers often mentioned that the final result would be published in the Canada Gazette. It was very interesting because it enabled people to know where they could find this information. The same philosophy applies here. Unfortunately, none of our amendments aimed at facilitating access to and transmitting information were accepted.
In conclusion, I would like to talk about official languages. When a trade agreement with another country or another legislature is under consideration, we must remember that not all countries are required to draft documents in English or French, our two official languages. It is therefore important to add requirements in this regard to the draft legislation.
In closing, as this is the last time I will rise in the 41st Parliament, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the constituents of Chambly—Borduas who put their trust in me in 2011. I would particularly like to thank the team around me: Francine, Cédric, Suzanne and Sébastien. They have given me a great deal of support over the past four years. I also want to thank my family and my friends, of course, who have always been there for me in my work, which has not always been easy. I hope I have been equal to the task. I think that we have accomplished a great deal together over the past four years. I hope to again win the confidence of the people of Chambly—Borduas, which is going to become Beloeil—Chambly in the next election, and to be able to continue this great adventure with them. I hope to continue representing the community where I grew up, the community I have the honour of representing here in Ottawa.