Mr. Speaker, I see that people in the House are finding it easier to pronounce “Chezzetcook”. That means they are saying it fairly often, and I thank you for that.
I must say that I am extremely happy to be here in the House after two and a half months of working in the constituency and having the opportunity to be with my constituents. It is good to be back, but I enjoyed my time back home, doing the real work for the people who elected us. That is where they are and we have to do that, of course.
Mr. Speaker, I want to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for West Nova, as well.
I have been listening to the debate most of the day today. I do not know what to think anymore about the Conservative Party. In the last two or three days, its members are now, for the first time in 10 years, speaking about Atlantic Canada. I do not know if it was just because on October 15 they noticed that, my God, maybe they didn't do anything in Atlantic Canada, maybe they should think about doing something, maybe they should try talking about Atlantic Canada, and maybe they should try learning more about Atlantic Canada.
There we are. This is what is happening right now.
I can tell members that I and my 31 colleagues from Atlantic Canada have been working hard on many cases. This is just another one that we have been working on. The Atlantic growth strategy we are working on that is customized to make sure it is going to bring prosperity to Atlantic Canada in many ways is one; the infrastructure investment across this country and Atlantic Canada is another; the small craft investment is another one. Those are all big investments, tax cuts, etc. that we have been working on over the last six to nine months.
I am excited to talk about this topic because I want to make the contrast between the former government and our government. That is the objective of my presentation today. With the former government, there were a lot of things done, as my colleague mentioned a few minutes ago, that were not open and transparent; far from it. When I think back, I remember the former prime minister said he would not appoint any senators. Guess what? He appointed 57 of them. There were 57 partisan appointments made by his government.
What is happening here is that we have a government that is going to make some big changes to many of the practices that we have been under in the last 10 years—and by that, I am talking about the Supreme Court and the Senate.
As members know, the Liberal senators are independent. That was done by our leader before he was even Prime Minister. That is a clear sign of a path of openness and transparency.
Let us talk about this new process. This new process speaks on three fronts. The first, of course, is the open and transparent one; the second is Canada's diversity; and the third is the merit base, which is extremely important.
The first one is openness and transparency. Qualified judges from across Canada can submit to become a Supreme Court judge. I believe, and we believe and we know, that there are many highly qualified Atlantic Canadian judges who would be in the pool used by the Prime Minister to choose the new Supreme Court judge. They can apply online, and the government of Canada is actively doing many promotions to invite as many qualified people as possible.
The second one is diversity. The committee must consider if we want gender parity; it must reflect diversity as far as linguistic, cultural, regional, and employment equity representation. That is the big piece of the Canadian diversity.
The third one is the merit base. That means the government will be doing everything it can to attract, as I said earlier, as many qualified people as possible.
I am so pleased to say that our Canadian government has acted on its promise to appoint bilingual justices. That is extremely important because lawyers had been unable to get their message across or argue their cases in the Supreme Court without the help of an interpreter.
That is no longer a problem, which is a significant victory.
Today's debate is primarily about the appointment of a justice from Atlantic Canada. Before I get into that, I want to underscore the excellent work that Nova Scotia's Justice Cromwell did for many years. I thank him for his work. The seat is vacant because he retired.
As we all know, this is not officially in the Constitution, which does state that three justices must be from Quebec. However, regional representation is essential and has long been upheld. It is of vital importance, and we must guarantee it.
The new justice must be from the same region because we can benefit from regional perspective, vision, and knowledge in such matters as maritime law.
Let it be legal culture. Let it be social culture. They need to bring that expertise and their competencies to the Supreme Court of course.
Our government respects this convention. It is taking this decision seriously. This process is simply creating an opportunity for Canadian judges to apply, and we encourage many of them of course. We are confident in Atlantic Canada. Many strong and qualified judges will surface through this process. By being selected through an open and transparent merit-based process will give them that much more legitimacy, which is important.
What does that mean? It means that our open process will allow them to function but it also means that the days of secret backroom deals, side deals, friends, rewards, are over. That is out. That cannot happen through this process. That is pretty impressive. Our Canadian government expects better and will do better.
Of course, I am a strong advocate of the appointment of the next Supreme Court judge from Atlantic Canada, and I have every confidence that our Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice will find many qualified candidates and will make the right decision for Canada, for Atlantic Canada, and for the Supreme Court of Canada.