Madam Speaker, I welcome that happening for the first time while I was speaking. I was a little afraid, to say the least, but I am getting used to the rules of the House of Commons.
Earlier, I was speaking about this government's long line of broken promises, which keeps growing. I was going over the commitments it made and then ignored, especially the ones concerning deficits and the money it was supposed to give to the middle class. The Fraser Institute has reported that 80% of Canadian families are paying $840 more, mainly because certain tax credits our government introduced, such as the green tax credit for people who take public transit, like the bus, were eliminated. This represented two months of free public transit. The Liberal government, which claims to be a green government that is in touch with people, did the exact opposite by eliminating this tax credit.
It is the same thing when the government says that the wealthiest 1% of Canadians will pay more taxes under the Liberal government. This Robin Hood policy is completely false. It is not us Conservatives who are saying so, nor the Montreal Economic Institute or any other right-wing think tank. It is the Department of Finance itself that determined in a report issued just two months ago that the wealthiest Canadians are paying $1.2 billion less in taxes because of this government's tax policies. The government is saying one thing and doing another.
Fortunately, that information is public. It is found in a document that the government made public. We did not have to go through the Access to Information Act, which as we know will be weakened by the updated version of Bill C-58.
It is a rather big coincidence, to say the least, that we are debating access to information, openness, and transparency since, today, as we tried to get answers to our questions in the House of Commons, we saw an extremely ugly demonstration of what a government should not do in question period.
Let me be clear. We understand that in question period, we are talking about a question, period. It is to provide information. When I sat on the National Assembly, it was officially called a question and answer period. However, here, unfortunately we are just talking about a question period, we are not talking about answering a question. That would be very useful, because, today, not three or four times, but on 21 occasions in a row, we asked a clear and simple question of the Minister of Finance, and every time, on 21 occasions in a row, he dodged the issue. He refused to answer a clear question with a clear answer. That is sad. Therefore, it will be very interesting to see our colleagues on the other side say why it is important to have openness and transparency, and to give good information to the people of Canada.
In a government, the minister of finance is number two, not the last minister. In some cases, we could even say the minister of finance is number one; however, that is another debate. I do not want to put aside any other ministers, such as the global affairs minister, the transport minister, the Treasury Board President, and all of those important portfolios such as the defence minister and the first nations minister. All of them are very important. However, in life, there are those who are at the top, and then there are other people. When we talk about cabinet ministers, for sure the finance minister is at the top. I am quite sure that no one who is sitting here—and I see some hon. members from coast to coast who have had strong responsibilities in former governments—will be offended when I say that for sure Jim Flaherty was the number one cabinet minister under the Stephen Harper government. The same thing also goes for Joe Oliver. Everybody will recognize that, because the finance minister is the one who designs the financial and fiscal policies that apply to the financial and fiscal reality of Canada. Therefore, when we have what we could say is a conflict of interest, it is our responsibility to ask questions of the Minister of Finance. That is what we did today. We asked a simple question 21 times in a row, but, unfortunately, 21 times in a row, the Minister of Finance refused to give a clear answer.
That is why I think it is pretty ironic that we are debating Bill C-58, the goal of which is to increase government transparency and openness around information gathering. However, in our view, the bill is regressive and will make investigative reporting even harder. It also places the government in a conflict of interest by making it both the judge and the judged when journalists and citizens raise questions.
We think this bill is regressive. It is also ironic that we should be debating it on the very day that the Minister of Finance, the number one minister, refused to give a clear answer to a perfectly simple question not once, not twice, not three times, but 21 times in a row. He never gave a clear answer to the question in either English or French.
In conclusion, we are going to vote against this bill. We recommend that the Liberal members also vote against this bill, because it is never too late to do right. It would be a good thing if the Liberals voted against it. We could review the bill, which we believe to be a step backwards, not forwards, for press freedom and especially for access to information.