Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for his excellent speech. I recognize his qualities as a person. He is a very caring individual who has a lot of respect for people. I think it is important to point out the kindness that he shows people every day.
Since the end of the session is just a few days away, I would like to wish a happy holiday season to all the staff who work with us here in the House and in our offices, all members of the House of Commons, my family, and the people of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. We are going to spend some quality time with our family and friends and exchange gifts.
Speaking of gifts, since this government was elected two years ago, it has been trying to give gifts to those who donate to, support, and serve its party. Now, the Liberals have introduced Bill C-24. I am wondering whether this bill is just another way to do favours for certain people. I have some serious doubts about this bill, and the Liberals are the ones who have planted those seeds of doubt in my mind over the past two years.
Nowhere in the many pages of the mandate letter written by the Prime Minister's team and addressed to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is there any mention of introducing this kind of bill. Here again, the Liberal government seems to be winging it. I do not know what the objective is. Usually, when I go through a bill, I find objectives. The official document I have here talks about Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, but does not identify any objectives. What is the purpose of this bill? I certainly do not see a real answer to that question, and it is not even written in the bill.
They say this is about equality between men and women, but as usual with this government, it is all sizzle and no steak. Interestingly, the ministers with the three most important portfolios, the defence minister, the innovation minister, and the notorious finance minister, are all men. The Liberals say they want parity, but when it comes to giving mandates to female ministers, they seem to have little faith in women's abilities. That is why I have serious doubts. I do not understand what the government is trying to accomplish with its act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.
Thanks to the government's improvisations over the past two years, it now has to look for loopholes, because it has deviated from its agenda. It decided to table a bill that would eliminate the positions of ministers responsible for regional development and entrust all decisions to a very busy minister. I will not talk about this minister's professionalism, but every human being, male or female, has their limits. He will have to take over the duties of the ministers responsible for Canada's six regional development agencies, which cover the entire country. There is one out east, one in Quebec, two in Ontario, one up north, and one out west. Now, however, the government will be making decisions about what is best for the people of the Atlantic region out of an office on Bay Street in Toronto.
From now on, people in Toronto will be deciding what is in the best interests of people living in the north.
The agencies were created because the regions face different realities. We are here to help the regions cope with their realities and find solutions that are appropriate in their circumstances. Some regions have very high unemployment. Fortunately, the Quebec City area has very low unemployment, but that is not the case across Canada.
When the minister, way up in his ivory tower, decides to apply a law or program, he obviously will not take into account the different features of each region. That shows a lack of respect towards our regions. It comes on top of the finance minister's lack of respect towards SMEs, which drive the economies of Canada's regions.
The Minister of Finance launched consultations in July. Since he does not have the same schedule as Canadian workers, he may not have realized that small businesses and company managers are worn out in July and take a few days off.
The Liberals say they want to consult, they put their reform out there, they make the announcement, and off they go. Then the opposition comes out swinging to defend the interests of Canadians and Canadian business owners. The government backtracks, but only halfway. Now it is going to let businesses pay a 9% tax, but not until 2019. That 9% was in the works before the Liberals took office, but they got rid of it because it was a Harper government initiative.
They have no real plan. They react, they change course, they make it up as they go along. Now, for the sake of gender equality, the government wants to give everyone a raise. It wants everyone to get a minister's salary, and it is taking ministers away from the regions.
Where are we going? How can anyone respect a government that does not respect the businesses in our regions?
I am not very comfortable with that. I am not an expert, but Norman Spector, a former ACOA president, has told many people in Ottawa that the Liberals never liked the regional development agencies and that eliminating them has been on the Liberal agenda for some time now.
The Liberals are removing competent people, centralizing power for themselves, and governing in the interest of their Liberal friends, not in the interest of all Canadians.
This government has been in power for two years, and I cannot name a single concrete measure it has introduced in the real interest of Canadian workers. This is just more window dressing. The Liberals are trying to impress the international community, but they are doing nothing meaningful.
Instead of working on this bill, why are we not investing our energy in putting negotiators in place to make sure the government concludes the NAFTA negotiations, solves the softwood lumber crisis, and respects our SMEs?
The new corporate tax reform comes into effect in 18 days. I do not know what the government is playing at, but if I can see that it is not respecting our SMEs, I am not sure how it can interpret its position.
Is the government respecting our SMEs? Is it respecting our regions? Is it respecting Canadians?
We are wasting our time on this bill. It is unacceptable. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that our Prime Minister is trying to shut us down, create a distraction, and pacify us.
The Prime Minister and the government need to take this a little more seriously.