My colleagues are laughing. What the Liberals are saying in this paper is that being summoned to vote on legislation is somehow an inconvenience. For anyone who might be watching this debate, that is our job. That is what we get paid to do. When the bell rings, we get to stand up and vote. However, they want to change that somehow.
The Liberals want the House to agree to sit beyond the dates of adjournment, and to sit longer days. I am just reading through this, and every time I look through this craziness, I wonder why the government is doing this.
I have just had a note passed to me suggesting I explain what PROC means, for the people who are listening. This is the procedure and House affairs committee that examines these types of changes. This committee is also tasked with looking at motions of privilege.
The Liberals tried to do this last year. We all remember the infamous Motion No. 6, where the government tried to change the Standing Orders unilaterally. The only reason that motion failed was that the House of Commons got so heated over our rule changes that the Prime Minister elbowed somebody in a fist fight here in the House of Commons. What I am wondering is why, instead of wasting all of this time trying to change the rules to make Parliament less democratic, the government cannot just get on with the business of governing this country. Canadians must be watching the Prime Minister trying to make his job easier and saying he should just do his job; that is what they are paying him to do. However, no, here we are today.
One of my many colleagues here today who sit on the PROC committee told me that—I think it was last night—one of the Liberal members on the committee stood up and professed not to understand why members were doing this, saying it is just such a waste of time. For the Liberal Party of Canada, Parliament is a waste of time. What we do here when we stand up and oppose the tax hikes or the justice legislation that waters down the rights of victims to seek justice, and all of these sorts of things, the Liberals feel is a waste of time because they just want to push their agenda through.
My colleagues opposite will not agree with my position on many issues, as I don't agree with them, but what we do here matters. This debate matters. That is why we will see members from the NDP, the Bloc, and the Green Party all stand up and say in unison that this is important.
In fact, the member for Malpeque, who is a Liberal member, said the same thing in debate. I do not have time read the whole quote, but he said:
However, this place is called the House of Commons for a reason. It is not the House of cabinet or the House of PMO. Protecting the rights of members in this place, whether it is the opposition members in terms of the stance they are taking, is also protecting the rights of the other members here who are not members of cabinet or the government.
He is recognizing the fact that Liberal members who are not part of the executive, who are not cabinet ministers, have to have the right to stand up and oppose or hold the government to account. This is not a partisan issue; this is Canadian democracy. When this motion comes forward, when the subamendment comes forward, anybody who votes against it is voting against that principle, that fundamental principle that there should be unanimity among parties before we change the rules, because they are checks and balances on us.
Going back to the comment made by the member for Chilliwack—Hope, these are not our chairs, they are the chairs of the people of Canada, ergo we cannot unilaterally change the rules of Parliament without the consent of the people of Canada, which the government does not have. That is why this motion of privilege should take precedence at the PROC committee.
I want to make this point. Some people have said that the Conservative Party invoked time allocation on so many bills, and we did. I take responsibility for that. However, Canadians held us to account for that in the last election. It was an election issue. People said, “You guys invoked time allocation on many bills.” For those people who are listening, time allocation is allowed in the Standing Orders to put a time limit on debate. However, there is a political cost to doing that.
What the Liberals want to do here is unilaterally change the rules so they do not have to be held to account by Canadians for curtailing debate on bills. The Liberals should have to stand every single time they invoke time allocation and say, “This is why we are invoking time allocation.” Every single time we did that, we were able to say, “This budget bill needs to pass. We feel that debate has been done.” The opposition was able to stand, and the media, and say, “No, it is not done”, and that discussion occurred.
Even in this marching-orders paper the House leader has talked about, there is actually a quote that says that somehow the discussion by the opposition parties and media about invoking time allocation being a bad thing should be taken out. No. That is democracy. What happens here, we should all be held to account for.
Every single person in this place, cabinet minister or not, should first and foremost prioritize the rights of Canadians to have their voices heard through elected members of Parliament. That is why this discussion is so important here today.