Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the amendments we have moved, because we are trying to help the Liberal government again. We are trying to help Liberals keep a promise they made to Canadians. It was a solemn promise that they would not abuse the legislative process and use trickery to hide important pieces of legislation and changes to what Canadians would expect to happen.
One of the tactics governments sometimes resort to is omnibus bills. Canadians became quite familiar with them during the last government and with governments before that, when they started piling a bunch of changes to different laws into one bill, calling it a budget bill, and passing all the changes at once.
This bill is over 300 pages long and amends 30 different pieces of legislation all in one act. My goodness, the Liberals are grimacing across the way at the idea of 30 pieces of law being amended in one bill. The Liberals promised in the last election they would never do something like that. They said, “We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny.” They said, “We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.” So said the current Prime Minister , hand on heart. Well, this bill has 300 and some pages, and 30 different Canadian laws are to be changed in one stroke of the pen.
One might ask what is in here. There is a lot.
They are breaking a promise to our veterans. No, Liberals would not do something like that. They said they would provide lifelong pensions to injured vets. Well, there are changes to the veterans' pension act in this bill, but not that change. That is weird. One would think they could have gotten around to that somewhere in 300-odd pages.
What else is in here? They want to change the parliamentary budget officer, one of the watchdogs of Parliament, a key watchdog who provides oversight and scrutiny of how public money is spent. The Liberals said we have to strengthen the PBO. What did they do in the omnibus bill? They said the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate should review anything the PBO does, any plans the PBO has, and approve those plans beforehand.
They also said that individual members of Parliament should not be allowed to ask the parliamentary budget officer to do investigations into government spending. That is where some of the best ideas have come from, when individual members of Parliament, in seeking to answer questions on behalf of the people we represent, used the watchdog, the parliamentary budget officer, to go after government spending and find out what was really happening. Liberals do not want to continue that practice.
Then there is the privatization bank. They want to pop in $35 billion. They say they want to de-risk investment for the largest pensions and hedge funds around the world.
We know what risk is like. Imagine someone going to Las Vegas and saying they would like someone to de-risk their trip. They would like to go, have a lot of fun, make investments, gamble, and bet on things, but they want to do it without any risk. Liberals say, “No problem. You can come in with all these multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments and we will de-risk it for you.” Who will pick up the risk? The public will be happy to pick up the risk. That is what the Liberals have said.
I cannot believe I am saying this, but the Senate of Canada is providing more scrutiny over this bank than the Liberals are providing in the House of Commons. The Liberal finance committee rammed the bill through with less than two hours of study. The $35 billion will last generations. It is going to impact our communities and municipalities as they seek to find the resources and make decisions.
Now the Liberals have opened up a can of worms. From public testimony, it appears that they are changing the way investments are done around key infrastructure like highways and water, which are entirely provincial jurisdiction. The centralized Ottawa infrastructure privatization bank would be making those decisions. Provinces like Quebec are now raising the alarm, saying those decisions have to be made as close to the ground as possible, as locally as possible, not by Ottawa. Enough of that happens already.
Our private investor friends, BlackRock and the like, even helped design this bank. Talk about the fox watching the henhouse. They actually held the pen with the finance department in designing this infrastructure bank. That is going to work out just great for the Canadian taxpayer, because BlackRock and hedge fund companies are very interested in protecting the public purse, right?
By the way, all those sell-offs—privatizing the ports, the railway stations, the airports—will have toll fees, because they will need revenue on all these infrastructure investments. What are these private companies going to want? They are going to want profit. They are going to want a return on investment. Where could they possibly generate revenue if they bought an airport? It would be through tolls. Who pays tolls? The public pays tolls.
The government, in the future, is going to say it is not the one raising tolls at ports for exporters. It is not the one raising fees to fly through Canadian airports. It is some private hedge fund no one has ever even heard of, because they are not public anymore. They are not public airports. They are not public ports. They belong to someone else, and someone else is making those decisions. The government will say that it footed the bill, that it put up the cash for it and took the risk, as outlined in the bill, but it is going to be someone else who gets the profits. Only in a Liberal world view would that make any sense at all.
The idea that the government would cram all these things into a massive bill and ram it through the committee process in the House of Commons, when even the Senate is taking more time for scrutiny, is deplorable. It goes directly against the promise of hope and hard work. What happened to all the hope? What happened to all the hard work by my Liberal colleagues? If it wants to make such a significant change to the way Canada is built, how we build our infrastructure, then allow us the scrutiny and take this piece out of the budget omnibus bill. It is far too important to us, to future generations, and to taxpayers.