House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was world.

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[Continuation of proceedings from part A]

The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-24. Upon taking office in November 2015, the Prime Minister established a gender-balanced, one-tier ministry of equals focused on delivering results for Canadians.

The proposed amendments to the Salaries Act fulfill the Prime Minister's commitment to introduce legislation to formalize the equal status of his ministerial staff. The bill does just that by adding to the Salaries Act the five ministerial positions that are currently minister of state appointments as well as three untitled positions, for a total of eight new positions. To offset the increase in positions, the bill removes the six regional development ministerial positions.

It has been suggested by critics of the bill that removal of the regional development ministerial positions is the first step in dismantling the regional development agencies. This is just not the case. Our government is committed to supporting and promoting economic development throughout Canada. This bill would not amend, in any way, the states and Orders in Council that create the regional development agencies. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development will continue to be responsible for all the regional development agencies.

This government is focused on growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. The regional development agencies are essential delivery partners in the government's plan to drive economic growth through innovation. They understand the unique needs of each region as well as the opportunities for economic development and diversification.

Let me expand on just a few examples of how the regional development agencies are working to grow the middle class in all parts of our country.

We are working with our regional partners in Atlantic Canada to do just that. We recognize that Atlantic Canada possesses competitive advantages that can bring new opportunities to economic growth. The region is home to great ideas, great products, great innovators, and a great drive to succeed.

The Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, along with his cabinet colleagues and the four Atlantic premiers, jointly announced the launch of the Atlantic growth strategy last year. Working with all 32 MPs in Atlantic Canada, this pan-Atlantic, whole-of-government strategy will direct targeted actions to stimulate Atlantic Canada's economy. The strategy will support both innovative and resource-based industries and increase job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians.

This is an unprecedented federal-provincial partnership. The Government of Canada is working together with the four provincial governments to build a vibrant economic future for Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic growth strategy will drive economic growth in the region by implementing targeted evidence-based actions under the following five priority areas: skilled workforce with immigration; innovation; clean growth and climate change; trade; and, finally, investment.

The Atlantic growth strategy will deliver bold action items, including a three-year immigration pilot aimed at addressing the unique labour market challenges in Atlantic Canada. This pilot project will help better match the needs of local employers with the skill sets of immigrants while helping to improve the attraction and retention of newcomers in Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic growth strategy is different from past initiatives because of our strong commitment to federal-provincial collaboration, on a pan-Atlantic level, in making strategic investments and taking the actions needed to generate long-term clean and inclusive growth, create jobs, and position Atlantic Canada as a thriving, knowledge-driven economy. We are taking bold, targeted actions to stimulate the economy.

This is just one example of how regional development agencies strengthen the government's ability to support innovative, inclusive growth in every part of our country.

In Quebec, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, CED, concluded its broad 2016 engagement strategy with the release of its new strategic plan 2016 for the next five years. CED's strategic plan is aligned with the innovation and skills plan to do the following: support growing and innovative businesses that generate high-quality jobs, particularly for the middle class; support specific businesses and regions in developing and adopting new technologies in a clean-growth economy; support communities to foster economic diversification from an inclusive growth perspective involving minority groups; and finally, foster the participation of indigenous people contributing to the economic growth of Quebec by encouraging entrepreneurship and social innovation.

The plan's success will be measured and assessed in terms of its ability to contribute directly to the objectives of the innovation and skills plan using indicators that include, among others, employment rates, digital transformation, business growth, international exports, the adoption of clean technologies, and the capacity to leverage private capital and foreign direct investment.

Most recently, the Hon. Navdeep Bains was in Sudbury to announce the launch of the northern Ontario prosperity strategy, our latest measure to—

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6:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. That was the second occasion. There was a little disorder the first time, and I let it pass, but I would remind the hon. member to refer to other members by their titles or ridings.

The hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

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6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, the targeted approach of this strategy will help the northern Ontario region prosper. The strategy will build on the opportunities offered by emerging industries to create businesses and jobs for the northern population of the province. This strategy will also focus on working with indigenous communities to support their growth. Most importantly, this strategy will be developed in partnership with all the community and business leaders of northern Ontario and the province.

In the four western provinces, Western Economic Diversification Canada activities are guided by the government's innovation and skills plan for two departmental strategic priorities, which are innovation and inclusive economic growth, aligning the west with federal priorities. WD is implementing these priorities in a few different ways. The strategic investments the department is making across western Canada focus on growing and emerging sectors such as energy, information and communication, technologies, life sciences, aerospace, agrifood, and advanced manufacturing.

Through the western innovation initiative, WD invests in businesses to help them advance innovative products, processes, and services for the marketplace in western Canada and globally. Since 2014, WD has invested nearly $97 million through the western innovation initiative and expects to create more than 1,600 jobs across the west.

The western diversification program funds strategic investments in initiatives with not-for-profit organizations that strengthen the economy of western Canada.

As a key way to create opportunities, WD convenes with stakeholders across western Canada to identify opportunities for collaboration in support of economic development, leading to a deep understanding of the unique considerations in advancing diversification goals in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia and their broad regional perspectives.

WD also actively supports inclusive participation in the economy. For example, through its Western Canada Business Service Network , WD provides small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs, including indigenous peoples, women, francophones, persons with disabilities, and rural communities, with services and resources to help them succeed and grow.

WD is a nimble organization that has demonstrated its responsiveness in the recent past by leading the federal response to the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016. It delivers unique programs, such as the drywall support program, and serves as a delivery agent in support of other federal initiatives, such as INAC's strategic partnerships initiative, which enables indigenous participation in economic development.

The government is investing over $1 billion each year through the regional development agencies to support business and community growth, in every part of Canada, toward an innovative, clean, and inclusive economy. The RDAs understand the unique needs of each region as well as the opportunities for economic development and diversification.

These regional strategies are only a few examples of how regional development agencies are working hard for Canada.

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6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague reference northern Ontario, the Maritimes, ACOA, and the western economic diversification fund. He may have mentioned FedDev Ontario, but I missed that if he did. It is another very important economic development agency. I have seen first hand the incredible difference that is made by one of these regional groups. Their ears are close to the ground. They can hear what the needs are at the regional level.

It is obvious that the Liberals are handing over significant power to unelected civil servants, who are making these decisions, and also one very overworked minister from Mississauga. Even the Liberal task force itself admitted it, and I want to read from it directly:

Four to five months can be a lifetime for a business, especially for a startup. Following the approval of an application, finalizing the related contribution agreement may take anywhere from two to 12 months, further impeding a business’ opportunity to execute successfully.

It is obvious that the centralized approach that the government is taking is impeding the ability of the regions to have their unique needs taken into consideration, and at the same time, it is unnecessarily slowing down the ability to get these funds into the hands of start-ups and businesses, which really need them.

I wonder why my colleague and his party are insisting on this kind of slowing down of the process.

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6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to say that, if we look back to when the previous government had ministers of state, it would have left us in a way better state than now.

When we took over, there were challenges across the board. If we look at Atlantic Canada, the problems that were there when we first started have been there for a long time. We were able to fix those problems, and now moving forward, Atlantic Canada is actually doing a lot better. ACOA is doing a lot better and reaching the needs of the people who are there.

That is my answer.

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6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, just to be clear, with all of the representation in this House from Atlantic Canada, on that side of the House there is not one person from Atlantic Canada who has the interest of Atlantic Canadians at heart to a sufficient degree to qualify to be the minister of ACOA.

I find that hard to accept. I am really surprised to see that the Liberal members from Atlantic Canada are not standing up for their region and asking that the unique needs of their Maritime region be given a higher priority.

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June 8th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have 32 extremely qualified members from the Atlantic region who do not stop advocating for their region. Day after day, inside of caucus, in the hallways, I have not stopped hearing about Atlantic Canada.

They are examples of what MPs should be doing to advocate for their region.

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6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had the great honour to be the parliamentary secretary for western economic diversification, and what I was able to see is how nimble, agile, and responsive an organization could be when leadership is in the area.

What happens is, when proposals and suggestions have to be sent through another layer, which is the minister of Toronto, in Toronto, some of that on-the-ground nimble responsiveness is lost. As a member from the western provinces, I think the member should be ashamed to support a structure that has taken away the empowerment of the local people to be nimble in their decision-making.

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6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am far from being ashamed.

In my career, I have opened 140 restaurants. I know leadership comes in many different forms. Just because something was done one way does not make it the best way to do it. As an MP, I work with western economic development all the time. We are able to share that information and pass it on. Leadership comes in many different forms.

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6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, what I am hearing here today is another reflection of the disconnection that members opposite have with Atlantic Canada.

We have been very strong in advocating for the issues that are important to us and the things that our constituents are talking to us about. Just today, in fact, we talked very strongly about what has been going on in the immigration committee, the filibustering, and the disrespect of the witnesses who have appeared to try to make a difference in the economy of Atlantic Canada.

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6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, echoing the comments of my colleague, what we see in the House and what we see in committees is shameful, to me, because we have a lot of work to do. When I see parties playing partisan politics, our constituents are the ones who are suffering. We have to be able to collaborate better than that. We came here to do a job. I came here to do a job and not to play games.

I am doing my job by reaching out to my constituents and reaching out to the people who make a difference, such as Western Economic Diversification.

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6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note that the member's speech reflected on and told us at great length the responsibilities of each of the economic development organizations. However, what he did not talk about at all was the fact that this piece of legislation would create three mysterious cabinet minister positions. I wonder if he could share with the House what these three mysterious positions might possibly be and how the Liberals can justify putting forward legislation that is so vague in terms of its intent.

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6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is just like the other side: let us not focus on the great things that are happening or the things that are important, but let us try to focus on things that actually do not make a difference at this point.

Yes, there are three other ministerial positions that the government is allowing for down the line, but that does not take away from what the legislation is for. In 2015, the gender-balanced cabinet was announced, and this legislation would fix the issue so that all ministers are the same, one and all. We are not separating junior ministers from senior ministers. We are focusing on a team, and that is the point of moving forward.

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6:50 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask my colleague if he is aware that the role of the opposition, which does not control the legislative agenda, is to fine-tune bills and to shed light on the problems in this bill.

When he talks to me about equal pay for equal work, I am most certain that this is not what the bill proposes.

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6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his question. I apologize that I will answer it in English.

There is a difference between an opposition that opposes and one that obstructs. When I look at how long it took in this House to settle a question of somebody getting on and off a bus, when we should have been debating merits of a budget, for instance, that is what I do not understand.

We have so many things going on in this country that we need to focus on, yet we choose to focus on things that do not help our constituents, that do not impact people out of this room. We are speaking in this hall, but people in Canada expect us to speak for them.

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6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before resuming debate, I would like to inform hon. members that there have been more than five hours of debate during this first round. Consequently, all subsequent interventions shall be ten minutes for speeches and five minutes for questions and comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

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6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand, although I am disappointed that I did not get a 20-minute slot. Perhaps within 10 minutes I can condense and share exactly what my concerns are with this piece of legislation.

What we have is Bill C-24, which is an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act. It focuses on three areas. I am going to talk briefly about the first two areas, and then perhaps I will go into a bit more detail on one of the most substantial concerns that I have.

The bill would actually create eight minister positions. I will talk about the five minister of state positions later, but it would create three mysterious ministerial positions. If people could imagine being a board member for Nortel or some other large corporation and the CEO came to them with a proposal stating that the company needs this many vice-presidents including a vice-president of finance, a vice-president of human resources, and that it needs three more vice-presidents but the CEO is not going to say what they are there for and what they are going to do, what do members think the response would be, as a shareholder or as a chairman of this particular organization? They would tell the CEO to go back to the drawing board and come back with job descriptions and a full analysis of why the company needs the three positions, what they are for, and what they would do. It is inconceivable, in any organization other than perhaps a Liberal-run federal government, that the organization would create three mysterious positions.

This is not just a matter of mysterious positions. There is a budget that would go along with these. If someone is a member of Parliament and is all of a sudden given a ministerial position, it comes with additional funds, so for these three positions it is probably an additional quarter of a million dollars and then a whole lot of other associated expenses like cars and drivers and office spaces. Therefore, this little piece in this legislation is probably over $1 million, and the Liberals are not telling us what it is for. It is absolutely inexcusable, and if members on that side vote for spending $1 million, or for authorizing a structure for $1 million, they should be ashamed of themselves. We have a government that has a spending problem already, and the Liberals think nothing of putting in front of us a piece of legislation that would allow for probably $1 million-plus because they need to have a bigger cabinet or cannot describe what those positions would be. Certainly the backbenchers in the Liberal government need to go back to their executive branch and ask what these positions are for. That is absolutely ludicrous.

The next area that has been alluded to, certainly in the previous speech, is the need to consolidate the regional development agencies. Sometimes a federal government in a country as large as Canada has an enormous geography and enormous variations across the country. Many of us here have had the privilege of travelling across our country from coast to coast to coast, and we see the differences. Some of the things that government does should be centralized. There are certainly important functions that are best done by a minister who represents the whole of Canada, and we can look at defence and many other departments. However, there was something about the economic development agencies. The economic development agencies were relatively small, they had a relatively small budget, and they were designed to be nimble and responsive to the culture and needs of specific areas. As members can imagine, in the Maritimes people have a very different set of challenges from what perhaps Alberta's oil patch is having right now, or those in B.C.

We still fail to see how a minister from Toronto, busy with a very large portfolio, can give the attention that is needed to make those quick, nimble decisions and be responsive. I am not sure if this structural change is in the best interests of what we do and how our economic development agencies deliver service. Again, a Toronto minister is not seeing the challenges.

The Liberals talked about how proud they were of the work they did with first nations communities. People who live in Toronto would not be as aware of these issues as would a minister from British Columbia, who understands and visits these communities all the time and recognizes perhaps some of the opportunities and the challenges that the indigenous communities face. Again, an urban minister, as good as he or she might be, would have challenges in that area. Certainly, I disagree with that part of the legislation.

However, the area I most fundamentally disagree with is making all the ministers of state positions into full cabinet positions. I want to talk about that to some degree.

I will again use the analogy of outside the bubble of Parliament. When people look at remuneration of employees, they look at their responsibilities. Responsibilities include what kind of decisions they have to make, what kind of manpower they have to supervise, and what kind of budget they are responsible for. I think that applies to every example I can think of in the public service.

In the public service in the area of health care in British Columbia there is a process. A system is used to analyze the responsibilities of the job to determine what the wage remuneration will be. That sounds reasonable to me. I believe it is commonly used within the public sector.

Let us take a look at what the ministers are doing.

The Liberals are going to create full ministers positions for a number of positions, and I will go over them specifically. However, the Minister of National Defence is responsible for the armed forces and the Department of National Defence. He stands ready to perform three key roles, which are protecting Canada and defending our sovereignty; defending North America in co-operation with the United States, our closest ally; and contributing to international peace and security. The budget was $18.7 billion over three years. Planned spending is to increase enormously. There are 22,000 people within those operations.

We can compare that to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, and I am not saying it is not a responsible position. It is an important position as we look at our democratic system. However, the department does not have an enormous budget. It does not have huge manpower for which it is responsible. To be frank, there is no way it would automatically get a large increase in its dollars. It does not make any sense.

However, when the Prime Minister swore his cabinet in, with great pride, he said he had a gender-equal cabinet. Then someone pointed out to him that while he did have a gender-equal cabinet, five members were junior ministers positions, and those five were women. In order to solve that problem, he decided to make them full ministers.

There are other ways he could have solved that problem and been reasonable and appropriate. There is no reason that the Minister of Democratic Institutions could not be a man. There is no reason that the Minister of Science could not have been male. He could have had his gender-equal cabinet without having to create new positions for the ministers of state. The whole thing is very convoluted and confusing.

A difference in the funding went toward the salaries, but also some ministers felt they had to spend over $1 million to renovate their office. This is just another example of a Prime Minister who pays no attention to taxpayer dollars. It is inexcusable.

Bill C-24 is a terribly flawed and irresponsible bill. I hope most members will vote against it.

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7 p.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about the minister from Toronto not being able to work in the best interests of his riding. She gave the example of B.C. and not being aware of the challenges there.

I am come from Whitby. A lot of members in here represent ridings the size of small countries. Within that context, we need to listen to what various constituents have to say. I listen to constituents with disabilities. I listen to farmers. I listen to any constituent who wishes to speak to me. I bring their concerns back to the House. Ministers listen to people in various jurisdictions across the country and they bring their concerns back to the House in the same manner as I do.

Would the member opposite not agree that she has the capability to do that as well?

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7 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member just made my point. She is one member of Parliament representing a huge region. I am sure she is doing a lot of work to understand the perspectives of people in her riding.

There are 338 ridings across the country. There are a lot of different regions. We are simply saying that the nimbleness, the ability to understand the regions, the ability to make decisions is best left to a minister who is very knowledgeable. No one can be an expert on everything. Sometimes we need to have that closer to home responsiveness.

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7 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech, which I listened to carefully and agree with on many points.

Given their so-called feminist approach, are the Liberals not simply adding insult to injury with Bill C-24? The injury is saying that women will be confined to the role of minister of state. The insult is also telling them to not bother talking about their qualifications or anything else, because they are going to get the same salary as ministers so it is a non-issue.

Men and women are known to be equally qualified and capable of being either ministers or ministers of state, and the salary should match the responsibilities of the job. This feels like a cover-up. If this had happened to me, I would not necessarily be happy to be getting a raise without having to take on the added responsibilities that would normally go along with it.

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7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

I absolutely agree, Mr. Speaker. I would be insulted if I thought the reason I had a ministerial position was because I was meeting some kind of quota. I am so proud of the people on our front bench. They were not put there to meet a quota. They are there because they are capable and responsible individuals.

The Prime Minister felt he needed a gender-equal cabinet, and that is fine. However, there was no reason not to have men in those ministers of state positions. He would have had his two ministers of state and however many ministers. Instead, he put five women in those roles and then was embarrassed because people said that it was not gender-equal.

We are going to pay a lot more than $1 million to deal with the problem of the Prime Minister making promises he did not keep.

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7:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in reference to the $1 million, could the member explain why Stephen Harper had 40 cabinet ministers, while we have 30? This government believes that each cabinet minister is equal. The former government, even with its 40 cabinet ministers, had unequal ministers. How can the member justify that?

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7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the member listened to my speech. I talked about normal businesses, even the public service, and how they determined the wages. They determine it by the responsibility of the position, which includes the budget of the organization. It is quite reasonable, and it has been done for many years. There is a recognition that there is a role for ministers of state and there is a role for ministers.

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7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this subject this evening. In fact, just this morning, I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, where the President of the Treasury Board appeared as a witness to answer questions on the use of vote 1c. Since November 4, 2015, the salaries of ministers of state have been increased under vote 1c so that they earn the same as portfolio ministers who have deputy ministers and hundreds of public servants working for them.

I will explain later why the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance are concerned about this.

I am increasingly disheartened by this government because it seems that, today in the House, we should not be talking about Bill C-24, which seeks to realize one of the federal government's unattainable fantasies. Instead, we should be talking about our duty as citizens, what we can do for our country, what we can do tomorrow morning to improve our community, what we can do to further honour our men and women in uniform, and how each of us can serve their country.

We could talk about regional fairness, since Bill C-24 deals with these kinds of discussions, as the Liberals decided to abolish ministers representing Canada’s various economic regions—Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia, and the territories.

We could also talk about wealth creation. The Liberal government likes to go on and on about working for the well-being of the middle class. I have a problem with that, because we should instead be talking about wanting to make life better for all Canadians. I do not know why the government insists on focusing only on one class instead of talking about all Canadians. What I liked about the Right Hon. Stephen Harper is that he would always talk about all Canadian families. He did not talk just about only one social class.

That said, I am duty bound to oppose this bill today, and instead of talking about civic duty and serving one's country, I will speak to you about C-24.

Bill C-24 seeks to elevate ministers of state, some of whom do not have a portfolio or a department, to the same status as ministers who oversee an actual department with thousands of employees, deputy ministers, and teams of hundreds of officials, and all the real estate that goes with it. These are the real departments, National Defence, Public Services and Procurement, Transport, the list goes on. There are 25 actual departments, give or take.

They want to give the same minister’s salary to those who do not have drivers or real responsibilities; they want to give them the same salary as traditional cabinet ministers.

It is ironic because Bill C-24 would create eight new ministerial positions, including three “mystery” ministers, whose duties, objectives and responsibilities are not yet known. The bill would eliminate the positions of six ministers representing the regions; now, there is only one minister representing Toronto with a population of seven million; it is huge and that is a major responsibility. He will be the one now representing the Acadian people, the Acadian peninsula and their concerns about the fishery, lobster and crab. It does not make any sense.

Bill C-24 would also amend the Salaries Act, which is a good initiative. The government wants to correct a mistake in parliamentary law, or rather change parliamentary law so that it need not be in breach of it.

The very honourable senator Mr. Smith, chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, contacted me to bring the problem to my attention so I could raise it with the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The government is using the supplementary estimates to pay the additional salaries of ministers of state, when the parliamentary rules tell us that there are three reasons for why we must not do that.

For example, Beauchesne, paragraph 935, refers to page 8601 of the Debates of March 25, 1981:

A supply item ought not to be used to obtain authority which is the subject of legislation.

Then paragraph 937 refers to page 10546 of the Debates of June 12, 1981:

The government may not by use of an Appropriation Act obtain authority it does not have under existing legislation.

This is what the government is trying to do today. It is trying to use us to obtain an authority it does not have under the Salaries Act. Lastly, paragraph 941 refers to pages 94 and 95 of the Debates of February 5, 1973:

If a Vote in the Estimates relates to a bill not yet passed by Parliament, then the authorizing bill must become law before the authorization of the relevant Vote in the Estimates by an Appropriation Act.

Therefore, parliamentary rules tell us that ministers of state in the Prime Minister’s Office should not have gotten a pay increase effective November 4, 2015. They should not have had it until Bill C-24 was officially adopted. It will not be adopted by us Conservatives, but by the majority Liberals. Good for them!

The senators put it down in black and white:

Our committee is concerned about the recurrent practice of using supplementary estimates to pay certain ministers' salaries prior to the enactment of amendments to the Salaries Act, and raises this question in the context of Bill C-24.

A Senate committee has been studying these issues for several months and spending a lot more time on it than the House of Commons.

When it comes to parity, the Liberals like to implement government policies that fit with their ideology and how they think the world should be, but some of their actions may have unintended consequences that they do not even see because they are so blinded by their ideology.

They say they want a gender-balanced cabinet, but, having given the matter considerable thought, I have come to the conclusion that this ideal could have a very unfortunate unintended consequence. If we say that cabinet must be gender-balanced, this means that there will never be a cabinet with a majority of women, yet we have seen plenty of cabinets with a majority of men over the past 150 years. Now we are telling women that they will never be in the majority in cabinet regardless of their skills, their beliefs, and their political strengths. No, now we must have parity, 50-50.

I would even add that this means cabinet will never be less than 50% male. What a paradox. They say the goal is to protect and expand women's rights, but if we examine this from a political and philosophical perspective, it looks more like a way to rein in women's progress in the political arena. Is that not an interesting thought?

Instead of talking about parity in cabinet, since I have just shown that it is nothing more than a pipe dream that actually hurts the advancement of women in cabinet, we should be talking about parity for the founding peoples. That is what is important in Canada: French Canadians, English Canadians, the fact that Quebec has still not signed the constitution, and the fact that there are demands coming from all sides, whether in the west, which has reforms it would like to see, in the maritime provinces, or in Quebec. We should be talking about parity in our country in terms of English and French culture and making sure that everyone is comfortable in the constitutional environment. Instead, we are stuck talking about a bill that is meant to correct a mistake borne of blind ideological fervour.

What I find increasingly deplorable is this government saying it is objective and bases what it does on scientific facts.

First, it is an arrogant thing to say, because it suggests the party previously in government was not. The truth is that the Liberals themselves are so fixated on their own ideology that it is preventing them from acknowledging some of the significant impacts of their legislation.

Ultimately, I would like to say that, ideology aside, the Liberals cannot pay ministers higher salaries before the bill is passed, and yet, that is what they have been doing for the past two years, which is no laughing matter.