Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-24. There are a number of significant problems with what I would call the laughable bill that is before the House today, and I wish to bring some attention to those.
There are three main problems I wish to address. First, the bill would delete the role of regional development ministers, thereby leaving economic development in Atlantic Canada, western Canada, and northern Canada in the hands of a minister in Toronto. That seems rather unfair. Second, Bill C-24 lacks transparency by allowing the government to appoint three mystery ministers. Third, the Liberals claim to be taking a stand for women with the legislation by creating a cabinet that upholds so-called gender parity, but in fact, that is not the case, and I wish to explore that further.
With regard to regional representation, as Canadians we should strive to work together for equality while also embracing diversity. Our diversity, of course, is what makes us unique as a country. We celebrate what western Canada has to offer. We celebrate what Atlantic Canada has to offer. We celebrate what the north has to offer and what eastern Canada and central Canada have to offer. Bill C-24 provides a threat not only to the feminist movement but to our way of life as a diverse and beautiful people.
The bill aims to eliminate the positions of our former government's six regional development agency ministers. The elimination of these positions would remove the ability of the different regions across Canada to be accurately represented in government. The Liberals continue to say that they want to work with the provinces and municipalities, yet in the bill, they are trying to remove cabinet voices that represent specific regions, such as western Canada, Atlantic Canada, and the north. This action shows the insensitivity of the Liberals toward national issues and having those issues voiced at the cabinet table.
I believe that our country has different cultures, industries, and issues that in each region need to be treated with unique care. Of course, the bill would prevent that from being the case. Traditionally, regional development agency ministers brought their regions' issues to Parliament to ensure accurate representation, but as I said, this bill would gut that opportunity.
I would also like to speak to the bill's lack of transparency. It seems that the Liberals are just demanding a blank cheque. They are not willing to tell us, as members of Parliament, where this money would go or which ministers they would appoint. We are told that there would be three mysterious ministers and ministries that would be created through the bill, and taxpayer money would go to that.
What are the Liberals hiding, and why are they not being transparent with us and with the Canadian public with regard to their plans in going ahead and creating these ministries?
There is absolutely no way that I, nor I believe any members on this side of the House, are going to vote for a piece of legislation that demands a blank cheque with no accountability, no transparency, and no honesty. That is not good governance, and I will not stand for that.
Moving on to the third problem in the bill, I would like to talk about its impact on women. When it comes to changing the salaries of ministers of state, I have to boldly contend that Bill C-24 is nothing more than a slap-dash attempt to cover up for the Liberals' media embarrassment.
The Prime Minister announced his cabinet. He announced that due to his quota system, gender parity had all of a sudden been achieved. There had been some sort of arrival that had been granted to the Liberal Party of Canada. The media was quick to pick up on this and to note that this was not in fact the case. There were actually several ministers of state, all of whom were women. Women were being placed in positions with less authority, less responsibility, and smaller budgets than where their male counterparts were being placed. This revealed the inequality in the Prime Minister's cabinet appointments.
We know ministers of state earn less money and they have fewer responsibilities than ministers. Even though it was clear that a couple of ministries had already been made up to achieve gender parity, it still ended up that female ministers were earning less than their male colleagues. The quota system, with its contrived gender parity, severely damaged the credibility of these women.
I believe the bill does an incredible disserve to the women of the House and to the women of Canada as well, because we do serve as role models. It is tokenism at its finest and, as a woman, I am offended by what the Prime Minister has done.
As a strong, intelligent, and hard-working woman, I want to be entrusted with responsibilities and granted a voice at the cabinet table, not based on my genitalia but based on my ability and not according to anything other than that. I want my salary to match the work I do and the responsibilities I carry within this place. Changing the pay system would not in fact create equality, but it would create even greater inequality.
Women have shown they can climb any ladder in Canada that they choose to, whether it be in business, politics, or academia. Overlooking this achievement by trying to legislate equality is an injustice to the many women who have fought, and who continue to fight, to gain pay equality for equal work.
From its inception, the Conservative Party of Canada has modelled quite well what it is to put women in strategic places of leadership and to do so based on their abilities. The Conservative Party had the first female prime minister, the Right Hon. Kim Campbell, which the current Prime Minister appears to have forgotten. Therefore, I will remind the House that there has been a female prime minister, that she did exist.
In addition to that, the Conservatives also put in place the first female cabinet minister in Canada's history, under Prime Minister Diefenbaker. The Conservative Party continues to champion strong women in politics. I am here today on this side of the House as a proud Conservative member. I am treated incredibly well by both female and male colleagues. I have never been made to feel less than them. In fact, I am celebrated because of what I bring to the table. That is the way it is supposed to be.
Let me draw attention to the member for Sturgeon River—Parkland. She is a prime example of what it is to be a strong and capable woman within the political realm. Before becoming the interim leader of the Conservative Party, she held a number of cabinet posts. During her time as a member of Parliament, she has raised awareness for crimes committed against women and girls through her private member's bill, the just act. She has boosted support for girls by championing the internationally recognized International Day of the Girl through the UN. She implemented several high-profile health initiatives as the minister of health. The member has also shown Canada that women can accomplish exactly what they set their mind to without government creating quotas or making special accommodations for them.
We do need to pursue true equality, but not this fake equality or so-called equality that the Liberals are trying to push forward in their agenda. As for me, a middle-aged white guy, with so-called great hair, does not get to tell me my value, my worth, my dignity or my ability.
There is much to be considered when we look at Bill C-24. We must fight for Canada's future as a nation that values hard work and equality, not just equality on paper but honest equality that is seen in real life. In Canada, women are given the ability to work to accomplish the same things as their male counterparts, an opportunity that cannot be overlooked if we value the future of our women.
Instead of a gender quota system, the Prime Minister could have appointed based on merit and probably could have achieved much the same thing. If he had done this, he would have given credit where credit was due and he would have contended for the equality and the value of women. That is the type of prime minister I would like to see our country have. He or she is still to come.