Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to oppose Bill C-58. That is about as clear and transparent as it gets.
This is about yet another broken Liberal promise. My colleague just listed off at least 20 broken Liberal promises. The Liberals made promises during the campaign. In fact, when he was just an MP, the Prime Minister himself introduced a bill promising openness and transparency, but we see none of that in this bill. It seems to me that our friends in power have developed a nasty habit of breaking their promises, and Canadians are clearly getting sick of it. This is not the first time, and it will probably not be the last.
I get the feeling that the sunny ways are about to be gone.
One of those election promises was electoral reform. That was no minor Liberal promise; it was extremely important. However, when the committee finished its work and tabled its report, the Liberals realized that Canadians clearly saw through their charade. In other words, the Liberals' real objective was to bring in a preferential ballot system, which would put them at an advantage. In the end, given that the committee report did not support the Liberals' position, they decided to abandon that promise. When you abandon a promise as important as electoral reform, how Canadians vote for their elected officials, basically you are telling them that they cannot be trusted. That is what we heard from Canadians.
The government struck an independent committee, but it had to be changed because initially, it had a Liberal majority. Pressure from the four opposition parties, including the Green Party, made a difference. From that moment on, the Liberals dropped the whole thing and the promise changed. In the case of Bill C-58, once again, the Liberals are reneging on an election promise and doing the opposite now that they are in power.
Earlier, my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable and I counted the broken Liberal promises. We got to 20 broken promises, but there are more yet. By breaking all these promises, the government is sending a message to Canadians that fuels cynicism. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised they would inform people better and increase transparency in ministers' offices and the Prime Minister's Office. However, two years later, that is just another broken promise. This is unacceptable. That is why I am voting against this bill.
Over the past few weeks, a number of people have spoken out against this bill. Some organizations that were rather tough on the Conservative Party when it was in power are now being just as tough on the government in power. They are making statements worth noting. For example, when the government promises clarity and transparency, then it has to live up to that, but the Liberal Party that is in power is really not up to the task.
The Liberals said they would make all of the information exchanged within ministers' offices and the Prime Minister's Office accessible. What kind of information are we talking about? At what point did that information become irrelevant to the people? The moment the Liberals introduced this bill.
Let me make sure we all understand what is going on. When the government came to power, it decided to take a close look at an act that has been around since 1983 and modernize it. That is all well and good, but earlier, I heard parliamentary secretaries say that they had covered a substantial portion of it. A substantial portion of it? Why not modernize the whole thing? It looks like they have a problem with disclosing information or making any information public that could come back and bite them. That is my conclusion based on what I heard today.
I have been listening to the debate since early afternoon, and every time an MP or a parliamentary secretary talks about the bill, we get the feeling that they deliberately left out the obligation to make the information clear and transparent so they would not get trapped by the information that is circulating, especially within the Prime Minister's Office.
If the journalists who defend the democracy that these MPs serve each and every day here in the House cannot have access to the information that is relevant to Canadians, how can they do their jobs properly? It is essential that the bills we put forward not be half measures. That way, we can ensure they meet their stated objectives. The Liberals are saying very little yet again, and the answers they give are all the same.
Sadly, after promising Canadians the world in 2015, the government is keeping neither of these promises. There are organizations that act as watchdogs of Canadian democracy. Most of them are non-profit organizations and are totally independent from any government, like Democracy Watch, for example. These organizations are very critical of the work we do, and rightfully so. They spend an enormous amount of time analyzing everything we parliamentarians do on a daily basis in order to strengthen our democracy, to increase transparency and to improve communications with Canadians. They were very outspoken, to put it mildly, about the current government. They said that the bill represents not one step forward, but two steps back.
A sentence like that says a lot about the relevance of the bill and how it was designed and drafted. I can imagine being the Prime Minister, who in 2015 promised to be open and transparent and to allow all Canadians to see everything that happens in the ministers' offices and in his own office. Once in his office, however, he realized that not everything that happens in ministers' offices, and especially the Prime Minister's Office, can be disclosed to the public.
What information does he not want to make public? That is a very relevant question, and one that we should put to the Prime Minister. We will be sure to do so. A government does not introduce legislation for no reason. A government introduces legislation because it really wants to keep a promise. I say again, 20 promises have been broken so far; my colleague listed them earlier. Bill C-58 is definitely not the first broken promise, and it will not be the last.