Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate the matter before us this morning. This is a very awkward attempt by the opposition to avoid talking about the real and present concerns of the great citizens of this big, beautiful country.
First of all, people who were here before us and before this Parliament decided to put in place mechanisms to address the actions of MPs or cabinet ministers that put them in a conflict of interest, either because they did something or because they did not. That is why the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner was created. I am not an expert in the history of Parliament's officers, but they existed prior to my arrival and this Parliament.
Today, the Conservatives and the NDP are asking us to vote on a motion that would tell the Ethics Commissioner to go back to the drawing board and to spice up the report in order to draw Canadians' attention away from the things that really concern them. To my knowledge, that has never been done in this country.
The ethics commissioner's report was published on December 20. It was tabled here in the House in January 2018 and gained a lot of media attention. Every Canadian has access to this extremely well-written, comprehensive legal report. Every Canadian who is so inclined can read it and understand all the detailed findings of the commissioner.
Last summer, I covered roughly 3,500 km by bike in my very rural riding. As an MP, I knocked on every door that I could to ask people whether they had any concerns about the country and the government that I might bring back to Ottawa on their behalf. Not one person in any of these discussions mentioned this trip. However, every question, concern, and compliment had to do with last year's budget. The government's budget has a daily impact on the future of our children, our peers, our co-workers, and all Canadians. That is what our constituents want to talk about.
After the Minister of Finance tabled his budget, I held two public meetings back home, and I did not get any questions about the trip to the Aga Khan's island, because the issue had been dealt with. The Prime Minister co-operated at every stage of the investigation. The report was tabled, period. Time to turn the page.
What is going to put food on my table tomorrow morning? How am I going to pay for my kids' education? What is going to give my family and friends equal opportunities to succeed in life? The budget is what matters and what Canadians want to talk about. They do not want to dwell on something from the past that has been resolved by a parliamentary body, specifically the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. They do not want to hear about a decision that is a done deal. It is all in the report; it is all there. Why, then, does the opposition still want to debate this today? Because it does not want to talk about the unemployment rate, the lowest rate in over a generation, incidentally. The Conservatives and NDP do not want to talk about that, particularly the NDP, who said during the election campaign that they wanted to balance the budget at all costs, without any hope of creating the level of economic development created by the current government.
Last year, contractors and truck drivers and backhoe operators were at work in every city and town in my riding. I am generalizing, of course, but that is thanks to the budget, which is having a positive impact on the country's economy and giving more Canadians a chance to earn a living. That is empowering. People know that a better future is attainable.
The Conservatives certainly do not want to talk about that. They love to toot their own horn and proclaim themselves the best budgeteers this country has ever known, so why would they talk about the Harper government's disastrous nine and a half years that ended with a $121-billion debt and a sky-high unemployment rate, leaving us trapped in dire economic straits? Why would they bring that up? Why would they compare their disastrous, decade-long failure to perform with a government that, in less than two and a half years, brought unemployment to its lowest level ever? Why? Because it would be embarrassing for them, really, really embarrassing.
I would like to talk about what this budget does for my region. That is what people want to talk about. There is money earmarked to combat spruce budworm, but the Conservatives do not care about that. The spruce budworm is attacking forests in my riding. The forestry industry in Atlantic Canada alone is worth $4 billion to the economy. The Conservatives might not think that is worth talking about, but we do. That is what people want us to talk about.
What does this massive investment in research to tackle the spruce budworm in Atlantic Canada mean? It means we are protecting the $4 billion generated annually by the forestry industry. That is the kind of thing we want to talk about.
What does the Canada workers benefit mean for low-income workers? The Conservatives do not want to talk about it because they do not give a damn. In my little home province of New Brunswick alone, this benefit will put about $66 million more into the pockets of low-income workers over the next five years. Think about what that means financially on a national scale. That is millions of dollars. The Conservatives and NDP do not want to talk about that either. They want to sidetrack the budget debate. We are wasting a day by not talking about what Canadians need to hear to guide or reorient their career and their future, to enable them to reach their full potential on the labour market and in education, and to ensure that our youth stay in our rural areas. No, they do not want to talk about that, because it would embarrass them.
By way of example, in the current budget, $250 million has been allocated to small craft harbours. The Conservatives do not want to talk about that. This affects every region on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Money is being injected into small fishing communities. We want to talk about that today because it affects our young people, but the Conservatives do not want to talk about it.
In short, I think it is unfortunate that the two opposition parties are resorting to such low tactics to try to avoid talking about an issue that affects the daily lives of Canadians, of our brothers and sisters, our cousins, our families, our residents. Instead of talking about real issues, the opposition moved a motion to try to dictate to an ethics commissioner, to an independent body of Parliament, how to rewrite her report and add things that will serve the interests of the Conservative and New Democratic parties. I think that is unfortunate.
Today, I would ask the opposition parties to truly speak on behalf of their constituents and focus on much more important things, because the issue of the Prime Minister's trip to the Aga Khan's private island has already been thoroughly addressed.