Mr. Speaker, I often will stand in my place and talk about what a wonderful privilege it is to speak to a particular issue when we talk about legislation, whether it is government business, private members' business, resolutions or motions of the day. Today, I am feeling a bit different. I am feeling somewhat discouraged because I know what we were supposed to be talking about today and how critically important that debate was supposed to be for all Canadians but in particular indigenous people and literally hundreds of children who live in Winnipeg North who are in foster care.
To get an appreciation of it, the province of Manitoba has well over 10,000 children in foster care. A vast majority of them are of indigenous heritage. For me, this was very important legislation. It was providing hope for communities across the country. In fact, during the break, I had a wonderful discussion with Sharon Redsky about the potential of the legislation we were supposed to be debating today.
However, the Conservatives, and what I refer to as the unholy alliance between the Conservatives and the New Democrats, have decided to change the channel. They do not want to talk about reconciliation and the importance of that legislation. They knew it was on the Order Paper today. Instead, they want to continue the debate on an issue that has been debated extensively. What did the opposition do in order to bring forward this debate? They did not really give it too much thought. They brought forward concurrence in a report.
Even when I was in opposition, and I was in opposition for many years, that was a give-me. The Conservatives went through all these different possibilities. They looked at the kind of a report they could bring in today to try to throw the government off track. The opposition members chose a report that was brought in back in June, not 2018 but 2017. That report has been sitting, collecting dust and that is the report they have chosen. They could have chosen from many reports, but that is the one they wanted to zero in on in order to try to frustrate the government so we would not be able to talk about what was important to Canadians.
This is not the first time the opposition has done that. The opposition continuously looks at ways to do two things: to attack the persons of this cabinet and individuals within this government on a personal level more often than not it seems; and come up with ways in which they can filibuster or try to frustrate the government so we cannot implement the type of good things on the agenda we made to Canadians back in 2015. Today is an excellent example of that.
I will get right to the point on that debate shortly. However, let me assure those individuals who are following the debate or watching what is taking place and the behaviour of the unholy alliance between the New Democrats and the Conservatives, that as much as they want to focus inside the gutter in many ways, we will continue to be focused on Canadians from coast to coast to coast in ensuring we are bringing forward progressive legislation and budget bills and plans that are in the best interest of Canadians. We know it is in the best interest of Canadians because we are working with Canadians day in and day out. In fact, we have a Prime Minister who has ensured that we there is a higher level of transparency and accountability, second to no other especially compared to Stephen Harper. There is a lot of irony there.
The Conservatives talk about the importance of the rule of law and the charter. I remember the attempt by Stephen Harper to get Mr. Nadon into the Supreme Court when I was in opposition. Recently, when I was posting something on Facebook, I saw something that had been posted regarding 101 Harper scandals. If members want to get a sense of the violations against the independence of our court system and the government of the day, they should look at Stephen Harper's performance.
I believe that absolutely nothing has gone wrong here. The Prime Minister and his government have done their jobs. I want to assure members that no matter what sorts of frustrations the opposition works together to come up with to prevent this government from presenting good legislation and positive budgetary measures, we will continue to represent, argue and debate what we believe is important to everyday Canadians who are trying to make it: Canada's middle class, those who are trying to be a part of it, and those who are in need, all of whom are priority one for this government.
We will not be sidetracked by an opposition that has one focus alone. That is why its members reach back to June 2017, when the item we are debating right now was brought forward. I hope later today that my colleagues across the way will reflect on what we could have been debating. I made reference to the 11,000 children in my home province of Manitoba. There are thousands of children all over our country who need to see the progressive legislation in Bill C-92 pass. I hope we will have a better chance of opposition members working together to ensure that this legislation is able to pass, even though they want to maintain their focus on attacks on the government.
I have been in opposition. I can appreciate that in opposition, they want to look at ways to hold the government accountable, and there could be some merit in that.
I listened to a lot of the debate. I would like to go over some of the things I picked up from the committee meetings. Some of the comments I heard were interesting, in particular those of Mr. Wernick. He was Canada's top civil servant. There was no one higher than Mr. Wernick within the Canadian civil service. The Conservatives have implied that this is scary. However, they should realize that this professional civil servant worked with Stephen Harper too. It was not one political party. This is an individual who committed his life for over 30 years to serving Canadians.
Mr. Wernick came to committee and made a presentation. When he looked at the matter as a whole, this was his conclusion. He stated:
It is my conclusion and my assertion, based on all the information I have, that there was no inappropriate pressure on the Minister of Justice in this matter.
It was interesting to listen to the former minister of justice with respect to two questions that really caught my interest.
did the Prime Minister...ever direct you to enter into a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin?
The former minister was very clear: “No.”
If Canadians listened to the Conservatives and the New Democrats, they would think that the Prime Minister was in her office every day of the year telling her to interject. However, she used her own very simple word to a very simple question, “No.”
do you believe that...the pressure...contravened the Criminal Code?
What did she respond? The former minister said, “I don't believe that.”
It is pretty straightforward stuff.
There are many quotes from those committee meetings. I would encourage members to do a little research on some of those quotes. What I believe they will find is that nothing has taken place that could not be defended in any sort of public meeting.
I would welcome members opposite in Winnipeg North. If they are so bold, and they feel they are so righteous on this particular issue, I would love to host any one of them in the riding of Winnipeg North to deal with this issue.
Every Saturday I go to a local restaurant. Some days I get 30-plus people coming to see me at that restaurant, and I have had maybe two, possibly three, talk about this issue, and one of them was actually very favourable. The other one expressed concerns. He expressed concerns, and I said that it sounded like he might be listening to what the official opposition was talking about and that maybe he was on an email list or something of that nature. He kind of laughed about it. He has come back since, and we have changed topics.
I give the Conservatives credit for being good in opposition. They are very good in opposition, and I wish them many more years in opposition.
At the end of the day, if members join me at that local restaurant, they will find that what people are talking about is immigration, the economy, and all sorts of other personal matters. People are not talking about SNC-Lavalin, at least not at that local restaurant. I might have had maybe 10 or 12 verifiable emails coming from my riding of Winnipeg North on the issue. If I compare that to other agenda items, what people want us to be debating in this House is what is important to Canadians.
The Prime Minister stood in his place today and said that over 900,000 jobs have been created by working with Canadians in all regions of our country. I will compare our efforts to former prime minister Stephen Harper's any day of the week.
Even when it comes to the rule of law and the charter, this is the party that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are the ones who brought the Constitution home to Canada. We do not need lessons from an opposition party that, when it was in government, tried to put in a Supreme Court judge, which ultimately had to be taken away because of the prime minister's interference, in good part.
Seriously, do we need to take lessons from a previous government that had such a lack of respect for our charter that it often brought in legislation that violated the charter? When the Supreme Court made decisions, the Conservatives were found lacking in bringing in the legislation required to make amendments that were necessary. Some of the first legislation we had to bring in as a government was because of the Conservatives' unwillingness to respect the decisions of our Supreme Court.
At the end of the day, the Conservatives and their unholy alliance with the NDP will stand up and talk about SNC. However, I believe one of their biggest motivating reasons is that they have nothing else they really want to talk about.
If we look at the last three and a half years, we see a government that has consistently delivered from coast to coast to coast on a wide range of ideas, plans and programs that have assisted in the generation of well over 900,000 jobs, lifted thousands of children out of poverty, lifted thousands of seniors out of poverty and provided hope for many who did not have hope before. It has implemented a national housing strategy that is going to make a difference not only today but into the future. It has implemented an infrastructure program that is going to build stronger and healthier infrastructure across Canada. These are the types of things this government has been doing for the last three and a half years.
The NDP and the Conservatives realize that, and that is one of the reasons that today it is SNC, but they will always come up with something personal. We see that in their questions. We see that in their actions, as opposed to debating good, solid legislation. This is just one example.
At the end of the day, I believe that if the NDP and Conservatives—