Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today to speak to the Liberals' latest pot plan, Bill C-93, an act to give pardons to people who were charged with possession of an illegal substance in years past.
I would like to salute the NDP members for their ability to bring pressure to bear on the Liberals and force them to address this issue. The government did not respond until after the NDP brought this forward in the House, calling for action. They need to be recognized for forcing the government into acting.
The Liberal government of course has said that it has always had a plan. However, it sure seems to have been rushed for something that was a long time in the planning.
In the public safety committee, we have the Liberal government's plans that are poorly developed, they lack consultations and they often miss the point or have negative consequences and unintended impacts on the Canadian public. The Liberal government has proven that virtue signalling is a bad way to manage a country because it creates more problems than it solves.
Bill C-93 makes its first mistake on the very first line of the bill, “An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions.” While I am sure the Liberals meant no-fee record suspension, there is no such thing as a no-cost record suspension. The process of suspending a criminal record costs the taxpayers money, $630 specifically. It is a cost recovery process in that an individual pays for the administrative costs for an application. Taxpayers will be on the hook for each pardon request, each suspension request. While providing the record suspension for an individual with historical convictions for a minor offence is not a big issue, allocating taxpayer money to the cost of that at a time when millions of Canadians are saying that everyday costs are out of reach, just shows how out of touch the government is to the everyday working Canadian.
This can hardly be called a priority for Canadians and the average Canadian family. That is the main issue I hear from many in the justice and policing community. The priorities of the government seem to be out of step with the needs of Canadians, the needs of our country and the needs of community safety, whether it is in the cities fighting gangs or in rural areas, providing police response to support and fight the rising crime rates. As I have said many times in this place, it must be the top priority of the House of Commons to put protections of Canadians ahead of political priorities, parties and election. Protecting Canadians is far more important than one's political fortunes.
Clearly, this is not the case for the Liberal Prime Minister, his senior cabinet ministers and staffers. While we can draw this conclusion from their priorities in the public safety portfolio, the SNC-Lavalin scandal brought this in clear view.
The Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Minister of Finance and senior staff, including Gerald Butts and Ben Chin, noted that elections were more of a priority than the independence of our judicial process. Intervening in a criminal prosecution, quite possibly attempting to obstruct justice, and undermining the independence of our justice system was not as important to them as helping out their friends from a Montreal-based employer. “I'm an MP in Quebec” the Prime Minister is said to have responded. Sadly, the few jobs that might have been impacted, and SNC-Lavalin says almost no jobs would be impacted, pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of jobs lost in my province of Alberta in the energy sector.
The Prime Minister is fond of suggesting his words are important, but sadly his actions are found wanting. The priorities of Canadians are not the priorities—