Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, who spoke on this topic for over an hour on Friday. It was fish Friday. Fish was even served in the lobby, and he spoke eloquently for over an hour on Bill C-55 and Bill S-203, which is on ending the captivity of whales.
I was back in the riding talking about species at risk, in particularly the issue we have with the southern mountain caribou. Members might wonder why I am bringing up this issue. It is because my colleague across the way wants to talk about consultation and how it has been thorough.
He would probably stand up and say that the consultation on the southern mountain caribou issue in the province of British Columbia was been thorough as well. I can tell members that what has been very thorough and robust is the attendance at these town halls done by the Province of British Columbia, and the reason attendance has been robust is that there has been no consultation. Here is an issue that is going to have detrimental impacts on our province in terms of industry and our way of life.
I also want to say at the very beginning that nobody wants to see a species such as the southern mountain caribou become extinct, or our chinook or our Atlantic salmon or our northern cod. One of the challenges we have with the current government is that its members stand up and say that they have consulted Canadians thoroughly, from coast to coast to coast, but indeed they have not. Why would the minister be getting protests outside his door by angry fishermen, angry groups, and have to be spirited away under the protection of security?
When we stand up on this side to talk about consultation, even the NDP members are in agreement with us that consultation is not there.
I will bring members back to earlier today, and for those in the gallery and for Canadians just tuning in to the debate, it has been 71 times that we have voted on time allocation. This is closure of debate. It has happened 71 times to this point under the current government.
I will bring members back to day 15 of the member for Papineau's campaign to be our Prime Minister. It was day 15 in the 2015 election when he stood up and said that under his government, we would be the most open and transparent government in the history of our country. Well, we have seen where that has gone.
He also said that he would run small deficits and then all of a sudden balance the budget in 2019. Well, where are we now? We have huge debt.
One of the other things he said was that under his government, they would not resort to parliamentary tricks and tactics such as omnibus bills, invoking closure or using time allocation. He would let the debate reign, because after all it was not about us as parliamentarians, but about the people who voted us in and got us here.
With that, I have to bring members back to today. I will remind those in the House who are checking their iPads and checking their messages and not really paying attention to the debate that this is not about them and it is not about the Prime Minister; this is about the electors who voted for 338 members of Parliament here to be their voice. When the government invokes time allocation and closure on debate, it is saying that the voices of those who elected members of the opposition and many others do not really matter.
We have seen that time and time again, and it is usually when Liberals do not like what they are hearing. It is usually when valid points are being brought up. We now see it again. We are sitting at 71 time allocation motions. I said 59 earlier, but my great colleague from Courtenay—Alberni reminded us that it is 71 times. I do not think that is letting the debate reign.
I also want to talk about consultation.
Liberals stand and talk about consultation. Throughout the southern mountain caribou exercise, a slide was brought out and then taken down very quickly. The slide said “consultation versus engagement”. That prompted me to think about this a little more. Liberals in government—and perhaps we on this side too, as elected officials—throw the terms “engagement” and “consultation” around as though they are interchangeable. The reality is that they are not. They are vastly different. Depending on the underlying motivation and the process, they come at different solutions.
In consultation, I would tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have a great idea and ask you what you think about it. You may say that the hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George has a great idea, but there are some ways it could be tweaked to make it better. I would respond by saying that these are great ideas and I would think about them. However, with engagement, I would go to you, Mr. Speaker, and say that we have a problem and I would really like your help to try to figure it out. You and I would go back and forth in a transactional kind of dialogue, and I would take your thoughts, ideas and concepts, say that I think we have come up with a solution, and tell you what it was and away we would go.
I am probably going to elicit some boos from that side of the House, because in terms of what I just said about consultation versus engagement, it is engagement that Canadians truly want, especially those in fishing and coastal communities and first nations that depend on the fisheries for their sustenance. When we levy a policy such as what is found in Bill C-55, we are not consulting Canadians on what we should be doing but engaging Canadians from the grassroots on the issue. However, the problem with that is that at times, they cannot tell us what they want to protect.
Mr. Speaker, you just gave me a three-minute warning, but I think I have 11 minutes. It is three minutes until question period. That is going to ruin the video. Let the record show that I am splitting my time with question period, with 338 members of Parliament, unlike our colleagues across the way, who would not allow that.
Whether it is Bill C-55, the Fisheries Act, the northern cod study, the Atlantic salmon study or the aquatic invasive species study—which we will never get to, because our friends on the fisheries committee continue to delay it—Canadians are looking for engagement on policy that is going to impact them.
I have tried to change my vocabulary, my use of “consultation”, since that southern mountain caribou fiasco we dealt with in the province of British Columbia, and I now use “engagement”.
It is not an engagement. It is really just a check in a box to say that my colleagues across the way have talked about it. I wonder if it is because they do not believe Canadians are smart enough to come up with an idea. After all, we live in coastal areas and depend on the water, so maybe we are not smart enough to come up with a solution to the problem. Maybe they are worried the problem is that Canadians are too smart and will figure it out.
I have listened to a number of fishers, fishing organizations and first nations. They are concerned about the lack of consultation on Bill C-55. Our hon. colleague across the way is saying that the amendment that came back from the Senate is redundant and is way too much. After all, it would listen to Canadians, who time and again said that they were not consulted enough. They said that they were not being engaged enough.
We should always strive to be better. Bill C-55 is core legislation under the Liberal government. Now the Liberals say that time has dithered away, and I think my hon. colleague mentioned that there were only 25 sitting days left, and that is why there is an urgency to push it through. However, there are serious concerns with Bill C-55, which is why that amendment came forward. What they are essentially saying, which is no different than time allocation, is that because it is a Conservative amendment, it does not really matter. That is wrong.
With that, I will cede the floor and pick it up after question period.