Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my speech with this thought: a government that is constantly embroiled in scandal cannot be effective. That is why we need to examine Bill C-98 at the last minute.
I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-98, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act.
This bill renames the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. It would henceforth be known as the “public complaints and review commission”. It would also be responsible for reviewing complaints filed by the public against the Canada Border Services Agency.
This bill delivers on a Liberal campaign promise that there would be an oversight body for all Canadian law enforcement agencies. The Prime Minister will then be able to say that he kept the promise he made in 2015. However, the only thing the Prime Minister will be able to do is claim that he kept his promise.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was just practically on his knees begging the opposition to hurry up and pass the bill. The end of this Parliament is quickly approaching, and it will obviously be impossible to get the job done properly. Unfortunately for the Liberals, they will be unable to keep their promise because they did not manage their time properly.
We are not opposed to Bill C-98, but there is still work to do. Right now, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security is stretched to the limit because, as the parliamentary secretary mentioned, it is currently examining a number of public-safety-related bills. The committee is still studying C-93. I do not see how the committee will be able to examine Bill C-98 on top of everything else it still has to do.
We need to get serious if we want the job to get done properly. The problem the Canada Border Services Agency is currently dealing with was caused by the Prime Minister's infamous tweet of January 2017. The Auditor General looked into the matter and, regardless of what the government says, he confirmed that the Prime Minister's tweet resulted in a huge influx of people at the border. Nearly 40,000 people have crossed our border illegally over the past two years. That has caused major problems for border officers on the ground and for the Canada Border Services Agency, which has had to deploy an incredible number of resources. They are still permanently deployed to Roxham Road.
The border management system is overloaded, and that is causing problems. Our border officers are doing their best. However, this type of situation, which was created by the Prime Minister, sometimes makes it difficult for them to do their job properly because of the higher-than-normal volume of border crossers.
The government is having a hard time making progress because it has to deal with scandal after scandal. We cannot forget the infamous trip to India, when the Prime Minister made Canada a laughingstock for a week. We never understood, and still do not understand, why the Prime Minister brought his wife and kids on that totally meaningless trip. Canada was humiliated, and that is what sparked the scandal. In India, the Prime Minister was photographed with a known terrorist who spent time in prison and was the invited guest of our government. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security had to spend a lot of time managing that file and had to meet with former national security adviser Daniel Jean.
Sometimes the government wants to rush things. The Liberals tell Canadians that they are there for them, but let's not forget what happened in the past three and a half years.
Quebeckers will not forget what the Liberals did to Davie. Today, both Liberal MPs from the Quebec City area are claiming that they awarded a $700-million contract to Davie, but the opposite is true. The PMO's first decision was to do everything it could to cancel the contract given to Davie by the Conservative government in July 2015.
The news spread. Fortunately, as a result of the pressure we applied, the government finally signed the contract. Technically, this government gave Davie the contract, but it was the Conservatives who awarded it. Let us remember that the Liberals did everything they could to cancel it. Fortunately, they failed. Had the Prime Minister succeeded, 1,000 jobs at Davie shipyard, in the Quebec City area, would have been at risk.
The Liberals are now trying to smooth things over. They are trying to find contracts so they can say that they are looking after Davie and they believe in the company. However, we must never forget what happened. Let's never forget that Vice-Admiral Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, paid the price for the government's political games. His career was destroyed.
This unbelievable mess has been playing out for three and a half years. Now, the Liberals are asking us to support Bill C-98. They are telling us that this is very urgent, and they are asking us to help them get this done before the end of their term.
Why should I rush and cut corners, like they do all the time? Why should the NDP cut corners? Why should we agree to help the government, which does what it wants and now needs our help?
There are certain things that could be done for the benefit of Canadians, but in this case, I see no need. They waited four years to act. On October 22, the new Conservative government will be able to get this done right.
The worst part is that we actually support Bill C-98. It is an administrative measure that is consistent with our complaint handling system. We have no problem supporting it. What we do have a problem with is the government's approach. We are certainly not about to run interference for a government that has lurched from one scandal to another and has tried in various ways to hurt Quebec, my home province. As I said, we are certainly not about to cut corners to help them.
Another issue is that Bill C-98 is being introduced to allow members of the public to file complaints about services provided by the Canada Border Services Agency. As I said at the beginning of my speech, if there are any problems with our officers in the field, it is because the Prime Minister did not help the situation. He created a huge problem, and for the past two years, it has been utter chaos.
The agency does everything it possibly can to keep our borders safe. We certainly do not want to suggest that we need to pass this bill quickly so that people can file complaints against our CBSA officers. That would send the wrong message.
The message we do want to send is that there are so many problems related to officers that people need to be able to file a complaint, and if any officers are having problems, if they are having difficulty doing their jobs, it is because of this government's decisions and the way in which it is managing our country and our borders.
We are not willing to cut corners. We are not willing to concede that this is such an urgent matter that we need to cancel the committee meetings that are already under way and set aside the other bills being studied in order to fast-track this one.
There is another reason we cannot get on board with this even though we support the principle of Bill C-98. For two years, every time we asked questions about the border, they hurled every insult in the book at us. They called us racist and accused us of fearmongering. They said we slashed budgets by $300 million and blamed us for management and resource problems, but the reports my colleague found put the lie to that. Yes, there was rationalization. Yes, there were changes at CBSA under the Conservative government, but it was all at the administrative level and had no impact whatsoever on the work of front-line officers.
On the contrary, one important decision the Conservatives made at the time was to bring back land border offices. Before that, there was a night officer on duty, which is crazy when you consider the kind of danger that poses to officer safety. Now there are always at least two people at each post. The Conservatives also decided to arm customs officers.
Conservatives do not just talk about security; we take concrete steps to ensure security. The laws we passed to crack down on criminals were undone by the Liberals.
I can support the bill, but I cannot support a government that says one thing and does another, a government that attacks us for trying to earn back the esteem of Canadians, while everyone knows that the problems we are having are due to this government's mistakes and terrible decisions.
I would not want Canada Border Services Agency officers to hear that we need to pass this bill right away in order to allow people to file complaints against them when the union has not even been consulted. The union should at least have been consulted. The Liberals had four years to get their ducks in a row. They did not even bother to consult the union to say that they were moving in this direction. There was no consultation. These are the things we have a hard time understanding.
As an hon. NDP member said in his question, given the vast resources at the government's disposal, it is hard to believe that the task was simply too daunting. It is obvious that this is a simple administrative measure, and a carbon copy of the one involving the RCMP, to boot. As such, I believe this is all just political rhetoric in an attempt to once again rush through an important bill.
A few weeks before the end of the parliamentary session, the Liberals are trying to make Canadians believe that passing Bill C-98 is a national emergency, when that is not true. They did nothing for four years. There was another national emergency yesterday but now it seems to have passed. Now there is a new emergency, and this bill has to pass in a hurry so the opposition needs to be on board.
That is not going to work. There are times when we are willing to collaborate, but we will not be made fools of. There is no cause to treat the official opposition, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois or the Leader of the Green Party like fools. Let us be professional. No one can claim that this file was handled in a professional manner. It was bungled from the start.
What is more, we know very well how this works. Even if we wanted to hastily push the bill through, it still has to go through the regular legislative process and all that that entails. Bill C-93 is still being examined in committee. It is technically impossible to complete the study of the bill in committee, send it to the Senate and have it passed there in the few weeks that remain in the session. It would take until August to complete the process properly.
The government messed up in the case of Bill C-98. The Liberals were unable to get the job done properly in the time allotted. Rather than being professional, this government has been caught up in scandal after scandal. It lost a tremendous amount of time because the Prime Minister was not and is still not ready to govern. Even if we support Bill C-98, it is not so urgent that we need to skip any steps. I am asking the government to do the job properly if it wants the official opposition to co-operate.