Mr. Speaker, the member for Victoria is a tough act to follow, but I will do the best I can.
I will start by saying there is wide gulf between what the government promised in 2015 and what it has actually delivered. It is quite saddening to every Canadian who believes in parliamentary democracy and believes the people should have the right to determine the destiny of this country. We see the government having repeatedly betrayed the promises the Liberals made during the election campaign in 2015.
I will not spend too much time on the litany of broken promises, but certainly one is on democratic reform. In 2015 we were supposed to have the last first past the post election which is undemocratic. We are now going into another election with the whole aspect of democratic reform gutted, ripped up. It is a promise that has been thrown on the floor and trampled on.
The government wanted to take action on the environment. Instead, we get the Trans Mountain pipeline that the government has spent billions of dollars on and will spend tens of billions more as construction costs escalate.
When we talk about the House of Commons and respecting parliamentary democracy, we had the Prime Minister promising in 2015 an end to omnibus legislation, legislation that ties together a whole range of unrelated items. Instead, the Liberals have doubled down and created some of the most monstrous pieces of omnibus legislation that the House has ever seen in a century and a half.
The Prime Minister during the election campaign talked about eliminating closure and working co-operatively with the opposition parties. Instead, what we have seen this week is the most toxic muzzling of the opposition that has ever occurred in our history, toxic closure motions that allow only one member to speak. The government has used this device a number of times now. Once the government moves the motion, one member gets to speak. Most often it is a government member, and there is no time for questions or comments or anything by the opposition. Opposition members represent more than 60% of the Canadian population and they are completely muzzled and shut down.
We just saw the spectre of the worst Thursday question response that this Parliament has ever seen. There has always been respect for Parliament that when the Thursday question is offered by the official opposition House leader, a role which I played in the last Parliament, the government then gives some idea of the legislation to come before the House in the following week. For a century and a half when that question has been asked by the official opposition, the government has been forthcoming. It does not mean that sometimes agendas change, but there has been some inkling of the business to come before Parliament in the following week.
Today, we saw the government remove its mask and show its real face. There was no information forthcoming at all to any member of the opposition or even any member of the government side. We do not know when the Conservatives will get their opposition day. We do not know when the supply votes, which should take us a good part of the day and probably all night, will occur. We do not know what legislation is coming up on Monday morning. Members of Parliament will be leaving this place this week with absolutely no idea of what is coming before the House in the subsequent week. That is the first time any government has attempted to override and ride roughshod over parliamentary rights in our nation's history. It was absolutely despicable to see that.
This is not a small matter. When we think of all the members of Parliament having to organize their travel schedules to make sure they are here for those supply votes which often take 24 hours, for Conservatives to know when their opposition day is coming forward so that they can offer their suggestions, which often I disagree with, but always respect their right to offer them for what Parliament and the government should do moving forward, all of those things have been put in complete suspension. Members of Parliament now have to wait to see what the government will be bringing up Monday morning. It is unbelievable.
Therefore, when we talk about Bill C-58, it is in the same framework of broken promises and abuse of parliamentary democracy.
All members of Parliament have a role to play in the House of Commons. All of us should have the ability to represent our constituents. However, the government provides nothing but a blank slate, saying, “We'll let you know Monday morning what is actually going to come before the House. We're going to let you know, Conservatives, when you can offer your opposition motion. We're going to let all members of Parliament know when we are getting into the 24-hour voting cycle.” For those members of Parliament who also have to be present in their constituency and for those members of Parliament who also have family obligations, this disrespect for Parliament is unbelievable. It is unbelievable not to provide any sort of indication whatsoever about what is going to transpire in this place from Monday morning on.
Access to information starts with that. If the government respected access to information, it would start with parliamentarians, by saying to them, “Here is the schedule for next week. It may change, but here are our intentions about the bills to come before the House.” Yes, the Senate influences that, I have no doubt, but to give some sense of what bills may be coming forward, when the opposition day is or when we will be having all-night voting is just a modicum of respect and information that needs to be provided to parliamentarians.
The Liberals have done the same thing to Canadians that they are doing to members of Parliament. We now have Bill C-58, which was deeply flawed. It was criticized from right and left, from people who believe that Canadians have a right to access the information that belongs to them. This is not a Liberal dictatorship, or I certainly hope it is not or will not become one. Liberal governments, like all governments, should govern in the interest of all Canadians. There is no doubt that there is a fundamental right to information that all Canadians possess.
However, the Liberals presented a flawed bill. The New Democratic members and members of the other opposition parties all came forward with helpful suggestions that would make a difference and make a bad bill a fairly good bill. Liberal members on the committee and in the House simply gutted that and refused those amendments. The bill then went to the Senate, and the government had an opportunity to get amendments from senators. We might believe in the abolition of the Senate, but it certainly has a role to play right now, and it improved the bill, again. I think people were generally optimistic that at least the bad bill had become a fairly good bill, yet the government has gutted that again.
Ultimately, it is disrespect for parliamentarians, and it is disrespect for Canadians. For that reason, New Democrats will be voting against the government's proposal.