Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this motion, but before I do that, I would ask for your indulgence to mention the passing of an individual in my riding, Jack Armstrong, who passed away last week. Jack was an extremely dedicated individual who cared so much about politics, but was rarely ever partisan. He spent a lot of time volunteering on campaigns, but would just as likely volunteer on a Conservative campaign as he did for my Liberal campaigns on a number of occasions. Jack will truly be missed as will everything he offered to my community. Indeed, I miss him a lot having had the opportunity to work so closely with him.
As we talk about this motion today, I will take the opportunity to pick up from where the parliamentary secretary left off. I appreciate his sharing his time with me. What we are seeing today with this opposition motion is a new approach from the opposition, and I really do respect and appreciate it.
We used to see motions that were drafted in such a way that we never even thought would pass. They usually started off with statements about the government being so horrible and the Prime Minister did this and that. That is the way opposition motions used to be presented over the last four years, but now we are seeing a new approach. Perhaps it is the minority government that is creating this sense of desire to be so diligent in how the Conservatives bring forward motions. Now we are seeing motions that actually contain substance because there is an opportunity that motions might actually pass. It is great that the opposition is now taking this new approach. Now we have the opportunity to debate substantive opposition motions. That is great.
To that end, I believe the objectives of this motion are perfectly in line with what is necessary for accountability and transparency. We need to have the kinds of reviews that the Auditor General is being asked to do in this particular motion because this is what gives Canadians the information they need to reflect on how the government is doing.
The problem that comes up, which the parliamentary secretary who spoke before me laid out very well, is when there is information put into the preamble that is, in my opinion, purposely inserted in the motion to create a scenario where the government or the governing party, in this case the Liberal Party, will not support it. The opposition is cherry-picking quotes from a report in March, which was subsequently updated and new information was provided. The report was updated to suggest that the requirements of the government were being met. Why would Conservatives even bother including a quote when they had an opportunity to quote a new report that came out later? I can only come to the conclusion that it was done intentionally to prevent a scenario where the government could vote in favour of the motion.
As a matter of fact, the Conservative member who asked the last question, and I apologize for forgetting his riding, specifically asked why the government is getting caught up in the preamble and who cares about the preamble. I could not agree more with him. As a former mayor, and I know the member for Mount Royal was as well, I can say that nobody cares about the preamble. The city clerk usually just takes everything after “Therefore, be it resolved” because that is the action item in it. That is what actually matters.
The Conservative member asked why the government is getting caught up in the preamble. That is an excellent question. Maybe he missed it earlier when we put forward an amendment to remove that part. If it had been removed, which would have been so easy to do, we would end up with a motion that everybody could support. It is not the direction, in particular everything that follows the word “That” in this motion, that we have a problem with; it is the fact that the preamble sets up a misleading scenario to suggest that after the Auditor General or the Parliamentary Budget Officer made the report in March, that was the end of it, that it ended there. However, that is not the case. More followed.
In August, an additional report was tabled that said something quite different. At that time, the Parliamentary Budget Officer conducted an independent economic analysis and concluded that the federal investments made under phase one helped grow the economy and create jobs over the first two years.
Cherry-picking this information is to the benefit of nobody really because it does not matter. What is important is that we make sure we can look beyond this unnecessary information and unnecessary cherry-picking. The opposition cherry-picked at the beginning of that motion and I am clearly doing it now with another part of that. It does not matter, so why are we getting all caught up in this?
As we talk about infrastructure projects, I am thrilled to talk about the amount that is actually being invested throughout Canada. This fund sets aside $180 billion over a 12-year period. As we know right now, there are at least 52,000 projects that have started or are under way.
Madam Speaker, I know you will be cutting me off here. I look forward to continuing after question period.