Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the member for Kelowna—Lake Country for her great speech today and her outstanding work since her election last year. She is a strong addition to our government in waiting. I just want to let her know that her hard work is very much appreciated.
I would like to thank all of the workers in my community who have put their community first during 2020. From prevention to testing to treatment, people in the health care field, and those who have stepped into the health care field, have done so much for our community. We have essential workers who, in times of great uncertainty, continued to provide the services that we required of them, and everyday folks whose jobs were not declared essential soldiered on to continue to serve their friends, neighbours and family members: people working at grocery stores, repairing roads, collecting garbage or working at financial institutions. Whatever it was, they carried on in the face of adversity.
Early in the pandemic, we were called on by the country to come together to provide the support that Canadians desperately needed. Giving credit where credit is due, there was a fast reaction from the government, but it needed a little help to get where it needed to be for Canadians. The wage subsidy is a great example of that. Through the work of all the members in this place, we were able to take it from the 10% proposed wage subsidy to the 75% that businesses were calling for, and that they so desperately needed to be able to keep businesses open and keep employees on the payroll. It is a tremendously important improved outcome created by the work of parliamentarians.
What also happened around that same time, early this year, was an unprecedented attempt at a power grab by the government, looking to tax and spend without parliamentary oversight until December of 2021. Parliament pushed back and we were able to stop that attempt at a power grab.
At that point we knew that the work of the government was going to require a close eye. That became so apparent during the summer months, when we learned that a company had paid members of the Prime Minister's family half a million dollars. His government saw fit to give that organization half a billion dollars.
At every turn, when members of the House or committee members tried to seek answers, they were faced with obstruction. They were faced with filibusters. The government wanted to deflect, duck and avoid accountability.
While many Canadians were making tough decisions about how they were going to pay their mortgages or rent, and worried, looking ahead, about how they were going to heat their homes or how they were going to eat, the Liberals were looking out for their well-connected friends and the insiders: people with access to the halls of power and the Prime Minister's office, believing that the executive had a set of rules that was different from the rest of the country.
We heard a great deal of testimony that was very damaging to the government, damaging to the Prime Minister, and so damaging to the then finance minister that, in fact, Bill Morneau resigned in disgrace.
There were echoes of a scandal from the Liberals' first mandate, the SNC-Lavalin scandal, which saw the Prime Minister fire cabinet ministers and kick women out of his caucus who had the courage to stand up to him and speak truth to power. That was the subject of the Trudeau Report 2, in which he was found to have broken ethics laws when he interfered in the prosecution of his well-connected friends at SNC-Lavalin.
During that same mandate the Liberals had, there was also the Trudeau Report 1, in which the Prime Minister was found guilty of breaking ethics laws for his illegal trip to billionaire island, and now here we are. Canadians gave Liberals a reduced mandate and put them on notice. They shortened the leash, but the Prime Minister is under investigation again by the Ethics Commissioner.
While these investigations were going on and the government was being damaged, the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. He prorogued, breaking a promise that the Liberals would never prorogue. In fact, the Prime Minister marched in the streets against prorogation, stating he would never do it and would never try to avoid accountability.
What did the Liberals do with those six weeks, aside from hiding from accountability? They did not get ready. They did not consult with stakeholders and opposition parties. They did not prepare to provide Canadians with the help they need. While all of our allies had approved rapid testing, we were into the second wave here in Canada. After weeks of opposition pressure, after we had come back, and after the doors had been unlocked after they had shut down Parliament, we put the pressure on for rapid tests. We were talking about rapid tests in March and are still asking the Prime Minister where they are. The government bought 7.9 million of those tests, but they were not approved. Suddenly, the next day, they were approved.
We have been calling for these tests but they are not in the hands of the government or Canadians yet. The Prime Minister says it is going to be a couple of weeks for the tests. How many schools are going to be closed in the next couple of weeks while Canadians wait for those tests? How many workplaces will close? How many more community outbreaks will occur? This is a failure of the Prime Minister, one of many during this pandemic.
Canadians deserve better. The Prime Minister said a couple of weeks, but he had a couple of weeks. He had six weeks. However, the Liberals had to rush through the reforms to the emergency response benefit because they did not get ready. They did not use those six weeks. The Prime Minister hid.
Let us talk about the commercial rent assistance program which has been, frankly, a disaster. It is expiring. There is nothing on the Notice Paper. There is no plan. The Liberals failed businesses. For many of the programs they have had, and in spite of urging from business groups, small business owners and the opposition parties, the criteria were often very narrow and excluded many Canadians. Many people in my community did not qualify for a single program.
For the six weeks the Liberals had, the Speech from the Throne fell very short of what Canadians deserve. What we did see, and what has been demonstrated to Canadians, is the importance of having this place, of having our parliamentary democracy and having a check on the power of government. The work that opposition members do is critical to the function of our democracy. Canadians get better outcomes when we do our work, when Parliament does its work and when committees do their work. That is what we are going to continue to do.
As the official opposition, Canada's Conservatives are going to continue doing the work of holding the government to account. When the time comes, this government in waiting will act on the lessons learned during this pandemic, and we will continue to deliver for Canadians.