Madam Speaker, generally speaking, whenever I have the opportunity to share some thoughts with members of the chamber, I am quite delighted to do so.
I am very disappointed in the Conservatives and their approach to what they wanted to debate today. There are all sorts of misrepresentations and false impressions that I believe they are trying to give to Canadians.
Let us bring it back to the last federal election. It was very clear that Canadians from coast to coast to coast wanted to see political parties work better together in order to deliver more for Canadians. That was the request of Canadians, and we have taken that request very seriously.
It is not just the governing party that has a responsibility to listen to what Canadians said back in the last federal election; so does the official opposition. However, I have not witnessed that reformed behaviour coming from the Conservative Party. What I have seen is Conservatives doing whatever they can, such as a filibuster, to disrupt the House of Commons from things that are taking place in the chamber. They know what sort of spin to put on different issues to try to come across as if they are doing it for so-called good reasons.
I have served many years as a parliamentarian and I have been involved in minority governments at both the national level and the provincial level. At the end of the day, yes, there is a responsibility for the government, and we take that responsibility seriously, but there is also a particular responsibility for the official opposition, and I wish they would take that role seriously.
Let us take a flashback to last Friday. The Conservative opposition always says that we never provide enough debate on important legislation, and we have indeed had very important legislation, including medical assistance in dying; a trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico; and changes to the Canada Border Services Agency, as well as throne speech debates. There have been all sorts of debates of real consequence to Canadians throughout our nation, and time and time again we have seen the Conservatives say that they want more time to debate things. They want to have more time to debate on anything and everything.
Last Friday, we were debating legislation to make changes to the Canada Border Services Agency. From what I understand, every member in this House actually supports this legislation and is going to be voting in favour of it.
Last Friday, what did the Conservatives do? They actually moved to adjourn the House for the day, saying to Canadians that they did not want to have debate that day and they wanted to shut it down. The Liberal caucus was here in numbers and wanted to continue debating government bills, but the Conservatives wanted to take the afternoon off. Then they realized that the Liberals were not the only ones who were prepared to work; so were the Bloc and the NDP, and that is the reason they lost that vote.
What did the Conservatives do next? They moved to adjourn debate, not so we could move on to debate another bill but because they wanted to force another vote in order to prevent debate on a bill.
On the one hand, the Conservatives say they want to debate government bills. On the other hand, they say they want to take time off. The Conservative mentality is to say, “Let us be as disruptive as we can for the House of Commons, and then what we will do is blame the Liberals for not having enough time to debate legislation. We are going to say that the Liberals cannot pass legislation.”
Give me a class of grade 6 students in any community in Canada, and I could prevent a government from being able to debate legislation to a final end. Anyone can do that. They do not have to be a genius in order to prevent government legislation from passing. Unlike private members' bills, unless we are prepared to bring in time allocation, we will not be able to get things done because the Conservatives, time and time again will persist in filibustering any government initiative.
The Conservatives do not want a government that is functional. They will do anything to prevent things from happening inside the House of Commons. That is what I have witnessed as a minority government, and that is why I say shame on them. It is not a message that was just sent to the governing party: There is an expectation from the public that the official opposition has to behave in a responsible manner.
Let us think about the motion they have brought forward today. They say they want to have more opposition days. They want to have four more opposition days. If we look up the word hypocrisy in the dictionary, we might find a lot of similarities between how that is defined and the behaviour, comments and direction that are coming from the Conservative Party.
This is a substantial change or deviation from the rules. The Conservatives would have argued endlessly that we should never do that. I remember the thumping of the desks, the endless questions of privilege and points of order. When I say endless, we are talking about hours and hours. What about the filibuster from the critic of finance, when he consumed virtually the entire budget debate? They are proud of that. They did all of this because the Liberal government attempted to make some changes to the rules, which were nowhere near as profound as what they are trying to do for this session.
The Conservatives now say that they would give the Bloc one of those opposition days, and give the NDP one of those opposition days. Why not give everyone an opposition day, and they will all vote in favour of it.
How does that make our system any better? Why did they not approach the government and ask if there were some things they could do to accommodate the government also? If the Conservatives genuinely believe that they want to see an additional number of opposition days, I am open to that.
I spent most of my years as a parliamentarian in opposition. I see the value of that, but I also see the value of having debate on government legislation. What they are saying is that opposition days are only good on Mondays, Tuesdays and maybe Thursdays. That is what they are saying, because Wednesdays and Fridays are short days. They are saying that on the government agenda, the short days are for debate. By the way, they are complaining because they are not getting enough time to debate. It is hypocrisy.
It is truly amazing. I think of the Standing Orders and the important role that the Standing Orders play for the chamber. I like to consider myself as a parliamentarian first and foremost. It is disrespectful, the type of motion that has been brought forward, with not one word of negotiation taking place with the government members.
I have personal opinions of how we can make this chamber more effective and more functional so that Canadians would benefit. I have even made the offer that I would love to sit down with government members and opposition members in all political parties to talk about some of those rules. I will continue that effort because I believe in that, but what we are witnessing today is wrong. I hope that Canadians will see through what the Conservatives are really trying to do here. It is not in the best interests of Canadians. If there is a Conservative who has the bravado and is prepared to go to a university and debate this with me, I would welcome that debate.