Mr. Speaker, it is an honour once again to rise in the House and enter into debate. It is good to be back in Parliament, regardless of the time of year. Even though summer is not normally a time Parliament sits, we have important business to do, so it is good to be back.
In my 10-minute speech, I hope to cover a whole range of subjects, but I want to bring up something that constituents talk to me on a regular basis about, and that is the deterioration in trust that has taken place between Canadians and their government.
On October 21, Canadians sent a minority Liberal government to Ottawa and a strong Conservative opposition and two other parties. Throughout the last number of months, we have not seen an attitude from the Liberal government that it has clearly had its hand slapped by Canadians for a series of ethical failings, among other things. Rather, we have seen a government that clearly seems to want to maintain an aura of not just majority rule, but one in which the current Prime Minister also feels he has a divine right to rule this country in whatever regard he feels according to the whim of the day.
That has caused a deterioration in trust. What I hear from constituents time and again every day, whether by email or phone or when stopped in a grocery store, is that there has been a deterioration in trust between Canadians and the institutions of government. That trust is a sacred thing. It builds the very foundation of what our democratic process is all about.
We have seen a number of ethical violations. In fact, the current Prime Minister is the only prime minister to have been found guilty of ethics violations not once, not twice, but now one that would seem to be well on his way to a third violation. Yet we have seen investigations stymied and documents not being released and cabinet confidences not being waived, although I note that the parliamentary secretary to the House leader made an impassioned defence of why the Prime Minister did not mislead the House earlier, saying instead that they took unprecedented action to release everything.
The facts simply speak for themselves. There is so much more to the story than what we are learning. We find ourselves in the midst of the WE scandal. We find once again that the Prime Minister does not know the line. He seems to wander back and forth between politics and government, and even seeing his family and friends benefit from the power entrusted to the government to govern the country. That is causing an erosion of the sacred trust that exists between the institution of government, including the House, and Canadians.
It is increasingly clear, and I certainly hear about it on a daily basis, that trust has been lost. In fact, in question period yesterday, I asked the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth if she knew about the Prime Minister's conflict of interest. It was not an hour after question period that an article came out revealing that she had met with WE only a few days prior to this announcement. That deterioration of trust is having a significant impact.
I have the honour of sitting on the ethics committee, where we saw something truly unprecedented. There was a quite simple motion to say that we should shine the light on this scandal and get the information we need, yet we saw government members of that committee filibuster and try to shut down the proceedings. Canadians expect better from their government. I wrote down a number of quotes and checked the minutes of the meeting afterward, and a lot of the things the government members said show a stunning level of hypocrisy.
I will be splitting my time with one of my hon. colleagues from Quebec, and I will not try to pronounce his riding's name out of respect for the French language. I appreciate the reminder to say that.
We have a government that is being rocked by another ethics scandal.
With respect to the bill we are debating today, I have heard a number of the members opposite say that it is all the fault of the Conservatives. In fact, it is probably Stephen Harper. That seems to be the thing they say most regularly. I see the parliamentary secretary to the House leader is probably preparing a question right now. When we were faced with a pandemic that changed the way all of us, all Canadians, and pretty much everybody around the world, lived our daily lives, instead of rising to the challenge regarding where we were as a parliament, we saw a shutting down of Parliament.
The members opposite have said very clearly that we have asked more questions now than we ever have, and it is probably Stephen Harper's fault again. What is very clear is that the government emphasizes style over substance. We admit there were a lot of questions, and we were happy to work within the context of ensuring there was democratic accountability. However, we saw a shutdown of all other aspects of Parliament, including committees. In fact, it was only a few days ago that we saw the opening up of a few other committees.
The ethics committee only met for the first time this past Friday, after a break of a number of months. When I tell my constituents that I am on the ethics committee, their first comment is that it must be really busy or they ask if the Prime Minister actually allows it to do anything. It is unfortunate. I will note that shortly after the ethics committee was struck in this new Parliament, we attempted to have the Ethics Commissioner come to committee to have an honest dialogue about what was found to be a second violation of the Prime Minister with respect to ethics rules and the Liberal members voted against it.
There are so many aspects of the ethical failings of the government. My constituents have continually referred to them as the “cottage chronicles”. Quite often the Prime Minister would make an announcement, with few details and clarification on those details later in the day. A whole host of questions would remain on any of the programs that had been announced and in some cases there would be months of delay before seeing those programs implemented.
Regarding the bill at hand, specifically with respect to the disability portion of this, the Conservatives support ensuring that those who need support get it. The members opposite have said that these delays are the Conservatives fault. Let the record state very clearly that the Conservatives made it clear that we were happy to deal with the legislation and that Parliament should be the body to do so. However, the Liberals played politics with that and shut it down.
There are three main aspects to the bill. We have the wage subsidy, for which a lot of businesses are applying. Some are benefiting, but when I speak to small and medium-sized businesses specifically, they talk about how complicated some of these applications are. When I read through the portions of the bill that deal with the wage subsidy, we see further complications. For a large firm with a corporate office in a large city, that is okay, because it has accounting and legal departments. The accounting and legal departments of the small and medium-sized enterprises, especially in a rural constituency such as mine, is often one person, or a part-time role, or a hired accountant or they simply do the books themselves. Therefore, the unnecessarily complicated nature and aspects of the bill make it more difficult for people to apply.
I have a brief comment on the justice elements of the bill. Certainly, with the times we find ourselves in, it is necessary to have a look at these, but I would note that deterioration of trust, which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. When I read the aspects of the justice portion of the bill, the thought in the back of my mind was whether the Liberals were trying to sneak something into this that would have that negative impact on Canadians?
I look forward to answering questions on this and trying to dive into many aspects of this important debate today.