Madam Speaker, I was a little late getting to the House this morning and have now reviewed the motion. Why now? Why today?
I remember making a speech in the session just past, the one that was prorogued. I know there is opposition to that and that is fine. That can happen in a democracy. However, I remember saying that Canadians had put in place a minority Parliament and we should take the opportunity as parliamentarians to show we could make this Parliament work. Errors happen, and I am not saying the government is errorless because it is not. However, if Canadians are watching Parliament right now, are they proud of us? I do not think they are.
I have had the opportunity, as the Canada-U.S. chair, to go to the U.S. many times. I have seen how partisan the situation is there. The Democrats are here, the Republicans are there and never shall the two meet. I have always said that I am so proud of us as Canadians that we have not let that happen. However, this motion tells me that it is happening. Yes, this issue needs to be debated. There is nothing wrong with the motion, but today is not the day. Canadians are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are concerned about where they sit.
I spent a half an hour this morning on the phone with one of the food processors in the country. It believes the government is still continuing to move ahead with new regulations. I personally would oppose on front of pack labelling. Now is not the time for that either. Companies have suggested that other countries have brought in some tax measures that make them non-competitive here. That is one of our main industries. We should be debating issues like that, not this one today. There will be a time and place. That is why we have separate committees. These issues should be at least before a committee first, the ethics committee or some other. There is limited time to have debate on Bill C-2/Bill C-4. We have seen a slice of where this Parliament can work.
The government side came together with the leader of the NDP and made changes to improve the assistance to individuals and for improved sick leave. That is fine. We should debate that issue. Several people in the House were on the finance committee, during which we held hearings in late May, after Parliament shut down due to COVID-19. We heard some 300 witnesses who had a lot of concerns, such as where they would be as went go through this pandemic? We should be talking about those issues.
I am suggesting that for the next couple of months we concentrate on the issues about which Canadians are concerned. This is political theatre in terms of this motion. I have been in opposition and I played these kind of games. I admit that. However, we are in a pandemic and we need to deal with the issue that is before us.
My request is that we deal with the issue Canadians want us to deal with, specifically for the next six weeks or so. Let us let our committees deal with some of the other issues such as the WE scandal, which needs more work on. We have had hearings at the finance committee. We went through the documents. I know issues will continue to come up, but today in the House is not the place for that to occur.
The tourism industry in my area is gravely concerned about where it finds itself. The airline and transportation industries are gravely concerned about where they find themselves. The airports in my region are down 94% in business. What are we, as parliamentarians, going to propose to those industries so they can survive until next season? Hospitality and tourism industry members are telling me now that while they figured 2021 would be the rebound year, they are now looking at it as the transition year and that hopefully 2022 will be the rebound year. We need to look at what we can do to strengthen the economy.
The debate on Bill C-2 and Bill C-4 is going to be about assistance to individuals, and yes that assistance has to be there, but what are we going to do beyond that to strengthen businesses so they can be there and be the backbone of our economy in the future? Those are some of the things we need to be talking about.
The other thing I heard, more over the summer and not so much at the finance committee, is about whether the chartered banks are pulling their weight. Right now, the bank deferrals are starting to come due. I have been talking to some in the business industry who are saying that they are having a rough ride with the banks in rolling over their operating capital and loans.
The government and Canadian taxpayers have basically backed the big banks such as the Business Development Corporation, the Export Development Corporation and Farm Credit Canada with additional liquidity to basically give them a guarantee as they provide monies during this pandemic. I do not believe this place and the banks are pulling their full weight in getting us out of this pandemic. Those are some of the issues we need to be talking about.
Over the summer, we heard a lot of talk from a lot of people on a guaranteed annual income. That is an issue we should be discussing. Personally, I do not think we can go holus-bolus, but I would not mind seeing a few pilot projects across the country to see how it goes. Would those be able to replace some of the other programs we had to quickly bring in as a result of the pandemic? We need to be discussing those issues.
I want to turn to where I come from, the farm community. I am hearing a lot of concern from members of the farm community about the safety nets in place for them at the moment. I strongly believe the business risk management program must be improved. I could go through a litany of things and blame the previous government on that because it cut back the business risk management from 85% to 70%, but let us get it back up there again and work together to do that.