Madam Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Thérèse-De Blainville.
Before I begin my speech, I would like to come back to the answer the colleague from Outremont gave me a few minutes ago. I realize that theatres and cultural enterprises will be able to continue to benefit from these programs, but artists and workers are not included in Bill C‑2. What is in the works is not a bill, but an assistance program, which is much more complicated to put in place and could be done much more quickly with Bill C‑2. I will stop there for the time being, because we hope to have the chance to come back to it.
Since this is my first time rising in the House in this 44th Parliament, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the constituents of Drummond, who have put their trust in me a second time. It makes me feel honoured and proud, and I will prove worthy of that trust.
I also want to thank the volunteers who gave it their all, their time, energy and passion, and spent long hours working on the campaign. I am thinking of two wonderful volunteers in particular: my parents, my mother and father who are 81 years old. They gave of their time and travelled around the riding, and they were very happy to do it. I want to be young like them when I am old.
I want to thank the team in my riding office, who are so essential. I want to sincerely thank them for their support and for the excellent service they provide to the people of Drummond. I am thinking of Andrée-Anne, Marie-Christine, Marika and Jacinte. I am also thinking of my assistant Mélissa, here on the Hill, and of Alexandre, who works with us. They are invaluable, and I care about them a lot.
I will close by thanking my family and friends. I mentioned my parents earlier. My colleagues in the House are all too familiar with the effect that political life can have on a family. My children, Lily-Rose, Tom, Christophe and Alexandrine, are wonderful. I want to thank my wife, Caroline, for being in my life. A wife is completely essential in the life of a politician.
I would like to take a moment to talk about the white ribbon I am wearing this week to express my support for women as part of the campaign to eliminate violence against women and girls, which runs until December 6. This problem concerns us all, and I wear the ribbon with pride. I hope there will come a day when we no longer need to wear this kind of symbol, because such violence is unacceptable.
I also want to say a special hello to Yvette Mathieu Lafond, whom I have already talked about in the House. Last year I celebrated her 100th birthday with her. When I saw her for her 100th birthday, Ms. Mathieu Lafond and I agreed to meet up again for her 101st. We have plans to get together this Friday, and I hope to celebrate her birthday with her for many years to come.
I mentioned my family and my children earlier. My nine-year-old son Tom is very funny. When he was little and something scared him or worried him, he would close his eyes and say that it would magically disappear that way. It was quite cute. Kids do that kind of thing. However, kids are not the only ones; the Liberals are doing the same thing.
Members will recall that is what they did with WE Charity last year. They prorogued Parliament to put an end to debate about the scandal so that it would disappear. They also did it this summer when they called the election. They thought they could get re-elected without anyone ever again talking about their missteps. By trying to win a majority, they were hoping that the opposition parties could no longer put the government's feet to the fire. The Liberals closed their eyes and hoped that it would magically disappear.
Here is the difference between the Liberals and my nine-and-a-half-year-old son. He plays soccer and is sometimes the goalkeeper. He knows that if he closes his eyes when faced with three opponents who have the ball, it might be kicked in his face, so he keeps them open, waits for his opponents and, in an effort to prevent them from scoring a goal, he faces them and stands his ground. We expect the same courage from those in charge of a G7 country.
I have to admit that I let myself be taken in somewhat this summer. When the Liberals called the election, I really believed they were doing it in the hope of wiping the slate clean, coming back quickly and taking charge of the situation. I believed they were going to deal with the urgent matters caused by the pandemic, such as the labour shortage and the recovery of affected sectors such as tourism, aerospace and culture, as quickly as possible.
I thought that we were going into an election campaign and that, when we came back from the election, we would sort it out without any nonsense, but that was not the case. We had been hammering away at these issues throughout the election period.
The election took place on September 20, and we waited until November 22 to return to Parliament. Five months have elapsed since our last sitting day in June. During this time when we looked the other way, did the pandemic and all its problems disappear? The answer is no.
When the election was called, a fourth wave was on its way, and here we are now again with a new variant to worry about. If Parliament had been allowed to work, we would not need to discuss Bill C‑2 today, because instead we could have developed assistance programs according to need and put in place the expected assistance for artists and self‑employed workers in the cultural sector. We could even have resumed work on Bill C‑10 after the Senate had finished hacking it to bits.
Everyone here knows how long it takes to pass legislation and get programs up and running. We have to debate in the House and in committee, meet witnesses, conduct studies and so on.
If we had truly put the public interest ahead of political interests, we would have had a normal return to Parliament, we could have done our work as usual and brought programs up to date. We could have also brought in new programs and adapted. Unfortunately, that is not what happened, and we ended up wasting time.
In the meantime, self-employed workers and artists in the cultural sector are saying that they are no longer getting any assistance or money, and they do not know what to do. Based on the Minister of Finance's promises, we would have expected some form of assistance for workers in the cultural sector this fall. That is not what is happening with Bill C‑2.
We know that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is currently working on a program to help artists and workers in the cultural sector, who are the hardest hit. That is good, and I promised, along with the Bloc Québécois, to co-operate to ensure this happens quickly. In fact, artists and artisans in the cultural sector have not received any income or assistance for a few weeks now, and they are getting worried.
Without this pointless election and reckless belief that if they close their eyes the problems will disappear, we could have moved forward and there would have been support for everyone.
It really makes me mad. I know that while everyone here continues to receive their paycheque, skilled and essential workers in the cultural sector are looking to reinvent themselves in other industries because they no longer see any way for them to manage. Some of my friends, people with whom I worked and spoke to recently, think they will not even be able to buy a little Christmas gift for their children. Previously, these people were not working small contracts here and there; they had a good, steady income.
I have friends in the world of performing arts who are technicians. They have taken different jobs since the pandemic began and they will never return to the cultural sector. It is a tragedy, because this type of expertise is difficult to replace. It is truly sad to see that we are abandoning a category of workers and especially people who are passionate about their work.
I have a group of friends, including actors and audiovisual technicians, who decided to do something productive during the pandemic, since there was no work. They decided to get together and go shoot a documentary abroad. This was before the fourth wave. They all travelled together to Bangladesh, India and Nepal, hoping to meet ordinary people. They just wanted to chat with them, to learn more about their culture and their reality during the pandemic. They did it at their own expense and did not ask anyone for money or grants. The idea was to put their talent to good use during the crisis. Hopefully, we will get to see the results of their work at some point. The government is failing passionate individuals like these by postponing the help that could be given to them now, through programs that are not yet defined.
I support Bill C-2, because it does include some important assistance and good measures. However, workers in the cultural sector have been overlooked once again, which is really sad.