Madam Speaker, it is quite a pleasure to speak to Bill C-24 at third reading.
Earlier in the week, I spoke on Bill C-24 at second reading. Back then, I emphasized how important the legislation was to the Government of Canada. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has made a commitment to have the backs of Canadians. Once again, we have legislation before the House that is absolutely critical with respect to supporting Canadians today and continuing to do so going forward.
When I spoke on the bill earlier in the week, I was somewhat upset and I expressed my feelings about the Conservative Party and how it was filibustering important legislation on the floor of the House of Commons. In fact, I recall citing a tweet by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul about importance of the legislation for workers. However, the the Conservatives were filibustering important legislation during the pandemic, and we witnessed that during the debate on Bill C-14. At the time, I indicated that the only way the House could see legislation passed was if the Conservatives were made to feel ashamed of their behaviour. I am pleased that it would appear as if the Conservatives saw the merit, through a bit of shaming, in allowing the bill to pass. It is important to recognize that.
If we review what has taken place during the week, there are some encouraging signs, at least from some of the opposition parties. However, that is not universally held. I am afraid that the Conservatives still feel obligated to play that destructive force on the floor of the House of Commons, and I will expand on that.
Bill C-24 would provide badly needed funds, essential funds, to thousands of Canadians in all regions of our country. To see how we should proceed, all we need to do is look at the desire and what we have seen this week. I will cite a few examples of that. The reason I am doing this is because I want to encourage members of the Conservative Party particularly to recognize the true value of legislation like Bill C-24, and it appears the member for Kildonan—St. Paul has recognized it, and to see the value in passing it.
The best example I can think of is something that took place yesterday. We had very important legislation, Bill C-7, which is literally on life and death, before us. Because we are in a minority situation, it does not take very much to prevent the government from passing legislation. However, in this situation, the Bloc, indicated that it supported the legislation and would assist the government to bring forward closure. Had we not received that support, we never would have been able to advance it through the House of Commons and people would have been denied the opportunity to have access to this through this legislation.
Earlier in the week, we also had some indication from my New Democratic friends about Bill C-5, important legislation that is not necessarily as direct as Bill C-24 is with respect to the pandemic. Quite possibly it could be somewhat of assistance indirectly during the pandemic.
In this situation, the New Democrats said that they would like to have unanimous consent to allow that additional debate and ultimately see Bill C-5 passed in the House. Of course, much like with the Bloc's suggestion, the Conservatives outright said that they did not want anything to do with it. Again, it is not to come across as not being grateful for the Conservatives recognizing the importance of Bill C-24, but it is more so to encourage the Conservative Party to look at what other opposition parties are doing to facilitate the passing of important legislation.
Bill C-24 was recognized the other day by the Conservatives when they stopped debate, allowing it to get out of second reading so it could go to committee. As a result, we are now at third reading stage today. We know that if the Conservative Party wanted to do more, it could.
For example, look at what the Conservatives did with the Canada-United Kingdom agreement, which is critically important legislation. It would have a direct impact, even during the coronavirus pandemic. The Conservatives requested unanimous consent for a motion with respect to the trade agreement, and we supported it.
It is important to recognize that my New Democratic friends, who have traditionally voted against anything related to expanding trade relations, also supported the motion to see the bill on the United Kingdom trade agreement pass through the House of Commons even though they opposed it. It is important to recognize that. The NDP and the Bloc have, on occasion, have recognized what I have been saying to the House for quite a while, which is that the behaviour of the Conservatives has not been favourable to the House of Commons in passing the legislation that is so badly needed to support Canadians during this difficult time. They have gone out of their way to frustrate the House of Commons and our desire to see important legislation like Bill C-24 passed.
I will continue to remind my Conservative friends that they have an important obligation to Canadians, as the government has since day one, to focus their attention not on an election, but rather supporting Canadians. One of the ways they can do that is by providing support on legislation such as this.
When I spoke on Bill C-24 earlier in the week, members of the Conservative Party were somewhat critical of me, saying that the government had just introduced the legislation so how could I expect them to pass it, implying that I was maybe not being as principled on enabling members to speak to important legislation. I want to assure members of the House that I have always been an advocate for members of Parliament to express themselves on legislation.
Many would say that I have no problem expressing myself on a wide variety of issues on the floor of the House. I am very grateful for the position that I have been put in by the Prime Minister and the support I get from my caucus colleagues. I often speak on behalf of many of my caucus colleagues in expressing frustration and in expressing support for initiatives that are being taken on the floor of the House of Commons.
The bill was introduced for the first time in February, and nothing would have prevented further discussion and additional debate if in fact—