Madam Speaker, I asked a question intentionally, because the Conservative Party, as an opposition party, has many days in which it gets to set the agenda of the House of Commons. This is its second time this week.
I would like to emphasize, as I did in the question, that the Conservative Party of Canada is more focused on personal attacks and looking under every little rock as much as possible to try to create a negative image toward politicians in general, with a special focus on ministers of the Government of Canada. The Conservatives have an opportunity to debate something I think Canadians would welcome. For example, this past weekend, the Conservative Party of Canada and its membership failed to pass a motion to declare that climate change was real. They failed to recognize that most Canadians recognize that climate change is real, but not the Conservative Party of Canada.
The Conservatives had a golden opportunity in an opposition day motion to be more relevant to what Canadians from coast to coast to coast have an interest in. As opposed to trying to further their beliefs based on their membership, they have chosen once again to focus on character assassinations and trying to be as disruptive to the Parliament of Canada as they can be. They are not happy with what is going on in the committees, because Liberal members of Parliament are there during the day, afternoons and evenings, ensuring that there is a higher sense of ministerial accountability.
I saw some of the behaviour of opposition members during the summer and the character assassination that was taking place. They should be ashamed of some of the actions and some of the questions they were putting to us. Then they get upset when the Liberal Party members say just wait a minute. We disagree with the direction in which the Conservatives want to take standing committees. We will stand up for ministerial accountability, but I think Canadians would be upset with the irresponsible behaviour we have seen from opposition members on the floor of the House of Commons and in committees.
The Conservatives are critical because Liberal MPs are filibustering. Conservative, NDP and Bloc members of Parliament have all filibustered at different points in time. It is an unholy alliance. I do not know how the Conservatives conned the New Democrats and the Bloc to come onboard with them in what they are trying to accomplish today. They are joining the Conservatives in filibustering this Parliament. Shame on them.
They do not recognize what the Conservatives are really up to. This has nothing to do with championing women's rights. Conservative members have asked whether the government has any credibility on this issue. Of course, the Government of Canada has credibility on this. One only needs to look at things like the appointment of cabinet ministers shortly after the Prime Minister took office and the many actions our leader has taken to reinforce how important it is that we champion women's rights. All members of the House of Commons should be champions for women's rights.
It is a tyranny of the majority to walk over the rights of the minority. That is in fact what we are witnessing. After all, the opposition parties combined can pass whatever they want in the House. They do not like what is happening in the committee, so now they are trying to take control of the committees by passing motions on the floor of the House of Commons.
Imagine the outrage if the government attempted to do that in a majority situation and tried to take control of the standing committees. Then we would have the current unholy alliance bellowing from all the balconies how terrible it is that the government is using the floor of the House of Commons to force the committees to do what the House of Commons wants them to do.
It is a tyranny that we are seeing from the opposition parties not recognizing the important role that standing committees play. I get agitated, because I believe what the Prime Minister has been saying for months from day one, namely, that we need to be focused on helping Canadians. That is something this government has been focused on since day one.
I must thank the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, and I know that his mother in Windsor, Marta, and his constituents would be very proud. They would be very proud of this member of Parliament, because as the Conservatives are so focused on looking under those rocks, we are actually doing work. This particular member is developing, promoting and encouraging the summer youth program. We understand how youth have been affected by the coronavirus and we are going to see an expansion of the youth program, because, as the parliamentary secretary who is responsible for it recognizes, that as much as the opposition party wants to play their destructive force, we still need to do a lot of good work. We will continue to do that.
I cite the parliamentary secretary as an example, because it was just yesterday or the other day this week that I heard a presentation by him and sensed the excitement about a program that will help young people from coast to coast to coast, whether as a result of the efforts of the parliamentary secretary, his minister, the government as a whole, or the strong leadership we have seen from the Prime Minister, mandating that Liberal members remain focused on helping Canadians.
Every so often I hear from opposition members that it is the Liberals who are filibustering and that it is causing all sorts of issues that make them feel uncomfortable. Do members know how many hours I have sat in committee hearing New Democrats filibuster? It is more than I have heard from Conservatives. I did not like it, but I never moved a motion on the floor of the House of Commons to try to prevent an opposition member, or a member who is not in the majority, from being able to communicate.
Let there be no doubt that if this motion passes, we would be saying to standing committees that it does not matter what takes place at committee, because we will be telling them what they should be doing. Where are those great defenders of our standing committees among the opposition?
I believe that the opposition collectively is more concerned about things like elections. I have heard them talk about elections. I do not hear the Prime Minister or Liberal members talking about elections. I do hear the opposition parties talking about elections. I hear them constantly working together. I witness and see them working together to see how they can try to talk more about scandals than about the coronavirus. It was a different story 12 months ago, when we saw a much greater sense of co-operation and a much greater sense of wanting to remain focused. That does not mean that we cannot be critical of government.
Look at the thousands of questions that were asked back in June and July by the opposition. How many of them were about on the vaccine? If my memory serves me correctly, back in June and July, zero or not such questions were asked. How many questions were asked about WE? There were hundreds if not maybe even thousands. I do not know. I do not have the research capabilities to find out those numbers.
At the end of the day it is about priorities. More and more, we hear the collective opposition as being more concerned about frustrating the government and what it needs to do to be there for Canadians than about taking care of the interests of Canadians. I say shame on the Conservative, Bloc and NDP members for not recognizing what they should be doing. The government House leader himself said if they want to have ministers come before the committees to provide that sense of accountability, we are prepared to do that. It was good enough for Steven Harper when he was the prime minister of Canada, but it is not good enough here. There is so much more that we could be doing.
It is truly amazing that when the Prime Minister put out the challenge of taking a team Canada approach to combatting the coronavirus, we were quick to give a lot of thanks to people who came to the table.
The other day I was talking to my daughter, Cindy, the MLA for Tyndall Park, about Manitoba's personal care homes, supportive housing and assisted living residences. Think in terms of the nurses, health care workers, providers, custodians, managers and volunteers. They were doing absolutely critical work, working with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who needed them there. They provided a critical service.
I know I speak on behalf of all members, from the Prime Minister down and from my daughter, when I give our thanks for their being there. We recognize how important their role was through this last 12 months, but we are not through with the coronavirus. That third wave is very real. It is tangible.
One of the members who spoke before me said they wanted the committee to do this, that they would like to have more on that and more on this. I too would like to see committees debating different types of issues and maybe try to refocus on them, if I could. I hope to be on PROC. I would like to be able to share my thoughts with PROC, hopefully later this evening. I can tell my colleagues that these standing committees play a critical role in Parliament. One only has to look at some of the principles that we have established. Here I refer members to page 30 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which states:
The principle of individual ministerial responsibility holds that Ministers are accountable not only for their own actions as department heads, but also for the actions of their subordinates; individual ministerial responsibility provides the basis for accountability throughout the system. Virtually all departmental activity is carried out in the name of a Minister who, in turn, is responsible to Parliament for those acts. Ministers exercise power and are constitutionally responsible for the provision and conduct of government; Parliament holds them personally responsible for it.
That is what the former prime minister believed. It is in our Standing Orders, but it is not what the Conservative Party of Canada wants to focus on now. There is actually nothing that could come forward on the WE issue that would make the Conservative Party happy. It would like debate on that to never end.
As opposed to debating important government legislation, the Conservatives do not mind tying up committees. They do not mind bringing committee issues to the floor of the House to try to stir the pot to fit their agenda. Do they really want to talk about issues like climate change? I do not think they do. Unfortunately, the House leadership of the Bloc and the NDP seem to concur at times with the official opposition. Maybe I am wrong, but wait and see what happens with this vote.
To try to give the impression that motions of this nature do not have any ramifications for what is taking place in Parliament is irresponsible. I believe that standing committees could be doing a whole lot more to protect the interests of Canadians from coast to coast to coast if they could get down to business and start to do what our Standing Orders actually say they could and should be doing.
I listened to the New Democrat member for Edmonton Strathcona when she was talking about the WE issue. It has been discussed quite a bit. The opposition has declared the WE volunteer organization to be a real mess, a terrible organization. I understand it. They are official about that, but do my colleagues know that the Province of Manitoba also has contracts with WE, not only once but at least twice? I say that to my colleagues from Manitoba. Maybe they should be talking to Brian Pallister.
What about the Province of Saskatchewan? It too has contracts with WE. Are they talking to the premier in Saskatchewan? I do not know about the rest of the provinces. I have not made any other enquiries in regard to them. Are they giving them a heads up of all their so-called inside information that disqualifies them? It is not my responsibility to defend WE. It is interesting that Conservative and NDP members try to give a false impression. If it were up to them, they would like to say that it was the Prime Minister who said “yes” and that he wanted WE to have this contract. That is false, balderdash, a bunch of garbage.
All opposition members know that it was a civil servant who made that recommendation to government. What does that say about the civil servants? Do members have confidence in the civil servants? I wonder to what degree members of the opposition are being straightforward on that issue.
The mover of the motion and other Conservatives kind of tipped their hat a little. They say that the motion is about these two issues, yet on the other hand, they talk about all sorts of ethical breaches. Imagine if we had the same set-up we have today, with an ethics commissioner, in the eighties during the Mulroney years, or even before then. Members will often refer to the number of times the Prime Minister has been cited.
The Conservative Party can continue to play that destructive parliamentary role all they want. My appeal is to the Bloc and to the NDP to recognize that what is happening today on the floor of the House of Commons is not in the best interests of Canadians. It is not in the best interests—