Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the House again to complete my remarks on Bill C-19. The last day we were debating the bill, I spoke to some of the content of the legislation with respect to what it proposed and some of the areas for improvement that I hoped could be addressed at committee.
I expressed then, and I will express it again now, my desire to see the bill proceed quickly to committee. While it is important for a number of reasons, it is no secret to anybody in the House that this is a minority Parliament, and things can sometimes move quickly in minority Parliaments. We could end up with an election and it is important we be ready for that should it come.
However, I also emphasized, and I want to emphasize again, the extent to which it really is incumbent upon all members of Parliament at this time to work to avoid an election. As a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, who participated in the study on what a pandemic election might look like, we heard very clearly that there were a lot of risks, and they are not just public health risks.
There is a real risk of disenfranchising people and having Canadians who want to vote either decide that they should not because it is too much of a risk to their personal health or they might face other barriers that do not have anything to do with an immediate risk to their personal health but present barriers nevertheless. That might be around transportation options to get to polling stations and other kinds of challenges that people have faced as a result of the pandemic.
What is important to bear in mind is that when all of us were elected in the 2019, the pandemic was not on our minds. Nobody saw this coming. However, we were each elected with a responsibility to be leaders in our community and to speak for our community. For as much as there have been disagreements on many things, and rightly so, and I think that is what people would expect in Parliament, there has been, and ought to continue to be, an overriding sense of responsibility to work together.
There is obviously a really important leadership role for government in that, to continue to have an open posture to consult opposition parties. I, frankly, think it did a better job of that during the early days of the pandemic and it issued in better policy. As the government apparently gets more interested in an election, we see some signs of that here and there in the things the Liberals say, both about Parliament and in the way they have behaved in Parliament, as well as some opposition parties.
We also see it in what the Prime Minister has been saying to his national executive and even in some of the speculation about the date announced for the budget, which is later than many people expected. It happens to coincide nicely with the timing of a pre-summer election should the Prime Minister desire it. There are a lot coincidences happening, and that is the most charitable way to put it.
It would be a mistake for the country to have an election at this time. Different COVID variants are popping up different in parts of the country. We just saw the experience in Newfoundland and Labrador where an election took much longer to complete than anybody expected because the nature of the pandemic changed mid-election and the date was pushed back many times
It is disconcerting that the Prime Minister continually refuses to say that he will not unilaterally call an election. He can make that commitment. If we end up in an election, at least let it be because things actually fell apart in the House of Commons. However, the Prime Minister continues to retain his ability and will not pledge not to use it to go to the Governor General and cause an election.
Parliament has already demonstrated that spirit of collaboration. The fact is that we are having a budget in April 2021, but did not have one for the entire year of 2020. The estimates, which are owed to the House under the Standing Orders, were significantly delayed. This is a sign that Parliament has been willing to accommodate the government and recognize the extraordinary nature of the times we are in.
Parliament has shown a lot of flexibility. It has not always been easy and it has not always been a fun process getting there. It has had its fair share of criticisms from people on all sides, which is fair enough. It is a Parliament and that will happen. The point is this. If we look at the outcomes, we have been able to get enough good outcomes for people to ensure that financial distress and bankruptcy was not the overriding narrative of the pandemic for most Canadians. There are other things we can and should be doing and the place to have that debate is in Parliament.
We were all elected to bring those views to the table and to do our best work to advance solutions on behalf of Canadians. I do not see a reason why that work needs to end. I would be reassured greatly if the Prime Minister were willing to say that much himself and refuse to call an election unilaterally. I will believe it when I see it. In the meantime—