Madam Speaker, I am very glad that we were able to get to this point. I am concerned and disappointed, even in the last half-hour. I think we need to realize that, although members of the Conservative Party will say they want more debate time, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. I would argue that ultimately the Conservatives have been very much a destructive force on the floor of the House of Commons. I would like to explain why it is so important that we pass the motion that the minister of procurement has just presented.
The pandemic really challenged all of us. We needed to find new ways to get the job done, the job that Canadians have been very much relying on us to do. We gradually brought in a hybrid Parliament to ensure that MPs could do their job from wherever they are in the country. This was so it would be inclusive, whether they are up north, the west coast, the east coast or in central Canada, like me here in Winnipeg. We found ways for the House to debate and pass legislation that would ultimately help Canadians during the pandemic. Many bills were passed to ensure that millions of Canadians had the funds that they needed to put food on their table, pay the rent, cover mortgages and so on.
We have a number of pieces of legislation before the House in one form or another. I would like to give some examples of the legislation that are in limbo because the Conservatives are more interested in playing political games than they are in serving the best interests of Canadians. I would like to highlight a few of those pieces of legislation and then make a point as to why this particular motion is necessary.
We have seen motions of this nature previously. I have been a parliamentarian for 30 years now, and I have seen it at the provincial level and at the national level. Political parties of all stripes have recognized that there is a time in which we need to be able to bring in extended hours. In the most part it is meant to contribute to additional debate and to allow the government to pass important legislation. That is really what this motion is all about.
Looking at the last vote we just participated in, it would appear as though Bloc members, New Democrats and Greens are in agreement with the members of the Liberal caucus that we need to sit extra hours. My appeal is to the Conservatives to stop playing their political, partisan games and start getting to work.
There is nothing wrong with sitting until midnight two to four times between now and mid-June. Stephen Harper did it. He had no qualms moving motions of this nature. Yes, we will also sit a little extra time on Friday afternoons. I believe Canadians expect nothing less from all members of the House.
When Canadians decided to return the government in a minority format, it was expected that not only we as the governing party would receive a message, but also that all members of the House would receive a message. The Conservative opposition has a role to play that goes beyond what they have been playing and what we have been witnessing since November or December of last year. I would cross the line to say that it is not being a responsible official opposition.
I spent well over 20 years in opposition. The Conservative Party, with its destructive force, is preventing the government of the day and other members, not only government members, from moving the legislation forward. I appeal to the official opposition to not only recognize there is a genuine need to move this legislation forward, but also recognize that, at the end of the day, we extend hours to accommodate additional debate.
My concern is that the Conservatives will continue the political, partisan games, at great expense to Canadians. I will give an example. Bill C-30 is at report stage and third reading. We were supposed to debate that bill today. Chances are that we will not get to that bill today. We have not been able to get to other legislation because of the tactics of the official opposition, the reform Conservative Party, as I often refer to it.
The last budget legislation was Bill C-14. The first female Minister of Finance of Canada presented an economic update to the House back in late November, and the legislation was introduced in December. For days, the Conservatives would not allow it to pass. This was legislation that helped businesses and Canadians in many ways, yet the Conservatives saw fit to filibuster it. Bill C-30 will pass. It is budget legislation. It is not an option for the government.
Bill C-12 is the net-zero emissions legislation. If members canvass their constituents, they will find out that it does not matter where they live in Canada, our constituents are concerned about the environment and are telling all members of the House that we need to do more. Bill C-12, the net-zero emissions bill, is very important legislation. It answers, in good part, the call from Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
To a certain degree, we have seen a change in attitude by some Conservatives with their new leadership. Some in their caucus do not support it, but the leadership agrees that there is a need for a price on pollution. They seem to be coming around, even though they are five, six or seven years late. Surely to goodness, they would recognize the value of the legislation. Bill C-12 is stuck in committee.
What about Bill C-10? Bill C-10 would update very important legislation that has not been updated for 30 years, since 1990 or 1991. Let us think of what the Internet was like back in 1990. I can recall sitting in the Manitoba legislature, hearing the ring, the buzzing and then a dial tone. We can remember how slow it was.
I will tell my Conservative friends that things have changed. Now all sorts of things take place on the Internet. This is important legislation. The NDP, the Greens and the Bloc support the legislation. The Conservatives come up with a false argument, dig their feet in and then say they are not being given enough time, yet they have no problem squandering time.
Thankfully, because of the Bloc, we were able to put some limits on the committee, so we could get it though committee. If the Bloc did not agree with the government and with that concurrence, it would never pass the committee stage. There is absolutely no indication that the Conservatives have any intent of seeing Bill C-10 pass through committee stage.
If members have been listening to the chamber's debates in regard to Bill C-6, they have heard the Conservatives disagree with another piece of legislation. They say they do not support mandatory conversion therapy, and they are using the definition as a scapegoat to justify their behaviour on the legislation. Once again they are the only political entity inside the House of Commons that is preventing this legislation or putting it in jeopardy. The leadership of the Conservative Party might think one thing, but the reality is that the behaviour of the Conservative Party has put Bill C-6 in limbo.
I could talk about Bill C-21, the firearms legislation. Members know that the Conservatives have been using firearms as a tool for many years. Even when I was an MLA in the mid-nineties, I can remember the Conservative Party using firearms as a tool, and nothing has really changed. The bill is still in second reading. There is no indication at all that the Conservatives are willing to see that piece of legislation pass. Members can check with some of the communities and stakeholders that are asking and begging not only the government, but also opposition parties, to let this legislation pass.
That is not to mention Bill C-22, which is about criminal justice reform. That is another piece of legislation that, again, the Conservative Party has given no indication it intends to let see the light of day or go to committee.
Another piece of legislation that is important not only to me, but should be to all members of the House, is Bill C-19. I understand this important piece of legislation is going to committee tomorrow, but if we apply what we have seen at second reading to the committee stage, it is going to be a huge concern. This bill would give Elections Canada additional powers to administer an election in a safer, healthier way for voters and for Elections Canada workers. It is a good piece of legislation. I am somewhat familiar with it because of my role as parliamentary secretary to the minister, who I know has worked very hard on bringing this legislation forward and wants to see it passed. It is a piece of legislation on which the Conservatives have said we should have more debate.
The government attempted to bring this legislation in a long time ago. It tried to get it to committee a long time ago. One day I was ready and primed to address Bill C-19, and the Conservatives' game at that time was to bring in a concurrence motion, because if they did that they could prevent debate on Bill C-19. That is what they did, and it was not the first time. The Conservative Party does not even recognize the value of it. It is a minority situation. We do not know when there is going to be an election. It seems to me that the responsible thing to do is to get Bill C-19 passed. As I say, it is at the committee stage today. I hope that the Conservative Party will see the merits of passing that bill out of the committee stage.
At the beginning of the pandemic, there seemed to be a greater sense of co-operation. From the very beginning, the Prime Minister has been very clear: He and the Government of Canada have had as their first priority minimizing the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and being there in a real and tangible way for Canadians. That is for another speech in which I can expand on the particular argument the Prime Minister put forward.
We can do other things. We have seen that in some of the legislative initiatives that we have taken. As I say, at the very beginning there was a high sense of co-operation and the team Canada approach applied within the House of Commons. The Conservatives started falling off the track last June. One year later, there is no sign that the Conservative Party recognizes the value of working together.
I would remind my Conservative friends that, as we in government realize, it is a minority government. If someone gives me 12 graduates from Sisler High School, or any high school in the north end of Winnipeg, whether it is Maples Collegiate, Children of the Earth High School, R.B. Russell Vocational High School or St. John's High School, I can prevent the government from being able to pass legislation. It does not take a genius to do that.
We need co-operation from the opposition, and the Conservative Party has been found wanting in that. It has not been co-operative in the last number of months. I find that shameful. Obviously, the Conservatives are not listening to what Canadians expect of them. In fact, what we have seen is delay and more delay, to the point that it becomes obstruction.
Conservatives have obstructed the work of the House as it has debated Bill C-14. If I were to draw comparisons, I would compare Bill C-14 and Bill C-3. Bill C-14 is vitally important to all of us. Canadians needed Bill C-14 passed, but look at the amount of debate and filibustering we had from the official opposition.
On the other hand, Bill C-3 was also a very important piece of legislation. All parties supported it. In fact, the initial idea came from the former leader of the Conservative Party, Rona Ambrose. Everyone supported it. We spent many hours and days debating that piece of legislation, when we could have been debating other legislation. Not that the other legislation was not important, but we all know there is no time process outside of time allocation to get government legislation through. That is in a normal situation, when we have an opposition party that recognizes the value of actual debate of government agenda items that they should pass through, but they did not. Instead, they would rather debate it.
We have moved motions to have extended sittings in the past to accommodate additional debate. I say, in particular to my Conservative friends, that if they are going to behave in this fashion they should not criticize the government for not affording time to debate bills. What a bunch of garbage. They cannot have it both ways. I appeal to the Conservative Party to recognize true value. They should work for Canadians and let us see if we can make a more positive contribution and start working together for the betterment of all.