Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the NDP-Liberal attack on parliamentary committees in the form of Government Business No. 22.
This undemocratic motion is a crass attempt at frustrating the work of committees by further limiting their resources. On the face of it, the motion allows the government House leader to extend the hours of any sitting of the House to midnight until June 2023. The Liberals say they are simply seeking more time to debate their legislation, but we must look at the broader implications of the adopting this motion.
With the persistence of virtual Parliament, workplace injuries for interpretation staff have increased ninefold. Since 2019, there has been a 25% decline in the number of interpreters employed by the translation bureau and nearly 40% fewer freelance interpreters available to the House. These unionized professionals work each day to ensure that our business is conducted in both official languages.
The Liberals and NDP dismiss the plight of these workers, demanding that our work continue in a hybrid fashion against the objections of interpretation staff. Due to the lack of interpreters, there is a strict limit on how many parliamentary activities the House administration can facilitate in any given sitting week. As a result, every time the hours are extended in the House, two committee meetings must be cancelled. Put simply, more time for the House equals less time for committees.
Let us keep in mind the government is in complete control of the House agenda. It determines the business each and every day, including which of its bills will be debated. It has tools at its disposal to cut off debate as it deems appropriate. It even designates which days will be allotted for opposition days. With the blind support of the hapless NDP, the Liberals have the votes to pass their legislation.
In other words, the Liberals are in complete control of the House, propped up by the NDP. However, they do not control committees in the same way. Conservatives have secured several committee investigations that are holding the Liberals accountable for their failures. For example, the government operations committee is digging into the $54-million ArriveCAN app, including Liberal misinformation reported to the House that contractors were paid millions when they did not receive a dime. That committee is tasked with answering two key questions: Where is the money and who got rich?
The heritage committee is investigating the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion for providing funding to known racist and anti-Semite Laith Marouf. The procedure and House affairs committee is investigating the Prime Minister who has known for over a year about foreign interference in our elections and has yet to act. The public safety committee is investigating allegations made against the Minister of Emergency Preparedness for political interference in the investigation into the mass killings in Nova Scotia. It is shameful.
The veterans affairs committee is looking into allegations that a government employee recommended medically assisted suicide for a veteran struggling with mental health. The declaration of a public order emergency committee has heard considerable testimony that contradicts the Liberal rationale for invoking the Emergencies Act. The transport committee recommended the repeal of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, a Liberal-made organization that has failed to get any infrastructure built. Conservatives on the foreign affairs committee continue to advocate for the listing of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, so that this brutal regime about to execute 15,000 of its own citizens cannot fundraise and organize in Canada anymore.
These are just some examples of how Conservatives are making parliamentary committees work for Canadians. Under Government Business No. 22, this and all work of committees would be restricted and constrained. The motivation for this motion is clear, the Liberals want Parliament to serve only their purposes. To them, Parliament is only useful when they can control it.
Canadians expect Parliament to hold the government to account, and Conservatives will fight to maintain the dignity of this institution.
There was a time, if we can believe it, when Liberals believed that committee work was essential. In the 2015 election, they made the following promise:
We will strengthen Parliamentary committees so that they can better scrutinize legislation.
Better government starts with better ideas. We will ensure that Parliamentary committees are properly resourced to bring in expert witnesses, and are sufficiently staffed to continue to provide reliable, non-partisan research.
The Liberals made that promise when they still believed they were the party of sunny ways, but after seven years of corruption and cover-ups, the mirage of an open, transparent and accountable government has been exposed.
Last week, in mainstream media, the government House leader justified his motion, claiming that Conservatives were employing tactics that amounted to “parliamentary obstruction by stealth.” The irony of this claim is not lost on me. He is the one, under the pretext of expanding debate in the House, who is attacking committees by stealth. I will address his claim directly.
Conservatives do not obstruct for the sake of obstruction. In recent weeks, we have allowed several bills to proceed in a reasonable time frame. We supported the swift passage of Bill C-30, which provided GST tax relief for low-income Canadians. The government did not need to use time allocation to shepherd that legislation through the House.
On September 29, the Conservative member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, with whom I am splitting my time, secured the unanimous consent of the House to pass the national council for reconciliation act at second reading and send it for study at the indigenous and northern affairs committee.
We allowed for Bill C-22, the disability benefit act, to be sent to the human resources committee after just two days of debate. Again, time allocation was not required.
Just before the last constituency week, Conservatives supported Bill S-5, which will strengthen environmental protection in Canada. No time allocation was required.
Conservatives can be counted on when the government brings forward proposals on which common ground can be found. The government House leader's accusation about obstruction is simply not true.
Having said that, Conservatives are openly opposed to the Liberal agenda. There is no “stealth” about it. We use every tool available in the parliamentary tool box to both expose Liberal failure and corruption and propose our ideas for Canadians to consider as an alternative.
If the government House leader had been paying attention, he would know that the new Conservative leader and our Conservative team are putting the people first: their paycheques, their savings, their homes and their country. We are against deficit-driven inflation. Instead, we demand that all new spending be matched with savings found somewhere else. We are opposed to payroll and carbon tax hikes in the middle of this cost of living crisis.
We defend energy workers against the Prime Minister's attacks on their livelihoods. We would repeal anti-energy laws like Bill C-69 and remove other Liberal-made barriers to producing our natural resources. We oppose the failed climate change plan of this government, which has not achieved a single emissions reduction target. We say no to the oppressive carbon tax and yes to technology in the fight against climate change.
We abhor $6,000-a-night hotel stays for the Prime Minister while Canadians are visiting food banks in record numbers, like 1.5 million in one month. We oppose wasteful spending and the $54-million “arrive scam” app that did not work. We did not need it, and it could have been designed over a weekend for about $250,000.
We are vocal when the Prime Minister is silent about foreign actors interfering in our elections. We reject Liberal inaction while shelves that should be stocked with children's medication sit empty. We stand with victims, not criminals, as the rates of violent crime have spiked in our cities under this government's soft-on-crime policies, and we oppose this outrageous attempt at seizing control of parliamentary committees.
There is no “stealth” about our opposition to the NDP-Liberal government. We proudly oppose the costly coalition on all these fronts, in broad daylight, for all to see.