Mr. Speaker, the hon. member just asked if I am trying to con them to support us. I think Bloc members are actually smart and see how ridiculous this motion is. I think they do. I have dealt with the member for La Prairie and he is a pretty smart guy. He understands exactly what government members are doing, as we do. They do not want an opposition; they want an audience. That is what they want.
We have seen this pattern over the six and a half years that I have been here, since 2015, and I have highlighted some of that stuff, whether it was Motion No. 6 or the first bill that came through Parliament after the COVID situation. The government members seem to think they can ram anything through.
We did have an election in September and the Liberals formed a minority government. At the time, I believe the Prime Minister thought two things were going to happen. Number one, he thought people were going to throw rose petals at his feet for the way he handled COVID. That did not happen, obviously, by the results. Second, the Liberals knew very well what was going to happen in this country. They knew the economic crisis was looming. They knew the affordability crisis was looming, and the only way they could find cover from that was to hope for a majority government in September. How else can we explain the fact that 18 months into his term, the Prime Minister was willing to call a $600-million election? Of course, they were trying to provide cover for themselves, a cover that only a majority government would provide.
It did not take long for them to find that majority government, did it? By throwing a few little crumbs to the NDP, giving them this and that to get support for at least the next four budgets, they have found that cover. I have stood up here before on this, and I cannot express my profound disappointment in our friends in the NDP for giving the government the cover it sought in September during the election. I just cannot believe it. I sit here in question period and hear some of the questions coming from NDP members and just shake my head. How can they realistically say they are holding the government to account when they are supporting every aspect of what it does?
A climate change report that came out the other day called the government's efforts on climate change a sham. It was the environment commissioner who said that, yet NDP members, who talk about being the guardians of climate, are sitting here criticizing the very people they are in cahoots with, the very government they are aligned with. It does not make any sense, unless the only thing they can buy is a few little crumbs, which apparently is the case.
I have talked about quorum and dilatory motions. The motion also reads:
(iii) motions to proceed to the orders of the day, and to adjourn the debate or the House may be moved after 6:30 p.m. by a minister of the Crown, including on a point of order, and such motions be deemed adopted,
(iv) the time provided for Government Orders shall not be extended pursuant to Standing Orders 33(2), 45(7.1) or 67.1(2)
Again, the fact that the Liberals are mismanaging the legislative agenda in the House is the reason they have decided to take a fly off everyone's forehead with an axe using this piece of legislation.
The motion goes on:
(i) during consideration of the estimates on the last allotted day, pursuant to Standing Order 81(18), when the Speaker interrupts the proceedings for the purpose of putting forthwith all questions necessary to dispose of the estimates,
(A) all remaining motions to concur in the votes for which a notice of opposition was filed shall be deemed to have been moved and seconded, the questions deemed put and recorded divisions deemed requested
Again, this is just to accelerate or fast-track pieces of legislation. Much of that is power the government already has, but it is certainly more prescriptive in this motion to make that happen.
The motion continues:
(B) the Speaker shall have the power to combine the said motions for voting purposes, provided that, in exercising this power, the Speaker be guided by the same principles and practices used at report stage
That is fairly self-explanatory. Then, of course, this is quite interesting:
(ii) when debate on a motion for concurrence in committee reports is adjourned or interrupted, including on the day of the adoption of this order, the debate shall again be considered on a day designated by the government, after consultation with the House leaders of the other recognized parties, but in any case not later than the 35th sitting day after the interruption
Reports that come out of committee come to the House for concurrence. As I said in a recent article that I was interviewed for, there are wide eyes on this place. There are people who watch the House of Commons who normally may not be engaged in committee processes or other processes.
A perfect example of that was this morning, when we moved a concurrence motion on the WE Charity scandal. The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman moved a motion that it be referred back to committee, so the witnesses who had been deemed in contempt of the committee and a minister could come back to the committee, because that is what we want. We want to get down to the bottom of the WE scandal and not obstruct, but make sure we are putting the government in a position of being accountable and transparent. The Liberals are actually moving that part of the procedural process into the 35th sitting day after interruption, which effectively means that we would not be able to move any of our concurrence reports on committee recommendations until after September.
On the issue of accountability and transparency, again we see the government providing itself with cover. Certainly its coalition partners in the NDP, by supporting this motion, are helping it to obstruct not just the work of committees, but also the work of Parliament, which again is seeing a further democratic decline in Canada. We are seeing it again, so again there is this pattern.
The other thing the motion says is: “a motion for third reading of a government bill may be made in the same sitting during which the said bill has been concurred in at report stage”. As ridiculous as some of the other stuff is, this is the icing on the cake: “a minister of the Crown may move, without notice, a motion to adjourn the House until Monday, September 19, 2022, provided that the House shall be adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28 and that the said motion shall be decided immediately without debate or amendment”.
What does that mean? It means that if things heat up for the Liberals, and they are, because there are brewing scandals out there, not the least of which is the RCMP investigation into the Prime Minister's admission that he did not give himself permission to accept an over $200,000 vacation to a private island, they can simply pull the plug on Parliament. They can do this at any point from the day that this motion is adopted. It could be next week if things really start heating up.
I look back at some of the scandals that the government has been involved in, particularly the Prime Minister, and by extension and by involvement everybody on that side who has provided cover and has continued to support the Prime Minister on all of these scandals, whether it was SNC-Lavalin, the WE Charity scandal or the invocation of the Emergencies Act. It effectively means that if the committee gets to a point where there is no justification or rationalization for the government to impose the Emergencies Act, if things get too hot, the government can simply say “we're done, we're going to go home”. It could happen the day that this motion is adopted.
What it does is allow the government to prorogue Parliament without implementing prorogation. That is what it does. Let us suppose the RCMP decides that it is going to investigate the Prime Minister. I think it should, because the missing piece of its initial investigation was admitted by the Prime Minister in this place the other day: he did not grant himself approval, as the head of government, to take that trip. What if the RCMP decides that it is going to investigate? What if, speculation, on May 15 we get a report from the RCMP, or furthermore the Prime Minister is charged with fraud? Think of the political heat of that issue. It may be something else. There are other things that I know are brewing, with respect to the government and the potential for scandal.
As I have said many times in this place, when they get $567 billion in spending and $1.3 trillion in debt, among many of those zeroes, we know, as has been documented but we know there are more, there are many Liberal-connected insiders and cronies who have benefited as a direct result of this pandemic. Members know that. I can say that there are many people who are looking for those connections. What if a scandal like that hits? What if there is another WE Charity scandal?
The invocation of the Emergencies Act is a perfect example. The Liberals are very good at couching things. As a former prosecutor, the Minister of Public Safety is very good at using his words. However, the government has already indicated that under the Emergencies Act, both at committee and through the judicial review that is legislated, the Liberals are going to sit there and are not going to allow cabinet confidentiality to be moved. They are not going to allow those documents to be viewed. What if there is a brewing scandal with that?
Then there is the Winnipeg lab scandal. What happened there? It was kind of funny yesterday that I got a call from the government House leader. There was no indication from him that he was going to do what he said he was going to do. We found out last night that, with or without the Conservatives and with or without the Bloc, the government was going to have the Liberals and the NDP form a committee to look at the documents from the Winnipeg lab scandal and determine whether anything was untoward in that. It is like having the wolves looking after the hen house. They are already in cahoots. They are working together.
The government House leader called me yesterday and I said to him to let me circle back, because I was not the House leader at the time that this happened. I said, “Let me talk to my group about this.” From the time that conversation happened, which was after caucus yesterday, until three o'clock, I found out that the Liberals had already made this announcement and that it was embargoed in the media.
There was no discussion. There was no opportunity for us to work together to try to come up with some solution. The government House leader referred to a situation back in January, which I was being briefed on at the time that I found out this agreement had been made between the NDP and the Liberals, the wolves looking after the sheep, on this document. I found out at that time that this was already a fait accompli. It was going to happen anyway, whether we agreed to it or not. The Liberals accuse us of the very thing that they engage in. That is obstructing the constitutional obligation of the official opposition party on the Winnipeg lab document.
The point is that, at any point from the time that this motion is introduced, the government can pull the plug on this place if things start getting bad or if it starts feeling the heat. If there is a political reason for the government not to allow Parliament to function, to not allow the opposition parties, and there are two of us that are holding the government to account, to do their constitutional obligation to hold the government to account, the Liberals can end that at any point if it gets too hot for them.
If that does not cause a concern or a problem, it is prorogation without prorogation. Members recall what the government did back during the WE Charity scandal. Things were getting close. Things were getting tight. The Liberals were feeling it. What did the Prime Minister do? He did the very thing he promised in 2015 he would never do, and that was to prorogue Parliament. He did it. Everything died at that point: all of the work of the committee and all of the reports.
That is why the concurrence motion this morning is so important. We have already asked, through a question of privilege, whether we can reintroduce the issues of contempt from the Prime Minister's Office staff and, at that time, a minister of the Crown. We asked if we could reintroduce that, and through a point of privilege you ruled that it was not appropriate. I respect the Chair, and I respect the rulings. That is fine.
What other course of action do we have to hold this government to account? We tried this morning, through a concurrence motion of a committee report, to bring those people back to the committee, and why not? What is wrong with being accountable and transparent? To the Liberal government, there is a lot wrong with it. This is why we are seeing this Motion No. 11.
The heat starts to occur as things start ramping up, and they typically do when Parliament is sitting. I will say that the issue of Public Health Canada using mobility data to determine process and health issues of Canadians without their knowledge happened during the Christmas break, but it is very rare in this place that during a two-week break period we are going to start seeing scandals. It is only when we start getting down to the business of the House, when we are getting Order Paper questions back or we are getting access to information papers back, as is the case with the RCMP investigation. It was only because of the ATIP that we found out what the missing part, or the missing link, of the RCMP investigation was not to charge the Prime Minister with fraud over his multi-hundred-thousand dollar, illegal luxury vacation.
It was only after we got that ATIP back that we realized there was one missing element to the RCMP investigation, and that was whether the Prime Minister deemed himself the head of government, and whether he, as the head of government, gave himself permission to go on that trip. As the Leader of the Opposition, in her line of questioning the other day, determined in a pointed question to the Prime Minister, he said “No.” That was the only missing link to this.
Now, we have requested that the RCMP reopen the investigation, because it now has a piece of the puzzle that was missing at the time this was investigated. I know, because I sat here yesterday and I listened to the Prime Minister talk about these personal attacks. It is never about being accountable. It is always about justification with this Prime Minister. There is no statute of limitations on fraud charges. If the Prime Minister committed fraud, with this new piece of the puzzle that has been found, then it is up to the RCMP to determine whether in fact those fraud charges should be laid against the Prime Minister for his illegal vacation, which the Ethics Commissioner already found and deemed to be against the Conflict of Interest Code. That will be up to the RCMP.
That is done because the House is sitting. It is not done because the Liberal Party and their coalition partners are sitting at home, because there is no quorum call. They are not even participating in the role of Parliament, and not even debating their own pieces of legislation. They are letting the opposition carry the water on all of this stuff. It is effectively a war of attrition: That is what this motion is all about. That happens when this place is functioning, when democracy is functioning and when we are not seeing a decline in our democracy, which is the pattern we have seen over the course of the last six and a half years.
That is what causes me some great concern, when “without notice, a motion to adjourn the House until Monday, September 19”, which is when we are regularly scheduled to come back after the summer break, could occur.
If things get really hot and the government is feeling a lot of pressure, it could prorogue without prorogation. I know what the Prime Minister is going to say and I know what his cabinet would say. They would be out there saying, “We did not prorogue.” They made that promise in 2015, despite the fact that they broke it. The reality is that this is giving them exclusive and unnecessary power to basically take this place and shut Parliament down.
There are a lot of issues, there is no question about it. There are a lot of issues that we are dealing with, not the least of which, as I mentioned earlier, is the affordability crisis. There are some geopolitical issues going on around the world. There are issues related to our economy, inflation pressures, the housing crisis and the opioid crisis. All of those things are important issues to Canadians.
We should not give the government the power to be able, if it feels the political heat, to shut this place down. We have a schedule that has already been approved by the parties, although I am finding out around this place, in my short time as House leader, that agreements with some of the other opposition House leaders are not even worth the ink they are written in. Because of the agreement, they just do whatever they want to do now. They give us a call as a courtesy call. Why do they call us? They call just so that they can say they called us, but the decision has already been made by this unholy alliance between the Liberals and the NDP and that is not the way it should be. That is not the way this place should operate.
In a functioning democracy that is not in decline, a government should not put itself in a position in which it is dropping the hammer and effectively making the opposition an audience, not an opposition.
Again, on the motion,
notwithstanding the order adopted on Thursday, November 25, 2021, and Standing Order 45(6), no recorded division requested after 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, 2022, shall be deferred, except for any recorded division requested in regard to a Private Members’ Business item for which
That is a procedural thing.
Notwithstanding paragraph (j) of the order made Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the deadline for the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying to submit to Parliament a final report of its review, including a statement of any recommended changes, be no later than Monday, October 17, 2022, provided that an interim report on mental illness as a sole underlying condition be presented to the House no later than Thursday, June 23, 2022
I spoke earlier, at length, on this particular provision and the extension. Just to recap, as I said, the government had a legislated timeline on which it was to provide this review. That was to happen in May. It was not until the end of March that discussions officially started on this. Seeing the reasonableness of the request, particularly from my colleague, the House leader of the Bloc and the member for La Prairie, we all agreed to extend that deadline to June 23, six more weeks, in order to do this job.
The government understood that this legislated timeline was to occur. It was the government that held off on this happening until the end of March, until discussions even started taking place, so I am not going to apologize for not agreeing to this particular provision to extend that deadline to October 17. I think there is enough time from now until June 23. As I said earlier, we asked that the government allocate resources so that there could be extended sittings of the committee to do this important work, because it is important work. There are many Canadians right now who are concerned about the process of medical assistance in dying, and they want to have their voices heard.
I understand that. I just do not think that extending it to October 17 should happen. Given the reasonableness of what was agreed to initially and the government's mismanagement of the timelines on this, I think we should be able to do the work by June 23, as we all agreed to.
The other part of this, and I talked about this a little this morning in the point of order I made, is about separating what is effectively an omnibus motion. That relates to the issue of Standing Order 28, that:
The House shall not meet on New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the day fixed for the celebration of the birthday of the Sovereign, St. John the Baptist Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas Day. When St. John the Baptist Day, Canada Day or the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation fall on a Tuesday, the House shall not meet the preceding day; when those days fall on a Thursday, the House shall not meet the following day.
There is one critical element to this particular part of the motion and one that I suggest would be important to traditionalists but is not as critical. That is the change of reference from “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day”. We all acknowledge that July 1 is now Canada Day. The traditionalists would like to keep the term “Dominion Day”, but that is less important than the issue of the day recognizing truth and reconciliation.
I spoke about that this morning in the point of order that I brought up, and I asked for the Speaker to consider carving out at least seven parts of this omnibus motion, not the least of which is the issue of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. By putting it in this motion, which is effectively a procedural motion, the government is doing two things.
The first is taking away, in my view, the paramount importance of what that day will mean to reconciliation with indigenous people in this country. I would like to think that there are more than enough speakers in this House who would like that to be carved out, so that they can talk about the importance of that day and about what reconciliation means as one of the many recommendations that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
To put this in an omnibus procedural motion like this causes in me, and I hope in many Canadians and indigenous Canadians as well, a sense of cynicism in the sense that it would be put into a procedural motion. I suspect, with the give and take negotiations with the NPD, maybe that is the reason this is in there, but I think it is important to carve this out and have it as a stand-alone motion or piece of legislation.
We have passed pieces of legislation in this place that deal with truth and reconciliation. We have done that, so I am not sure why the government feels like it should put it in here, when it is important for parliamentarians and Canadians to have their say on this.
If this is put into a piece of legislation, I would find it awfully difficult not to support, but I would like to see it go through the normal process rather than being put in an omnibus, because I think it deserves, at a minimum, the attention it requires. At a minimum, it requires the attention of Parliament, separately from this. It requires the attention of committee. It requires respect in having indigenous leaders and communities come in and speak to committee about how important this day is toward reconciliation, yet it is almost like the government put it in an omnibus motion so that we could vote against it.
I am not happy with this motion. I think I have spelled out many of the reasons, but on this particular issue, if the cynical intent is to have the opposition not support the motion and in effect not support the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a national holiday, nothing could be further from the truth. We would support it if it was carved out of this and dealt with separately.
The Liberals are going to force us to vote against this motion to further wedge, to further stigmatize and to further divide. Worse yet, they will use this as a political wedge against the Conservative Party. I will remind members that it was former prime minister Stephen Harper who started the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They are going to use this omnibus motion to wedge us politically and go to indigenous communities and say that the Conservatives did not support this.
I think I can speak on behalf of every one of our members when I say that we support the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, so there is only one reason the government would put that in this motion. Therefore, I hope that in my point of order from this morning, for the sake of the reasons I have given now and that I gave this morning, you will carve out this particular part so we can deal with it with the respect, honour and dignity it deserves.
I want to now focus on some of the other things that have come up during the course of this debate.
Obviously, the work of committees is going to be severely impacted as a result of this motion, as we take those resources away and apply them to the extended sittings. However, I had a little fun as I was researching this issue of the government's imposing what is effectively a sledgehammer on Parliament to do the things it is failing at. There have been lots of times—