Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Joliette.
Once again, we are debating a motion aimed at extending hybrid parliamentary proceedings. Let me make one thing clear: Hybrid Parliament is not a cure-all. There are a number of problems with the format. It was supposed to be temporary, and I hope that is still the intention.
First, there are the interpretation problems. On several occasions, the interpretation has stopped working or interpreters have fallen ill for various reasons. This format is extremely demanding on our human resources. We must be aware of that.
Second, there is the matter of accountability. The government is hiding behind a two-dimensional format. It is always easier for ministers to hide their incompetence behind a screen than in person. It is a little less embarrassing. That is one of the reasons the Liberal Party likes the hybrid format so much. It is a way of dodging accountability. As we know, this government does not like Parliament. It does not like to talk or negotiate. It would rather impose its own law.
This was a minority government. Thanks to the NDP, it became a majority government and, thanks to the government House leader, it is now an authoritarian government. There are no more negotiations, but the extension of the hybrid Parliament is something that should be negotiated by common agreement or consensus. We are changing the way Parliament operates. That is a big deal. I am not wrong in saying that it has changed.
Democracy requires that ministers and members be present. That way, we can do more parliamentary work and discuss current files and future committees. We can do that when we are here in person. This is a government that likes to run away. Considering all of the disasters Quebeckers and Canadians are going through because of this government, the reason is obvious. This government is just plain incompetent.
The day before yesterday, June 21, we ran into problems with the hybrid format. That shows just how fragile it is. The Bloc Québécois wanted to be able to continue to do our parliamentary work during the pandemic, but we would have liked to have more of a discussion about extending the hybrid Parliament, instead of having it imposed on us like the government is doing today. It was not urgent.
Lastly, we hope, and in fact we know, that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will be looking at the extension of the hybrid Parliament to determine what will happen next. They should be able to see that it is not going too well. There are a number of problems.
What do the other parties think?
As I mentioned, the Liberals do not want anything to do with Parliament. They do not want to hold discussions, so they like the idea of continuing in hybrid format. The government's position is as follows: less time in Parliament and more virtual answers, which is far easier. If the Liberals had their way, Parliament would stay hybrid until the end of time.
Why are we talking about a hybrid Parliament?
We are talking about it because of the pandemic, and yet, when we ask the New Democrats why they want a hybrid Parliament, they do not even mention the pandemic. They talk about improving work-life balance and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The NDP government—because, yes, the NDP is now part of the government—agreed to the Bay du Nord project and to increased subsidies for the Trans Mountain pipeline, and now the NDP members come along and tell us that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
As the House leader of the official opposition said, the truth is that the New Democrats want to stay home because they live far away, and flying hurts their ears. That is their position. They like to participate, but from a distance.
The reality is that elected members of Parliament are accountable. We have responsibilities and obligations towards our constituents. Sitting in Parliament is the primary responsibility. Hiding behind a screen will not make us work any better. No one here believes that, but that is the position the NDP government has taken.
The Bloc Québécois believes that the virtual mode should not be the norm, it should be the exception in a context of COVID-19. People should be able to participate virtually if they have the virus or if they have been in contact with someone who does. Virtual mode should be used only in those cases. There are several members we have barely seen for two years. Why is that? Do they have eternal COVID? Did they dive into a little pool full of COVID? Did they make friends with two viruses and start going around with them all the time? That is the reality. I will not name any names, but we know who they are and, above all, we know which party does this.
If we want to make this about work-life balance, if we want to use less gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then it will be up to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to discuss it and to decide if we will have a permanent hybrid Parliament.
With respect to the NDP members' thinking, the pandemic is not the real reason for this. They want a permanent hybrid Parliament, and we do not agree with that.
Why are we talking about this on June 23? We have been co-operating with the government for more than two weeks so that we could rise for the summer today. Remember, Parliament voted to recognize the Quebec nation. Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities are taking place today and tomorrow, and we do not understand why we are being forced to sit when this almost never happens. I think it has happened four times in the last 40 years.
We asked the leader of the government to postpone this discussion until the fall for three reasons. First, that is how it has been done since forever. The start of the session is when we determine how the House will operate. Second, there is no rush, because we are going back to our respective ridings. Finally, it would allow us to gather more information.
The Liberals said earlier that we are in a pandemic and we do not know what the future holds. All the more reason to wait and gather information for three months, in order to make more informed decisions, but they are talking about extending the hybrid Parliament for a year. Would we still need a year or six months? Perhaps by September, we would have had more answers, and more intelligent ones, to our questions. The Liberals clearly do not care much about intelligent answers. Just look at the passport situation.
We therefore suggested that we postpone the discussion until the fall because we have some problems with the hybrid Parliament model. As I said earlier, we view this model as an impediment to democracy and do not think it should be the norm. I am repeating this, because it is important. The hybrid model must be an exception.
Looking back, there is one point I want to bring up. I know that the member for Kingston and the Islands enjoys making lists of who votes and who does not vote. He is not concerned about his own party, but no matter. When Bloc Québécois members were not in the House, it was usually because, with few exceptions, they had caught COVID‑19 or had been in close contact with someone who had it. We always viewed hybrid Parliament as an exception. We are trying to set an example. We believe in walking the talk. The government's recognition of the Quebec nation cannot be all talk. It needs to take action. Once again, the government has failed to walk the talk.
For all these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote against the motion.