Madam Speaker, it is always to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. Before I begin, I do want to recognize a life well lived, the life of Mr. Rex Renkema, of Kamloops. He passed away over the holidays. Mr. Renkema was a mentor to me. He was a pioneer in the legal field, in my view. He was well respected by his colleagues, both at the bar and in the community. He had an incredible impact on my career and the careers of others. I obviously wish his family all the best in this difficult time. May perpetual light shine on Rex Renkema.
With that, I have just a few minutes to speak on this topic. One of the first places I want to start is when it comes to money. As the Leader of the Opposition just eloquently pointed out, when we break down the amount of money that went to consultants, it would equal, if I understand the math correctly, about $1,000 per family. This is a Liberal government that frequently does cartwheels over the fact that we are giving $500 to people to help them with a mortgage or we are giving $600 for this or a few hundred dollars for that. The Liberals frequently accuse Conservatives of really not caring about the middle class, and yet here they are giving the equivalent of $1,000 per family to outside consultants. That, to me, is something that deserves a measure of inquiry, and a significant measure of inquiry at that.
However, let us go one step further. The reality is that the public service has growth by approximately 30% under the Liberal government. Not only do we have a ballooning public service, we have a government intent on spending as much as it can, as quickly as it can, on whatever it can. Part of that spending, wherever it can spend, is on these consultants. Consultants should really be a mechanism of last resort.
We should not be calling external people in on contract, and generally contracts are paid at a much higher level than a salary, when we have people who could do the job already. I am mindful of the fact that on occasion there needs to be an external contract. There might be somebody with a significant area of expertise that the government needs to retain.
The problem is this, when we are literally spending billions of dollars on contracts, in this case $120 million on one firm, one has to ask why we are not going through our public service. Why is it that with a public service that has expanded by 30% in the last few years, we in Canada cannot take care of these things? These are fundamental questions that we need to ask. After all, if every Canadian family were to open their wallet, $1,000 of that money would be going not to the salaries just of the public service but, above and beyond that, directly to pay external contractors.
In my view, this requires an independent inquiry by somebody like the Auditor General, not the government itself. As has been raised before, the government has done whatever it can to shirk responsibility. Jody Wilson-Raybould was prepared to blow the whistle on the government, to say things were not right and were not fair. As the attorney general, in my view an independent minister of justice, that was her job. She stood up to the Prime Minister. She was supposed to be this country's highest lawyer. What happened? She was not in the job very long afterwards.
SNC-Lavalin shows us that we need a measure of independence here when we consider where this money went and how it got there.