Mr. Speaker, I would first like to say that I will be sharing my time.
Earlier, my hon. colleague from Beloeil—Chambly reminded us that as elected members we are sometimes invited to elementary or secondary schools to answer questions and explain what we do. I must admit that I am having a hard time these days explaining what we do in the House and why it is important, but it is.
Our work is important because it shows the “true nature of Bernadette”. It shows what the Liberal government is made of. Just scratching the surface reveals that Liberal arrogance we know so well. Despite its fine speeches and rejuvenated and renewed image, the Liberal government just wants to impose its views, change the rules unilaterally, and grab as much power as possible by crushing the opposition and ensuring that it is the only skipper on board. The Liberals want to make sure that the democratically elected opposition shrivels up and is hamstrung from doing its work effectively.
Why are we having this debate right now? There was a breach of privileges, which is not nothing. There is nothing more important than the rights and privileges of the 338 people who sit in Parliament. Two official opposition members, for many reasons that are yet to be explored and verified, were prevented from entering the House to exercise their right to vote on government legislation. One hon. member rose on a point of order and the Speaker had to rule on whether or not there was a breach of privilege. The answer was yes and that we should debate the breach of privilege.
I do not want to describe the context in which that happened, but members can imagine what would happen if preventing members who are here in Ottawa from voting were to become a habit or even systematic.
The Speaker of the House of Commons initiated a debate on the breach of privilege, and he said that we should debate it to find out what happened.
That is where things got interesting. The Liberal government used its majority to try to put an end to the debate. It used a false parliamentary majority based on 39% of the votes to put an end to a discussion among parliamentarians about a breach of the privileges of two of our colleagues. Another point of order was raised. The Liberals no longer wanted to talk about this issue, and they used their majority to put an end to the debate. Another point of order was raised.
Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, in your wisdom, you said that this was indeed a second breach of privilege, that the government should not have done that, and that we should resume debate on the original breach of the privileges of the two members who were unable to get to the House to vote.
This shows the character of the Liberal government, which is trying to sweep the debates and discussions it does not want to have under the rug. To make matters worse for the Liberals, the debate did not stop. Instead, it started up again. Rather than looking foolish once, the Liberals have made themselves look foolish twice. Since it is their own fault, they will have to live with the consequences.
I want to make sure the people tuning in understand the context of this debate.
This is not the first time the Liberal government has tried to prevent parliamentarians from doing their job, from expressing themselves freely, and from debating issues that matter to them. Who could forget Motion No. 6, which was withdrawn at the last minute? That caused an uproar. Another important element is the debate the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is having right now. In committee, all of the opposition parties are united because we are all extremely concerned about the proposed changes the Liberal government wants to make in the name of modernization.
The Liberals want nothing less than to strip committee members of the opportunity to do their work, work that involves putting pressure on the committee and the government to ensure a relative balance of power, thereby making negotiation possible and enabling opposition parties to wrest compromise from the government. That is pretty much the issue here.
What is happening is the opposite of what the Liberals said during the election campaign. The Liberals said they wanted to put an end to a Parliament where the government makes all the decisions, where democracy is silenced, and where parliamentarians cannot work.
It is funny, because since the Liberals won the election and came to power, they have been doing exactly the opposite. That is why the opposition members and the opposition parties unanimously disagree with the government. Indeed, we think that if the Liberals want to change the ground rules in the House, regarding parliamentarians' ability to exert pressure on the government and to do their job properly, they cannot do so unilaterally. The Liberals must seek a consensus with the opposition parties.
I do not understand why the Liberal government insists on completely ignoring this and bullying us, why it is being so heavy-handed and using its majority to impose its viewpoint. That is what is most troubling right now.
I will soon hand the floor over to my colleague from Sherbrooke who will continue this important discussion and this debate much more eloquently and in a more scientific way.
Let me give another example of this Liberal arrogance, which could be characterized as “do as I say and not as I do” and “I'm the boss and I will do as I please”.
In the Liberal Party platform, it is written in black and white that the Liberals wanted to put an end to turning budget implementation bills into omnibus bills. The budget implementation bill was introduced today and guess what? It is an omnibus bill. Oops. We get the same old Liberal arrogance and another broken promise. There are financial aspects to the budget implementation bill, but there are also some rather fascinating things. The bill would amend labour laws, drug laws, and the Judges Act. This bill takes all the bills that were not passed and crams them in the middle of a budget implementation bill.
Again, the Liberals have this extraordinary ability to take people for a ride and have them believe that they are going to do politics differently and that they will govern differently. However, the Liberals systematically and successively do everything they can to crush the opposition, undermine Parliament, attack democracy, and ensure that they have more and more power that is more and more concentrated, with no regard for the rules of the House, no regard for democracy, and no regard for the people we have the honour of representing.