Mr. Speaker, I support the motion that is before the House this morning. The unfortunate truth is that this motion is required to be before the House because the government has failed to act. It has failed to act in a timely fashion despite repeated requests, despite ample time, and despite instructions to do so by the House and the Senate.
Duty remissions which assist the Canadian apparel industry to solve previous problems created by unfair tariffs are set to expire December 31, 2004. This issue has been before the House many times. The government has shown a complete lack of interest requiring this action by the House today. The government has failed to act. I cannot tell if that is a result of a lack of interest, a complete inability to grasp the complexity of this issue, or incompetence, or maybe it is a bit of all of the above.
It certainly lends credence to the old adage that if this government owned McDonald's, a Big Mac would take three weeks to prepare. Frankly, the motion that is before the House this morning is simple. It is a simple fix to a simple problem. It is a fix that was unanimously supported, discussed and voted on by an all party committee. The finance committee made three relatively brilliant recommendations to what appears to be a debacle from past issues raised by the government and past attempts to fix mistakes.
What is this minister doing? The Minister of Finance is discussing it with his senior staff considering other things and looking at other solutions. That is great and indeed necessary, but these people need help now. The minister has taken it upon himself to go in a different direction. What for? He has his marching orders. He has been instructed by the House and by the Senate. If there are other solutions, and there will have to be to fix this package of bungled bureaucracy in government, then we can look at those too. No question about that, but please, deal with this issue today.
The amount of bureaucracy in this area is equally astounding as it is in all areas that the government touches. If it is not a study, or in the case of this present regime, an investigation or an inquiry, the government spends far too many tax dollars on programs that just do not seem to be necessary. Members will recall that this is the government that spends $20,000 to hand out $3,500. This entire tariff program is wrought with the same kind of bureaucracy.
Does it make any sense to anyone that if we were to import silk and claim we were going to use it to make a tie, we would pay a lot less than if we said we were going to use it to make a woman's blouse? Gender inequity is appearing everywhere in the government. Perhaps the minister intends to fix this bungling too and so he should, but that can wait. This cannot. This same solution was put forth by the Prime Minister who was then the Minister of Finance in 1997 and it had no global impact and no negative effect.
When owners of John Forsyth in my riding of Cambridge called me a few months ago, they said the issue had been going on for far too long and the deadline was fast approaching. They were at a loss to tell me how such a seemingly simple solution was not solved or implemented especially since the member in my riding at the time was from that side of the House. How is it that half of the factories are in ridings from that side of the House? How is it that it always seems to be the opposition that has to get the job done?
I offered to meet with the people from John Forsyth immediately. In fact, I offered to meet with them the very next day because I took this issue very seriously. I have since met with the owners, the manager and the workers personally. When I entered John Forsyth plant in Cambridge, above the rhythm of finely tuned sewing machines and expensive machines that precision cut over 100 sheets of fabric at one pass, I saw an industry that has remained on the cutting edge, not to use a pun. This industry, whether it is Hathaway in Guelph or Miller Shirts in Montreal, has done its very best to stay competitive.
I also saw bulletin boards with pictures of picnics and celebrations of these workers and a corkboard with hundreds of pins identifying the locations of the different countries from which these hard working Canadians came from. The most visually impacting thing that I saw was the people themselves and a management team which showed deep concern for its people. I saw an owner who was gravely worried, not only for his own future but for the workers that he had come to know. I saw 200 workers behind which were families with children, homes with mortgages, and educations waiting to be undertaken.
I saw Canadians with jobs. I saw people with worry, indeed many with tears. I also saw a careless government that has allowed these people to teeter on the edge of collapse and to go needlessly week after week while the minister sits, thinks, discusses it and appears to be doing nothing.
I have asked the minister by letter, by phone, by e-mail and in the House on numerous occasions, and still no action. I wrote a letter to every single member whose ridings had these very factories in them. I informed them of the problem and the simplicity of this particular solution. I asked all of them, Liberals, NDP, Bloc and of course my own Conservative members, to join me to pressure the minister into doing the correct thing, not in a few weeks forcing these people to suffer longer and longer, not in a few weeks debilitating the managers and owners of these companies from planning and forecasting, but now.
In my riding there are 200 workers and their families are in shambles because of the government's inability or refusal to act. Rather than flying around the country campaigning, perhaps the Prime Minister should have stayed home and addressed the inadequacies of his ministerial departments. Rather than standing in the House a few weeks ago, bragging and taking credit for jobs the finance minister claims his government created, any logical thinking person would give at least equal attention to the jobs we already have.
Let us talk about the minister singing his own praises. On November 5 in response to my question regarding this issue in the House, the minister bragged that the government had created thousands of jobs. The fact is that last year, of the jobs created, only close to 40% were in the public sector which is paid for by our taxes. Of those jobs that were created in the private sector that he bragged about, some 60,000 of them were classified as self-employed, which is defined as earning one penny or more.
Further, statistics during that same period the minister was bragging about creating jobs, unemployment went up by 10,000 people, 6,000 in the manufacturing sector. These were jobs we had and were lost. This is exactly why we are here today. We are here once again to speak to the government's inability to step up and step off its high horse, to stay in touch with Canadians, and emphasize its inability to come up with ideas that do not create more collateral damage than they are designed to fix.
We care on this side of the House for all Canadians, new and existing, those with and without degrees. Those we care about are with and without jobs. For the community of Cambridge and of course the entire country as a whole, I support this motion.