Madam Speaker, the motion we are debating today is on the confidence that every government must earn and keep.
We are dealing with a government that has woven a web of deception, attacked democracy and demonstrated an utter lack of integrity.
We are dealing with a government and a Prime Minister who have written off Quebec.
It is no longer possible to have any confidence in this Conservative government.
The fact that it was found guilty of contempt of Parliament, a first in the history of Canada, is serious enough in and of itself.
It was not just a simple mistake and the Prime Minister cannot suggest that there were extenuating circumstances.
The Conservative leader's decision to hide the truth was premeditated.
What is more, the Conservative leader is a notorious repeat offender. He and his party have quite the rap sheet.
The Conservative leader and his entourage have turned deception and trickery into a system of governance.
They have simply been making up the facts and fudging the truth, as we saw in the case of the Afghan detainees.
It goes on like that, deception after deception.
For example, when it came to the procurement of fighter jets, the government hid the numbers.
The Conservatives' populist law and order bills are going to cost several billion dollars.
The Conservative leader and his cohorts have decided to adopt the American approach, one that has unfortunately failed and that costs a lot of money.
They know it but, for them, it is not the actual results of public policies that matter, it is the ideological results.
The Conservative leader knows very well that, if the public learns that his policies are costing billions of dollars, he will fail in his attempt to impose his ideological agenda.
For years, the Conservative leader and his cohorts have claimed to want to fix the justice system, but each time they were given the opportunity to abolish automatic parole after one-sixth of the sentence has been served, they refused, finding a new pretext for doing so each time.
The Conservatives did not hesitate to spread falsehoods about the Bloc Québécois and it took widespread indignation about the release of Vincent Lacroix for them to stop their hyper-partisan game.
Another example: the Conservatives want the public to believe that they are responsible for the economic recovery.
It is the exact opposite.
Had there not been a proposed coalition against his government at the end of 2008, the Conservative leader would have sunk the Canadian and Quebec economies.
The only reason why there is a stimulus plan, an unsatisfactory one at that, is because the opposition parties made him come up with one.
Today the Prime Minister said that even the idea of a coalition is illegitimate, but he is misleading the public.
In 2004, he himself planned to form a similar coalition, and he knows it. I will read the letter he wrote, which I signed, as did the leader of the NDP.
You could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program [the government was Liberal at the time.] We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.
The thought was that the Conservative leader would become prime minister after coming to an agreement with the leaders of the Bloc and the NDP about the content of the throne speech and the budget. And look what happened.
Another lie: for months the Prime Minister has been saying that he does not want an election.
But his actions over the past weeks have demonstrated the exact opposite.
He did not hesitate to orchestrate a $26 million pre-election ad campaign with taxpayers' money.
He deliberately wrote off Quebec in his budget in order to ensure that we could not vote for it.
On Wednesday the Conservative leader repeated once again that he did not want an election, yet he completely dismissed any possibility of amending his budget.
All of the Conservative leader's actions point to the same thing: he wanted an election.
He told the public exactly the opposite of what he was really thinking.
After so much deceit, how can anyone have confidence in the Conservative leader and his entourage? Especially since the case against the Conservatives is so strong.
Not only has there been contempt of Parliament, but also patronage, influence peddling, electoral fraud and RCMP investigations. The Conservative government handed out many partisan appointments, despite its promises to end that practice.
A former advisor to the Conservative leader and the Minister of Natural Resources is under criminal investigation. The party is facing charges for violating the Canada Elections Act, and I am not talking about one isolated incident. According to Elections Canada, we are talking about a premeditated system of electoral fraud. We are talking about violations committed by the highest authorities in the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister's inner circle, and several of his ministers. For a party that claims to be the champion of law and order, it is rather pathetic.
The case against the government is very strong and there are no extenuating circumstances. The Conservatives are repeat offenders and definitely do not deserve the confidence of the people of Quebec. We therefore plan to vote in favour of the non-confidence motion against this government, this party and its leader. We will do so on this very question of integrity, but we will also do so because the Conservative leader has not honoured his commitments to Quebec.
The Conservatives wrote off Quebec in order to trigger an election. The Conservative leader made sure that the economic and financial needs of Quebec would be completely ignored. The refusal to give Quebec compensation for harmonizing taxes is a perfect example. Everyone agrees that this $2.2 billion compensation is a matter of basic fairness. All the parties in the National Assembly agree. The agreement is ready to be signed. Quebec has been waiting for 19 years.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's political lieutenant from Quebec had the nerve to say that an election would delay negotiations with Quebec. That is taking people for fools, especially knowing that the Conservatives have done everything they could to trigger an election. The truth is that the Conservatives knew they would lose votes in Canada if they were fair to Quebec. The truth is that the Conservative MPs are prepared to sacrifice the interests of Quebec in order to obey their master. When the time comes to speak for Quebec, to represent the consensus in Quebec, they keep quiet, as usual. They deliberately chose to ignore Quebec and turn their backs on their province. Quebeckers will not forget that.
There is a total of $5 billion worth of disputes between Ottawa and Quebec that the Conservatives have completely ignored. We are talking about $630 for every Quebecker, including babies. For a family of four, this represents $2,500. Two thousand, five hundred dollars is the amount of money Quebec families have to do without for health services and education. For every Quebecker, there is a tangible loss of $630 per person. We will remind Quebeckers of that. Our requests meet with consensus and are simply fair. Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all had their turn. Now it is Quebec's turn and the Conservative leader has chosen, with the complicity of his MPs from Quebec, to cast us aside. Quebeckers will not forget that.
When it comes to social programs, the Conservatives do not care about the middle class. The budget ignores the amply demonstrated need for real reform of employment insurance. The Conservatives do not care about the sad fate of the unemployed. The Conservatives distort the facts, as usual, by saying that with the eligibility threshold of 360 hours that the Bloc Québécois is calling for, people will receive 50 weeks of benefits. That is not true and they know it. With that threshold, in Gaspé, it is 32 weeks, in Lac-Saint-Jean it is 20 weeks and in Gatineau it is 16 weeks—not 50.
What is worse is that the Conservatives are telling us that they will be helping themselves to the EI fund to pay down their deficit, as the Liberals did before them. I will be clear and frank: that is theft.
In Quebec, the forestry industry has been in a crisis for over seven years and many mills have shut down, throwing thousands of workers onto the street. Older workers who lost their jobs need an assistance program. The Conservatives ignored that too.
Our poorest seniors were offered a small increase to their guaranteed income supplement, but no one is fooled; the Conservatives were just hoping to score some political points, since they did not even have the heart to bring in automatic enrolment.
This means that thousands of seniors will be left in the lurch, without any resources. We can see the full extent of the deceit and cynicism of these ideologues who claim to want to help our poorest seniors. There is only one word to describe the Conservatives' offensive attitude, and that is “hypocrisy”.
This budget continued to ignore the economy in the regions. After the automotive industry in Ontario got a gift of $10 billion, it should have been the turn of Quebec's forestry industry. But no, all it got were some crumbs. It was the same for Quebec's manufacturing industry, which cannot count on an extensive federal policy to help it overcome the Canadian dollar's oil-fuelled rise in value. All the Conservatives have to offer the regions of Quebec are tangible losses.
In short, any way we look at this budget, it is clear that the Conservatives have ignored Quebec. We will remind Quebeckers of that.
And the files are piling up. Yesterday, for example, the government announced that it had reached an agreement with Quebec on the Old Harry site, off the Magdalen Islands. But the Conservative government refuses to accept its responsibilities and ratify the border agreement between Quebec and the Atlantic provinces that Newfoundland disputes. The Conservatives refuse to impose a moratorium on the exploration and development on the Newfoundland side until Quebec has completed its environmental assessment.
There is another question. When the agreement is signed, does the Conservative government intend to offer Quebec the same terms as Newfoundland, which received $4.5 billion under the side deals? This very Wednesday, the Minister of National Defence clearly stated that Canada' interests take precedence over those of Quebec.
The government is about to offer a loan guarantee for the installation of an underwater electricity cable that will save Newfoundland and Labrador hundreds of millions of dollars but will be detrimental to Hydro-Québec and, therefore, to all of Quebec. What are the Conservative members from Quebec doing? They take it lying down and saying nothing.
It is very clear that Quebec cannot trust the Conservatives with its future. It is even more apparent that the Conservative leader wants to obtain a majority and the risk that he will do so is very real. That is a real danger to Quebec. If it happens, the Conservatives would be free to impose their ideological policies, which are harmful and contrary to the interests and values of Quebeckers. The Conservative ideology is foreign and warlike; Quebeckers find it disgraceful.
We are talking about billions of dollars in additional and often useless military expenditures. The Conservative ideology means protecting the interests of big oil companies. It means more prisons and more guns in circulation. The Conservative ideology means continued assaults against the environment, the distribution of wealth, gender equality, science, truth and democracy. A Conservative majority means the completely negation of everything we are and new assaults against Quebec culture. It means that our economic interests will be completely ignored and our regions will be even more neglected.
We cannot ignore this threat. Quebeckers therefore have a very clear choice to make. On one hand, there are the Conservatives, who have a cynical, sneaky, deceitful and cheating attitude. Their goal is to obtain a majority so that they can impose their backward and dangerous ideology without anyone being able to stop them. And, when it comes time to speak on behalf of Quebec, the Conservatives do not say anything. They bow before their leader and turn their backs on Quebeckers. We saw this in Quebec City on the issue of the arena, as well as on many other issues.
On the other hand, there is the Bloc Québécois, the only party in Quebec that is able to stand in the way of the Prime Minister's goals. Today, we are voting to show that the elected representatives of the Quebec people do not have confidence in this government, which has turned its back on Quebec. We cannot trust these Conservatives, who have tried to mislead the public, who have engaged in undemocratic behaviour and who have disregarded any notion of integrity.
The Conservative leader and his cohorts are known to be repeat offenders. They must be condemned without hesitation. They do not deserve our confidence. Today, it is the people's representatives who are voting. In a few weeks, it will be the voters' turn to do so. There is only one way to protect our values and democracy and that is through democracy itself.