Mr. Speaker, the bill appears to be designed to avoid conflicts of interest. The government claims that it wants to protect democracy, but senators are not even elected. They are not accountable to the public.
These same people will have the right to look into someone's party affiliation. If someone is chosen to work on a file because he is an objective professional, why is who he votes for in an election a problem? Every citizen is afforded that freedom. This is a democracy, and making political choices is part of our lives.
Last year, the Auditor General did an excellent job and had some criticism for the current government, which was not acting appropriately. This public official wanted to shed some light on the situation, which enabled the official opposition to inform the public that things were not working as they were supposed to.
Now senators can scrutinize those officials if they do not like or are bothered by their work. Those officials were selected to fill their position based on their ability to achieve certain objectives. However, since they are inconveniencing the senators, the latter can decide to harm them, scare them and silence them. That is not good for democracy.
I support any bill that requires us to be more transparent. What I want is a bill that requires the government to tell the truth to the opposition and to Canadians. That is what democracy is about and that is what I stand for.
When we allow a body like the Senate to investigate public officials, that is troubling. Senators are not even elected and are not accountable.
In our system, we already have laws governing these professionals. What, then, is the real purpose of this bill? Let us look at that for a moment. What is the government really trying to do? I think they want to appear to be transparent by demonstrating that they are capable of controlling their officials. Instead they should demonstrate greater transparency by telling the truth and admitting when they make mistakes. That would be better for democracy, instead of coming up with excuses to justify using taxpayers' money. I am referring to one senator in particular who I will not name because everyone knows who I am talking about.
That is what we have to focus on. As elected representatives, we are all accountable and we must respect our commitment to the public. If these officials are doing good work, then why interfere? They can choose to vote for the NDP, the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party. What does it matter if the person has a political past? They are citizens like the rest of us. This is very touchy. These people help us to be more transparent. It is up to each and every one of us to be accountable.
Appointed senators are not accountable to anyone and that poses a threat to democracy. Using taxpayers' money inappropriately is another threat. Transparency must come from each one of us regardless of whether we are part of the opposition or the government.
I do not like the fact that workers are being frightened and told that if they do not do what the government wants, they will be questioned. That brings back bad memories. I come from Chile, a country that was not at all democratic when I was young. In a truly democratic country, people have freedom of expression and we can verify what they say.
We must not undermine democracy. We must not attack public servants who are doing a good job. We must instead go after those who are not doing a good job. We must go after senators who are not doing a good job and who were not even elected. We should investigate those who are in the wrong.
I am truly worried. If the Conservative government really wanted to shed light on its current problems, it would talk openly about them. That would help all of us get through these difficult times.
Bills like this one force us to talk about things that are not even necessary. That is why we are saying that this is a cynical attempt by the government to undermine the credibility of this office couched in the language of transparency. First of all, all of us in this place should be transparent.
I believe that instead of attacking these officials, we should take a look at ourselves, be honest and speak out. If we have made mistakes, we need to acknowledge them. It will be good for democracy. Those who have done wrong will not be elected the next time.
Unfortunately, that does not apply to senators because they are appointed. That is why we want to abolish the Senate. It does not meet the needs of a democratic country. I believe that we should focus on being transparent in our day-to-day work.