Senator Plett Speaks to the Third Reading of Bill C-19

Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Bill C-19, “Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1.” It feels good to be on the right side of the angels again on this speech.

It actually wasn’t a bad experience, Senator Gold, to vote with you. We should try that more often.

Honourable senators, I will not be long on this, I assure you.

Senator Marshall gave an absolutely crackerjack, excellent rundown of the many problems with this bill in her excellent speech. There are many problems, and I think she outlined almost all of them. Thank you, Senator Marshall. She says there are still some to go. She should have briefed me, because I would have pointed the rest out.

I want to take a few minutes to draw your attention to some important observations, because I know you will want to know about them. The bill we are about to vote on stands as a stark example of the incompetence that has dogged this government for the last seven years. You may have missed it in the crush of business recently, but this legislation came to us from the other place after being amended in 64 different places, including the deletion of 51 clauses. This is unprecedented for a budget implementation act.

This is a 440-page omnibus bill crammed with many measures that should never be in a BIA, as noted by a number of senators. For a while, this government was able to use COVID as a “get out of jail free” card. Their repeated claims that they needed to rush legislation through without adequate oversight and study were made under the shadow of a global pandemic and parliamentarians had little choice but to comply for the sake of public health and economic stability.

Honourable senators, those days are gone. The government can no longer shield itself from its own incompetence by claiming that it is because of the pandemic. The crisis of scrambling to make policy in the midst of an unforeseen global pandemic is behind us. Yet the only evidence that this government has succeeded in moving on this is the fact that they have added chaos to incompetence.

Every direction in which you turn today, you see this government scrambling to contain the consequences of its incompetence which is bursting through the cracks like a dam about to let go.

We have a Minister of Foreign Affairs whose department thinks it’s a great idea to send a representative to a party at the Russian embassy. As Russian shells bomb residential neighbourhoods in Ukraine, killing women and children, disrupting global food supplies and threatening world peace, Minister Joly’s deputy chief of protocol, Yasemin Heinbecker, joined the festivities at the embassy here in Ottawa. This is incompetence.

Over at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, there is a backlog of more than 2.2 million immigration applications, and Minister Fraser has no clue how to fix it — none. Meanwhile, the government promised to help 40,000 Afghans immigrate to Canada. To date, only 10,565 applications have been approved. There is nothing but chaos in this department.

Then there is the debacle of trying to fly anywhere from Canada and finding nothing but chaos at the airports. The transport minister has no solutions to offer and just blames it on out-of-practice travellers. Colleagues, you and I have been travelling. We’re not out of practice, and the same chaos affects us as it does anyone else. I don’t know who is out of practice here.

Go to a passport office. Chaos ensues there as well. People are camping out and lining up all day long to try to get their passports processed, only to be turned away and told to try again tomorrow. The government is clueless, and Minister Gould has no solution for the mess.

Minister Freeland has out-of-control inflation, colleagues, a budget that is beyond balancing and a debt load that threatens to crush future generations. There is no plan to rein in spending or inflation, which, as you know, now sits at 7.7% — the highest since 1983.

Who was in government in 1983? What was the name of that prime minister?

Under Minister Hussen’s oversight as the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, the cost of homes has skyrocketed to a place where home ownership is now out of reach for an entire generation. Their only solution? Well, they have none. Chaos reigns.

Meanwhile, Minister Guilbeault has released new emissions targets which everyone knows the government will never hit and which the media has described as hinging on “hopes and miracles.”

Minister Mendicino, whose nose is getting longer by the day, is scrambling to explain why he misled Canadians by saying police forces asked the government to invoke the Emergencies Act. And Minister Blair, colleagues, is shovelling as fast as he can to explain why Commissioner Lucki promised to use the mass murders in Nova Scotia to advance Liberal government policy.

Minister Rodriguez is trying to do what no one in any other democratic country has tried to do: control the internet. While Minister Sajjan is just trying to be the first in line at the airports. This is what this government has brought us this session: incompetence and chaos. And in the midst of it all, in the final days of the sitting, the Prime Minister leads by example by jetting off to some faraway land. No one knows where. No sense of responsibility. No sense of urgency. No sense at all; just incompetence. Fiddling while Ottawa is burning.

What did they do today? What’s their business before they leave? Bringing in another hybrid motion forever, because there just might be another pandemic on the horizon. This has worked so well; let’s bring in another one. Let’s add another $2 or $3 trillion to the debt.

Colleagues, we are about to vote on Bill C-19. This bill does not deserve our support or your support. There is, however, a silver lining here, colleagues. There is hope. The Conservative Party of Canada will have a leadership vote on September 10. Our 700,000 members will be electing a leader. There is hope. The saviour is coming. Let’s just wait. He will be there.

In the meantime, let’s do the right thing — let’s throw this budget in the garbage. Let’s show the Prime Minister we are independent. Every one of us, we are independent. Some are Conservative independents, some Liberal independents or relative independents or — I still can’t understand how you can call yourself Canadian Senators. Canadian Senators are indeed the only independent senators group. Colleagues, let’s show our independence. Let’s vote down this budget that does not deserve our vote. Thank you, colleagues.

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