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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 393

CONTENTS

Wednesday, March 20, 2019




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 393
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayer


[Statements by Members]

  (1405)  

[English]

    It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of O Canada, led by the hon. member for Windsor West.
     [Members sang the national anthem]

Business of Supply

    Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2019, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Quebec's Interests

    Mr. Speaker, the latest budget deficit is massive, and Ottawa expects Quebeckers to foot the bill for spending that does not meet their needs.
    There is no money to reimburse Quebec for the $300 million it has spent on the reception and integration of asylum seekers. There is no money to increase health transfers, which is Quebeckers' top priority. There is no money for the blue line or high-frequency rail in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. Even new spending leaves Quebec out in the cold.
    Ottawa says it will fund rural high-speed Internet, but not until 2030. Ottawa announced compensation for dairy farmers, but there is nothing allocated in the budget.
    Once again, the Canadian government has found ways to drive Quebeckers deeper into debt without even addressing their priorities. We could talk about this all day.
    Clearly, Quebeckers are not getting what they need from Ottawa.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

    Mr. Speaker, over the span of 130 years, 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly taken from their parents and placed in Indian residential schools. The goal was to assimilate them into Canadian society and make them forget their culture and their history.
    Today, I will be voting in favour of Bill C-369, which seeks to designate September 30 as a national day for truth and reconciliation. The date was chosen to coincide with Orange Shirt Day, which was created by Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley. I want to thank them for their leadership, and I also want to thank the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River for introducing this vitally important bill.

[English]

World Down Syndrome Day

    Mr. Speaker, I invite everyone to join the Canadian Down Syndrome Society in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day tomorrow, March 21. World Down Syndrome Day is observed on March 21 to increase public awareness about Down syndrome, a congenital disorder caused by having an extra 21st chromosome. It is my hope that someday March 21, World Down Syndrome Day, will be as popular as Terry Fox Day.
    On my Twitter, I have re-posted a video of a boy named Christopher sitting at a table about to have lunch. Christopher has Down syndrome. Asked if he is bothered by having Down syndrome, Christopher has the perfect answer when he says, “No. Why?”
    Tragically, most children with Down syndrome will never get old enough to answer this question, because up to 85% of pregnancies with this disorder are never allowed to come to term. Imagine if we had a truly inclusive and just society, one where children with Down syndrome were valued and supported.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of La Francophonie, a day to celebrate the vitality of the world's francophone community. In Alberta, that community is alive and well. The Franco-Albertan community, like many others, is thriving and growing every year.
    Our investments are making a difference. Over 30% of children in Alberta are now registered in French-language programs. Thanks to the strength of francophone organizations in Alberta, such as Radio-Canada, the Cité francophone and the Regroupement artistique francophone de l'Alberta, more Albertans can live in French every day.
    Our francophone community is at the heart of our identity, and our investment in that community will continue to attract francophone immigrants to Canada.
    As a proud Franco-Albertan, here is what I have to say to all those who are watching at home: Whether they are francophones, francophiles, “franco-curious” or “franco-queer”, the Francophonie and the International Day of La Francophonie are for them.”

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, French is often defined by its vocabulary and grammar, which can be difficult, but it is so much more than that. French may be our language, but it is also our culture, expressed through our poetry, literature and music. It is alive with expressions, regionalisms and imagery, and it is steeped in history.
    Language is more than just a way to express ourselves; it also defines how we view the world. It gives us a different awareness, a unique perspective of our environment. The French language gives us incredible opportunities to access far-off places united by a rich tapestry of history and culture.
    The NDP supports francophone minority communities across Canada in defending their distinctive character and their right to receive quality services in their language. All francophones share a love of this sweet, beautiful language that makes us so proud.
    I rise today to wish everyone a happy International Day of La Francophonie. As Michel Rivard said, may it live forever, and may it never be forgotten.

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, on this International Day of La Francophonie, I would like to acknowledge an important event, namely the 50th anniversary of the Société de la francophonie manitobaine, the SFM. In 1916, the Association d'éducation des Canadiens français du Manitoba, the AECFM, was founded in the wake of the Thornton Act prohibiting French as a language of instruction. This was one of many statutes that were since deemed unconstitutional. The AECFM laid the foundation for our SFM, which was officially founded in 1968 with a mandate that extends beyond education to every sector affecting the lives of francophones.
    Today, our community is growing thanks to strong organizations that support our diverse francophonie, which includes francophones, francophiles, Métis and newcomers. I am proud to be one of the 110,000 members of that community.
    Long live our Manitoban francophonie!

[English]

Harry Watts

    Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday, I was honoured to join in the celebration of life for Mr. Harry Watts, along with Canadians from every province and territory, hundreds altogether. I am deeply grateful and humbled to have known him as a dear friend.
    Harry served Canada during World War II as a motorcycle dispatch rider; he delivered messages that were top secret and too sensitive to be sent by way of telegraph or telephone. His book, The Dispatch Rider, sold over 4,000 copies, and all profits were donated to charities. One of his favourite charities that he supported was National Service Dogs, which helps provide dogs to children with autism and to veterans suffering from PTSD.
    Harry lived every day to the fullest during his over 95 years of life. Harry's love of God and his strong faith sustained him right to the day of his physical death on March 10, 2019.
    I would like to thank Harry's family for sharing him with all of us. They are in our prayers as they journey through this valley of loss and grief.
    We will remember him.

[Translation]

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, happy International Day of La Francophonie.
    Whether we live in Ottawa—Vanier or Vancouver, Abidjan or Hanoi, let us celebrate the French language and the diversity and richness of our francophone culture. Despite the tensions and the language crisis in Ontario and even in New Brunswick, we must reaffirm the importance of the French language and its place in our society, and let the new generations pick up the torch.
    We should be proud to be among the 300 million French speakers around the world and the significant economic, social and cultural capital they represent. Today and in the future, we must continue to take action to strengthen our laws and policies and to invest in the sustainability of our official languages. This will stimulate our economy, promote trade and help enhance the leadership, prestige and influence of Canada's diplomatic efforts around the world.

  (1415)  

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of La Francophonie, and it is an honour for me, and all Acadians, to talk about official language minority communities across this big, beautiful country.
    The Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie recently announced consultations on plans to modernize the Official Languages Act, which just makes sense, since this act is now 50 years old. This legislation is in dire need of a facelift, considering the reality facing our minority language communities, whether we are talking about anglophones living in Quebec or francophones living in Acadia and across the country, of course.
    I remind members that no law can be effective if the institutions meant to enforce it ignore their obligations. Let us enact clear official languages legislation and let us have the good sense and political will to enforce it properly.
    To my fellow Canadians, here's to our Official Languages Act.

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today, we are celebrating the International Day of La Francophonie.
    French is a noble language with a rich vocabulary, and its complexity is living proof of its strength and history. Let us not forget that French is the language of Molière, Voltaire, Montesquieu and Georges-Étienne Cartier. The International Day of La Francophonie is an important one, not only for the international community, but also for our great bilingual federation, Canada.
    As Prime Minister Harper always said, Canada, as a political entity, was first founded by French speakers. Today, over 11 million francophones are living and thriving in our magnificent country. Over 300 million people around the world speak French and that number will grow to over 700 million by 2050.
    It is important to point out that Canada is the one that pushed the French government to establish the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie in the 1970s. We are one of the organization's founding members, and we must continue to play a leadership role in that organization in the coming years. Long live the Francophonie.

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating the International Day of La Francophonie. This is an opportunity to remember that Canada's vibrant francophonie extends from coast to coast to coast.
    In West Nova, most of the people living in and around Argyle and Clare are Acadian, and they communicate in French every day. They are proud of their language and culture.
    I am privileged to serve them as their MP in a Liberal government that will always stand up for our official languages.
    Conservative governments in Ontario and New Brunswick are attacking our francophone institutions, but our government is implementing a historic plan to invest in education, infrastructure, early childhood education, and other sectors that will ensure the vitality of our francophone communities.
    I wish all francophones and francophiles a happy International Day of La Francophonie.

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today is International Day of La Francophonie, a day when all Canadians gather to celebrate francophone cultures.
    It is the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, which continues to illustrate the importance of Canada's linguistic duality.
    Let us continue to welcome francophone tourists in their official language during their visit. Tourism operators in my region are always looking for bilingual employees, especially in the summer. What a great summer job opportunity for our students.
    In my riding, Port-au-Port is the cradle of the francophonie on the island of Newfoundland. The people of Port-au-Port are Acadian and French descendants who are now proud Franco-Newfoundlanders.
    Let us all celebrate francophone cultures together.

  (1420)  

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the facts are clear about the Prime Minister and the SNC-Lavalin affair.
     First, he interfered in a criminal prosecution that led to the attorney general stepping down from cabinet. A week later, Gerald Butts resigned from the PMO over this scandal. A week after that, the Treasury Board minister resigned in support of the former attorney general. Just this week, we saw the resignation of the Clerk of the Privy Council, as Liberal MPs joined in the corruption by not allowing the former attorney general to tell her full story.
    The OECD has raised its concern about corruption over this sordid scandal. Even worse, the Liberals on the justice committee have now shut down further inquiries into this matter and the Prime Minister has lawyered up. He has denied from the start that there was anything wrong and is now saying that there is nothing more to see here. So much for transparency.
    Here is the bottom line. The Prime Minister thinks he can distract from this corruption with an election year budget, but Canadians are not buying it.

[Translation]

National Francophonie Week

    Mr. Speaker, my riding, Egmont, has the largest francophone community on Prince Edward Island. As an Acadian descendant, Évangéline is part of my history. As her MP, I am pleased to speak French in the House for the first time in a long time to wish everyone a good National Francophonie Week.

[English]

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the many women who have reached out to me and my NDP colleagues from coast to coast to coast. These women are appalled by the Prime Minister's treatment of the first indigenous woman to serve as Attorney General.
    The former attorney general stood up to the most powerful man in Canada, the Prime Minister, who was asking her to do something wrong. She did not change her mind and she lost her job because of it. Now she is being silenced and cannot tell her full story. Unfortunately far too many women can relate.
     Women know what it is like to fight twice as hard to prove themselves and have their decisions disrespected by men desperate to hold on to power and eager to let women take the blame for their actions instead of accepting responsibility.
     Canadian women are watching. They see the difference between people calling themselves a feminist and actively working to support women, not control them.
     I am a proud New Democrat, and we value the contributions of women in this place. We will always work to amplify their voices. We will never suppress them.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Prime Minister breached the unwritten constitution. He told the former attorney general he did not want SNC-Lavalin to go to trial. When he did not get what he wanted, he replaced her with a new Attorney General, who he thought would do what he wanted. It is as simple as that.
    It is this legislature, its committees and parliamentary parties that are supposed to hold the Prime Minister, the head of the executive branch of government, accountable for a violation of the unwritten constitution. But that has not happened. This House and its committees have not adopted a motion of censor, have not adopted a motion of contempt and have not adopted any other reprimand to the Prime Minister.
    Therefore, for members of the House who still have confidence in the Prime Minister, I say this. I respect their decision, but surely, at minimum, we can all agree on the need to uphold our constitutional order. That should be begin with a reprimand of the Prime Minister through a motion that does exactly that.

[Translation]

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of La Francophonie. Millions of people around the globe speak French, but only one wrote the most beautiful songs of the century in that language. He promotes a culture of peace and non-violence from coast to coast to coast. Today I want to highlight the extraordinary genius of Yves Duteil.
    As Yves Duteil sings in La langue de chez nous:

It is a beautiful language with splendid words
Whose history can be traced in its variations
Where we feel the music and smell the herbs
Goat's cheese and wheat bread
...
It tells us that in that far-off country of snow
It faced the winds blowing from all directions
To impose its words even in the schools
And that our own language is still spoken there
...
And from Île d'Orléans to Contrescarpe
Listening to the people of this country sing
It sounds like the wind moving over a harp
And composing a whole symphony


ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

  (1425)  

[English]

Standing Committee on Access to Inforamtion, Privacy and Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians were shocked and appalled when the Prime Minister shut down the justice committee's investigation into the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal. Serious questions remain unanswered and key players in this affair have yet to testify.
    My question therefore is for the chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. Could he inform the House if the future agenda of the committee will include an investigation of this matter?
    Mr. Speaker, I have received letters from three members of the ethics committee requesting an investigation into this matter. I can confirm, as chair of the ethics committee, that this investigation is in order.
     As always, members are welcome to submit witnesses. Any members of the public who have information of wrongdoing that may help with an investigation can come forward and submit it to the ethics committee without fear.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has just learned that the ethics committee has opened an investigation into his corruption scandal. Will he commit, right here and right now, to co-operate fully with this investigation and to appear and testify?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to start by wishing all my colleagues and all Canadians a happy International Day of La Francophonie.
    This government understands how important the work done by committees is. We on this side of the House will always respect the committees, always co-operate with them, and always let them do their work independently of the government.
    Mr. Speaker, that is false. He used his majority to block the investigation by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
    We have just learned that the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics will investigate the corruption scandal.
     Once again, will the Prime Minister confirm to this House that he will co-operate and agree to testify before the committee?
    Mr. Speaker, one thing that the Conservatives have not learned, or forgot while in power for 10 years, is that committees and members of parliamentary committees are independent and make their own decisions. Naturally, this government, the Liberal Party, will always respect the independence of committee work, and we will always abide by the decisions of these committees.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, nobody is buying that. We all know that the Prime Minister sent in his members of that justice committee to shut it down. They allowed their preferred witnesses to speak more than once, but then when it came to listening to the former attorney general complete her testimony, they blocked the investigation.
     They have also refused to allow Katie Telford, the Prime Minister's chief of staff; Mathieu Bouchard, the PM's special Quebec adviser; and the Minister of Finance and his chief of staff to appear.
    Now that the ethics committee is launching an investigation, will those individuals be allowed to testify?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is not up to the Leader of the Opposition or the Prime Minister to decide what the committees will do.
    Committees are masters of their own agenda and they will make their own decisions. For 10 years, we saw the Conservatives, under Harper, do all they could to control committees. However, on this side of the House we respect the independence of committees. We know that committee members make their own decisions.
    That is a principle of our democracy that we respect but that they disregard.

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again, nobody is buying it. He can stop pretending. We all know that he sent his members in to block the investigation of the justice committee. He did so, knowing that there were more details to come out.
    The former attorney general wrote, “These matters are still unfolding, and further clarity and information is needed.” For Canadians to hear the whole truth, they need to hear additional testimony and this investigation has to continue.
    Once again, will he allow the ethics committee to conduct a full and public investigation into his corruption scandal?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, once again, we respect the committees. They will make their own decisions about what they want to do, and we will co-operate with them.
    The Conservatives clearly do not want to talk about the economy or about the issues that matter to Canadians. Yesterday we presented a budget that shows we listened to Canadians. It shows that we know how to invest in the middle class and in the community. The Conservatives have no plan for the economy, which is why they are trying to distract Canadians and play politics.
    We will stay focused on Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, instead of listening to Canadians and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, the Liberal Prime Minister gives powerful insiders special access to get what they want. When Canadians start asking questions about just where his priorities actually lie, he dodges and dismisses. He refuses to come clean. Now the Liberals have shut down the justice committee investigation to get to the truth. Maybe we will have an ethics committee look at it.
    Will the Prime Minister guarantee that Canadians will hear from everyone involved before the next election?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to wish my hon. colleague a happy International Day of La Francophonie. I also want to remind him that the rules of the House allow for committees to set their own agendas and to decide what they will do. It is not up to party leaders to tell committees what to do. On this side of the House, we respect the independence of our committees and we always will.
    As for pharmacare, we are very proud of the $500 million we have allocated to help families dealing with rare diseases pay for their medications.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, this proves once again why we need a public inquiry.
    Canadians pay, on average, $1,300 for health care. The Prime Minister had an opportunity yesterday to reduce costs for Canadians by creating a universal public pharmacare program. What did he do instead? He decided to buy some time for wealthy drug companies.
    Why did the Prime Minister decide to put rich corporations and their profits first, rather than Canadians and their pocketbooks?
    Mr. Speaker, that is not at all what we did. We understand that no Canadian should be forced to decide between medicine and food.
    With the budget we tabled yesterday, we are laying the foundation for a national pharmacare program. We are creating the Canadian drug agency. With the provinces and territories, the agency will negotiate drug prices for all Canadians, and this will reduce costs by as much as $3 billon a year.
    We are also investing $500 million to create a national strategy for high-cost drugs used to treat rare diseases. We are helping Canadians.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, of course the Liberal budget does not reflect Canadians' housing and pharmacare needs. While people were looking for help, the Prime Minister spent the past year helping his rich friends and defending his own political interests.
    Why is the Prime Minister working only for his friends rather than making the real changes people need?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have an opportunity to talk about our historic investments in housing. We are making major investments to help Canadians find affordable housing.
    Our new first-time home buyer incentive will make it more affordable for first-time home buyers to own their own home. It will lower their monthly mortgage payments.
    We also increased funding for the rental construction financing initiative, which will help to build thousands of new housing units.
    We knew that Canada required federal leadership on housing, and we have been living up to that challenge for the past three years.

  (1435)  

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, this budget had the Liberals' powerful friends covered, but it was a missed opportunity to listen to Canadians who cannot afford a place to live. For people who are waiting, every delay hurts. Wait-lists for co-op housing are decades long. Hundreds of people are standing in line for new rentals when they become available. It is not too late for the government to do right by people.
    Will the Liberal government build half a million new affordable homes now?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we have been investing in housing for three years now, including through our $40-billion national housing strategy.
    We are building housing in co-operation with indigenous communities. We are building and renovating housing in urban areas. We are helping people by creating more affordable rental housing.
    We know that there is still work to be done. That is why we proposed an innovative measure to help first-time home buyers.
    Investing in housing is exactly what we are doing.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, what has become abundantly clear with this cover-up is that the Prime Minister is nothing but a fake feminist. This all started when the good old boys at SNC-Lavalin were caught bribing and spending money on prostitutes and then the Prime Minister and his good old boys said to them, “Don't worry, we'll take care of it.” However, then a woman, the former attorney general, said no to the good old boys and she was promptly fired and silenced.
    Why is the Prime Minister silencing women of principle while covering up for the actions of his corrupt friends?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we have nothing to learn from the Conservatives about standing up for women's rights in this country. We have been investing in women's equality from day one, with our gender-balanced budget and our unequivocal defence of women's reproductive rights. Investing in women, in equality and in pay equity will always be a priority for us.
    The Conservatives are still against abortion, whereas we will always defend women's rights.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is really good at yelling and screaming at women, as the member for Whitby knows. He is also a very good actor. However, he is a fake feminist. We know that after the principled resignation of the former president of the Treasury Board, another good old boy, the Minister of Finance, said she just quit because she was good friends with the former attorney general and that is just what girls do.
    Why is the Prime Minister and his friends thinking it is so much easier to silence women and—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order.
    Members will know that members have 35 seconds to ask a question and the same to answer it. Members know there is much too much talk in the House, particularly during answers, and occasionally there is a bit during questions, but there should not be either. Neither should occur. Members on both sides should show respect for the rules and traditions of this place. I appreciate very much the hon. members' interest in the question of decorum.
    The right. hon. Prime Minister.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is pretty rich for the Conservative Party to be lecturing us about standing up for women's rights. That party still refuses to defend a woman's right to choose. That is yet another outdated position they will have to reconsider.
    We will always stand up for women's rights. We will always invest in the advancement of women, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is smart economics. We are going to build a stronger economy with women, instead of putting them in a corner.

  (1440)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister likes to just say that women have experienced interactions with him differently. Boy, where have we heard that one before? However, we know what the Liberal member for Whitby said. She had an experience where the Prime Minister phoned her and screamed at her so loudly her husband could hear it through the phone.
    Why is it that the Prime Minister cannot see that when he silences women, yells and screams at them and says that their experiences are just different perspectives, he is demeaning all women and showing what a fake feminist he is?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would love to see the Leader of the Opposition try to prove he is a better feminist than I am. It would be great for our democracy if the Leader of the Opposition decided to stand up for women and stop voting against budgets that help women and against investments in organizations that support women in need.
    If the Leader of the Opposition wants to prove that he is a better feminist than I am, I say go ahead. It would be great for our political system.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here is the problem for the Prime Minister. He asked for strong women and this is what they look like: women who will not sacrifice their principles to cover up his corruption scandal, women who stand up every day and refuse to back down against his abuse of our judiciary and parliamentary committees. More importantly, his use of the term “feminist” is fake.
    I will ask one more time. If the Prime Minister is such a feminist, why is he muzzling the former attorney general?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to serve alongside strong, extraordinary women, not only in my gender-balanced cabinet but also within our caucus.
    These are extraordinary women who work hard every day and are helping to build a stronger Canada, a country where gender equality prevails and where indigenous peoples are given opportunities as partners in everything we do, a country where we have lifted 825,000 people out of poverty in the past two years, because we are investing in the middle class and those working hard to join it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it seems the only women that the Prime Minister is proud of are those who use their reputations to do his dirty work. That is wrong. That is not a feminist. There is a reason why he used “they experienced things differently” both in the Creston groping scandal and in Lav scam. It is because he wants women to think and take the message that if they accuse him, a powerful man, of wrongdoing, then they are to blame. That is wrong.
    Why is the Prime Minister only letting his good old boys do all the talking?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to talk about everything this government is doing to protect and promote women's rights.
    We are currently providing sexual and reproductive health services to Rohingya families and girls who have fled Myanmar. We created the position of ambassador for women, peace and security. We are supporting women through the Elsie Initiative, for women in peace operations. We are standing up for women by defending the rights of women in Saudi Arabia, something the Conservatives are too gutless to do. We are working closely with our G7 partners on education for women and girls in developing countries—

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the only thing the Prime Minister has been doing is moving hell and high water to protect a company that stands accused of bribing Moammar Gadhafi's sons with prostitutes and he has been doing that while muzzling strong, principled women. That is not what a feminist looks like. That is not walking the talk.
    Every day that he refuses to allow the former attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he is a fake feminist. Why does he have her muzzled?

  (1445)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to have this opportunity to talk about women's rights.
    Our government has invested millions and millions of dollars to help women across the country, and we will continue to do so. The Conservatives keep voting against our measures to promote gender equality and create more opportunities for female entrepreneurs.
    We will continue our work because we know that investing in women in Canada and around the world is key to building a better world for everyone.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, not only do Liberals not want the truth to come out at the justice committee, we now know they were bending the truth about jobs being in danger. The CEO of SNC-Lavalin just said he never told the Prime Minister that jobs in Canada were in danger.
     The Liberals shut down debate at committee. They misled Canadians. Two cabinet ministers and two senior officials have lost their jobs. Remember that the Liberals in 2015 promised transparency and accountability. What happened to them? Canadians are tired of being misled and now know they cannot trust the Prime Minister.
    Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and launch an independent public inquiry, yes or no?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, we promised to invest in the middle class and create economic growth. That is exactly what we have done and will continue to do.
    As shown in yesterday's budget, we are investing in improving access to new housing for young families. We are investing in high-speed connectivity across the country. We are investing in pharmacare to help improve access to prescription drugs.
    We can do all this because our plan is working. We can keep investing thanks to the economic growth of the past three years.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have now learned from the CEO of SNC-Lavalin that 9,000 jobs were never at risk. To say that they are going to be unemployed is not true, he said, yet the Prime Minister has misled his caucus, the House and Canadians day after day, because it was never about jobs. It was about helping his wealthy friends and about shutting down the justice committee. He has tried to cover up his interference in an independent public prosecution. He has broken faith with the Canadian people.
    Why is he so afraid of an investigation into his actions and in making up the facts around the SNC lobbying?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect us to protect jobs and support workers while respecting our institutions. That is exactly what we are doing. Investing in training is one way we will continue to invest in workers and help Canadians.
    We tabled our budget yesterday. Canadians will have access to training so they can be better prepared for the jobs and opportunities of the future. That is what it means to help workers and Canadians take control of their futures, and that is what we are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want the truth. However, the Prime Minister refused to call a public inquiry. He refused to testify before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. He refused to let us hear from his senior staff who work in his office. He is refusing to waive solicitor-client privilege for the former attorney general.
    Since he shut down the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, where we could perhaps have learned a little more, will the Prime Minister agree to testify before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we understand that parliamentary committees decide which witnesses they will invite and what they will study. I will always respect committee decisions.
    On this side of the House, we respect our institutions. That is why we are investing in our institutions and in Canadians. We are investing in infrastructure across the country, we are investing in affordable housing, we are investing in connectivity, and we are providing funding to dairy farmers.
    Mr. Speaker, the justice minister resigned, the Treasury Board president resigned, the Clerk of the Privy Council resigned, and the Prime Minister's principal secretary resigned, which is interesting because he is the Prime Minister's friend and supposedly did nothing wrong.
    Today we learn that another Liberal MP has abandoned the Liberal ship because she was unhappy with the job. The Prime Minister is hiring private lawyers to defend himself with Canadians' money, but he did nothing wrong.
    My question is simple. Will the Prime Minister agree to testify at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the Conservatives should know, it is up to the committees to decide which witnesses they want to hear from. We will always participate in their studies.
    I want to note that yesterday, our budget showed that Canadians continue to be our primary focus. The Conservatives can keep playing political games if they want to, but we have a plan for the economy that helped create 900,000 new jobs in three years, resulting in the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. The Conservatives have no plan for the economy.
    Mr. Speaker, for a year and a half now, the Liberals and the Prime Minister have being going on, practically with tears in their eyes, about how they are protecting the 9,000 SNC-Lavalin jobs. The cat is now out of the bag, after the president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin told the Canadian Press that he never mentioned protecting the 9,000 jobs. This is the complete opposite of what the Prime Minister has been saying for the past month and a half.
    Now that we know that the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics will investigate the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal, will the Prime Minister agree to testify and tell his version of the story?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been making every effort to protect workers and jobs since 2015. We will continue to do so, especially since Canadians have created more than 900,000 jobs in this country since 2015. However, we recognized that not all Canadians have access to the training they need to get new jobs. In the budget we presented yesterday, we created the Canada training benefit, which will help workers find the time and money to upgrade their skills. This measure will be a huge help to workers and businesses.
    Mr. Speaker, when The Globe and Mail broke the story on the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal, the Prime Minister said it was false.
    What has happened since then? The former attorney general lost her job. The former president of the Treasury Board lost her job, and now a Liberal MP has left the Liberal caucus. One woman, two women, three women have left. That is the record of a Prime Minister who claims to be a feminist.
    Since the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics will be meeting to examine the SNC-Lavalin scandal, will the Prime Minister agree to give his side of the story?
    Mr. Speaker, we will always work with the committees that determine what studies they will undertake. In the meantime, we know that investing in Canadians and the Canadian economy, as we promised to do in 2015, is working.
    We are seeing economic growth that was never seen during the Harper years. We are seeing job creation that was never seen in the Harper years. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are still stuck on the same old Stephen Harper approach, and that is why they do not want to talk about the economy. They do not want to talk about the budget. They only want to play politics.
    We will stay focused on Canadians.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, 1.5 million students around the world took to the streets in a climate strike last Friday.
    Students from Canada, from coast to coast to coast, flooded the streets with a clear message: There is no planet B. We have 12 years to avert climate disaster, and climate leaders do not buy pipelines. Our children are demanding real action and an end to empty promises. Budget 2019 continues to subsidize big oil.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that Harper's emissions targets will not cut it, and that buying a 65-year-old pipeline is not climate action?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see that students and young people are concerned about the future of our planet, because we on this side of the House share that concern. That is why we are moving forward with putting a price on pollution.
    We are moving forward with an historic plan to protect our oceans. We are moving forward with investments in green energies and in new technologies to improve how our economy works. We will continue to fight climate change. It is a priority for our government, just as it is a priority for young people across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, on Friday, 1.5 million students went on strike for the future of the planet and their own future.
    I attended the protest in Montreal, amid a sea of 100,000 other people. It was beautiful and moving to see all these young people standing up to demand action.
    There was even a slogan that went, “Do something, for eff's sake”.
    The Liberals let them down with yesterday's budget. The government is still plodding along with the same old policies, the same old subsidies for oil companies and the purchase of an old pipeline.
    Our young people realize that the situation is urgent. Why do the Liberals refuse to listen to them?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, we will always listen to young people, and we will always work with them to protect the environment and build a better world.
    We are taking concrete action with budget 2019. We announced a new home renovation program that will help Canadians lower their energy bills. We are making zero-emission vehicles more affordable for Canadians across the country. We are also building the infrastructure to support them.
    The NDP keeps pitting the environment against the economy. We are growing the economy while protecting the environment.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday our government laid out the next steps in our plan to invest in families and to support the middle class and those working hard to join it.
    A key part of the budget is new measures to make housing more affordable. Could the Prime Minister update the House on what we are doing to help Canadians find an affordable place to call home?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Surrey—Newton for his hard work.
    Canadians told us that too many young families are being shut out of the housing market.
    Budget 2019 tackles that issue. With the first-time home buyer incentive, Canadians will save hundreds of dollars a month on their mortgage payments. Boosting funding for the rental construction financing initiative will help Canadians find housing from the start, and we are going to continue with our approach.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, who said that questions remain unanswered? It was the former attorney general. Who said that she had lost confidence in how the government dealt with this matter? It was the former president of the Treasury Board.
    The Prime Minister is insulting Canadians' intelligence by refusing to shed light on this affair.
    Will the Prime Minister stop covering up the truth and agree to appear, and let his officials appear, before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics so that we can get to the bottom of this political interference?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, we will always respond to committees' requests. It is up to our committees to determine what work they want to do and what witnesses they want to call, and we will always respect that.
    On that note, it is interesting that the Conservatives, who usually want to talk about Canada's economy, are refusing to talk about it today. They are refusing to talk about the historic budget that we just tabled. Why? It is because they have no plan for the economy. All they have is an old approach that did not work under Stephen Harper, whereas we created 900,000 jobs across Canada, we lowered the unemployment rate, we lifted over 800,000 people—
    Order. The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
    Mr. Speaker, if anyone here is afraid of something, it is the Prime Minister himself. He is afraid to talk about political interference in our justice system. He is afraid to let the former attorney general speak.
    What is he so afraid of? Four people have resigned so far. Things must be pretty bad.
    Will the Prime Minister appear before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question.
    The fact is that the Conservatives, who used to be more interested in Canadians and the economy, are now completely lost. They spent 10 years helping the rich and cutting programs, but that approach did not work. They did not balance the budget or drive the economic growth Canadians need.
    Over the past three years, we have invested in the middle class and communities. We have delivered positive results for Canada's economy and Canadian families. That is what we will continue to do. The Conservatives have nothing to say.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here are some quotes on the Liberal SNC-Lavalin scandal.
    Gerald Butts stated, “There is no solution here that does not involve some interference.”
    Michael Wernick stated, “I think he is going to find a way to get it done, one way or another.”
    The Prime Minister's chief of staff stated, “We don't want to debate legalities anymore.”
    The former attorney general stated, “Questions remain unanswered.”
    The former president of the Treasury Board said, “I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter”.
    The Prime Minister did not have the courage to appear at the justice committee before he stood behind the human shield of his Liberal members, who shut it down. Will he have the guts to show up at the ethics committee to answer to his involvement in this scandal?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to share what some people have said about our budget these past two days.
    Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said that this budget shows that Ottawa wants to help municipalities move ahead with 21st-century projects that will have a significant impact.
    In a tweet, Annie Bérubé of Équiterre applauded the 2019 budget measure to make electric cars more affordable.
     The Federation of Black Canadians said, “It reflects the words of hundreds of Black community leaders we have met demanding action on the International Decade”.
    Perry Bellegarde also had things—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1500)  

    Order. I have heard the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier speaking a lot today, even when he did not have the floor. I normally enjoy hearing his voice, but only when he has the floor.
    The hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.

[English]

    Here are some quotes, Mr. Speaker.
    The former attorney general said, “I quit.”
    The former president of the Treasury Board said, “I quit.”
    The former top adviser to the Prime Minister said, “I'm gone.”
    The former clerk of the Privy Council said, “I quit.”
    These people have all quit because of the scandal that emanated from the very top of the government. The Liberals have tried to shut this down time and time again. Will the Prime Minister and his officials finally have the decency to show up at the ethics committee, do their job and explain to Canadians what they are so afraid of when it comes to the SNC-Lavalin scandal?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we will always co-operate with parliamentary committees, which make independent decisions about what they want to study. That said, I would like to share another quote.
    Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said, “This federal budget shows important and sustained investments to advance First Nations priorities.”
    Canadians across the country are thanking us for investing in the middle class, providing access to affordable housing, and investing in infrastructure and high-speed Internet. They are telling us that this will help them.

[English]

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, I wrote to the Minister of Finance about the struggles young Canadians are facing because of student debt, like putting off starting a family or buying a home. I encouraged the minister to follow the lead of British Columbia's NDP government, which stopped charging interest on student loans last month. Instead, the Liberal budget proposes a half measure of simply reducing interest rates.
    Post-secondary education should not be a debt sentence. Why are the Liberals choosing to hurt young Canadians and their chance to build a better future?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the investments we have made in young Canadians over the past three years, and this budget continues in that direction. Young Canadians are Canada's most educated, connected and diverse generation.
    Since 2015 we have been implementing measures to make post-secondary education more affordable. This includes allowing students to delay repaying their Canada student loans until they are earning $25,000 a year. Budget 2019 lowers the interest rate for student loans and eliminates interest for the first six months. This will save every student $2,000.
    We know that investing in young Canadians is investing in—
    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, with voices full of compassion, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Social Development indicated that they were going to enhance EI sickness benefits by the end of the year. That was in 2016.
    There was nothing in the 2017 budget, nothing in the 2018 budget and still nothing in the 2019 budget. This was the Liberals' last chance to keep their promise, but they decided to turn their backs on hundreds of thousands of sick people who need more than 15 weeks to recover.
    Why did the Prime Minister betray them?
    Mr. Speaker, we made investments to help caregivers. We made investments to help families who have a loved one with a rare disease, including $500 million to reduce the cost of very expensive drugs.
    We will always make investments that help workers. In fact, in the budget, we announced the Canada training benefit, which will help workers find the time and money to improve their skills. This benefit includes four weeks of training every four years and up to $1,000 in income support.
    The labour market is changing, and we are making sure that Canadians are ready for it.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, lying to a law officer is an offence under section 139 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits obstructing, perverting or defeating the course of justice. The Prime Minister told the former attorney general on September 17 that if she did not immediately shelve the charges into SNC-Lavalin, the company's headquarters would jet to London. Today, the CEO of the company indicated that he never said that and that it is not true.
    Why did the Prime Minister state a blatant falsehood to get charges dropped against SNC-Lavalin?

  (1505)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite said is absolutely false.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, actually, it is entirely true, and I can prove it.
    Not only did the former attorney general testify that he said the company would leave Montreal without a deferred prosecution agreement, but he made the mistake of repeating the same falsehood in public at his press conference and it is on the record, so he can now deny what he said in front of 35 million Canadians or he can finally stand on his feet and begin telling the truth.
    He said to the former attorney general that the headquarters would be gone if she did not immediately shelve the charges. We now know that was a blatant falsehood. Why did he state a falsehood to get charges dropped against a company?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, from the beginning of this affair, we have been acting to protect workers all across the country. Whether in Newfoundland and Labrador, in Regina, in Port Elgin, Ontario, in Quebec or in Grand Prairie, Alberta, we will always stand up for jobs while respecting our institutions.
    This situation required careful reflection on how to protect Canadian jobs. That is what we will always do, including in the historic budget we presented yesterday, which the Conservatives absolutely refuse to talk about.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, well, he is not denying he said it now that he just realized that he accidentally blurted it out at a press conference.
    He told the former attorney general that the headquarters would be gone if she did not immediately shelve the charges against that company. It was a falsehood.
    It is impossible. The company is bound to stay in Montreal under a $1.5-billion loan deal with the Quebec pension plan. It just signed a 20-year lease and renovated its headquarters for its 2,000 employees there. It was completely false, yet he said it to try to get corruption charges dropped. Why?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite just betrayed his partisan motivations. He is worried about the senior executives and wealthy individuals working for these companies.
    We in the Liberal Party are concerned about the workers in these companies. We are concerned about people across the country who work hard to support their families and their communities. That is what we always do.
    While the Conservatives have always sought to give benefits and bonuses to the rich, we are investing in the middle class and those working hard to join it. We are delivering for Canadians.

[English]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has the highest number of seniors per capita in all of Canada.
    Yesterday's budget included new measures to better support seniors and make their lives more affordable.
    Could the Prime Minister please update the House on how budget 2019 will help seniors across the country, especially those in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for his support for seniors.
    Budget 2019 enhances the guaranteed income supplement earnings exemption, which will help over 300,000 seniors across the country keep more of their hard-earned money. We are increasing funding for local projects for seniors, and we will continue to ensure a good quality of life for all seniors across the country. The Conservatives increased the age of retirement to 67. We are taking care of our seniors by lowering it to 65 and investing in them directly.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, in the last three days the Prime Minister has broken so many of his election promises.
    He promised transparency and yet shut down the only public investigation into this scandal. He promised to respect committees. After what happened at the justice committee, we know that is not happening. He promised a balanced budget; that is certainly not going to happen under his watch. Today we learned that he misled Canadians across this country when he said the government needed to protect 9,000 jobs. It was clearly, according to the CEO, false. Liberals themselves are telling me how disappointed they are.
    When is he going to—
    The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to hear the member mention the word “budget” in her question.
    It gives me an opportunity to point out that, unlike the Conservatives' approach, ours invests in Canadians and the middle class. That approach is working. Canadians created over 900,000 jobs over the past three years. Canada's unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years. What is more, 800,000 people have been lifted out of poverty. All that because our plan invests in Canadians, unlike the Conservatives' plan, which seeks to cut—

  (1510)  

    The hon. member for Burnaby South.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when challenged about the scandal of political interference, a scandal that has even drawn the attention of the anti-bribery unit of the OECD, the Prime Minister has repeatedly cited jobs as the reason. He stood in the House and said it again today. It turns out that claim is not true. He has broken faith with Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister finally do what is right and call an independent public inquiry so Canadians can learn the truth?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we, on this side of the House, respect the work that committees do.
    The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights spent five weeks hearing from many witnesses on the matter. We also support the work of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, an officer of Parliament who is there to enlighten Canadians about what is happening here in the House, beyond politics. We know that Canadians can have confidence in their institutions. We will continue to focus on their concerns, as we have done in—
    The hon. member for Hull-Aylmer.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, the budget presented by our government announces concrete support to ensure that Canadians have the skills and training they need to succeed, so that they can find and keep good, well-paying jobs.
    Can the Prime Minister tell the House how budget 2019 will help Canadian workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hull-Aylmer for the work he does.
    Since 2015, our plan has been working. Canadians have created more than 900,000 new jobs across the country. However, not everyone has access to the opportunities they need. Budget 2019 introduces the new Canada training benefit. This means that working Canadians will get four weeks for training every four years with up to $1,000 in income support.
    Our job market is changing, and we are going to help Canadians of all ages keep up with those changes. We know this is crucial.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said that the unrelenting pressure on the former attorney general to grant SNC-Lavalin a DPA was all about jobs, and yet today we know that is not true, as the CEO of SNC-Lavalin says the firm never cited 9,000 jobs as a reason for deserving the DPA.
    Will the Prime Minister tell the truth? Will he, instead of continuing to mislead Canadians, commit to the House to testify and tell the truth at committee?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite mentioned jobs, and we are very proud that Canadians have created 900,000 good jobs across the country over the past three years. That is something the Conservatives were unable to achieve in their 10 years in power, because they just do not get it.
    The Conservatives still believe that giving benefits and bonuses to the rich and cutting programs for everyone else is how to balance the budget and grow the economy. Their plan failed for 10 years. That is why the budget we presented yesterday and our approach are always—
    Order. The hon. member for Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères.

Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, we send 50% of our taxes to Ottawa, but the government found a way to ignore 100% of Quebec's demands in the federal budget. There is not one cent to pay back the $300 million it cost us to take in migrants. There is nothing for the blue line and nothing for health transfers, as though we could afford to neglect patients in Quebec.
    Can the Liberals explain how it is possible to be $20 billion in the red after saying no to every one of Quebec's requests?
    Mr. Speaker, since the blue line goes through my riding, I am pleased to inform the hon. member that we made an announcement last year and that the money is already being invested.
    As far as Quebec's requests are concerned, we know that dairy producers were concerned about the new trade agreements we negotiated. Budget 2019 offers concrete solutions to the problems that farming families are facing. We are taking action and investing in supporting supply management, in food policy, in cutting red tape and in rural broadband services. We will continue to invest in our farmers in Quebec and across the country.

  (1515)  

[English]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the deferred recorded division on the motion for third reading of Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), standing in the name of the Member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, currently scheduled today, immediately before the time provided for Private Members' Business, be deferred anew until immediately after the opposition motion is disposed of.

[Translation]

    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions

An Act Respecting Certain Payments to be Made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund

Hon. Jim Carr (for the Minister of Finance)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-94, An Act respecting certain payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports.
    The first is entitled “Report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation respecting its participation in the Joint Meeting of the Defence and Security, Economics and Security, and Political Committees”, Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, held in Brussels, Belgium, February 19 to 21, 2018.
     The second is entitled “Report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation regarding its participation in the Standing Committee Meeting”, Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, held in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 23 and 24, 2018.
    The third is entitled “Report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the 2018 Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly”, held May 25 to 28, 2018, in Warsaw, Poland.
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.
    The first report concerns the 73th annual meeting of the Council of State Governments' Midwestern Legislative Conference, held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, from July 15 to 18, 2018.
    The second report concerns the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A., from July 19 to 21, 2018.
    The third report concerns the 42nd annual conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, held in Stowe, Vermont, U.S.A., from August 12 to 14, 2018.

  (1520)  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, four reports of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
    The first concerns the bilateral visit to Pakistan, held in Islamabad, Pakistan, from March 30 to April 7, 2018.
    The second concerns the bilateral visit to South Africa and Kenya, held in Capetown, South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya, from August 31 to September 8, 2018.
    The third concerns the 2018 Westminster Seminar on Effective Parliaments, held in London, United Kingdom, from November 26 to 30, 2018.
    The fourth concerns the Expert Committee Meeting on Status, held in London, United Kingdom, from June 8 to 11, 2018.

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs 

     Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 88th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs entitled “Question of Privilege Related to the Matter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Publications Respecting Bill C-71, An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Regulations in Relation to Firearms”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[English]

    While I am on my feet, I move:
    That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.
    The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Resignation from Cabinet of the Member for Vancouver Granville  

    That the House take note of comments from the Member for Vancouver Granville that indicated she has not been able to fully explain the events that led to her resignation; and that the House call on the Prime Minister to waive full solicitor-client privilege and all Cabinet confidences to allow the member for Vancouver Granville to address events that occurred following January 14, 2019, including her time as the Minister of Veterans Affairs, her resignation from that position, and her presentation to Cabinet that followed.
    Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying that I will split my time with the member for Lethbridge.
    Today I rise on a motion to get to the truth in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Here is a quick recap of how we got here.
    A year ago, the Prime Minister had his finance minister introduce a budget amending the Criminal Code to allow powerful corporations accused of fraud, bribery and other forms of corruption to get the charges shelved by signing something called a deferred prosecution agreement. We were all wondering where this was coming from and who was advocating for such special deals. We found out in February of this year, when The Globe and Mail reported that the former attorney general faced interference, veiled threats, pressure, hounding and other inappropriate pressure from the Prime Minister and those around him to offer such a deal to SNC-Lavalin.
    SNC-Lavalin is a company facing over $100 million in fraud and bribery charges. Among the charges are that the company bought prostitutes for the former Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, and that it bribed him and his officials to defraud among the poorest people in the world of hundreds of millions of dollars.
    The Prime Minister was acting in a manner that was highly unusual. To take direct interest in a criminal trial of any kind would be strange on any day, but to try to defend alleged corporate criminals who engaged in malfeasance on this scale was particularly unusual. Of course, the Prime Minister said he did nothing wrong, that the story was false and that his attorney general was behind him all the way. The next day, she resigned. The Prime Minister dismissed her, saying that he was disappointed and surprised. We found out later, during her testimony, that he should not have been either. The reality is that she told him that she was worried about the level of interference by his office.
    That brings me to numerous unanswered questions we now need to pursue. First, the Prime Minister said that she never raised any concerns with him at all and that if she was worried about the 20 times his office and his officials contacted her about this criminal prosecution, why did she not say something? It turns out she did.
     Yes, she did, despite the heckling against her, again, by Liberal members across the way. Shame on them for heckling a fellow Liberal member. That is shameful.
    On September 17, she asked the Prime Minister, “Are you interfering...with my role as the Attorney General?”, because if he was, she said, “I would strongly advise against it.” The Prime Minister was stating a falsehood when he said otherwise.
    Then he said that it was all about jobs. If this powerful, Liberal-linked corporation did not get its charges shelved, 9,000 jobs would vanish into thin air. When his top adviser, Gerald Butts, appeared before committee, the Green Party leader asked him if he had any evidence that 9,000 jobs would disappear. His answer was that he had nothing specific. That was after two hours of testimony during which he claimed that he was tied in knots about all the families who would lose their jobs.
    Then we asked Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, who had been involved in all the meetings and proceedings leading up to this interference, what reports he had to prove that 9,000 jobs would vanish. He said that he had nothing in particular. All of this aroused suspicion that the jobs claim was a bunch of nonsense, a suspicion that is supported by a lot of evidence.
     Let me lay out that evidence. First, the company has the five biggest construction projects in Canada now, worth $52 billion. I want to offer a bit of a hint about how construction jobs work, for our friends across the way. They have to be done where the construction projects are. For example, in Ottawa, SNC-Lavalin has been retained to build the north-south mass-transit project, a $600-million project. It will lay track from near downtown Ottawa all the way out to deep in the south end of the city.

  (1525)  

    Rail cannot be built in Beijing or London, England and be dropped from a helicopter onto the nation's capital. It has to be built in the city. The same is true with all construction projects SNC-Lavalin is doing in the country.
    The second claim the government makes regarding jobs is that if the company is convicted, then it will lose all access to federal contracts. We now know that is not true. The public procurement minister is already making revisions to the procurement policy allowing corporate criminals to continue to bid if they get an exemption. SNC-Lavalin already earned such an exemption, or at least was granted one, early in the days of the Liberal government. In fact, it was one of the very first acts the Liberal government rushed to take.
     In December of 2015, the company, which had been banned from federal bidding after being charged with fraud and bribery, was then given an exception by the government so it could continue bidding, and it plans to do exactly the same thing even if a conviction occurs. In other words, if the government is just worried about protecting bidding opportunities for federal projects, it can do that without preventing the trial from going ahead. Therefore, that is fallacious excuse is as well.
    Back in September, it was said that the Prime Minister told the former attorney general that if she did not immediately shelve the charges into SNC-Lavalin's corruption, the company would move its headquarters to London, England. He made that claim twice in that meeting. The Clerk of the Privy Council also made that claim in that meeting. The chief of staff to the finance minister would go to staff members of the former attorney general and say the same thing. Ben Chin said that the announcement of the move of the headquarters could happen within days and that it needed to be prevented because there was a Quebec election going on.
    That seemed mighty suspicious, because a little research on doctor Google would prove that moving the SNC headquarters is impossible. A $1.5-billion loan agreement between the company and the Quebec pension plan requires that the headquarters stay there until the year 2024, another half-decade. The company just signed a 20-year lease on its headquarters there, and is in the process of spending millions of dollars to renovate specifically for the purpose of accommodating its 2,000 employees in that city. It is not only contractually impossible, it is physically unbelievable that the company would leave.
    If people do not take any of that as sufficient enough proof, today the CEO of SNC-Lavalin made clear that was not going to happen. In fact, he was asked where this came from. He said that he did not know how people got ideas like that in their heads. Only the Prime Minister knows how that idea came into his head. Today he denied ever making the headquarters claim.
     When one does not tell the truth, the problem is that it becomes very difficult to keep track of one's story. Unfortunately for him, we have him on tape, claiming that SNC would leave Canada altogether if it was convicted of fraud and bribery. He said it in his famous non-apology press conference, where he repeated that false claim that he had earlier said to the former attorney general. Therefore, we know he was going around stating that falsehood.
    It is bad enough that the Prime Minister of Canada faces allegations of interfering with a criminal prosecution to get charges set aside. However, this scandal reaches a whole new level of criminal culpability if the Prime Minister or anyone around him deliberately stated a falsehood to a law officer in order to shelve criminal charges. It is an offence under section 139 of the Criminal Code to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice. Lying to a law officer to get her to set aside charges would obstruct, pervert and defeat the course of justice.

  (1530)  

    It is possible that during her testimony, the former attorney general did not realize that this falsehood had been stated to her and that it was not true. However, these are the questions we need answered. That is why we need to end the cover-up, let the former attorney general complete her testimony and proceed with an investigation at the ethics committee.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Carleton for starting off this debate, as it is an important one. However, I want to clarify a couple of things.
    In the four hours of testimony that was given by the former attorney general before the justice committee, she stated that the Prime Minister told her this was her decision to make. She said specifically that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. She said that nothing that transpired was unlawful. Nor was anything criminal.
    I want to return to the point where she said that it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. The member for Carleton has, on repeated occasions in the House, asked questions about why jobs are being considered in this context.
    What I am talking about refers back to the statute. The statute should ground our analysis of what we are talking about. Subsection 715.31(f) of the Criminal Code says that the purpose of this statute is “to reduce the negative consequences of the wrongdoing for persons—employees, customers, pensioners and others....”
    Does the member for Carleton agree that citing employees in a statute gives legitimacy to making appropriate inquiries about job impacts?
    Except, Madam Speaker, there were no job impacts. The reality is that the company is not going anywhere. It is required to stay in Montreal under a loan agreement with the Quebec pension plan. As I said, it just renovated its office there and signed a 20-year lease. All of its construction projects in Canada require it to keep its employees doing that work in Canada.
    Today, the CEO of SNC-Lavalin said, first, that he never claimed 9,000 jobs would vanish. He said that at the very worst, those workers would continue working in Canada for other companies. Second, he said that the headquarters would not be going anywhere and he did not know where anyone would have got that idea.
    The member opposite can parse legal language all he wants. Even if it were legal for the Attorney General to consider job impacts, there are no job impacts to consider.

  (1535)  

    Madam Speaker, at the heart of this matter is the notion of prosecutorial independence. This is really the crux of the issue. I feel that through this whole sordid affair, we have finally been able to lift the curtain and have a peek at the inner workings of the PMO.
    The fact is that the director of public prosecutions, who had all the evidence of the company's wrongdoings before her, made a decision. She is entitled to make that decision. The former attorney general agreed that this was final. What the Liberals seem to be advocating for or supporting is that it is okay to apply political pressure on the independence of our top prosecutor.
    Could the member for Carleton explain to those in the House, and indeed to Canadians, the dangerous precedent that would set for our country and how prosecutorial independence must be protected at all costs?
    Madam Speaker, to answer that question, I ask people to imagine a world in which a prime minister is able to interfere in criminal prosecutions to have charges set aside. Imagine if that were a regular occurrence, if powerful people accused of crimes could knock on the door of the PMO and ask to have charges dropped and the prime minister picked up the phone or met in person with the attorney general and said “make it happen”. What kind of world would we live in if that were how justice is administered? Why would we even have a prosecutor or a judge for that matter, if prime ministers and other politicians had the ability to shelf charges? It is a massive concept.
    It is mind-boggling that the Prime Minister thought this was okay. He and his team contacted her 20 times. She documented it. She said there were veiled threats. She was hounded, in her words. She compared it to the Saturday night massacre, which is a reference to Richard Nixon's firings to cover up Watergate.
    This is not a Conservative spewing these allegations. This is a Liberal, the former attorney general appointed by the Prime Minister. That is incredibly serious.
    He tried to shut down a criminal trial earlier and now he is trying to shut down an investigation of this today. We will not let him. We are convening the ethics committee. It is beginning its investigation. He better show up and answer some questions.
    Madam Speaker, this is about a Prime Minister who wanted to do a favour for friends. He wanted to do a favour in the form of allowing them off the hook.
     In order to do this favour for his friends, he first needed to strong-arm the former attorney general into doing the dirty work for him. She stood in his way, between the action of justice and the action of injustice, the action of maintaining integrity and the action of polluting our justice system.
    The former attorney general faithfully stood in that passageway and she resisted the strong-arming movements of the Prime Minister, his attempt to manipulate her to facilitate his desire rather than uphold justice.
    We are talking about the Prime Minister of Canada. This is a leader on the world stage. This is an individual in whom Canadians have placed a great deal of trust. This is an individual in whom we have placed the responsibility of guiding our country. Instead of stewarding this place of trust and responsibility, he has actually abused his position of power.
    Why should Canadians care? They should care because the Prime Minister, when he ran for election, made a series of promises, and they were the right promises. He said that we needed to be open and honest. He promised his government would do that.
    The Prime Minister promised he would let the light shine in, that he would be more open, more transparent. He said, “It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them.”
    At another time, in the former attorney general's mandate letter as the justice minister, he said, “ I expect you to ensure that our initiatives respect the Constitution of Canada, court decisions, and are in keeping with our proudest legal traditions.” He went on to say:
    We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do.
    The Prime Minister asked his former attorney general to abide by these principles. She did; he did not. Now she is the one being silenced.
    The Prime Minister, during his election run, also said this, “Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways. This is what positive politics can do.”
    Those of us on the side of opposition are asking the Prime Minister to abide by his words “sunny ways”. Why are we not allowing the sun to shine in? Why are we not allowing the details to come forward? Why are we not giving the former attorney general of Canada the opportunity to share her story?
    This matters to Canadians. In the same way they have the opportunity, I daresay the privilege, to elect their officials, they also have the responsibility to hold them accountable. Now, of course, those of us on the side of opposition share that responsibility with Canadians. We, too, will hold the government to account. We, too, will in fact insist that the truth be told, which to date, it has not been.
    Let us look more closely at what happened, and to do so, let us look at a number of voices that have been shared. Starting with the former attorney general herself. She said:
    For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
    She went on to talk about multiple phone calls, multiple emails, multiple text messages, multiple meetings that were held to try to pressure her. She goes on to talk about veiled threats that were issued toward her. This all came out during her initial testimony to the committee.

  (1540)  

    She also said that the Prime Minister stressed that there was an election taking place in Quebec and that therefore she needed to do this. She needed to do the Prime Minister's dirty work. That is interesting.
    What we have here is a case of sustained and inappropriate pressure. We have an issue of the Prime Minister actually bullying the former attorney general, trying to get her to do his dirty work. As a result, we know that the former attorney general was fired from her post as the attorney general and was moved into a different cabinet post, and then she eventually resigned from there.
    The Prime Minister would try to convince Canadians that there were two different experiences and that her interpretation is simply wrong. However, why will we not legitimize her voice? Has the Prime Minister not advocated for all this time that we would listen to the women among us? In particular, I would hope that we would listen to the former attorney general of Canada, who, I might add, is the very first indigenous female attorney general that this country has seen. Why would we not listen to her voice? Why would we not give it weight?
    When that did not work, the Prime Minister decided that he would try another excuse. He said that it had to do with protecting 9,000 jobs that exist within SNC-Lavalin, but we know now that is not true either. The CEO of the company has come forward and said that this is not the case at all and that he actually never said that to the Prime Minister.
    Well, that is one voice, the former attorney general, and of course the Prime Minister has tried to squash her voice.
    However, out came another voice, and that was the voice of Gerald Butts, the chief adviser to the Prime Minister. His voice said, “I quit”, and he walked out. That is interesting.
    Then came another voice, the voice of the former president of the Treasury Board, and she too said, “I resign”, but she wrote a letter with her resignation. In her letter she said:
    The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system. It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases. Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.
    She finished her letter by saying that “There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.” She could not be more correct.
    Now we have three voices in the mix, but then there was a fourth. The Clerk of the Privy Council also tendered his resignation.
    Then just today the member for Whitby also resigned. She resigned and shared her story of also being bullied by the Prime Minister. She shared a story of the Prime Minister calling her up and yelling at her over the phone so loudly that her husband could overhear the entire conversation.
    This does not speak of a Prime Minister who deeply cares about wanting to serve his country. This does not speak well of a Prime Minister claiming to be a feminist.
    Let us look at this. He has three female members who have all resigned from their posts, who have left, who have shed light on the fact that the Prime Minister has mistreated them.
    Let us look at another set of voices, shall we? Let us look at the media.
    The media have said that “It's fair to say that it's a constitutional crisis.” A former judge said that in an article.
    The former Ontario attorney general said that “It opens the door to prosecuting enemies of the government and giving immunity to its friends, which is despotic.”
    The Toronto Star said that “It is going to be impossible to look at Justin Trudeau's government the same way again.”
    The National Post said that “...it sounded and felt like a death knell for the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau.”
    There is plenty of commentary out there—

  (1545)  

    The hon. member just mentioned the Prime Minister by name.
    She has 10 seconds, so please wrap up.
    Madam Speaker, these are a number of voices around the table. They have been heard, but there is one voice that is incomplete, and that is the voice of the former attorney general. Today we are asking that this place give permission for her to speak. In particular, we are asking that the Prime Minister lift the muzzle.
    I will just point out a couple of clarifications before my question. The first is that as an exception, for only the fourth time in history since 1987, cabinet confidence was waived and the absolutely unprecedented solicitor-client privilege was waived to allow the former attorney general to speak. That is the first point.
    Second, when she spoke, she said on the record that nothing that happened was unlawful and nothing that happened was criminal. She said in fact that the state of our institutions and the rule of law are intact. She said:
     I do not want members of this committee or Canadians to think that the integrity of our institutions has somehow evaporated. The integrity of our justice system, the integrity of the director of public prosecutions and prosecutors, is intact.
    Given that evidence and given that there is a desire from the opposition to get to the root of the matter, I put it to the member opposite that the Ethics Commissioner is doing an investigation in which they have powers to summon witnesses, have them put under oath, give evidence and produce documents. In this matter they have the same powers as a court of record.
    Is that not the best venue for seeking the answers that the opposition clamours for in this case?
    Madam Speaker, in her letter written on March 14, the former attorney general said:
     These matters are still unfolding, and further clarity and information is needed. As in other places around the globe, our democratic institutions and norms - including the rule of law and prosecutorial independence - are under pressure. Collectively, and as individuals, we are challenged to respond.
     She went on to say that there is more to be shared, that there is more to her testimony, that there is more that happened after she stepped down as the attorney general of Canada. She has asked for permission to share the remainder of her testimony, and the Prime Minister is refusing her the opportunity to do so.
    Members of the justice committee have brought forward multiple motions asking that the former attorney general of Canada be allowed to speak. The Liberal members of the justice committee have shut them down over and over again.
    To answer the member opposite's question about whether it is the most appropriate place to hear, sure—so why do they not let her speak?

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, I wish I could say it was a pleasure to join in this debate, but there is nothing that gives me pleasure in watching the government performing quite a rare feat.
    Oftentimes in the case of a political scandal, we can watch the scandal unfold as this one has, over a number of weeks, and the original sin becomes eclipsed by the actions that follow the original sin. Canadians do not like the cover-up. They do not like the lies heaped upon lies.
    The government has accomplished something whereby the original sin and the cover-up of that sin might be equally detrimental to people's faith in politics, and certainly their faith in the Prime Minister.
    My question for my friend is very specific.
     First of all, cabinet confidentiality has been waived a number of times in Canadian history, so the Liberals pulling a muscle patting themselves on the back for partially allowing the former attorney general to speak deserves little credit. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice claimed that the stature of our justice system remains strong. That is not for a lack of effort from the Prime Minister and his office to undermine the independence of our judiciary.
    If the former attorney general had succumbed to the sustained pressure that she talked about and the inappropriate pressure that she also talked about, what would be the effect on the independence of our courts and the ability of Canadians to believe that there is one set of laws for all people, rather than one for everyone and another for the wealthy and well-connected?
    Madam Speaker, that is exactly what is at stake here.
    We see that the Prime Minister of Canada tried to strong-arm the former attorney general of Canada into administering special favours to the Prime Minister's friends at SNC-Lavalin. If we were to give in to a system like this, if the former attorney general of Canada had given in to the Prime Minister's demands, it would result in a justice system that is forever compromised, a justice system with one set of rules for the wealthy, the rich, the powerful, the elite, and then another set of rules for those who do not fit within that category.
    That is not the Canada in which we live, nor is it the Canada in which we should want to live. I commend the former attorney general for taking the stand that she did and I believe she should be given every opportunity to speak her truth.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to wish all members a happy International Day of La Francophonie.
    I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the principles of cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege in a governmental context. I would like to begin with a few words about the important work the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has done so far.

[English]

     As we know, the committee has held, to date, 11 meetings on the subject of remediation agreements, the Shawcross doctrine and the discussions between the Office of the Attorney General of Canada and government colleagues. The committee heard from 10 different witnesses over the course of approximately 13 hours.
    On February 21, that committee heard from the current Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada as well as the deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Canada, Ms. Nathalie Drouin, for an hour and twenty minutes, as well as from the Clerk of the Privy Council at the time, Mr. Michael Wernick, for an hour and a half.
    On February 25, a few days later, the committee heard from Mary Condon, the interim dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School; Maxime St-Hilaire, associate professor in the faculty of law of the University of Sherbrooke; Wendy Berman, a lawyer and partner at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP; Kenneth Jull, a lawyer at Gardiner Roberts; and academic Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, senior associate counsel at Woodward and Company LLP and a professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, over the course of a period of about two and a half hours.
    Two days subsequent to that, on February 27, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard from the former attorney general for a period of almost four hours as a result of an unprecedented waiver that was issued by the Prime Minister. It was an exceptional waiver that addressed cabinet confidentiality, solicitor-client privilege and any other duty of confidentiality to the extent that they were applicable.
    That waiver was indeed exceptional. Since 1987, there have been only four instances of cabinet confidence being waived, and none of those cases, absolutely none, included a waiver of solicitor-client privilege. The waiver was broad in scope, such that no witness was prevented from providing evidence relating to any relevant information during the period covered by the waiver, which was the focus of the committee's review.
    As well, in response to this waiver, on March 6 the committee heard from the former principal secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. Gerald Butts, for two and a half hours, in addition to recalling Ms. Drouin and Mr. Wernick, who also appeared for approximately two and a half hours.
    On Tuesday, Liberal members of the committee sent a letter to the committee chair, indicating that they had achieved their objectives with respect to these meetings. They expressed that following the testimony of all witnesses, they believed that all rules and laws had been followed and that Canadians now had the necessary information to arrive at their own individual conclusions.
    Yesterday, the committee adopted a motion to move on to a study of how to amend the Canada Human Rights Act “to stem the propagation of hateful acts and incitement of hate”. In my opinion, the committee's timing could not be better, in light of the tragic events that unfolded in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday, which bear an eerie resemblance to the tragic events on January 29, 2017, at the mosque in Quebec City.
    As the Prime Minister stated in this chamber on Monday, in response to the horrific acts in Christchurch, New Zealand:
     As leaders, as a privileged few with power and an audience, we have a responsibility to do something. This responsibility is not negotiable. It is not to be waived when it is politically convenient.... We have to chase out this hatred from our parties, fight it online, denounce it at town halls and push back when it reaches our front door.
    We can take a stand here and now in Canada and around the world and say that enough is enough, that the days of spewing hatred and inciting violence without consequences are over.
    We must counter this hatred, and together we will.
    As a Muslim-Canadian member of this Parliament, I thought those were some of the most important words that have been spoken in this chamber since I was privileged enough to become a member.
    The justice committee continues to do important work, and I look forward to its report on the propagation of hateful acts and the incitement of hate.
    We also know that the Ethics Commissioner is conducting an investigation into this matter, and that the investigation is ongoing. On March 18, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of a special adviser to examine the position of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to make recommendations to the Prime Minister by June 30 of this year regarding whether any legislative changes may or may not be recommended.
    That is insofar as the important issue that has surfaced in the context of these hearings with respect to what is called the Shawcross doctrine and the notion of potentially dividing the roles between two separate individuals, the role of the attorney general as compared to the role of minister of justice.
    As the Prime Minister has stated, Canadians expect and deserve to have faith in their institutions and the people who serve within them. I am confident that the study by the special adviser, as well as the investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, will be thoroughly and fairly conducted and will provide Canadians with the additional answers and information that they seek.
    I would now like to turn to the concept of cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege.
    As all of us in this chamber know, the Canadian governmental system is based on a cabinet system. The cabinet consists of ministers acting in the name—

  (1555)  

    The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order to table the government's responses to Order Paper Questions Nos. 2192 and 2211, and a revised response to Question No. 1720.

  (1600)  

    Madam Speaker, as I was indicating and as members well know, the Canadian governmental system is based on a cabinet system. Cabinet consists of ministers acting in the name of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and establishes the federal government's policies and priorities for the country. Cabinet ministers are collectively responsible for all actions taken by the cabinet and must publicly support all cabinet decisions.
    In order to reach final decisions, ministers must be able to express their views freely and openly during the discussions that are held in cabinet. That level of candour is critical to their deliberations. To allow the exchange of views at the cabinet table to be disclosed publicly would result in the erosion of the collective responsibility of ministers and their ability to execute that important function.
    As a result, the collective decision-making process has traditionally been protected by the rule of confidentiality, which upholds the principle of collective responsibility and enables ministers to engage in the full, frank, honest and direct discussions that are necessary for the effective functioning of a cabinet system of government.
    These are not just words I am reading into the record; rather, this has been opined on and observed by the Supreme Court of Canada, recognizing that cabinet confidences and cabinet confidentiality are essential to good government in Canada.
    In the decision of Babcock v. Canada in 2002, at paragraph 18, the court explained:
     The process of democratic governance works best when Cabinet members charged with government policy and decision-making are free to express themselves around the Cabinet table unreservedly.
    “Unreservedly” is the word used by the Supreme Court of Canada.
    To preserve this rule of confidentiality, subsection 70(1) of the Privacy Act provides that the act does not actually apply to confidences of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
    Subsection 70(2) of the Privacy Act indicates that cabinet confidence applies to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, committees of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, cabinet and committees of cabinet. Committees of cabinet include standing committees, ad hoc committees and any other committees of ministers.
    In addition, meetings or discussions between ministers can result in the creation of records that are themselves also cabinet confidences, provided that the discussions concerned the making of government decisions or the formulation of government policy.
    What is a cabinet confidence? They are defined in the act as information contained in six types of documents that are described in 70(1)(a) through (f) of the privacy legislation. The six types of documents do not constitute an exhaustive list, but rather provide a series of examples of records that are considered cabinet confidences.

[Translation]

    This includes memoranda.
     Paragraph 70(1)(a) stipulates that the act does not apply to memoranda the purpose of which is to present proposals or recommendations to cabinet. The purpose and content of a document are the determining factors, not its title.
     Drafts of memoranda are also confidences. Thus, a draft memorandum that was created for the purpose of presenting proposals and recommendations to cabinet but was never actually presented to cabinet is still a confidence. Equally, a memorandum in final form is a confidence even if it has not been presented to cabinet. Material appended to a memorandum presented to cabinet will not necessarily be a confidence. It depends on the purpose of the document and its placement.
     A second category is discussion papers. Paragraph 70(1)(b) stipulates that the act does not apply to discussion papers the purpose of which is to present background explanations, analyses of problems or policy options to cabinet for consideration in making decisions. The Cabinet Papers System was amended in 1984 and these discussion papers stopped being created. Paragraph 70(1)(b) was therefore no longer invoked for cabinet documents after that date.

  (1605)  

    In the 2003 ruling in Canada (Environment) v. Canada (Information Commissioner), the Federal Court of Appeal concluded that those parts of cabinet memoranda or records intended to brief ministers, which are equivalent to what were formerly known as discussion papers, presenting, for example problems, analyses and political options, and that are appended to a document, must be identified and processed in the same manner as if they were part of a discussion paper.
    There is a third category that includes the agenda and the minutes of cabinet meetings and the records of decisions made in such meetings. Paragraph 70(1)(c) states that the act does not apply to agenda of Council or records recording deliberations or decisions of Council. This type or record relates to meetings of the cabinet and cabinet committees and includes agenda, minutes and records of the decisions made at these meetings.
    It should be noted that this category will include drafts of these documents and any informal notes that officials take at cabinet or cabinet committee meetings. A distinction must be made between the text of the formal record of decision and the substance of the decision of cabinet.
    The formal text of the record of decision is always a confidence and is excluded from the application of the act for a period of 20 years. The substance of a cabinet decision may be disclosed to the public as deemed appropriate by cabinet or by a minister with the approval of cabinet.

[English]

    A fourth category, records of communications between ministers, paragraph 70(1)(d) of the act, excludes from the application of the act any information contained in records used for or reflecting communications or discussions between ministers of the Crown on matters related to the making of government decisions or the formulation of government policy.
    A fifth category, again stipulated in the act, is records to brief ministers. Paragraph 70(1)(e) of the statute excludes from the application of the act any information contained in records the purpose of which is to brief ministers of the Crown in relation to matters that are before or are proposed to be brought before the cabinet.
    This paragraph also excludes information in records the purpose of which is to brief ministers in relation to matters that are the subject of communications or discussions between ministers concerning the making of government decisions or the formulation of government policy.
    A sixth category is draft legislation. Paragraph 70(1)(f) excludes any information contained in draft legislation from the application of the act. It is not relevant whether the legislation was ever in fact introduced into the House of Commons or the Senate or indeed even seen by cabinet; it remains a cabinet confidence, showing the importance of the confidentiality principle.
    The operation of subsection 70(1) is subject to certain time limits set out in subsection 70(3) of the act. Pursuant to paragraph 70(3)(a), confidences that have been in existence for more than 20 years cannot be excluded under subsection 70(1) of the act. After that time period, information in the record becomes subject to the act and may be released subject to any otherwise applicable exemptions.
    Pursuant to paragraph 70(3)(b), discussion papers are no longer excluded from the application of the act if the decisions to which the discussion papers relate have been made public or, if the decisions have not been made public, four years have passed since the decisions were actually made.
    Returning to solicitor-client privilege, as we have already discussed, confidentiality in communication between a solicitor and client is premised on the notion that if the consultation between a client and the solicitor cannot be kept confidential, then clients might be less inclined to be forthcoming with their lawyers, thus reducing the quality of the advice that a lawyer can give.

  (1610)  

    As one of the many lawyers who has a place in this chamber, I cannot overstate how important this principle is to the functioning of the legal system in this country and the importance of the legal system in this country. It is something that is critical to all parties in this chamber.
    What is important to underscore is that much like the necessity for having frank, open and honest discussions around the cabinet table, frank and open discussions between a lawyer and his or her client are absolutely pivotal to the operations of the legal system and the justice system as it unfolds, whether that is in the civil context or the criminal context.
    Over the last few decades in Canada, because solicitor-client privilege is so important, it has evolved from a mere rule of evidence to a substantive rule of law, as well as a principle of fundamental justice within the meaning of section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada has described solicitor-client privilege as “a principle of fundamental justice and a civil right of supreme importance in Canadian law”.

[Translation]

    Given the importance of solicitor-client privilege, the court has often declared that it should not be compromised unless absolutely necessary. It must remain absolute, with few exceptions. As such, the Supreme Court of Canada adopted strict standards for ensuring its protection.
     Privilege is attached to every communication between a lawyer and a client that is for the purposes of giving and receiving legal advice and that is intended to be confidential. The privileged nature of a document or the information it contains does not depend on the category of the document but on its content and what it can reveal about the relationship and communication between a client and his or her notary or lawyer.
    All communications between a solicitor and a client directly related to the seeking, formulating or giving of legal advice are privileged, along with communications within the continuum in which the solicitor tenders advice.

[English]

    Solicitor-client privilege enjoys a status more elevated than that enjoyed by almost any other recognized privilege, given the central role it plays in the effective operation of our legal system. It is in the public interest that the free flow of legal advice between lawyer and client be encouraged and protected, as noted by the Supreme Court in the 2008 Blood Tribe decision, which states, “Without it, access to justice and the quality of justice in this country would be severely compromised.”
    We have said many times that solicitor-client privilege is an important part of the Canadian legal system and should only be waived in appropriate circumstances. That being said, in order to facilitate the work of the ongoing investigations, we have announced an unprecedented waiver to fully sweep away the obstacles. As I have explained, that exceptional waiver addresses cabinet confidence, solicitor-client privilege and any other duty of confidentiality to the extent that they apply. This has enabled any person who engaged in discussions on this matter to fully participate in the committee process.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the effort of my friend to get us into the technicalities of cabinet confidence. It was another effort, I suppose, to do what the Liberals have been doing so aggressively, which is to change the channel.
    The member talked about the Ethics Commissioner, and I want to ask a question about that. Is he aware that subsection 44(7) of the Conflict of Interest Act, under which the Ethics Commissioner has jurisdiction to deal with reports, requires that the report be provided in the House by the commissioner?
    Sadly, the commissioner is on an extended medical leave. Therefore, is it, in his opinion, legally possible for the commissioner to make a report? The act does not contemplate an interim commissioner appointed by the OIC or otherwise. Could this be done if the commissioner wanted to do it?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Victoria for his contributions today and his work over many years on the justice committee.
    The Ethics Commissioner's investigation has significant powers to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence orally, in writing and under oath, and to produce documents. In this regard it has the same powers as a court of record in civil cases.
    With respect to the medical leave of absence that the current commissioner is on, and subsection 44(7), as was previously cited, I will undertake to get back to the member on that important question. However, it should not impede the continuity of the investigation. It is not germane to the identity of one individual. The Ethics Commissioner's office is the one doing the investigation, and the Ethics Commissioner's office should be empowered to provide the report to the chamber if that is what the act stipulates.

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, this is my first chance to rise on the matter of supply today. I had hoped to put some of these questions to my Conservative colleagues.
    There must be more answers to this question. To my hon. friend, the parliamentary secretary, I want to suggest to all of us here in this place that getting to the bottom of this is crucial, but we must not jump to conclusions. I am keeping an open mind as to who was calling the shots. Who was it who asked the Clerk of the Privy Council to phone our former attorney general at home and, for an hour and a half, threaten her? The context of that conversation he claimed he could not remember because he was not wearing a wire.
    I want to suggest some other names to this place, names that have not been mentioned. Gwyn Morgan was chair of the board of SNC-Lavalin through many of the periods in which they are now investigated for corporate crime and bribery. He was also chair of the board of governance. Questions, at the time, were raised about his role and what should have been known through the good governance of SNC-Lavalin about the nearly $50 million that somehow got past their notice as a corporation. Is it easy to lose $50 million? I doubt it. They have the same auditor they had in the beginning, with no changes.
    I mention Gwyn Morgan because he was a major contributor to the B.C. Liberal Party and Christy Clark. Ben Chin, the first name mentioned in the list of 11 people who harassed and pressured our former attorney general, was, of course, formerly at the right hand of Christy Clark. In other words, there are plausible trails of those who put pressure.
    There was the former Harper administration's full engagement in promoting Arthur Porter to a place of honour, even though he was a co-conspirator with SNC-Lavalin.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her contributions today and her contributions in this chamber generally.
    In terms of what she has raised about SNC-Lavalin and good governance issues, it is important that the record reflect that concerns about good governance at any corporate institution in this country are pivotal. Some of what has been lost in some of the discussions over the past several weeks on this matter have failed to address or note that even in the context of pursuing remediation agreements, corporate governance and good governance are central.
    In the legislation at subsection 715.34(1), it says that any remediation agreement that might be pursued requires an agreed statement of facts, an admission of responsibility, a forfeiture of any benefits, restitution for victims and a payment of a penalty. That is the kind of good governance that all Canadians seek and that all parliamentarians seek in this context.
    With respect to the specific names, I have no knowledge of those individuals or the roles they may have played in this context.
    Madam Speaker, I wanted to clarify something that seems to be a subject of some debate.
    Before our committee, all of the relevant witnesses as to the facts spoke under exactly the same order in council. All of them had the same waiver of solicitor-client privilege. All of them had the same waiver of cabinet confidence. No witness who came before the committee spoke to the period following the date that the hon. member for Vancouver Granville became the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
    Our committee study was on the subject of the interactions between the office of the Attorney General and other government officials. The issue we were looking at was whether or not the former attorney general was pressured in her role as Attorney General in order to reach a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
    Is it possible that, after she became veterans affairs minister, she could be pressured to enter into a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin?
    Madam Speaker, the answer to that, and it is an erudite-type question, is no. It is not possible, pursuant to the law. The only one who has the power to enter into a litigation decision is the Attorney General of Canada at the time. They can either take control of a particular piece of litigation or issue a litigation directive pursuant to the governing legislation. That is the Attorney General only.
    I thank the member for his stewardship of the justice committee and for the important decision they have just taken to pursue a study of online hate.
     However, in further clarification to a question posed by the member for Victoria, the actual issue of the medical leave was not established as permanent, so the question he put to me with respect to section 44 of the Conflict of Interest Act is actually hypothetical.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary talked about the work that the committee had done, including the witnesses who had appeared before the committee. While some of the witnesses members of the opposition had requested did appear. Others have not been allowed to appear. We have requested that the former attorney general return, and that was not the case.
    The parliamentary secretary referenced former Judge Turpel-Lafond appearing before the committee. He also referenced the Shawcross doctrine. I want to pull a quote from former Judge Turpel-Lafond. She said that she thinks it has a “fairly flimsy foundation in terms of lawful authority”, in respect of the Shawcross doctrine.
    Knowing that the grounds by which the former attorney general was approached have been identified as fairly flimsy, and seeing with the Mark Norman case that the current government is not afraid to prosecute people for stepping outside of cabinet confidence, does the parliamentary secretary think that the order in council is sufficient? Why will he not let the former attorney general speak?
    Madam Speaker, taking the unprecedented step of waiving solicitor-client privilege was important and it demonstrates respect for transparency and openness in this matter, which has been rightfully raised by many parties in the House in terms of what exactly transpired. The discussion about the Shawcross doctrine is equally important.
    Again, I congratulate the member opposite on his election and on participating in the justice committee to date.
    My answer to him is that the important thing is that the justice committee has shone the light on a very pressing issue and that is an issue that is bearing further study as to whether the role of Attorney General and Minister of Justice should remain as it has for 152 years now since Confederation, or whether it should be separated. That is exactly what the special adviser is looking at because it bears further scrutiny.
    Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is unfamiliar with Gwyn Morgan. He was the person whom, members may recall, Stephen Harper attempted to appoint as chair of the public appointments commission process. The interviews about that process ended the process of having parliamentary committees interview prospective candidates because Gwyn Morgan underwent a rough ride, his heavy support for the Conservative Party being raised as a reason that perhaps he should not chair the public accounts commission. It is entirely possible that the reason there is pressure not to have this go to open court is to protect the reputations of business leaders such as Mr. Morgan.
    Madam Speaker, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I have no knowledge of that individual. That name has not surfaced thus far in any of the proceedings that I have been following.
    What I can say is that the issue of corporate governance is a critical one. It is one that we are looking at very closely.
    In terms of the powers of a court, the Ethics Commissioner, pursuant to the powers that are entrenched in statute, actually has the same powers as a court, as I have articulated, in respect of summoning individuals, putting them under oath, and compelling documents and the production of documents.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Timmins—James Bay. I would like to thank him for his very important work on this particular issue and for his ongoing effort to get to the truth for Canadians.
    I would also like to give a nod to my colleague, the member for Victoria, for his excellent work on the justice file and the incredible level of competence, intelligence and compassion he has brought to this entire affair over the past six weeks. I am quite honoured to be following in his footsteps as the justice critic for the NDP, and as always, I am very proud to stand as the member for Essex.
    I rise today to speak to the motion before us that would allow the member for Vancouver Granville to speak her whole truth. Liberals want Canadians to believe that she has already had her opportunity to do this. They keep repeating the line that she has had four hours to have her say and that is good enough for them.
    That is not going to get us to the truth. The former attorney general and justice minister has said in this chamber and publicly to the media that she would like the opportunity to come back to committee and would in fact be available at invitation.
    We now know that the committee made the unprecedented move yesterday to vote to end the study and to shut down the testimony about allegations into political interference with the former attorney general. That is really the heart of why we are here. I hear my Liberal colleagues making legal arguments about precedent setting and expanding what people can speak about under orders in council, but we are here to talk about political interference. We are not here to talk about the Shawcross doctrine. We are not here to talk about a lot of the things the Liberals are trying to change the channel with. Quite frankly, I think Canadians are getting dizzy from their changing the channel. They are running out of channels, unfortunately.
    Once again today, there was a new development. The CEO of SNC-Lavalin blew apart the argument that has been put forward by the Liberals, and in fact by the Prime Minister, that this is all about jobs and the Prime Minister is just trying to protect Canadian jobs. Today, the CEO of SNC-Lavalin stated that he never told the Prime Minister that jobs in Canada were in danger. He never said that. The jobs argument is not based in fact and the Prime Minister is trying to turn that channel to protect the only job that matters to him, which is his own.
    When the CEO was asked on BNN Bloomberg about whether he threatened to move SNC headquarters out of Montreal, he said no. A reporter asked where the notion that this was a possibility came from, and the CEO responded, “I don't know what people make up”.
    Once again, we are finding bombshell after bombshell come out in this case, where the Liberals do not want to get to the truth. Now we know the jobs argument is completely false. This was not the argument made by SNC-Lavalin at all, and its CEO has been quite public about that.
    The Prime Minister needs to answer to Canadians regarding why he has decided to bend the truth and create the false argument about jobs and trying to protect them. This argument is quite ironic given the fact that he turned his back on 12,000 Sears workers, GM Oshawa workers and postal workers. The list of jobs the Prime Minister will not protect or fight for goes on and on.
    Let us get back to what happened at the justice committee. I cannot speak to this specifically, of course, because the meeting was in camera, behind closed doors. In an emergency meeting last week, we attempted to have the conversation about inviting the member for Vancouver Granville back to committee. Quite publicly, the Liberals used a crude tool to shut down debate under the guise that they needed time to think about things before coming back to committee. They said they had not had time to speak to each other and that they wanted to look at all of the possibilities.
    On the eve of this week's justice committee meeting, which was to be in camera, behind closed doors, Liberals sent a letter, not to the committee members but to the media, saying there is nothing to see here and that they had already made up their minds. They said Canadians could make up their minds based on what they now know and that was enough. Canadians did not need to know any more.
    It does not come as a surprise that New Democrats fundamentally disagree with the moves and behaviour of the Liberals on the justice committee.
    It was very clear to me in my new role on the justice committee that the Liberal members are more interested in damage control and protecting the Prime Minister than they are in finding the truth. The truth is what Canadians deserve.

  (1625)  

    Liberal committee members flat out refused to hear from the former attorney general again, upon being given multiple chances to have her come before committee. They also refused to summon the majority of PMO staffers implicated by her testimony. Instead, they voted to move on, and sent a letter to the media saying that there was nothing to see here. Only three of the 11 people named by the former attorney general appeared before committee. We all know that Mr. Wernick came back again and had right of reply, something the Liberals are denying the former attorney general.
    I cannot fathom what it is like to be a Liberal sitting over on the benches with those members, seeking to have one's truth be told and colleagues are saying that they cannot allow that. It really speaks to the character of members of that caucus.
     Who have we not heard from? We have not heard from Katie Telford, the chief of staff to the PMO; Elder Marques; Mathieu Bouchard; Jessica Prince, the chief of staff to the former attorney general; and the Prime Minister himself. All of these people who were named by the former attorney general have not had an opportunity to come and clear their names, because certainly some egregious things were said about them. One would think the Prime Minister would want his staff to have the opportunity to clear their own names, to come and state what happened, in their opinion.
    I, like the member who spoke earlier, have reserved my judgment because I do not know what has happened. Canadians do not know what has happened. The Liberals are gatekeeping on the truth and not allowing people who are involved in this scandal to come and speak. There could not be any stronger argument for a full independent public inquiry than this, following all of these revelations that keep tumbling out into the front pages of newspapers across our country.
    The Liberals are trying to create this concept that there is nothing to see here, that they have done unprecedented things and everything that they can possibly do. That argument is not being accepted by opposition members. It is not being accepted by Canadians either. Everywhere I go in my riding, people are talking about what is happening. People want the former attorney general to have the other half of her story be told. It is being denied to her by her own colleagues, and Canadians see that clearly. They want the truth to come out and they deserve that truth to come out. I have never been more assured that a public inquiry is necessary.
    I want to talk about fairness. The former attorney general has publicly requested the opportunity to return to the committee, which we now know will not happen. The Liberals keep saying she has already testified for four hours. However, Canadians know there were strict limits on the period of time she could discuss. She stated that over and over during her original testimony. She stated:
    
    My narrative stops here. I must reiterate to the committee my concern, outlined in the letter to the chair yesterday. That is that Order in Council 2019-0105 addresses only my time as the Attorney General of Canada and therefore does nothing to release me from restrictions that apply to my communications while I proudly served as the Minister of Veterans Affairs...
    She herself has expressed to her own colleagues that she would like to come back. Despite the Liberals' feminist rhetoric, the Prime Minister continues to actively silence her. This is especially unfair given the Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, was allowed to testify twice.
     Why is there one set of rules for powerful men in our country and another for women? The government claimed it would be different, but the proof is in the behaviour of the Liberal government, and women across Canada are not fooled. There is a reason only 26% of us are sitting in the House, and it is not because it has created the climate in the ultimate halls of power here for women to be able to speak their truth. What has happened in this very horrible display for Canadians is that Canadians now know corporations can get into the office of the PMO, can influence legislation and that the PMO is willing to allegedly pressure the former attorney general to bend the rules for Liberals.
    Canadians deserve the truth and it is time for the Liberals to stop hiding it from them.

  (1630)  

    Madam Speaker, when I hear the arguments advanced by the other side and disagree with some of them, I do not attack the character of the individuals. I appreciate the principles and points of law they raise, but I do not feel that same generosity of spirit coming back. It is important to try to rebuild the trust, because that is clearly what is at stake here.
     When I also hear them quote articles selectively, it makes me understand why people might be reluctant to go in front of a committee, because their testimony is not being fairly reflected in the debate in the House.
    For example, the SNC-Lavalin executive was quoted today. He who said very clearly he never spoke to the Prime Minister. Just as clearly said in the very same article was that “some of the 9,000 Canadian jobs at his company are in jeopardy without a resolution to the company’s ongoing scandal in Ottawa”, that “we're in a place here where it is not just about 9,000 jobs” at SNC-Lavalin, that there is a ricochet effect.
     We do not require a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing sometimes. Sometimes those analyses do not have to come through the CEO. They can come through caucus members and they can come through the popular understanding of what this means.
    Why does the NDP not quote the full article when it quotes the record? If New Democrats do not intend to quote the full record of these sorts of articles, why would we trust them to quote the full testimony at the hearings?

  (1635)  

    I find it rich that the Liberals are heckling for us to tell the truth, Madam Speaker. Canadians will appreciate irony in that, given the current situation.
     That was a quote from the BNN Bloomberg interview. Those were direct quotes. I appreciate that the member opposite needs to be an apologist for his government, but I will not do that. That is not why I was sent here by Canadians. We need to get to the truth. When women who stand up to their bosses are fired and silenced, Canadians will be outraged, and that is what has allegedly happened here, which is the reason we need to the truth.
    I understand why the Liberals want to change the channel. The Liberals want some place to hide. The jobs argument has been blown apart today, and I am sure there will be other articles tomorrow on the front page of the paper about the CEO of SNC-Lavalin, who has now revealed that he did not tell the Prime Minister that jobs were at risk. He did not say that and we heard the Prime Minister repeatedly tell the House that was the case.
    Madam Speaker, in response to the question that was just asked, I want to quote a top anti-bribery official at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, of which, by the way, Canada is one of the founding members. It says, “the Canadian government should not use the potential loss of jobs as a reason to shelve the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.” The anti-bribery working group has voiced very significant concern about the way this has been handled and about the fact that it should be an open and transparent investigation.
    Does the member feel the investigation has been open and transparent, and we could actually say that to the OECD? How she feels about Canada's reputation now coming into question by the OECD?
    Madam Speaker, this scandal is jeopardizing Canada's international reputation. The OECD's working group on bribery is investigating this affair and it was prompted by the former attorney general's testimony. We heard that it was ringing alarm bells based on what was happening, but it was reassured because it was being studied at the justice committee, which now has been completely shut down. Therefore, any reassurance that the OECD and the global community had that Canada was taking this seriously has been completely removed.
     This is why a public independent inquiry is completely necessary now. How else do we prove to the globe that we are serious about addressing these allegations, that we are not just sweeping this under the rug? It is so serious. Canadians certainly know that and the OECD knows that. The question is why the Liberals do not seem to know this.

[Translation]

    It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Windsor West, Employment; the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Physician-Assisted Dying.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to rise and represent the people of Timmins—James Bay.
    What we are talking about today very much needs to be put in perspective. The Liberals will present this as a kind of he said, she said. We had Gerry Butts try to present it like it was one of those episodes on Friends, that maybe if he had been a bit more sensitive at the time, if he had allowed her to just speak more, she would not have slammed the door on the way out. The Prime Minister did this ridiculous statement about being more compassionate in his cabinet. We are talking about the corrosive power of the 1%.
     The Prime Minister has been willing to burn through his credibility. In 2015, people believed him for openness, reconciliation, feminism, doing politics differently and for showing that it would not be the backroom politics of Stephen Harper and the cronyism of Jean Chrétien. However, he has shown a willingness to give us the worst of both worlds. It was about helping his friends at SNC-Lavalin.
     He stood in the House day after day and told us it was about 9,000 jobs, but we now know that was false. We never saw the Prime Minister stand up for any jobs when they were Stelco workers, or Sears workers or oil sands workers. Why not Stelco or Sears? Because their pensions were being given over to the family of Morneau Shepell. This is about the power of the 1%.
    Now we have the OECD stating internationally that all the alarm bells are ringing over the interference by the Prime Minister in the international bribery case against SNC-Lavalin. The Prime Minister's Office just a few days ago responded to the OECD and promised it a robust, independent set of hearings. That, too, was also a falsehood. The Liberals shut down the justice committee hearings. Why? Because they are doing everything they can to protect the key people around the Prime Minister's Office who interfered with and attempted to obstruct justice. This is the fundamental issue that we have to talk about.
    Ben Chin, a public office holder, still has his job. He has not been brought forward to committee. Ben Chin went to the former attorney general and told her that she had to change direction and bring in this deferred public prosecution, otherwise, he said, SNC “will leave Montreal, and it's the Quebec election right now”. Well, we know now from SNC executives that they never said they would leave Montreal.
    Therefore, when a public office holder presents a lie in order to interfere with the public prosecution, that could be seen as obstruction, and that certainly would be something we would expect the justice committee to care about, but the Liberals shut that down.
    The former clerk of the Privy Council had to give up his position because of his role as a political actor. He went to the former attorney general and said that there would be all these jobs lost, which we now know is false. To imagine the Clerk of the Privy Council making this up in order to interfere with an independent prosecution is shocking. Then he also told her on September 17 that SNC was about to move out of Montreal, which we again now know SNC never said.
    Therefore, this was cooked up in the Prime Minister's Office, a series of lies to intimidate the former attorney general into cutting this deal. She told them they were on very thin ice, that this was dangerous ground to be on in attempting to interfere in the prosecution. No wonder the Liberals on the justice committee did not want this heard. It was because of the damaging, corrosive effect on the Prime Minister's credibility and a judgment he was making.
    On December 5, Gerry Butts said that he did not like the law, that it was a Harper law and that he could just somehow ignore it. Then he said, when the former attorney general was warning him about political interference, that they would not get through this without “some interference”.

  (1640)  

    Fortunately, Gerry Butts has left, but Katie Telford is still there, and Katie Telford said she was not interested in the question of legalities. People who do not care about the rule of law should not be anywhere near the exercise of legislative authority.
    This is a question the Prime Minister needs to be asked. This is why the justice committee should have done its work, but it did not, and it did not because Liberal members on that committee have become hand puppets of the Prime Minister's Office and have disgraced their position and have left us now open to the OECD.
    What do we tell the OECD when Canada is willing to remove the attorney general, when Canada has a Prime Minister who is willing to blow through the President of the Treasury Board, the former attorney general, his chief of staff and the Clerk of the Privy Council in order to push through a deferred public prosecution that the prosecutor said SNC-Lavalin was not eligible for? What do we tell the OECD when the Prime Minister is still suggesting day after day in the House that the government is going to go through with this, that it has a new attorney general and is still talking about moving forward with it? I find this fascinating.
    Just what is the Prime Minister willing to do to get this deferred public prosecution? He has burned his bridges on reconciliation and he has burned his bridges as the feminist Prime Minister and he has burned his bridges with Canadians in terms of trust, yet he is still doggedly pursuing the deferred public prosecution, even though the independent office of public prosecutions had to set up a Twitter account to say that it had to remain independent. That is the issue that the OECD is concerned about.
    The OECD says there cannot be international rules of law that allow companies to bribe officials around the world. SNC has been barred for 10 years by the World Bank for corrupt practices. If a Canadian company is going to be charged in its home jurisdiction, it cannot just call the Prime Minister's Office and say “make it go away”.
    That is the issue here, which is why five former attorneys general have been asking for a police investigation into the actions of the Prime Minister's Office. Why? It is because the former attorney general for Ontario, Liberal Michael Bryant, said he has never seen such a brazen and reckless abuse of authority.
    We need the former attorney general to be able to speak, to respond to the testimony of Gerald Butts, to explain what happened in the period when she was removed. We need those questions answered, and the Prime Minister needs to understand that his credibility is getting further and further eroded.
    I heard the Liberal voice for the SNC scandal tell us today that the government now has a special adviser. Oh, my God. How do we explain to the OECD that the Prime Minister's idea of a special adviser is to take someone off the Liberal fundraising circuit, someone who is out raising money for the Liberal Party right now, to oversee this? How can we tell the OECD that this will be a robust alternative to an independent all-party investigation? That does not cut it.
    Until we have all the participants in this case brought forward and made accountable, until we have an opportunity to understand just how far the Prime Minister is willing to go to subvert the law, to obstruct justice, and have key staff like the finance minister and his staff interfere, Canada will be seen by the OECD and other international bodies as some kind of backwoods crony kingdom for the Prime Minister and the small group around him, who protect CEOs of a company that is not eligible for a deferred public prosecution. These CEOs themselves have said that 9,000 jobs are not at risk.
    I will close on this. Just before this case broke, all the senior Liberal cabinet ministers and all the senior officials participated in a special function with SNC-Lavalin. They were the gatekeepers of the great privatization agenda of the Liberal government, but the jobs we are talking about are public jobs. They are jobs that are done by civil servants. They are jobs that are done in municipalities. Then we see the Liberal government, knowing that the company was facing charges, hosting a major event with all key Liberal cabinet ministers and SNC.
    This shows that the government never took the issue of the rule of law seriously for a single minute, and that is what has damaged the Prime Minister's credibility. This is going to drag the Prime Minister down until he comes clean with Canadians about the interference and obstruction from his office.

  (1645)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to talk about accountability and trustworthiness and so forth, which the member alluded to a great deal. I would like to quote something from the Canadian Press:
     The Federal Court of Appeal says it can't intervene in a case where more than five dozen NDP MPs were ordered to repay $2.7 million in expenses the House of Commons says was actually for partisan purposes.
    That is being very kind. I was here when the NDP, including its previous leader, stole from Canadians. That was the bottom line.
    My friend seems to be so focused on integrity every time he stands, talking virtually from day one in 2015 about integrity and accountability, yet the NDP members continue to want to deny that they broke the law when in fact they did.
    Will he admit that maybe the NDP should be paying back those tax dollars?

  (1650)  

    I want to remind the parliamentary secretary to choose his words wisely when he is speaking in the House and would hope that he would take back the word that he mentioned that he very well knows is not allowed in the House.
    Madam Speaker, without reservation, I would take back the word “stole”.
    Madam Speaker, it is not often that I cross the Chair here, but I am very surprised you would ask him to use wise words. This is the Ezra Levant of the Liberal Party, so I am never surprised at what he comes up with and I always know that when he goes there, they really are now scrambling. They are now in the deep, deep water.
    I would ask my fr