Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-03-19 10:02 [p.26147]
Pursuant to subsection 79.13 of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer entitled “PBO Work Plan for 2019-20”.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-03-19 10:03 [p.26147]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to eight petitions.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present, in both official languages, the 28th report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, entitled “Assessing the Impact of Aircraft Noise in the Vicinity of Major Canadian Airports”.
I want to thank all of the committee members for their co-operation. In my riding of Humber River—Black Creek airport noise is a significant problem, as it is in Calgary and at many other airports across Canada. We need to look at it. This report hopefully gives some guidance to the department in terms of implementing some of these recommendations.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I move that the 51st report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, presented on Thursday, October 4, 2018, be concurred in.
It is certainly an honour to stand and speak to this today.
Before I commence, I would like to state that I will be sharing my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
It is a very interesting report. It goes back roughly 14 or 15 years, from now to the previous Liberal government and the decisions that were not made in terms of the upkeep and maintenance of the bridge. As the bridge was aging, there were needed repairs and a new business plan associated with it, yet the federal government failed to do anything at that point.
Over time, it was then determined that the federal government, along with other shareholders in the area, engage with none other than SNC-Lavalin to work out the design of the Champlain Bridge. I know members are wondering if that is the same SNC-Lavalin that we thought might be talked about in committee today, if there were not a bunch of members of the committee of a certain political persuasion, specifically Liberal, who were trying to shut down that procedure in that committee. However, coming back to this, yes, it is the same SNC-Lavalin.
We certainly have the opportunity now, as we are looking at this committee report, to reflect on the work that SNC has been doing and we are finally able to talk about SNC and what has been happening. We know, based on what has transpired over the past couple of months, that SNC got into some legal difficulties, we will call them that, which were related to some foreign dignitaries, if I could even use that word, who were coming into this country. We know that there was a request for an offer of a sweetheart deal to avoid prosecution.
What we saw transpire was that the former attorney general stood up for the Canadian justice system, doing what she believed was right at the time, which was to essentially act as the person who was going to stand up for the rule of law. Unfortunately, we heard at committee that members of the current government, right up to the Prime Minister, were asking her to go against what she believed was the right thing to do with respect to the protection of the rule of law and the protection of our democracy as a whole, and to help out this same company that was doing the design and engineering on the Champlain Bridge.
Since all of that has come to light, we saw the former attorney general resign, based on, and I am going to paraphrase here, not being able to state publicly that there was confidence in the Prime Minister and the government anymore. Subsequently, another minister who was very senior in aboriginal affairs and the treasury resigned due to this scandal and these issues surrounding SNC-Lavalin. Additionally, we have had the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, his closest aid, step down because of this scandal involving SNC-Lavalin. Following that, we now understand that there is a pending resignation from the Clerk of the Privy Council.
This does not sound like there is nothing to see here. If there were nothing to see, we would not have multiple cabinet ministers resigning, three cabinet shuffles in one month, the senior-most public servant stepping away, and at the same time, the Prime Minister's chief adviser, who has been friends with him since university, also resigning.
If there were nothing to see here and there was no need for the justice committee and others to look into it, if there was no need for a public inquiry, then I am sure that somebody could stand up in the House and explain all of these things in a very coherent manner. Unfortunately, we have not see that and all of this is really just a tornado, a hurricane, around this original SNC proposal for a deferred prosecution.
We know that Canadians are looking at this and saying, “How is it that SNC should be given a sweetheart deal to avoid prosecution, when the average Canadian is left down and out?” As Canadians, they believe that they have to live by the law, that they have to follow the rules, and if they do so and work very hard, there is a potential for success. Meanwhile, we have the Prime Minister, the chief adviser to the Prime Minister and the chief public servant all looking at the potential for big business, SNC-Lavalin, who has done the Champlain Bridge design, to get a sweetheart deal and not have to live by the laws of the land.
How do we explain to our children that if they are just an average little one and go out and do something wrong, they have to abide by the law, but if one is SNC-Lavalin, if one is big business, if one has a lot of friends in the Liberal Party of Canada, if one lobbies the heck out of them day in and day out, if one hires the right former public servants to come and work in one's shop, then one can actually influence the Prime Minister of the country to influence the law in one's favour? That is just not cool. It is not something that our children should be learning or understanding. They should be learning that there are laws and we need to abide by them. They should be learning that there are consequences each and every time we make decisions.
The reality is that what the Prime Minister, the cabinet, the senior public servants and senior advisers have done is that they have created one set of rules for the rich and the famous and they have created another set of rules for the rest of Canadians. Can members imagine if one of our young people was perhaps arrested for something and they had the same resources to lobby the Prime Minister and those around him? Of course they would, but they do not, and the idea that we are all the same under the law needs to be enforced. That is the actual reason, that is the crux of why the former attorney general felt so compelled to resign from cabinet after the shuffle, understanding that what was coming next, because of the conversations she had with the principal secretary, the chair of the Privy Council, with all of those around the Prime Minister and with the Prime Minister himself, would likely result in this sweetheart deal being given and the rule of law and our democracy being trampled.
I know that SNC has certainly been involved in a lot of contracts related to the federal government. Like I said, the Champlain Bridge is one of them. However, at no point should that relationship influence the processes of the law, the ideals of our country. At no point should the Prime Minister be able to skirt what is actually written in stone in this country's constitution, what is actually written in stone in terms of the public good and the public trust.
We know that trust has been lost and it has not been lost in the rule of law. The people's trust in the rule of law, the people's trust in our democracy is strong. Their trust in the Prime Minister, their trust in the government has been waning for a long time, but this has sort of put it to a whole new level. They now understand that the Prime Minister is actually willing to change the law in certain ways to allow his friends, who are rich and famous, who are influential, who are big business, who are the corporate world, to get away with things that are just incredibly terrible.
I do not even want to go into the original issue in terms of the exchange of money from SNC to the person I will very loosely refer to as a dignitary coming to our country and what those funds were used for, because it is despicable and it is wrong. We should be prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law and not providing a sweetheart deal because these people at SNC-Lavalin have big relationships and big friends in this big government.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-03-19 10:14 [p.26148]
Mr. Speaker, the people of Montreal were waiting for many years to see the replacement of the Champlain Bridge. Stephen Harper and the Conservative government failed the people of Montreal and thereby the people of Quebec, and in fact all Canadians, on many fronts. This is a good example of how the Harper government could not get the job done. With this government, we have seen historic investments in infrastructure in every region of our country. The Champlain Bridge is a good example.
The Conservatives, once again, have taken this day to attempt to bump debate on government legislation, Bill C-92, which is critically important legislation. In my own riding of Winnipeg North, hundreds of children are in foster care. This is about reconciliation, and the Conservatives continue to want to filibuster on what is important legislation that needs to be debated.
Why does the member opposite feel that the Conservative Party is entitled to deny Canadians good, solid legislation and debate while it tries to play politics on the issue of SNC-Lavalin, when his own leader and that party have met with SNC-Lavalin? He did not make reference to that either.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that the member just asked me a question about denying legislation to the Canadian people and denying debate on the same day the Liberal government is shutting down the justice committee and denying the people of Canada the opportunity to see the truth, to understand the corruption and to know why these people are stepping down. It is like dominoes over there. Canadians want to know why, but the Liberals are shutting it down.
Why does the member not look in the mirror first and then come back and ask that question later?
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-03-19 10:16 [p.26149]
Mr. Speaker, I have a comment and a question.
I have heard the Prime Minister and the Liberals go on about how this whole SNC-Lavalin deal was about Canadian jobs. I do not know if members recall that I am an engineer. In fact, I was a business director in charge of selling engineering and construction services in Quebec and was in direct competition with SNC-Lavalin. I can say that if SNC-Lavalin loses the ability to bid on government contracts, it will not mean a loss of jobs. It will mean that Stantec, Cegertec and WorleyParsons will get those contracts, and all the engineers will migrate to where the projects are. Therefore, that is a total red herring. This scandal was all about elections and protecting the Liberals.
It seems to me that with high-ranking members of SNC-Lavalin being involved in the Liberal Party, there is a huge conflict of interest here. Could the member comment on that?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I just want to put straight an earlier point made by the member who previously asked a question. It was actually the Martin government that first had this issue of the Champlain Bridge and failed to do anything on it. I just want to put that straight.
In terms of the connection between the Liberal Party and SNC-Lavalin, it is everywhere. We know it is everywhere. As we look forward, these are the questions we need to have answered and explained to us. Unfortunately, the Liberal Party is putting its own ideas, the Prime Minister's future, the Prime Minister's job and the members' own jobs ahead of the best interests of the country.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-03-19 10:18 [p.26149]
Mr. Speaker, I am deeply concerned, because the OECD anti-bribery unit said that it—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2019-03-19 10:18 [p.26149]
I just want to interrupt the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay for a second.
I am trying to hear his question, because he is at the other end of the chamber, and with all the chatter going on, I am having a hard time, so I would imagine that everyone else is. Everyone wants to hear his question, so we will let him continue now.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-03-19 10:18 [p.26149]
Mr. Speaker, everyone knows I am a shrinking violet, and I am very pleased that you stood up to defend my right to speak in this House.
The question we are dealing with is that the OECD anti-bribery unit has put the Liberal government on notice. One of the things it said it would watch very closely is the work of the justice committee. The Prime Minister's Office promised a robust investigation, and now the Liberals have shut it down.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the credibility of a Prime Minister who has burned through his reconciliation agenda, his feminist agenda, his open and accountable government and now his international agenda to continue to pursue this deferred prosecution for his friends at SNC-Lavalin.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague what he thinks this Prime Minister is willing to do to burn the credibility of the Liberal members to get this deal done.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that what we have seen is a Prime Minister who is willing to help his friends, in terms of big business, at the expense of pretty much everybody around him: the former attorney general, the chair of the Privy Council, his principal secretary.
I know, because we are seeing it in our offices, that all the Liberal members across the country are hearing the same thing from Canadians, which is that the Prime Minister has lost their trust. The Liberals need to get the government back on track. Unfortunately, they are not doing the right work.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2019-03-19 10:20 [p.26149]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Office is burning, and the call for help has gone out. External lawyers have been hired, but no one seems to be able to put out the flames. Unbelievable.
Six weeks have passed since The Globe and Mail revealed that sustained and undue pressure had been put on the former attorney general by the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime Minister himself and his staff. For six weeks, the Prime Minister has been refusing to do what needs to be done, namely to bring the whole SNC-Lavalin affair into the light of day and let everyone involved speak in order to maintain Canadians' trust in our institutions.
What is at stake here is the relationship of trust between Canadians, their government and their judicial institutions. That is no small thing. This government, the Prime Minister, the members of cabinet and the Liberal members are desperately trying to downplay this crisis and sweep it under the rug, but there is no rug big enough to hide this dust.
Sadly, that is what is happening. For the past six weeks, this government has been trying to cover up the truth about the SNC-Lavalin affair. It is deliberately and repeatedly attempting to convince the public that absolutely nothing happened. That is the most peculiar part. I have never seen anything like this before in my life. I am young, but I am sure that my more experienced colleagues here have never seen such a thing happen in the House or any other legislature. Never have so many people resigned over something that allegedly never happened. That is the truth. That is what happened. That is what the government is trying to get us to believe. The four most influential and important people in the Prime Minister's Office and in the Prime Minister's entourage all decided to resign, but he says nothing happened and everything is normal.
They say it is business as usual and these things happen, but that is not true. These things do not happen; they should not happen. Anyway, they are not things that have happened, but I think they will happen more and more under the Liberal government if we get stuck with it for another few years. Unfortunately for the Liberals, that is not going to happen.
The former attorney general, who was shuffled out to Veterans Affairs, the Treasury Board president, and the Prime Minister's senior adviser and best friend—according to the newspapers, anyway; I do not know the nature of their relationship—all resigned, and now the Clerk of the Privy Council is following suit. All four resignations are connected to the SNC-Lavalin affair, but more importantly, they stem from the lack of public confidence in Canada's judicial system. That is what we are talking about here.
How can the public trust a government that has lost four people because they no longer have confidence in it? How can the public be sure that the government will not interfere in other cases? How can the public trust a government that has already done too much to try covering up what really happened? Canadians no longer have confidence in this government.
Everyone has a sense of what an MP's life is like. On weekends, we travel around, we meet with constituents, and we stock up on groceries because we need food in the fridge too. This weekend, my wife and I were getting groceries, and for the first time since I was elected in 2015, I could not finish my shopping because people kept stopping me to talk.
They wanted me to know how shocked they are by the attitude of the Prime Minister and his office. They want to get the full truth, now that they know for sure that the former attorney general was not allowed to speak. That was the first time this has happened to me since I was elected in 2015.
People have lost confidence in the Prime Minister and in this government. People I have never met before are stopping me in the street to let me know that. People are telling us, unprompted, to keep pressing the issue. They are telling us that they absolutely want to get the full truth. That happened to me last weekend at the grocery store, at a restaurant and at several other places. After watching this cover-up for six weeks, people are sick of the government refusing to tell Canadians the whole truth.
The truth is that the former attorney general has more to say. I will come back to her testimony. It is important that people know, because the Liberals are going to accuse us of playing politics with this issue. Playing politics is what they are doing. They are the ones who refuse to tell Canadians what really went on in this whole affair.
Why should the former attorney general appear again? Let me read a few excerpts from her testimony.
The deputy leader of the official opposition asked her the following: “For clarity, can you tell us what you discussed with the Prime Minister at your meetings in Vancouver on February 11?” The former attorney general said, “I cannot.”
The deputy leader of the official opposition then asked, “Can you tell us why you've resigned from cabinet?” The former attorney general said, “I cannot.”
The deputy leader of the official opposition continued, asking, “Can you tell us what was discussed with the cabinet on February 19?” The former attorney general said, “I cannot.”
Finally, the deputy leader of the official opposition asked this very important question: “If the issues surrounding your ability to communicate these conversations to this committee were resolved and you were able to be released from cabinet confidence or from privilege, would you be willing to return to this committee and give us testimony again?” The former attorney general said, “Yes.”
The former attorney general has things to say and Canadians want to hear it. The Canadians I talked to last week at the grocery store and at the restaurant want to hear what the former attorney general has to say. Canadians want the government to allow the former attorney general to speak once and for all.
We wanted to hear her testimony at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The cover-up continued this morning when the Liberals decided to put an end to the justice committee's study of this matter. They put an end to the justice committee's supposedly independent study in order to prevent the former attorney general from telling her story.
They claim that she already testified for four hours, but the Prime Minister decided what she could and could not say. Her testimony could have lasted six hours, but she did not have the right to say what we wanted to hear. She did not have the right to give her version of the facts because the Prime Minister forbade her. That is what happened. Canadians want to know the truth, and they have a right to hear it.
I remind members that there were four resignations in the Liberal Party: the former attorney general, the president of the Treasury Board, the principal secretary and best friend of the Prime Minister, and the clerk of the Privy Council. Did they all resign for no reason?
We are not stupid. We know that they are hiding something. As long as we are able to rise to speak in the House, we will rise to speak for Canadians. We will do everything we can to get to the truth for Canadians.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-03-19 10:30 [p.26150]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague brought up the whole idea of the cover-up, but I want to talk about something that is really important in my community, and that is jobs.
The member knows about the bad announcement in Oshawa. The government is totally and completely incompetent. The Liberals say it is about jobs, but what did they do in the energy sector to save those jobs? They did absolutely nothing. What did they do in Oshawa to help save automotive jobs? They did absolutely nothing. They promised in November, almost four months ago, that they would have a plan, but they have been so consumed with their own corruption and scandals that we are seeing absolutely nothing else from the government.
Local politicians and labour groups are working together to keep jobs in place in Oshawa, but the Liberals are just concerned about their scandal. We are going to have a budget presented today, and it is going to be about further distractions.
How far does my colleague think the Prime Minister will go to save his own job and forget about Canadian jobs?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2019-03-19 10:31 [p.26151]
Mr. Speaker, for the past six weeks, the Prime Minister has shown that nothing is going to get in his way. Nothing can stop his cover-up.
We can expect that when the budget is tabled this afternoon, billions of dollars that we do not have and that will be borrowed are going to be handed out to continue the cover-up. Is that going to help workers in Oshawa? I hope so, but I am not convinced. It turns out that the only jobs at risk in this matter are the jobs of the people around the Prime Minister. Four people in his entourage have already lost their jobs. The Prime Minister is terrified that he is next. The only job he is really worried about is his own. When we asked questions about the SNC-Lavalin jobs, we were told outright that no study showed that SNC-Lavalin jobs were at risk. We know that the company still has contracts worth billions of dollars with municipalities, other provinces and private businesses, and we know that SNC-Lavalin has an agreement with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to keep its headquarters in Quebec until 2024.
The cover-up continues. They are now making up facts that cannot even be proven.
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