Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
The role of a committee, when it isn't undertaking a study to further examine a given situation, is to ensure that the government remains accountable. In my eight and a half years as a member of Parliament, I've sat on various committees. I've noticed that some committees have forgotten this fundamental rule, particularly when it comes to the government, whether we're talking about the Conservatives in 2011 and 2015 or the Liberals now.
Based on the Liberals' comments that I've heard, since the Prime Minister's Office issued an official letter denying that the assistant deputy minister was instructed to contact the two former diplomats, we should simply accept the situation and not look any further, given that the Prime Minister's Office is obviously telling the truth. By sending us this letter, the Prime Minister's Office is saying that either these former diplomats—and we're not talking about just one, but two former diplomats who described the same situation—are lying or exaggerating the seriousness of the situation, or that the assistant deputy minister lied to the two former diplomats when he told them that he was calling on behalf or at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office.
In any case, the situation is serious. Either a senior government official, at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office, contacted former diplomats to tell them that they should perhaps tone down their comments and align their statements because it would be more prudent to do so from an electoral standpoint, or these people claimed that this occurred, which would also be an issue. I'm trying to understand why the government members aren't more willing, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to conduct a more in-depth study of this highly problematic situation. Are we simply going to say that a letter of intent from the Prime Minister's Office states that this wasn't really the goal, that there were misinterpretations and that we, as a committee, will refuse to conduct a more in-depth study of the situation? That doesn't make any sense.
I think that the government members must understand their role in this committee. This isn't the House of Commons, and we have the right to be called by our last names because, in theory, we don't represent any constituencies or political parties. We must finally realize that we're working for the citizens of this country. We have a duty, as the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to study an ethically problematic situation that has been reported in the media and for which we don't currently have a satisfactory solution.
Given all these factors, the government members of this committee should take their responsibilities seriously and agree to hear from these people in order to get to the bottom of the matter. I'm not suggesting that these people have been intimidated. However, I would say that they've at least been subjected to undue pressure from the Prime Minister's Office. If this has indeed occurred, the Prime Minister's Office must understand that the situation is unacceptable. It's not enough to say that people on the other side didn't really understand the goal.
I want to say one last time that the government members must understand the situation and their role in the committee, which is to ensure that their government remains accountable. If they fail to do so, we won't have any power to ensure accountability on our side.
Thank you.
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