Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2019-08-21 14:54
I just want to pick up on a lot of things said by my colleagues here, many of which I agree with.
I would like to talk a little bit about the importance of having Minister Morneau and Ben Chin appear before the committee. This is something that we attempted to do at the justice committee. Of course, we were unable to, and I really reject Mr. MacKinnon's characterization of those meetings as being comprehensive or that we had enough testimony at the justice committee. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were multiple attempts made to have many other people come before the committee, because, quite frankly, we still have only a part of the story. I believe I even heard a reference made on the other side today to Ms. Wilson-Raybould saying she didn't have anything else to say. That was because what she had said was within the scope of what she was allowed to say. She certainly has more to say, and I think we all accept that now.
I would also like to echo my colleague and say that the Prime Minister owes an apology to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, to Ms. Philpott and to Canadians. The Prime Minister has repeatedly stood up and said he's never understood this as being some type of political interference, yet when we look at the report by the Ethics Commissioner, we see that starting back in mid-August 2018. Ben Chin was going to Jessica Prince, and right away she was saying to him that it could be perceived as improper political interference. Therefore, at the very beginning of this, someone was laying out that this could be perceived as political interference.
Now, I don't believe that Mr. Chin was operating on his own behalf, that he just decided to go over to speak to the Attorney General's staff. I believe he was under the direction of the minister he works for, Mr. Morneau. If we could hear from Mr. Chin, I anticipate that being one of the questions. What was the direction given to him in those conversations that happened with Jessica Prince? In mid-August 2018, we already have two staff people having a conversation about potential political interference. Then we move on and as we go through the story, we see that on September 19 Jody Wilson-Raybould went to Mr. Morneau in the House and told him quite clearly that his staff needed to stop contacting her office on the matter because they were undermining the fundamental tenets of democracy and prosecutorial independence.
Here's Minister Morneau again involved in the story, who, again, was being told directly about political interference. Are you telling me that the Minister of Finance, when being told by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that he is potentially even touching that line, does not go to talk to the Prime Minister? This is what we need to know. We need to know and understand what was said at that cabinet table, because clearly there are a lot of players, and potentially they did notify the Prime Minister and say, “Listen, you're getting very close to something dangerous here; you have to stop what you're doing.” Are you telling me that no one at that cabinet table, including Mr. Morneau, whose fingerprints and those of his staff are all over this report, notified the Prime Minister that what he was doing was wrong? I cannot comprehend that happening.
For the Prime Minister to repeatedly stand up and say that he doesn't believe he did this, that he doesn't know what this would be interpreted as, whatever it is he's trying to say, is incomprehensible. Quite frankly, it is incomprehensible for him to say that he accepts the report and some kind of responsibility but doesn't understand this, when clearly there were many people within the circle who were aware of this and had an obligation and responsibility to go to the Prime Minister and tell him.
Then we get to November 2018. On November 20, the PCO sent a memo telling him not to meet with Mr. Bruce or any representative from SNC to discuss the case in order to avoid public perception of political interference. Again, he's notified, this time by the PCO. It appears as though there were people trying to inform him. I hope they were, because it's their obligation and they should be doing that, and yet he's ignoring that. There's another reference to it on November 22. Again, PMO staffers were involved—Bouchard and Marques. Are you telling me they were all just out there operating independently and not reporting back to the Prime Minister, not reporting back to the minister, and that the Minister of Finance isn't reporting back to the Prime Minister of Canada? These are some serious systemic problems.
I know we don't have the answer, because now we're not going to be able to have the Ethics Commissioner come before us. I would implore us to listen to and hear from all of these players. We need to hear from Minister Morneau.
I'll leave my comments at that.
I think there's such a strong argument. I don't understand how the Minister of Finance in our country is pretending that he doesn't remember. He's directing his staff to do things that they're apparently not telling him about or having conversations with him about. There are many questions.
One of the questions we have for the Ethics Commissioner is whether or not he thinks Mr. Morneau acted improperly. Canadians have a right to know, and this committee should pursue that effort.
I'll leave my comments at that.
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