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View Damien Kurek Profile
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
It's an honour to be able to talk about this subject in particular because I think it strikes at the very core of who we are as parliamentarians—the very core of who we are in our country and as representatives in the Parliament of Canada. I'll talk a bit more at length about that, but I would like to just thank the clerk for her work to organize a committee room with television cameras. I had mentioned that I would bring it up whenever necessary, so I do want to thank the clerk and the folks who do the hard work to make sure that MPs can do their job and who help make this happen.
The fact that we're on television speaks to accountability and to Canadians' accessibility to their democratic institutions. Certainly the motion we have before us is entirely appropriate. In fact, it's absolutely necessary to deal with what has been a true shaking of the trust in Canada's democratic institutions.
Having run for the first time in this past year, I heard the concerns about this issue regarding the actions of the Prime Minister. I actually found it quite stunning that there were things like deferred prosecution agreements—DPAs—and the public prosecution service and cabinet confidence. These are terms that are not generally in the common discourse of Canadians, but they were in the past election and in the approximate eight months since this story broke in the The Globe and Mail at the end of January. These terms were not something that most Canadians generally cared about—and I can say this because I spoke to thousands of Canadians over the course of the campaign. It was not something that concerned them in their day-to-day business.
However, when our democratic institutions are put at risk, when the rule of law is questioned, when you have a prime minister who says that he is standing up for jobs, yet—certainly in my home province of Alberta—it seems like the very opposite is true, it's a very troubling trend. The conversations, whether they be the recordings that were released or the testimony, are quite striking.
I often joke that the viewership of Parliament must spike after new MPs are elected. My family has commented that they've never watched CPAC as much as they have in these past number of months. I know for a fact that on the day the former attorney general went before the justice committee, eyes across this country were glued to the television because the very hallmark of the independence of the Canadian judiciary, the rule of law and our democratic institutions that protect us from governments overreaching and from the ability of corporations or individuals to buy influence.... These are all things for which this committee has a unique responsibility.
We're going to be hearing from the lobbying commissioner later today. The fact that we are able to have a system that, by and large, makes sure that we are protected from interests that would attempt to persuade unduly and disrupt the functioning of our institutions is absolutely fundamental to who we are as Canadians.
I would encourage all members.... I'm a big fan of parliamentary democracy in general and the history of it. One of the things that makes our democratic institutions—and specifically Canada's Parliament—so powerful and unique is that the House of Commons is made up, at this point in time, of 338 independent constituencies that elect members. The qualifications of those members vary from coast to coast to coast, but ultimately the person who gets the most votes is given the confidence and the trust to enter this chamber. As I'm sure every member sitting around this table who has been on the ballot can attest, when you first walk into that chamber with the confidence of the people of your constituency, it is an incredibly humbling thing.
The fact that in our institution 338 MPs get to join together.... How does a government get formed? Well, you must have the confidence of the House. That's easy in a majority; one party makes up the majority of those seats. In a minority, it gets a little bit more complicated, but the principle remains. There are whipped votes and all of these other things, but when it comes down to it, each and every one of our 338 MPs stands for his or her constituency.
The reason why I emphasize this here today is the fact that some of these questions regarding the Prime Minister's actions, and the actions of some of the most powerful political staff in the country, call into question the role of our institutions. It is absolutely fundamental that we are able to address this.
The fact that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner put together a report, did the work that's required on his end to attempt to answer these questions.... Then there is the mandate. Having read through the mandate and being appointed to this committee, we have to hold those officers responsible, to ensure that the tough questions are asked, whether we're in the opposition benches or in the government benches. As MPs, we all have the responsibility to ensure that the tough questions are asked.
The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner did his part. Now it's time for us, as members of Parliament, to do our part. It is clear.... The “Trudeau II Report”—and I have it here in front of me—reads almost a little bit too much like a novel. I know that my colleague used the word “cover-up”. Time and time again, there are just outstanding questions, whether they be related to cabinet confidence, the question around who benefited from the influence, or the fact that....
I'd like to read if I could from page 2—the second-to-last paragraph of the executive summary of the "Trudeau II Report". It states:
For these reasons, I found that Mr. Trudeau used his position of authority over Ms. Wilson-Raybould to seek to influence, both directly and indirectly, her decision on whether she should overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to invite SNC-Lavalin to enter into negotiations towards a remediation agreement.
Then, in the conclusion of the executive summary, he says:
Therefore, I find that Mr. Trudeau contravened section 9 of the Act.
I think that as you continue to read through this, and out of respect for the committee and the important business that we have.... I know that I have questions for the lobbying commissioner, who is going to appear in about 10 minutes. Out of respect for the good work that this committee is doing, I do want to ensure that we have the opportunity to....
I'll conclude. Those who—and I'm sure there's nobody in this room—were at any of my campaign events know that I talked a lot about the principles of good governance. The reason why I do that, Madam Chair, is that there are certain things that transcend politics. There are distinctions between Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Conservative members. There are distinctions that make us...and I'm sure we all have reasons why we belong to certain political parties.
However, there are certain things that transcend politics. This, I would submit to all my colleagues around this table, is one of those things that transcend politics. The accusations, the evidence presented, the fact—again, to use the word that my honourable colleague used—that there's even a conversation around a cover-up, speak to the exact reason why this issue is not closed.
I believe that, in order to preserve the very institutions we all have the honour and privilege of being able to serve and protect, Canadians deserve their parliamentarians—for me, the good people of Battle River-Crowfoot, and for each of us, our respective constituency—asking these questions asked and having them answered by those involved.
Madam Chair, with that, I would bring my comments to a close, but I do implore each member around this table to consider how this motion moving forward or not—because we all have a choice to make, and there are consequences to those choices—impacts the very job that each of us was sent here to do.
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