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Results: 121 - 135 of 150000
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Colleagues, we often have different points of view in our legislature. However, I know that I speak on behalf of all of us when I express our united, heartfelt support for the two Michaels—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—and their families. The fortitude they've displayed while unjustly incarcerated in harsh circumstances is a testament to their values and courage.
Colleagues, during our last major study in this committee on the threats to liberal democracy, we repeatedly heard from renowned international experts and academics that Canada is a shining example to the world in its steadfastness and conduct. At a time when populists have attacked the fifth estate—the free media—our Prime Minister, in public meetings in Canada, when tough questions are asked and there's been hostility towards the media from members of the public, has come to the defence of the media's right to ask these tough questions. Yesterday in Vancouver, when the media asked about calls made to former Canadian ambassadors to China, the Prime Minister was clear. He confirmed that the PMO did not direct that these experts be pressured, as has been previously confirmed by our foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.
A hallmark of our government is our strong belief in consultations and speaking with experts. In her opening remarks MP Alleslev spoke repeatedly of muzzling. We had a previous government that often attempted to muzzle experts and scientists, because of its ideologically driven denial of climate change. It was the previous Harper government that not only muzzled experts and scientists, but also attempted to prevent our gathering of data on such important issues as the multicultural nature of our society by cancelling the long-form census, by cancelling our very ability to gather information and for the public to access information.
Our government believes in reaching out, in broad consultations, and not just within Canada but also internationally, especially with our allies in countries that share our liberal democratic values. That's why we've had such great international successes on difficult files, landing free trade agreement after free trade agreement—something the previous government attempted and could not achieve. It just couldn't bring these across the finishing line. Today we're the only G7 country with free trade agreements with every other G7 country. Why? It is because of broad consultations and patient negotiations. We're also a respected member in the Americas on the difficult Venezuelan crisis. I'd like to thank the tremendous consultative work and legal research done by human rights champion Irwin Cotler.
Colleagues, we believe that Canadians will be safer and more prosperous if more of the world shared our values. It's foundational to our foreign policy approach. During this time of geopolitical crisis, when the rules-based international order and the principle of the sanctity of international borders is being fundamentally undermined by Russia's military invasion and annexation of Ukraine's territory, we stand steadfast in our support of Ukraine, lifting the previous government's prohibition on the supply of lethal defensive weapons.
We've not only championed an international rules-based order; we've championed individual rights, the rights of women and girls. We've appointed an ambassador for women, peace and security to champion these rights and to help bring about peace and security in difficult places globally.
Let me conclude by thanking all of the experts who've provided us with invaluable insights on difficult global files, and all of our international allies who've stood with us and spoken out against Beijing's unjust incarceration of our two Canadians.
Chair, we will not be supporting this motion. Thank you.
View Michael Levitt Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Next is MP Weir, please.
View Erin Weir Profile
CCF (SK)
Mr. Chair, I'd like to begin by thanking you and all members of the committee for enabling me to participate in today's meeting. The reason I want to participate is that China's market has been closed to Canadian canola seed. Notwithstanding the fact that the wheat sheaf continues to be Saskatchewan's provincial symbol, wheat has been surpassed by canola as our most important crop and China has emerged as the most important customer for our canola exports.
My appeal to the committee would be that, to the extent that it decides to undertake a study of Canada-China diplomatic relations, the study not simply focus on the inner workings of our foreign service, but rather try to focus on the practical consequences of that diplomatic relationship for prairie farmers and other Canadians.
Mr. Chair, I think what we need to keep in mind at today's meeting is, first and foremost, the Canadians being held hostage in China, but also the prairie farmers whose livelihoods are being held hostage to this unrelated diplomatic tiff.
Thanks very much.
View Michael Levitt Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, MP Weir.
We'll have MP Paul-Hus, please.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The statement by Mr. Oliphant and Mr. Wrzesnewskyj shows us that our Liberal colleagues are living in denial and that the Prime Minister is also living in denial. We're in a very bad old film that's starting to get worn out. Let's recall the beginning of the SNC-Lavalin case, when we talked about political involvement in the justice system. From the start, the Prime Minister said that his cabinet had never had any influence. After holding many meetings, the justice and human rights committee uncovered a great deal of information.
Today, we're faced with a new situation. We can all agree that this is a totally different type of situation. However, the situation is cause for concern. As in the other case, the Prime Minister said yesterday that his office had never issued the order, and so on. He's using the exact same words. The situation is different, but the principle and the approach are the same. Denial is the way to go. With the SNC-Lavalin and Jody Wilson-Raybould case, we could see what was happening. Another situation arose where the Prime Minister, who loves to blame others, found a scapegoat in Vice-Admiral Norman.
During the first cabinet discussions, after the 2015 election, the decision was made to cancel the contract for the Asterix ship. However, when the information became available, instead of taking responsibility for his intention to cancel the contract, which would harm the Davie shipyard, the Prime Minister found a scapegoat in Vice-Admiral Norman. The vice-admiral paid the price for the whole situation.
Today, the issue involves former ambassadors, career diplomats, professionals who are well aware of the need to be careful. These people know very well that the lives of the two Canadian hostages held in China are at stake. The Prime Minister's Office is telling former ambassadors and career diplomats what to do, while Mr. McCallum has made one mistake after another as ambassador and has caused many issues. He even spoke recently, in an interview with a Chinese media outlet, of the need to be careful because the situation could affect the Liberals' re-election in Canada. On that note, I want to remind you that we sent a letter to the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service requesting an audit on this matter.
We're talking about a range of situations involving the Prime Minister and, once again, the committee members who refuse to get to the bottom of the matter. Put yourself in the shoes of the Canadian diplomatic corps. We're here at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, which ensures that Canada's foreign affairs run smoothly. I'm pleased to be participating in this committee today. Our colleagues make fine statements, introduce the concept of constructive discussions, and so on. However, what happens when we muzzle former ambassadors, professionals who know how things work and who, unlike others, can help Canada resolve the situation?
Canada is having problems with China, but this Prime Minister isn't doing anything to improve the situation. Instead, our experts, who are probably in a better position to resolve the situation than he is, are being muzzled. I'm very disappointed to see that the Liberals refuse to go further and get to the bottom of the matter. I think that this would have been a great opportunity to show Canadians that the government can do things the right way. However, it's the government's decision, and Canadians will suffer the consequences.
Thank you.
View Michael Levitt Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Next is MP Barrett, please.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
We went through quite the panel there, starting with the parliamentary secretary and then moving across, with the parliamentary secretary not wanting to play politics and then a Liberal member wanting to relitigate the 2015 election campaign. If anyone is playing politics, it's these Liberal members, who now want to hide behind the horrible and unlawful detention of the two Michaels, the two Canadians held in China. We should rise above politics at a time like this and come together.
Simply appointing an ambassador was something these Liberals failed to do. They failed to pick up the phone, as we suggested to the Prime Minister very early on, and call the Chinese. Now, at this point, the Chinese won't return our phone calls.
If there is nothing to hide and everything is above board, then wouldn't it stand to reason that there be an investigation? If the Liberal government is such a champion of the media, why, at a press freedom conference, did all of the accredited media refuse to attend a scrum with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister Freeland? That was because she tried to bar credentialed Canadian media from attending.
We have a Prime Minister who has said that The Globe and Mail makes stuff up, that they're lying. We've heard him say that twice now. We have a Prime Minister telling us not to believe Canadian media, and we have that same Prime Minister telling us not to believe the Canadian public service.
We have this release, after the fact—and I hear snickers from one of the Liberal staff over there—but I take it very seriously and I'd encourage your staff to take it seriously as well because—
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
On a point of order, Mr. Chair, we know that in the parliamentary rules, it is inappropriate to raise comments about anyone else in the room other than those sitting at this table. I know the member is relatively new, but I would ask the chair to please advise him that it is not an appropriate parliamentary thing to do at a standing committee of the House of Commons.
View Michael Levitt Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, MP Oliphant.
MP Barrett, could we contain the observations to people who are actually seated at the table?
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Certainly, Mr. Chair. I'd encourage the chair to turn an ear to make sure there isn't any conduct that is out of order in the room.
View Michael Levitt Profile
Lib. (ON)
I will do so.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
In my tenure, since being elected in December, I have seen the most unbelievable cascade of scandals and cover-ups in my lifetime under this Prime Minister and PMO. There is certainly no snickering about that.
I was noting that the Prime Minister was saying that we not believe the Canadian public service. After the fact we get a denial—a tweet, a press release or what have you—but that's not what was said. We have two independent former career diplomats, ambassadors, telling us that's what happened, that they received a call from the assistant deputy minister who told them that the instructions were from the PMO. Was he lying? Is the Prime Minister saying that the ADM was lying?
This is part of that pattern. We were told that the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was lying. We were told that there was nothing to see, but somehow that ended up with the chief public servant, Michael Wernick, resigning in disgrace, and the Prime Minister's principal secretary resigning in disgrace. Two cabinet ministers resigned and were then kicked out of the Liberal caucus, but the Prime Minister said that the story in The Globe and Mail was false.
I will have a hard time believing this Liberal government trusts the media. I think it's very much encouraging the opposite with its undermining of the freedom of the press, undermining free speech by asking former ambassadors to run their comments through the PMO. It's certainly very troubling.
The parliamentary secretary mentioned I was elected recently. Yes, I had a front-row seat at the justice committee for the train wreck that was the SNC-Lavalin scandal. I watched your Liberal colleagues try to slam the door as many times as they could on witnesses: “No, we don't want to hear from the key players in that scandal.”
What we've heard is that this motion on the key players in what is likely another scandal of this Liberal Prime Minister and Liberal government won't be supported. No, we wouldn't want to shine any sunlight on that, certainly.
You'll have to excuse me, MP Oliphant, if I don't—
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I'd again ask that you enforce decorum and remind the members that all comments are meant to be directed to you and not directly across the aisle to the other side.
Thank you.
View Michael Levitt Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
You can proceed with your comments.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair. Through you to MP Oliphant, I would like to encourage that we not hear any lessons from a scandal-plagued Liberal, a parliamentary secretary, on a file that has been so badly mismanaged that the hand-picked former Liberal cabinet minister, John McCallum, is an international embarrassment. We have never seen the likes of this before.
Through you, Mr. Chair, to Mr. Oliphant, I find it laughable that he says that this is not something that these Liberals are playing politics with. It's exactly what you're doing as you hide behind the two Michaels, hide behind the unlawful detention of these two men, when the Prime Minister couldn't pick up the phone and the Prime Minister wouldn't appoint an ambassador. Then we have his former disgraced ambassador suggesting that perhaps we have foreign actors mix it up, get involved in the election and see if we can't work something out.
We have well-respected former ambassadors who are being told that it would be appreciated if their constructive comments be run through the PMO first, but we're not to believe that. We're only to believe the Prime Minister. We're not to believe The Globe and Mail. We're not to believe these former ambassadors. We're not to believe this public servant, the ADM. We're not to believe people like Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
When Vice-Admiral Mark Norman had something to say, what did the government do? These Liberals spent tax dollars to silence him with a settlement and a non-disclosure agreement so that we never hear from him. It's just like the partial waiver, the failure to give transparency in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. We'll never hear from the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, on the full details of what happened.
It's not surprising but certainly disappointing that we can't rise above politics, Mr. Chair, as the parliamentary secretary would suggest that we do, and get to the bottom of this and give Canadians the confidence that they need to have in their public servants and in their former ambassadors. In the SNC-Lavalin scandal, I remember Liberals on the justice committee saying there were unnamed sources in The Globe and Mail article and asking who could take a media story seriously if it used unnamed sources. The sources are named in this article.
Frankly, it was troubling then that the Liberals wanted the media to name their sources, but these folks spoke on the record. Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Saint-Jacques spoke on the record. Are we not to take them at their word? The only person that the Liberals want us to take at his word is the Prime Minister. Frankly, Mr. Chair, he has a serious credibility problem.
One of the Liberals on the committee here wanted to talk about muzzled scientists. Early in the 42nd Parliament there was a report tabled, and in that report I believe the number was 1,500 interviews given by government scientists in the 12 months preceding the 2015 election, but what it also said was that, when the Liberals were elected, there were no changes to the rules on media availabilities and media interviews offered by public servants.
It's really unfortunate that they've said that they're not going to support the motion, but I do encourage them to reconsider because Canadians deserve to know.
Canadians and the Conservatives trust the veracity of what has been said. We have confidence in the public service. We think it's time to let a little sunshine in so that we can disinfect the situation. Canadians don't need another scandal. They need the truth, and that's why I'll be voting in favour of the study.
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