Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
I'd just like to welcome everybody here to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, meeting number 160. We are dealing with committee business and two motions: the first from Mr. Kent and the second from Mr. Angus.
I would like, first of all, to welcome some members with us today who aren't usual members of the ethics committee. Ms. May was supposed to be here but I don't see her yet. We're going to welcome her here today, as well as Ms. Raitt, Mr. Poilievre, Ms. Ramsey and Mr. Weir. I think that's everybody. While the extra members are not members of this committee, as a courtesy we typically give guests the right to speak.
Having said that, I'll turn the floor over to Mr. Kent.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Kent.
We have a speaking order: Ms. Raitt, Mr. Angus and Mr. Poilievre.
Ms. Raitt.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
The speaking order is Mr. Angus, Mr. Poilievre, Ms. May, Mr. Weir and Ms. Ramsey.
Go ahead, Mr. Angus.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Just to be clear, he said he'd make himself available on short notice. Based on some questions from all parties here, he has made himself available today by video conference so he is standing by if a motion is passed.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Angus.
Next is Mr. Poilievre.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Poilievre.
Next up we have Ms. May.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to the committee for the opportunity to speak.
Thanks to Mr. Poilievre's intervention, I don't have to recite the jobs questions I asked at the justice committee.
I'm deeply troubled by what faces us. All of you around the table I regard as friends, and I try to approach things in a very non-partisan way, which is very hard on the eve of an election. Everybody goes into hyper-partisan mode then, and this is, in a lot of ways, red meat right before an election. I know that, but something is really wrong here. Something is deeply wrong here, and I beg my friends around the table to allow Mr. Dion to speak to us.
I thought I knew what had transpired in the SNC-Lavalin mess based on the testimony of our former justice minister and former attorney general. Her chronology, her notes, I thought covered everything that had occurred, and I believed her every syllable, but Mr. Dion's report has shaken me far more than our former attorney general's testimony, and I'll tell you why.
We now know there were meetings that took place on the edge of other international gatherings, like in Davos, including the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau and the CEO of SNC-Lavalin, and that the idea of changing our law to insert a deferred prosecution agreement into the Criminal Code came from SNC-Lavalin for their use specifically.
No wonder the machinery of government began to panic when the plan wasn't working out. There was a hiccup because the justice minister and attorney general at the time respected the principle of prosecutorial independence and wouldn't intervene against the section 13 report of the director of public prosecutions.
This is a critical point: There were other ministers involved. I thought and still think, because I bend over backward to be fair to everyone concerned, that part of the reason the Prime Minister doesn't realize what he did was wrong is that he didn't receive a decent legal briefing from his Clerk of the Privy Council. None was provided to him by the clerk or by his staff, but he did receive a decent legal briefing from Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former minister of justice and attorney general, who told him, “Watch what you're doing. You're interfering in prosecutorial independence”. I know she didn't sit him down and get out a chalkboard and explain it. She didn't think she had to.
What I find really troubling about what Mr. Dion uncovered is the idea that in any government governed by the rule of law a minister of justice and attorney general's position would be so deeply undermined by her colleagues.
I know that a lot of Liberals have said it was wrong of her to tape Michael Wernick. I understood why, under the circumstances, she felt it necessary, but the deeper distrust is to imagine that a report from a former Supreme Court judge, a very respected jurist, John Major, peddled by SNC-Lavalin's lawyer, also a former Supreme Court judge, Frank Iacobucci, blinded people around the cabinet table—because of the power of those justices' titles and the previous work they have done on the Supreme Court—to the reality that the only legal advice they should have been taking was from their own lawyer, the attorney general.
However, what is really shocking to me is that they peddled this report undermining the judgment of their cabinet colleague, the minister of justice and attorney general. They peddled it without even sharing it with her. I ask my Liberal friends to imagine for one minute a scenario in which Jean Chrétien allowed his cabinet colleagues to circulate a memo undermining Irwin Cotler. Can you imagine Pierre Trudeau allowing his cabinet colleagues to circulate a memo undermining the judgment of John Turner?
This is really scandalous. The Prime Minister is guilty here of the kind of offence for which resignation is appropriate. I leave it to him. I'm not calling for his resignation, but it does strike me as beyond belief that this kind of thing could go on. It's not a small matter. It shouldn't be covered up. We really do need to ask Mr. Dion what he uncovered. We need to hear his opinion on the nature of further remedies and how many steps we should take to ensure that cabinet confidentiality is removed so that those nine additional witnesses can be heard.
I also want to say very clearly that I don't think this is a partisan issue. I think it is systemic. It is shocking that the senior civil service of this country could be manipulated by a transnational corporation in this fashion, and I think lots of other transnational corporations may have the same kind of access. This is systemic regardless of who is in the PMO. Regardless if it's a Conservative or a Liberal government, we have to ensure that the machinery of government, our civil service, is not at the disposal of transnational corporations to do their bidding.
I don't think it's about the Prime Minister and making this a political football in the election campaign. I think it's a much larger issue and I think it is systemic. I'd like to hear from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
I think we now have a moral obligation to protect our democracy against the power of large global firms.
Right now our democracy looks weakened by this. We need to get to the bottom of it.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Ms. May.
Next up is Mr. Weir.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Weir.
Next we will go to Ms. Ramsey.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
I still have two others to speak to this. We have to go through the list. If the people on the speakers list want to give up their time to go to a vote, then that's a possibility. I don't see them willing to do that right now.
I have Mr. Gourde next to speak, and then Ms. Raitt again.
Go ahead, Mr. Gourde.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Gourde.
Next up, we have Ms. Raitt.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Ms. Raitt.
Next up is Mr. MacKinnon.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Angus.
It's not really a point of order.
Mr. MacKinnon, proceed.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Angus. That's debate.
We'll go back to Mr. MacKinnon to finish his statement.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. MacKinnon, to be clear, the chair has the discretion to hear points of order and debate—
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
—and has a responsibility to keep things in order.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
I hope the committee will acknowledge the chair and his role in keeping things in order.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
We'll go next to Mr. Erskine-Smith.
Go ahead.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Erskine-Smith.
Go ahead, quickly, Mr. Angus.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you for the clarification.
We do have a speakers list again, and we have Mr. Poilievre.
Go ahead.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you again, Mr. Poilievre.
Next up is Mr. Angus.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay, Mr. Angus.
We have two more speakers. We have Mr. Kent and then Ms. Raitt.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Kent.
I have just been signalled that the other speaker who was going to speak will not, so we can go to the vote on the motion.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
It will be a recorded vote. The motion is as follows:
That, given the unprecedented nature of the Trudeau II Report, the Committee invite the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to brief the Committee on his report, and that the Committee invite any further witnesses as required based on the testimony of the commissioner.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you for bringing that up, Mr. Poilievre.
We'll list the names here. Go ahead, Mr. Clerk, if you want to list them for Mr. Poilievre's question just for clarity's sake.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
We are good to proceed with the vote.
(Motion negatived: nays 5, yeas 4)
The Chair: Mr. Kent's motion is defeated.
That said, we have a motion from Mr. Angus still to discuss.
Go ahead, Mr. Angus.
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