Interventions in the House of Commons
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View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2016-11-03 12:21 [p.6528]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to this. I would like to invite the finance minister, the trade minister, the minister of innovation, and the Minister of Natural Resources to come on down and play The Price Is Right, because it seems as if they will sell their integrity and whatever it takes to get ahead as long as the price is right. That seems to be the game that the Liberal Party is playing with this. Who knows what the showcase showdown will be at the end of this show? I am sure that those who are spending $1,500 to attend these exclusive events will be the ones who will enjoy the benefits of the showcase showdown. However, the message I would like to leave for those who have paid the $1,500 to get these exclusive opportunities to shake hands with and wag the ear of the ministers is that they have overbid. A smarter bid of one dollar would have been a better investment, also of their time.
I want to go back to what the Prime Minister said after he was elected a year ago. I quote from annex B, which states:
Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must avoid conflict of interest, the appearance of conflict of interest and situations that have the potential to involve conflicts of interest.
The Prime Minister himself clearly stated to the ministers and parliamentary secretaries that there should be no preferential access to government or appearance of preferential access accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians or political parties.
A lot of the questions we are getting from across the floor are asking whether any laws were broken. The election laws were not broken, but what was broken was a very profound promise by the Prime Minister to do things differently.
He states in that quote, “must avoid conflict of interest” or “the appearance of conflict of interest”.
It is quite obvious that these statements are not worth the paper they are written on. We are back to the age-old Liberal mantra that they are entitled to their entitlements no matter what the cost. Again, if the price is right, they will be there to try to grant whatever it is those people are asking for. I would like to talk about some of those who have done so already, and we are barely just over a year into their mandate.
The Minister of Natural Resources attended an event on August 29 in Edmonton at the offices of MacPherson Leslie and Tyerman. This is the minister for natural resources, mining, oil and gas, forestry, and nuclear energy. The expertise of this law firm with which he had a private meeting just happens to be mining and resource permits and regulations. Not only was this a meeting with this law firm, but it was a private party, and the only people who were allowed to attend were people who paid the $1,500 fee to join the Liberal Laurier Club, which is an exclusive fundraising arm of the Liberal Party. Therefore, to say that this was an open consultation with the energy sector or stakeholders in the mining or oil and gas sector, I think, is quite disingenuous. This was an event exclusively for members of the Liberal Laurier fundraising club, who have paid a $1,500 membership fee, to get an opportunity to speak with the Minister of Natural Resources.
I could tell members right now that, of the 100,000 Albertan energy workers who are out of work, not one has had the opportunity to speak to the Minister of Natural Resources. They are the ones who need that $1,500 to pay their mortgage because they are out of work, and yet a very exclusive, elite group of lawyers in downtown Edmonton has the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Natural Resources. I am certain that mining and resource development permits were a hot topic at that meeting. I am sure there are thousands of Alberta energy workers right now who would love to have an opportunity to sit down with the minister of natural resources and talk about some of the things that they on the ground feel the minister would be able to implement, such as policies and regulations that would help them get back to work, rather than spending his time meeting with lawyers in downtown Edmonton. However, the unemployed energy workers simply do not have the $1,500 or probably the connections to have that opportunity to meet personally with the Minister of Natural Resources.
He is obviously not alone. On April 7, the Minister of Justice attended a Liberal fundraiser hosted by a prominent Bay Street law firm at $500 a ticket. Why would the Minister of Justice be meeting exclusively with a law firm in downtown Toronto?
Let us keep going.
The Minister of Justice attended another event, this time for only $1,000 a ticket—she had a discount—on April 28. This was a meeting in Vancouver and included Gordon and Catherine McCauley. Gordon just happens to be CEO of Viable Healthworks and director of Centre for Drug Research and Development. I am sure they were talking about anything other than marijuana laws or decriminalizing marijuana. I am sure those were not topics at that event.
The Minister of International Trade will be attending a Liberal Party of Canada event that advertises a wonderful evening with the Minister of International Trade, in Toronto. When I go to that website and click on it to get a password to attend, I cannot get that password. This is supposed to be open. If I want an opportunity to talk to the Minister of International Trade about what happened with CETA or what is going on with the trans-Pacific partnership, which farmers and ranchers in southern Alberta are very eager to see proceed, unfortunately, I do not have access to what is supposed to be an open and transparent process to meet with government members of Parliament, ministers.
The finance minister recently had an event in Halifax, on October 13. The ticket price for that event was $1,500. Again, that was pretty exclusive company. Fifteen business executives, including land developers, bankers, and mortgage brokers, each paid $1,500 to have an opportunity to meet with the finance minister. I am sure they were not talking about downtown Halifax developments or the Halifax Port Authority. I am sure it was just to get some consultation on the upcoming budget, which will be much better than we heard in the update, hopefully.
Again, I would love to carry on.
I am going to add the innovation minister. He was the top guest at a Vancouver event, where the ticket price was $1,500. He also must have had a tough time, as he is taking a discount. His next one is at a private residence where the tickets are only $400.
The Prime Minister himself is not free from these either. He has attended 17 of these, some of them with a ticket price as high as $1,525.
The Liberals have 89 of these events planned over the next few months. Despite the rhetoric we are hearing in question period or here today about not breaking any laws and trying to be open and transparent, despite the reaction they are getting from Canadian taxpayers that this is wrong, they do not care. They are plugging right along with continuing to host these things. It is an absolute affront to this House and to Canadian taxpayers, a slap in the face, saying they don't care what people think about the optics of these types of fundraisers, and they are going to go right ahead and do them anyway.
The finance minister talked quite a bit that this was going to be consultation, that this was a chance to speak to Canadians about the budget process, but the federal lobbying commissioner, Karen Shepherd, is now investigating these pay for access fundraisers; the Ethics Commissioner has called these fundraisers unsavoury; and even former Liberal minister Sheila Copps has asked the Prime Minister to ban these elite fundraisers, saying that during the Chrétien years, when she was minister, “You go and you get an envelope, ‘I need this, I want this, I want this’”.
It is quite clear that this has nothing to do with consultations. This is about what they can do for people and how much it is going to cost.
If he talked about consulting with Canadians, there are other ways to do it. We have a break week next week. I am going to be in my riding of Foothills. I have four round tables planned during that week, throughout the riding. I am going to be consulting with hundreds of Foothills residents about what they think is important as we go through the budget process, and certainly they are going to be focusing on Alberta jobs.
I am renting rooms at the Legion, at a local hotel, and at a local restaurant. Do members know how much I am charging people to attend? I am charging zero, absolutely zero. That is how consultation with Canadians should be done. It should not be done at $1,500 a head.
They are talking to the wealthy, the entitled, the elite. They are not talking to average hard-working Canadians, the ones they should really be paying attention to because those are the ones who really matter, with what is going on and the decisions that the Liberal government is making.
In conclusion, I am certainly hearing from my constituents, in disbelief, that this is utterly the kind of attitude of entitlement to their entitlements. It is the same old Liberal Party.
View Michael Cooper Profile
View Michael Cooper Profile
2016-09-22 11:04 [p.4953]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the motion to call upon the Prime Minister and the government to appoint an Atlantic Canadian to fill the vacancy caused by Justice Cromwell.
Since the Supreme Court was established in 1875, every government has respected Atlantic-Canadian representation on the court, every government until the current government.
The fact that the government has opened the door to shutting out Atlantic Canada from the Supreme Court is objectionable, on multiple grounds. It demonstrates a total disrespect for Atlantic Canada and Atlantic Canadians, not to mention the dozens of high-calibre jurists and lawyers who are eminently qualified to fill the vacancy of Justice Cromwell.
It also shows a total disrespect for regional representation, which has been a staple of the institutional development of the Supreme Court, and, indeed, which has been a staple, more broadly, of the institutional development of Canada. It totally disregards a constitutional convention guaranteeing Atlantic-Canadian representation on the Supreme Court as well.
It was not more than two years ago that the Supreme Court, in the Nadon decision, held that Parliament did not have the unilateral authority to change the composition of a court.
Today, it is not Parliament that is seeking to unilaterally change the composition of a court; it is the executive branch. It is the government that seeks to unilaterally overturn the composition of this court by shutting out Atlantic Canada.
A little more than a month ago, the Minister of Justice appeared before the justice committee. I asked her, in the face of the Nadon decision, exactly what authority, exactly what jurisdiction did the government have to unilaterally change the composition of a court. With the greatest of respect to the Minister of Justice, I did not receive a clear answer, and since that time I have yet to hear a clear answer from the her, or from anyone on that side of the House, on that important question. I suspect the reason I have not heard a clear answer is that there is a strong legal argument to be made that the government does not have the authority to unilaterally overturn the composition and change the composition of a court by shutting out Atlantic Canada.
What would the implications be if the Prime Minister decided that he would appoint someone other than an Atlantic-Canadian to fill the seat of Justice Cromwell? Obviously, Atlantic Canada would be shut out of the Supreme Court for the first time in 141 years. What is more, Atlantic Canada would be singled out as a region. It would be singled out because it would be the only region on the Supreme Court without representation. In light of the constitutional convention, there would be serious legal questions that would immediately arise, calling into question the constitutionality of such an appointment.
It is therefore no wonder that the Liberal appointment process has been widely critiqued by lawyers and academics right across Canada, from the Canadian Bar Association, from the Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association, and on and on.
However, who has not raised any objection and been collectively silent on the issue of Atlantic Canadian representation on the Supreme Court? They are the 32 Liberal MPs from Atlantic Canada. There has been not a word, not a peep, from the 32 Liberal MPs from Atlantic Canada; not a word, not a peep from the Minister of Fisheries; not a word, not a peep from the minister responsible for ACOA, the minister for Atlantic Canada. Where is he from? The minister responsible for Atlantic Canada is from Mississauga. I guess the memo never got to the Prime Minister that Mississauga is in Ontario and not in Atlantic Canada. Nonetheless the minister for Atlantic Canada from Mississauga, Ontario has said not a word in support of Atlantic Canadian representation on the Supreme Court.
What do we have? We have 32 Liberal MPs from Atlantic Canada who have been MIA, missing in action, when it comes to standing up against a constitutionally questionable appointment process. They are missing in action when it comes to standing up for 141 years of Atlantic Canadian representation on the Supreme Court. They are missing in action when it comes to standing up for the eminently qualified jurists and lawyers who hail from Atlantic Canada. Above all else, they are missing in action when it comes to fulfilling the core responsibility that they were entrusted by the people of Canada to do in this place, and that is to stand up for Atlantic Canada.
Over the nearly one year that I have been here, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with a number of members from Atlantic Canada. I genuinely believe they are here to do what is right and to do their very best to represent their constituents and their region. That is why it is so sad and so disappointing that on this critical issue they have been missing in action.
However, this opposition motion provides those 32 Liberal members an opportunity to join us in the Conservative Party to stand up for Atlantic Canada. They have a choice. They can stand up for Atlantic Canadian representation or they can stand behind the Prime Minister's constitutionally questionable, objectionable appointment process to shut out Atlantic Canada. The choice is clear. It will be interesting to see which choice they make.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2016-09-22 12:12 [p.4961]
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Chilliwack—Hope and to engage in this debate today, especially when we talk about the need for the government to respect Atlantic Canada and the tradition and the convention that has been in place for over 140 years, which ensures that one of the Supreme Court justices is from the Atlantic Canada region.
I not only want to talk today about the issue of the Supreme Court and its representative from Atlantic Canada, but I also want to talk about the shocking tendency that we have seen already in just under one year for the Liberal government to take Atlantic Canada for granted.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Durham, Mr. Speaker.
Atlantic Canadians are very passionate about this issue. They have spoken loudly and clearly. They expect that the convention will be respected, that they will continue to have a voice on the Supreme Court when Justice Cromwell retires.
I am from British Columbia and we are speaking about this. However, the people of Atlantic Canada are speaking about it loudly and clearly. The Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association says that it is taking the extraordinary measure of seeking a court order in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that would require the federal government to amend the Constitution if it wants to drop regional representation as constitutional convention. The Minister of Justice's musings in the summer and the refusal to confirm that the next justice would be from Atlantic Canada could provoke a constitutional crisis. The Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association has gone down that road.
The Cape Breton Post in an editorial entitled, “We don’t lack diversity”, takes great offence to the idea that no one can be found in Atlantic Canada who can meet the other targets that the government has set. It said:
[The Prime Minister] has said he wants to ensure the top court reflects the diversity of the country. And that’s fine. We know it’s 2016. But we argue that he would have no trouble finding diversity in Atlantic Canada’s population and that there are surely multiple candidates from many different backgrounds in our region worth considering for an appointment. One can’t help but wonder whether or not the Prime Minister, seeing every seat in the Atlantic provinces go Liberal in the last election, is taking the allegiance of the region for granted.
That is exactly what we have seen from the Liberal members of Parliament from Atlantic Canada. They are taking that region for granted. The Prime Minister is taking that region for granted. There are several examples of that, not only with this Supreme Court issue. How about having a minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency from Mississauga? There are 32 Liberal members, some of them in cabinet, none of them responsible for economic development in the Atlantic region. They were not good enough to do the job and instead someone from Toronto had to do it. What did we hear from the 32 Liberal MPs from Atlantic Canada when that happened? We heard nothing.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2016-09-22 12:22 [p.4963]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Conservative Party for bringing forward this motion, which we support. It talks about the custom of regional representation. It is indeed one that is very important, one that we support, and one that we are upholding through the new process.
I do take exception, however, to the attempt by my friend opposite to try to drive a wedge within the caucus and the allegations that Atlantic Canadian members of Parliament are not standing up for their region.
He spoke fondly about the work of Gail Shea, but his distance between Prince Edward Island and British Columbia may have missed the fact that one of Gail Shea's legacies is pitting Prince Edward Islanders against one another with the EI zones.
He took a shot at the Minister of Innovation, the minister for ACOA. Atlantic Canada has done significantly better under this minister than we ever saw under the Conservatives: $237 million in the Halifax regional municipality alone; agreements with provincial governments of more than $176 million on 51 infrastructure projects. I have been pretty busy with funding announcements in Prince Edward Island as well.
The question I have for the member is this. The process that we have announced will allow for Atlantic Canadian lawyers and judges to compete in a national competition. Does the member want to repeat and perpetuate the myth of a culture of defeat or does he think Atlantic Canadian lawyers and judges are up to the job of competing against everyone in Canada for this seat on the Supreme Court?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2016-09-22 12:24 [p.4963]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the member for Charlottetown is celebrating the fact that the ACOA minister is from Mississauga. If he is proud of that, I guess he can sell that at home. However, we certainly think the ACOA minister should be from Atlantic Canada.
As far as Gail Shea goes, she never allowed the P.E.I. lobster carapace size to be changed to the detriment of P.E.I. fishers. I was told by the fishermen I met with that the member for Cardigan, now the Minister of Agriculture, used to thump on the desk and say the he would never let it happen as long as he was there, or question how the Conservatives even consider it. Of course it never happened. Now that the Liberals have changed it to the disadvantage of P.E.I. lobster fishermen, there is not a word from anyone on Prince Edward Island.
As for the idea of a defeatist culture, it is defeatist to think that there are not enough judges and lawyers in Atlantic Canada to fill the entire selection list for the Supreme Court position. This has been a convention for 141 years, and the Liberals are now saying to let Atlantic Canadians compete for a position on the court. We are saying that they should be guaranteed that position. That has been a convention. No prime minister before has ever considered backing away from Atlantic Canada in the way the current Prime Minister has. Once again, we are hearing nothing from Liberal MPs in the region because they are taking the support of Atlantic Canadians for granted. If they will not stand up for them, we will.
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