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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)
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
We'll continue with Mr. MacKinnon.
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.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Go ahead, Mr. Angus, please.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Angus, as always.
Next up is Mr. Erskine-Smith.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Erskine-Smith.
Next up is Ms. May.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I just want to make a couple of quick points in response to some of the points put forward by my colleagues. I am not a voting member at this table, of course.
First of all, it's a really hard issue for all of us here around the table, but I have to say that—following somewhat from your point, Mr. Erskine-Smith—I found it unhelpful to describe this case as the Prime Minister telling people that he wanted them to break the law. For what it's worth, I maintain that, to this day, I don't think the Prime Minister understands that what he did was wrong, which is maybe equally troubling or more troubling. I think he's maintained that view because the people around him were overwhelmed by the fact that former Supreme Court judges were telling them what to do and were undermining their Attorney General, who happened to be a younger woman and indigenous, and this part of the story bothers me.
What should the former attorney general have done? I want to remind my friend Mr. Erskine-Smith of her testimony to the justice committee. She said to those lobbying her on behalf of SNC-Lavalin that if they have additional evidence, that goes to the decision-maker, who in this case is Kathleen Roussel, director of public prosecutions. Our former attorney general said, on the evidence, that she had told those lobbying for SNC-Lavalin that if they had a representation on a threat to jobs and they send it to her, she would ensure that it is put before the director of public prosecutions so she can take it into consideration. Such a letter was never sent.
It's also disturbing to me that so many people—and I would like to have before the ethics committee many of them who were mentioned in the testimony of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould—were given access by our former attorney general to the section 13 report, which is highly confidential, of the former director of public prosecutions. They declined to read it and seem to have lost it, including a number of political staff in the PMO, the deputy minister of the Department of Justice herself and the former clerk of the Privy Council.
To Mr. Erskine-Smith's point that a corporation can have good people and bad people, that's all true, but this corporation is charged in its corporate state; it is charged as a corporate person. There are no individual officers charged. The corporation must face full trial, which is why I go to one last point, Mr. Chair.
If we're looking for a real motive, we don't have to look far. Some of the most celebrated corporate giants in this country are businessmen with good reputations, people like Gwyn Morgan, former chair of Encana and a major fossil fuel lobbyist against climate action, who was chair of the board throughout the time the alleged bribery took place, and chair of the governance committee. There were a lot of people on the board of directors—whom I won't list—whose reputations could be hurt if what I suspect might be heard in the evidence in open court is actually heard, because these are not just bribery charges of a small nature. This is about working hand in glove with the Gadhafi regime and paying millions of dollars.
By the way, as to the whole idea that SNC-Lavalin has been washed pure as snow, they haven't changed their auditor. Deloitte was their auditor then and Deloitte is their auditor now, and somehow never noticed that $50 million went missing in bribes in Libya.
I think what we're looking at is corporate Canada exerting its influence to not have to face a full trial because reputations would be harmed. I think that's enough of a motive to start leaning on the Prime Minister, the finance minister, the President of Treasury Board and all their friends.
We need to ensure that Canadians understand that this isn't about small things and the Shawcross principle. That's a bridge too far for most Canadians to care about, and I accept that; I get that. But it's really important that Canadians know that no future government, no future prime minister, should ever allow pressure to be brought to bear to stop a full and open trial of the alleged criminal activities of this corporation.
Under the principles of deferred prosecution agreements, as understood in international law, economic disadvantage to the corporation is not a relevant factor. We need to understand that we should protect workers always, but we must not protect criminality because the people whose reputations could be hurt are powerful. You bet they're powerful: They've blocked climate action for quite a while.
I am afraid that this corporation needs to face a trial on the evidence that Kathleen Roussel, as director of public prosecutions, decided under a section 13 report disqualifies them from a deferred prosecution agreement by law.
That's what our former attorney general looked at. That's why she exercised her due diligence to ensure the decision by the director of public prosecutions. I agree with Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith once again. It was a very good move that the former Conservative government brought in the director of public prosecutions and insulated that office from political interference. That's all quite right and good. Canadians need to know that this is about a corporation charged with crimes we don't know, up to and including killing people—we don't know. Evidence is under the section 13 report. We need to have it come before an open court.
That's why I think the pressure was brought to bear. Powerful men have powerful friends. I still think that our Prime Minister needs to understand—and I don't think he does—that what he did was wrong, and he needs to apologize to Jane Philpott, Jody Wilson-Raybould and the people of Canada.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Ms. May.
I have two more speakers, Mr. Kent and Ms. Ramsey. If anybody else wishes to speak, we have about an hour and seven minutes left.
Mr. Kent, go ahead.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Kent.
Ms. Ramsey, go ahead.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Ms. Ramsey.
Next up we have Mr. Angus.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Angus.
We have Ms. Raitt, and then Mr. Weir.
Ms. Raitt, go ahead.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Ms. Raitt.
Mr. Weir.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Weir, for that.
I have no other people on the speakers list.
Are we ready—
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
We'll have a recorded vote.
(Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 3)
The Chair: Ms. Raitt, do you have a comment?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Ms. Raitt, there's a point of order.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. MacKinnon, it's one of those things in committee. It's nice to do, but it's not required that she give notice of her motion.
The motion has come up on the floor today. She is therefore in order to present that motion.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
To be in order as well it's not required that it be in French. She is completely in order to present her motion as she is stating.
Continue on.
Is this a point of order, Mr. Angus?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Ms. Raitt, please finish, if you would.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Ms. Raitt, can you say that one more time for the record?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Exactly.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Ms. Raitt.
I have Mr. Angus to speak to the motion.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Angus.
I'll go to Mr. Erskine-Smith.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Erskine-Smith.
We'll go back to Ms. Raitt.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
The committee would have to agree to have that motion withdrawn. Is it the will of the committee to do that?
You'd like to vote on it.
Is there any further discussion on the motion?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
It's a recorded vote.
(Motion negatived: nays 7; yeas 2)
The Chair: Is there any further discussion today?
I believe we've exhausted the motions and are ready to head home. Thank you, again, for coming to Ottawa.
We're adjourned.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Minister, for being with us today.
I'm going to pick up on that commentary about first nations consultation and accommodation. It was this aspect that caused the Federal Court of Appeal to rule against the government last year.
After the announcement that you were okaying the permit, I heard an interview with Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater band on CBC, and I've read interviews with him in the press since then. He said that “the meaningful dialogue that was supposed to happen never happened”. This is since the court case, and in that court case, the appeal court said that “missing from Canada's consultation was any attempt to explore how Coldwater's concerns could be addressed.”. This was a band that really wanted accommodation and demanded meaningful accommodation, as the courts have said, and they're saying that it hasn't happened.
I talked to Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh recently. They're not happy either.
How confident are you that we're not going back to litigation? It seems that the hard work that needed to be done still has not been done.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
They're saying that the questions they asked last February—February of 2018—still haven't been answered.
You've just said, I think twice—both in your introductory remarks and in your responses to Ms. Stubbs—that really the only reason we need to build this pipeline.... We've gone through a heck of a lot in this country to try to get this pipeline built, and apparently the only reason is to get our product to tidewater so that we'll have access to Asia and we'll get better prices.
You know this isn't true. This is just a false narrative. Nobody in the industry is saying that we're going to get better prices in Asia. The best prices for our product are in the United States, and they will be for many, many years to come.
Why are we doing this?
We have these price differentials that happen occasionally. They have nothing to do with the fact that the U.S. is our only customer. It's because there are temporary shutdowns of pipelines to fix leaks or because refineries are getting repairs. That seems to be the reason we have this price differential, which covers only about 20% of our oil exports. Eighty per cent of them get world prices because they're exported by companies that are vertically integrated and have their own upgraders and refineries.
Why are we continuing with his false narrative that we're going to get a better price by getting oil to tidewater when that is simply not true?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to get one more question in before my time is up.
Basically, you're admitting that we're not going to get a better price and that the reason we're building this pipeline is that it's an expansion project because the industry wants to expand its operations in the oil sands.
None of the risks that caused Kinder Morgan to walk away from this project have been alleviated. B.C. is still asserting its rights to protect the environment. Many first nations are still steadfastly against it. Vancouver-Burnaby is against it. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that the government can give the permits, but only communities can give permission. How are you going to convince them that this pipeline is in the national interest?
It's a project that will fuel expansion of the oil sands and increase our carbon emissions when we're desperately trying to reduce them. This isn't about getting a better price for our oil; it's about expanding our oil production.
I think this is an opportune time.... When you were considering this decision, you could have said, “Let's join the rest of the world and move toward a no-carbon future.” Building a pipeline is locking us into a future that just won't be there in 20 or 30 years, so why are we doing this?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
I get the last questions of the Parliament. Okay.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
On Monday we passed a motion here in the House of Commons to declare that we are in a climate crisis, a climate emergency. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says that we have to act immediately, right now, to tackle climate change.
You talked about spending the profits of this pipeline, $500 million a year, on green initiatives. We've spent $4.5 billion buying this pipeline. That's where the profits of that pipeline went. They went to Texas when we bought that pipeline. Now we're going to spend another $10 billion building it over the next two years. That's about $15 billion we could invest right now in fighting climate change, instead of spending all that money and then waiting two years and then dribbling it out over the next 10, 20 or 30 years. We have to do this now.
I just wonder what sort of economics you are using to try to spin this as a win for climate change. It's just Orwellian.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
That has nothing to do with the pipeline.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
First, I would like to express my condolences to Mr. Kmiec and Mr. Poilievre and to everyone who knew Mark Warawa well. I also want to express my condolences to his widow, Diane, and to his entire family. This is really a sad day.
I want to commend you, Mr. Giroux, because I think this is one of the most important reports you've ever produced.
Over the last four years, we haven't had a single charge from the Canada Revenue Agency on corporate tax avoidance. This is going to become a major issue, I believe, in the federal election campaign because of the fact there has simply not been any action taken against tax avoidance.
At the same time, Canadians are struggling for affordable housing, for medication and to get their kids through school. The answer they're always given is that they're going to have to wait because there are other priorities, but the reality is that there are astronomical sums that seem to be getting around a taxation system, with no action being taken by the federal government.
I want to start by asking you about this, just so I can understand the figures. They seem astronomical.
First, we're talking about nearly a trillion dollars—$996 billion—in reportable transactions with offshore financial centres. Then there are the electronic funds transfers, where we're looking at $1.6 trillion. How much overlap is there between the reportable transactions—that nearly trillion dollars—and the $1.6 trillion? How much of that is actually an overlap? What would be the comprehensive final figure combining those two?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
You don't have a precise figure to give us, and it is still likely to be in the trillions of dollars.
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