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Results: 16 - 30 of 89436
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
A recorded vote.
View Guy Caron Profile
Thank you.
All this is necessary because David Mulroney, the former Canadian ambassador to China, received a call, not from a regular employee of Global Affairs Canada, but from the assistant deputy minister for Asia-Pacific at the department. The assistant deputy minister asked him the following:
“In this time of high tension and in an election environment, we all need to be very, very careful.”
He said that he made the call at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office. At this time, the PMO and the Prime Minister deny making the request. Someone is lying in this case, and the consequences are quite serious for our parliamentary system.
Is Mr. Mulroney lying? I don't think so.
Did Mr. Thoppil lie when he said that the Prime Minister's Office asked him to contact Mr. Mulroney? In addition, someone else in the Prime Minister's Office reportedly contacted Guy Saint-Jacques, another former Canadian ambassador to China.
I don't think that Mr. Thoppil lied. He had no reason to do so.
As assistant deputy minister, he is experienced enough to distinguish between partisan meddling and a request from the Prime Minister's Office. At this point, I believe that, to get to the bottom of the matter and find out the truth, we must hear from the witnesses named in the motion. Ms. Alleslev provided the rationale for our request. However, I believe that we must determine to what extent, in terms of public comments, the Prime Minister's Office can ask its public service to work with private citizens who have expertise in the matter.
These people have the right to make public comments, and they do so by drawing on their expertise. Asking them to speak carefully and to understand that they and Canada are acting in the best interests of the country by speaking with one voice constitutes an excessive and deliberate violation. If the Prime Minister's Office did indeed contact these former ambassadors, I think that this raises serious issues in terms of how we deal with the relationship between the Prime Minister's Office and the public service and how the Prime Minister's Office deals with private citizens.
To this end, I urge my Liberal colleagues on the committee to call this meeting and the aforementioned witnesses so that we can understand the entire situation and find out who is and who isn't telling the truth in this case. Based on the current information, if I consider the simplest explanation, I'd say that Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Saint-Jacques felt pressured to align their views with the government's perspective.
When he reported that he made the phone call at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office, the assistant deputy minister in question had no reason to lie. If the request did indeed come from the Prime Minister's Office, we must know who made the request and why, and we must ensure that this type of action won't be taken again. Only transparency and a public review by the committee will make this possible.
I urge the Liberal members of the committee to accept and adopt this motion. We want to get to the bottom of the matter, not only for the sake of democracy and freedom of expression, but also to know the full story.
Thank you.
View Erin Weir Profile
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 Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
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 Guy Caron Profile
Thank you.
The role of a committee, when it isn't undertaking a study to further examine a given situation, is to ensure that the government remains accountable. In my eight and a half years as a member of Parliament, I've sat on various committees. I've noticed that some committees have forgotten this fundamental rule, particularly when it comes to the government, whether we're talking about the Conservatives in 2011 and 2015 or the Liberals now.
Based on the Liberals' comments that I've heard, since the Prime Minister's Office issued an official letter denying that the assistant deputy minister was instructed to contact the two former diplomats, we should simply accept the situation and not look any further, given that the Prime Minister's Office is obviously telling the truth. By sending us this letter, the Prime Minister's Office is saying that either these former diplomats—and we're not talking about just one, but two former diplomats who described the same situation—are lying or exaggerating the seriousness of the situation, or that the assistant deputy minister lied to the two former diplomats when he told them that he was calling on behalf or at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office.
In any case, the situation is serious. Either a senior government official, at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office, contacted former diplomats to tell them that they should perhaps tone down their comments and align their statements because it would be more prudent to do so from an electoral standpoint, or these people claimed that this occurred, which would also be an issue. I'm trying to understand why the government members aren't more willing, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to conduct a more in-depth study of this highly problematic situation. Are we simply going to say that a letter of intent from the Prime Minister's Office states that this wasn't really the goal, that there were misinterpretations and that we, as a committee, will refuse to conduct a more in-depth study of the situation? That doesn't make any sense.
I think that the government members must understand their role in this committee. This isn't the House of Commons, and we have the right to be called by our last names because, in theory, we don't represent any constituencies or political parties. We must finally realize that we're working for the citizens of this country. We have a duty, as the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to study an ethically problematic situation that has been reported in the media and for which we don't currently have a satisfactory solution.
Given all these factors, the government members of this committee should take their responsibilities seriously and agree to hear from these people in order to get to the bottom of the matter. I'm not suggesting that these people have been intimidated. However, I would say that they've at least been subjected to undue pressure from the Prime Minister's Office. If this has indeed occurred, the Prime Minister's Office must understand that the situation is unacceptable. It's not enough to say that people on the other side didn't really understand the goal.
I want to say one last time that the government members must understand the situation and their role in the committee, which is to ensure that their government remains accountable. If they fail to do so, we won't have any power to ensure accountability on our side.
Thank you.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the special meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
We are here to study the nomination of the Honourable Nicholas Kasirer to the Supreme Court of Canada.
This is the third time we have conducted such an exercise.
We did this for Justice Rowe and Justice Martin when they were nominated.
It is a pleasure to be joined today by the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, our former prime minister.
Ms. Campbell is the chairperson of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments.
This afternoon, colleagues, we will be joining the Senate's constitutional and legal affairs committee and parliamentarians from non-recognized parties to question the nominee. Before that, we have the opportunity this morning to hear from Minister Lametti and from former prime minister Kim Campbell about the process that led to the nomination of Judge Kasirer and to ask them questions about it.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti, I will turn the floor over to you.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will make a statement, then the Right Honourable Kim Campbell will speak, and then I will speak again. Afterwards, we will answer your questions together.
Mr. Chairman, Right Honourable Kim Campbell, members of the committee and other parliamentarians in the room, good morning. I also note the presence of the Honourable Irwin Cotler, whom I thank for being here.
First and foremost, we recognize that we are on traditional unceded Algonquin lands. It is very important to underline this fact today.
I would like to thank the chair for convening this extraordinary meeting of the committee. I also thank all honourable members for being here today. I recognize, of course, that many of them have changed their summer plans to be with us. I am very grateful to them.
As the chair has just pointed out, this is the third time our government has implemented its reformed process for appointing judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The modifications we introduced in 2016 are designed to ensure greater openness, transparency and accountability in the appointments process. Many of you here today are seasoned participants, having been part of the 2016 and 2017 processes that resulted in the appointments respectively of justices Rowe and Martin. Madam Campbell was the chair of those committees as well.
As you can imagine, I have followed these processes with great interest and attention. It is now a great honour and privilege for me to participate more directly in the process to fill the position that will become vacant on September 15, 2019, following the retirement of Justice Clément Gascon.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Justice Gascon for his contribution and to acknowledge the courage he has shown throughout his career.
I have the pleasure of appearing today with the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, who joins us via video conference from Vancouver. Ms. Campbell previously served as the chairperson of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments. Ms. Campbell also served as the chairperson of the current advisory board that was adapted to ensure the appointment of a judge properly grounded in the legal experience of Quebec and its legal tradition. Ms. Campbell's extensive experience with the selection process has been an invaluable resource in this process. We are grateful for her continued dedication to serving Canadians in this role and we say thank you.
In a few moments, I will turn things over to Ms. Campbell to describe the specific work the advisory board undertook in order to produce the short list of candidates for the Prime Minister's consideration. Before doing so, however, I would like to briefly outline the unique aspects of the current process to fill this Quebec seat on the court.
According to the Supreme Court Act, three seats on the court are reserved for lawyers from Quebec. Under sections 5 and 6 of the act, only judges of the Court of Appeal or the Superior Court of Quebec, or those who have been members in good standing of the Barreau du Québec for at least 10 years, may be appointed.
As specified by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Reference re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6, these appointment criteria are intended to ensure that Quebec's unique legal traditions are well represented on the court. These criteria make it possible not only to ensure that the court is able to handle civil law cases, but also to ensure its legitimacy in the eyes of the Quebec population.
That is why the qualifications and evaluation criteria stipulate that a "deep knowledge of the civil law tradition is essential for all candidates to the three Quebec seats".
In addition, on May 15, 2019, the Prime Minister announced a memorandum of understanding between our government and that of Quebec. This memorandum of understanding sets out the process for filling the position that will become vacant following Justice Gascon's retirement. As with the process for seats that do not belong to Quebec, this process is based primarily on the work of the independent and impartial advisory board, which is responsible for assessing nominations and developing a short list of three to five names to recommend to the Prime Minister.
The composition of the advisory board has been adjusted to accurately reflect the reality of Quebec, its legal practices and its civil law tradition.
As mentioned, the advisory board was chaired by Ms. Campbell and included another member whom, as Federal Minister of Justice, I had been asked to appoint. The other six members were selected in such a way as to ensure adequate representation with respect to Quebec and civil law. These six other members were appointed by the Quebec Minister of Justice, the Barreau du Québec, the Quebec Division of the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Judicial Council and the Deans of the Quebec Law Faculties and the Civil Law Section of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa.
The selected members, all of whom are functionally bilingual, represented a distinguished set of individuals who undertook their important responsibilities with great care and dedication. I would like to thank them, on behalf of the Prime Minister and our government, for their exceptional service throughout this process.
They did a better job than those working the lights today.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. David Lametti: The core mandate of the advisory board was to assess candidates against the published assessment criteria and to submit to the Prime Minister the names of three to five qualified and functionally bilingual candidates.
In accordance with the agreement with the Government of Quebec, after receiving the short list provided by the advisory board, I forwarded it to the Quebec Minister of Justice. We then conducted our own separate confidential consultations on the preselected applications.
For my part, I consulted with the Chief Justice of Canada, a number of my cabinet colleagues, the opposition justice critics, members of your committee and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, among others. The Quebec Minister of Justice conducted her own consultations, including with the Chief Justice of Quebec, before reporting her findings to the Premier of Quebec. After the conclusion of this consultation period, the Premier of Quebec and I submitted our respective recommendations to the Prime Minister of Canada to inform his choice as to whom to appoint.
Before turning the floor over to Ms. Campbell, I would like to speak briefly about the importance of confidentiality in this process, given the concerns that have rightly been raised about improper disclosures surrounding the 2017 selection process.
As I have said previously, the disclosure of confidential information regarding candidates for judicial appointments is unacceptable. I want to stress that I took strict measures to ensure that confidentiality was respected. This process has implemented strict confidentiality measures throughout. The terms of reference for the advisory board contain provisions specifically designed to ensure that the privacy interests of all candidates are respected. This includes a requirement that advisory board members sign a confidentiality agreement prior to their appointment. In addition, the agreement with Quebec explicitly states that the sharing of, and consultations on, the short list are to be conducted in a confidential manner.
In terms of next steps in the process, in addition to the advisory board's critical contribution in developing the short list, today's hearing is another important element. It provides an opportunity for all of you, as parliamentarians, to hear from and question the government regarding the selection process and our choice of nominee. Parliamentarians, and Canadians more broadly, will have the opportunity to become acquainted with the nominee through the question and answer session that has been scheduled for this afternoon.
Having provided this context, I would now look to Ms. Campbell to describe the work that the advisory board undertook in fulfilling its mandate. I will then say a few words about the Prime Minister's nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Honourable Nicholas Kasirer.
Madam Campbell.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
Mr. Lametti.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Ms. Campbell.
I will take the floor for a few moments again to talk to you about the Honourable Nicholas Kasirer.
Born in 1960 and originally from Montreal, Mr. Justice Kasirer was called to the Quebec Bar in 1987, after graduating with distinction from the University of Toronto in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor of Civil Law and Common Law degree from McGill University in 1985. He also studied at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he obtained an advanced degree in international public law in 1986.
Following his admission to the Barreau du Québec, Justice Kasirer clerked for the Hon. Jean Beetz at the Supreme Court of Canada.
He then served as professor at his and my alma mater, McGill University, from 1989 to 2009, and he was the dean of the faculty of law at McGill from 2003 to 2009, when he was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Quebec.
Prior to his career at McGill, from 1996 to 2003, he was the director of the Quebec Research Centre of Private and Comparative Law, as well as a part-time instructor at the Barreau du Québec and a guest professor at the Université de Paris.
Judge Kasirer is perfectly bilingual. As you will have the pleasure to see this afternoon, he speaks both Molière and Shakespeare's language equally well.
A prolific author, he has participated in the writing of nearly two dozen books, as author or contributor, and has written numerous legal publications, mainly devoted to the law of obligations, property law, family law and the law of wills and estates, both in civil law and in common law.
Known for his generosity and great collegiality, Judge Kasirer has had, as the Prime Minister said, an exceptional career as a judge and professor, and has earned the esteem of his peers in Canada and around the world. There is no doubt that he will be an asset to the Supreme Court of Canada.
I would like to conclude by reiterating my sincere thanks, on behalf of the government, to the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, each member of the advisory committee, each person who was consulted and each candidate who applied in this process. You have helped to ensure the strength of one of Canada's most treasured institutions, a Supreme Court that is respected and admired throughout the world. We are very grateful for your contribution.
I would also like to thank the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs and his staff, who provided exceptional and professional administrative support throughout the process.
Finally, I thank my colleagues in Parliament for helping to place the values of democracy, transparency and accountability at the heart of the selection of judges for our final court of appeal.
Ways to involve parliamentarians in the process of appointing judges to the Supreme Court of Canada have been sought for at least 20 years. I believe this is a crucial role, and members of the 42nd Parliament can be proud to have made progress toward consultation and inclusion.
Thanks to this continued support for the core values of transparency, inclusion and accountability, the selection process for judges of the Supreme Court of Canada will continue to strengthen the confidence of Canadians in this fundamental institution, as will the appointment of outstanding jurists who reflect the diversity and bilingual and bijural character of our country.
Thank you.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Ms. Campbell, and thank you very much, Mr. Lametti. We tried very hard to get the lighting right for you throughout that entire presentation.
Just for everybody's edification, the issue is building-wide, not just in this room. Public Works is trying to resolve it. Please don't blame the staff here for the lighting issue. They're not the ones doing it.
We'll do two rounds of questions now.
We'll start with the Conservative Party.
Ms. Raitt, you have the floor.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
As you know and as I've said many times in the House of Commons and in other public fora, including in front of the press, I make no comment on anything with respect to that file. Anything that I can or might say might have an impact on ongoing litigation. Therefore, I'm very careful in that regard. Thank you.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
I don't know. The Privacy Commissioner has stated that he has opened an investigation into the matter, and I'm not going to comment on his ongoing investigation. I will say that federal departments will co-operate fully with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and that I took steps in this current process both in terms of limiting the number of people who had access to the process within my department, as well as segregating the server and doing everything securely that we needed to do to make sure that there was no breach of privacy from my department.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Sorry, but we're out of time.
Ms. Khalid.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much.
Ms. Moore now has the floor.
View Christine Moore Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would like to go back briefly to the short list submitted to the Prime Minister.
According to media reports, the person selected for this appointment was the first choice of the Government of Quebec, but no one can confirm or deny this information.
Do you think it would be preferable, while of course keeping the names of the other candidates confidential, that the Government of Quebec or the advisory board have permission to confirm whether the candidate selected by the Prime Minister was their first choice?
From what I understand, we make recommendations. So the Prime Minister could very well, even if this is very rarely the case, choose someone who is not on the list of recommendations, or not choose the first choice of the advisory board, but rather the second or third person on the list.
Would it be better if the Prime Minister could confirm that he opted for the first choice on the list? This would give us the assurance that he respects the non-partisan will of the various people who submitted recommendations.
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