Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I, too, would like to talk about the report, and I will keep it short. The title of the report alone gives me the chills: the “Trudeau II Report”. The number II means it’s the second report in the same session about the fact that the Prime Minister broke the law. In the case at hand, he violated section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act. Here is what that section stipulates:
No public office holder shall use his or her position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further the public office holder’s private interests or those of the public office holder’s relatives or friends or to improperly [I repeat, improperly] further another person’s private interests.
In paragraph 282 of this very detailed report, Commissioner Mario Dion specifies that “the authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson-Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer.”
That is a scandal in itself. One has to wonder, with an election around the corner, whether Canadians deserve a prime minister who breaks the laws of his own country. This is scathing.
I hope that in the next few minutes, my colleagues across the way will have the moral conscience to permit us to invite the commissioner to come testify. He’s willing to do it. We have other questions to ask, and there is more to come on this story. We’d like to shed some light on that and learn the whole truth. Canadians deserve to know the truth before the election on October 21.
In the democracy in which we live, it’s very troubling for all Canadians to see that an individual in a high-level position like the Prime Minister’s doesn’t seem to understand the separation of executive, legislative and judiciary powers.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 13:54
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We all appreciate the efforts of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and his office, as well as their support to members and Parliament. As far as this report is concerned, the Prime Minister has thanked the commissioner and accepted his report. This matter has been thoroughly studied. As we all heard, the justice committee heard from 10 witnesses for a total of 13 hours of testimony over five weeks.
In addition, we now have this detailed report from the commissioner. It represents months of work for him, and it’s 63 pages long. The Prime Minister has stated unequivocally that he was only trying to protect the jobs of thousands of Canadian workers the whole time. I would think all workers and all Canadians would expect that if their jobs were in jeopardy.
We also have a guide by the Honourable Anne McLellan. She spoke with all the former attorneys general. Her guide helps clarify the relationships between—
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 13:56
I will start over. We also have a guide by the Honourable Anne McLellan. She spoke with all the former attorneys general. Her guide helps clarify the relationships between attorneys general and their colleagues in cabinet. The Prime Minister has already pledged to all Canadians that he will act on Ms. McLellan’s recommendations.
The combined processes of the justice committee and the commissioner, which took many hours, months and pages to complete, were detailed and thorough. It’s obvious to me, after hearing my honourable colleagues speak, that the opposition’s real objective is simply to play politics.
We're all thankful for the work of the commissioner's office in support of all members of the House at all times. The commissioner's report is quite detailed and Canadians have had a good opportunity to familiarize themselves with the content. The Prime Minister has thanked the commissioner and accepted the report.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Steve MacKinnon: Though he disagrees with the conclusions, especially when so many jobs were at stake—which is no laughing matter—he has already announced that steps will be taken to ensure that no government goes through a similar situation in the future.
This government, as any government, should take seriously the responsibility of standing up for jobs and growing the economy. It's the responsibility of any Prime Minister to stand up for people's jobs. In fact, it's the responsibility of all members of Parliament. People whose jobs are on the line should expect no less of their elected representatives.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 13:58
No.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Steven MacKinnon: Nor is that a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 13:59
That member, with his rich experience in Canada's private sector, we'll have to look at his views with some skepticism too.
It's the responsibility of any Prime Minister to stand up for people's jobs and livelihoods across the country, and that should also be the job of all members of Parliament while upholding, of course, at all times, the rule of law.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 14:00
Mr. Chairman, where I come from, we listen to folks and then get to speak and have a healthy exchange.
I've now been interrupted three times by things that were not points of order. I hope the committee will indulge in hearing the rest of our statement.
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 14:00
I'm just expressing it through you, Mr. Chair—
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2019-08-21 14:01
Thank you.
I appreciate your chairmanship today, Mr. Chair.
The Prime Minister's objective throughout, as he stated, was to protect thousands of jobs in Canada, all the while ensuring the integrity and independence of the justice system. As has been confirmed on multiple occasions, no direction was ever given to the former attorney general.
Also, former attorney general Anne McLellan has authored a report after speaking with all former attorneys general, as well as constitutional scholars, and has offered recommendations, including a process and a set of principles to guide the relationship between the Attorney General and the government. Both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General have already stated that they will be looking at how to best implement those recommendations, such as the protocol on interactions with the Attorney General and better education for all parliamentarians on defining the role.
The matter before us today has been studied quite extensively. The justice committee heard over 13 hours of comprehensive testimony from 10 different witnesses over a five-week span, and we now have a very thorough 63-page report by the commissioner.
The opposition's claim to simply want the facts is contradicted by the fact that what they seek is found in the commissioner's report. It is already public, on top of the 13 hours of testimony that I just referenced, so the only conclusion that I and members of this committee can come to is that the opposition seeks to prolong this process for political reasons and partisan games.
It is for that reason, Mr. Chair, that we will be opposing this motion.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
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.
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