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Results: 1 - 15 of 413
View Peter Kent Profile
View Peter Kent Profile
2019-08-21 13:01
Thank you, Chair.
Good afternoon, colleagues. You'll recall that on January 10, 2018, this committee met in a special session with the former Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, enabling her to brief us on “The Trudeau Report”, which turned out to be Trudeau report number one, the results of her investigation into the Prime Minister's illegal vacation.
Ms. Dawson spent two hours with us, providing important relevant details on how she came to find the Prime Minister guilty of four violations of the Conflict of Interest Act. The findings of “The Trudeau Report” number one detailed unacceptable ethical lapses by the Prime Minister. However, Trudeau report number two, the scathing report released just last week by current Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, details many more serious violations of the Conflict of Interest Act, up to and including, by any reasonable measure, attempted obstruction of justice or as Commissioner Dion concludes, actions “contrary to the constitutional principles of prosecutorial independence and the rule of law.”
This is why, colleagues, Mr. Gourde and I wrote the following letter to the chair of our committee, Mr. Zimmer:
Yesterday, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner released the “Trudeau II Report”. The report found “The Prime Minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson-Raybould. 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.”
This is incredibly concerning. These findings show that Justin Trudeau used the power of his office to reward his friends and to punish his critics.
This is a grave situation. Not only is Mr. Trudeau the first Prime Minister to have been found guilty of breaking the law, he is a repeat offender.
Canadians deserve fulsome answers to the many remaining questions. We ask that you urgently convene a meeting of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics for the purposes of receiving a briefing from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
We would be prepared to move the following motion:
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.
Colleagues, in this committee's previous consideration of opposition motions regarding the SNC-Lavalin scandal, Mr. Erskine-Smith, speaking for all Liberal members of this committee, characterized those motions as premature until the justice committee completed its study and the Ethics Commissioner completed his investigation. The Liberal majority voted against all opposition motions.
Now we know the chair and Liberal members of the justice committee shut down their study prematurely, and a week ago, the Ethics Commissioner published the “Trudeau II Report”, reporting to parliamentarians and to all Canadians that their Prime Minister broke the law by improperly attempting to influence the Attorney General in “many ways”. It confirmed Canadians' decisions and suspicions and much more.
It is a weighty report, even though the commissioner states that his investigation is incomplete and even though he reports he was prevented by the Clerk of the Privy Council from accessing relevant witness testimony under a blanket confidentiality shield, thus blocking him from looking at the entire body of evidence. Despite all of those challenges, the Ethics Commissioner declares he gathered sufficient factual information to properly determine the matter on its merits. He has itemized those facts in great detail.
Again, as the commissioner writes in his conclusion, the Prime Minister's actions were “improper” and “contrary to the constitutional principles of prosecutorial independence and the rule of law.”
Colleagues, these detailed findings of fact on a Prime Minister's actions are unprecedented in Canadian history. I hope that you will agree that a debriefing session with the Ethics Commissioner as soon as possible is as appropriate now as was the debriefing session on “The Trudeau Report” number one with the previous commissioner last year.
Thank you, Chair.
View Lisa Raitt Profile
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2019-08-21 13:06
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I echo the comments made by Mr. Kent with respect to the desire for this committee to move forward by hearing from the Ethics Commissioner.
I am here today because I was a member of the justice committee that was shut down in March of this year in favour of the Ethics Commissioner's conducting his study. A letter was sent by the Liberal members of the committee on March 18 to the chair of the justice committee. Those members were Randy Boissonnault, Iqra Khalid, Ali Ehsassi, Ron McKinnon and Colin Fraser.
They said their conclusion, after the testimony heard at the justice committee, was that all of the rules and laws were followed. They also said they believed that the ongoing study of the Ethics Commissioner was the appropriate way forward and that they had faith in the Ethics Commissioner. They also noted that the opposition parties rushed to judgment before hearing all of the relevant information.
Following the shutting down of the justice committee, the ethics committee then tried to raise the issue for discussion. On March 26, the matter was again blocked. As a result, we were left with the office of the Ethics Commissioner being the only venue where an investigation was taking place. Indeed, if you look at Hansard for April and May of 2019, when asked questions by members of the opposition, the Prime Minister said and then reiterated continuously that he had faith in the Ethics Commissioner conducting his study.
However, most recently the Prime Minister, in commenting on the “Trudeau II Report” issued last week, said two things that caught my attention. The first was “We fully cooperated with the Commissioner” and the second was “I disagree with that conclusion”. These two statements carry great weight. They're by the Prime Minister of Canada and they are the only statements regarding the Ethics Commissioner's report on record by the Prime Minister on this matter. It is unfair that the Ethics Commissioner has no voice and no venue to be able to respond to these two assertions made by the Prime Minister.
There is a provision in the Conflict of Interest Act to allow somebody who is being investigated to appeal a ruling of the Ethics Commissioner. We find ourselves in some uncharted territory because what the Prime Minister seems to seek to do is to change the report of the Ethics Commissioner by saying that he doesn't agree with it and that he fully co-operated.
The evidence of the Ethics Commissioner in his report is that, to the contrary of the Prime Minister's statement, they did not fully co-operate with the commissioner at all. Indeed, the commissioner went to great lengths to note his concerns with respect to the appropriateness of the way in which the Prime Minister sought to produce documents, be interviewed and, at the end of the day, determine whether or not a waiver would be extended to allow the Ethics Commissioner to have access to all of the information he deemed appropriate for the study.
Where we find ourselves in uncharted territory is this: The Conflict of Interest Act does not allow for the Ethics Commissioner's report to be changed. No committee of Parliament, no vote in the House of Commons can change the contents of a report by, or the decision of, the Ethics Commissioner. The report is what it is and stands as it is, yet the Prime Minister is now trying to say the report is wrong.
The good news for him is that if he chooses to in fact go ahead and appeal the ruling of the Ethics Commissioner, he has the ability to do so. He can do that by launching a judicial review at the Federal Court of Appeal. That is the appropriate venue for the Prime Minister to challenge the Ethics Commissioner, not in the court of public opinion, which he is seeking to do right now.
Why does this all pertain to a visit by the Ethics Commissioner to committee? Well, I do believe, as a lawyer, that there are rules regarding procedural fairness. Clearly, the Prime Minister is not going to be seeking judicial review of this ruling. He hasn't said he is going to do that, and in fact it doesn't seem as if he has any plans to even address that question.
That being said, it is still fair for the Ethics Commissioner to be able to respond in some way, shape or form to questions by the committee, by members of Parliament who seek to understand the discrepancy between what the Ethics Commissioner found and what the Prime Minister is attempting to assert to the Canadian public.
That is the issue of public interest that is so important in having the Ethics Commissioner come to testify. It is the foundation of our rule of law that accusations are allowed to be responded to and rebutted. That, I believe, is something, as parliamentarians, we owe to the Ethics Commissioner, who does his work at the request of all parliamentarians and indeed is voted on by all parliamentarians to sit as an officer of Parliament.
In summary, Mr. Chair, I would say that, after months and months of the Liberal members of Parliament on the justice committee, on the ethics committee, the Prime Minister himself and every minister who answered a question in the House of Commons answering with the refrain that they trust and believe in the independence of parliamentary officers and will listen to them and will co-operate fully, it is owed to the Ethics Commissioner, due to all of these comments, to have the ability to come in and respond to the two things the Prime Minister has said about this report, which are, first, that he fully co-operated with the commissioner, which the commissioner says is not the case, and second, that he disagrees with the conclusion, without telling us which conclusion he disagrees with.
With that, Mr. Chair, I pass the floor to the next individual, and I hope that my colleagues on the other side will, in fact, allow for the Ethics Commissioner to appear today, in fairness, in justice and to uphold the administration of our procedure.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
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
We'll have a recorded vote.
(Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 3)
The Chair: Ms. Raitt, do you have a comment?
View Leona Alleslev Profile
Thank you very much.
As you know, the Conservatives have called this emergency committee meeting because of reports that the Prime Minister has used the power of his office to attempt to muzzle private citizens and respected former career diplomats David Mulroney and Guy Saint-Jacques. These are serious allegations that merit an investigation, and of course it's our hope that this committee will agree to and support our request today.
As Mr. Mulroney said in some of the public statements that he's made, discouraging private citizens with expertise in foreign relations from speaking freely is fundamentally an undemocratic idea. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has shown a clear pattern of silencing those who would speak out against him. We're concerned that Canadians no longer have confidence in the Prime Minister when he says that he did not direct these civil servants to try to silence his critics.
We saw the Prime Minister attempt to defend himself with the same language that he used during the SNC-Lavalin scandal and various other affairs, such as the Vice-Admiral Norman affair and a trip to India, and we obviously do not necessarily believe that. As Canadians know, Trudeau's early denials in the SNC-Lavalin scandal have turned out to be false, and now we're wondering what the case is with this affair.
It is clear that the Prime Minister has shown a pattern of behaviour of attempting to silence anyone who would challenge or criticize the government's approach to anything. The foreign affairs committee today must find in favour of our motion to be able to get to the bottom of this. Anything less would be a cover-up.
We would like to move the following motion:
That, the Committee invite the following witnesses to appear:
a. Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland;
b. Paul Thoppil, Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia-Pacific, Global Affairs Canada;
c. David Mulroney, as an individual;
d. Guy Saint-Jacques, as an individual;
e. Any other individual that the Committee deems relevant
that pursuant to Section 10(3) of the Parliament of Canada Act, the witnesses are to be sworn in;
that each witness appear individually on a panel, for no less than one hour; and
that all witnesses appear no later than August 15, 2019.
Now, Mr. Chair, I'd like to speak to the motion.
View Lisa Raitt Profile
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2019-06-06 9:03
It is. It's 57%, right? Essentially, therefore, as the CEO and the majority shareholder, he is the sole proprietor at the end of the day. He controls it all. He controls exactly what happens in the company. He controls the board as well.
The U.K. is doing something very interesting. They have a white paper out right now and they're thinking of introducing the concept of duty of care. There's a concern about enforcement, which you were just telling us about, in terms of a process to find people to sit on a board. It seems to take a long period of time. If we're trying to figure out how we're going to go about finding a process to appoint people, we're nowhere near appointing a board, and yet the issue is urgent and current.
I'm just curious, Mr. Chan: What's the thought process around not having your CEO and majority shareholder coming to be accountable to parliamentarians, and to members of Congress as well, on an issue as important as this?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
Thank you, Mr. Angus.
For the ex officio members of the committee, we have a motion before our committee that we will have to vote on, so there will be some discussion.
Is there any discussion from any other members about the motion?
Mr. Kent.
View Peter Kent Profile
View Peter Kent Profile
2019-05-28 10:40
Thank you, Chair.
Yes, the official opposition, the Conservative Party, is fully willing to support Mr. Angus's motion. As we heard in some of the previous testimony, Facebook, among others of the large platforms, has shown extreme disrespect and disregard for sovereign governments and for committees representing sovereign governments, with regard to their concerns and the search for explanations as to why meaningful action has not been taken to date and for a clear and explicit explanation of their response to the concerns from around the world and certainly within democracies and the members of this international grand committee.
We will support this motion. Thank you.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
There was a discussion previously about no substantive motions being brought before the committee. That said, with all agreement at the table here, I think we can agree to have that heard—and we are hearing it today—and voted on.
Do we have...? I see all in favour of having that motion moved before us.
Are there any other comments about the motion?
Mr. Lucas.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
Thank you, Mr. Erskine-Smith.
Are there any further comments on the motion?
Frankly, to answer your question, being the chair of this committee on both levels, the international and our ethics committee, it's abhorrent that he's not here today and that Ms. Sandberg is not here today. It was very clearly communicated to them that they were to appear today before us. A summons was issued, which is already an unusual act for a committee. I think it's only fitting that there be an ongoing summons. As soon as either Mr. Zuckerberg or Ms. Sandberg step foot into our country, they will be served and expected to appear before our committee. If they choose not to, then the next step will be to hold them in contempt.
I think the words are strong, Mr. Angus, and I applaud you for your motion.
If there is not any further discussion on the motion, we'll go to the vote.
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Angus.
Next, we'll go to the platforms. We'll start with Facebook, go to Google, and then....
I'll mention the names. With Facebook Inc., we have Kevin Chan, Global Policy Director for Canada, and Neil Potts, Global Policy Director. With Google LLC, we have Derek Slater, Global Director of Information Policy; and with Google Canada, Colin McKay, Head, Government Affairs and Public Policy. From Twitter Inc., we have Carlos Monje, Director of Public Policy, and Michele Austin, Head, Government and Public Policy, Twitter Canada.
I would like to say that it wasn't just the CEOs of Facebook who were invited today. The CEOs of Google were invited. The CEO of Twitter was invited. We are more than disappointed that they as well chose not to show up.
We'll start off with Mr. Chan, for seven minutes.
Thank you.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
With respect, Mr. Potts, I'm going to step in here.
With respect, it is not your decision to select whether you're going to come or not. The committee has asked Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg to come, plain and simple, to appear before our international grand committee. We represent 400 million people, so when we ask those two individuals to come, that's exactly what we expect. It shows a little bit of distain from Mark Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg to simply choose not to come. It just shows there's a lack of an understanding about what we do, as legislators, as the member from Saint Lucia mentioned. The term “blowing us off”, I think, can be brought up again, but it needs to be stated that they were invited to appear and they were expected to appear and they're choosing not to. To use you two individuals in their stead is simply not acceptable.
I'll go back to Mr. Daniel from Saint Lucia.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
I would argue, Mr. Potts, if that were the case, they would be seated in those two chairs right there.
Continue on.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
Thank you.
It was just brought to my attention, too, the inconsistency in your testimony, Mr. Potts.
On one hand, Mr. Collins had asked you about the Pelosi video, which you're not going to pull down. Then within 30 minutes or within an hour you just answered the member from Saint Lucia that it would come down immediately. I just would like you to be completely aware that it's expected that you completely tell the truth to this committee at this time and not to be inconsistent in your testimony.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
I don't think it's any clearer to any of us in the room, but I'll move on to the next person.
We'll go to Mr. Baylis, for five minutes.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
Yes, I've seen similar.... The story, I believe, was on CNN this afternoon. I have not received that, as chair of the committee. Whether they will show up or won't show up.... We've asked the clerk, as well. We haven't received any communication to say they're not going to be appearing tomorrow morning.
My expectation is that we'll have some spaces for them to come and sit and give testimony. Whether or not they choose to fill those is up to them.
Again, it's my hope and expectation that they will follow through with our subpoena and show up tomorrow. That's just my comment back that officially, nothing as chair, nothing as clerk of the committee.
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