Hon. Karina Gould - 12:12
Mr. Speaker, last week the world was shaken by the devastating news of a massive explosion at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon.
On the morning of August 4, the people of Beirut were going about their normal daily routines without any inkling of what was to come. They were shaken from those routines by horrific explosions that devastated the city, claimed at least 171 lives and left over 6,000 wounded. People lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed. We understand that Lebanese officials continue to investigate the cause of the explosions, and we look forward to the outcome of those efforts.
Of course, many Canadians of Lebanese descent have family, friends and loved ones in Beirut and throughout Lebanon. Canada is proud to stand with our Lebanese community during this difficult time as they process the tragedy and remember and honour the victims. We have heard heartwarming stories of Lebanese Canadians joining forces to organize aid deliveries and to offer any support they can, which speaks to the spirit of the community.
We also extend our sympathies and condolences to the family and colleagues of Nazar Najarian, a Montreal businessman who was tragically killed, and to all those injured, including a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. We are praying for their speedy recovery.
As we know, much of the city is devastated and in dire need of help. I know that Canadians will answer the call. We will support the people of Lebanon as they work to clear the debris and search for people affected by this tragedy. Throughout their history, Lebanese people have endured great hardships and yet, through their incredible strength and resilience, they have always overcome them. I know that this time the outcome will be no different. Over the coming days, weeks and months, their strength will see them through this latest hardship.
On behalf of my family and the entire Conservative caucus, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident in Lebanon. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we are here to provide any assistance we can to those recovering from this tragedy.
Stéphane Bergeron - 12:20
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:33
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has had enough. He is tired of accountability and facing tough questions. He does not want to explain why he paid off his friends at WE with taxpayers' money. He will not tell us about the contract that he gave to the company that employs his top staffer's husband, and he certainly does not want to tell us how big of a cheque he cut to the former Liberal MP from Montreal.
When the Prime Minister cancelled Parliament in April, May and June, he replaced it with four sitting days this summer. The Liberals could have picked any day they wanted. Can the person auditioning for the role of Prime Minister today please tell us why the Prime Minister picked today if he was not going to show up?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 12:35
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:36
Mr. Speaker, it looks like my last question period as leader of the Conservative Party is just like my first: warm, sunny and the Prime Minister is nowhere to be found.
The Prime Minister is showing contempt for francophones by awarding a $900-million contract to a unilingual organization with no presence in Quebec.
Why did the Prime Minister disrespect francophones in yet another attempt to help his close friends?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 12:37
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:37
Mr. Speaker, the government still cannot provide simple, direct answers to very clear and simple questions.
The Prime Minister invented this phony story about pushing back on officials on May 8. Can the minister explain how on May 5 WE was told that it could already start spending money and charging taxpayers?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 12:37
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister likes to talk about space and time, but in the real world May 5 comes before May 8.
During this time of crisis, Canadians deserve and demand a steady hand leading our country. However, instead of stability we have a government in chaos: cabinet ministers are being summoned to testify; the Prime Minister's Office is focused on damage control instead of fixing its flawed programs; and now, senior sources close to the Prime Minister have told The Globe and Mail that the Prime Minister is inventing a phony policy dispute as an excuse to dump his finance minister, even bringing in a backup quarterback just in case.
When will the Prime Minister finally put the finance minister out of his misery?
Hon. Bill Morneau - 12:39
Mr. Speaker, it is not the first time the Prime Minister has told Canadians that a story in The Globe and Mail was false.
Speaking of another scandal, on March 31, 2019, the Prime Minister's lawyer sent me a letter threatening to sue me for telling Canadians about the Prime Minister's corruption. On April 10, 2019, I stood outside the chamber and repeated every single thing I said: the sordid facts about the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The Prime Minister did not like that I was telling Canadians about how he politically interfered in a criminal court proceeding. I was looking forward to being sued because then the Prime Minister would have to testify under oath and go through discovery.
After next week, my calendar is wide open. Could the Prime Minister please tell me when I can expect to see him in court?
Hon. Bill Morneau - 12:40
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:49
Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the National Post the Prime Minister's Office refused to answer some questions. I would like to give the government the opportunity to provide some clarity.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office meet or speak with Rob Silver, who is the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Katie Telford, about commercial rent, yes or no?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:50
Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple yes-or-no question.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office meet with Rob Silver, either in person, via telephone, via Zoom conference or text, about the issue of commercial rent, yes or no?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:51
Mr. Speaker, I will take that as a “yes”.
When did the Prime Minister or someone in his office meet with Mr. Silver? What are the dates and who met with Mr. Silver?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:52
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:52
Mr. Speaker, has the finance minister or anyone in his office met with Mr. Silver about commercial rent?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:52
Mr. Speaker, they should then be able to answer the question, and I take that as a “yes”.
Who in the finance minister's office met with Mr. Silver and when did they meet with Mr. Silver?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:52
Mr. Speaker, those are evasive non-answers.
Six months into this pandemic, and six years into this government, and the Prime Minister will be remembered for a $343-billion deficit and for setting the lowest bar ever for a prime minister's conduct in the history of this country.
The Prime Minister inappropriately groped a woman. He wore black face. He, his friends and his family took a prepaid, lavish vacation to billionaire island. He interfered in an SNC Lavalin criminal trial, and he then fired his attorney general because she would not go along with his cronyism.
He tried to give almost $1 billion to his friends at WE, who, we now know, have not only been campaigning for him, but have also been meeting with tens of thousands of young people and trying to get them to vote Liberal. We have also found out that WE has given the Prime Minister's family and friends, his family especially, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we have now found out that the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff got a nice $83-million contract from the Prime Minister.
With the Liberals, it really is about who one knows, not what one knows. This makes the Liberal sponsorship scandal look like child's play, actually.
Can the Prime Minister tell us—oh, sorry, he is not here. Can somebody on that side tell us why the Prime Minister thinks the rules do not apply to him?
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:54
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 12:55
Mr. Speaker, did the Prime Minister, any minister in the Liberal government or any of their staffers know that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation mandated to manage the emergency commercial rent assistance program, ultimately decided to outsource the file to MCAP, a mortgage lender, yes or no? Was anyone in this government aware of that?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:56
Mr. Speaker, I am holding in my hand a press release from the Prime Minister's Office dated April 24. It states, and I quote, “The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation [the CMHC] will administer and deliver the CECRA”.
How is it that the CMHC, which was mandated by the government to manage a program worth several billion dollars, decided to outsource it at a cost of $84 million to MCAP, the vice-president of which just happens to be married to the PMO's chief of staff, the most powerful person in that office?
Did anyone in this Liberal government know that the file was going to be outsourced to that organization with close ties to the Prime Minister's chief of staff?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:58
Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question. Did the Minister of Official Languages know that WE Charity gave a contract to National to implement the scholarship program for the entire francophone sector in Quebec and across the country, yes or no?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 12:59
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:59
Mr. Speaker, in this cabinet there are 11 Quebec ministers as well as other francophones: the Minister of Official Languages, the President of the Treasury Board, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and political lieutenant for Quebec, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of National Revenue, not to mention the Prime Minister, who is a Quebecker.
Why did not one of these people rise and state that it is unacceptable to award a contract without a bidding process to an organization that only works in English? It is unacceptable to all Quebeckers and francophones across the country. Did even one of these ministers rise to say that awarding a contract to the Prime Minister's friends was ill-advised?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 13:00
Mr. Speaker, we are starting to see the pattern. The government awards a contract to an organization, which then subcontracts to friends of the government. I think all of the links are clear.
Here is a very simple question for the Prime Minister. Could he tell us whether WE Charity has repaid the $30 million? Is there anyone in this government, whether it is the clerk of the Treasury Board, one of the ministers responsible or the Prime Minister, who can tell us whether this $30 million, which belongs to the people of Canada, will be returned to the government's coffers? Yes or no?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 13:01
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Barrie—Innisfil.
When the request to provide security scanners for Canada's embassies came up, KPrime Technologies responded. However, instead of working with this Calgary-based company to provide sensitive security equipment, the Liberals went with a company that is mired in a major international bribery scandal in Taiwan, and that has links to the Chinese government. Here is the kicker: it was done at a higher cost than what my constituent's company would have charged. Why?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne - 13:02
Mr. Speaker, the minister is asking us to believe his party, which had no compunction going to the walls for SNC-Lavalin, a company that bribed Moammar Gadhafi's son with prostitutes. He is asking us to believe they knew nothing about a Calgary-based company's legitimate bid to provide sensitive security equipment for embassies, and instead went with a company that, by all intents and purposes, ignores the rules around international bribery scandals.
This is not just about forgetting something. This is ridiculous. When is that review going to be done? It should have been done ahead of time. I want to see it right away, and will it be made public?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne - 13:03
Mr. Speaker, I believe Warren Kinsella said it best in his latest blog post that “There's a name for what we've now got. There's a name for a government like...[the Prime Minister's]—a government run by those who seek status and personal gain at the expense of the rest of us.” It is called a kleptocracy.
I looked up that word in the dictionary, and it comes originally from the Greek word for “theft”, “I steal” and “power, rule”. It means a government whose corrupt leaders, or kleptocrats, use political power to appropriate the wealth of their nation, typically by embezzling or misappropriating government funds at the expense of a wider population.
In a kleptocracy, corrupt politicians enrich themselves secretly, outside the rule of law, through kickbacks, bribes and special favours, or they simply direct state funds to themselves, directly or indirectly, and their associates.
We have had $343 billion in deficits and $1.2 trillion in debt, which gives a government a lot of room to misappropriate wealth, or in the case of debt of our nation, to direct those state funds to themselves or their associates.
There is a reason these scandals are profoundly scandalous, especially during a pandemic. It is because the allegations are that the Prime Minister, his family, his connected insiders and his friends sought to enrich themselves during a pandemic that is impoverishing millions of Canadians and killing thousands. While those governed are losing their homes, businesses, jobs and futures, the Prime Minister's family and friends are doing just fine. That is how a kleptocracy works.
There is the WE scandal, with the Prime Minister's family enriching themselves, and the CMHC scandal with Rob Silver, the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff. We have now found out that Frank Baylis, a former Liberal MP, has received an undisclosed value contract for $100,000 in non-health approved ventilators. The sponsorship scandal will look like a speck of sand in a desert when this is all over. When this is all over, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance will be just fine.
I have a question to ask on behalf of every Canadian before more stories surface, because they will. How many more Liberal-connected friends, families and insiders have had their palms greased and have personally financially gained from this pandemic at the expense of Canadians who have suffered so much during this crisis? Will the Liberals be honest for once or do we have to wait for the Auditor General to tell us?
Hon. Bill Morneau - 13:06
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:09
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan.
I would like to quickly acknowledge the work of the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle as the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition. This place has been better for his service as leader.
I have a question for the Liberals, who have used this pandemic to provide taxpayers dollars to their friends. I guess we should not be surprised: This is exactly what they did during the national unity crisis of the 1990s. They saw an opportunity and Canadians got the sponsorship scandal. The Liberals tried to feed money to their political allies at the WE organization. Thankfully the opposition stopped them, but now we are learning that the former Liberal MP Frank Baylis got his cut of the pandemic pie as well.
Will the Liberals tell us what the exact dollar figure was for the contract they gave to their friend? How much did Frank Baylis make in this deal?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 13:10
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:11
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:11
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:11
Mr. Speaker, my dad had a few phrases he always loved to use, like “A leopard cannot change its spots” or “The early bird gets the worm”.
Now that I am a father, it is my turn to add to these lifelong phrases. My addition is going to be “A Liberal is going to liberal.”
My son and daughter may ask me what this means, so here is a really short answer: A Liberal will always believe that there are enough taxpayer dollars to make his or her friends and family richer.
My question is for the Prime Minister. When will his family and his Laurentian elite friends have enough taxpayers' dollars?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 13:12
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:12
Mr. Speaker, that answer is ridiculous. Our country has never been more broken, because of the Liberal Party's divisive policies toward all Canadians.
When kids ask, “Dad, what is a Liberal?”, I will give them a quick answer. It is someone who seems incapable of passing up a crisis to help advance the prosperity of their friends and family. The national unity crisis gave us the sponsorship scandal, the global pandemic gave us more money for their rich friends and families and, because I like to have evidence, I will tell my kids to look at the last few weeks. They will see a contract given to Liberal-friendly WE for $900 million, a contract to a former Quebec MP for ventilators that have not been certified in any jurisdiction to date and, for the three-peat, a Liberal insider was given an $84-million contract, by coincidence, a company whose VP is the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
A Liberal is going to liberal.
I ask the interim Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, what is it about Liberals that makes them so corrupt?
Hon. Bardish Chagger - 13:14
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:14
Mr. Speaker, it is sort of amazing to hear that member talk about gender parity when the women over there, the most competent ones, all seem to get demoted, booted or have to do the king's dirty work. I do not know, but I guess it is all talk.
I will split my time with the member for Foothills today.
The Liberals are, no doubt, devastating families in Lakeland. There is no federal help for this year's agricultural emergency in my riding, with families facing a third year of damaged crops and a minister who hikes costs on them and dismisses farmers as being emotional. It has been 140 days since the finance minister promised help in hours for oil and gas, but not one application has been made or granted for large employers, not one mid-sized loan has been granted by the BDC, because the conditions are prohibitive, and the methane fund has yet to be launched.
Drillers and oil services are left out, fixed loans will not bridge the year and tens of thousands of Albertans are losing everything in real time, but in two weeks the Liberals were able to approve almost a billion dollars for the Prime Minister's friends at WE, who paid the Prime Minister's family members and campaigned for the Liberals. Moreover, a former Liberal MP recently scored a lucrative contract for ventilators before they were approved by Health Canada.
This is all bad, but what is worse is this: the Liberals' failures and corruption harm Canadian unity. Pierre Trudeau's strategist once said, “Screw the west, we'll take the rest”. It is clear that the second wave just might be worse.
Why are the Liberals intent on sabotaging Alberta?
Hon. Seamus O'Regan - 13:17
Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister's own department's stats have shown that 10,000 AgriInvest accounts have an account balance of zero and that 73,000 AgriInvest accounts have less than $10,000, yet during this pandemic she is telling Canadian farmers to empty accounts of money that they do not have before she is willing to lift a finger.
When is the agriculture minister going to start doing her job and develop a program specifically for Canadian farm families to help them through this pandemic and protect a vital pillar of our food supply chain?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau - 13:18
Mr. Speaker, I am happy that the minister brought up the Canadian emergency business account. Actually, the Liberals have managed to give more money to their friends at WE in two weeks than they have to an entire industry of agriculture.
The minister knows that she keeps telling farmers to use the CEBA and that is all they are going to need. She knows most farmers do not qualify for that program because they use personal business accounts and most of their expenses do not qualify for the CEBA program.
When is the minister going to stop making excuses, stop finding every way possible not to help Canadian farmers, and expand the eligibility criteria for CEBA so that these farmers can access this program?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau - 13:20
Hon. Catherine McKenna - 13:31
Resuming debate, we will go to the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.
Daniel Blaikie - 13:33
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 13:39
Mr. Chair, for months the Conservatives have been asking about new and expectant parents who will not have enough hours to qualify for EI parental leave due to COVID-19 and still the government refuses to address the problem. It has said over and over again it will be solved, but parents are having children now and are being told by Service Canada that they are not eligible. One person I heard from was eight hours short. A solution sometime in the future does not help them.
Why is the minister refusing to get parents the certainty they need?
Hon. Carla Qualtrough - 13:40
Mr. Chair, being top of mind does not help these parents one iota and this is not a problem that can simply wait. We have been asking for months.
Another issue is that those who were on the CERB, but did not want to go to work under an EI work-sharing agreement are being told that they cannot and will have to wait for the minister to sign an order allowing them to work. Why has the minister failed to sign that order?
Hon. Carla Qualtrough - 13:41