Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I think the amendment would remove one of the problematic pieces of this particular motion, so of course we would be supportive of that.
In this country we do have due process. We want to ensure that people are not tried in the court of public opinion. I think that is incredibly important, not only for the person who stands accused but also for the survivors, for the people who are impacted by that behaviour. It is, I think, very important that we allow that due process. I would support the amendment.
However, there are significant issues both procedurally and with the content in this motion, and frankly, in the tone of the debate we started seeing here today.
First of all, a motion that is this comprehensive was once again table-dropped minutes before the meeting began, without any courtesy for other members of the committee, especially in an era when we're mostly using Zoom. We're not sitting side by side with our colleagues, as we normally are, when we can look to each other and say, “What do you think of this? What do you think of that?” We are at a distance.
The Zoom format also makes it more difficult to look at the other side and come to agreements on things, but even more so when something is table-dropped just before a meeting starts, when we have to start speaking on it minutes after the first time we read it. That's fine if it's a sentence that you want to change in a motion, but for a motion that is I don't know how many paragraphs long, it's very unfair. This has been a habit throughout the last number of weeks and months.
Having said that, I think there's some very inflammatory language being used here. I truly don't know where the idea that anybody would hold a report “hostage” is coming from. I know there have been many meetings set aside over the last few months in order to look at those draft reports, some of them when opposition members decided they were going to stop participating in camera in order to start a motion, as opposed to actually looking at the draft reports. This is something that's gone on for three or four months. I think there have been many attempts to make sure we do get those reports out. Frankly, I think we still would very much like to see all of the reports.
As a committee, we passed a motion that required that we would consider the sexual misconduct report before a certain date. I think to suggest that the chair is doing things unilaterally is very unfair when all the chair is doing is following the motion that was adopted by this committee, a motion with a particular timeline.
Having said that about the timeline, Madam Chair, I feel as though each time we get to a point where we say, “Okay, we're going to make sure we get this report done, and we have finalized all of the witnesses”, then there's one more. I remember that in the discussions about having Mr. Elder come, the idea was, “Well, this is the last one we need. Once we get his perspective on things, we don't need to have any more” and we could move on with not just the reports but the next study, which is on military justice.
I can tell you from my discussions with survivors that military justice is an incredibly important piece. We know that former Justice Fish is working right now on finalizing a review of the National Defence Act that looks at military justice. I know that right now it is very important for us as a committee to move on to study that review.
Then we said, “Yes, of course”, and Mr. Elder came. He said the exact same thing that all the other witnesses said, which was that clearly there was no substantive knowledge—I think his words were “very limited knowledge”—about what the complaint was. Nonetheless, there was an attempt by PCO to reach out, to try to have it investigated. Without knowing anything or knowing what it was or who it was, there was very limited ability to pursue any investigation. I think we heard from the Clerk of the Privy Council that there was an impasse.
Nonetheless, we were preparing at that point to get the report done. I would note that there's mention about differences of views about what this report is. This could be the single most important report that this committee does. This is one of the biggest issues facing the Canadian Armed Forces today.
Obviously the report is still in draft form, so I can't comment on the report itself, but I can comment on the recommendations that I know the Liberal members put forward. Out of 24 recommendations coming from Liberal members, 23 are focused specifically on survivors and on how to fix the system moving forward.
I believe there has been enough finger pointing. To be honest, we could do the same thing. We have seen in the Toronto Star this weekend some really concerning quotes. Different people are saying different things. What is becoming very apparent is that unlike what happened in 2018, it does not look like the allegations that Mr. O'Toole brought forward in 2015 were investigated at all. In that case, they actually had something. They knew where it occurred. They knew what it was. They knew that it was a relationship with a subordinate. There was actually something that could potentially have been followed up on, which—as we are starting to see and I think we could elaborate on—didn't happen.
I'll be honest. I would love to have this committee have both Mr. Fadden and Mr. Novak sit here side by side and ask them questions. Both of them are saying different things. Mr. Novak came to this committee and was very clear that there was an investigation, that everything was done properly and that it was Mr. Fadden who conducted the investigation. Now we find that Mr. Fadden is saying to the media that he did not, in fact, conduct any investigation and has no recollection of it.
We could keep the study going and bring those witnesses. We could bring.... Honestly, I have a whole list here of people we could add. I'm not sure, but perhaps that's something we need to do. What I would prefer is not to continue down this very politicized road. Every single time another witness is called, we think we're going to be able to get that report done, and then there's yet another one.
We had the chief of staff to the Prime Minister come. Even at that point, it wasn't enough. Now we're recycling back through the older witnesses, going back to Ms. Astravas and Mr. Walbourne and the minister. The minister was here for six hours at this committee alone.
It seems to me that at this point, what we're looking at is.... I'm not convinced that the opposition wants to see this report or the other ones see the light of day. Every time we get to a point where we could move forward as a committee, there is yet another motion and yet another series of witnesses to call. Now they're literally going back and recycling witnesses who've already appeared. I'm not entirely certain that this is completely good faith.
Having said that, I want to address some of the things in this motion.
First of all, we have a piece here that talks about Zita Astravas. First of all, the minister did come—