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Results: 1 - 30 of 124
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2019-06-19 14:37 [p.29387]
Mr. Speaker, breaking ethics rules is par for the course for the Liberals. There have been so many ethics investigations of the Prime Minister and his caucus that there is probably a speed dial from the commissioner's office to the Prime Minister's. The Prime Minister himself has been found guilty of breaking four laws with his illegal vacation.
Could the Prime Minister tell us, with all of these scandals, exactly how many times he has been interviewed by the Ethics Commissioner. Is he proud of his legacy of scandal, corruption and entitlement?
View Alain Rayes Profile
View Alain Rayes Profile
2019-06-19 14:39 [p.29387]
Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister is the first in Canadian history to be found guilty of violating the Conflict of Interest Act not once, but four times. He took $215,000 of taxpayer money to travel illegally with his family and friends to the Aga Khan's private island. These offences could constitute a violation of subsection 121(1) of the Criminal Code.
I have one simple question for the Prime Minister. How many times did he meet with the RCMP and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner?
View Lisa Raitt Profile
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2019-06-19 14:42 [p.29388]
Mr. Speaker, the work of the opposition on this side is to simply hold the Prime Minister to account for his own actions. He broke the Conflict of Interest Act, so did a number of his cabinet ministers. When two female cabinet ministers spoke truth to power, they were shoved out of caucus.
When the Minister of Finance, the former minister of fisheries and the Prime Minister himself broke conflict of interest laws, with a little wink and a nod, they were forgiven. I am wondering if the Prime Minister can tell us if the reason for this is simply, “Well, it's 2019”.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-29 13:17 [p.27091]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to the NDP motion. I would first like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live or who will watch later on social media.
I just spent two weeks in my riding, where I met thousands of my constituents at events and activities organized by different organizations. Last Thursday, the Corporation de développement communautaire de Beauport, or CDCB, held a unique and innovative event. For the first time, all elected municipal, provincial and federal officials in the riding attended a breakfast meet and greet for constituents and representatives of organizations. It was a type of round table with elected members from all levels of government. It was an exemplary exercise in good democratic practices for our country. We had some great conversations. I would like to congratulate the CDCB for this very interesting event, which I hope will become an annual tradition.
I also want to mention that my beautiful Quebec is experiencing serious flooding across the province. When I left Quebec City this morning around six  o'clock I could see damage all along the road between Trois-Rivières and Montreal and in the Maskinongé area. There is always a little water there in the spring, but there is a lot of water this year. When I got to the Gatineau-Ottawa area I saw houses flooded. Nearly 8,000 people, men, women and families, have been displaced. These are tough times, and I want them to know that my heart is with them. I wish them much strength. I am pleased to see that the Government of Quebec has announced assistance, as has the federal government, of course.
The NDP's motion is an interesting one. It addresses the fact that the current Prime Minister of Canada tried to influence the course of justice a couple of ways, in particular with the SNC-Lavalin matter, which has had a lot of media coverage in the past three months.
The NDP also raised the issue of drug prices. Conservatives know that, in NAFTA 2.0, which has not yet been ratified by any of the countries involved, the Liberals sadly gave in to pressure from President Trump to extend drug patents. If the agreement is ratified, Canadians will pay more for prescription drugs. People are also wondering when the Liberals will initiate serious talks about the steel and aluminum tariffs and when they will bring NAFTA ratification to the House for debate.
The NDP motion also mentions Loblaws' lobbying activities. People thought it was some kind of joke. They could not believe their eyes or their ears. The government gave Loblaws, a super-rich company, $12 million to replace its fridges. The mind boggles.
The NDP also talks about banking practices in Canada. Conservatives know that banks are important, but we think some of them, especially those run by the government, are unnecessary. As NDP members often point out, for good reason, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is designed to help big interest groups, but Canadians should not have to finance private infrastructure projects.
We could also talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is totally ridiculous. Canada sends nearly $250 million offshore to finance infrastructure projects, when right here at home, the federal government's $187-billion infrastructure plan is barely functioning. Over the past three years, only $14 billion of that $187 billion has been spent. It is deplorable, considering how great the needs are in that area. The issue of banking practices mentioned in the NDP's motion is therefore interesting to me.
Another thing that really bothers me as a citizen is tax evasion. Combatting tax evasion should really begin with education in our schools. Unfortunately, that is more of a provincial responsibility. We need to put patriotism back on the agenda. Many wealthy Canadians shamelessly and unscrupulously evade taxes because they have no sense of patriotism. They have no love for their country.
Schools and people in positions of authority should have instilled this notion at a very young age by teaching them that patriotism includes making sure that Canadian money stays in Canada for Canadians, for our social programs, our companies, our roads and our communities.
In my opinion, a lack of love for one's country is one of the main causes of tax evasion. Young people must be taught that they should not be complaining about our democratic system, but rather participating in it. They should be taught to love Canada.
That is my opinion piece for today.
It is difficult for us to support the NDP's fine motion, however, because, as usual, it includes a direct attack against the Canadian oil industry and all oil-related jobs.
Canadian oil is the most ethical oil in the world. Of course, in the past, there were some concerns about how the oil sands were processed, but I think a lot of effort has been made in recent years to find amazing technologies to capture the carbon released in the oil sands production process.
Since the government's mandate is almost at an end, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that this motion reminded me of some of the rather troubling ethical problems that the Liberal government has had over the past few years.
First the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau took a trip to a private island that belongs to our beloved and popular Aga Khan. The trip was not permissible under Canadian law, under our justice system. For the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister of Canada was found guilty of several charges under federal law because he took a private family vacation that had nothing to do with state interests and was largely paid by the Aga Khan. It was all very questionable, because at the very same time he was making this trip to the Aga Khan's private island, the Prime Minister was involved in dealings with the Aga Khan's office regarding certain investments.
Next we have the fascinating tale of the Minister of Finance, who brought forward a reform aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, a reform that was supposed to be robust and rigorous, when all the while he was hiding shares of his former family business, Morneau Shepell, in numbered companies in Alberta. On top of that, he forgot to tell the Ethics Commissioner about a villa he owned in France.
The young people watching us must find it rather unbelievable that someone could forget to tell the Ethics Commissioner about a wonderful villa on the Mediterranean in France, on some kind of lake or the sea, I assume.
Then there is the clam scandal as well. The former minister of fisheries and oceans is in my thoughts since he is now fighting cancer. It is sad, but that does not excuse his deplorable ethics behaviour two years ago when he tried to influence a bidding process for clam harvesters in order to award a clam fishing quota to a company with ties to his family.
SNC-Lavalin is another case. It seems clear that there were several ethics problems all along. What I find rather unbelievable is that the Liberals are still trying to claim that there was absolutely nothing fishy going on. I am sorry, but when two ministers resign, when the Prime Minister's principal secretary resigns, and when the Clerk of the Privy Council resigns, something fishy is going on.
I want to close with a word on ethics and recent media reports about judicial appointments. There is something called the “Liberalist”, a word I find a bit strange. It is a list of everyone who has donated to the Liberal Party of Canada. Of course, all political parties have lists of their members, but the Liberals use their list to vet candidates and identify potential judicial appointees.
In other words, those who want the Prime Minister and member for Papineau to give them a seat on the bench would be well advised to donate to the Liberal Party of Canada so their name appears on the Liberalist. If not, they can forget about it because actual legal skills are not a factor in gaining access to the highest court in the land and other superior federal courts.
When it comes to lobbying, I just cannot believe how often the Liberals have bowed down to constant pressure from big business, like they did with Loblaws. It is a shame. Unfortunately, the NDP motion is once again attacking the people who work in our oil industry.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2019-02-28 23:29 [p.25997]
Mr. Speaker, we are here tonight to talk about a serious charge made by the former attorney general at committee yesterday. At committee she said, “For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.”
It is a pretty serious charge. At the heart of the charge is a company that employs many people—and we are grateful for good jobs in Canada—but that is not a free pass to do whatever the company would like.
This is a company whose boardroom has a checkered past. For instance, SNC-Lavalin has been banned by the World Bank from bidding on contracts for 10 years, after investigations revealed that it undertook bribery schemes in Bangladesh and Cambodia. As well, a former SNC-Lavalin executive recently pleaded guilty to breaking election laws to funnel tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of both the Liberal and Conservative parties. It is a company that in 2011 was able to buy Atomic Energy of Canada's commercial operations for only $15 million, including the plans to the CANDU reactor, and at the same time got a guarantee of $75 million worth of contracts for the work, which more than pays for the price it paid for an important Canadian asset, the plans for the CANDU reactor.
Currently, SNC is part of a consortium that stands to benefit from a multi-billion-dollar capital project right here in downtown Ottawa, with the privatization of the operations of the heating and cooling plant that serves many buildings downtown, including the very building we are in right now.
Now we hear of political interference by the Prime Minister on that company's behalf—not for the workers, but to help SNC-Lavalin executives escape these criminal charges. I will have more to say on that further on in my remarks.
In response to the testimony we heard from the former attorney general that there was a sustained effort to pressure her inappropriately into changing her position, the NDP has called for the Prime Minister to waive cabinet confidence for the period after she was fired from the position of Attorney General but was still in cabinet, because that was not waived and she was very clear at committee that there are elements to the story that bear on her ultimate decision to resign from cabinet that she is not able to tell because they continue to be covered under those confidences.
We have also asked that the justice committee hear from the 11 people the MP for Vancouver Granville named as part of the pressure campaign, who include the Prime Minister. Certainly he has details about what went on that Canadians would like to know and that are essential to being able to understand the nature of what transpired, so he ought to appear before committee.
We also called for a full public inquiry when the story broke some time ago, and we renewed our call because there are a lot of moving parts to this story. I do not think that comes as a surprise to anyone here. It seems there are new revelations almost every day. The scope of the current investigations is simply not adequate for the task of understanding the entirety of what is going on. Each investigation may bear important fruit in terms of figuring out a piece of the puzzle, but by no means can any one of the existing investigations tell the whole story. That is why it is important that we have a public inquiry.
Why is it important to get to the bottom of this? Anyone who has ever been pressured or bullied into doing something they thought was a bad idea probably has a sense of what is wrong with this picture, and anyone who has been pressured or bullied by someone in a position of authority over them will have an even better idea. Perhaps it is a supervisor at work who can terminate someone's position and take away their salary or a landlord who governs whether or not one someone can stay in an apartment unit. It could be a parole officer or a team coach. These are people someone in positions of authority. By and large, people who occupy those positions do a good job and are leaders in our community, but when people in those kinds of positions decide to abuse that power and authority, it is an awful feeling to be subject to it. It is ugly and it is wrong.
The allegation is that the Prime Minister, his principal secretary, his chief of staff and the Clerk of the Privy Council, who all have a lot of authority and power, did just such a thing. According to the former attorney general, as I said, they used that power to inappropriately pressure her to reverse a decision of the director of public prosecutions in order to get a corporation charged with bribery of public officials out of facing criminal charges. The Prime Minister wants to chalk that up to a difference in perspectives and he wants to put his word up against hers.
However, I think anyone who watched the testimony yesterday would have seen that the member for Vancouver Granville offered a calm, consistent, well-documented testimony and she embodied everything one would expect in a credible witness. I believe her testimony, and I encourage any Canadians listening at home to watch it for themselves if they have any doubt. While she and I disagree on a number of policy matters, and we have had disagreements in the House, I do respect her integrity. She has set an example for us all in the way she has conducted herself in a very difficult situation, and that example stands for all of us, whatever our political stripe.
The former attorney general was taking decisions that were hers to take. It was a decision not of the Prime Minister but of the former attorney general whether to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement. When she said that she had made up her mind, the decision was taken.
It was not inappropriate initially for the Prime Minister to have some conversation with her about the economic impact of these things. That is part of good policy-making and good decision-making, frankly. However, when she said that she had considered those things and had made up her mind, that ought to have been the end of it.
However, we did not hear in her testimony that when the Prime Minister and various officials at the top levels of government kept coming back at her and her staff to try to convince them to change this decision, that they were presenting any new information. Perhaps if the Prime Minister would like to come to committee and testify, then he could tell us what new information he was offering her, but that is not what we have heard. We have heard that they were coming with similar arguments and veiled threats to get her to change her mind.
She stood up to the Prime Minister and his team for the sake of an important principle, which is the rule of law. Why is that important? The rule of law gives us rights. It is what protects us from egomaniacs and bullies that sometimes make it into positions of power.
As Canadians, we are entitled to a fair hearing and equal treatment before the law. We can contrast that with other places in the world today or in times past where people live or lived in fear of the whims of people at the top. We passed laws over time to build a system that protected Canadians from that kind of arbitrary treatment, but there is no law we can pass that can guarantee that forever. Protecting our rights, just like protecting our democracy, is a job that is never done and it is why moments like this are so important.
The rule of law and democracy also have an important cultural component. We have to build a culture of respect for rules and due process in our institutions if we want to safeguard democracy and the rule of law. The higher up the food chain one goes, the more power one has, the more important it is for democracy and the rule of law that one conducts oneself according to the highest ethical standard and in respect of those rules. The member for Vancouver Granville lived up to her duty in that regard, but based on her testimony yesterday, the Prime Minister and his team fell far short of that mark.
On December 5, in a meeting with the former PMO principal secretary, Gerry Butts, he is alleged by the former attorney general to have talked to her chief of staff about how the statute was set up by Harper and that he did not like the law, as if that were relevant. In a December 18 meeting, Gerry Butts and the PMO chief of staff, Katie Telford, told Jessica Prince in the former attorney general's office that a resolution to the DPA situation was necessary. He stated, “Jess, there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” Telford stated, “We don't want to debate legalities anymore.” That is from the member for Vancouver Granville's testimony yesterday.
In a December 19 phone call between the former attorney general and the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Clerk stated that “I think he”, the Prime Minister, “is going to find a way to get it done, one way or another. He is in that kind of mood, and I wanted you to be aware of it.” He also told the former attorney general that she did not want to be on a collision course with the Prime Minister.
For some reason, the Prime Minister felt that he could override the independence of the attorney general. Perhaps that should not come as a surprise. He was, after all, the first Canadian prime minister to be found guilty of ethics violations by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
What about when KPMG ran into trouble? The Liberals were willing to cut a secret deal when KPMG was found to have devised a tax-dodging scheme. All KPMG had to was pay the taxes it owed, without penalties. It got amnesty, and there was secrecy around most of the terms of its settlement.
This is the government that made a science out of cash-for-access fundraising, which has a whole world of ethical problems in and of itself, and it is something we have to watch out for, because a culture of entitlement like this can easily slip into habits of corruption.
That is why it is important to be vigilant. It is also why it is important to get to the bottom of what happened. It is why it is so important that the former attorney general be able to tell her full story. It is why it is important that the Prime Minister waive the rules of cabinet confidence not only for the period when she was the Attorney General, which has been done, but also for the period when she was the veterans affairs minister.
She made it clear in her testimony that there are things she cannot say about her ultimate decision to resign from cabinet because of something, presumably, like a conversation or something else, that happened between the time she took the job as veterans affairs minister and the time she resigned from cabinet.
It is also why it is so important that we have a full public inquiry and get to the bottom of what happened.
Having established the importance of the issue, I want to take some time to address some of the arguments I have heard from Liberal members in the chamber today.
They have said that the opposition should not be concerned about this because an investigation is happening at the justice committee. I respect that the justice committee has a job to do. However, I believe the scope of the study it has selected is already too narrow to capture everything that is going on. Within the scope of the study the committee selected, we will not get to the bottom of all the allegations that have come out from the testimony.
As well, it needs to be said that there is a fundamental political conflict of interest in leaving that investigation to a committee that is dominated by Liberals, who have a clear political interest in ensuring that the problem goes away so that it does not ultimately hurt the Prime Minister. The fact that so many Liberals seem to be blind to that fact or do not really see a problem with that or understand why people would have legitimate concerns about the justice committee being the principal forum for getting to the bottom of this is very telling in terms of how the government got into this kind of trouble in the first place. Liberals do not seem able to identify these kinds of obvious, or at the very least apparent, conflicts.
When we pursue the highest ethical standards, as the Prime Minister told his ministers in his mandate letters he wanted to do and as he told Canadians he wanted to do in the 2015 election, apparent conflicts of interest are just as important as actual conflicts of interest. There is certainly an apparent conflict of interest when six Liberal members of Parliament are going to be the final adjudicators on what has happened in this case.
The Liberals have also said that since the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is running an investigation, we should not be concerned. They say we should not have any extra questions, as he is going to decide everything. We are quite aware of that. In fact, it was the NDP Party that requested that investigation.
It is not that we do not have confidence in the commissioner and therefore want a public inquiry and it is not that we do not think there is some value to the investigation that is going on; it is that the commissioner's investigation is also limited in scope. It is limited by the very rules that set up the office of the commissioner and gave him his powers and responsibilities.
As such, there is no way his report is going to get to the bottom of all of what we have heard. These allegations of political interference fall outside the narrow scope given to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, who only looks into conflicts of interest as they pertain to the direct financial interests of a member of the House. We will be interested to hear the conclusion of his investigation, but there is certainly a lot more going on here than that.
The Liberals also say that another reason we should not worry is that the director of public prosecutions has said that she made an independent decision. No one has ever doubted that she made an independent decision. The problem was not that somehow her decision was not independent; the problem was that after that decision was made, political actors, including the Prime Minister and those in his office, sought to reverse that decision. Furthermore, they did not just do it with a one-off conversation with the former attorney general. They coordinated a pressure campaign in order to try to reverse that decision.
That is the problem. Let us not see anyone get up to say that the director of public prosecutions made her decision independently. Of course she did. The question is whether someone else sought to overturn that decision for political reasons.
I have heard the Liberals stand up today and say that the Prime Minister told the former attorney general that it was her decision at the time, so there is nothing to see here and not to worry. I do not doubt that he did. That is a pretty good way to cover his behind. I can believe that she even took him at his word at the time, which is what she said in testimony. When she was fired from the position, that probably changed her point of view about the conversation they had when she was told that it was really her decision and hers alone. When she made the decision the Prime Minister clearly did not want, she lost the job. That cast a whole new light on the conversations they had had up to then, which she reasonably may have thought were sincere.
We have also been told that we should be quiet, because the Prime Minister gave her a waiver on solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality. The thing that leaves out is the fact that the waiver on cabinet confidentiality does not cover the period when she was in cabinet between the time she was fired from her job as attorney general and took the job as the veterans affairs minister and when she chose to resign. She was very clear at committee that there are aspects of the story she is unable to tell. Presumably something happened in that period that made her change her mind. If we are going to get to the bottom of this, we need to know exactly what that was.
My colleague from Victoria presented a motion yesterday at committee simply asking that the justice committee request of the Prime Minister that cabinet confidentiality be waived. It does not have any power to compel the Prime Minister to waive it. I watched as each Liberal member of that committee voted the motion down and refused to at least ask the Prime Minister to take it upon himself to liberate the former attorney general to tell her full story.
I know I only have a few minutes left. I want to talk about the principal argument we have heard in this place in terms of the Liberals' defence, which is jobs, jobs, jobs and that they want to save the jobs. Everyone here has an interest in seeing Canadian employed, but that does not mean anything goes. It cannot be a get-out-of-jail-free card. It cannot be that if a company is big enough and employs enough people, it can bribe public officials and get off the hook. That is completely inappropriate.
Was it about the workers? Was it about the jobs? When we heard from the former attorney general that the Prime Minister was raising political concerns about the fact that he was the MP for Papineau and there was a Quebec election and something had to be done about this, it was not about the workers or their jobs. It was about the political interests of the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party. That is what it was about, and it had very little to do with the workers.
What could have been an option, which is something the Liberals are also pursuing, was reforming the integrity regime with the 10-year ban on contracts. In fact, it is an option they are pursuing. I dare say that this is the appropriate option, not looking at inappropriate pressure to abandon criminal charges but looking at the sanctions regime and maybe changing it. That is where the conversation should have happened. They have prejudiced and sullied that conversation, because no matter what they do now, it is going to look like they are exercising all the options and pulling out all the stops to help get SNC-Lavalin off the hook.
The Minister of Public Services and Procurement was at committee yesterday. I asked her a simple question many times. I asked if she would say that the bribery of public officials is a serious offence and would be treated as a serious offence in the new integrity policy. She told me that the government does not have a position on the hierarchy of offences. That is what she said. As the minister who oversees the largest capital budget in government, she refused to say that she thought the bribery of public officials was a serious offence. I could not believe it. It is a testament to how deep the desire to help out this company goes in the government and how fearful people on the other benches are of doing anything that could undermine the interests of that company.
I hope I get a chance in questions and answers to talk a bit more about workers and the record of the government when it comes to workers. One of the first bills I saw passed in this place was Bill C-10, which was under time allocation and everything else. That was a bill to change the law to allow Air Canada to outsource its maintenance work for the aerospace industry out of the country. I have a few more examples, so hopefully I will have a chance to address them in questions and answers.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2018-12-13 11:25 [p.24807]
I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised on December 4, 2018, by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley concerning certain responses to Oral Questions.
I want to thank the member for having raised the question, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to Government House Leader and the members for Portage—Lisgar and Timmins—James Bay for their observations.
The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley maintained that during question period on December 3 and 4, in response to questions about members of the Liberal caucus, the Prime Minister and the government House leader threatened opposition members with legal proceedings if they repeated their allegations outside of the House. He felt that this constituted intimidation that could prevent the opposition from holding the government to account and therefore a violation of his privileges.
For his part, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader reminded members that the privilege of free speech comes with a sense of responsibility for any remarks made. He argued that the question raised was simply a disagreement as to facts.
I wish to remind the House that members enjoy absolute immunity when speaking during our deliberations. Free speech, a cornerstone of the rights and parliamentary privileges accorded to members is, as explained in citation 75 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne at page 22, “...both the least questioned and the most fundamental right of the Member of Parliament on the floor of the House and in committee.”
But while it is essential to the functioning of our parliamentary business, the word “free” cannot be thought to be synonymous with “limitless”. Speaker Fraser stated on May 5, 1987, at page 5766 of the Debates:
Such a privilege confers grave responsibilities on those who are protected by it....All Hon. Members are conscious of the care they must exercise in availing themselves of their absolute privilege of freedom of speech. That is why there are long-standing practices and traditions observed in this House to counter the potential for abuse.
While the allegation in question should call for serious reflection, I do not have the power to comment on the scope of the answers given by the government nor to rule on the disagreement existing between the members as to the interpretation to be given to the facts. Speaker Jerome affirmed this on June 4, 1975, at page 6431 of Debates:
...a dispute as to facts, a dispute as to opinions and a dispute as to conclusions to be drawn from an allegation of fact is a matter of debate and not a question of privilege.
The third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 148, makes it clear that my role is rather limited to, and I quote:
...take into account the extent to which the matter complained of infringed upon any Member’s ability to perform his or her parliamentary functions...
In the present case, the member has not demonstrated to the Chair that he was prevented from speaking in parliamentary proceedings and therefore unable to perform his parliamentary duties. Accordingly, I cannot find that there is a prima facie breach of privilege.
That being said, everyone must consider the content of their remarks in the House. Members, of course, have broad freedom of speech, but we must never forget the potential effect of the words spoken during the vigorous debates that animate the House. Self-restraint and the utmost of respect are required in all circumstances.
I thank all hon. members for their attention.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
View Jacques Gourde Profile
2018-12-06 15:00 [p.24517]
Mr. Speaker, whether the Liberals like it or not, if we had not asked the tough questions, the sponsorship scandal would never have been exposed.
It is time that the Liberals took responsibility. The close ties between a Liberal minister and some real estate developers in Brampton East clearly do exist. All those fine folks went on that trip to India, all on the taxpayers' dime, yet no one seems to have invited them.
Why do the Liberals take Canadians for fools? Who invited that real estate developer on the Prime Minister's trip to India?
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2018-12-06 15:01 [p.24517]
Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows, the minister answered the question yesterday. We know the report was tabled here and we thank the committee members for their work.
It is easy for Canadians to see whether the Conservatives are asking real questions or if they are simply hiding behind parliamentary privilege to make baseless accusations and smear a minister. Canadians simply need to check whether the members opposite will repeat the same allegations outside the House of Commons as they—
View Lisa Raitt Profile
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2018-12-05 14:34 [p.24444]
Mr. Speaker, the mayor of Brampton's chief of staff gave a confidential document regarding a piece of land that the city wanted to purchase from the province to the minister and another member of the Liberal caucus. Now, a private consortium called Goreway Heaven actually purchased the land for virtually the same price that was disclosed to the minister and the MP. The land was resold to the city at a tidy profit of 33%, and city council has asked the RCMP to investigate.
Folks at home may wonder this. Why did a member of the Prime Minister's cabinet invite a direct—
View Lisa Raitt Profile
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2018-12-05 14:35 [p.24444]
Mr. Speaker, the company Goreway Heaven had 10 directors on it. Five of those directors are known major contributors to the Liberal Party of Canada. As well, one of those directors was invited to be part of the Prime Minister's delegation to India, not more than one month after the company collected a 33% hike in the property that it had purchased, which, miraculously, resembled the price that was disclosed to the minister.
All we want to know from the Prime Minister is which member of Parliament invited that gentleman on the trip.
View Alain Rayes Profile
View Alain Rayes Profile
2018-12-05 14:37 [p.24445]
Mr. Speaker, a director from a company with ties to the Liberals, notably the Minister of Innovation, made a really good deal. He bought land from the Ontario government for $3.3 million and sold it a back a few months later for $4.4 million. Talk about a deal. It is so questionable that the City of Brampton asked the RCMP to investigate.
Now that we know this director went on the Prime Minister's disastrous trip to India, we would like to know who invited him.
View Alain Rayes Profile
View Alain Rayes Profile
2018-12-05 14:38 [p.24445]
Mr. Speaker, allow me to refresh the Prime Minister's memory.
This administrator, Bhagwan Grewal, is a former Liberal association president. He is a Liberal Party donor. He went on the India trip and even took the time to have his picture taken with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development so he could keep a nice souvenir of that great trip to India.
If the Prime Minister has nothing to hide, when will he present the official list of all his VIP guests who were with him on his trip to India, which was paid for by Canadian taxpayers?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-12-05 14:39 [p.24445]
Mr. Speaker, we can tell when the Liberals are in trouble when they start threatening law suits and refusing to answer even simple questions.
We now know that the RCMP investigation in Brampton involves Goreway Heaven, a company with close ties to the Liberal Party. One of its directors, Baghwan Grewal, a former Liberal riding president, got a prime ticket to the Prime Minister's catastrophic trip to India.
Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians who extended the invitation to Mr. Grewal? Was it the Liberal member for Brampton East, the innovation minister, or was it the Prime Minister's own office who invited him to come along?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-12-05 14:41 [p.24445]
Mr. Speaker, we know the Prime Minister gets a little jumpy when we ask about Liberal ethics, being the only Prime Minister in Canadian history who has ever been found guilty of breaking the ethics rules.
We know it was the Prime Minister's office who invited Jaspal Atwal, a convicted terrorist, to join him on the disastrous India trip. The guest list for that also included Baghwan Grewal, a Liberal operative whose company is now under RCMP investigation.
Will the Prime Minister give the RCMP all the documents relating to Mr. Grewal's involvement in the India trip, or will the cover-up continue?
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 21(2) of the same act, the Prime Minister received the report on October 12 so he could study it. On November 28, 2018, a month and a half later, the report was released. That means he had a month and a half to sanitize it. Meanwhile, we do not have access to the Prime Minister's guest list, but we know at least one person who was invited. Baghwan Grewal, a director at Goreway Heaven and a former Liberal riding association president, was invited to tag along on the trip to India.
Goreway Heaven is the same company that sold some land to the City of Brampton for a handsome profit. The City of Brampton referred the transaction to the RCMP, because the Minister of Innovation had received a confidential report on the land's value.
My question is simple: who invited the Goreway Heaven representative?
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2018-12-04 14:39 [p.24406]
Mr. Speaker, as members know, an unclassified version of the special report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians has been tabled in Parliament. We thank the committee for its thorough and important work, and we will actively study the recommendations in the report.
View Nathan Cullen Profile
View Nathan Cullen Profile
2018-12-04 15:08 [p.24412]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege arising out of Question Period.
In answer to important and direct questions about the ethical behaviour of members of the Liberal caucus, rather than answering those questions, time and again both the Liberal House Leader and the Prime Minister have threatened members of the opposition with lawsuits. Allow me to quote from Bosc and Gagnon, at page 107:
...threatening...a Member during a proceeding of Parliament, or while the Member is circulating within the Parliamentary Precinct, is a violation of the rights of Parliament. Any form of intimidation of a Member with respect to the Member's actions during a proceeding in Parliament could amount to contempt.
It goes on.
Speaker Bosley noted in 1986 the following:
...that [if] he or she has been threatened, intimidated, or in any way...influenced, there would be a case for the Chair to consider.
This is an important issue, as we as members of Parliament have within our duties the important task of holding the government to account. If every time we attempt to do that and garner from the government the answers Canadians deserve, we are threatened with lawsuits, if in response to the questions we ask both here in the House and in public, the threats continue, that is a form of intimidation of our rights and a violation of our privilege as members of Parliament to perform our jobs on behalf of all Canadians.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to seek a prima facie case of privilege. If you do so, I would be happy to move the appropriate motion.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2018-12-04 15:10 [p.24412]
Mr. Speaker, we wholeheartedly support the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I would like to reserve the right to add more to this question of privilege.
It is important to note two citations. At page 198 of the second edition of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, it tells of an incident in 1758 where the Nova Scotia House of Assembly proceeded against someone who made threats against a member.
Moreover, in a ruling on September 19, 1973, Speaker Lamoureux at page 6709 of the Debates stated that he had “no hesitation in reaffirming the principle that parliamentary privilege includes the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities as a member of the House free from threats or attempts at intimidation.”
On March 24, 1994, at page 2705 of the Debates, Speaker Parent described the seriousness of the issue of intimidation this way:
Threats of blackmail or intimidation of a member of Parliament should never be taken lightly. When such occurs, the very essence of free speech is undermined. Without the guarantee of freedom of speech, no member of Parliament can do his duty as expected.
This is very serious. This goes to the very heart of what we do here in Parliament.
The Liberal government said that when it was elected, it would be open and transparent. I recall the government House leader saying that we must have tough conversations in this place.
We are asking legitimate questions and to be met with these kinds of threats is very serious.
I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you would give us the opportunity to further add to this important question of privilege.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-12-04 15:12 [p.24412]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same question of privilege.
It is really important that we recognize that parliamentary privilege has to be recognized inside the chamber.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: I sat back and I listened to the comments made by the members opposite on the question of privilege, Mr. Speaker. I would appreciate it if they too would be patient and listen to what I have to say.
Privilege is an important issue. I have served as a parliamentarian for close to 30 years, and I have heard assertions in the past when someone has stood in his or her place. A part of parliamentary privilege also ensures that there is a sense of responsibility accompanying that particular privilege.
I have witnessed on numerous occasions Conservatives and New Democrats challenging the government's accountability by suggesting that a member should go outside the chamber to say what he or she might have said inside the chamber.
I would remind all members of the House that there is a sense of accountability with the privilege that has been given to us as we sit in the House.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that there is no question of privilege in this matter, which is nothing more than a dispute over the facts. I say this based on what I have heard over the years from members of the Conservative Party and members of the NDP when they challenge members to be accountable for what they say here, that is, members who are not prepared to say the same outside the chamber as inside.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2018-12-04 15:14 [p.24413]
Mr. Speaker, things do get heated in the House. I have seen that over 15 years. If a matter is of importance to the House, it needs to be responded to with respect in the House. Whether a member in a senior cabinet position may or may not be involved in a police investigation is an issue for the House, which deserves an answer. However, we have heard the continual threat of, “Say that again and you will be sued”, sued by the minister and sued out front. That is intimidating and undermining our work.
When we ask legitimate questions, we respect the Speaker's right to decide whether a question is out of bounds. If the Speaker decides it is out of bounds or not parliamentary, then it is up to the Speaker and we will stop. However, if it is an issue of parliamentary business, the continuing response of intimidation and threats, which has become a tactic over the last two days, interferes with and undermines our ability to do our job.
View Blake Richards Profile
View Blake Richards Profile
2018-02-07 15:42 [p.16888]
Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister of Canada, the chairman of cabinet, the head of government is a very powerful position, one that only 23 people in the history of our country have had the distinct privilege of holding. While constitutionally this position serves at the pleasure of Her Majesty, it is Canadians who the Prime Minister ultimately is to serve.
Therefore, we have to ask ourselves, when we have newspaper headlines like, “[Prime Minister] defends cash-for-access fundraising”, or articles that state, “Prime Minister...says financial donation limits in federal politics are too low for wealthy donors to buy influence with his cabinet ministers”, are Canadians really being well-served and, specifically, are they being well-served by this legislation?
Today, as we debate Bill C-50, those are the questions we have to answer. Perhaps this headline speaks to that, “Liberals’ fundraising bill fails to quell cash-for-access charges.”
Let us be perfectly clear why the Liberals introduced the legislation. It was because they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and now they are trying to blame the cookie jar.
Bill C-50 came to fruition because the Liberal Party was selling cash for access to the Prime Minister at events where tickets cost up to $1,525 a person. What is worse, in the Prime Minister's own “Open and Accountable Government” guide, under the fundraising section it states:
Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must avoid conflict of interest, the appearance of conflict of interest and situations that have the potential to involve conflicts of interest.
The document goes on further to state:
There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.
One wonders if Orwell's 1984 Ministry of Truth may have produced that document, given the actions we have seen from the Liberal members and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister simply got caught for breaking the very ethics guidelines that he himself created. Now we get this legislation as a mandate, as an attempt to try to fix this self-inflicted Liberal wound.
Even after introducing Bill C-50 and promising to abide by these new rules, the June 19, 2017, Liberal fundraising event took place. This event featured the Prime Minister speaking at a Liberal so-called donor appreciation night for Laurier Club members. In order to join such a club, members must donate at least $1,500 annually to be a member. Just to get in the door, one needs to donate $1,500 to see the Prime Minister speak.
This is after the Liberals promised to abide by the rules of Bill C-50, the legislation they had just introduced, and promised to be open to the media. However, instead, the following took place. Liberal Party staff restricted media access to Ottawa bureau chief at the Huffington Post, Althia Raj, as well as to Joan Bryden from the Canadian Press. Then, after a lot of representations on its own behalf, the media was actually allowed inside, cordoned off into one little area, and not allowed to mingle with any of the guests. Giuseppe Valiante, a Montreal reporter with the Canadian Press, was told to leave after the Prime Minister gave his speech.
Therefore, it is not quite clear why the Liberal government bothers to put these so-called rules in place when it is quite evident it just intends to break them anyway.
Legislation is not supposed to be about a PR exercise, legislating is not about a pair of the Prime Minister's socks that BuzzFeed can write a kitschy article about. Legislation is supposed to be about making good policy that changes Canada for the better.
Legislation should not be a way for the PMO to try to spin out of the bad headlines the Prime Minister created through his bad behaviour. Some of those bad headlines include, from the National Post, “Ethics watchdog says [Prime Minister] vacation on private island broke conflict rules”; from CTV, “[Prime Minister] broke ethics rules, watchdog finds”; and from the Toronto Star, “[Prime Minister] violated conflict-of-interest rules with vacation to Aga Khan's island: ethics commissioner”. It is kind of like a greatest hits album for the Prime Minister, but it is not one he should be proud of.
In 2006, when our previous Conservative government came to power, we came in to clean up the corruption culture, the corruption that had taken hold in Ottawa after 13 years of Liberal rule. One of our government's top priorities then was passing the Federal Accountability Act. In that legislation, our Conservative government banned all corporate and union donations to political parties. If political parties wanted the ability to be heard and operate, they would be forced to go to ordinary Canadians on main street and make their case. That is a promise Canadians were and are on board with.
Clearly, that is not a concern for the Liberal Party or for the Prime Minister. Regular Canadians do not have billionaire friends who invite them to vacation on private islands. Regular Canadians usually cannot afford $1,500 for the privilege of bending the Prime Minister's ear. After all, the Prime Minister should be equally accessible to all Canadians. However, we know that is not the case.
If this is something the Prime Minister actually believes in, then he should do the right thing and stop attending cash for access fundraisers. The ethical issue surrounding cash for access fundraisers is not solved because the event is apparently open to the public. At the end of the day, is the event really open to the public? Does publishing the list of attendees on some website a month and a half later make the event transparent? No, it certainly does not. For the Liberal government, it is apparent that it is “do as I say and not as I do”. Apparently, the Prime Minister thinks the law does not apply to him.
If the Liberals really wanted to end these sorts of practices, all they had to do was simply follow their own guidelines to stop attending cash for access fundraisers. It is really quite simple. If one is the justice minister, this means not attending the fundraiser with lawyers who are lobbying the government. If one is the parliamentary secretary who has been tasked with coming up with a plan for marijuana legalization, do not attend fundraisers with representatives from the cannabis industry, and if one is the Prime Minister, do not attend fundraisers with stakeholders who regularly and actively conduct business with the government. Those are very simple measures that even the Liberal Party should be able to follow, if it cared to bother following the rules.
Ethics is not a tricky thing, but I guess for a Prime Minister who views his role as merely ceremonial, there is really no reason for him to be worried about a conflict of interest. I have bad news for him. The office of the Prime Minister is not ceremonial. It requires more than selfies and signing autographs. As the head of cabinet and the head of government, the Prime Minister should go above and beyond what is stated in the law. He should follow his own guidelines.
The Prime Minister is most certainly not above the law, no matter how much he thinks he is, so he should lead by example. As public figures, we are all expected to lead by example. The Prime Minister should understand that, but it appears that neither he nor his government have plans to stop this obvious conflict of interest.
If someone does not have $1,500 to pay for access to a fundraiser, apparently that person's opinion does not matter to the Prime Minister, and that is simply not right. We are talking about the Prime Minister and his cabinet, the people who make our laws, create regulations, and raise our taxes. Is it right that they attend partisan fundraisers where they are being actively lobbied? How does the entire Liberal government not see that this is a serious conflict of interest?
I know the answer to that one. It is a classic case of Liberal arrogance seeping in yet again, the same type of arrogance that led to the sponsorship scandal. How quickly the Liberals forget that they were swept out of power previously during the Chrétien and Martin days because Canadians were simply tired of their arrogance and their unethical dealings. Now, after just two years as government, the Liberals have piled up a whole slew of ethical breaches already.
The finance minister introduced a bill that would rewrite pension laws while he still held on to a million shares of Morneau Shepell, a company that could benefit from these new laws. That led to an investigation by the ethics commissioner.
The Liberal's former Calgary minister campaigned with his father for a school board seat while using House of Commons resources. That also led to an investigation by the ethics commissioner.
Who can forget about the private island vacation that the Prime Minister took on an island of a billionaire who lobbies the government? That led to him making history as the first prime minister to have been found guilty of breaking the law, not once, not twice, not three times, but four times.
It is no wonder the Liberals have voted down the opposition's efforts to have the Prime Minister appear in front of the ethics committee to answer for his actions. He has even refused to answer the opposition's questions in question period in the House of Commons about these serious ethical breaches. Instead he leaves the government House leader to answer for him, for the mess that he made, while he sits there and signs autographs.
This is why it is so hard to take the Prime Minister and his government seriously when they claim that Bill C-50 would make political parties more accountable. The truth is it will not.
The barbershop owner, the mechanic, and the farmer in our ridings do not have time to go on the Internet to keep up with the fundraising activities of the Liberal Party. They rely on the Prime Minister and his cabinet having the moral integrity not to sell access to themselves to the highest bidder.
Fundraising is a perfectly normal activity for politicians and political parties. Asking Canadians to support us and our party's vision and our ideas is part of how democracy works. Political parties take their ideas to the people and if the people like them enough, they chip in a bit of money to help the message get spread. Selling government access for donations to a political party is not a part of being in a democracy. Maybe it happens in countries with basic dictatorships, which the Prime Minister admires so much. I do not know. Maybe that is where he came up with the idea that this was okay. I can tell him that it is not right and it is certainly not ethical.
As politicians we are expected to go above and beyond. I challenge the Prime Minister and his government to do just that. Stop attending cash for access fundraisers and all of these problems will be gone. No more publicity stunts. It is time to take real action and to make real change, not just lip service.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2017-11-20 14:24 [p.15287]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister on this historic achievement: for the very first time, a prime minister and his finance minister are being investigated for ethics breaches after the Minister of Finance has already been found guilty and fined for breaking the rules.
How can Canadians trust this Prime Minister who promised to raise the bar?
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2017-11-20 15:26 [p.15302]
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on November 2, 2017, by the hon. member for Thornhill concerning allegedly misleading statements by the Prime Minister.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Thornhill for having raised this matter, as well as the parliamentary secretary to the government House Leader and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for their comments.
In raising the matter, the member for Thornhill alleged that the Prime Minister had misled the House when, during oral questions on October 31, 2017, he stated that the Minister of Finance was the only minister currently holding controlled assets indirectly. This, the member indicated, contradicted information provided by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
In turn, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader noted that, in fact, the then Ethics Commissioner herself declared that she was not at odds with the Prime Minister's statement. Furthermore, he explained that the established criteria used to determine if a member has deliberately misled the House had not been met and characterized the matter as simply a dispute as to facts.
Members know well that in any case in which the veracity of what a member of the House has said is called into question, the Chair's role is very limited to the review of the statements made in a proceeding of Parliament. In other words, the Chair cannot comment on what transpires outside of the deliberations of the House or its committees.
Speaker Milliken reiterated this essential principle in a ruling of February 10, 2011, which can be found at page 8030 of the Debates:
It may sound overly technical but the reality is that when adjudicating cases of this kind, the Chair is obliged to reference material fully and properly before the House.
In keeping with this limitation, any comments made by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner outside of our proceedings are not officially before the House. That is not to say that the right and need of members to receive accurate information is in any way diminished, for it is not, but it does place boundaries on what comments the Chair can review.
In addition, as with any charge that a member has misled the House, the Speaker must uphold the requirement that the three pre-established conditions be met; that is, the statement must be misleading, the member must know in making the statement that it is incorrect, and finally, there must be proof that the member deliberately intended to mislead the House by making the statement.
In the absence of these criteria, the matter is usually found to be simply a question of debate. In a ruling from January 31, 2008, which can be found at page 2435 of the Debates, Speaker Milliken stated that:
...Any dispute regarding the accuracy or appropriateness of a minister's response to an oral question is a matter of debate; it is not a matter for the Speaker to judge.
A review of the evidence officially before the House leaves the Chair unable to conclude that on the basis of exchanges last October 31, the member was unable to fulfill his parliamentary functions. Accordingly, I do not find that there is a prima facie question of privilege.
I thank all hon. members for their attention.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-09 14:51 [p.15220]
Mr. Speaker, the minister just said she cannot comment on an ongoing investigation but that is exactly what the Prime Minister did. He said, “...we have received assurances that all rules were followed...and we are satisfied with those assurances.” He has done exactly the opposite of what the minister promised had to happen.
Apparently, if people raise enough money for the Liberal Party, its assurances are all they need to get off the hook. It must be nice.
Why is there one set of rules for the Liberals and one set of rules for everyone else?
View Diane Lebouthillier Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the comments being made by the Conservatives and members opposite are totally absurd and completely irresponsible. No one is interfering in the agency's work. In our last two budgets, we invested historic amounts totalling nearly $1 billion. It is funny to hear the Conservatives talk about the importance of this issue. According to The Globe and Mail, in 2014, they eliminated 50 positions of managers responsible for international cases. Former minister of national revenue Jean-Pierre Blackburn—
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-09 14:52 [p.15220]
Mr. Speaker, what is absurd and irresponsible are the words of the Prime Minister who said, “...we have received assurances that all rules were followed...and we are satisfied with those assurances.” He has let Stephen Bronfman off the hook based solely on his word.
The lesson for Canadians: If they want to avoid a pesky investigation first of all, be rich; second, be famous; but most of all, be a good, close friend of the Liberal Party who raises a lot of money.
Why is there one set of rules for friends of the Liberal Prime Minister and a different set for everyone else?
View Diane Lebouthillier Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, our government is fully committed to fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, and our actions prove it. We have invested close to $1 billion over the past two years. I repeat, no one is above the law. The law applies to everyone equally. What the Conservative Party is trying to do right now is truly appalling. The comments I am hearing are absurd and perhaps even dangerous. No one is interfering in the agency's work. We have a system that is fair and equal for all.
View Lisa Raitt Profile
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2017-11-08 14:24 [p.15129]
Mr. Speaker, specificity does matter in this case.
The minister promised an independent investigation. However, this morning the Prime Minister defended his good friend and top fundraiser, stating he was satisfied with the assurances he received from Mr. Bronfman. The Prime Minister's political interference on behalf of his close friend is a clear signal to investigators that there is one rule for Liberals and another one for everyone else.
Could the minister confirm that the Prime Minister has pardoned Mr. Bronfman of any wrongdoing?
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