Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Erin Weir Profile
CCF (SK)
View Erin Weir Profile
2019-08-21 13:31
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank you and all members of this committee for giving independent MPs an opportunity to participate in today's meeting.
One of the things I've really appreciated about being an independent MP is the opportunity to take a more dispassionate look at the issues. That's what I've tried to do in all the committee hearings on SNC-Lavalin.
I'd like to say a few words about my reading of the Ethics Commissioner's report and some of the topics that I think might be worth pursuing if this committee decides to hear from the Ethics Commissioner and perhaps other witnesses.
The commissioner's key conclusion is that there was a violation of section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which says that public office holders should not:
seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further the public office holder’s private interests or those of the public office holder’s relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.
I don't think anyone is alleging that the Prime Minister sought to further the private interests of his family, his friends or himself. I also don't think there's any doubt that many, if not most, public policy decisions will either further or detract from the private interests of various companies and individuals. The key conclusion from the Ethics Commissioner is that the Prime Minister improperly tried to further another person's private interests.
That finding hinges critically on an interpretation of what is “improper”. I think it would be well worth this committee's time to dig into that with the Ethics Commissioner. We've heard a lot about findings of fact but really this conclusion comes down to an interpretation of one word in the Conflict of Interest Act, which is something that I think could be open to challenge and certainly could be open to further exploration.
It's a little bit unclear to me whether the Ethics Commissioner believes the Prime Minister is guilty of any kind of conflict of interest in the classic definition of that term. It does seem clear that the Ethics Commissioner believes that the Prime Minister is guilty of improperly furthering another person's private interests but there's already been some debate about how that language should be interpreted and what's improper. I would suggest that as an appropriate focus for this committee's work.
View Erin Weir Profile
CCF (SK)
View Erin Weir Profile
2019-08-21 15:12
Thanks very much.
Since we seem to have entered a bit of a broader discussion of the SNC-Lavalin case, I just want to make the point that I think it would have been far preferable had there been a more robust investigation and prosecution of the specific executives involved in alleged wrongdoing, rather than being left in this scenario of prosecuting the company as a whole, which inevitably will have negative consequences for people who had no involvement at all in the wrongdoing.
Whether or not members of the committee believe the figure of 9,000 jobs, I don't think anyone would dispute that going after the company as a whole is going to have negative consequences for a lot of people who are totally blameless in this thing. I do think one of the key take-aways from the SNC-Lavalin controversy is that we should have much more effective prosecution of the individual corporate executives who are involved in wrongdoing, rather than relying on the legal fiction of corporate personhood to prosecute whole enterprises.
Thank you.
View Erin Weir Profile
CCF (SK)
View Erin Weir Profile
2019-07-30 13:33
Mr. Chair, I'd like to begin by thanking you and all members of the committee for enabling me to participate in today's meeting. The reason I want to participate is that China's market has been closed to Canadian canola seed. Notwithstanding the fact that the wheat sheaf continues to be Saskatchewan's provincial symbol, wheat has been surpassed by canola as our most important crop and China has emerged as the most important customer for our canola exports.
My appeal to the committee would be that, to the extent that it decides to undertake a study of Canada-China diplomatic relations, the study not simply focus on the inner workings of our foreign service, but rather try to focus on the practical consequences of that diplomatic relationship for prairie farmers and other Canadians.
Mr. Chair, I think what we need to keep in mind at today's meeting is, first and foremost, the Canadians being held hostage in China, but also the prairie farmers whose livelihoods are being held hostage to this unrelated diplomatic tiff.
Thanks very much.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you to our witnesses for being here today.
I would like to start in the future and then work back to the present, so I'm going to ask you this. I think Ms. Michels mentioned that the last 13 years have seen a decline in religious freedom. Where will the hot spots be over the next two years?
I'll ask each of you, and if your answer is different from hers, then you can just add to that.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Does anyone else have a comment they'd like to make?
Mr. Brobbel, you look like you're jumping on the mat.
Go ahead, Ms. Kuo.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Can I interrupt you? They're going to take away my mike here pretty quickly, and I'd like you to comment on the social credit card, the ID card that is being required, and the impact that will have on the Christian community. I understand that it's tied to your activities, the choices you make, the comments you make online and those kinds of things. Can you address how that will impact the Christians in China?
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
I think the intent is to have it in place by the end of 2020 across the nations.
I think my time is probably up.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Ms. Stangl, you mentioned the social media issue a little earlier, and I think Ms. Hardcastle brought that up as well. I'd like to talk to you about that, because I'm wondering if there's a way that this can be used well. When people have a video of others or themselves beating somebody down, isn't that something we can use to name and shame—I don't know if you want call it that—or to raise the issue and to begin to profile it? Is there anybody who's doing that effectively? Should we be trying to do that?
I would ask Ms. Kuo to respond to that, too, as a journalist. Is there a way in which we can use these kinds of social media contacts, the videos and those kinds of things, to actually highlight the issue and to name and shame—if you want to call it that—the Indian government into doing something on these...? Can that be done effectively?
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Ms. Kuo, do you have a reaction to that as a journalist?
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
I understand that Ms. Hardcastle's making a motion, but we haven't heard this before so I think we will defer on it for now.
I wanted to have the floor just to thank people. Since 2010, I've been focused on some of the freedom issues around speech and belief and religious freedom. Starting in 2012-13, I was on the foreign affairs committee for a couple of years, and then since 2015 I've been able to be here to work on the projects we've worked on. I'm not coming back, so this is my last chance, I guess, to do that.
I want to thank the staff who have served us so well. There are our clerks and our analysts. We've gotten to be friends over the years and have done some travelling together. There are also the folks who work in the translation booth and the people who have had to put up with our coming in here at the end of one meeting and have then been expected to set up instantaneously for us. They've done so well on that. I want to just thank those people who have set up for their service.
I also want to thank my colleagues. We've had a good run here, and it's good that we can have the kind of discussion that Ms. Hardcastle is speaking about. I want to recognize that.
I also want to say that I was disappointed that this was not on TV. I know yesterday we made the decision given that there were challenges to it, but as I approached the whip's staff—not only ours but also those of some of the other parties—and tech staff, I was getting contradictory messages from a number of them. I think on issues like this one that are this important, and even for two hours on a subject, we should be trying to televise those. I'm not going to get into any more detail than that, so I will just leave it at that.
I want to thank you for your time and for the work that we have put together. I think we have made a difference. Even today, I think this is probably some of the most important work that's been done on the Hill today. We need to recognize that for what it is.
Thank you.
A voice: Hear, hear!
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Chair. Thank you, witnesses, for being here this morning.
I'm going to start by saying that the Conservatives are going to support this deal. We've already indicated that. We worked with the Liberals all the way through this and we've had our ups and downs, but we still have lots of concerns. We're still hearing a lot from industries within Canada about concerns that are coming up.
I'll use the example of fabricated steel. They're looking at tariffs coming on August 1, until USTR will decide, and then we'll see what that looks like. We still have no resolution on softwood lumber; that was not addressed in NAFTA. We still have buy American provisions sitting there in the background, which are going to have implications for our industries.
How do you guys square that? I know you want stability and bankability, but in the same breath, are you really getting that in this deal?
I'll start off with you, Brian, and then go to Mathew.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
What concerns me, like fabricated steel, the government's been preaching about how it got rid of the tariffs and everybody thinks they're all gone, but what they've really been telling us is that these guys have been trying to meet with this government to address this. They've been down in the U.S. a substantial number of times, and there's no response. Nobody's mentioning it, and nobody's highlighting it. Everybody's closing their eyes, plugging their ears, saying, “We'll get through this and then we'll deal with that later.”
I also have to deal with the fact of the tweets. I almost think EDC needs to offer insurance for tweets because of the unpredictability and instability those create. How do you take that out of the marketplace? Maybe that's an option they should look at.
Dan, you talked about the vintners and the excise tax. How many more times do you have to say that? This is something we heard right before the budget came into implementation, and we've heard it year after year. It's nice to see B.C. making movement on the grocery stores, because that was a big issue. I think we would have lost at WTO, so it needed to move forward on that.
What else do you think we need to do to get this government to understand? Maybe a new government will actually understand that better. What else can be done there? Is there compensation coming if you should lose that WTO case because it didn't react accordingly?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay. I'm going to stop you right there just so I can ask Roger one question.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
I have 20 seconds.
Roger, what did they offer you for compensation, in light of the fact that you are one of the losers in this deal? You are giving up market access that you normally have. What is there for the losers, the people who are not getting or maybe are more a victim of a deal like this?
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