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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-06-03 13:34 [p.28398]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
The institution of freedom of the press is an underpinning of any democratic nation. It is the principle by which we understand that journalists or those in civil service investigate policy, politicians, and comings and goings, and shed light and perhaps different viewpoints on what is going on in our country. This is in order to ensure that we have the best public policy and work toward equality of economic opportunity. Regardless of political stripe, I hope we all agree that the institution of freedom of the press is very important.
I want to contrast the institution of freedom of the press with something that my colleague just said, which was on the industry of journalism. The institution is different from the industry. The institution of freedom of the press does not imply that somehow someone has to make a profit off of this. What we are talking about today is the state interfering in the industry of the press and whether or not that is appropriate in terms of the ability for the institution in Canada to survive.
In 2013, PwC's report, “Online Global entertainment and media outlook 2013-2017”, predicted that newspaper revenue would drop by 20% by 2017. This was not attributed to a lack of consumer demand for journalism, but was attributed directly to a rise in advertising revenue being shifted from print media to online media. It will be no surprise to anyone in this room, or anyone listening at home, that it is because the way we consume information has changed dramatically in the last several years. Many of us consume information on our phones. We consume information with short video blogs. We consume information from content that it is pushed to our phones.
The industry of journalism in Canada knew, through its own corporate forecasts and reports like this one, that its business model was failing. It begs the question of why the taxpayers of Canada should have to bail out a business model that was failing, which is print journalism. These organizations should have known, as any industry does, that they would have to adapt in order to survive. Anyone who owns a business knows that business models can change. For example, look at taxi companies when Uber came in. When something is disruptive to an industry, one has to adapt or one does not survive.
We are now debating whether the government should be bailing out a failed business model, or a failed industry. Unfortunately, what the government has chosen to do in answer to that question affects the institution of freedom of press. Anyone of any political stripe should be concerned about this. A partisan political actor should not be allocating tax dollars in such a way that it could harm the independence of the institution of free press in Canada.
How does that happen? What the Prime Minister has done is to allocate $600 million, which is a lot of money that could be used for a lot of things, to a select group of industry actors in journalism, based on criteria that the government selects and doles the money out on. If those industry actors are not sympathetic to the government of the time, are they inherently credible in terms of actors in the institution of free press? That is what is at stake here.
Anybody who votes Liberal, Green or NDP should be as comfortable with a Conservative-led government selecting those criteria as they are their own. They would have a very hard time standing here arguing for, let us say, Stephen Harper having control over the Canadian media. If an argument does not work both ways from political strife, then we actually have a big problem. Somebody who votes NDP or Green should have a huge concern.
Let us park, for a second, whether Canadian taxpayers should bail out a failed industry that has failed to transition to digital online. This is really about the credibility of anybody at any journalistic institution who takes money out of this fund and for those who choose not to take funds or who are not eligible to take those funds, whether they will be able to compete with people who now have a partisan interest, and they do have a partisan interest.
The government has appointed Unifor to the panel of people who will select the criteria by which the government doles out the funds. Unifor has a publicly stated, publicly funded campaign against a political party in this place. This weekend on the political talk shows, the leader of Unifor said that he should be on that panel because he had a score to settle. He said that other industry and media had endorsed the Conservatives before and why should he not be able to settle the score.
What we are debating here is which partisan actor is better suited to influence the industry on which the institution of freedom of the press is based in Canada. That is disgusting.
We have had a lot of discussions in this place about foreign influence in our election and fake news. It is the individual responsibility of every Canadian to understand how to critically evaluate information presented as news. There is no way the government can regulate that. Many of the existing actors in Canadian industry have responded to this drop in online content by trying to build their own media platforms and responding with clickbait. We do not have a lot of print journalism that I would constitute as journalism anymore. There is some, but a lot of it is editorialization on both the right and the left. Why would Canadian taxpayers perpetuate a failing industry that has such strong ramifications for Canadian democracy?
I know why the Liberal government is doing this and I know why the NDP supports it. When people control the press, they control people. That is what is happening here. Jerry Dias said that he had a score to settle. People cannot control the press through the state. Let us vigorously debate policy and let us even want to throttle each other over differences in public policy. However, to somehow argue with any sort of a fig leaf that this is anything other than the state controlling the press is shameful.
Columnists who have written about the fact that any journalist who works for an organization that takes money from this fund will have to work ten times harder to be credible are right, and they are brave for saying that.
At the end of the day, this bailout will not save print journalism in Canada. The only way that is saved is if these organizations figure out how to transition to the new digital reality, which many of them have failed to do.
In the strongest possible terms, I oppose any sort of interference in this regard. We need to have a conversation about what the state's role is in funding news writ large in Canada. We need to oppose partisan political actors being involved in the doling out of tax dollars to save an industry on which the institution of freedom of speech in our country is underpinned. I refuse to stand here, partisan hat off, and say as a Conservative that I would be excited about that level of control. No, we should have vigorous debate that challenges dogma, not that perpetuates a monopoly that is controlled by partisan actors. It is wrong and it needs to stop.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-06-03 13:45 [p.28400]
Madam Speaker, my colleague opposite has committed two logical fallacies.
One is tu quoque, we are doing it too. He is comparing himself to a Conservative government. The policy he talked about was perpetuated under a Liberal government. Frankly, yes, I disagree with it. I do not think we should be funding failed business models. I do not think we should be bailing these organizations out, and we should stop it.
The other logical fallacy that he committed was a red herring. As opposed to refuting any of my argument with regard to the fact that the government's motive was to control the press and undermine freedom of speech, he tried to divert the argument with crass partisan politics. This topic deserves more than that. It deserves real, intelligent debate. For anyone watching, I offer my condolences for having to watch that debate failure.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, today we are discussing a proposal by the government that is transparently ridiculous. I think my six-year-old daughter could well understand why it is ridiculous and government members should as well. It is a $600-million government bailout fund for some journalists and media organizations. The distribution of that fund is to be controlled by a committee that includes Jerry Dias and the leadership of Unifor. Unifor's leadership has made it clear that it will use workers' funds for electoral purposes. It will campaign to defeat the Conservatives in the next election and for the re-election of the Liberal government. It calls itself “The resistance” to the Conservatives.
Overtly partisan people are responsible for meting out dollars to journalists; that is for determining who is a journalist and who is not for the purpose of this funding and for determining who gets the money and who does not.
Our contention on this side of the House is that in defence of an independent press, we should not have overtly partisan individuals or entities responsible for meting out funds on the basis, supposedly, of supporting non-partisan journalism. This should be very clear. Having people who are actively involved in campaigning for one particular outcome in the election and also determining who is a journalist for the purposes of receiving funding is outrageous. It is beyond outrageous. I think members across the way would understand this very easily if the shoe were on the other foot.
That is why thus far in this debate members of the government are trying to avoid the real conversation about the real issue by all means necessary. They are making all sorts of other points that do not really address their decision to have partisan mechanisms handing out funding and deciding which journalists get funding.
Government members have talked about the important role that journalists play in our democracy. Of course we strongly agree with that. However, the most important tool that journalists have in their toolbox is a recognition of their credibility. Why do people choose to get their information from credible media organizations as opposed to blogs? Why do people go to nationalpost.com as opposed to liberal.ca to get their media? It is because of credibility. People understand. They hope that when they go to a media organization they trust, they can expect the information to be credible, accurate and non-partisan.
When the government intervenes by determining who gets funding and who does not, it is undermining the perception of credibility in the press by the public. Thus, it makes the job of independent professional journalists that much more difficult. The government is eroding public confidence in the fourth estate and it is doing so for its own interests.
If the government really cares about defending the vital work our independent press does, it should actually listen to what members of the press are saying about the proposal.
Don Martin from CTV says, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”
Andrew Coyne says, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”
Jen Gerson from CBC says, “If any of these associations or unions could be trusted to manage this “independent” panel, they would be denouncing it already.”
David Akin says, “I am a Unifor member and had no choice about that when I joined @globalnews. Unifor never consulted its membership prior to this endorsement. Had I been asked, I would have argued it should make no partisan endorsements.” He says “Jerry: I invite you to visit with Unifor members who are also members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’ll set the meeting up. You will learn first-hand how much damage you are doing to the businesses that employ us, to our credibility and how terribly uninformed you are.”
Chris Selley, from the National Post, says, “Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”
Chantal Hébert says, “Among the ranks of the political columnists, many fear it is a poison pill that will eventually do the news industry more harm than good.”
That is quite a list of intelligent, thoughtful journalists who comment on a range of different issues and who are known and have recognized names in Canadian democracy.
If the government says that its goal is to defend independent journalists like Don Martin, Jen Gerson, Andrew Coyne, David Akin and Chantal Hébert, then maybe it should listen to those independent journalists, because they understand that when the government pursues policies that undermine their perceived credibility in the eyes of the public, it makes it more difficult—not easier, but more difficult—for independent journalists.
Members of the government talk about an independent press. They talk about how having Unifor on a panel that doles out government funds and determines which journalists get the money and which do not, how having overtly partisan mechanisms controlling which journalists get funding and which who do not, is somehow in defence of an independent press. That is very Orwellian. War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength. It is Orwellian to say that government partisans doling out funding arbitrarily to media organizations of their choice is a way to maintain the independence of the press.
Canadians should be concerned about it because journalists are concerned about it. Not only is it a waste of taxpayers' money and not only is the government trying to intervene to stack the deck in its favour for the next election, but it undermines the independence of the press and it creates greater challenges for the press as they try to do their job. It makes it harder for them to fight back against those who are challenging their credibility.
In response to this, Jerry Dias from Unifor said that he is entitled to his free speech. I agree that all Canadians are entitled to free speech, but he is not entitled to use Canadians' tax dollars to promote those particular views.
Further, we expect certain positions in our democracy to be independent. We expect budgets not to be involved in overtly partisan politics. We expect the Clerk of the Privy Council not to be involved in overtly partisan politics—oops—and we expect some of these people to be outside of speaking about elections and parties. We certainly expect that the people responsible for doling out funding to journalists or deciding which organizations get the money would indeed be independent and would be separate from politics.
This is about preserving the independence of our institutions. We on this side of the House stand for preserving the independence of those institutions. It is not good enough to say it; we have to actually leave those institutions alone and not interfere with them. We should not interfere in the independence of our journalists, our public servants, or the functions of our judicial system, which is another problem. There are so many cases of the Liberals not respecting the independence of our institutions and interfering with them, and they are doing it again with respect to independent media.
The government's argument is that Unifor should be represented because it represents journalists. Here are some important numbers: Unifor is a very large union, representing over 300,000 people. There are about 12,000 journalists in that number; less than 5% of the membership are journalists, so this is not an organization that speaks uniquely and exclusively for journalists. In fact, journalists represent a very small part of the overall membership of the organization, so claiming that Jerry Dias can speak particularly for journalists in the context of public policy and advocacy widely misses the mark, especially since we hear so many journalists speaking out against this situation.
This is part of a broader pattern. We see repeatedly by the Liberal government efforts to stack the deck in its favour to undermine the independence of our institutions. We saw this first with the electoral system, when the government wanted to change the electoral system to its advantage and wanted to do it without a referendum. When the consultations came back and were different from what the government wanted, it ordered another round of consultations, again trying to stack the deck. The government tried to change the electoral system to its advantage and it failed. We called the government out on it.
The government also tried to change the Standing Orders of this place. Without the agreement of all parties, it tried to bring in automatic closure, again undermining the role of the opposition in the House of Commons. The government has tried to do this multiple times, but we successfully stood against it.
We called on the government to clamp down on foreign interference in elections; it refused to act on that.
The government has unilaterally acted to control the structure of the leadership debate. It has pushed through other changes to the Canada Elections Act that allow third party groups to massively outspend political parties in the pre-election period. The government did that to stack the deck.
Now again we see, in its efforts to undermine the independence of the media by having overtly partisan people controlling the handouts that are going to media, that the government is again trying to stack the deck in its favour.
The government does not respect the independence of the media. It does not respect the independence of Parliament. It does not respect the independence of the opposition, and that more than anything else is the reason that the Liberal government must be defeated.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-06-03 17:31 [p.28439]
Mr. Speaker, I hear the member for Kingston and the Islands chirping away at me. I know he will not like the rest of what I have to say about the government's media bailout. He will not appreciate it, but he can always ask me questions afterward.
This motion started with two former journalists on the Conservative side speaking to it, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent and the member for Thornhill. They are both exceptional journalists who have had long careers in the media and know what they are talking about. They are veterans of journalism. We always say within our caucus that the member for Thornhill has some of the most interesting life stories we will ever hear. I encourage any member in this House to ask him about the stories of his journalistic exploits and the situations he found himself in when he would follow them wherever they would go.
What we are talking about today is a media bailout the government is pushing through for large media organizations. There are three components to it: the labour tax credit, the digital new subscription tax credit and a qualified donee measure. Those three measures form this media bailout.
The media bailout is embedded within the omnibus budget bill. Other members have mentioned that the government promised not to present omnibus bills, and actually, in the throne speech, the government said it would never do it again. It could have brought this measure as a separate bill in order for it to have a full discussion and then go to the appropriate committees for a review.
I have read the bill. I remember the debate at the finance committee with officials and asking questions to the officials. When the member for Bow River said it would not apply to the weeklies and dailies in a community because they are owner-operated and the editor is heavily involved in the operations, that is exactly right. I asked that question of the officials. They meandered around it and said that for owners, this only applies to two-plus full-time journalists. That is how it works. The criterion is in section 43. It is written right into the law. Therefore, if owner-operators hire some students during the summer months as contractors, they are not eligible for this particular media bailout.
We asked the officials who this would apply to. We quickly found out it would exclude anybody who in previous tax years had applied for the periodical fund. Therefore, Maclean's, Chatelaine and other magazines would be excluded.
Then we asked what would happen to an agricultural newspaper in my area if half of the newspaper was devoted to agriculture. Well, that would not qualify either, because as I found out from the officials at committee, it would have to cover current events. I asked what “current events” means within the law. They pointed me to subsection 248(1) of the act, which states it “must be primarily focused on matters of general interest or reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes.” Those are the criteria.
During the debate I heard members across the way say the decision has not been made. However, there are criteria already included, and if a journalistic organization does not qualify, it is excluded from all three measures. That is the way the law is written.
Maybe our Liberal government caucus members do not like that fact, but that is the way the law is written and how it will apply. Unless the publication is basically covering politicians in some way, it will not be eligible for any cash. Therefore, this broad dragnet that the officials initially said would be the case is not the case. It is a very small, select group of people who will be eligible for it.
The motion before the House today is one of the primary worries we have on the Conservative side. The Liberals, by appointing a Unifor representative to the board of this panel, have made it partisan. Unifor has openly said it will campaign against one of Canada's large registered political parties. It posted it on social media accounts. It is happy to do it. It calls itself the “resistance”. There is no way around this.
The government has made everybody's participation on this board a partisan affair, because they are now participating actively in the electoral outcome of October 21. The government cannot say this panel is independent, as the panel is appointed by the government. It cannot say this Parliament is completely non-partisan, because Unifor is on the panel.
That simply cannot continue. We cannot have a situation of a national organization that represents some journalists as well as a great deal of other workers actively working against one of Canada's registered political parties as well as participating in deciding who will get access to these three measures I just talked about that form the media bailout.
We have repeatedly heard members on the Liberal side say things that were maybe partially correct in the best of light. I heard one member say that maybe bloggers could be eligible, and I actually asked the question, but bloggers are not eligible. I asked if The Post Millennial, which is a purely online web news site, would be eligible. They did not know whether it would be eligible.
There is a great Yiddish proverb that says “What you don't see with your eyes, don't say with your tongue.” It is a fanciful way of saying that if it is not the truth that we read, do not say it.
At the finance committee, I asked all of these questions because I wanted to better understand which organizations would actually be eligible for this tax credit. They were very quick to say that they did not have all answers, because some of the criteria are set in law and some of the criteria will be up to the panel to determine.
We now know that this panel would be tainted by the participation of Unifor. It is the perception that matters. It is the perception that journalists could be bent by the ownership or by the eligibility for certain criteria. We would be subsidizing journalists directly, because there is a labour tax credit of up to $55,000 by which a salary could be offset. It works out to about $13,750 at the end of the day for an employee. It is a direct subsidy for an employee.
The panel is going to decide who qualifies as a Canadian journalist. I can think of no worse thing for independent, autonomous journalism in this country than to have the perception that perhaps their reporting will be tainted one way or another on the type of content they choose to report.
I do not have a problem with journalists writing tough stories. I do not have a problem with them misquoting me. I do not have a problem with them not coming to me or not following a lead I think is worth following. I do not have a problem with it. They are independent and autonomous and can do whatever they want. That is up to them. Hopefully they will find a readership who is willing to read what they have to offer. I like to read the National Observer. It is kind of left-leaning, one could say, but it provides a lot of content that I actually like using, and so I am fine with it. However, I do not know if the National Observer would be eligible for this measure. Everything outside of current events would be excluded. If a publication covers too much sport or too much entertainment news, it would be excluded. All of those decisions the panel would get to decide.
This is the only tax credit measure I can find that the CRA does not administer directly. It will be administered indirectly by this panel. I hear all these Liberal government caucus members say that it will be the panel that will decide. As soon as one qualifies, it would be eligible for these other things.
Why not just let the CRA do it? It does the disability tax credit. It decides at the end of the day who is eligible for it. It decides for the child expenses. Why is the CRA not going to be administering the law? There is a lot of leeway provided in the law as well, but I am just wondering why the CRA is not deciding, from A to Z, the whole thing. Would that not be the more transparent, non-partisan, completely opaque, arm's-length but within arm's reach way of doing this, as opposed to having a panel with Unifor on it after Unifor has explicitly said that it is going to be devoted from now until October 21 to the defeat of one of Canada's registered political parties?
For Unifor to participate in the determination of who qualifies as a journalistic organization and qualifies through those three measures I mentioned is ridiculous. There is no way we can claim that this will be a complete non-partisan exercise. We cannot. The government has basically put on the committee an organization that is going to be helping it directly. That is what I heard at the finance committee. Nothing I have heard during the debate today changes my mind on the fact that the government is trying to push the scales again on one side, just as it did with the justice system. It is pushing on the scales here and trying to ensure it gets the best possible coverage, because a lot of the money does not flow out immediately. It is the potential of future cash that would ensure that large media organizations are on side.
Therefore, I will be voting for this motion, because it is very important that every single member stand on this issue and be heard on where they stand on behalf of their constituents for a free press without any direct government involvement. We should not be in the business of subsidizing the business of the press. We want a free press, yes, but not press subsidized with government and taxpayer dollars.
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
CPC (AB)
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2019-05-17 11:28 [p.28002]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to prove that he does not care about right or wrong, as long as he gets his way.
When he tried to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, his then attorney general got in the way, so he fired her. Ben Chin was one of the Prime Minister's conspirators in his attempt to undermine justice. Ben Chin got a promotion.
The message is clear. Those who do the Prime Minister's dirty work get rewarded.
What self-respecting parliamentarian would tolerate and defend this corruption?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-05-16 14:50 [p.27951]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister fired his attorney general when she had the audacity or the courage to stand up to him. However, Ben Chin, a key actor in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, has been promoted as senior adviser to the now Prime Minister.
Let me get this straight. Under the current Liberal government, if people stand up to the Prime Minister, they get fired; if people help the Prime Minister do his dirty work, no problem, they get a big promotion.
My question is very simple. Does no one over there see the injustice, or what is wrong?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:23 [p.27820]
Madam Chair, I will now move to the issue of SNC-Lavalin, following up a question posed by the member for Essex. In light of the fact that the justice committee's efforts to get to the bottom of what happened in the SNC matter were shut down, why is the minister opposed to calling a public inquiry?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:24 [p.27820]
Madam Chair, it is pretty clear that the justice committee shut down its investigation when it took orders directly from the Prime Minister's Office, but that aside, the minister relies on the Ethics Commissioner to undertake an investigation. However, the minister knows that under section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commissioner on this matter is very limited. Issues around obstruction of justice and political interference would not fall within the scope of the Ethics Commissioner.
Again, why will the minister not call a public inquiry?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:25 [p.27820]
Madam Chair, the Prime Minister and other members of the government repeatedly asserted that their interference in the SNC-Lavalin affair was somehow justified on the basis of the jobs issue. The minister has stated that he has not advanced that argument, that he has not made a public statement in that regard, but I am going to ask him if he believes that the loss of jobs constitutes a lawful basis to interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:26 [p.27820]
Madam Chair, Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the Privy Council, characterized his involvement as “lawful advocacy”. Would the minister agree?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:27 [p.27820]
Madam Chair, the former attorney general was repeatedly pressured by officials in the PMO to seek an outside legal opinion with respect to whether to overturn the decision of the director of public prosecutions. Has the minister sought an outside opinion?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:28 [p.27821]
Madam Chair, it is very clear. We know that repeated pressure was put on the former attorney general to seek an outside opinion. One must ask what the basis of such opinion could be, other than to change the former attorney general's mind, especially having regard for paragraph 715.32(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, which specifically provides that it is the prosecutor—in other words, the director of public prosecutions—who must decide whether they are of the opinion that negotiating the agreement is in the public interest and is appropriate in the circumstances. Therefore, it falls on the DPP and not the attorney general to form an opinion, so what could possibly have been the basis of seeking an outside legal opinion?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:29 [p.27821]
Madam Chair, retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said that she believes what happened in the SNC-Lavalin scandal constitutes “a constitutional crisis”. Would the minister agree?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:30 [p.27821]
Madam Chair, in the Krieger decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, the court said, “It is a constitutional principle that the Attorneys General of this country must act independently of partisan concerns when exercising their delegated sovereign authority to initiate, continue or terminate prosecutions.” Given what we know about what happened and the pressure that was put on the former attorney general, that would seem to validate the expression of retired judge Turpel-Lafond.
However, turning to the Vice-Admiral Norman affair and following up on a question posed by the member for Milton, the judge in the Norman case made a determination with respect to whether solicitor-client privilege applied to the PCO memos. That is simply not the case, so why will the minister e not release the memos?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:32 [p.27821]
Madam Chair, we know that when the former attorney general blew the whistle on SNC-Lavalin and the pressure that was put upon her, she was fired from cabinet and then kicked out of the Liberal caucus. We know that when the former health minister raised concerns about ethical lapses in the government, she was thrown out of the Liberal caucus. Today we learned that Ben Chin, former chief of staff at the finance department and one of the first individuals involved in putting pressure on the former attorney general, was elevated to a senior advisory role in the Prime Minister's Office. What kind of message does that send? Does that not speak to the ethical rot in the government?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:35 [p.27821]
Madam Chair, following up on questions posed by the hon. member for Durham in the Norman matter, we know that Justice Perkins-McVey has expressed significant concerns about whether there was interference on the part of the PCO respecting trial strategy. Again, I want to ask the minister to explain why he is unprepared at this time to initiate an investigation in light of those very serious concerns.
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:36 [p.27822]
Madam Chair, the minister said that he had an oral briefing. In light of the serious concerns that have been raised about using code names to block access to information requests, how can he be satisfied that everything was above board? On top of that, Parliament apologized to Vice-Admiral Norman today. How can he say that everything was above board?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2019-05-10 11:28 [p.27629]
Madam Speaker, it is increasingly clear that the Prime Minister and his government politically interfered in Mark Norman's case, just as it did in SNC-Lavalin's.
The government withheld documents and blackened pages totally out. It used code names to hide its actions. It coached witnesses. Mr. Norman's lawyer was clear that the documents should have been handed over to the RCMP and to the prosecution.
Why would the Liberals not release the documents to Mr. Norman's defence team, and unredacted? What is the Prime Minister trying to hide here?
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it is evident that the jobs the Liberals are talking about had nothing to do with Vice-Admiral Norman because they cared nothing about his job. There appears to be overwhelming evidence that the Prime Minister and his Liberal government went to incredible lengths to try to keep truth hidden, deliberately suppressing information that would eventually exonerate Vice-Admiral Norman. This political interference is a damning indictment of the current government and Canadians deserve answers.
Will the Prime Minister apologize to Vice-Admiral Norman and reinstate him as vice-chief of staff?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-05-10 11:56 [p.27635]
Madam Speaker, our former Conservative government made the decision to retrofit a ship in order to get much-needed equipment to our navy. Then leaked documents show that the Liberals tried to stop this after a company that is friendly to the party was cheesed off that they did not get the contract.
After this leak prevented the Liberals from taking this unwise course of action, they attempted to destroy the career of one of Canada's most senior military officers, whose only crime was wanting to get a ship for our navy.
Why?
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, that is not what Canadians see in the aftermath of the Vice-Admiral Norman travesty. What they see is a pattern of corruption with the Prime Minister, the PMO and the Liberal government, who attack and try to discredit anyone who stands up for truth, who stands up for what is right and who gets in their way.
What is the government really so desperately trying to hide? Will the Prime Minister apologize to Vice-Admiral Norman and reinstate him as the head of the navy and second-in-command of our armed forces?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-05-01 15:08 [p.27237]
Mr. Speaker, every single week since the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke, the opposition has asked the Liberal leader whether or not the RCMP has contacted him or any of his ministers or staff with regard to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Today when we asked the question, he skirted the answer. He did not answer.
I am going to ask him very directly. Has the RCMP contacted either the Liberal leader, any of his ministers, his senior staff or party leadership with regard to the SNC-Lavalin scandal?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, certainly we in the Conservative caucus share many of the criticisms of corporate welfare. We feel that when Canadians pay taxes, first of all, their taxes should be lower, and second, when they pay taxes to the government, they expect those taxes to be used for vital services, not for things like buying fridges for an already well-off company.
An area where we disagree, though, is on the importance of policies that facilitate competitiveness. The NDP approach, as we heard it outlined in the speech, generally emphasizes more regulation as a tool to keep jobs in Canada.
If the goal is creating jobs in Canada, does the member agree that we need to be attentive to the competitiveness of the Canadian business environment, and measures like lowering business taxes, ensuring fair processes for small business and counteracting the attack on small business that we saw from the government? Those things are very important for facilitating employment, because they make it easier for people to invest, grow and create jobs here in Canada.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2019-04-29 17:35 [p.27138]
Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the member's speech. I would like to give him more of an opportunity to talk about how hopelessly and helplessly disconnected from the reality of regular everyday Canadian families these Liberals are.
I am sure that the member is aware of a well-known study that has been mentioned many times in the House of how some 47% of Canadian families are roughly about $200 away from financial catastrophe. The kind of financial catastrophe that such a family might worry about could be what would happen if they needed to buy a new refrigerator. Here we have a government that sees fit to hand over $12 million to a well-capitalized corporation for it to buy refrigerators. I would like him to comment on that further.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I want to zero in on what my friend across the way referred to as the “so-called fridges”. I am pretty sure that they were fridges, not just “so-called fridges”. At least I hope they worked after all the money that was put into them.
Anytime that the government is talking about environmental policy, it means punitive approaches for those who are struggling economically and “incentives” for those who are already doing very well. Those in the middle class who are struggling have to pay the carbon tax, while the largest emitters get a break. For Loblaws, this means financial support from taxpayers for fridges. When it comes to small businesses that are struggling to get ahead under the burden of the government, paying higher taxes because of it, there are no incentives. For them, a more punitive approach is taken when it comes to increased taxation.
Why is it that the Liberals always find an incentive for their well-connected, wealthy friends and those who donate to their party; whereas when it comes to Canadians who cannot afford to adapt, the Liberals take a punitive approach? Why is there a different approach for the wealthy and well-connected than there is for everyone else?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2019-04-12 11:28 [p.27048]
Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that the Prime Minister has been misleading Canadians now for over two months. He said that the SNC story was false, that no one raised concerns and that he did it for jobs, yet each one of these statements is a proven falsehood. Then he foolishly tried to bully the opposition leader into silence by threatening to sue, but the opposition leader has now called this ridiculous bluff.
It is the Prime Minister's move. When will we see him in court?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-11 14:28 [p.27003]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was accused of strong-arming the former attorney general to interfere in a criminal prosecution. He denied it. She provided proof. Then the Prime Minister was accused of firing her for refusing to interfere. Again, he denied it. Again, she provided proof. The Prime Minister was accused of being aware that the former attorney general raised her concerns with the officials at the PMO. He denied it. Again, she provided proof.
Does the Prime Minister realize that if he repeats these denials in the court of law he will be charged with perjury?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-11 14:33 [p.27004]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's letter was about the opposition leader's statement. It has nothing to do with tweets.
The Prime Minister said, over and over, that no one ever warned him that his pressure to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin was political interference and was wrong. However, last week he himself admitted that on September 17 that the former attorney general directly advised him, in person, to back off. Now, even though he caught himself in his own words, he still threatens to sue the Leader of the Opposition.
Does the Prime Minister know that if he repeats his initial denials in court he will commit perjury?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-11 14:34 [p.27004]
Mr. Speaker, the opposition leader did not retract any statements. In fact, he repeated every single word yesterday.
We look forward to the Prime Minister's testifying in court under oath, where he cannot control the process, he cannot control the people and he cannot shut it down like he killed two investigations. For once in his life, he will have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Does he actually have the backbone to set a date? When will we see him in court?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-09 14:29 [p.26879]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is threatening a lawsuit to shut down the opposition from holding him accountable for his attempts to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. He says that it is libellous to say that the former attorney general told him and his top officials that their actions were “political interference” and “entirely inappropriate”. However, the taped phone call, texts and notes show that it is all true.
Canadians look forward to the Prime Minister being forced to testify in open court under oath. When will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-09 14:30 [p.26880]
Mr. Speaker, indeed, let us be clear. The Prime Minister has said that it is libellous for the opposition leader to say that the former attorney general was pressured by him and then fired for resisting. However, on the taped call, the clerk said that the Prime Minister was “determined”, “in a firm frame of mind”, that they were on a “collision” course and that he was going to get it done “one way or another”.
When will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat to sue or will he just finally admit that everything the opposition leader said is totally true?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-09 14:39 [p.26881]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been caught misleading Canadians. Having been caught, now the Prime Minister is trying to sue his critics.
In his letter, he disputes the fact “the Prime Minister had been informed by [the former attorney general] that his actions were ‘entirely inappropriate’ and amounted to ‘political interference’”. Every single Canadian understands that this is in fact exactly what happened.
When will the Prime Minister move forward with his threat to call a court case and get to business?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-08 14:30 [p.26809]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister shut down two committees, booted two MPs out of caucus, and is holding documents 200 days past the deadline of an access to information request to hide the truth from Canadians. After months of misleading contradictions and changing his story to cover up his wrongdoing, now he is trying to shut down the opposition by threatening a lawsuit against our leader.
Canadians look forward to the Prime Minister giving evidence, providing testimony and being accountable, finally, under oath in open court. When will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-08 14:31 [p.26809]
Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister admires basic dictatorships, but what is clear from that answer is that he does not really want to follow through with his empty threat, because it would mean that he and his senior staff and multiple officials would have to testify under oath for hours and produce documents, all under a public process that he does not control. Conservatives welcome the chance to examine the Prime Minister in pretrial discovery at the earliest possible date.
Will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat to sue, or is he ready to admit that everything the Leader of the Opposition said is actually true?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-08 14:52 [p.26813]
Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing here today is the Liberal government reacting to the fact that it sent out this letter threatening the Leader of the Opposition for, basically, doing his job. It is trying to get the Conservatives to back down so he does not have to, because the Liberals know how crazy this is. They know Canadians are watching this and are incensed.
I am here to say that we are not backing down. The Leader of the Opposition just stood up and said that he stood behind everything he said. When is the Prime Minister going to show up in court?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-08 14:54 [p.26813]
Mr. Speaker, my party leader has said that he stands behind everything he said. The interesting thing with the House leader saying that false statements have consequences is that it does not apply to her leader. She never came to him. He never put pressure on her. No one from his office directed her to do anything.
Why are the only people who have any sort of consequences for false statements are strong women in his party? When she is saying, “Put us on notice”, right back at you, Mr. Speaker. Giddy-up.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today. I understand my friend from Carleton was trying to give me a run for my money in terms of being the most verbose Conservative, so today I am going to try to catch up to him, with a 20-minute speech on this important bill.
Before I get to the substance of the bill, I feel the need to respond to some of the things that the parliamentary secretary for finance said, because he is trying to set up this narrative that is based on made-up things. I want to point to some clear facts that my friends across the way will hopefully take on board and recognize.
What were the fiscal policies of the Conservative government with respect to tax reduction? It is important to underline that all of the taxes that were lowered by the Conservatives are the ones that were disproportionately paid by lower-income Canadians. We raised the base personal exemption; that is, we increased the amount of money that people can earn before they have to pay any tax. Surely, my friend across the way would not say that raising the base personal exemption was somehow targeted at helping the wealthy. Indeed, we took many low-income Canadians off the tax rolls completely.
We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is the tax that all Canadians pay. In particular, it is a regressive tax that is paid disproportionately, because a higher proportion of GST is paid by lower-income Canadians than is paid as a proportion of other taxes. Therefore, lowering the GST was particularly beneficial to middle and low-income Canadians. We also lowered the lowest marginal income tax rate.
We lowered business tax rates, in particular small business tax rates. Why did we lower business tax rates? When we lower business tax rates, the evidence shows that it creates jobs. It also raised business tax revenue over the time that we have seen a reduction in business taxes in this country. It was a process that began under the previous Liberal government, which, relatively speaking, I think was better than the current Liberal government on many fiscal issues. It began the process of lowering business taxes, which was continued under the Harper Conservative government. The effect of that was that over the same period, we saw an increase in business tax revenue. The tax reductions we were making were targeted at improving the effectiveness of our economy and providing tax relief to those Canadians who needed tax relief the most. Did we lower the highest marginal tax rate? No, we did not. We targeted tax relief to Canadians who needed it most by raising the base personal exemption, by lowering the GST and by lowering the lowest marginal tax rate.
The parliamentary secretary for finance can say that the Conservatives think a certain way or that we want certain things, but I challenge him to speak specifically, which the current government never does. We believe that helping low and middle-income Canadians can be done most effectively by letting them keep more of their own money and deciding how they want to spend it themselves. We do not take a paternalistic approach when it comes to helping Canadians who are struggling financially. We think people can make good monetary decisions about what is in their interest and how they want to pursue projects and needs that are important to them and their family. That is why our approach emphasizes tax reductions.
The current government has raised taxes for middle-class Canadians and those, as it likes to say, who are working hard to join it.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Garnett Genuis: Members were clapping when I pointed out that the government is raising taxes on Canadians working hard to join the middle class, so they finally realize it. We certainly invite those members who realize this flaw to come over and join us. There is still some time. I know there are so many people coming over to the opposition benches these days, some voluntarily and some not, and we welcome more to see the light.
If we look at the contrast in approach, we have the carbon tax, which is a new tax imposed by the current government. That is specifically targeted at punishing Canadians who can least pay the tax. The government has said it is an environmental measure and that the Conservatives want to make pollution free again.
The Liberals are giving a holiday on the carbon tax to Canada's largest emitters. There is no paying of the carbon tax and there is no cost to those large emitters. Instead, they are imposing the cost on Canadians who can least afford it, on the single mom who needs to drive her car to take the kids to grandma's and grandpa's, on the small business owner just starting out and on individual Canadians who are struggling and do not have high-priced lobbyists or the ability to access the PMO.
We know how many meetings happened in the PMO on how to help SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution. I wish they had at least that many meetings to think about Canadians who are struggling and will struggle more because of the carbon tax that is being imposed on Canadians who can least afford it while large emitters are getting a break.
If the Liberals were at all serious in their claim that this is an environmental measure, then they would impose a carbon tax across the board. However, it is not an environmental measure, it is a revenue measure and that is why Conservatives will get rid of the carbon tax. We will not just get rid of the carbon tax on large emitters, but we will make sure that no Canadian is paying the federally imposed carbon tax that the Prime Minister is so desperate to impose on them.
My friend from Winnipeg North wants to know what is going to happen in the provinces. We see in provincial elections across the country that more and more Canadians are rejecting the carbon tax as well. We have seen that rejection in Ontario, New Brunswick, his province of Manitoba and very soon we will see that in Alberta as well. I am looking forward, next week, to Albertans joining the growing movement of Canadians who are rejecting the carbon tax. People in my constituency may still face a federally imposed carbon tax even after the next provincial election. However, they will not have long to wait until we replace the current government this fall and ensure that Albertans and all Canadians do not have the burden of the carbon tax.
For the members who want to say this is the only possible way to respond to climate change, I point out to them that we saw a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions under the previous Conservative government. We saw in every jurisdiction across the country that emissions either went down or up by less than they had during the previous period. We saw an increase in emissions in British Columbia under the carbon tax that they have had in place for quite a while. All the evidence suggests that this is not an environmental measure and, again, the Liberals' own decision to give a holiday on the carbon tax to the largest emitters shows that they are just not serious about this.
The government needs to re-examine the rhetoric it is using in light of the reality and in light of the fact that it is imposing tax increases at every opportunity it can. It is clear why it is imposing these tax increases. It simply cannot get a handle on spending.
In the last election the Prime Minister looked Canadians in the eyes and told them that he would run deficits lower than $10 billion, and then he would balance the budget by the 2018-19 fiscal year. There was no balance. We saw very clearly in the budget that the government has not balanced the budget. It has no intention of balancing the budget and it will not face up to the fact that it made a promise that it simply did not have any plan or sincerity about keeping.
Now the Liberals are desperate to start to plug that fiscal hole by imposing new taxes on Canadians at every opportunity, and they have tried to do this in so many ways. After the last election, despite promising to lower the small business tax rate to 9%, they undid that promise and said they were going to leave the tax rate at 10.5%, effectively a tax increase on small business. Then, with great fanfare, after they had attacked small businesses, after they had called small business owners tax cheats, after they tried to impose these new rules that were met with such frustration, such virulent objection from the business community, guess what they said. They said they were going to lower the small business tax rate to 9%, which is what they had promised they were going to do in the last election before they unmade that promise. However, they still have changed rules for small businesses that impose a new and greater tax burden on them.
We know what the current government is about. It is about raising taxes at every turn to try to plug its wide-open hole in terms of its fiscal plan and we cannot let it do that. As these deficits and these debts grow, it will certainly be raising taxes unless we get a new government in place that ensures Canadians are no longer paying for the mistakes of the current Prime Minister and that instead allows Canadians to get ahead by lowering their taxes.
We can be sure that, as we have seen in the past, the approach of a Conservative government, under the able leadership of the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, would be focused on providing tax relief to those Canadians who need it most, those Canadians who are suffering the most under the current government's high-tax, high-spend agenda.
There are members across the way who are shouting the phrase “trickle down”. The approach of the current government is to pour subsidies on the largest corporations, to try to give special deals to its friends, to try to help SNC-Lavalin to get out of its prosecution and to somehow think that will trickle down. On this side of the House, we oppose the Liberals' theory of trickle-down government, and that is why we believe in providing tax relief to Canadians who need it most as we did by lowering the GST, by lowering the lowest marginal tax rate and by raising the basic personal exemption.
It was important for me to start out by responding to my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, but let me now make a few comments on this legislation, which, contrary to my tone until now, is actually legislation that we support. It is legislation that really builds on great work done by the previous government. We would not necessarily know it by hearing some of the comments across the way, but Conservatives in government were actively engaged with our international partners in ensuring that we have a fair and more transparent tax system. The work that we are dealing with in terms of the bill began as a result of an agreement in 2013 and Conservatives from that period onward, and indeed before that period, were active in engaging with our international partners.
In January 2015, we put in place a requirement that electronic transfers of $10,000 or more had to be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency by banks and financial institutions. We have always, in terms of our policy declarations and the principles we have put out there in platforms since, emphasized tax fairness and emphasized simplification of the tax code. This is vitally needed. An area that many Canadians bring to our attention on a regular basis is that there are opportunities for us to ensure proper reporting and ensure tax fairness and, therefore, strengthen Canada's revenue position.
Therefore, this is legislation that builds on that work that our colleagues have spoken in favour of up until now and certainly that we continue to support.
Even as we discuss this legislation, we continue to see the gaps in terms of some of the things the government members say and the reality in terms of what they do. In many cases with these international conventions, we talk about the issues of simplification, of consistency, of ensuring that CRA is treating everybody fairly and of making sure that there is not double taxation.
In that way, it is worth pointing out again the good work of my colleague from Calgary Rocky Ridge who put forward Motion No. 43, which was a motion that would impose a duty of care on the Canada Revenue Agency in its interactions with Canadians, basically to ensure that people are treated fairly in their interactions with the Canada Revenue Agency. While, on the one hand, we have situations where companies may be taking advantage of some of these creative tax-planning arrangements, we have situations where individuals who may be low-income individuals face the CRA coming down very hard on them and they have a difficult time responding. It was a common-sense, reasonable motion that my colleague from Calgary put forward and I was pleased to support that. Unfortunately, it was only members of the Conservative caucus who supported Motion No. 43.
All members of the government opposed this common sense tax fairness measure. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the NDP opposed it. We do hear the NDP members sometimes talk about the problem their constituents face with respect to interactions with CRA.
However, I hope we will have an opportunity to bring a similar initiative in the future, perhaps in a future Parliament. Maybe in light of the more recent comments we have heard on this from the NDP, maybe its members will support it at that time. Canadians can have confidence that when it comes to holding CRA accountable to ensure that people are treated fairly and equally under the law, thus far it has only been the Conservatives who have taken that clear, consistent principled position.
If the Liberals are concerned about fairness for the middle class, then we would expect them to vote in favour of initiatives that would ensure fairness for the middle class when they have an opportunity. Unfortunately, they have not done that.
On the issue of double taxation, I spoke earlier about the carbon tax. We have with the carbon tax a form of double taxation, which is the fact that the federal government is requiring a carbon tax in every jurisdiction. It is imposing a federal carbon tax in jurisdictions where provinces are not imposing it themselves. Then it is collecting GST on top of it.
The Liberals have said that this will be revenue neutral for the federal government. It is not revenue neutral for the federal government. In and of itself, the federal carbon tax imposed on provinces that have rejected it is not revenue neutral from the perspective of the federal government. They have said in their announcements that most of the money will be rebated back. That is a big difference from all of the money, but the government is collecting GST on top of that.
Therefore, right here within our own domestic reality, we have a problem of double taxation. We have taxes being imposed on top of other taxes. This increases the burden on Canadians who really can least afford it.
We have had a number of initiatives, and not just speaking of the work of the previous government, in this Parliament from different members of our Conservative team who have been trying to bring about tax relief for Canadians. Every time we propose measures to bring tax relief to Canadians, the Liberals oppose them.
The leader of the opposition had an excellent initiative around making parental leave tax free. This would give parents a greater ability to plan to preserve their own fiscal situation while they were going through the transition of having a child. Certainly, we want to support parents in that situation. The government's approach to parental leave is to try to reduce that flexibility by reducing the flexibility that families have to allocate leave between different partners. Our approach is to provide more choice, more opportunity by reducing taxes across the board. Unfortunately, the Liberals voted against it.
Finally, with respect to Bill C-82, a mixed signal is being sent by the government. On the one hand, it wants to look like it is being tough on tax evasion and tax avoidance. On the other hand, we have seen how dedicated the Prime Minister and his team were to try and get a special deal for SNC-Lavalin. We do not exactly send a message that we are tough on anything when it comes to the actions of big corporations, if then we also try to put as much pressure as we can to get a special deal for those well-connected companies that can afford high-priced lobbyists and can push back there. It is gravely inconsistent.
If the government wants to address this issue and the issues around it, it needs to send a message that everybody is equal under the law, that it does not matter if one is a big company or a Canadian who is struggling to get by, that the law is the law. Sending that message in a clear and consistent way, ensuring that everybody is treated equally and fairly under the law, would very much address what we are talking about. It would confront the problems that this legislation seeks to confront.
Therefore, while we support the bill before us, we recognize the desperate need for the government to do better, to stop piling taxes on those Canadians who can least afford to pay them and to start sending a message that everybody, regardless of where one is situated in society, is equal under the law.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-05 11:30 [p.26738]
Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians that no one ever raised concerns about his interference in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, but all the evidence shows that is just not true.
The Prime Minister only allowed the former attorney general to speak about what happened before January 14, the date he moved her out of her role after she had told him to back off repeatedly, but she said they had a series of meetings after that, which led to her resignation, and the Liberals themselves keep leaking information that they will not let her talk about, even as of yesterday.
When will the Liberals take responsibility, end the cover-up and tell Canadians the truth?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-05 11:31 [p.26738]
Madam Speaker, the Liberals did not waive all of the restrictions. They say the justice committee did its work on the Prime Minister's interference in the criminal prosecution, but on February 13 the Liberals shut down that investigation. On March 26, the Liberals stopped the ethics committee from holding any hearings at all. The Liberals say that Canadians can have faith in the rule of law, but OECD anti-bribery officials are “concerned” and will “closely monitor” Canada because of the Liberals' actions.
The Prime Minister has contradicted himself many times. No one can believe a word he says. When will Liberals end the cover-up and tell Canadians the truth?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-05 11:35 [p.26739]
Madam Speaker, I remember at the start of the SNC-Lavalin scandal when the Prime Minister had his press conference and said that, no, there is nothing more to see, it is all good. Then we had all this testimony where all the evidence started to come out, and we have the same situation here.
We have the government House leader doing his beck and call, standing up and saying that, no, there is nothing to see here, yet the former attorney general is still under a gag order, and they are still blocking the ethics committee from doing its work. Why?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-05 11:36 [p.26739]
Madam Speaker, I think at some point in time the government House leader might find herself clipped after whatever next tape is going to come out or whatever the PMO staff is going to leak to the media this week. That is what has happened. The PMO is leaking information for a time period that the former attorney general is still under a gag order for, and she is standing up here saying that it is all good, do not worry. It is ridiculous. It like an abrogation of democracy.
Why will the PMO not let the ethics committee do its work?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-04 14:29 [p.26686]
Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the Prime Minister said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” In 2019, he is blocking the former attorney general from sharing all the facts about his interference in a criminal prosecution, including what was said and done when he removed her from that position.
On February 7, he said that the claims that he, his staff and officials pressured her were “false”. On February 12, he said that no one, including her, raised any concerns. However, all the evidence shows otherwise.
Why will the Prime Minister not end the cover-up and tell Canadians the truth?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-04 14:30 [p.26686]
Mr. Speaker, but he has not fully waived confidentiality, and the Liberals have shut down two committee investigations and are withholding documents to a paper until after the next election. Top officials have resigned.
Yesterday in question period, the Prime Minister finally admitted that she did raise concerns with him directly in September and told him to back off. In fact, she and her staff did that at least nine separate times over four months. She told the Privy Council clerk that it was inappropriate to interfere with prosecutorial independence 14 times on the December 19 call alone, and Wernick said four times that the Prime Minister was firm.
The Prime Minister has caught himself in his own tangled web. He should tell the truth.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-04-03 19:16 [p.26649]
Mr. Speaker, I am so glad I was able to catch your eye this late in the evening to rise to speak about this concurrence report.
What I wanted to do in my initial comments was to mention that I co-seconded the amendment. I know members are probably tired from this later-evening sitting so I will not add too much to the debate. I know a lot has been said on our side already about the wisdom of returning this to committee in order to confirm the independence and autonomy of the director of public prosecutions, as well the appointment to that position of Kathleen Roussel, who made the right decision in the case of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, which was confirmed at the time by the former attorney general.
I will mention as well that the law that created the position goes all the way back to 2006, which was Bill C-2. It was created by the Federal Accountability Act. There is a reason we know who lobbies who in this place. It is because the Lobbying Commissioner and the registry were created by that very act as well. The Ethics Commissioner was also created by that act.
Actually, a lot of the accountability mechanisms that now exist in this place, which parliamentarians take advantage of to better understand their responsibilities toward Parliament and the people of Canada, were created in Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act, which was passed at the time by a Conservative minority government. It was able to work across the way with the other side for the betterment of the people of Canada, who, after the sponsorship scandal, were demanding greater ethics and accountability from parliamentarians and elected officials.
At the time, that scandal led to the creation of an independent director of public prosecutions whose decisions were to be confirmed by the Attorney General. The Attorney General would not be able to overturn a criminal prosecution and take over a case without gazetting it. I remember being a staff member working for a backbench Conservative member of Parliament at the time. The thinking at the time was that nobody would go through the trouble of trying to overturn a decision by a prosecutor who had decided not to offer a certain deal to the defence and that this would now end all political and criminal interference in public prosecutions.
Little did we know that 12 years later it would in fact happen. It would cost the political futures of two now former cabinet ministers, now former members of the Liberal caucus, and other members who have since then quit sitting on that side. Who can really blame them with everything that has been going on?
I love Yiddish proverbs so I want to share one that applies here: “Before you utter a word you are the master; afterwards you are a fool.”
From statements that have been made publicly from September, October and November to then January and February, we can see the inconsistency of the story on the side of the Liberal government. At first, the Prime Minister said that he knew nothing. In a press conference, he said that what was being reported by The Globe and Mail was absolutely untrue. This was not any digging around that the Conservatives were doing. It was in fact journalists who heard the story, corroborated it and then reported it. At the time, the Prime Minister said that it was absolutely false and there was no truth to it. We know now that statement is completely inaccurate. There is absolutely no basis to have said any of it. We know this now because the independent caucus continues to grow quickly, with former Liberal caucus members now being punted to this side of the House because they are standing up for truth.
There is a deep betrayal of justice on that side of the House in basically shooting the messenger. They have broken trust with Canadians and this is what the amendment to the concurrence report is trying to re-establish by reconfirming the independence and autonomy of the director of public prosecutions. We, on this side of the House, have faith in her work. We know that she can do the job. She made the decision, which was then confirmed by the former attorney general 12 days later. A decision was confirmed and she stuck to her guns. She decided it was the right thing to do.
I hear so much chirping from the other side of the House because they are all looking at the same polls that we are. They are looking at the opinions of Canadians, who are telling pollsters and telling us on Twitter, Instagram and social media that they are tired of this.
Canadians were sold a bill of goods back in 2015. They were told there was going to be real change, a new way of governing the country. In fact, that is completely untrue. It has gone back to the good old days of 2002-2003 and the sponsorship scandal of the 1990s that led to one of the deepest crises in our democracy at that time, which led to the Federal Accountability Act being passed in this place, requiring greater accountability and ethics from our parliamentarians, something that is sorely lacking on that side of the House.
I am pleased to be rising to speak to this matter. I am pleased to be providing my support to this measure by co-seconding the amendment to send this back to committee and to ensure we stand with those parliamentarians who have been punished by their leadership for standing up for the truth and doing the right thing. It is better to put country before party. It is better to stand up for the truth, wherever that leads us.
I just want to remind members again of this Yiddish proverb: “Before you utter a word you are the master; afterwards you’re a fool.” I hope the government sees the light on this, tells the truth, comes clean with Canadians and sends this report back to committee so it can again confirm the independence and autonomy of the director of public prosecutions.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-02 14:51 [p.26590]
Mr. Speaker, when the former attorney general stood up and spoke her truth, when she functioned with integrity, she was fired. The Prime Minister does not like it when strong and intelligent, capable women stand up to him. As Michael Wernick said, we know how he can get when he is in a mood.
The Prime Minister has done everything that he possibly can to try to berate and discredit the former attorney general, but every time he attacks her, she comes forward with more and more evidence to prove her point.
Why is the Prime Minister punishing strong women who stand up to him?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-02 14:52 [p.26590]
Mr. Speaker, “Rather than letting authority be the truth, let the truth be the authority. If I had succumbed to interpreting the beliefs of others to be the truth, I never would have been able to push forward in the face of racism and misogyny”.
Misogyny imposes social costs on women who do not conform and who speak truth to power. Is that why the Liberal Party is so hell-bent on smearing the former attorney general and turfing her from the party?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-02 14:53 [p.26591]
Mr. Speaker, there are 338 women from across the country who are here as part of a program to encourage more women to run for office. Members of that party went to a cocktail reception with them, took pictures with them, tweeted about them, and then walked across the street and went into a caucus meeting after smearing the former attorney general because she spoke truth to power.
Why is the Liberal Party so hell-bent on punishing the former attorney general for speaking her truth?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-04-02 14:59 [p.26592]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals shut down the justice committee. They shut down the ethics committee. They have refused a public inquiry. They have blocked key documents from the media. Through it all, the Prime Minister has repeatedly changed his story.
When will the Prime Minister end the charade, come clean, tell the truth and end the cover-up?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-01 14:30 [p.26515]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians that no one ever raised concerns with him about his many attempts to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, but the recorded phone call and text messages released last week prove that this is blatantly false.
The former attorney general repeatedly told the Prime Minister and his top officials that their actions were “entirely inappropriate”. Both his top political adviser and top public servant have resigned in disgrace. When will the Prime Minister stop changing his story and tell Canadians the truth?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-01 14:31 [p.26515]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister did not fully remove the restraints, and new information and evidence have been submitted to the committee, so clearly its work is not done. The Prime Minister also told Canadians to heed Michael Wernick's words and, oh, we did. The recording proves that Wernick threatened the former attorney general if she did not do the Prime Minister's bidding and stop the independent criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Clearly, the Prime Minister knew all along and directed the coordinated campaign to bully the former attorney general to interfere, and he was told it was wrong over and over. When will the Prime Minister finally tell Canadians the truth?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-04-01 15:00 [p.26521]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians to listen to Michael Wernick. We did, and last week we heard new evidence that further proves that the Prime Minister directed a coordinated campaign to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, thereby interfering with the prosecutorial discretion of the former attorney general.
When will the Prime Minister stop changing his story and start telling the truth?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-22 11:43 [p.26477]
Mr. Speaker, this week the CEO of SNC-Lavalin said about those jobs the Prime Minister said are at risk because he had to engage in an egregious corruption scandal, no. He completely debunked that.
Meanwhile, today, Canadian farmers are waking up to a complete catastrophe in their market because of his incompetence. Meanwhile, 100,000 people are out of work in the energy sector because of the no-more-pipelines jobs. We know from the former attorney general that he said to her that he was concerned about the SNC-Lavalin scandal because he was a Quebec MP. Why does the Prime Minister only—
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-22 11:45 [p.26477]
Mr. Speaker, nobody is buying that. There are farmers waking up who are wondering where they are going to market their goods. There are hundreds of thousands of people out of work because of the government's failure and incompetence, because it has been mired in scandal for weeks. That is all they care about.
Why will the Prime Minister only move hell and high water to protect his own job?
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2019-03-22 11:51 [p.26478]
Mr. Speaker, no one believes that the Prime Minister is not manipulating these committees to cover up his scandal. The Prime Minister told the former attorney general and all Canadians a complete fairy tale. We now know no jobs were ever at risk.
The CEO of SNC-Lavalin said he never cited 9,000 jobs as a reason to end its criminal trial. In fact, when asked about these mythical job losses, the CEO said, “I don't know what people...have in their minds.”
When will the Prime Minister come clean with Canadians? When will he end this cover-up?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2019-03-22 11:54 [p.26479]
Mr. Speaker, the former attorney general told us that the Prime Minister insisted that jobs would be lost if she did not end the corruption trial of SNC-Lavalin. The Prime Minister told the media that his 9,000 job-loss figure came from the company itself.
Now the CEO of SNC-Lavalin stated that he never talked to the Prime Minister about a DPA or about jobs.
Will the Prime Minister allow the ethics committee to conduct a public investigation of his corruption scandal?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-22 12:33 [p.26485]
Mr. Speaker, since my colleague opposite introduced the concept of jobs, etc., and my colleague has now explained it, I am curious. I am listening to this debate and thinking that at the heart of the SNC-Lavalin scandal is the fact that the company stands accused of bribing a Gadhafi with a yacht and buying Canadian prostitutes for Moammar Gadhafi's son, hundreds of millions of dollars in bribery, I believe.
I just wonder why the Prime Minister is going through hell and high water to protect a company that has clearly gone to such great lengths to bribe a company to get contracts, when he should be perhaps focusing on things like the energy sector or maybe the agriculture sector, where we have a catastrophic failure today on behalf of the government, and, relating it to the motion at hand, why travel and Canadian voices are so important, especially given the culture of silence this Prime Minister and the current government have undertaken this week.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-20 14:42 [p.26177]
Mr. Speaker, here is the problem for the Prime Minister. He asked for strong women and this is what they look like: women who will not sacrifice their principles to cover up his corruption scandal, women who stand up every day and refuse to back down against his abuse of our judiciary and parliamentary committees. More importantly, his use of the term “feminist” is fake.
I will ask one more time. If the Prime Minister is such a feminist, why is he muzzling the former attorney general?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-20 14:43 [p.26177]
Mr. Speaker, it seems the only women that the Prime Minister is proud of are those who use their reputations to do his dirty work. That is wrong. That is not a feminist. There is a reason why he used “they experienced things differently” both in the Creston groping scandal and in Lav scam. It is because he wants women to think and take the message that if they accuse him, a powerful man, of wrongdoing, then they are to blame. That is wrong.
Why is the Prime Minister only letting his good old boys do all the talking?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-20 14:44 [p.26177]
Mr. Speaker, the only thing the Prime Minister has been doing is moving hell and high water to protect a company that stands accused of bribing Moammar Gadhafi's sons with prostitutes and he has been doing that while muzzling strong, principled women. That is not what a feminist looks like. That is not walking the talk.
Every day that he refuses to allow the former attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he is a fake feminist. Why does he have her muzzled?
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