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Results: 1 - 60 of 12212
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Colleagues, before we begin our proceedings, I would like to say a few words regarding the special measures in place today.
Pursuant to orders made on Tuesday, May 26, the application of Standing Order 17 will be suspended for current sittings to allow members to practice physical distancing. Members desiring to speak and address the Chair may do so from any seat in the House.
In addition, as members know, this will be a hybrid sitting of the House. Some members will be participating via video conference and some will be participating in person.
I remind all members that in order to avoid issues with sound, members participating in person should not also be connected to the video conference. I would like to remind those joining via video conference that when speaking, you should be on the same channel as the language you are speaking.
Finally, I ask that all members who are tabling a document or moving a motion to sign the document and bring it to the Table themselves.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on July 20, 2020, by the Leader of the Opposition concerning remarks made by the Prime Minister in committee of the whole regarding an investigation headed by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. The Leader of the Opposition maintained that the Prime Minister had deliberately misled the House in his response to questions about his past co-operation on the investigation into SNC Lavalin matters. This question of privilege is related to the one that the Leader of the Opposition initially raised in the committee of the whole on July 8, 2020. However, he felt that, due to exceptional circumstances, the Chair should consider the matter even in the absence of the committee report.
On July 21, 2020, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons presented arguments suggesting that the question of privilege was not valid, but he did not address whether it was appropriate to raise the matter with the Speaker directly.
Let me address with this procedural issue first.
I accept that the particular circumstances of this situation, notably the challenge surrounding the committee of the whole format, do make it appropriate to bring the matter to the Speaker. While this is clearly an exceptional case, I do wonder if it would be useful for the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to look into this issue of questions of privilege arising from committee more thoroughly, since, as the Leader of the Opposition noted, it is ultimately within Parliament's authority to defend members' privileges.
In the second part of his question of privilege, the Leader of the Opposition focused on the responses from the Prime Minister that he felt were misleading. He rightfully noted that there are three criteria that the Chair must assess in order to determine whether a statement sought to deliberately mislead the House. I will take them in turn.
The first criterion is whether the statement was in fact misleading. In the response at issue, the Prime Minister said that the government had taken “the unprecedented step of waiving cabinet confidentiality and of waiving solicitor-client confidentiality in the situation so that the Ethics Commissioner could fully investigate the matter at hand.”
The Leader of the Opposition noted several passages of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's report which referred to the latter's “inability to access all Cabinet confidences related to the matter" and which led him to conclude that he was “unable to fully discharge the investigatory duties conferred upon” him. The report also suggests that some witnesses felt constrained by what they could say during the course of the investigation because the waiver of cabinet confidence was limited. These elements of the report led the Leader of the Opposition to conclude that the Prime Minister had misled the House in stating that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner had been able to fully investigate the matter.
The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader argued that the Prime Minister's response was being taken out of context and that it referred to the unprecedented step that the government had taken in waiving access to cabinet confidences and solicitor-client privilege in the context of this investigation.
He further argued that the commissioner had himself stated that he had “gathered sufficient factual information to properly determine the matter on its merits”.
The second criterion is whether the member making the statement knew it be incorrect. The Leader of the Opposition argued that the Prime Minister must have known that the statement was incorrect because he would have been aware of the contents of the commissioner's report and that he had been questioned extensively in the House on the extent of the government's co-operation with the investigation. In return, the parliamentary secretary's assertion was that, in the context the response was provided, it was not incorrect at all.
The third criterion is whether, in making the statement, the member intended to mislead the House. The Leader of the Opposition did not provide any argument about what he viewed as the Prime Minister's intent, while the parliamentary secretary's contention is that the Prime Minister was speaking about the rationale for waiving certain privileged information in relation to the commissioner's investigation.
In reviewing these arguments, it appears to me as though there is a disagreement as to the meaning and the context of the Prime Minister's comments. It is reasonable for members to disagree as to what constitutes a full investigation or full co-operation and thus it is not obvious to the Chair that the statement was clearly misleading.
As a previous Speaker noted in a ruling that he delivered on April 30, 2014, “Members must recognize and accept the existence of differences of fact and interpretation, which have always been a part of the normal cut and thrust of debate and question period.” I cannot therefore conclude that the first criterion was met.
If one cannot conclude definitely that a statement was misleading, it would be difficult to conclude that the member making that statement knew it to be misleading and, as a result, that the member intended to mislead the House in making it.
Therefore, based on my assessment of these three criteria, the threshold for finding a prima facie question of privilege has not been met.
I thank the members for their attention.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Pursuant to an order made Tuesday, May 26, the House shall now resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The committee will begin its proceeding with the questioning of ministers on matters relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters for a period not exceeding 95 minutes.
The Chair will call members from all recognized parties and one member who does not belong to a recognized party in a fashion consistent with the proportions observed during the special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic. Each member will be recognized for not more than five minutes, which may be used for posing questions to a minister of the Crown, and members are permitted to split their time with one or more members by so indicating to the Chair.
Please note that we will briefly suspend this part of the sitting partway through to allow members and employees who provide support for the sitting to replace each other safely.
We will now begin with the hon. Leader of the Opposition.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, what we have before us with the WE corruption scandal is an organization that receives sole-sourced contracts from the government, from the taxpayer. The organization then sets up a real estate company and gobbles up over $40 million worth of prime downtown Toronto real estate. It also pays members of the Prime Minister's immediate family cash for speaking engagements. It also provides a huge platform for Liberals to do their campaigning. The organization even did an election-style ad promoting the Prime Minister.
However, it gets into trouble. Red flags start going up about its bank covenant, members of the board resign and so it lobbies the government and the government gives it another sole-sourced contract from which it can take $40 million worth of administration.
Canadians, rightly, are concerned by this kind of “You scratch my back, I scratch your back” type of relationship with a Liberal-friendly organization. Therefore, I have a series of very simple yes or no questions to help Canadians understand the depths of this scandal.
Was the Prime Minister aware that the agreement he signed with this organization was not with the WE Charity itself but was with a shell corporation that has no assets and no history of charitable work?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:16 [p.2703]
Mr. Speaker, as was made clear at committee, the non-partisan public service recommended this approach as the only way to deliver this program in the timeline required this summer during COVID. Last week, I acknowledged that I should have recused myself and I apologized.
However, our goal was and is to provide opportunities for students to serve in their communities right across the country in this unprecedented time. Obviously the way it unfolded was regrettable and the program is no longer unfolding, as we have said.
In regard to aspects of the WE Charity Foundation, the public service worked to find the best possible delivery of this program to get student grants for volunteer hours. The public service worked with the WE organization to develop the agreement and the work was done and negotiated at the officials' level in those details.
We have consistently approached it as a way of empowering young people across the country, the way other governments of all stripes have worked with this organization in the past.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has to understand that it is not about his recusing himself from this decision. The Clerk of the Privy Council himself said that it would be impossible for the Prime Minister and the finance minister to recuse themselves from giving a sole-source contract to an organization with such close ties to the Liberal Party and his immediate family.
Was the Prime Minister aware that the sole stated purpose of the shell corporation that signed the contracts was to hold real estate?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:18 [p.2703]
Mr. Speaker, as I said, governments of all stripes, including Stephen Harper's government, worked closely with this organization to deliver opportunities for young people. When it came to negotiating the specific contract with this organization, the civil service worked out the details of that.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am just going to pause and stop the clock for a second.
I understand it is very emotional and it gets very tense in here sometimes, but coaching somebody with answers probably is not the right way to have these sessions. I just want to point that out to those who are shouting across from one side or the other.
The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, he answered “no” to the previous question, but he could not answer yes or no to that question, so I wonder what that means.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office speak to WE or anyone at WE prior to his April 22 announcement on the student grant?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:19 [p.2703]
Mr. Speaker, giving opportunities to young people through service and volunteer work across the country has been important to this government for an awfully long time. We will continue to look to create opportunities for young people.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this committee meeting on COVID-19 is to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect people's health and safety and help the economic recovery.
But what are we talking about? The only thing we are talking about is a situation that could be extremely bad for the management of the Canadian government. Is the Prime Minister concerned about how little time that leaves him to manage the country?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:20 [p.2704]
No, Mr. Speaker, I am not concerned.
Yesterday, we passed an essential bill that will ensure that the emergency wage subsidy applies to more businesses and for a longer period of time. Last week, we negotiated a $19-billion agreement with the provinces and territories for a safe restart.
We are continuing to work on things that count for Canadians. It is up to the opposition parties to choose what they want to ask questions about.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, when I do not have time to do something, I pay someone else who can do it better than I can.
The legislation we passed proves that Parliament and Canada do not need the Prime Minister as such, given his current state of mind. I am sure people know where I am going with this.
Was the Prime Minister aware that another not-for-profit organization wanted to get into real estate and that it would be getting millions of dollars from Canadians and Quebeckers?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:21 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the public service worked out the details of the arrangement.
I want to emphasize that, since the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken a creative and robust approach to delivering assistance to Canadians during this unprecedented situation. We have provided tremendous support to our seniors, our entrepreneurs, our families and our children, and that is what we will continue to do.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to speculate on the outcome of any work to be done. The opposition parties are asking questions, the committees will be asking questions and the media will have some questions. We will get to the bottom of this.
Is the Prime Minister telling us that he is putting in the time to manage the WE scandal or that he is not doing his job and not dealing with it?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:22 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, a prime minister has a great deal of work to do and I am managing numerous files concurrently.
The main issue I am dealing with is of course this pandemic, the economic and health crisis currently facing millions of Canadians. We are delivering for them.
Furthermore, I am also getting ready to answer any other questions the media, Canadians and the opposition parties might have. I can assure this House that my time is very well managed.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we are all waiting for the time when Parliament and the machinery of government can again properly focus on managing the real crisis, the health crisis, which is the most important thing to Canadians and Quebeckers.
Until then, no matter what anybody says, the Prime Minister will have to devote a lot of time and attention to the scandal and will be preoccupied with anticipating and managing this crisis. Accordingly, not speculating on his personal involvement and because Parliament will be asking questions, should the Prime Minister not step aside temporarily and allow someone else with the necessary focus to run the country in his place?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:24 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, I would not want the hon. member opposite to judge my mental focus. I can assure him that the work I do is focused on the well being of Canadians. However, the opposition parties are spending far more time on this issue than on anything else.
I can assure the hon. member that I am focusing on Canadians, on the programs we are delivering to them and on the historical assistance that we are providing to Canadians during this unprecedented crisis.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:25 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, the stories told by Rideau Hall employees are troubling. The Prime Minister has a role to play. Will he show leadership and launch an independent investigation?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:25 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, all Canadians, especially members of the public service, have the right to a safe and secure workplace. That is extremely important.
That is why, on June 22, we established a program to increase protections—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The hon. member for Burnaby South.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:26 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, the stories shared by the workers at Rideau Hall are so troubling that the Prime Minister has a role to play. The Prime Minister can show leadership.
Will the Prime Minister show leadership and launch an independent investigation?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:26 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, obviously every Canadian has the right to a safe, secure workspace that is free from harassment. That is extremely important. That is why we moved forward on June 22 with announcements on strengthening the oversight in federally regulated agencies and environments, including the public service.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:27 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, I want to switch gears on the next question.
What is the government's plan for the CERB at the end of August?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:27 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, given this unprecedented pandemic, we had to bring in a program to help millions of Canadians who lost their revenue. We will continue to support Canadians in different ways moving forward.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:27 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, I did not hear a plan.
I met a couple who works in music production. They support concerts by helping to set up the stage. They lost their jobs and have no hope of returning to jobs. What is the plan for that couple?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:27 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, this government has been there for Canadians through this pandemic, and we will continue to be there for Canadians and support families like theirs through this difficult time.
We know that the relaunch is beginning to happen in some sectors, but not everyone has a job. We will—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The hon. member for Burnaby South.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:28 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, that was pretty vague, so let me ask this more directly. Will the Prime Minister extend the CERB, or will he end it at the end of August?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:28 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, throughout this pandemic, we have responded to the needs of Canadians by adjusting programs and extending programs. We will continue to support Canadians through this pandemic.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:28 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, there was no answer there, but I will ask another more specific question. Will the Prime Minister commit to fixing EI so that it applies to all Canadians and they can use it when they need it?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:28 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, throughout this pandemic, this government has been there for Canadians. Eight million Canadians are receiving the CERB and millions more are on the wage subsidy. We will continue to support Canadians as the recovery happens and the economy gets going again.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:28 [p.2705]
Here is the thing, Mr. Speaker. People are seeing a Prime Minister who seems more interested in helping close friends by giving millions of dollars to WE Charity. They are still worried about their futures, and they do not know if the Prime Minister is focused on helping them or just helping his close friends.
Will the Prime Minister commit to improving EI and extending the CERB to ensure that people are not left in the lurch come the end of August?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:29 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, what we have done since the beginning of this pandemic has been there for Canadians. We have been investing and supporting Canadians who lost their jobs, who lost their paycheques, who are facing uncertainty. Eight million Canadians are receiving the CERB, and there are millions more on the wage subsidy.
We will continue to be there to support Canadians through this pandemic. That is what this government is focused on, regardless of what the opposition seems to be focused on.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-07-22 12:29 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, those millions of Canadians need to know that there is a plan at the end of August. I am simply asking a direct question: What is that plan?
Will the government improve EI to help all Canadians? Will the government extend the CERB? People need to know. Will the Prime Minister answer the question?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:30 [p.2705]
Mr. Speaker, from the beginning, we have welcomed the questions and proposals from opposition parties on improving the various programs we have put forward, and we have incorporated many of them.
I can assure Canadians that we will continue to support them in this recovery. We will be there as we have in the past. We will be there for Canadians.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière.
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