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Results: 1 - 35 of 35
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to our witnesses for being here. We hope you stay safe and healthy during this pandemic, and we appreciate your providing some answers, because there have been a lot of contradictions through this saga.
Ms. Marquez, I have a number of questions for you around meetings, if you don't mind. The first is, we've had testimony at this committee from Minister Chagger testifying that on April 17 she had a meeting with Craig Kielburger and a WE official.
Did you arrange that meeting and were you the other person on that call?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Did you arrange the meeting as well?
Could you let us know if the minister at that point informed you and Mr. Kielburger about any details about what became the CSSG?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
My third question is around Mr. Morneau's deep connections with WE. Were you aware of Mr. Morneau's family connections with the WE organizations?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Were you aware of the private travel that was not reimbursed, the use of private aircraft? Were you aware of any of those cases with Mr. Morneau?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Were you aware that WE used their staff on staff time and basically provided them with expense reimbursements to help fill seats and act as backdrops at Mr. Morneau's events?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Given those direct benefits, would you agree that Mr. Morneau was clearly in a conflict of interest around this WE proposal?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I'm going to switch languages now.
This is the third time this has happened. After the first scandal, the Prime Minister said that, if he had it to do over again, he would have done things differently. He would've reached out to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner from the outset to have everything they were doing and did approved.
Indeed, none of that happened.
Since the Prime Minister had supposedly learned his lesson from the previous controversies, scandals, why wasn't it obvious the third time around that all the applicable procedures and laws had not been followed?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
It was actually a very straightforward question. Who at the Prime Minister's Office is in charge of making sure that these laws are followed, not flouted?
Is it the Prime Minister? Is it you?
Who is responsible for the fact that the laws governing our country are being violated?
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I think we can put a few things in perspective based on yesterday.
I think one of the difficulties the government has found itself in is the decision by WE and the Kielburgers not to put their name under the lobbying registry. As a result, we don't know how they engage with government, and I think that's very problematic.
Small charities, all manner of charities, are on the lobbying registry for reasons of transparency. The fact that the Kielburgers felt they didn't need to register with the lobbying commissioner, I think, has caused them a great deal of difficulty, and it has certainly hurt the government.
There is a question in terms of relations that's important. In terms of family, I'd like to put a few things on the table. One is that we were initially led to believe that the Prime Minister's family were paid because Margaret Trudeau is an amazing public figure. I could certainly see why she has a strong career, but what we found out yesterday, which was really shocking, was that the board at WE were told that nobody was paid, and yet the Trudeaus were paid. When the Kielburger brothers were pressed on that, they said that they weren't paid speaking fees, but paid after events, so it was the corporate involvement that becomes very problematic for the Prime Minister.
I think that's something the Ethics Commissioner will follow up, and it is nothing whether the Prime Minister was aware of it or not. It creates the image of trying to use the Prime Minister's family and name to give access to corporate interests. I think it's highly problematic, so it raises issues of judgment, certainly on the part of the WE organization.
I appreciate my Liberal colleagues' mentioning all their families, the Irish Catholics. God Almighty, I hope your family doesn't party with my family; it would go on for weeks, I bet. I understand people saying that they don't want to use families, and yet yesterday the Liberal's research shop came up with my daughter having been involved with the Kielburger brothers, and they mentioned it in the national hearing.
I think I should put on the record how this played out. The fact that my daughter, when she as in grade 7, raised money for Nicaragua, before I was a member of Parliament, does not in any way mean I am going to support this $900 million deal or oppose it. It's completely irrelevant, but the Liberals did mention it.
That's not the first time my children were named. I'm just putting it on the record that my daughter, who was in grade 5, gave a speech about the children in Attawapiskat to a little St. Patrick grade school in Cobalt, Ontario. I found that mentioned in a briefing note to Minister Chuck Strahl by the Department of Indian Affairs, that my daughter, who was in grade 5, was giving a speech on the conditions of children in Attawapiskat, and her name was listed. I'm only mentioning her as well because it's her birthday today, and I would really like to see her. Family do get drawn in, whether it's right or wrong, so I put that on the table.
I have a problem with this motion for a couple of reasons. One is that what we do here is create a precedent; this is like law. I have been on both sides. I've been in opposition all my time, but I've been under Liberals and Conservatives, and we have to decide, when we make a precedent here, how it could be used in the future, so we have to be careful. Fishing expeditions, I believe, are beyond the purview of a committee.
We have to have a specific reason to ask for specific things, because we have enormous powers here. We're not a court. If we vote on this and decide to go ahead, we have powers that are unique to our committee, as parliamentarians, so there needs to be a judiciousness about them. To cast such a wide cast around cabinet that would draw in family certainly raises questions to me. I don't think that's in order.
We also have a tradition in Parliament, which I sometimes have questioned, of taking an honourable member at his word. That it is the Westminster tradition. We have to have a reason to investigate someone. We can't just say, “Prove to me that you're innocent, and then I'll believe that you're innocent.” We have to have a reason, because our parliamentary tradition is based on that principle.
As far as conflicts go, we have to provide those conflicts to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, which is outside the purview of this committee.
I understand what my colleague is attempting to get here, but I do think that if we set this precedent, this will be used again for other purposes that may be even more nefarious. We have to be careful with the tools that we have, so I cannot support this at this time.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
I feel the need to state what I feel to be the obvious. As a committee that hasn't had Mr. Morneau before us in any capacity, it would be premature at this point for us to call on his resignation, when it's quite within the political rights of the leaders of any party to make those kinds of statements, or any individual members. I just think that as a committee that hasn't had the opportunity to fully explore this with Mr. Morneau, we are ending on a conclusion that we haven't actually explored as a committee. I think it's a bit premature. I won't be able to support this motion at the moment.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
I do feel compelled to say this and share the sentiments of my friend Tom, who hearkens back to a time when the rule used to be that if you got caught, you fell on the sword. You did the honourable thing. You were expected to do that. I don't think that's going to happen here, because quite frankly, I don't think there are systems for true accountability in place. I hope to get to that in my next speaking slot.
While I agree with the sentiments of the folks who will support this motion, I still don't believe that it's incumbent on this committee to do it. I do think it's incumbent on this minister to consider what the old rule used to be: that if you got caught in situations like this, you would do the honourable thing and step down.
I'll just put those statements on the record, but I will not be supporting the motion.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you.
Through you, Madam Chair, to the clerk if I'm able to ask, what is the precedent for this? It strikes me as a precaution that would be saved for a national security interest. I think of my honourable colleague Don Davies, who, when he was appointed, shared with me the level of security they have around those meetings.
Is there a precedent, in anybody's recent history, from the clerk's perspective, that you would lock down the ethics committee in that type of way? Has that happened here before?
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
I'll save the agony of even going down that road and just suggest to you at this point that without having been able to confer with my colleague to be able to bind him in one way or another in terms of future meetings, I'm not comfortable moving forward with this motion and would suggest that there be a tabling of this motion until such time as we have the opportunity to confer, given that it was put here with relatively short notice, although we are in committee business.
I'll just share with the mover of the motion that I'm not comfortable at this point without conferring on where I'm going to go on this, so it would probably be in their best interest to table it.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you. I do appreciate the opportunity to provide comment on this. We've heard, from the government side, rationale referencing my colleague, and I would suggest that the references that were provided, just for the purpose of people watching, were in the context of whether or not we go in camera. I believe we held that up yesterday when we supported going in camera, so I don't believe that would be my rationale for supporting this motion.
I recall how, when I was visiting this committee with my colleague Mr. Angus, he argued for the need to have discretion and privacy around the sensitive nature of the information that would come to this committee. I'll suggest to you, Madam Chair and members of this committee, that I would have hoped we could land in a better situation from the get-go in terms of having more support from the governing side with regard to the Prime Minister being before us. We didn't get that. However, what we did get clear about was that we wanted that kind of privacy. I think what this motion does, in fairness to my colleague from the Bloc, is beg the question of what constitutes an in camera meeting. When is an in camera meeting not an in camera meeting?
Having said that, and just drawing on my own experience, I would never want to be accused, in a situation as sensitive as this, of leaking information, nor do I think it would ever be the intention of my colleague to leak information from an in camera meeting. I think that would be a grave violation of the trust that we have among our members. I'm also not so naive as to not know that this does happen from time to time, and particularly around these sensitive issues. For that reason, I'll be supporting the motion to have these “extra suspenders” on the in camera meeting, for lack of a better term, the extra protections, so that we can never be accused of leaking this sensitive information.
What we ultimately want to get to, I believe, is the truth. I believe we will get there. I believe we will be able to communicate to our constituents and Canadians what that truth is, notwithstanding the salacious details that may come forward in this in camera meeting. I'll also go on the record to note—because I don't know if I'll be here next week—that the extent to which the government is going to provide these extra cautions around the information also, to me, suggests just how sensitive the information may turn out to be, so that will certainly unfold.
I want to give this full rationale so my friends to the much-farther right of me, physically in this room as well as ideologically, understand why I've come to this decision to support the government in this motion and also to let the government know that I believe my colleague's original intention was to provide a protection to Margaret Trudeau and the private family members of the Trudeau family.
My hope, to go on the record for the last time, is that in future consideration—because I would agree that this is only the beginning of an ongoing process—parties will treat people's family members with the same kind of consideration and privacy that is being afforded to the Prime Minister's family, because, quite frankly, what I don't want the public to think is that the Prime Minister's family is getting a special kind of privacy consideration. That is not the case. That is not what is happening here. Should any member of any person's family be brought forward, we would also fight to have these types of protections in place so that these types of details aren't exposed for the media and whatever ensuing circus comes our way.
Thank you.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
It is that the motion be amended by adding after the words “one week of the adoption of this Order” the following:
and that these records be provided to the Ethics Commissioner for his study; and that this committee call upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appear to give testimony relating to these matters.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
You'll recall, as a recap, that there was certainly a lot of discussion about the mandate of this committee and about what its extent was. There was one allegation that we were looking to drag Justin's mother to the meeting and perhaps her relatives and her family.
You'll recall that it was my colleague, Charlie Angus, who brought forward this compromise. That's what brought us here today with this amendment, which was to use the tools of the commissioner in this investigation and to have the appropriate documents above and beyond what's been reported. You'll recall we already know through public record that $300,000 and more of pecuniary interest was transferred to family members. The compromise was to have this amendment essentially allow the private information of a private citizen to go directly to the commissioner.
In conversations with my friend, who is providing the subamendment, recognizing the announcement of the Prime Minister to agree to go to the finance committee, I think there would be a fair comment or feeling that the compromise that was put forward by my colleague might have been dead in the water at that point, that the Prime Minister might not have been willing to attend two committees, given the precedent.
What this amendment does—and I'm hearing this amendment for the first time—is that it essentially brings us back to the original spirit of the amendment the Conservatives proposed originally, which is, in fact, not the compromise that we tried to provide. I feel like, if I could just be so plain as to say, this is now a game of chicken, because we believed we were negotiating in good faith with our friends across the way in order to have accountability brought to this ethics committee.
Being here and representing my good friend and very learned colleague Charlie Angus, I'm here to represent that original compromise and that original interest to allow for the Ethics Commissioner to do his work in the investigation, provided there is support around this table to have the Prime Minister come to this committee.
This committee is not the finance committee. This committee has a different mandate, and the mandate is very clear. It's an ethical mandate. There have been financial breaches, as we've heard today from the finance minister's $41,000 forgetting of monies that should have been paid to this organization and the many other ethical breaches that continue to unravel, but at the end of the day, our mandate here is to shine a light on this issue.
I would like to think, I would like to hope, that, if there was goodwill around the table to support the original amendment as it was, then I would be willing to stick with the intention of the original amendment over the subamendment. In fairness, I am just hearing the subamendment for the first time. It's a very smart subamendment, by the way, because it brings it right back to where we are, at square one.
Through my comments through you, Madam Chair, I want to hear from the other side. I want to hear from government if they are negotiating in good faith on a compromise before I make my decision on whether to vote for the subamendment or not. If they're operating in good faith, and we were to vote down this subamendment—and I'm going to speak very plainly—then the expectation is that we would get support from the government side to support the spirit of the original amendment, which was to have the documents go to the Ethics Commissioner and have the Prime Minister called to this committee.
Now I'm not naive enough to think that the invitation is going to automatically result in his appearance, but this is about accountability. This is about integrity. If there are games to be played, if there are future filibusters to be had, let's just be very clear that we could wrap this up very quickly. If in a few comments on government from the other side they say, “Yes, we'll support this amendment, as was the original spirit. We will negotiate in good faith with the New Democrats on the amendment”, then I won't support the subamendment, but if I don't get that, Madam Chair, if I feel like we're going to be filibustering, if I feel like we're going to be into another procedural shenanigan....
The public is watching, and they'll see what's gone on in this committee. The public is not stupid. That's where we are at with the amendment that I'm bringing forward on behalf of my colleague.
I'm very curious to hear from the government side. If it is willing to operate in good faith, we could vote on this motion. We could put the question on this amendment and call this meeting to order to get on with things. Otherwise, we might be facing another filibuster, and we'll be right back to where we started.
That's where I'm at right now. Where I'm from, plain talk is not bad manners. I hope that in speaking plainly and clearly folks know what's on the table right now. I hope to hear from members of the government side that they are operating in good faith, and that we're not going to have another filibuster. We can have this committee operate within its mandate and call the Prime Minister to testify before this ethics committee.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you very much.
I do appreciate—I deeply appreciate, actually—the candour of this discussion. I think it's very important for us to be open and honest with Canadians in terms of what our intention is when we enter into these good faith discussions, because it is a critical point.
I have to say, coming from city council myself, that the size and scope of this type of scandal would have required probably an immediate censure and there wouldn't have been a long and drawn-out process, given the information that's already been made public, quite frankly.
The spirit of the motion was to have the Prime Minister here today. What I've heard in the previous speakers' comments is that there's really no intention to have the Prime Minister join us here today, and that in fact it's not part of what they think is the appropriate use and mandate of this committee.
What I'm not interested in, Madam Chair, is the theatre of the invitation. What I want to be assured of is that when people are voting to support this invitation to the Prime Minister to testify here, they're doing it in good faith, where they actually believe—and they state on the record here today that they believe—that the Prime Minister should testify at this committee, given our mandate.
If that's not present, if this is going to be the theatre of voting for the amendment simply to get the documents subverted from this committee to the ethics and conflict of interest investigator, then that's not actually supporting the spirit and intent of the compromise, because this isn't actually a compromise at all, in fact.
That being said, I would love to hear from members opposite that they do believe that the mandate of this committee is much like that of any other committee. I'm on OGGO as well. Ministers are not backbenchers. This is not about dragging any old politician before a committee. This is about government. This is about cabinet. This is about responsibility. Quite frankly, I've said this before. Apologies are not the same as taking responsibility, and taking responsibility demands holding accountability. This committee is structured to hold government accountable.
Through you, Madam Chair, I need to be very clear again and plain in my language. If the members opposite do not actually believe in the intent and don't support having the Prime Minister come before us today, then I will be supporting the subamendment, and we will bring the documents here, because that's the spirit and intention of the motion that my colleague brought to this table, and I'm not here to play games, quite frankly.
Unless I hear from the opposite side that they believe the Prime Minister, much like he's doing in finance, much like ministers do—
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
Yes, and I'll continue by picking up where Mr. Barrett left off. It's clear that's a tactic to disrupt, quite frankly, and if you've been in this House long enough—I've only been here six months—that is clearly not a point of order. I just want us to recognize that people are watching on live stream and they see the games that are being played at this committee.
Again, I'll put it to this committee. There is a subamendment on the table. The subamendment is tied to whether or not the Prime Minister is going to come here and testify. Unless I hear from multiple members of the governing party that they, too, believe that it's within the mandate to have the Prime Minister testify, I'm going to be supporting the subamendment. The math around the table is very simple.
I do appreciate the candour. I would like to continue and state that if we end up in a filibuster here, I'm happy to dig in and we can continue this, because with every single day that passes, more of this scandal comes to light in the media. If that's your intention—to draw this out and to play these games—then fine. If you don't believe that the Prime Minister should be here, then you ought not to vote for the amendment, because that's not negotiating in good faith, quite frankly.
That's what we're here to do. We've tried to bring a compromise to this table. We've heard quite clearly that there's no intention for the Prime Minister to come before us because they don't believe that's the mandate of this committee. I happen to believe that it is, Madam Chair.
Hopefully, folks have their speakers lists written down. I look forward to the continued debate.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you.
For the purpose of clarity, I'm going to be very clear: What I need to hear from the members opposite is that they believe the Prime Minister should testify in front of this committee, not that they support the motion. I've been around doing this long enough. You know, if you make it in Hamilton, you can make it anywhere.
What I want to hear is that they believe it's the mandate of this committee to have the Prime Minister testify before us, not just invite him. I'm not interested in invitations. I can invite the man to my wedding; it doesn't mean he's going to show up. I want him here.
Unless I hear from the members opposite—members, plural—that they believe the Prime Minister should be here to testify under the mandate of this committee, I'll be supporting the subamendment. That won't get any clearer.
It doesn't mean you support the motion. That's not enough. I want to hear you say that you believe the Prime Minister should be sitting in that chair, being held accountable by this committee.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
You'll recall that in my conversations around the subamendment I was fairly clear about wanting to get to the heart of the matter. We have an opportunity, certainly, to discuss this at length, and I think it will be interesting to see how this conversation develops from here in terms of whether we're going to be in another filibuster situation or whether we're just going to call the question.
I'd like to test the will of the committee and call the question on this motion and just get to the vote.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair, and I thank my honourable colleague for mentioning me.
That was a good, timely reminder of past incidents, so I will just say two things: It is definitely within the purview of our committee to investigate ethical breaches within public office holders, but to my colleague's statement, it is also a very important obligation within our committee that we handle these matters in a manner that is respectful and that is not dragging other people in. When Mr. Andrews, a former Liberal, was going after Dean Del Mastro, I thought, every single day that he was here, that we had to have a proper process, and that is very important because we are not a kangaroo court here.
On the issue of the Trudeau family being involved, we have to be careful, because Madam Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has done a lot of really very impressive things. I have no interest in bringing her in any way into this story. Margaret Trudeau has inspired many people with her incredible work as a public spokesperson. I think it is a very terrible situation that we are even having to discuss Margaret Trudeau.
Why this issue matters is that it is about WE and the relationship to the Trudeau government. I was very surprised to learn that WE began to hire members of the Trudeau family after Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, and then we learned that other key people, for example, Jully Black, an incredible public figure, was not paid and Theo Fleury wasn't paid. It raises the question of whether or not there was an attempt to buy political influence. That, to me, is the issue before us.
If the Liberals are concerned about how we have documents on members of the Trudeau family, I share that concern. I don't know that we are here to go after Justin's brother, who is a filmmaker. If he is a spokesperson for WE and he got paid by them, he probably thought they were paying him because of his incredible skills as a filmmaker. That may be why he signed up. Our issue is whether or not there was an attempt to buy the influence of the government, because the financial interests of the Trudeau family and WE have become very convoluted and very connected. That's what we need to clarify.
We know that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner has launched this investigation because of those convoluted ties. As well as those convoluted ties, we learn more and more about Bill Morneau's ties with WE, so that is of interest. I have no interest in what Bill Morneau's children do at WE and whether they are paid or whatever. It is the issue of recusal and the issue of buying influence that are the focus we have to deal with. That is separate from the finance committee and it is separate from government operations. It is about the obligations of public office holders. It is about the obligations that we established when our committee first began to review the Conflict of Interest Act and when we are called upon to review it, and it is the same with the Lobbying Act. It is to make sure that it applies to everyone in a manner that is fair. That is the role of our committee.
When we had the first finding of guilt for the Prime Minister, we would have expected that measures would be put in place in the Prime Minister's Office to protect the Prime Minister and prevent conflict of interest from happening a second time. That didn't happen. The SNC-Lavalin case was very shocking because it cost the Prime Minister his chief of staff, Gerry Butts, and it cost the Clerk of the Privy Council, something that has never happened before. The Clerk of the Privy Council is someone we all look to as the independent, non-partisan voice of the civil service, advising the Prime Minister to make sure he follows the rules, and that didn't happen.
When we end up in a situation in the middle of a pandemic, in which $900 million is awarded to a group that has deep ties to the Trudeau family, the obvious question is why that did not raise flags in the Prime Minister's Office. Again, I will not support in any way bringing Trudeau family members before our committee, because that's not the issue, but we need to hear from Katie Telford, chief of staff, about why it is that there were no checks and balances. This is not difficult stuff to figure out about the obligation to recuse. Why did Bill Morneau not recuse himself? Not only does his family have direct financial ties; Bill Morneau has been very involved with WE as well.
Then we learned from finance—again, finance is a separate committee—that there was a proposal circulating before the Prime Minister made his announcement that set the stage for WE getting this contract, and that the proposal was within the Prime Minister's Office, apparently with PCO, and it was in the Department of Finance with Bill Morneau. Again, we go back to not just the refusal to recuse but to whether or not WE was given the inside track on a massive program that was supposed to be doled out in a pandemic to help university students. If that was the case, then that was severe interference in the workings of government. Major questions have to be asked.
We as a committee are looking at that. Our obligation as the ethics committee is to make sure we have the appropriate checks and balances, as my colleague says. Obviously, the appropriate checks and balances were not in place because this scandal should never have happened. It should never have happened in a pandemic, during extreme economic uncertainty, that a decision would be made to award money so easily to people who are so connected to the Prime Minister's family, where there were clear financial interests going back and forth.
That is an embarrassment to all of us. I think it is also an insult to the work that all of us did across party lines when we were asked at the beginning of the pandemic to reach out to every organization in our region to identify placements where we could hire young people through Canada summer jobs. So much work was done. Across party lines, we stepped up. The civil service stepped up. We identified them. In my region, we would have had hundreds of placements. We had all the medical students in northern Ontario. We were identifying placements for them. We were identifying farm organizations that wanted to hire the agriculture students coming home. We had law firms calling us because of what they were being told, with Liberal MPs saying it was going to come through Canada summer jobs. All of that got sidelined. Suddenly this proposal came through, this proposal that was announced by the Prime Minister just after WE began circulating their proposal, which was, I admit, different, but it was very similar in terms of what it was to be.
Our focus here is not what happened in terms of the other contracts. Our interest here is whether or not political influence was attempted to be bought through the hiring of people close to the Prime Minister and whether the Prime Minister's and finance minister's refusal to recuse themselves put them in a conflict of interest and put a decision at risk that has now been a huge embarrassment. I say this across party lines, that in the middle of a pandemic I've been very proud of the work we've done. I've been proud of being able to stand up for government programs that we'd worked on and helped change and improve. Whether it was small business or whether it was CERB, the emergency $2,000 a month, I could say to people in my riding that across party lines we were working together.
I cannot justify this $900-million deal that may not even be legal, paying students well below minimum wage. The more we learned about it, the more we learned that WE did not have the capacity to do it. I cannot stand idly by as a committee member when questions are being raised about the financial links with the family. If the Liberals want to put forward a motion about how we discuss this, so that we are not bringing in the Trudeau family and embarrassing them for the work they do on the sidelines....
The Prime Minister should have known that, because of those financial links, this would put him in a conflict. This is the Prime Minister's responsibility. I would like to see the Liberals say to us, “Okay, here's a deal. We will bring the Prime Minister to this committee and he will speak as to why he didn't think it was a problem that his family was being paid and that he was awarding this out.”
It's the Prime Minister's responsibility that I'm interested in. It's Bill Morneau's responsibility that I'm interested in. It's Katie Telford, as chief of staff, who should have been looking after our Prime Minister and putting some kind of big ethical mitts around him so that he didn't keep putting his finger in the conflict of interest socket. That's what I'm interested in. I'm not interested in our committee being used to go after the individual members of the Trudeau family. I agree that we can put in limits on how that's done, and we can talk about that, but I would like the Liberals to tell us that they are going to have the Prime Minister sit here and explain why he put his family in that position.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you.
It's been fascinating. I think I'm at the 21st century, but I'm not sure because I keep losing my place with his....
I think the issue of ethics is really important. Could he explain to us, if the ethics committee is so important to the Liberals, why they shut down the Ethics Commissioner from coming to give his last report on the Trudeau findings of guilt? If they believe we're supposed to work with the Ethics Commissioner, how come they continue to interfere with the work of our committee to find out the recommendations of the Ethics Commissioner every time Justin Trudeau's found guilty?
That would be very helpful, but maybe he's not at the 21st century yet.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you, Madame Chair.
I don't know whether I've said it yet today, but thank you for doing such an excellent job of keeping everybody on their respective sides without our going into the middle and breaking parliamentary procedure. Thank you so much.
It's been a fascinating day. Certainly we learned a lot about Madame Brière's long history at her college or university. We learned about ancient Athens and we went through the medieval era, so if you'll indulge me, I'll quote scripture from the book of Luke.
You didn't know I was an altar boy, did you? Well, I was. In the book of Luke, it says that what is done in the darkness will be shouted from the rooftops and what is whispered in the backrooms will be shown to all. I think this is what happens when we end up with corruption scandals and conflict of interest. It's embarrassing for the government.
I don't go back as far as Athens, but in my time in Parliament I've seen a lot of the tawdry, backslapping, rum bottle politics on the Rideau, which was famous for all the tawdry deals. I came in just after Jean Chrétien spent a couple of billion dollars on golf balls. I remember Brian Mulroney getting money in a brown paper bag and explaining that to Canadians. There was Bruce Carson. I've seen that one, and Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright. The work of this committee has been sometimes very raucous and very confrontational, but it is this committee that tries to establish some review of the ethical behaviours of parliamentarians.
We are not a technical committee. We are a political committee, as my good friend Mr. Scarpaleggia said. It falls to us to sometimes bring these issues into the public light.
I have been quoted extensively, so I feel as if I might have a life here beyond my limited career. If other people do quote me in perpetuity, it might speak to how long I've been on this committee.
The issue of the integrity of documents is something I've spoken of before. I've raised it when we've had Liberals in power and Conservatives in power, and we do need to establish precedence. I think that's really important.
I think what makes this issue difficult is that we had the WE charity state publicly that no money was paid to the Trudeaus, and that was false. The question of trusting them on this is very.... It raises questions now that have to be answered. What were those financial relations? The refusal of the Prime Minister and Mr. Morneau to recuse themselves has raised ethical questions that must be answered.
When we had two other findings of guilt against the Prime Minister, we tried to have the Ethics Commissioner report to our committee, but we were blocked by the government, so how do we make recommendations about how things should be done if the government refuses to let the Ethics Commissioner speak to our committee so that we can present to Parliament a report that would suggest changes?
If we had done that on the previous two findings of guilt, Mr. Trudeau might not be in the situation he is now, because maybe there would have been some measures put in place.
Madame Brière was great in talking about how we have these standards. Well, we have standards, but if those in power refuse to respect them, we have a problem. This is why the Prime Minister is under his third investigation.
We could talk all night. I've been in many long filibusters, but I have a conflict of interest with my own family members. I should put it out in case someone finds out. I am trying to move one of my daughters this weekend. That's a conflict of interest for me, because I'm a lot more afraid of my wife than I am of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, and I have to help move my daughter, so I'm trying to bring us together.
I've heard the Liberals say again and again that they think it's inappropriate that the financial records of the Trudeau family be brought before our committee, and they keep mentioning the Ethics Commissioner. I certainly heard my Conservative colleagues suggest that they want to hear Justin Trudeau speak, because it's Justin Trudeau who put his family in this situation. It was his choice, and it was WE's choice to start paying the Trudeau family after he became Prime Minister that put them within a very fair discussion about political influence.
I would offer a friendly amendment that we, the New Democrats, would support this committee calling for the financial records to be obtained from WE and transferred to the Ethics Commissioner so that we're not turning this into a family circus, but we want those documents turned over.
If the Liberals supported that, then that would back up everything they've said for the last three hours, excluding all the stuff they said about medieval kings and princes, ancient Athens and all the other stuff. However, the gist of what they kept saying was to trust the Ethics Commissioner.
We would put that forward in a friendly amendment. We could say that we'd call on Justin Trudeau to explain his role in this and the decisions he made. The Liberals have said, again and again, that it's not fair to draw on the family members, that it's the office-holder, so if the public office holder, Mr. Trudeau, agrees to come here, we would agree to transfer the financial documents of the Trudeau family and the WE corporation to the Ethics Commissioner so that he gets to decide what's going to be released or not be released and we get to hear from the public office holder.
I would make that a friendly amendment if my colleagues are interested. Then we could vote on this, and then we could go home, and I could go move my daughter and not be in serious conflict with my family.
Other than that, I'm willing to stay.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I listened very carefully to your ruling yesterday. It applied to yesterday's sitting, but not today's. As you know, it wasn't conditional. The fact that the Bloc Québécois whip is trying to alter your ruling, which was quite clear, doesn't seem right to me.
Chapter 13 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, by Marc Bosc and André Gagnon, states that the Speaker has the authority to name the member, that is, to address the member by name, and to order his or her withdrawal from the chamber for the remainder of the sitting day. That's what you did.
I'd like to move on to question period.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I want to remind the Deputy Prime Minister that using specific descriptions of members, even indirectly, is not really acceptable. I just wanted to mention that.
The honourable member for South Surrey—White Rock.
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