Committee
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 30 of 150000
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
I call the meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 46 of the Standing Committee on Finance. We're meeting at the request of four members of the committee pursuant to Standing Order 106(4).
Today's meeting is taking place by video conference and the proceedings are being televised and will be made available via the House of Commons website.
This meeting was requested by four members of the committee to discuss the testimony and logistics of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his chief of staff Katie Telford's appearance, and to address the production of communications.
I'm not sure which of the four is proceeding to make the argument.
I see Mr. Poilievre waving.
Mr. Poilievre, the floor is yours.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Before I begin, I'd like to briefly note that we could have settled this at the last meeting, but you shut that meeting down in violation of the rules. There was no vote. To adjourn a meeting, the chair needs to have a vote of the majority of members of the committee and you had no such majority. Those rules are clearly laid out in the Standing Orders, which read that the committee chair cannot adjourn a meeting without the consent of the majority of the members. That's in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition.
The Chair: Just to—
Hon. Pierre Poilievre: I still have the floor, to my knowledge.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Yes you do, but just to make a point, Mr. Poilievre, it's my understanding that when we reach the adjournment time, we need unanimous consent—
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
—of the membership to continue. We'll ask the clerk to give us some advice on that at some point.
The floor is yours.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much. The reason for today's meeting is to prepare the ground rules for tomorrow's hearings, and the motion that I want to put forward reads:
That the Prime Minister appear for no less than three hours alone as a witness, on his own panel, and that Katie Telford appear for no less than two hours, alone as a witness, on her own panel, provided that the two appear separately.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Are you finished?
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
I moved my motion. I just want to make sure that you've registered the motion and I'd like to be on the speaking list to address my motion.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
All right. You're on the speaking list. Go ahead.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Chair, there are obviously a lot of questions surrounding this controversy. The Prime Minister's family has received over $500,000 from the WE group, almost all of it since he became Prime Minister. He has admitted that he should have recused himself, an omission that will almost certainly be accompanied by a conviction by the Ethics Commissioner. The same group received a contribution agreement worth $543 million, of which $43 million was to go to the organization's expenses. The obvious conflicts related to this matter have led to the entire thing being cancelled.
This is a case where a half a million dollars went from WE to the Prime Minister's family, and then half a billion dollars was going to go from the Prime Minister's government back to WE. There are myriad meetings, conversations and discussions and exchanges that led to the creation of this bizarre program, and we need to know who met who whom and what deliberations occurred that led to the decision.
The organization in question is now coming under scrutiny for extremely unusual developments in its Kenya office. The Prime Minister needs to indicate what he knows about those developments. We also have learned that the organization is linked, through its principals, to a myriad of numbered companies, for-profit enterprises, foundations and real estate holding entities, all of which are involved in a series of strange relationships with the principal entity. Finally, we've learned that the contribution agreement was directed not to the principal charity but to a real estate holding foundation, a shell entity, that was created for the purpose of nothing more than holding real estate.
These are extremely complicated issues, Chair, and we can't simply slough them aside with 10 minutes of questioning by each party. Most parties under the current plan that you've created without consultation would get less than 10 minutes to ask questions, and that does not include the time the Prime Minister has to answer them. Furthermore, yesterday you displayed that you are going to interfere with members' ability to keep the witnesses focused on the questions asked and that you're going to allow witnesses to basically give rambling speeches unrelated to the questions asked, which will further burn down the clock and prevent the Prime Minister from providing any answers.
I will conclude by saying that if the Prime Minister doesn't answer the questions, then he's going to be called again. This time it would probably be through a vote of the House of Commons, and it would probably mean that he would end up before another committee with an objective chair, who would preside over the meeting without jumping in to rescue the witness. It's in the Prime Minister's interest to just come and give fulsome and complete testimony now rather than trying to come in and put on a dramatic performance and hide behind a favourable Chair and sneak out the back door before anyone gets answers. Do it once, do it right, because if you don't you'll be back doing it again.
Thank you.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Are you done?
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
I would just point out that I will not get into an argument over my chairing, other than to say that the rules of questioning were laid out at the initial meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance. There's six minutes for the first four members in the first round; five minutes for the next four in the next round; two and a half minutes in the next round for the Bloc and the NDP. If you want to go back to look at the rules, and go back to look at the record, you'll find that you usually get more than six minutes. In fact I'm very kind to you.
I have Mr. Julian next, but I see a number of hands are up.
We'll go to Mr. Julian, Mr. Sorbara, Ms. Dzerowicz, Mr. Fortin and then Ms. May.
Mr. Julian please.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will try to be brief because I know that we want to get to a vote in this meeting.
First off, the four hours yesterday only really hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of the questions being asked. I can tell you I literally had another dozen questions I wasn't able to bring forward. It makes sense then to have the Prime Minister available for a number of hours so that these questions can get answered. I was dismayed by the evasiveness of our witnesses yesterday. I think a number of times they could have just answered honestly, and they chose not to. It's unfortunate because I think in that respect they're doing a disservice when we're trying to get to the bottom of this controversy and scandal.
Therefore, I support the idea of three hours for the Prime Minister and two hours for Ms. Telford. That makes sense. It won't by any means exhaust the questions that my colleague Mr. Angus and I have, but we'll get a start at asking the most important questions with that.
I'd also like to reference two other things, Mr. Chair. First off, I normally find you very fair, and I've certainly worked with you for a number of years. Yesterday, I found that you intervened quite often to reinforce points that were not valid. I'll give just one example. The issue of the shell foundation is a fact and not in dispute, and the evasive response by the witnesses was not something the Chair should have been repeating. I shouldn't be into an argument with you, Mr. Chair, because the facts are quite clear and the witnesses were quite frankly wrong. I would appreciate your not repeating wrong answers that are not factually correct. I think your role is very important: you just have to govern us, and the key aspect of making sure there is a rough time allocation is important. As we've seen in the House with the COVID-19 committee, it is absolutely essential.
My final point is that you're right about the rotation in the first, second, and third rounds, but we then go back to the first round. That means that in a first round at about two and a half hours into the meeting, each of the opposition parties and the government party have a right to a six-minute round, and that was simply neglected. If we're going with a three-hour format tomorrow, when we get back to the first round, it should again be six minutes for the Conservatives, Liberals, the Bloc, and the NDP. I hope we stick to that. I didn't want to interrupt the proceedings with a point of order and a dispute, because we were already not getting all of the questions answered that we needed answers to. However, that is the rotation when we go beyond the two-hour framework, and I hope we will stick to that tomorrow.
That's it for the moment. Thank you.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Thank you, Mr. Julian.
There is no problem with a point of order. We can always ask the clerk on those matters.
I'll go to Mr. Fortin and then Mr. Sorbara.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First of all, I support Mr. Poilievre's motion.
Yesterday, I was somewhat frustrated due to my computer problems, which meant that I could not properly engage in discussions with the witnesses.
Our meeting was supposed to last four hours. I imagined that I might find myself in a situation the next day where the Prime Minister would only have one hour, and I might have computer issues for five minutes during my speaking time.
I believe that giving three hours to Mr. Trudeau and two hours to Ms. Telford is the least we can do. It is a unique and complex situation. To my knowledge, we have never seen a Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance under investigation by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. For this Prime Minister, it is the third time in recent years.
Let me be clear about the WE Charity situation. I am not here to put WE Charity or Mr. Trudeau's family on trial. Clearly, Mr. Trudeau has put himself in an unacceptable situation. He recognizes that and has even apologized for it. The same goes for Mr. Morneau. The situation deserves careful consideration by Parliament. Such is the principle of democracy. It is our job as members of Parliament and we need these hours to meet with Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Telford.
Having said that, I was not here when the rules on each party's speaking time were made. I understand that the Bloc Québécois' time was modelled on the NDP's. As you know, though, we have 32 members, whereas the NDP has only around 20. I do not know the exact number. I would like to have the same amount of time as the Liberals and the Conservatives for the second round of questions. It would allow me to speak more effectively and less rapidly.
When we have only five minutes per hour to speak, it is quite difficult to be cool, calm, and collected, because we try to go fast. Yesterday, Mr. Poilievre was criticized for being a little short with the witnesses. I must admit that, even though we are not from the same party, I understood, because I had the same feeling. When witnesses spoke for two or three minutes after a 30-second question, I got the impression that they were encroaching on the precious minutes I had available to ask my questions.
I will sum up by saying three things. First, I will support Mr. Poilievre's motion. Second, if there is a mechanism by which the Bloc Québécois could be given the same amount of time as the Liberals and Conservatives, it would be desirable and fair.
Third, I would like to see us adopt procedures, a way of operating, that would ensure that if, for example, a question is asked in 20 or 30 seconds, the witness would have to answer it within the same timeframe, similar to what we did with the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House. For witnesses who take longer to respond, a mechanism would have to be put in place so that members could get their precious minutes back and avoid losing two, three or four minutes because witnesses are going on and on with longwinded answers.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
I will go to Mr. Sorbara, who is on next.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair, and thank you for your chairmanship of the finance committee.
This is my second term as a parliamentarian, and I was honoured to sit on the finance committee for the entire first session of Parliament when I was elected with you, and it was a learning experience. I can state with full conviction that you treated all members of all parties with dignity and with respect. I learned a lot from you and I continue to do so.
Thank you.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Let's get to the motion at hand.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
I wanted to put that out there because I didn't want to leave any misconceptions for other members of the 338 of us who have the privilege of sitting in the House of Commons that anything is nonetheless not....
Thank you, Mr. Poilievre, for your hard work, your entrepreneurship and so forth and your motion today with regard to the amount of time for testimony this week by the Prime Minister of Canada and his chief of staff. In your comments you started by stating a number of things, and I think we need to chat about them. We need to clarify and make sure where we're at this evening, all of us gathered together here, me in the beautiful riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, and all of us spread out coast to coast to coast in this beautiful country we live in.
First off, we heard yesterday four hours of testimony from the Kielburger brothers, and I was paying attention very closely, and I think, probably for the last hour and a half, there was much repetition in the questioning by many of our members, especially on the opposition side. I didn't see and learn much new in the last hour and a half.
There were many intriguing questions that I thought brought many things to light. I think we need to touch upon those issues in this time we have allotted this evening, because it's very important that we don't do that again. We had four hours of testimony where opposition members, where government members, asked tough questions, I would say, and received a lot of information.
We know, for example, that Mr. Poilievre just stated that $500 million was going to be transferred from the government to WE. No, $500 million was going to go to hardworking student volunteers across our country. Up to 100,000 kids would have received monies for volunteering to do great deeds across this country. The WE organization, as was indicated yesterday, quite clearly in the contribution agreement that I have here with me and that I have read closely, was only going to be reimbursed for the eligible expenditures that it would have incurred. We need to understand that, because first we had an indication it was $900 million or $1 billion. We had a lot of words from opposition members that were factually inaccurate, and then you had a lot of words tonight by Mr. Poilievre when he spoke about his motion about $500 million and this shell company and that shell company, and I'm just scratching my head because those, to me, are very inflammatory comments, statements that are incorrect.
The WE organization had signed a contribution agreement. They have connections with 18,000 schools across North America, an organization that was looked upon by our public servants, who have done a phenomenal job in the last four months.... We need to step back and think about where we are in a point of time of Canada's history and the history of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic. This was one measure amongst many, including the Canada emergency response benefit, CEWS, to help students.
That's what we were doing; we were helping students, and we continue to help students, Chair, through the Canada student grants to help them with graduating, part of the $9 billion package, and this was one portion of it.
There was one comment made during the testimony about what we described as lapsed funding, and I make this analogy of lapsed funding.... You know in the private sector, I used to go to what were called “investor days”, when a company would come in.... I covered sectors, the mid-stream sectors, and if I can speak to Mr. Cooper's world in Alberta, the downstream ones. I covered all of the energy companies, including pipelines, who present on an investor day and give us a set of numbers and forecasts, much like a budget. Then they would come back and produce quarterly filings, which I would follow and look at from a bond perspective as a bond analyst, as someone who worked in the financial markets. I really very much enjoyed myself, learned it and brought those skill sets here to where I am now.
It's similar to this contribution agreement where we've allotted $500 million that would then go to up to 100,000 students across Canada, youth across Canada, for volunteering. It was in the Kielburgers' testimony yesterday, in which they indicated that this was the allotment and how much was going to be spent, which might have been up to that amount or might have been less. The opposition has consistently mischaracterized this contribution agreement as being bigger than it really was. It was for a maximum of $543 million. The difference was just allocated and not committed, which is, of course, common practice within government.
I would anticipate and expect that a seasoned member of Parliament who has sat in cabinet, a member of Parliament whom I would actually like to quote because it applies to the issue at hand in terms of the contribution agreement.... I quote from my learned friend because I consider myself friends with all members of all parties and have relationships with all members of all parties, and we chat and we're here to represent our constituents and do the good work that Canadians expect us to do. That's why they're sent there and that's why they give us that privilege.
I would like to quote the member as follows:Thank you very much for your question.
I think we need to put the issue of lapsed funding into its proper context. It is the regular practice of governments to spend underneath the budget that Parliament authorizes for them, and there's a good 800-year-old reason for that, which is that departments are not meant to spend what Parliament has not approved, and it's unwise to spend right up to the limit for fear of going over it. It is good, prudent financial management to come in under budget and to leave a buffer between that which you have approved and that which we spend.
That was my learned friend Mr. Poilievre, whom I respect greatly. I think we really need to clarify the details in the contribution agreement in terms of where we are. The total value of the Canada student service grant was $912 million when the program was announced by the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, on April 27. A comprehensive table lays that out and all federal emergency spending estimates that it's still assigned that number to the CSSG program on July 28.
If we look at the details, $543 million was the federal funding allocated to the CCSG accord contribution agreement signed by WE Charity and my good friend Minister Bardish Chagger. That is the amount we were dealing with. No more, no less, and the expenses were done on a graduated scale. The program would have been adopted, would be run, and as you increase the number of youth signed up to participate in the programming and to benefit from the experience— and let's not forget the organizations that would have been benefiting....
We know that to date the majority of the 30,000 plus students who had indicated they were interested in taking part in this program and working in their communities came from indigenous, racialized communities across Canada.
Mr. Chair, I grew up in northern British Columbia, in Prince Rupert, B.C., and I have always been a very big advocate, proponent, of nation-to-nation building and relationships with our indigenous communities. So it was great to hear that an overwhelming majority of youth who had signed up for the Canada student service grant were from that nation, that community. To see this CCSG being derailed, this program being derailed, due to political purposes, a program that I thought had much value, was honestly very disappointing.
If we look at the details, up to the $500 million was the total federal maximum funding allotted for students who would be eligible to receive up to $5,000 paid in increments of $1,000 for every 100 hours volunteered. The maximum funding for eligible expenses, or expenditures if I can use that detail, would be $43.53 million for the WE organization that was selected and signed a contribution agreement with our wonderful public servants to fulfill this task.
Now, do I believe that they could have fulfilled this task? Yes, absolutely. Do I believe that there is value in a program? Yes, absolutely.
When you think of the expenses, it was broken down. In the contribution agreement, the details are there. There was $19.—
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
I'm sorry, Peter; I was muted.
On the point of order, Mr. Julian.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes. Mr. Sorbara obviously doesn't want the committee to vote on this, but he is not speaking to the motion at all. As a result of that, I question the relevance.
Mr. Chair, it's a very simple matter. If Mr. Sorbara doesn't believe that the Prime Minister could answer questions for three hours, he should put that forward. He should speak to the motion.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Yes, we'll go to relevance, Mr. Sorbara. Could you stay close to the topic at hand?
Go ahead.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
With pleasure, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for your intervention, MP Julian. I find your comments to always be insightful and judicious. Thank you for that.
My concern about three hours is along the lines.... We heard testimony yesterday, and we heard questioning yesterday. We heard every question. We even touched upon the issue of mental health and how an individual's mother was dragged through the mud yesterday. To be blunt, that was, to me, quite sickening. To be blunt, I was disappointed in that.
For the opposition, Mr. Poilievre, to state that he wants to bring the Prime Minister in for three hours instead of the allotted hour, I was wondering where we were going with that. I have been thinking about the testimony we heard yesterday and some of the questions that were asked, and frankly, as I said, in the last two hours of those four hours of testimony, I didn't hear any original questions from the opposition members. That was disappointing.
Even with regard to the structure of the WE Charity, which is under review and they are doing their own self-analysis and we know that.... We know that they were provided with advice by in-house lawyers or other representatives in order to structure themselves to run this program for liability purposes, and we know that is a very common practice for organizations, yet some of us ignored or wanted to close our ears to understanding that.
I am going to let WE and the Kielburgers speak for themselves—and they have for four hours, and can continue to do so. However, at the same time, I want to make sure that if we are going to bring in any witness for four hours or three hours or an hour, the time will be spent wisely, that diligent questions will be asked...and not the ones I want, because I may not agree with my opposition members or my government members on the questions I want to hear. I may want to hear other questions. For me, it's important to know that they're relevant—and we've spoken to the motion of relevance, Chair—that when the Prime Minister arrives on Thursday and answers questions on this relationship....
Because this is only one program from a plethora of programs we have brought forward as a government that are benefiting Canadians.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I will stop there.
I'll yield the floor to my honourable colleague, MP Dzerowicz. I think she is next on the list.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
I do have Ms. Dzerowicz next on the list, but I would prefer it if we could rotate between parties.
Is it okay for me to allow Ms. May in, and then Ms. Dzerowicz?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Okay, Ms. May.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
I'm going to limit my comment to the matter of the procedure taken by a chair of a committee in a minority Parliament.
As a non-member of this committee, I'm extremely grateful to the latitude from you, Mr. Chair, but I recognize that all of my other colleagues, including Mr. Poilievre, whom I'm going to agree with and then upgrade in just a moment, are incredibly kind. I appreciate it.
I certainly can't lecture you, Mr. Chair, as I think you've been trying throughout this to be extremely balanced. However, I agree with Mr. Poilievre and Mr. Julian that you were having some difficulty yesterday in keeping partisanship out of this, and that's rare for you.
I want to remind Mr. Poilievre that way back in 2007, when he was parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, his party put forward a handbook for committee chairs. It dealt with the difficult circumstances that a minority party in government faces in trying to control committee proceedings. It was a handbook that led Leon Benoit, then chair of the international trade committee, to adjourn a proceeding—and Peter Julian may remember this—and storm out of the room. He threw his pen down and said, “Adjourned”, leaving the majority of the members, who had just voted to proceed, in something of a quandary. The handbook was full of tricks like that.
I would ask my Conservative colleagues to bear in mind their own history, and I would ask all of us to be as non-partisan as possible, because the country is still in a pandemic.
I said I was going to limit myself, but I don't believe that we got great, helpful, forthcoming information from the witnesses yesterday. I appreciate Mr. Poilievre's efforts and Mr. Julian's efforts to get more information out. Canadians do want to get to the bottom of this, but I really hope that all members on all sides, regardless of partisanship, including the chair, can be way above the normal level of fairness, and that the gutter approach of the minority Parliament in 2007 is never approached again.
Results: 1 - 30 of 150000 | Page: 1 of 5000

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|
Show both languages
Refine Your Search
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data