Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Now that I have the floor, I'd like to move the following motion:
That the Committee hold hearings on the conduct of public office holders in relation to the handling of the repayment of Senate expenses by Senator Mike Duffy and the conduct of officials in the Prime Minister's Office in this process, and that the witness list include but not be limited to: Nigel Wright; Benjamin Perrin; Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister; Ray Novak;
And that, in the context of this study, the Committee table a report in the House asking that the House send a message to the Senate requesting the appearance before the Committee of the following senators: Senator Mike Duffy; Senator David Tkachuk; Senator Marjory LeBreton.
The reason I move this motion is that it is critically important that the committee be immediately seized with this issue. I'm also forced to move this motion now because Conservatives will move that this meeting go behind closed doors to deal with my motion, as they do over and over again, hiding behind secret meetings to prevent Canadians from seeing how Conservative MPs carry out the orders of the PMO to stifle all dissent.
The conduct of public office holders in relation to the handling of the repayment of Senate expenses by Senator Mike Duffy and the conduct of officials in the Prime Minister's Office in this process goes to the heart of the trust Canadians have in their democratic institutions. This is a very serious situation that has the potential to undermine this confidence. The issues raised are very troubling questions that have yet to be answered and merit the immediate action of this ethics committee.
We're talking about the most senior official in the Government of Canada, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister, providing a substantial cash gift of $90,000 to a sitting parliamentarian. This raises a whole host of other issues, in terms of whether this arrangement was fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act, the Parliament of Canada Act, the Rules of the Senate, and the Criminal Code. There are so many unanswered questions, and it's up to the ethics committee to get the answers for Canadians that they deserve.
There are 10 key questions that must be answered.
On Monday, May 20, the PMO told CTV News that they had forwarded a copy of an agreement between Senator Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright to Ethics Commissioner Dawson. Then on Tuesday, the Conservatives said this document couldn't be released because no such document existed. An e-mail, which does exist, describes the secret agreement. The e-mail, dated February 20, is currently in the possession of the Prime Minister's Office.
Will the government commit to releasing this and other e-mails, documents—electronic or otherwise—that relate to this secret deal between the PMO, Senator Duffy, and Nigel Wright so they can be reviewed by all Canadians?
Two former chiefs of staff to Conservative prime ministers have said there is no way that Stephen Harper, as Prime Minister, could not have known about this deal. How could Mr. Harper continue to say he had the utmost confidence in Mr. Wright one day, and nearly five days later say he's allegedly been kept in the dark about this serious undertaking?
Media reports indicate that Stephen Harper's former legal adviser negotiated an arrangement between Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright. That lawyer says he did not participate in this decision to write a $90,000 cheque, but has not denied drafting an agreement. Who drafted the agreement, and why?
The Senate committee's report on Senator Duffy was whitewashed. Who ordered the members of the committee to whitewash the Duffy report, and why did the majority of senators on the committee agree to this cover-up and cooperate?
Senator Duffy told the Prime Minister's Office he would repay his expenses as long as they went easy on him in exchange for his silence. What else did the PMO expect in exchange for that $90,000 cashed cheque and a whitewashed Senate report?
Conservative Senator David Tkachuk tipped off Senator Duffy that he had billed inappropriate expenses. Was Senator Tkachuk or any other Conservative senator ordered by the PMO to give Senator Duffy the heads-up as part of this deal to go easy on him?
Once Senator Duffy repaid the $90,000, he immediately stopped cooperating with the Deloitte investigators who were auditing him. Why? Was he ordered to quit cooperating on the advice of Nigel Wright in the PMO? Why is the Conservative leader in the Senate refusing to allow committee hearings into the whole affair to be held in a public, open, and transparent manner?
Why did Stephen Harper continue to have confidence in these senators who whitewashed a report and who are now being asked to review it for a second time?
The audit of Pamela Wallin's expenses is yet to be made public. Had the Duffy-Wright deal not come to light, would she have received similar treatment?
Despite being required to disclose a gift of over $500 to the Senate ethics commissioner within 30 days, Senator Duffy did not disclose a $90,000 gift from Nigel Wright. Why? There can be no more important issue for the House of Commons to ensure the integrity of our parliamentary institutions than this one. This is the reason this committee must look into this very serious issue and must get to the bottom of this, so that Canadians can have trust in their institutions.
This weekend on returning to my constituency, I heard over and over again: what went on? Who knew what, and who knew what, when? It's time for this government to come before this committee and discuss this important issue. This is a government that rode into government on a white horse of accountability and they should come to terms with this motion.