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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-06-03 13:34 [p.28398]
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Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
The institution of freedom of the press is an underpinning of any democratic nation. It is the principle by which we understand that journalists or those in civil service investigate policy, politicians, and comings and goings, and shed light and perhaps different viewpoints on what is going on in our country. This is in order to ensure that we have the best public policy and work toward equality of economic opportunity. Regardless of political stripe, I hope we all agree that the institution of freedom of the press is very important.
I want to contrast the institution of freedom of the press with something that my colleague just said, which was on the industry of journalism. The institution is different from the industry. The institution of freedom of the press does not imply that somehow someone has to make a profit off of this. What we are talking about today is the state interfering in the industry of the press and whether or not that is appropriate in terms of the ability for the institution in Canada to survive.
In 2013, PwC's report, “Online Global entertainment and media outlook 2013-2017”, predicted that newspaper revenue would drop by 20% by 2017. This was not attributed to a lack of consumer demand for journalism, but was attributed directly to a rise in advertising revenue being shifted from print media to online media. It will be no surprise to anyone in this room, or anyone listening at home, that it is because the way we consume information has changed dramatically in the last several years. Many of us consume information on our phones. We consume information with short video blogs. We consume information from content that it is pushed to our phones.
The industry of journalism in Canada knew, through its own corporate forecasts and reports like this one, that its business model was failing. It begs the question of why the taxpayers of Canada should have to bail out a business model that was failing, which is print journalism. These organizations should have known, as any industry does, that they would have to adapt in order to survive. Anyone who owns a business knows that business models can change. For example, look at taxi companies when Uber came in. When something is disruptive to an industry, one has to adapt or one does not survive.
We are now debating whether the government should be bailing out a failed business model, or a failed industry. Unfortunately, what the government has chosen to do in answer to that question affects the institution of freedom of press. Anyone of any political stripe should be concerned about this. A partisan political actor should not be allocating tax dollars in such a way that it could harm the independence of the institution of free press in Canada.
How does that happen? What the Prime Minister has done is to allocate $600 million, which is a lot of money that could be used for a lot of things, to a select group of industry actors in journalism, based on criteria that the government selects and doles the money out on. If those industry actors are not sympathetic to the government of the time, are they inherently credible in terms of actors in the institution of free press? That is what is at stake here.
Anybody who votes Liberal, Green or NDP should be as comfortable with a Conservative-led government selecting those criteria as they are their own. They would have a very hard time standing here arguing for, let us say, Stephen Harper having control over the Canadian media. If an argument does not work both ways from political strife, then we actually have a big problem. Somebody who votes NDP or Green should have a huge concern.
Let us park, for a second, whether Canadian taxpayers should bail out a failed industry that has failed to transition to digital online. This is really about the credibility of anybody at any journalistic institution who takes money out of this fund and for those who choose not to take funds or who are not eligible to take those funds, whether they will be able to compete with people who now have a partisan interest, and they do have a partisan interest.
The government has appointed Unifor to the panel of people who will select the criteria by which the government doles out the funds. Unifor has a publicly stated, publicly funded campaign against a political party in this place. This weekend on the political talk shows, the leader of Unifor said that he should be on that panel because he had a score to settle. He said that other industry and media had endorsed the Conservatives before and why should he not be able to settle the score.
What we are debating here is which partisan actor is better suited to influence the industry on which the institution of freedom of the press is based in Canada. That is disgusting.
We have had a lot of discussions in this place about foreign influence in our election and fake news. It is the individual responsibility of every Canadian to understand how to critically evaluate information presented as news. There is no way the government can regulate that. Many of the existing actors in Canadian industry have responded to this drop in online content by trying to build their own media platforms and responding with clickbait. We do not have a lot of print journalism that I would constitute as journalism anymore. There is some, but a lot of it is editorialization on both the right and the left. Why would Canadian taxpayers perpetuate a failing industry that has such strong ramifications for Canadian democracy?
I know why the Liberal government is doing this and I know why the NDP supports it. When people control the press, they control people. That is what is happening here. Jerry Dias said that he had a score to settle. People cannot control the press through the state. Let us vigorously debate policy and let us even want to throttle each other over differences in public policy. However, to somehow argue with any sort of a fig leaf that this is anything other than the state controlling the press is shameful.
Columnists who have written about the fact that any journalist who works for an organization that takes money from this fund will have to work ten times harder to be credible are right, and they are brave for saying that.
At the end of the day, this bailout will not save print journalism in Canada. The only way that is saved is if these organizations figure out how to transition to the new digital reality, which many of them have failed to do.
In the strongest possible terms, I oppose any sort of interference in this regard. We need to have a conversation about what the state's role is in funding news writ large in Canada. We need to oppose partisan political actors being involved in the doling out of tax dollars to save an industry on which the institution of freedom of speech in our country is underpinned. I refuse to stand here, partisan hat off, and say as a Conservative that I would be excited about that level of control. No, we should have vigorous debate that challenges dogma, not that perpetuates a monopoly that is controlled by partisan actors. It is wrong and it needs to stop.
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-06-03 13:45 [p.28400]
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Madam Speaker, my colleague opposite has committed two logical fallacies.
One is tu quoque, we are doing it too. He is comparing himself to a Conservative government. The policy he talked about was perpetuated under a Liberal government. Frankly, yes, I disagree with it. I do not think we should be funding failed business models. I do not think we should be bailing these organizations out, and we should stop it.
The other logical fallacy that he committed was a red herring. As opposed to refuting any of my argument with regard to the fact that the government's motive was to control the press and undermine freedom of speech, he tried to divert the argument with crass partisan politics. This topic deserves more than that. It deserves real, intelligent debate. For anyone watching, I offer my condolences for having to watch that debate failure.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2019-06-03 13:49 [p.28400]
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Madam Speaker, today we are discussing a proposal by the government that is transparently ridiculous. I think my six-year-old daughter could well understand why it is ridiculous and government members should as well. It is a $600-million government bailout fund for some journalists and media organizations. The distribution of that fund is to be controlled by a committee that includes Jerry Dias and the leadership of Unifor. Unifor's leadership has made it clear that it will use workers' funds for electoral purposes. It will campaign to defeat the Conservatives in the next election and for the re-election of the Liberal government. It calls itself “The resistance” to the Conservatives.
Overtly partisan people are responsible for meting out dollars to journalists; that is for determining who is a journalist and who is not for the purpose of this funding and for determining who gets the money and who does not.
Our contention on this side of the House is that in defence of an independent press, we should not have overtly partisan individuals or entities responsible for meting out funds on the basis, supposedly, of supporting non-partisan journalism. This should be very clear. Having people who are actively involved in campaigning for one particular outcome in the election and also determining who is a journalist for the purposes of receiving funding is outrageous. It is beyond outrageous. I think members across the way would understand this very easily if the shoe were on the other foot.
That is why thus far in this debate members of the government are trying to avoid the real conversation about the real issue by all means necessary. They are making all sorts of other points that do not really address their decision to have partisan mechanisms handing out funding and deciding which journalists get funding.
Government members have talked about the important role that journalists play in our democracy. Of course we strongly agree with that. However, the most important tool that journalists have in their toolbox is a recognition of their credibility. Why do people choose to get their information from credible media organizations as opposed to blogs? Why do people go to nationalpost.com as opposed to liberal.ca to get their media? It is because of credibility. People understand. They hope that when they go to a media organization they trust, they can expect the information to be credible, accurate and non-partisan.
When the government intervenes by determining who gets funding and who does not, it is undermining the perception of credibility in the press by the public. Thus, it makes the job of independent professional journalists that much more difficult. The government is eroding public confidence in the fourth estate and it is doing so for its own interests.
If the government really cares about defending the vital work our independent press does, it should actually listen to what members of the press are saying about the proposal.
Don Martin from CTV says, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”
Andrew Coyne says, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”
Jen Gerson from CBC says, “If any of these associations or unions could be trusted to manage this “independent” panel, they would be denouncing it already.”
David Akin says, “I am a Unifor member and had no choice about that when I joined @globalnews. Unifor never consulted its membership prior to this endorsement. Had I been asked, I would have argued it should make no partisan endorsements.” He says “Jerry: I invite you to visit with Unifor members who are also members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’ll set the meeting up. You will learn first-hand how much damage you are doing to the businesses that employ us, to our credibility and how terribly uninformed you are.”
Chris Selley, from the National Post, says, “Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”
Chantal Hébert says, “Among the ranks of the political columnists, many fear it is a poison pill that will eventually do the news industry more harm than good.”
That is quite a list of intelligent, thoughtful journalists who comment on a range of different issues and who are known and have recognized names in Canadian democracy.
If the government says that its goal is to defend independent journalists like Don Martin, Jen Gerson, Andrew Coyne, David Akin and Chantal Hébert, then maybe it should listen to those independent journalists, because they understand that when the government pursues policies that undermine their perceived credibility in the eyes of the public, it makes it more difficult—not easier, but more difficult—for independent journalists.
Members of the government talk about an independent press. They talk about how having Unifor on a panel that doles out government funds and determines which journalists get the money and which do not, how having overtly partisan mechanisms controlling which journalists get funding and which who do not, is somehow in defence of an independent press. That is very Orwellian. War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength. It is Orwellian to say that government partisans doling out funding arbitrarily to media organizations of their choice is a way to maintain the independence of the press.
Canadians should be concerned about it because journalists are concerned about it. Not only is it a waste of taxpayers' money and not only is the government trying to intervene to stack the deck in its favour for the next election, but it undermines the independence of the press and it creates greater challenges for the press as they try to do their job. It makes it harder for them to fight back against those who are challenging their credibility.
In response to this, Jerry Dias from Unifor said that he is entitled to his free speech. I agree that all Canadians are entitled to free speech, but he is not entitled to use Canadians' tax dollars to promote those particular views.
Further, we expect certain positions in our democracy to be independent. We expect budgets not to be involved in overtly partisan politics. We expect the Clerk of the Privy Council not to be involved in overtly partisan politics—oops—and we expect some of these people to be outside of speaking about elections and parties. We certainly expect that the people responsible for doling out funding to journalists or deciding which organizations get the money would indeed be independent and would be separate from politics.
This is about preserving the independence of our institutions. We on this side of the House stand for preserving the independence of those institutions. It is not good enough to say it; we have to actually leave those institutions alone and not interfere with them. We should not interfere in the independence of our journalists, our public servants, or the functions of our judicial system, which is another problem. There are so many cases of the Liberals not respecting the independence of our institutions and interfering with them, and they are doing it again with respect to independent media.
The government's argument is that Unifor should be represented because it represents journalists. Here are some important numbers: Unifor is a very large union, representing over 300,000 people. There are about 12,000 journalists in that number; less than 5% of the membership are journalists, so this is not an organization that speaks uniquely and exclusively for journalists. In fact, journalists represent a very small part of the overall membership of the organization, so claiming that Jerry Dias can speak particularly for journalists in the context of public policy and advocacy widely misses the mark, especially since we hear so many journalists speaking out against this situation.
This is part of a broader pattern. We see repeatedly by the Liberal government efforts to stack the deck in its favour to undermine the independence of our institutions. We saw this first with the electoral system, when the government wanted to change the electoral system to its advantage and wanted to do it without a referendum. When the consultations came back and were different from what the government wanted, it ordered another round of consultations, again trying to stack the deck. The government tried to change the electoral system to its advantage and it failed. We called the government out on it.
The government also tried to change the Standing Orders of this place. Without the agreement of all parties, it tried to bring in automatic closure, again undermining the role of the opposition in the House of Commons. The government has tried to do this multiple times, but we successfully stood against it.
We called on the government to clamp down on foreign interference in elections; it refused to act on that.
The government has unilaterally acted to control the structure of the leadership debate. It has pushed through other changes to the Canada Elections Act that allow third party groups to massively outspend political parties in the pre-election period. The government did that to stack the deck.
Now again we see, in its efforts to undermine the independence of the media by having overtly partisan people controlling the handouts that are going to media, that the government is again trying to stack the deck in its favour.
The government does not respect the independence of the media. It does not respect the independence of Parliament. It does not respect the independence of the opposition, and that more than anything else is the reason that the Liberal government must be defeated.
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View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-06-03 17:31 [p.28439]
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Mr. Speaker, I hear the member for Kingston and the Islands chirping away at me. I know he will not like the rest of what I have to say about the government's media bailout. He will not appreciate it, but he can always ask me questions afterward.
This motion started with two former journalists on the Conservative side speaking to it, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent and the member for Thornhill. They are both exceptional journalists who have had long careers in the media and know what they are talking about. They are veterans of journalism. We always say within our caucus that the member for Thornhill has some of the most interesting life stories we will ever hear. I encourage any member in this House to ask him about the stories of his journalistic exploits and the situations he found himself in when he would follow them wherever they would go.
What we are talking about today is a media bailout the government is pushing through for large media organizations. There are three components to it: the labour tax credit, the digital new subscription tax credit and a qualified donee measure. Those three measures form this media bailout.
The media bailout is embedded within the omnibus budget bill. Other members have mentioned that the government promised not to present omnibus bills, and actually, in the throne speech, the government said it would never do it again. It could have brought this measure as a separate bill in order for it to have a full discussion and then go to the appropriate committees for a review.
I have read the bill. I remember the debate at the finance committee with officials and asking questions to the officials. When the member for Bow River said it would not apply to the weeklies and dailies in a community because they are owner-operated and the editor is heavily involved in the operations, that is exactly right. I asked that question of the officials. They meandered around it and said that for owners, this only applies to two-plus full-time journalists. That is how it works. The criterion is in section 43. It is written right into the law. Therefore, if owner-operators hire some students during the summer months as contractors, they are not eligible for this particular media bailout.
We asked the officials who this would apply to. We quickly found out it would exclude anybody who in previous tax years had applied for the periodical fund. Therefore, Maclean's, Chatelaine and other magazines would be excluded.
Then we asked what would happen to an agricultural newspaper in my area if half of the newspaper was devoted to agriculture. Well, that would not qualify either, because as I found out from the officials at committee, it would have to cover current events. I asked what “current events” means within the law. They pointed me to subsection 248(1) of the act, which states it “must be primarily focused on matters of general interest or reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes.” Those are the criteria.
During the debate I heard members across the way say the decision has not been made. However, there are criteria already included, and if a journalistic organization does not qualify, it is excluded from all three measures. That is the way the law is written.
Maybe our Liberal government caucus members do not like that fact, but that is the way the law is written and how it will apply. Unless the publication is basically covering politicians in some way, it will not be eligible for any cash. Therefore, this broad dragnet that the officials initially said would be the case is not the case. It is a very small, select group of people who will be eligible for it.
The motion before the House today is one of the primary worries we have on the Conservative side. The Liberals, by appointing a Unifor representative to the board of this panel, have made it partisan. Unifor has openly said it will campaign against one of Canada's large registered political parties. It posted it on social media accounts. It is happy to do it. It calls itself the “resistance”. There is no way around this.
The government has made everybody's participation on this board a partisan affair, because they are now participating actively in the electoral outcome of October 21. The government cannot say this panel is independent, as the panel is appointed by the government. It cannot say this Parliament is completely non-partisan, because Unifor is on the panel.
That simply cannot continue. We cannot have a situation of a national organization that represents some journalists as well as a great deal of other workers actively working against one of Canada's registered political parties as well as participating in deciding who will get access to these three measures I just talked about that form the media bailout.
We have repeatedly heard members on the Liberal side say things that were maybe partially correct in the best of light. I heard one member say that maybe bloggers could be eligible, and I actually asked the question, but bloggers are not eligible. I asked if The Post Millennial, which is a purely online web news site, would be eligible. They did not know whether it would be eligible.
There is a great Yiddish proverb that says “What you don't see with your eyes, don't say with your tongue.” It is a fanciful way of saying that if it is not the truth that we read, do not say it.
At the finance committee, I asked all of these questions because I wanted to better understand which organizations would actually be eligible for this tax credit. They were very quick to say that they did not have all answers, because some of the criteria are set in law and some of the criteria will be up to the panel to determine.
We now know that this panel would be tainted by the participation of Unifor. It is the perception that matters. It is the perception that journalists could be bent by the ownership or by the eligibility for certain criteria. We would be subsidizing journalists directly, because there is a labour tax credit of up to $55,000 by which a salary could be offset. It works out to about $13,750 at the end of the day for an employee. It is a direct subsidy for an employee.
The panel is going to decide who qualifies as a Canadian journalist. I can think of no worse thing for independent, autonomous journalism in this country than to have the perception that perhaps their reporting will be tainted one way or another on the type of content they choose to report.
I do not have a problem with journalists writing tough stories. I do not have a problem with them misquoting me. I do not have a problem with them not coming to me or not following a lead I think is worth following. I do not have a problem with it. They are independent and autonomous and can do whatever they want. That is up to them. Hopefully they will find a readership who is willing to read what they have to offer. I like to read the National Observer. It is kind of left-leaning, one could say, but it provides a lot of content that I actually like using, and so I am fine with it. However, I do not know if the National Observer would be eligible for this measure. Everything outside of current events would be excluded. If a publication covers too much sport or too much entertainment news, it would be excluded. All of those decisions the panel would get to decide.
This is the only tax credit measure I can find that the CRA does not administer directly. It will be administered indirectly by this panel. I hear all these Liberal government caucus members say that it will be the panel that will decide. As soon as one qualifies, it would be eligible for these other things.
Why not just let the CRA do it? It does the disability tax credit. It decides at the end of the day who is eligible for it. It decides for the child expenses. Why is the CRA not going to be administering the law? There is a lot of leeway provided in the law as well, but I am just wondering why the CRA is not deciding, from A to Z, the whole thing. Would that not be the more transparent, non-partisan, completely opaque, arm's-length but within arm's reach way of doing this, as opposed to having a panel with Unifor on it after Unifor has explicitly said that it is going to be devoted from now until October 21 to the defeat of one of Canada's registered political parties?
For Unifor to participate in the determination of who qualifies as a journalistic organization and qualifies through those three measures I mentioned is ridiculous. There is no way we can claim that this will be a complete non-partisan exercise. We cannot. The government has basically put on the committee an organization that is going to be helping it directly. That is what I heard at the finance committee. Nothing I have heard during the debate today changes my mind on the fact that the government is trying to push the scales again on one side, just as it did with the justice system. It is pushing on the scales here and trying to ensure it gets the best possible coverage, because a lot of the money does not flow out immediately. It is the potential of future cash that would ensure that large media organizations are on side.
Therefore, I will be voting for this motion, because it is very important that every single member stand on this issue and be heard on where they stand on behalf of their constituents for a free press without any direct government involvement. We should not be in the business of subsidizing the business of the press. We want a free press, yes, but not press subsidized with government and taxpayer dollars.
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View Stephanie Kusie Profile
CPC (AB)
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2019-05-17 11:28 [p.28002]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to prove that he does not care about right or wrong, as long as he gets his way.
When he tried to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, his then attorney general got in the way, so he fired her. Ben Chin was one of the Prime Minister's conspirators in his attempt to undermine justice. Ben Chin got a promotion.
The message is clear. Those who do the Prime Minister's dirty work get rewarded.
What self-respecting parliamentarian would tolerate and defend this corruption?
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-05-16 14:50 [p.27951]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister fired his attorney general when she had the audacity or the courage to stand up to him. However, Ben Chin, a key actor in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, has been promoted as senior adviser to the now Prime Minister.
Let me get this straight. Under the current Liberal government, if people stand up to the Prime Minister, they get fired; if people help the Prime Minister do his dirty work, no problem, they get a big promotion.
My question is very simple. Does no one over there see the injustice, or what is wrong?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:23 [p.27820]
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Madam Chair, I will now move to the issue of SNC-Lavalin, following up a question posed by the member for Essex. In light of the fact that the justice committee's efforts to get to the bottom of what happened in the SNC matter were shut down, why is the minister opposed to calling a public inquiry?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:24 [p.27820]
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Madam Chair, it is pretty clear that the justice committee shut down its investigation when it took orders directly from the Prime Minister's Office, but that aside, the minister relies on the Ethics Commissioner to undertake an investigation. However, the minister knows that under section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commissioner on this matter is very limited. Issues around obstruction of justice and political interference would not fall within the scope of the Ethics Commissioner.
Again, why will the minister not call a public inquiry?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:25 [p.27820]
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Madam Chair, the Prime Minister and other members of the government repeatedly asserted that their interference in the SNC-Lavalin affair was somehow justified on the basis of the jobs issue. The minister has stated that he has not advanced that argument, that he has not made a public statement in that regard, but I am going to ask him if he believes that the loss of jobs constitutes a lawful basis to interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:26 [p.27820]
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Madam Chair, Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the Privy Council, characterized his involvement as “lawful advocacy”. Would the minister agree?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:27 [p.27820]
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Madam Chair, the former attorney general was repeatedly pressured by officials in the PMO to seek an outside legal opinion with respect to whether to overturn the decision of the director of public prosecutions. Has the minister sought an outside opinion?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:28 [p.27821]
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Madam Chair, it is very clear. We know that repeated pressure was put on the former attorney general to seek an outside opinion. One must ask what the basis of such opinion could be, other than to change the former attorney general's mind, especially having regard for paragraph 715.32(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, which specifically provides that it is the prosecutor—in other words, the director of public prosecutions—who must decide whether they are of the opinion that negotiating the agreement is in the public interest and is appropriate in the circumstances. Therefore, it falls on the DPP and not the attorney general to form an opinion, so what could possibly have been the basis of seeking an outside legal opinion?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:29 [p.27821]
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Madam Chair, retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said that she believes what happened in the SNC-Lavalin scandal constitutes “a constitutional crisis”. Would the minister agree?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:30 [p.27821]
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Madam Chair, in the Krieger decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, the court said, “It is a constitutional principle that the Attorneys General of this country must act independently of partisan concerns when exercising their delegated sovereign authority to initiate, continue or terminate prosecutions.” Given what we know about what happened and the pressure that was put on the former attorney general, that would seem to validate the expression of retired judge Turpel-Lafond.
However, turning to the Vice-Admiral Norman affair and following up on a question posed by the member for Milton, the judge in the Norman case made a determination with respect to whether solicitor-client privilege applied to the PCO memos. That is simply not the case, so why will the minister e not release the memos?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:32 [p.27821]
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Madam Chair, we know that when the former attorney general blew the whistle on SNC-Lavalin and the pressure that was put upon her, she was fired from cabinet and then kicked out of the Liberal caucus. We know that when the former health minister raised concerns about ethical lapses in the government, she was thrown out of the Liberal caucus. Today we learned that Ben Chin, former chief of staff at the finance department and one of the first individuals involved in putting pressure on the former attorney general, was elevated to a senior advisory role in the Prime Minister's Office. What kind of message does that send? Does that not speak to the ethical rot in the government?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:35 [p.27821]
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Madam Chair, following up on questions posed by the hon. member for Durham in the Norman matter, we know that Justice Perkins-McVey has expressed significant concerns about whether there was interference on the part of the PCO respecting trial strategy. Again, I want to ask the minister to explain why he is unprepared at this time to initiate an investigation in light of those very serious concerns.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-05-14 21:36 [p.27822]
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Madam Chair, the minister said that he had an oral briefing. In light of the serious concerns that have been raised about using code names to block access to information requests, how can he be satisfied that everything was above board? On top of that, Parliament apologized to Vice-Admiral Norman today. How can he say that everything was above board?
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View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2019-05-10 11:28 [p.27629]
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Madam Speaker, it is increasingly clear that the Prime Minister and his government politically interfered in Mark Norman's case, just as it did in SNC-Lavalin's.
The government withheld documents and blackened pages totally out. It used code names to hide its actions. It coached witnesses. Mr. Norman's lawyer was clear that the documents should have been handed over to the RCMP and to the prosecution.
Why would the Liberals not release the documents to Mr. Norman's defence team, and unredacted? What is the Prime Minister trying to hide here?
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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
View Glen Motz Profile
2019-05-10 11:33 [p.27630]
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Madam Speaker, it is evident that the jobs the Liberals are talking about had nothing to do with Vice-Admiral Norman because they cared nothing about his job. There appears to be overwhelming evidence that the Prime Minister and his Liberal government went to incredible lengths to try to keep truth hidden, deliberately suppressing information that would eventually exonerate Vice-Admiral Norman. This political interference is a damning indictment of the current government and Canadians deserve answers.
Will the Prime Minister apologize to Vice-Admiral Norman and reinstate him as vice-chief of staff?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-05-10 11:56 [p.27635]
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Madam Speaker, our former Conservative government made the decision to retrofit a ship in order to get much-needed equipment to our navy. Then leaked documents show that the Liberals tried to stop this after a company that is friendly to the party was cheesed off that they did not get the contract.
After this leak prevented the Liberals from taking this unwise course of action, they attempted to destroy the career of one of Canada's most senior military officers, whose only crime was wanting to get a ship for our navy.
Why?
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View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
View Glen Motz Profile
2019-05-09 14:42 [p.27587]
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Mr. Speaker, that is not what Canadians see in the aftermath of the Vice-Admiral Norman travesty. What they see is a pattern of corruption with the Prime Minister, the PMO and the Liberal government, who attack and try to discredit anyone who stands up for truth, who stands up for what is right and who gets in their way.
What is the government really so desperately trying to hide? Will the Prime Minister apologize to Vice-Admiral Norman and reinstate him as the head of the navy and second-in-command of our armed forces?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-05-01 15:08 [p.27237]
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Mr. Speaker, every single week since the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke, the opposition has asked the Liberal leader whether or not the RCMP has contacted him or any of his ministers or staff with regard to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Today when we asked the question, he skirted the answer. He did not answer.
I am going to ask him very directly. Has the RCMP contacted either the Liberal leader, any of his ministers, his senior staff or party leadership with regard to the SNC-Lavalin scandal?
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2019-04-29 12:28 [p.27084]
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Mr. Speaker, certainly we in the Conservative caucus share many of the criticisms of corporate welfare. We feel that when Canadians pay taxes, first of all, their taxes should be lower, and second, when they pay taxes to the government, they expect those taxes to be used for vital services, not for things like buying fridges for an already well-off company.
An area where we disagree, though, is on the importance of policies that facilitate competitiveness. The NDP approach, as we heard it outlined in the speech, generally emphasizes more regulation as a tool to keep jobs in Canada.
If the goal is creating jobs in Canada, does the member agree that we need to be attentive to the competitiveness of the Canadian business environment, and measures like lowering business taxes, ensuring fair processes for small business and counteracting the attack on small business that we saw from the government? Those things are very important for facilitating employment, because they make it easier for people to invest, grow and create jobs here in Canada.
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View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2019-04-29 17:35 [p.27138]
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Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the member's speech. I would like to give him more of an opportunity to talk about how hopelessly and helplessly disconnected from the reality of regular everyday Canadian families these Liberals are.
I am sure that the member is aware of a well-known study that has been mentioned many times in the House of how some 47% of Canadian families are roughly about $200 away from financial catastrophe. The kind of financial catastrophe that such a family might worry about could be what would happen if they needed to buy a new refrigerator. Here we have a government that sees fit to hand over $12 million to a well-capitalized corporation for it to buy refrigerators. I would like him to comment on that further.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2019-04-29 18:14 [p.27143]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to zero in on what my friend across the way referred to as the “so-called fridges”. I am pretty sure that they were fridges, not just “so-called fridges”. At least I hope they worked after all the money that was put into them.
Anytime that the government is talking about environmental policy, it means punitive approaches for those who are struggling economically and “incentives” for those who are already doing very well. Those in the middle class who are struggling have to pay the carbon tax, while the largest emitters get a break. For Loblaws, this means financial support from taxpayers for fridges. When it comes to small businesses that are struggling to get ahead under the burden of the government, paying higher taxes because of it, there are no incentives. For them, a more punitive approach is taken when it comes to increased taxation.
Why is it that the Liberals always find an incentive for their well-connected, wealthy friends and those who donate to their party; whereas when it comes to Canadians who cannot afford to adapt, the Liberals take a punitive approach? Why is there a different approach for the wealthy and well-connected than there is for everyone else?
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View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2019-04-12 11:28 [p.27048]
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Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that the Prime Minister has been misleading Canadians now for over two months. He said that the SNC story was false, that no one raised concerns and that he did it for jobs, yet each one of these statements is a proven falsehood. Then he foolishly tried to bully the opposition leader into silence by threatening to sue, but the opposition leader has now called this ridiculous bluff.
It is the Prime Minister's move. When will we see him in court?
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-11 14:28 [p.27003]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was accused of strong-arming the former attorney general to interfere in a criminal prosecution. He denied it. She provided proof. Then the Prime Minister was accused of firing her for refusing to interfere. Again, he denied it. Again, she provided proof. The Prime Minister was accused of being aware that the former attorney general raised her concerns with the officials at the PMO. He denied it. Again, she provided proof.
Does the Prime Minister realize that if he repeats these denials in the court of law he will be charged with perjury?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-11 14:33 [p.27004]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's letter was about the opposition leader's statement. It has nothing to do with tweets.
The Prime Minister said, over and over, that no one ever warned him that his pressure to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin was political interference and was wrong. However, last week he himself admitted that on September 17 that the former attorney general directly advised him, in person, to back off. Now, even though he caught himself in his own words, he still threatens to sue the Leader of the Opposition.
Does the Prime Minister know that if he repeats his initial denials in court he will commit perjury?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-11 14:34 [p.27004]
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Mr. Speaker, the opposition leader did not retract any statements. In fact, he repeated every single word yesterday.
We look forward to the Prime Minister's testifying in court under oath, where he cannot control the process, he cannot control the people and he cannot shut it down like he killed two investigations. For once in his life, he will have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Does he actually have the backbone to set a date? When will we see him in court?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-09 14:29 [p.26879]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is threatening a lawsuit to shut down the opposition from holding him accountable for his attempts to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. He says that it is libellous to say that the former attorney general told him and his top officials that their actions were “political interference” and “entirely inappropriate”. However, the taped phone call, texts and notes show that it is all true.
Canadians look forward to the Prime Minister being forced to testify in open court under oath. When will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-09 14:30 [p.26880]
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Mr. Speaker, indeed, let us be clear. The Prime Minister has said that it is libellous for the opposition leader to say that the former attorney general was pressured by him and then fired for resisting. However, on the taped call, the clerk said that the Prime Minister was “determined”, “in a firm frame of mind”, that they were on a “collision” course and that he was going to get it done “one way or another”.
When will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat to sue or will he just finally admit that everything the opposition leader said is totally true?
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-09 14:39 [p.26881]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been caught misleading Canadians. Having been caught, now the Prime Minister is trying to sue his critics.
In his letter, he disputes the fact “the Prime Minister had been informed by [the former attorney general] that his actions were ‘entirely inappropriate’ and amounted to ‘political interference’”. Every single Canadian understands that this is in fact exactly what happened.
When will the Prime Minister move forward with his threat to call a court case and get to business?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-08 14:30 [p.26809]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister shut down two committees, booted two MPs out of caucus, and is holding documents 200 days past the deadline of an access to information request to hide the truth from Canadians. After months of misleading contradictions and changing his story to cover up his wrongdoing, now he is trying to shut down the opposition by threatening a lawsuit against our leader.
Canadians look forward to the Prime Minister giving evidence, providing testimony and being accountable, finally, under oath in open court. When will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-08 14:31 [p.26809]
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Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister admires basic dictatorships, but what is clear from that answer is that he does not really want to follow through with his empty threat, because it would mean that he and his senior staff and multiple officials would have to testify under oath for hours and produce documents, all under a public process that he does not control. Conservatives welcome the chance to examine the Prime Minister in pretrial discovery at the earliest possible date.
Will the Prime Minister follow through on his threat to sue, or is he ready to admit that everything the Leader of the Opposition said is actually true?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-08 14:52 [p.26813]
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Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing here today is the Liberal government reacting to the fact that it sent out this letter threatening the Leader of the Opposition for, basically, doing his job. It is trying to get the Conservatives to back down so he does not have to, because the Liberals know how crazy this is. They know Canadians are watching this and are incensed.
I am here to say that we are not backing down. The Leader of the Opposition just stood up and said that he stood behind everything he said. When is the Prime Minister going to show up in court?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-08 14:54 [p.26813]
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Mr. Speaker, my party leader has said that he stands behind everything he said. The interesting thing with the House leader saying that false statements have consequences is that it does not apply to her leader. She never came to him. He never put pressure on her. No one from his office directed her to do anything.
Why are the only people who have any sort of consequences for false statements are strong women in his party? When she is saying, “Put us on notice”, right back at you, Mr. Speaker. Giddy-up.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2019-04-08 17:48 [p.26826]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today. I understand my friend from Carleton was trying to give me a run for my money in terms of being the most verbose Conservative, so today I am going to try to catch up to him, with a 20-minute speech on this important bill.
Before I get to the substance of the bill, I feel the need to respond to some of the things that the parliamentary secretary for finance said, because he is trying to set up this narrative that is based on made-up things. I want to point to some clear facts that my friends across the way will hopefully take on board and recognize.
What were the fiscal policies of the Conservative government with respect to tax reduction? It is important to underline that all of the taxes that were lowered by the Conservatives are the ones that were disproportionately paid by lower-income Canadians. We raised the base personal exemption; that is, we increased the amount of money that people can earn before they have to pay any tax. Surely, my friend across the way would not say that raising the base personal exemption was somehow targeted at helping the wealthy. Indeed, we took many low-income Canadians off the tax rolls completely.
We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is the tax that all Canadians pay. In particular, it is a regressive tax that is paid disproportionately, because a higher proportion of GST is paid by lower-income Canadians than is paid as a proportion of other taxes. Therefore, lowering the GST was particularly beneficial to middle and low-income Canadians. We also lowered the lowest marginal income tax rate.
We lowered business tax rates, in particular small business tax rates. Why did we lower business tax rates? When we lower business tax rates, the evidence shows that it creates jobs. It also raised business tax revenue over the time that we have seen a reduction in business taxes in this country. It was a process that began under the previous Liberal government, which, relatively speaking, I think was better than the current Liberal government on many fiscal issues. It began the process of lowering business taxes, which was continued under the Harper Conservative government. The effect of that was that over the same period, we saw an increase in business tax revenue. The tax reductions we were making were targeted at improving the effectiveness of our economy and providing tax relief to those Canadians who needed tax relief the most. Did we lower the highest marginal tax rate? No, we did not. We targeted tax relief to Canadians who needed it most by raising the base personal exemption, by lowering the GST and by lowering the lowest marginal tax rate.
The parliamentary secretary for finance can say that the Conservatives think a certain way or that we want certain things, but I challenge him to speak specifically, which the current government never does. We believe that helping low and middle-income Canadians can be done most effectively by letting them keep more of their own money and deciding how they want to spend it themselves. We do not take a paternalistic approach when it comes to helping Canadians who are struggling financially. We think people can make good monetary decisions about what is in their interest and how they want to pursue projects and needs that are important to them and their family. That is why our approach emphasizes tax reductions.
The current government has raised taxes for middle-class Canadians and those, as it likes to say, who are working hard to join it.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Garnett Genuis: Members were clapping when I pointed out that the government is raising taxes on Canadians working hard to join the middle class, so they finally realize it. We certainly invite those members who realize this flaw to come over and join us. There is still some time. I know there are so many people coming over to the opposition benches these days, some voluntarily and some not, and we welcome more to see the light.
If we look at the contrast in approach, we have the carbon tax, which is a new tax imposed by the current government. That is specifically targeted at punishing Canadians who can least pay the tax. The government has said it is an environmental measure and that the Conservatives want to make pollution free again.
The Liberals are giving a holiday on the carbon tax to Canada's largest emitters. There is no paying of the carbon tax and there is no cost to those large emitters. Instead, they are imposing the cost on Canadians who can least afford it, on the single mom who needs to drive her car to take the kids to grandma's and grandpa's, on the small business owner just starting out and on individual Canadians who are struggling and do not have high-priced lobbyists or the ability to access the PMO.
We know how many meetings happened in the PMO on how to help SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution. I wish they had at least that many meetings to think about Canadians who are struggling and will struggle more because of the carbon tax that is being imposed on Canadians who can least afford it while large emitters are getting a break.
If the Liberals were at all serious in their claim that this is an environmental measure, then they would impose a carbon tax across the board. However, it is not an environmental measure, it is a revenue measure and that is why Conservatives will get rid of the carbon tax. We will not just get rid of the carbon tax on large emitters, but we will make sure that no Canadian is paying the federally imposed carbon tax that the Prime Minister is so desperate to impose on them.
My friend from Winnipeg North wants to know what is going to happen in the provinces. We see in provincial elections across the country that more and more Canadians are rejecting the carbon tax as well. We have seen that rejection in Ontario, New Brunswick, his province of Manitoba and very soon we will see that in Alberta as well. I am looking forward, next week, to Albertans joining the growing movement of Canadians who are rejecting the carbon tax. People in my constituency may still face a federally imposed carbon tax even after the next provincial election. However, they will not have long to wait until we replace the current government this fall and ensure that Albertans and all Canadians do not have the burden of the carbon tax.
For the members who want to say this is the only possible way to respond to climate change, I point out to them that we saw a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions under the previous Conservative government. We saw in every jurisdiction across the country that emissions either went down or up by less than they had during the previous period. We saw an increase in emissions in British Columbia under the carbon tax that they have had in place for quite a while. All the evidence suggests that this is not an environmental measure and, again, the Liberals' own decision to give a holiday on the carbon tax to the largest emitters shows that they are just not serious about this.
The government needs to re-examine the rhetoric it is using in light of the reality and in light of the fact that it is imposing tax increases at every opportunity it can. It is clear why it is imposing these tax increases. It simply cannot get a handle on spending.
In the last election the Prime Minister looked Canadians in the eyes and told them that he would run deficits lower than $10 billion, and then he would balance the budget by the 2018-19 fiscal year. There was no balance. We saw very clearly in the budget that the government has not balanced the budget. It has no intention of balancing the budget and it will not face up to the fact that it made a promise that it simply did not have any plan or sincerity about keeping.
Now the Liberals are desperate to start to plug that fiscal hole by imposing new taxes on Canadians at every opportunity, and they have tried to do this in so many ways. After the last election, despite promising to lower the small business tax rate to 9%, they undid that promise and said they were going to leave the tax rate at 10.5%, effectively a tax increase on small business. Then, with great fanfare, after they had attacked small businesses, after they had called small business owners tax cheats, after they tried to impose these new rules that were met with such frustration, such virulent objection from the business community, guess what they said. They said they were going to lower the small business tax rate to 9%, which is what they had promised they were going to do in the last election before they unmade that promise. However, they still have changed rules for small businesses that impose a new and greater tax burden on them.
We know what the current government is about. It is about raising taxes at every turn to try to plug its wide-open hole in terms of its fiscal plan and we cannot let it do that. As these deficits and these debts grow, it will certainly be raising taxes unless we get a new government in place that ensures Canadians are no longer paying for the mistakes of the current Prime Minister and that instead allows Canadians to get ahead by lowering their taxes.
We can be sure that, as we have seen in the past, the approach of a Conservative government, under the able leadership of the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, would be focused on providing tax relief to those Canadians who need it most, those Canadians who are suffering the most under the current government's high-tax, high-spend agenda.
There are members across the way who are shouting the phrase “trickle down”. The approach of the current government is to pour subsidies on the largest corporations, to try to give special deals to its friends, to try to help SNC-Lavalin to get out of its prosecution and to somehow think that will trickle down. On this side of the House, we oppose the Liberals' theory of trickle-down government, and that is why we believe in providing tax relief to Canadians who need it most as we did by lowering the GST, by lowering the lowest marginal tax rate and by raising the basic personal exemption.
It was important for me to start out by responding to my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, but let me now make a few comments on this legislation, which, contrary to my tone until now, is actually legislation that we support. It is legislation that really builds on great work done by the previous government. We would not necessarily know it by hearing some of the comments across the way, but Conservatives in government were actively engaged with our international partners in ensuring that we have a fair and more transparent tax system. The work that we are dealing with in terms of the bill began as a result of an agreement in 2013 and Conservatives from that period onward, and indeed before that period, were active in engaging with our international partners.
In January 2015, we put in place a requirement that electronic transfers of $10,000 or more had to be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency by banks and financial institutions. We have always, in terms of our policy declarations and the principles we have put out there in platforms since, emphasized tax fairness and emphasized simplification of the tax code. This is vitally needed. An area that many Canadians bring to our attention on a regular basis is that there are opportunities for us to ensure proper reporting and ensure tax fairness and, therefore, strengthen Canada's revenue position.
Therefore, this is legislation that builds on that work that our colleagues have spoken in favour of up until now and certainly that we continue to support.
Even as we discuss this legislation, we continue to see the gaps in terms of some of the things the government members say and the reality in terms of what they do. In many cases with these international conventions, we talk about the issues of simplification, of consistency, of ensuring that CRA is treating everybody fairly and of making sure that there is not double taxation.
In that way, it is worth pointing out again the good work of my colleague from Calgary Rocky Ridge who put forward Motion No. 43, which was a motion that would impose a duty of care on the Canada Revenue Agency in its interactions with Canadians, basically to ensure that people are treated fairly in their interactions with the Canada Revenue Agency. While, on the one hand, we have situations where companies may be taking advantage of some of these creative tax-planning arrangements, we have situations where individuals who may be low-income individuals face the CRA coming down very hard on them and they have a difficult time responding. It was a common-sense, reasonable motion that my colleague from Calgary put forward and I was pleased to support that. Unfortunately, it was only members of the Conservative caucus who supported Motion No. 43.
All members of the government opposed this common sense tax fairness measure. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the NDP opposed it. We do hear the NDP members sometimes talk about the problem their constituents face with respect to interactions with CRA.
However, I hope we will have an opportunity to bring a similar initiative in the future, perhaps in a future Parliament. Maybe in light of the more recent comments we have heard on this from the NDP, maybe its members will support it at that time. Canadians can have confidence that when it comes to holding CRA accountable to ensure that people are treated fairly and equally under the law, thus far it has only been the Conservatives who have taken that clear, consistent principled position.
If the Liberals are concerned about fairness for the middle class, then we would expect them to vote in favour of initiatives that would ensure fairness for the middle class when they have an opportunity. Unfortunately, they have not done that.
On the issue of double taxation, I spoke earlier about the carbon tax. We have with the carbon tax a form of double taxation, which is the fact that the federal government is requiring a carbon tax in every jurisdiction. It is imposing a federal carbon tax in jurisdictions where provinces are not imposing it themselves. Then it is collecting GST on top of it.
The Liberals have said that this will be revenue neutral for the federal government. It is not revenue neutral for the federal government. In and of itself, the federal carbon tax imposed on provinces that have rejected it is not revenue neutral from the perspective of the federal government. They have said in their announcements that most of the money will be rebated back. That is a big difference from all of the money, but the government is collecting GST on top of that.
Therefore, right here within our own domestic reality, we have a problem of double taxation. We have taxes being imposed on top of other taxes. This increases the burden on Canadians who really can least afford it.
We have had a number of initiatives, and not just speaking of the work of the previous government, in this Parliament from different members of our Conservative team who have been trying to bring about tax relief for Canadians. Every time we propose measures to bring tax relief to Canadians, the Liberals oppose them.
The leader of the opposition had an excellent initiative around making parental leave tax free. This would give parents a greater ability to plan to preserve their own fiscal situation while they were going through the transition of having a child. Certainly, we want to support parents in that situation. The government's approach to parental leave is to try to reduce that flexibility by reducing the flexibility that families have to allocate leave between different partners. Our approach is to provide more choice, more opportunity by reducing taxes across the board. Unfortunately, the Liberals voted against it.
Finally, with respect to Bill C-82, a mixed signal is being sent by the government. On the one hand, it wants to look like it is being tough on tax evasion and tax avoidance. On the other hand, we have seen how dedicated the Prime Minister and his team were to try and get a special deal for SNC-Lavalin. We do not exactly send a message that we are tough on anything when it comes to the actions of big corporations, if then we also try to put as much pressure as we can to get a special deal for those well-connected companies that can afford high-priced lobbyists and can push back there. It is gravely inconsistent.
If the government wants to address this issue and the issues around it, it needs to send a message that everybody is equal under the law, that it does not matter if one is a big company or a Canadian who is struggling to get by, that the law is the law. Sending that message in a clear and consistent way, ensuring that everybody is treated equally and fairly under the law, would very much address what we are talking about. It would confront the problems that this legislation seeks to confront.
Therefore, while we support the bill before us, we recognize the desperate need for the government to do better, to stop piling taxes on those Canadians who can least afford to pay them and to start sending a message that everybody, regardless of where one is situated in society, is equal under the law.
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-05 11:30 [p.26738]
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Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians that no one ever raised concerns about his interference in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, but all the evidence shows that is just not true.
The Prime Minister only allowed the former attorney general to speak about what happened before January 14, the date he moved her out of her role after she had told him to back off repeatedly, but she said they had a series of meetings after that, which led to her resignation, and the Liberals themselves keep leaking information that they will not let her talk about, even as of yesterday.
When will the Liberals take responsibility, end the cover-up and tell Canadians the truth?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-05 11:31 [p.26738]
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Madam Speaker, the Liberals did not waive all of the restrictions. They say the justice committee did its work on the Prime Minister's interference in the criminal prosecution, but on February 13 the Liberals shut down that investigation. On March 26, the Liberals stopped the ethics committee from holding any hearings at all. The Liberals say that Canadians can have faith in the rule of law, but OECD anti-bribery officials are “concerned” and will “closely monitor” Canada because of the Liberals' actions.
The Prime Minister has contradicted himself many times. No one can believe a word he says. When will Liberals end the cover-up and tell Canadians the truth?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-05 11:35 [p.26739]
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Madam Speaker, I remember at the start of the SNC-Lavalin scandal when the Prime Minister had his press conference and said that, no, there is nothing more to see, it is all good. Then we had all this testimony where all the evidence started to come out, and we have the same situation here.
We have the government House leader doing his beck and call, standing up and saying that, no, there is nothing to see here, yet the former attorney general is still under a gag order, and they are still blocking the ethics committee from doing its work. Why?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-05 11:36 [p.26739]
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Madam Speaker, I think at some point in time the government House leader might find herself clipped after whatever next tape is going to come out or whatever the PMO staff is going to leak to the media this week. That is what has happened. The PMO is leaking information for a time period that the former attorney general is still under a gag order for, and she is standing up here saying that it is all good, do not worry. It is ridiculous. It like an abrogation of democracy.
Why will the PMO not let the ethics committee do its work?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-04 14:29 [p.26686]
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Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the Prime Minister said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” In 2019, he is blocking the former attorney general from sharing all the facts about his interference in a criminal prosecution, including what was said and done when he removed her from that position.
On February 7, he said that the claims that he, his staff and officials pressured her were “false”. On February 12, he said that no one, including her, raised any concerns. However, all the evidence shows otherwise.
Why will the Prime Minister not end the cover-up and tell Canadians the truth?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-04 14:30 [p.26686]
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Mr. Speaker, but he has not fully waived confidentiality, and the Liberals have shut down two committee investigations and are withholding documents to a paper until after the next election. Top officials have resigned.
Yesterday in question period, the Prime Minister finally admitted that she did raise concerns with him directly in September and told him to back off. In fact, she and her staff did that at least nine separate times over four months. She told the Privy Council clerk that it was inappropriate to interfere with prosecutorial independence 14 times on the December 19 call alone, and Wernick said four times that the Prime Minister was firm.
The Prime Minister has caught himself in his own tangled web. He should tell the truth.
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View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-04-03 19:16 [p.26649]
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Mr. Speaker, I am so glad I was able to catch your eye this late in the evening to rise to speak about this concurrence report.
What I wanted to do in my initial comments was to mention that I co-seconded the amendment. I know members are probably tired from this later-evening sitting so I will not add too much to the debate. I know a lot has been said on our side already about the wisdom of returning this to committee in order to confirm the independence and autonomy of the director of public prosecutions, as well the appointment to that position of Kathleen Roussel, who made the right decision in the case of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, which was confirmed at the time by the former attorney general.
I will mention as well that the law that created the position goes all the way back to 2006, which was Bill C-2. It was created by the Federal Accountability Act. There is a reason we know who lobbies who in this place. It is because the Lobbying Commissioner and the registry were created by that very act as well. The Ethics Commissioner was also created by that act.
Actually, a lot of the accountability mechanisms that now exist in this place, which parliamentarians take advantage of to better understand their responsibilities toward Parliament and the people of Canada, were created in Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act, which was passed at the time by a Conservative minority government. It was able to work across the way with the other side for the betterment of the people of Canada, who, after the sponsorship scandal, were demanding greater ethics and accountability from parliamentarians and elected officials.
At the time, that scandal led to the creation of an independent director of public prosecutions whose decisions were to be confirmed by the Attorney General. The Attorney General would not be able to overturn a criminal prosecution and take over a case without gazetting it. I remember being a staff member working for a backbench Conservative member of Parliament at the time. The thinking at the time was that nobody would go through the trouble of trying to overturn a decision by a prosecutor who had decided not to offer a certain deal to the defence and that this would now end all political and criminal interference in public prosecutions.
Little did we know that 12 years later it would in fact happen. It would cost the political futures of two now former cabinet ministers, now former members of the Liberal caucus, and other members who have since then quit sitting on that side. Who can really blame them with everything that has been going on?
I love Yiddish proverbs so I want to share one that applies here: “Before you utter a word you are the master; afterwards you are a fool.”
From statements that have been made publicly from September, October and November to then January and February, we can see the inconsistency of the story on the side of the Liberal government. At first, the Prime Minister said that he knew nothing. In a press conference, he said that what was being reported by The Globe and Mail was absolutely untrue. This was not any digging around that the Conservatives were doing. It was in fact journalists who heard the story, corroborated it and then reported it. At the time, the Prime Minister said that it was absolutely false and there was no truth to it. We know now that statement is completely inaccurate. There is absolutely no basis to have said any of it. We know this now because the independent caucus continues to grow quickly, with former Liberal caucus members now being punted to this side of the House because they are standing up for truth.
There is a deep betrayal of justice on that side of the House in basically shooting the messenger. They have broken trust with Canadians and this is what the amendment to the concurrence report is trying to re-establish by reconfirming the independence and autonomy of the director of public prosecutions. We, on this side of the House, have faith in her work. We know that she can do the job. She made the decision, which was then confirmed by the former attorney general 12 days later. A decision was confirmed and she stuck to her guns. She decided it was the right thing to do.
I hear so much chirping from the other side of the House because they are all looking at the same polls that we are. They are looking at the opinions of Canadians, who are telling pollsters and telling us on Twitter, Instagram and social media that they are tired of this.
Canadians were sold a bill of goods back in 2015. They were told there was going to be real change, a new way of governing the country. In fact, that is completely untrue. It has gone back to the good old days of 2002-2003 and the sponsorship scandal of the 1990s that led to one of the deepest crises in our democracy at that time, which led to the Federal Accountability Act being passed in this place, requiring greater accountability and ethics from our parliamentarians, something that is sorely lacking on that side of the House.
I am pleased to be rising to speak to this matter. I am pleased to be providing my support to this measure by co-seconding the amendment to send this back to committee and to ensure we stand with those parliamentarians who have been punished by their leadership for standing up for the truth and doing the right thing. It is better to put country before party. It is better to stand up for the truth, wherever that leads us.
I just want to remind members again of this Yiddish proverb: “Before you utter a word you are the master; afterwards you’re a fool.” I hope the government sees the light on this, tells the truth, comes clean with Canadians and sends this report back to committee so it can again confirm the independence and autonomy of the director of public prosecutions.
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-02 14:51 [p.26590]
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Mr. Speaker, when the former attorney general stood up and spoke her truth, when she functioned with integrity, she was fired. The Prime Minister does not like it when strong and intelligent, capable women stand up to him. As Michael Wernick said, we know how he can get when he is in a mood.
The Prime Minister has done everything that he possibly can to try to berate and discredit the former attorney general, but every time he attacks her, she comes forward with more and more evidence to prove her point.
Why is the Prime Minister punishing strong women who stand up to him?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-02 14:52 [p.26590]
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Mr. Speaker, “Rather than letting authority be the truth, let the truth be the authority. If I had succumbed to interpreting the beliefs of others to be the truth, I never would have been able to push forward in the face of racism and misogyny”.
Misogyny imposes social costs on women who do not conform and who speak truth to power. Is that why the Liberal Party is so hell-bent on smearing the former attorney general and turfing her from the party?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-04-02 14:53 [p.26591]
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Mr. Speaker, there are 338 women from across the country who are here as part of a program to encourage more women to run for office. Members of that party went to a cocktail reception with them, took pictures with them, tweeted about them, and then walked across the street and went into a caucus meeting after smearing the former attorney general because she spoke truth to power.
Why is the Liberal Party so hell-bent on punishing the former attorney general for speaking her truth?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-04-02 14:59 [p.26592]
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Mr. Speaker, the Liberals shut down the justice committee. They shut down the ethics committee. They have refused a public inquiry. They have blocked key documents from the media. Through it all, the Prime Minister has repeatedly changed his story.
When will the Prime Minister end the charade, come clean, tell the truth and end the cover-up?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-01 14:30 [p.26515]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians that no one ever raised concerns with him about his many attempts to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, but the recorded phone call and text messages released last week prove that this is blatantly false.
The former attorney general repeatedly told the Prime Minister and his top officials that their actions were “entirely inappropriate”. Both his top political adviser and top public servant have resigned in disgrace. When will the Prime Minister stop changing his story and tell Canadians the truth?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-04-01 14:31 [p.26515]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister did not fully remove the restraints, and new information and evidence have been submitted to the committee, so clearly its work is not done. The Prime Minister also told Canadians to heed Michael Wernick's words and, oh, we did. The recording proves that Wernick threatened the former attorney general if she did not do the Prime Minister's bidding and stop the independent criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Clearly, the Prime Minister knew all along and directed the coordinated campaign to bully the former attorney general to interfere, and he was told it was wrong over and over. When will the Prime Minister finally tell Canadians the truth?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-04-01 15:00 [p.26521]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians to listen to Michael Wernick. We did, and last week we heard new evidence that further proves that the Prime Minister directed a coordinated campaign to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, thereby interfering with the prosecutorial discretion of the former attorney general.
When will the Prime Minister stop changing his story and start telling the truth?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-22 11:43 [p.26477]
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Mr. Speaker, this week the CEO of SNC-Lavalin said about those jobs the Prime Minister said are at risk because he had to engage in an egregious corruption scandal, no. He completely debunked that.
Meanwhile, today, Canadian farmers are waking up to a complete catastrophe in their market because of his incompetence. Meanwhile, 100,000 people are out of work in the energy sector because of the no-more-pipelines jobs. We know from the former attorney general that he said to her that he was concerned about the SNC-Lavalin scandal because he was a Quebec MP. Why does the Prime Minister only—
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-22 11:45 [p.26477]
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Mr. Speaker, nobody is buying that. There are farmers waking up who are wondering where they are going to market their goods. There are hundreds of thousands of people out of work because of the government's failure and incompetence, because it has been mired in scandal for weeks. That is all they care about.
Why will the Prime Minister only move hell and high water to protect his own job?
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View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2019-03-22 11:51 [p.26478]
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Mr. Speaker, no one believes that the Prime Minister is not manipulating these committees to cover up his scandal. The Prime Minister told the former attorney general and all Canadians a complete fairy tale. We now know no jobs were ever at risk.
The CEO of SNC-Lavalin said he never cited 9,000 jobs as a reason to end its criminal trial. In fact, when asked about these mythical job losses, the CEO said, “I don't know what people...have in their minds.”
When will the Prime Minister come clean with Canadians? When will he end this cover-up?
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View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2019-03-22 11:54 [p.26479]
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Mr. Speaker, the former attorney general told us that the Prime Minister insisted that jobs would be lost if she did not end the corruption trial of SNC-Lavalin. The Prime Minister told the media that his 9,000 job-loss figure came from the company itself.
Now the CEO of SNC-Lavalin stated that he never talked to the Prime Minister about a DPA or about jobs.
Will the Prime Minister allow the ethics committee to conduct a public investigation of his corruption scandal?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-22 12:33 [p.26485]
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Mr. Speaker, since my colleague opposite introduced the concept of jobs, etc., and my colleague has now explained it, I am curious. I am listening to this debate and thinking that at the heart of the SNC-Lavalin scandal is the fact that the company stands accused of bribing a Gadhafi with a yacht and buying Canadian prostitutes for Moammar Gadhafi's son, hundreds of millions of dollars in bribery, I believe.
I just wonder why the Prime Minister is going through hell and high water to protect a company that has clearly gone to such great lengths to bribe a company to get contracts, when he should be perhaps focusing on things like the energy sector or maybe the agriculture sector, where we have a catastrophic failure today on behalf of the government, and, relating it to the motion at hand, why travel and Canadian voices are so important, especially given the culture of silence this Prime Minister and the current government have undertaken this week.
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-20 14:42 [p.26177]
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Mr. Speaker, here is the problem for the Prime Minister. He asked for strong women and this is what they look like: women who will not sacrifice their principles to cover up his corruption scandal, women who stand up every day and refuse to back down against his abuse of our judiciary and parliamentary committees. More importantly, his use of the term “feminist” is fake.
I will ask one more time. If the Prime Minister is such a feminist, why is he muzzling the former attorney general?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-20 14:43 [p.26177]
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Mr. Speaker, it seems the only women that the Prime Minister is proud of are those who use their reputations to do his dirty work. That is wrong. That is not a feminist. There is a reason why he used “they experienced things differently” both in the Creston groping scandal and in Lav scam. It is because he wants women to think and take the message that if they accuse him, a powerful man, of wrongdoing, then they are to blame. That is wrong.
Why is the Prime Minister only letting his good old boys do all the talking?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-03-20 14:44 [p.26177]
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Mr. Speaker, the only thing the Prime Minister has been doing is moving hell and high water to protect a company that stands accused of bribing Moammar Gadhafi's sons with prostitutes and he has been doing that while muzzling strong, principled women. That is not what a feminist looks like. That is not walking the talk.
Every day that he refuses to allow the former attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he is a fake feminist. Why does he have her muzzled?
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-03-20 15:38 [p.26187]
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Madam Speaker, this is about a Prime Minister who wanted to do a favour for friends. He wanted to do a favour in the form of allowing them off the hook.
In order to do this favour for his friends, he first needed to strong-arm the former attorney general into doing the dirty work for him. She stood in his way, between the action of justice and the action of injustice, the action of maintaining integrity and the action of polluting our justice system.
The former attorney general faithfully stood in that passageway and she resisted the strong-arming movements of the Prime Minister, his attempt to manipulate her to facilitate his desire rather than uphold justice.
We are talking about the Prime Minister of Canada. This is a leader on the world stage. This is an individual in whom Canadians have placed a great deal of trust. This is an individual in whom we have placed the responsibility of guiding our country. Instead of stewarding this place of trust and responsibility, he has actually abused his position of power.
Why should Canadians care? They should care because the Prime Minister, when he ran for election, made a series of promises, and they were the right promises. He said that we needed to be open and honest. He promised his government would do that.
The Prime Minister promised he would let the light shine in, that he would be more open, more transparent. He said, “It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them.”
At another time, in the former attorney general's mandate letter as the justice minister, he said, “ I expect you to ensure that our initiatives respect the Constitution of Canada, court decisions, and are in keeping with our proudest legal traditions.” He went on to say:
We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do.
The Prime Minister asked his former attorney general to abide by these principles. She did; he did not. Now she is the one being silenced.
The Prime Minister, during his election run, also said this, “Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways. This is what positive politics can do.”
Those of us on the side of opposition are asking the Prime Minister to abide by his words “sunny ways”. Why are we not allowing the sun to shine in? Why are we not allowing the details to come forward? Why are we not giving the former attorney general of Canada the opportunity to share her story?
This matters to Canadians. In the same way they have the opportunity, I daresay the privilege, to elect their officials, they also have the responsibility to hold them accountable. Now, of course, those of us on the side of opposition share that responsibility with Canadians. We, too, will hold the government to account. We, too, will in fact insist that the truth be told, which to date, it has not been.
Let us look more closely at what happened, and to do so, let us look at a number of voices that have been shared. Starting with the former attorney general herself. She said:
For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
She went on to talk about multiple phone calls, multiple emails, multiple text messages, multiple meetings that were held to try to pressure her. She goes on to talk about veiled threats that were issued toward her. This all came out during her initial testimony to the committee.
She also said that the Prime Minister stressed that there was an election taking place in Quebec and that therefore she needed to do this. She needed to do the Prime Minister's dirty work. That is interesting.
What we have here is a case of sustained and inappropriate pressure. We have an issue of the Prime Minister actually bullying the former attorney general, trying to get her to do his dirty work. As a result, we know that the former attorney general was fired from her post as the attorney general and was moved into a different cabinet post, and then she eventually resigned from there.
The Prime Minister would try to convince Canadians that there were two different experiences and that her interpretation is simply wrong. However, why will we not legitimize her voice? Has the Prime Minister not advocated for all this time that we would listen to the women among us? In particular, I would hope that we would listen to the former attorney general of Canada, who, I might add, is the very first indigenous female attorney general that this country has seen. Why would we not listen to her voice? Why would we not give it weight?
When that did not work, the Prime Minister decided that he would try another excuse. He said that it had to do with protecting 9,000 jobs that exist within SNC-Lavalin, but we know now that is not true either. The CEO of the company has come forward and said that this is not the case at all and that he actually never said that to the Prime Minister.
Well, that is one voice, the former attorney general, and of course the Prime Minister has tried to squash her voice.
However, out came another voice, and that was the voice of Gerald Butts, the chief adviser to the Prime Minister. His voice said, “I quit”, and he walked out. That is interesting.
Then came another voice, the voice of the former president of the Treasury Board, and she too said, “I resign”, but she wrote a letter with her resignation. In her letter she said:
The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system. It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases. Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.
She finished her letter by saying that “There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.” She could not be more correct.
Now we have three voices in the mix, but then there was a fourth. The Clerk of the Privy Council also tendered his resignation.
Then just today the member for Whitby also resigned. She resigned and shared her story of also being bullied by the Prime Minister. She shared a story of the Prime Minister calling her up and yelling at her over the phone so loudly that her husband could overhear the entire conversation.
This does not speak of a Prime Minister who deeply cares about wanting to serve his country. This does not speak well of a Prime Minister claiming to be a feminist.
Let us look at this. He has three female members who have all resigned from their posts, who have left, who have shed light on the fact that the Prime Minister has mistreated them.
Let us look at another set of voices, shall we? Let us look at the media.
The media have said that “It's fair to say that it's a constitutional crisis.” A former judge said that in an article.
The former Ontario attorney general said that “It opens the door to prosecuting enemies of the government and giving immunity to its friends, which is despotic.”
The Toronto Star said that “It is going to be impossible to look at Justin Trudeau's government the same way again.”
The National Post said that “...it sounded and felt like a death knell for the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau.”
There is plenty of commentary out there—
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-03-20 15:49 [p.26188]
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Madam Speaker, in her letter written on March 14, the former attorney general said:
These matters are still unfolding, and further clarity and information is needed. As in other places around the globe, our democratic institutions and norms - including the rule of law and prosecutorial independence - are under pressure. Collectively, and as individuals, we are challenged to respond.
She went on to say that there is more to be shared, that there is more to her testimony, that there is more that happened after she stepped down as the attorney general of Canada. She has asked for permission to share the remainder of her testimony, and the Prime Minister is refusing her the opportunity to do so.
Members of the justice committee have brought forward multiple motions asking that the former attorney general of Canada be allowed to speak. The Liberal members of the justice committee have shut them down over and over again.
To answer the member opposite's question about whether it is the most appropriate place to hear, sure—so why do they not let her speak?
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-03-20 15:52 [p.26189]
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Madam Speaker, that is exactly what is at stake here.
We see that the Prime Minister of Canada tried to strong-arm the former attorney general of Canada into administering special favours to the Prime Minister's friends at SNC-Lavalin. If we were to give in to a system like this, if the former attorney general of Canada had given in to the Prime Minister's demands, it would result in a justice system that is forever compromised, a justice system with one set of rules for the wealthy, the rich, the powerful, the elite, and then another set of rules for those who do not fit within that category.
That is not the Canada in which we live, nor is it the Canada in which we should want to live. I commend the former attorney general for taking the stand that she did and I believe she should be given every opportunity to speak her truth.
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View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
2019-03-20 16:52 [p.26197]
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Madam Speaker, we watched as the new Prime Minister chose his cabinet. He defended his Attorney General because he had full confidence in her. He knew that she was the one the Liberal government wanted as its attorney general. However, he found out that the Attorney General did not simply hearken to every word that was inappropriate to him; she stood her ground.
To my colleague who gave his speech, with regard to the issue of the former attorney general standing her ground and coming to the justice committee, now the Liberal government has backed away from it. My colleague talked about the five attorneys general who have spoken up. I wonder if he would expand on that.
One Liberal attorney general from Queen's Park in Ontario said that if any leader or any premier ever asked him to do such a thing, he would immediately pick up the phone, dial 911, and call the police. That is the significance of what we saw the Prime Minister doing. I am wondering if the member feels that Canadians have a full understanding of the depth of the law that has been broken here.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2019-03-19 11:35 [p.26120]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today in the House and join this concurrence debate.
I know this issue was discussed yesterday, but since this is my first time rising since it happened, I do want to add my voice to those of many others who have expressed condolences for the victims of the terrible terrorist attack targeting the Muslim community in New Zealand, and express my solidarity with the victims and all those who are in some way affected by this event.
I also want to highlight growing concerns about the persecution and violence targeting Christians in Nigeria. This is something I have been hearing about from constituents and I know it is a concern for many members in the House as well.
I want to set the stage with respect to the context of the debate. There is some discussion back and forth about the procedure that brings us here.
The opposition has moved a concurrence motion with respect to a report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. It is interesting to hear members of the government speak as if we just should not use the opportunity to bring forward concurrence motions that reflect important public policy issues, but instead we should only debate the things that the government puts on the agenda. This reflects a certain misunderstanding about the role of the opposition and what we are here to do. It is perfectly legitimate for the opposition to put forward motions with respect to committee reports and other issues that reflect public policy issues and reflect what we hear from our constituents. There is nothing illegitimate about the opposition doing its job in that way.
Members of the government would like to talk about aspects of their own legislative agenda, but they need to understand that this is not just about a government and an audience. This is about a government and an opposition. This is how the House of Commons is supposed to work.
We know the government would like to, and on multiple occasions has attempted to, reduce the powers and prerogatives of the opposition to indeed reduce us to a mere audience. However, this Conservative opposition has not and will not go quietly in that respect. It is important for us to assert the prerogatives of members, to assert the important role of the opposition and to use the tools that are available to us, yes, to raise, through concurrence and other measures, important public policy issues, but also to use these tools as a way of challenging the government to do better in other areas.
For instance, we have said that the former attorney general should be able to testify before the justice committee with all of the fetters off. She should be able to actually talk about why she resigned from cabinet and events that happened afterwards. Up until now, the Prime Minister and the government have not allowed that to happen. We have, in a number of ways through parliamentary procedures, highlighted the unwillingness of the government to allow that conversation to take place. Now we have members of the justice committee who are trying to shut down hearings into what happened involving the Prime Minister, the former attorney general and SNC-Lavalin. Therefore, we are very concerned about that.
We hear concerns from Canadians. They are looking for answers and want us as the opposition to use the tools that are available to us to seek answers, and certainly we are going to continue to do that. Therefore, we make no apologies for being an efficient and effective opposition; for standing up for what Canadians are saying; for raising issues around infrastructure, around the Champlain Bridge; and also for raising issues around corruption, dealing with the government. These are things we are going to continue to highlight, whether members of the government like it or not.
Parenthetically I will say that in some of the speeches and comments we have heard from members of the government, they have talked about Bill C-92, which is the legislation that apparently the Liberals were intending to bring forward today. I will draw to the attention of members the fact that Bill C-92 was tabled in the House the last Thursday before the break. Therefore, in terms of sitting days, it has been tabled here for about three days.
Canadians know that the government has been in place for approaching three and a half years. Certainly, these issues around child welfare and indigenous child welfare are important issues for discussion. The government could have moved forward with the discussion of this issue a long time ago. The Liberals could have put forward reforms that they thought appropriate much earlier in their mandate and we would have already discussed these changes and have moved forward with them. However, the government is waiting until the last possible minute to put these things forward and tabling it. Then right away the Liberals are saying that anyone who puts forward other motions and other issues for debate in the House is somehow obstructing this.
The Liberals have been way behind the eight ball in putting forward proposals in this area, and now it is someone else's fault. Their failure to take action, their failure to move the discussion forward earlier, is not something that should lead to the opposition losing its opportunity to raise other issues as well. Their lack of management of the House calendar and their own legislative agenda does not somehow create a requirement for the opposition, especially when all the Liberals would have had to do to facilitate greater co-operation in the House on matters of agenda and procedure was allow the former attorney general to speak at committee without the kind of restrictions the government is continuing to put on the former attorney general.
Canadians want and deserve to hear what she wants to say, and she wants to speak about those things as well. If the government would like to move forward, the first step is to listen to Canadians and let the former attorney general address all the issues around this sordid affair and then allow Canadians to make their own judgment.
I would like to address, in particular, the issues raised in the concurrence motion. This is report 4 of the Auditor General, which deals with the proposal to replace the Champlain Bridge in Montreal and the issue of extensions and late fees being paid by the government. It is another case of Canadians paying in the form of late fees for the mistakes of the government.
We see so many areas in which Canadians are paying more as a result of the mistakes of the government. We are seeing, as a result of that, attempts by the government to raise people's taxes. We know that those attempts to raise taxes are not the end of it from the government. Indeed, this out-of-control spending is the same thing we saw from the Kathleen Wynne Liberals in Ontario. When there is out-of-control spending, it leads to subsequent proposals from the same government for higher taxes.
We have a critical window of time to fix those failures, to get back on track in terms of spending, to address the deficit, to control the areas of failure that are costing Canadians and to thus prevent this kind of situation where taxes will have to go up.
Moving forward on the Champlain Bridge is an important project. It is a process that began with the previous Conservative government, but we have seen a failure to move this forward effectively by the current Liberal government. This is representative of a larger problem in terms of the infrastructure policies of the government. The government has failed to deliver on infrastructure in many different areas. The Liberals talk a lot about infrastructure. They have made a lot of promises about infrastructure, but they have failed to deliver.
Let us start from the beginning on the infrastructure file. The first minister of infrastructure, who is from a neighbouring riding in the Edmonton region, was very concerned about the infrastructure of his office. He was very concerned about developing the infrastructure where he and his political staff would be operating. Huge amounts of money were spent on renovations in his office, and this was widely discussed within his constituency and the surrounding area. I heard those discussions. When the priorities of the infrastructure minister should have been infrastructure Canadians use, such as roads, bridges and so on, so much in the way of public dollars went into renovating the infrastructure of his office instead.
We see repeatedly from the government announcements and reannouncements of the same projects, projects, in many cases, that were previously put in place, and a lot of the work done, under the previous government, yet we see a lack of action.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister and eight of his ministers fanned out across the country to reannounce infrastructure announcements that had already been made, which provided more opportunities for photos and selfies. However, the Liberals, when it comes to infrastructure, as in so many other areas, are all talk and no action. They are not moving forward. We see that on all sorts of key infrastructure, including the Champlain Bridge.
I would add that while there is a failure to move forward on Canadian infrastructure, the government made a decision to make a big investment in something called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB. The AIIB is headquartered in Beijing and really is a tool of China's foreign policy to build infrastructure throughout Asia. We have seen the way the Chinese government seeks to build infrastructure as a way of extending its political influence and control throughout the continent. There is the example of a port constructed in Sri Lanka. It has raised big concerns about Chinese control and influence as a result of the way this port project has proceeded.
There are many different cases through the so-called belt and road initiative, whereby the Chinese government seeks to extend its influence by spending money on these kinds of projects. One might understand why the Chinese government sees it as in its national interest to do so. However, what I do not understand and what constituents in my riding do not understand is why it is in Canada's interest to be spending Canadian taxpayer dollars on building infrastructure in Asia through a vehicle that is designed to advance the foreign policy objectives of the Government of the People's Republic of China. That does not make sense to me and my constituents, and I do not think it makes to taxpayers anywhere.
While putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is building a pipeline in Azerbaijan and projects outside the country, we have had a failure to move forward with vital infrastructure projects here in Canada.
I have raised the issue of the dissonance between the eagerness to invest in infrastructure overseas and the failure to invest in infrastructure here in Canada. The government's response is that this is about Canadian companies now having the opportunity to bid on these projects. The Liberals say that if they give money to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, this vehicle of China's Communist government's foreign policy, Canadian companies will be able to participate in these projects. That would be an interesting argument, if it were true.
When I was in Beijing last, I visited the headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to discuss its procurement policies. It said very clearly that it has an open staffing and open procurement policy. Therefore, any company from anywhere in the world, theoretically, has the same opportunity to bid on their projects, regardless of whether the country in which that company is headquartered is a member of the bank. That was the Liberal government's one argument for putting hundreds of millions of dollars into this foreign infrastructure bank: it would provide opportunities for Canadian companies to bid. However, Canadian companies already have those opportunities.
Canadian nationals already have the opportunity to work for the bank. In fact, when we went to Beijing, we met with a Canadian national who was working for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Therefore, the Liberals' only argument for hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money going to these projects falls through. It would not have been difficult to find that information.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: How much money did Harper put in the Asian bank?
Mr. Garnett Genuis: My colleague is heckling with a question he can ask during questions and comments. I think it was about how much other countries are putting into this bank.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: No, how much did Harper put in?
Mr. Garnett Genuis: He is asking about the previous government. The previous government of Canada did not participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It chose not to. That decision was aligned with the decision, for instance, of the Barack Obama administration in the United States, which raised significant concerns about accountability and issues around human rights related to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. However, the Liberal government, in its eagerness to curry favour with the Chinese regime, put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into that bank.
The issue I hear from Canadians is that they are supportive of a focused, objective-driven, compassionate international development policy, but they do not see why we should give money to an organization affiliated with the Chinese government that is building infrastructure as a way of advancing its foreign policy, when we have dramatic unmet infrastructure issues here at home that the government is simply ignoring.
One other aspect of infrastructure, although it has historically generally been infrastructure built by the private sector, is the issue of pipelines. We see a total failure of the government to move forward with pipelines. The former infrastructure minister, now the natural resources minister, has been no more successful moving forward natural resources infrastructure than he was in his previous portfolio directly dealing with the issue of infrastructure.
We see many areas of failure with the Liberal government when it comes to infrastructure, pipelines and prioritizing the needs, interests and values of Canadians. As a result of those failures, Canadians are paying for the government's mistakes.
If members are wondering why the government's focus seems to be off here and why it seems to have missed basic points about things like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it may be because it is distracted. It may be because its focus has so narrowly been on its own strategic interests and on covering for the damage to its political reputation that is coming about as a result of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The government's effort to manage this message without actually coming clean on the reality is really unbelievable. The latest announcement on the government's approach to responding to SNC-Lavalin was that it is going to appoint a former Liberal cabinet minister, who is still actively involved in fundraising for the Liberal Party of Canada, to provide some kind of independent advice. That is quite something. That would be like asking Stephen Harper to provide non-partisan advice. Clearly, when one brings in a former politician who has long been affiliated with and continues to support a political party and claims that this person is going to provide independent advice, that is a transparent attempt at misdirection.
There would be a simple solution to the government's efforts to manage the message, and that would be to actually come clean, open up the doors, recognize that sunlight is the best disinfectant and allow all the conversations that need to happen to happen. What would that look like? It would mean allowing the former attorney general to come to committee to speak without the restrictions of solicitor-client privilege or cabinet confidence. The government tried to play this sleight-of-hand game on this issue by saying that it was going to waive these restrictions, but only up to a certain point and not after a certain point.
The Conservative deputy leader, the member from Milton, was very clear in asking questions at committee and received very clear answers from the former attorney general. Was she able to speak about why she resigned from cabinet? No. Was she able to speak about conversations that happened after? No. Was she able to speak about the possible continuation of pressure or clarify the nature of the pressure, discussions and information that came to her afterwards? No, she was not.
We know now that another member of the cabinet has resigned. The Prime Minister's principal secretary has resigned, and the Clerk of the Privy Council is leaving. We have four major resignations associated with this affair, but nothing is wrong, according to the front bench. It is incredible that the Liberals would try to sustain this narrative that nothing is wrong while we have this continuing spate of resignations. That does not include the large and growing number of members of the Liberal caucus who are saying that they are not running again. We cannot, of course, know the exact cause in every case, but there has been a significant spike in announcements of not running again ever since this affair broke.
This affair stinks. We need answers. Let the former attorney general speak.
We are seeing many cases of failure by the government to proceed on infrastructure issues, failures that are costing Canadians more. These are important issues to highlight and discuss in this House.
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View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2019-03-19 14:12 [p.26142]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to cover up the worst elements of the SNC-Lavalin scandal: gag orders, blaming whistle-blowers, closed-door meetings, shutting down debate and silencing key witnesses. These are the actions of a man who absolutely has something to hide.
We have seen four high-level resignations already: two cabinet ministers, a principal secretary, and most recently the head of the public service. This is evidence that the scandal is real and infests the highest level of the Liberal government.
Today the Prime Minister is trying to distract Canadians from his corruption with an election-year budget. Canadians will not and are not going to buy it, and certainly not when Anne McLellan, who was a cabinet minister during the Liberal ad scam scandal, is brought in to investigate her own Liberal friends.
What is certain is that the budget will not balance itself today, and Canadians will not be distracted by Liberal deficits and debt. Conservatives will not be intimidated. Canadians want us to get to the bottom of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and that is exactly what we are going to do.
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-03-18 14:52 [p.26064]
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Mr. Speaker, imagine that. She was there for about four and a half hours. She was allowed to speak, yet she told us and all Canadians that she has more to say, that her testimony has not been made complete.
My question is very simple. Canadians want a full story. They want to understand the full picture here. They do not see why the government is shutting down the justice committee and not allowing the former attorney general to speak.
Parliament belongs to Canadians. They deserve answers. Will the Prime Minister end the cover-up and let her speak?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-03-18 16:07 [p.26075]
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Mr. Speaker, I move that the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights presented on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, be concurred in.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills.
For the past six weeks, we have seen a government that is in total chaos, unable to govern and riddled with resignations to cover up corruption at the highest levels of government, corruption that goes right to the top, right to the Prime Minister himself.
It is very clear, based upon the chronological, detailed and compelling testimony of the former attorney general, the hon. member for Vancouver Granville, when she appeared before the justice committee that there was a concerted and coordinated campaign directed by the Prime Minister to put pressure on the former attorney general to interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
It is very clear that the conduct of the Prime Minister and his top officials is completely in appropriate, but it might be worse: It might indeed have crossed the line of criminality.
Section 139 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to, in any way, seek to alter the course of justice. That appears to be precisely what the Prime Minister sought to do—namely, to alter the course of justice with respect to the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin to get a special deal for the Prime Minister's friends.
Do members know what to call that? We can call it obstruction of justice, because that is exactly the conduct that the Prime Minister engaged in, the type of conduct that he directed from top officials within the PMO.
We have seen a Prime Minister who has repeatedly failed to be straight with Canadians as these allegations came to light, a Prime Minister who has repeatedly changed his story, a Prime Minister who, by way of an admission of guilt, has pathetically resorted to trying to change the channel by saying it was all about jobs, all about saving jobs.
What a joke. What a farce to say that it was all about saving jobs. We know that is simply not true, and the Prime Minister knows it is not true.
Why? It is because SNC-Lavalin was required to stay in Montreal for seven years, pursuant to a $1.5-billion loan agreement with the Caisse de dépôt. It could not move anywhere. It had negotiated a 20-year lease for its headquarters and had just finished multi-million-dollar renovations.
It gets worse, because two days before the Prime Minister directed the Clerk of the Privy Council to threaten the former attorney general in that fateful December 19 meeting not once, not twice, but on three occasions, the CEO of SNC-Lavalin was quoted in the very secret newspaper called the Toronto Star as saying that SNC-Lavalin was here to stay. For the Prime Minister to put forward that argument is simply just not the truth. Frankly, it raises new questions about whether the Prime Minister was trying to mislead the former attorney general as a way to put pressure on her. It provides evidence that there may not only have been obstruction of justice but that obstruction of justice by the Prime Minister had been taken to a whole new level.
In addition to being simply not the facts, it is also further evidence that the Prime Minister acted unlawfully and that his top officials acted unlawfully, because the legislation expressly precludes the consideration of jobs as a factor in whether to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement. What is more is that it may not only have contravened the Criminal Code in terms of the Criminal Code provisions that expressly preclude that consideration, but may also have contravened Canada's obligations pursuant to the OECD anti-bribery convention.
That is why officials from the OECD have said that they have sounded the alarm in terms of what the Prime Minister has done and what his officials have done, and are monitoring the situation quite closely. Therefore, not only did the Prime Minister potentially contravene the Criminal Code, but he may very well have contravened Canada's international obligations as well, and he has certainly done much to undermine Canada's reputation when we are talking about widespread evidence of political interference from the very top, from the Prime Minister, in a bribery corruption case.
The Prime Minister has said the former attorney general has had an opportunity to have her say. She came before the justice committee. The Prime Minister says that this is enough. However, the fact is that the former attorney general does not seem to believe that it is enough, because she has been able to speak about some of the events but is not able to speak about others because the Prime Minister is silencing her.
The Prime Minister is silencing her because he has refused to waive solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality for the period after she was fired as the Attorney General and was serving in cabinet as Minister of Veterans Affairs. In that regard, in a letter that the former attorney general wrote to the chair of the justice committee just before she testified, she stated:
I also draw to the Committee's attention that while Order in Council number 2019-0105, which I saw for the first time last evening, is a step in the right direction, it falls short of what is required.
When she was asked at the justice committee by the member for Milton whether or not she could tell why she resigned as attorney general and from cabinet, she said that she could not.
It is time for the Prime Minister to stop the cover-up. It is time for the Prime Minister to do the right thing and let the former attorney general speak, not just about things that the Prime Minister wants her to speak about but to speak to the full truth, the full version of events. It is time to end the cover-up. It is time to let her speak.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-03-18 16:19 [p.26076]
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Madam Speaker, what we have is a case of Liberals investigating Liberals. A former Liberal cabinet minister who was tied to ad scam, who sat in cabinet with, among others, the Minister of Public Safety, is somehow going to come in and investigate. It falls far short of anything credible, and I believe it is further evidence of a continuation of a cover-up on the part of the Prime Minister.
With respect to the first point the hon. member made about the independence of the director of public prosecutions, under the legislation, it is within her jurisdiction to make a determination about whether to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement. The fact that the Prime Minister sought to do an end run around the director of public prosecutions by continually putting pressure on the former attorney general is clear evidence of the Prime Minister's total lack of respect for and understanding of her independent prosecutorial discretion.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-03-18 17:18 [p.26084]
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Madam Speaker, the Liberals have repeatedly stated that the Prime Minister conveyed to the former attorney general that it was her decision and her decision alone to make. When Gerald Butts appeared before the justice committee, he tried to sanitize the wrongdoing and misdeeds of the Prime Minister and his top officials by saying that the only thing they were conveying to the former attorney general was the need to get an outside opinion.
Why would there be a need for an outside opinion unless the former attorney general had made a decision that the Prime Minister did not like? Could the member for Timmins—James Bay speak to that?
The evidence, based on what the former attorney general said and based on the efforts of Mr. Butts to try to sanitize the wrongdoing, confirms that there was a clear effort to alter the course of justice, as directed by the Prime Minister.
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-03-01 11:31 [p.26016]
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Mr. Speaker, it is clear the Prime Minister fired the former attorney general when she refused to break the rules or bend the law for him. The first thing he planned to discuss with his new Attorney General was SNC-Lavalin.
No one knows what has happened since, and the former attorney general cannot say anything else because of the Prime Minister's legal gag order. He is using privilege and committees to shield his own wrongdoings. She said, “...some of the questions would be answered if that information was made available.”
Therefore, will the Prime Minister remove his restrictions—yes or no?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-03-01 11:32 [p.26016]
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Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are actually using all of their tools to hide the truth.
The former attorney general has gone to great lengths not to jeopardize active prosecutions and to uphold their independence. However, the Prime Minister and senior Liberals, including the finance minister and his office, ganged up to threaten and pressure her to interfere.
The only thing the Prime Minister is really worried about is his job and his power. If he has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to fear.
Therefore, will he let her tell us all of the facts—yes or no?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-28 14:41 [p.25925]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday we heard disturbing testimony from the former attorney general of a coordinated campaign directed by the Prime Minister to obstruct justice. The former attorney general stated that there were communications relevant to getting to the heart of the truth that she cannot speak of because the Prime Minister is silencing her.
Enough is enough. It is time for the Prime Minister to immediately lift all solicitor-client privilege and all cabinet confidentiality. Why will he not?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-28 14:42 [p.25925]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and top PMO officials repeatedly allowed political considerations to trump the rule of law. Gerald Butts said, “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” Katie Telford said, “we don’t want to debate legalities anymore”. This is shocking.
Canadians deserve to hear the full truth, so why does the Prime Minister not simply let her speak?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-28 14:52 [p.25927]
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Mr. Speaker, at the heart of the conversation on women's rights over the last year has been the need to believe women. Yesterday, the former attorney general presented evidence, texts and emails that show a campaign by the Prime Minister to intimidate her into politically influencing the outcome of a criminal corruption investigation.
However, the Prime Minister is saying that we should not believe her or her evidence. Why is the Prime Minister telling Canadians that we should believe all women, except his accusers?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-28 14:53 [p.25928]
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Mr. Speaker, here are the Liberal lines on the mountain of evidence that were presented yesterday by the former attorney general: Her dad is pulling her strings. Why didn't she say no more forcefully? Why didn't she report it sooner? She experienced it differently.
Gaslighting a strong woman, especially one with a mountain of evidence, at the behest of the fake feminist who through his actions uses women instead of supporting them, sets women back. Why are not all women in that caucus, and their so-called feminist allies, calling for the Prime Minister's resignation?
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View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-02-28 18:59 [p.25960]
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Madam Speaker, I am participating in a committee review of how Canada can better share with the world, how it can deliver democracy, rule of law and human rights in a better way. Right now, we are listed among the top countries in upholding those. We are about to put a shadow over our reputation. I wonder if the hon. member could speak to that.
I have heard him share my view. As a woman who has legal training, who has been one of the most senior enforcement officers in the federal government, it was a privilege to hear such a clear testimony on the role of the attorney general and the responsibilities for upholding the rule of law. It was painful to hear the former attorney general's repeated attempts to try to explain that to the Prime Minister, to the Clerk of the Privy Council and to all their officials.
Surely there are only two things that could have occurred. Either the government of the day does not understand the role and mandate of the Attorney General and the discretion of prosecution or it is blatantly disregarding it.
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View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-02-28 20:07 [p.25971]
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Madam Speaker, I have to note that despite all the political interference in our judicial system, the Liberals and the Prime Minister stand again and again and say it was right because they were protecting jobs.
Where was this Prime Minister protecting or caring about jobs when we lost 100,000 energy jobs in Alberta? Where was the member for Edmonton Centre standing up for the jobs? What about the member for Edmonton Mill Woods or the member for Calgary Centre? Not once did they stand up for jobs.
Does the current government only care about jobs when it revolves around a company that pays it $100,000 in illegal campaign donations?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-28 20:24 [p.25973]
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Madam Speaker, it really is no pleasure to rise this evening in this emergency debate. I never would have thought to have heard the very disturbing testimony of our former attorney general.
I was there observing her in person as she came before the justice committee. Her testimony was disturbing and, frankly, explosive. It was compelling, and I have no doubt that she was telling the truth throughout. She was clear and unambiguous. She was methodical. She never wavered.
She painted a picture about the Prime Minister and his PMO. It is a pretty ugly one, a pretty sad one. We have a Prime Minister and his top officials who, at his direction, repeatedly put political considerations ahead of the rule of law. We have a Prime Minister who repeatedly attempted to obstruct justice through his top officials. We have a Prime Minister who has lost the moral authority to govern. If the Prime Minister had any honour—and I am not sure he does have any honour—he would do the right thing and resign.
It was truly astounding to learn of the concerted, coordinated campaign directed by the Prime Minister to obstruct justice. That is what happened. Let us not kid ourselves. Let us not dismiss the gravity of what has happened here.
When our former attorney general met with the Prime Minister on September 17, he raised the SNC-Lavalin issue immediately. Fair enough. She, as Canada's Attorney General, explained to him that she had made a decision and that she would not be overturning the decision of the director of public prosecutions. She also advised the Prime Minister of her role as Attorney General and the independence of the office of the Attorney General and the independence of that office in terms of her prosecutorial discretion.
However, instead of respecting his Attorney General, instead of respecting the independence of her office, the Prime Minister could not accept the answer “no”.
I will just say now that I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
The Prime Minister instead said that we need to find a solution for SNC-Lavalin—in other words, politically interfere—for certain friends who are connected in high places in the Liberal Party.
Then what happened was a coordinated campaign, with 10 meetings and 10 phone calls, involving the highest officials in this government: the Prime Minister himself, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, the Prime Minister's principal secretary, the Prime Minister's chief Quebec adviser and the Clerk of the Privy Council, among others. What took place over a four-month period was a concerted effort to try to change the former attorney general's mind, a concerted effort to alter the course of justice.
Not only is that highly inappropriate, it may very well be a criminal offence, because it smells of obstruction of justice, which is to, in any way, alter the course of justice, pursuant to section 139 of the Criminal Code.
I have been astounded that Liberal members opposite have had the audacity, and have been so shameless, to stand in their places and claim, with straight faces, that these discussions were all about doing what was in the public interest. Based on the evidence of the former attorney general, among the things that were discussed in an effort to pressure or coerce her to obstruct justice were included the Quebec election, which I am sure is in the public interest; the fact that the Prime Minister is from Montreal, which is really consistent with the public interest; the value of SNC-Lavalin shares; and that SNC-Lavalin's counsel is not a shrinking violet, as the Clerk of the Privy Council told her. Is that in the public interest?
Gerald Butts told the former attorney general that “there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.” Does that sound like the public interest? How about Katie Telford? She said, “We don't want to debate legalities anymore.”
None of those matters in any way have anything to do with the public interest. They are not factors that legitimately could be considered by the former attorney general in the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion when taking into account the public interest.
What those statements also demonstrate is the total lack of respect for the rule of law by this Prime Minister, by his chief of staff, by his principal secretary, by the Clerk of the Privy Council and others. They knew that what they were doing was wrong. They knew that what they were doing crossed the line. However, they did not care, because they thought they could get away with it. They thought they were too powerful to obey the law. They thought they would never be caught. They thought that the former attorney general would succumb to the pressure, because in addition to all these totally inappropriate considerations, she was repeatedly threatened that she would be fired. Boy, did they ever underestimate the former attorney general.
The Clerk of the Privy Council called her immediately after speaking with the Prime Minister, what a coincidence, and threatened her not once, not twice, but three times and told her that the Prime Minister was going to get his way and that there were problems with the Prime Minister not being on the same page as the attorney general. When she did not cave, the Prime Minister, at the very first opportunity, fired her as the Attorney General, all because she would not succumb to the pressure, all because she had too much integrity to break the law.
We have a Prime Minister who has a lot, therefore, to answer. It is very clear that all along, he was up to his eyeballs in this sordid affair. This Prime Minister has repeatedly been untruthful. He has repeatedly failed to come clean with the facts. He has repeatedly tried to cover this up. Therefore, he needs to come before the justice committee, under oath, and answer the questions Canadians so desperately deserve to have answered. Before he does it, he should resign.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-28 20:35 [p.25974]
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Madam Speaker, I have to say that I am a little taken aback by the comments made by the parliamentary secretary. I happen to have some respect for him. I know that he is a lawyer. In that regard, I am taken aback that he does not seem to see what has happened here.
We have a director of public prosecutions who made a decision that it was inappropriate, having regard for the factors in the Criminal Code, to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement. A notice was sent to the former attorney general. She looked at the issues. She looked at the law, and she made the decision that the decision of the director of public prosecutions was the correct one and decided not to intervene. What happened from there was a concerted effort on the part of the Prime Minister to obstruct justice. That is the issue. That is corruption. That is breaking the law, and people do not get to do that in this country, because we are a country based upon the rule of law, something the Prime Minister clearly does not respect.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-28 20:38 [p.25975]
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Madam Speaker, yes, everything I have said in this House I will say outside, and I have been saying it outside in the halls.
As far as the Shawcross doctrine goes, the member for St. Catharines is simply wrong. It does not say that attorneys general are obliged to consult with their cabinet colleagues. It states that attorneys general may consult with their cabinet colleagues in the direction of the attorneys general consulting with their cabinet colleagues, not their cabinet colleagues consulting with them.
However, what we saw was not consultation. At all these meetings, by the way, when the former attorney general said she had made her decision, what new information were the Liberals providing her? What new evidence were they providing her? Nothing. What they were doing was simply threatening her and talking to her about partisan political considerations. She kept saying that it was wrong and she was not going to change her mind. The Prime Minister said, “Fair enough”, and she was fired so he could bring in a new Attorney General to be his lapdog. It is a disgrace.
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View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-02-28 20:53 [p.25976]
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Madam Speaker, I have a very short question for the member.
We care about the rule of law. The member mentioned this, as have several other members. Through the testimony given by the former attorney general, the Prime Minister has said that there is one rule for the people of Canada and then another rule for the rulers of Canada, who happen to be in the Prime Minister's Office.
The rule of law is important because it furthers the cause of justice. I want the member to comment on this. Does it further the cause of justice for the former attorney general to be fired for making the right decision on September 17 and upholding the rule of law?
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-02-28 22:43 [p.25991]
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Mr. Speaker, on February 12, the Prime Minister said he was “surprised and disappointed” in the former attorney general for resigning from cabinet. He also said, “The government of Canada did its job and to the clear public standards expected of it. If anybody felt differently, they had an obligation to raise that with me. No one, including [the former attorney general, whom he called by her first name], did that.”
The Prime Minister also publicly said, “At no time did I or my office direct the current or previous attorney general to make any particular decision in this matter.”
However, that stands in stark contrast to the former attorney general's testimony at the justice committee yesterday. She said, “For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada”. She said, “These events involved 11 people...from the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office and the office of the Minister of Finance.” She said there were “in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails and text messages”, and “approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically about SNC” that she and her staff were a part of.
The timing is important. On September 4, the former attorney general was informed by the head of the arm's-length director of public prosecutions that the public prosecutor had decided to proceed with criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin.
On September 17, the Prime Minister brought up SNC Lavalin with the former attorney general. He admits this. She says she stated directly to him, “I had done my due diligence and had made up my mind on SNC and...I was not going to interfere with the decision of the director.”
She said that in response, the Prime Minister outlined concerns about the potential of SNC-Lavalin moving out of Canada if a prosecution proceeded, and that she was surprised when the Clerk of the Privy Council then started to make the case for a deferred prosecution agreement instead, which would require her to change her mind and interfere.
Here is where the former attorney general exposed the Prime Minister's real motivation. She said the clerk pointed out, “There is a board meeting on Thursday, September 20th, with stockholders,” and that “there is an election in Quebec soon”. She said, “At that point the Prime Minister jumped in, stressing that there is an election in Quebec and that 'I am an MP in Quebec, the member for Papineau.'”
The Liberals keep claiming that the Prime Minister's concerted pressure was a concern for jobs, but let us be real about what this is actually all about. It is that the Prime Minister will always put his political power and Liberal partisan interests ahead of principle, ahead of doing what is right and even, as we now all know, ahead of upholding the rule of law.
While hundreds of thousands of oil and gas workers across Canada, Albertans, auto workers in Oshawa and others, can be forgiven for asking why the heck he does not care about their jobs, his pressure on the former attorney general was not really about jobs in Quebec either. It was about his job.
Clearly, talking about the Quebec election and connecting his rationale to his riding, shows it is all about politics and power. I am pretty sure Quebeckers do not really want the Prime Minister to use them and their jobs and their livelihoods as an excuse for his inappropriate behaviour and his lack of a moral compass, or as a spin tool for the crisis he has created either.
However, his political considerations were repeatedly put to the former attorney general. The desk-book of the director of public prosecutions specifically excludes “possible political advantage or disadvantage to the government or any political group or party” as a deciding factor.
The former attorney general said that when she asked the Prime Minister directly whether he was politically interfering with her, he said, “No, no, no, we just need to find a solution.”
Two weeks after the decision was made by the arm's-length public prosecutor, the Prime Minister told the former attorney general that she needed to “find a solution”. What exactly is the Prime Minister's definition of direction if it is not telling his former attorney general, after she explicitly told him she was not going to interfere, that she still needed to “find a solution”?
The Prime Minister and all the Liberals acknowledge the pressure. They call it that themselves, and they do not dispute her accounts of these multiple meetings and calls and messages from multiple people. In fact, they all say it is normal, but the problem is that all those attempts are the violation. That is why all Canadians should be seized with the gravity of this unacceptable situation.
The Criminal Code says that everyone who wilfully attempts in any manner “to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice is guilty”. It goes on to say that it is a crime to engage in any conduct with the intent to provoke “a state of fear” in “a justice system participant in order to impede him or her in the performance of his or her duties”.
While the former attorney general is clearly made of extraordinary mettle, she referenced her understandably high level of anxiety in the escalating barrage and veiled threats from the Prime Minister and powerful staff and the Clerk of the Privy Council, who all refused to take her no for an answer and repeatedly pushed her to reverse her own decision and to interfere with the public prosecutor.
Tellingly, none of these Liberals contradict the former attorney general's evidence, details or specifics. Over weeks, they suggested there were multiple versions of the truth. They blamed her, saying it was her perception, and she should have acted or said something differently. I guess she was wearing too short of a skirt. They demeaned her, they questioned her competence and they claimed she is difficult.
Even today, a Liberal MP said the former attorney general's concerns were from “a lack of experience”. I am sorry, but she is a lawyer and a former Crown prosecutor, so that is baloney, and that she is not “a team player”, which of course is a pretty standard jab at any individual willing to go against a group covering each other's butts.
There's also this quote, “The way she's acting, I think she couldn't handle the stress”. Sorry, boys, but maybe he is going to accuse her of being on her period next. He said, “I think there’s somebody else behind—maybe her father—pulling the strings.” I think we can all agree that she has demonstrated one thing for sure, she is nobody's puppet.
That member dutifully read an apology after he was forced to today, just like the Prime Minister's empty words that she should have said something about these kinds of attacks earlier, but let us call a spade a spade.
It is clear to all, except blind Liberal apologists, that the Prime Minister, the leader of these fake feminists, ganged up with others and spent four months, despite clear and repeated noes from the former attorney general to get her to say yes, and when she did not, he fired her, and then all the Liberals blamed her for it.
This whole awful spectacle is a pattern of saying one thing and doing another, of putting rich powerful cronies ahead of everyone else, of refusing to take personal responsibility and blaming others, of patronizing and attacking anyone who dares to question or disagree with them, of one standard for them and their fellow elites, and another for everyone else.
It is a culture set by the Prime Minister and it is pervasive. The SNC-Lavalin investigation is now the fifth Ethics Commissioner investigation into this Prime Minister, who is the first Prime Minister in Canadian history convicted for breaking Canada's ethics laws.
There is political interference on the Davie shipyard contract for Scott Brison's friend, and withholding documents in an investigation to try to scapegoat a senior distinguished officer in an attempt to cover it up.
There were attacks on the track record of, and interference in Canada's previously independent regulator to kill pipelines based on votes and politics in certain parts of the country.
The Liberals keep saying there is nothing to see here because the public prosecution is going ahead, and Canada's institutions are intact. However, that is not because of the Prime Minister. That is only because of the moral fortitude and the resolve of the former attorney general to defend the independence of those institutions, to uphold the rule of law and to resist the repeated, consistent attempts by the highest levels of the Liberal government to bully and intimidate her into interfering.
The former attorney general says the Clerk of the Privy Council told her, “I think he [the Prime Minister] is going to find a way to get it done, one way or another. He is in that kind of mood, and I wanted you to be aware of it.” He said that the Prime Minister was dug in, in a firm frame of mind, and he was not sure what was going to happen.
She said the Friday before the Prime Minister removed her as Attorney General, the clerk told her former deputy minister about the shuffle and that, “one of the first conversations the new minister will be expected to have with the Prime Minister would be on SNC-Lavalin, in other words, that the new minister would be prepared to speak to the Prime Minister on this file.”
This raises a fair question. What about the current Attorney General? What is happening now behind closed doors? Why has the Prime Minister blocked the former attorney general from talking about anything else that happened between when she was appointed veterans affairs minister and when she resigned?
Today is February 28, and 35 years ago today, the Prime Minister's father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau took a long walk in the snow and made a decision.
The allegations against the current Prime Minister are very serious, shockingly so, and the entire senior leadership of the party is implicated in this culture of corruption: the Prime Minister; his closest two advisers, one who already resigned; the finance minister and his most senior advisers; even the Clerk of the Privy Council, the civil servant responsible for protecting and embodying the objective and non-partisan values and ethics for the entire civil service; and the current Attorney General.
The Prime Minister has lost the moral authority to govern. Canadians cannot have a Prime Minister who is willing to bend the law and bully others to bend the law for his own personal and political interest, and those of his rich, powerful buddies.
That is why Canadians need the police to investigate these serious allegations, and that is why the Prime Minister must resign.
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-02-28 22:54 [p.25992]
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Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why the leader of Canada's Conservatives called for an independent investigation and for the RCMP to investigate exactly what has gone on.
It is not just the leader of the official opposition and Conservatives who are calling for this on behalf of all Canadians who care about the rule of law and the integrity of our institutions. In fact, five former attorneys general right across the country are asking for an investigation to commence. They say:
We, the undersigned, have served Canada as either federal or provincial Attorney General.
In our shared view, ordinary Canadians, who do not benefit from political connections, have been charged under these sections with much less evidence.
We are aware of media reports that the RCMP is seized with this matter. However, we write today to urge you to ensure that you use all resources at your disposal to fully and fairly investigate any potential criminality and provide Canadians with the truth in this crucial matter, as it strikes at the core of the rule of law and independence of our justice system.
Every single one of the Liberals who ran in the last election who go on and on about their respect for institutions and openness and transparency should all be ashamed. Every single one of them should be standing up and calling for the exact same thing.
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View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-02-28 22:57 [p.25993]
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Mr. Speaker, I am confident that when Canadians observe all of this and, in their final judgment, decide whether they believe the Prime Minister with a pattern of interference, obfuscating, evasiveness, blaming others, changing a story over three weeks, and contradicting himself on nearly a daily basis, against the calm, concise, detailed, recorded, substantive testimony of an experienced lawyer, a well-known indigenous leader, the former attorney general, they are going to believe her. I think they are getting sick and tired of the Liberals blaming everybody else's perceptions and experiences for their own inappropriate behaviour and inability to do what is right.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-27 14:40 [p.25855]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the former attorney general wrote to the chair of the justice committee to indicate that the Prime Minister's order in council “falls short of what is required” in terms of sharing all relevant information.
The Prime Minister has just a little over an hour. If he truly has nothing to hide, then why will he not simply lift all solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality? What is he afraid of?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-27 14:41 [p.25855]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's order in council prevents the former attorney general from discussing her resignation from cabinet, the presentation that she gave to cabinet following her resignation and discussions that she had upon being fired as the Attorney General, all matters relevant to getting to the heart of the truth.
Why is the Prime Minister trying to silence his former attorney general? What is he afraid of?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-26 14:41 [p.25803]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the justice committee, retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond testified that public officials must be able to point to lawful authority for their actions. What lawful authority did the Prime Minister have to conspire to stop the criminal trial of a company charged with bribery? What lawful authority?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-26 14:42 [p.25803]
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Mr. Speaker, instead of respecting the former attorney general and the independence of her office, the Prime Minister launched a concerted campaign to change her mind, a concerted campaign to interfere with the independence of the office of the Attorney General. What lawful authority did he have to do that?
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-25 12:14 [p.25714]
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Mr. Speaker, Maclean's this weekend had an article that characterized the debate on this issue by saying that since its outset, the SNC-Lavalin issue has been framed as a “he said, she said”, but that more accurately, the messy scandal arising from these allegations has been “he, he, he-said”, while “she” remains silent.
To date, we have had the Clerk of the Privy Council say that there was pressure. Why is it so important for the Prime Minister to go before the committee and explain that the determination of whether there was inappropriate pressure is not his to make?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-25 13:26 [p.25725]
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Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
I rise in strong support of our Conservative opposition motion to call on the Prime Minister to appear before the justice committee, under oath, so he can answer questions about his involvement in the interference of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
As each day passes, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the Prime Minister is up to his eyeballs in this sordid affair. With each day, it seems there is a new version of events from the Prime Minister.
When The Globe and Mail article was first published, the Prime Minister hoped he could wash his hands clean of the entire matter by issuing a blanket denial. When that was not going to cut it, the Prime Minister gave a carefully crafted legal response, which stated that the decision was the former attorney general's and the former attorney general's alone. Then he said that the fact the former attorney general was still in cabinet spoke for itself. Well, the former attorney general immediately resigned from cabinet following that statement. So much for that explanation.
The Prime Minister then stated that there was no pressure exerted on the former attorney general, until last Thursday, when the Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, appeared before our committee and admitted that, in fact, there was pressure. Wernick said that we should not worry, because there was no inappropriate pressure, as if there is a distinction between appropriate pressure and inappropriate pressure. The fact is that any pressure exerted on the former attorney general is entirely inappropriate.
In that regard, I would like to make reference to the late Justice Rosenberg and his dissertation on the independence of the office of Attorney General, wherein he summarizes the Shawcross doctrine. Justice Rosenberg stated, “responsibility for the decision is that of the Attorney General alone; the government is not to put pressure on him or her.” Period, no pressure.
What we are also learning, as a result of the testimony of Mr. Wernick, is that the Prime Minister's version of events, his explanation about what happened, is simply untrue. The Prime Minister said that it was the attorney general's decision alone and that there was no pressure.
In fact, it turns out that the former attorney general did make a decision, and she unambiguously communicated that decision to the Prime Minister on September 17. Her decision was that she would not overturn the decision of the direction of public prosecutions not to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
One would expect that upon this decision being conveyed to the Prime Minister, that Prime Minister, out of respect for the former attorney general, out of respect for the independence of the office of Attorney General and the sanctity of that independence, would have left it at that and accepted the decision. However, that is not what happened.
What happened following September 17, when the former attorney general announced to the Prime Minister her decision, was a concerted campaign, orchestrated and coordinated by the Prime Minister, through his surrogates, to change the former attorney general's mind. In that regard, it is important we go through some of the important timelines.
We know that on December 5, the former attorney general met with Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister's principal secretary and top political adviser, to discuss—guess what? It was SNC-Lavalin. On September 17, the decision had been made. Nearly three months later, the Prime Minister's top political adviser is talking to the former attorney general about that decision. When the former attorney general did not appear to bow to Mr. Butts, we learn that Mr. Butts and Katie Telford, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, hauled the former attorney general's chief of staff before them to discuss yet again the SNC-Lavalin matter and the matter of a deferred prosecution agreement.
Then to make it ever so clear that they were not satisfied with the decision of the former attorney general not to intervene, the Clerk of the Privy Council, Mr. Wernick, on December 19, met with the Prime Minister. Following that meeting, he saw fit to pick up the phone and, as he put it, “check in on the SNC-Lavalin file” with the former attorney general. He further stated, “I conveyed to her that a lot of her colleagues and the Prime Minister were quite anxious about what they were hearing and reading”.
He said “quite anxious”. I thought a decision had already been made. The Prime Minister says it is her decision and her decision alone, that there was no pressure, yet what we learned is that following that decision, there were meetings involving the Prime Minister, his chief of staff, his principal secretary and the Clerk of the Privy Council. The Prime Minister can say with a straight face that the decision was hers and hers alone to make and that there was no pressure; it is an insult to Canadians that the Prime Minister would have the audacity to say that in the face of that chronology.
However, it gets worse from the public interest standpoint. As soon as the Clerk of the Privy Council expressed the anxiousness of the Prime Minister, the former attorney general went on vacation. It was Christmastime and the new year. I think she was in Bali, and before she could make it back to Ottawa, she had a call from the Prime Minister to come back to Ottawa. When she came back, she found out that she was going to be fired as the Attorney General, and she was. At the first opportunity, the Prime Minister fired her.
He said it was her decision and her decision alone to make. What we are learning is that there was only one decision that the Prime Minister would accept, which was to overrule the director of public prosecutions. The only decision the Prime Minister was prepared to accept was to interfere in an independent criminal prosecution, and until that decision was made, the Prime Minister did not care to what lengths he would go or the lengths that he would instruct his officials to go in interfering with the independence of the office of the Attorney General, and that is a very, very serious matter. That is highly problematic.
Quite frankly, it is time for the Prime Minister to come clean. It is time for the Prime Minister to be transparent. It is time for the Prime Minister to provide the answers that Canadians deserve. That is precisely what our motion seeks to do. If the Prime Minister has nothing to hide, then he should come before a committee, be put under oath—with the consequence, by the way, of perjury—and let the sunshine come in.
That is what we need: sunshine. We know that this is a Prime Minister who talks about sunshine as the best disinfectant. Let him answer.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-25 13:37 [p.25726]
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Mr. Speaker, first, with the greatest respect to my friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the government House leader, he must have missed my speech, because the evidence relayed by Mr. Wernick very clearly supported and provided additional facts and information about the lengths to which the Prime Minister went to interfere in the prosecution and to interfere with the independence of the Attorney General.
With respect to the justice committee, I respect all members of that committee. I have served with them on the committee for the last three and a half years, and that is why I have been so disappointed that its members have done the bidding of the Prime Minister's Office as part of this broader cover-up. I say that simply because they have repeatedly blocked efforts to call relevant witnesses, including Gerald Butts, including Mathieu Bouchard and, I presume, soon including the Prime Minister.
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View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-02-25 13:38 [p.25726]
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Mr. Speaker, what is puzzling me and why it merits an open review not just before the committee but likely an inquiry, is the confusion apparently held by the Liberals that there is no difference between having a discussion with the Minister of Justice and having a discussion with the Attorney General. Very clearly, they are distinct roles.
When the Minister of Justice was proposing changing the criminal law to introduce these DPA provisions to allow for deferred prosecution agreements or when the government was considering a foreign public officials act, ratified 1999, was the time to talk to the justice minister about whether it should specifically exclude consideration to economic matters, which those laws do.
I wonder if my colleague could speak to that matter. We are in a situation here in which a number of parties, including the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council and members of the PMO continued to approach the former attorney general to speak about an ongoing prosecution, when a decision had already been made to bring forward a prosecution under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, 1999, which forbids consideration of economic matters. All that has been revealed to us thus far, until they testify, is their concern about the impact on the economy.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-25 13:40 [p.25726]
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Mr. Speaker, in the last couple of days it has been quite interesting to hear the Prime Minister talking about how it is all about jobs. Mr. Wernick said something similar. I take that as an admission of guilt on the part of the Prime Minister. It was entirely improper because, as the hon. member points out, it is expressly prohibited, pursuant to paragraph 715.32(3) of the Criminal Code.
With respect to the issue of the independence of the office of the Attorney General, that could not have been made more clear than by the Supreme Court in Krieger at paragraph 3, wherein the court states:
It is a constitutional principle that the Attorneys General of this country must act independently of partisan concerns when exercising their delegated sovereign authority to initiate, continue or terminate prosecutions.
That is the heart of what is at issue.
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-25 13:41 [p.25726]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, we are here today with a motion calling upon the Prime Minister of Canada to testify under oath as to what he knew or what his role was in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
For those who are watching, who may have heard about this over the last couple of weeks, I want to break down what happened.
SNC-Lavalin is a Montreal-based company. Its description is that it provides “engineering, procurement and construction services”. It has a lot of employees in the Montreal area. It has won a lot of major taxpayer-funded, multi-million-dollar contracts from the federal government, so there are a lot of votes at stake and there is a lot of profit at stake here.
In 2015, the RCMP laid charges against this company. The charges alleged that the company offered bribes worth $47.7 million to Libyan officials, and Moammar Gadhafi's son was named in the court documents, I believe. The company is also alleged to have defrauded Libyan public agencies of approximately $129 million.
Recently we found out that the RCMP has laid out a bribery scheme here in Canada with the company, involving the $127-million Jacques Cartier Bridge contract. In this case, a federal official pleaded guilty last year to accepting more than $2.3 million worth of payments from this company. What is the cost of doing business here?
In 2015, the RCMP said, “Corruption of foreign officials undermines good governance and sustainable economic development.” This is a huge deal.
Fast-forward to this year. The company—this very wealthy, well-funded company—went on the lobbying spree to end all lobbying sprees. Imagine American-style lobbyists. It was a full court press on the government, on everybody. There was meeting after meeting with the Prime Minister's Office. They would not take no for an answer, because the company wanted to get out of this. That is the motivation here.
Why? It is because if SNC-Lavalin is convicted, the company would not be able to bid on federal contracts. That is the big penalty here. There is a lot at stake.
In the budget bill, after the company's lobbying, the Liberals snuck in something called a deferred prosecution agreement. In this bazillion-page document that had everything under the sun, the Liberals snuck in a major change to our laws. A deferred prosecution agreement, simply put, would allow SNC-Lavalin, if it went this route, to not have to go to jail or be convicted. It could just pay a fine, and then the company would also be eligible to bid on federal contracts.
This is all happening behind closed doors. It gets snuck into an omnibus budget bill, and the bill passes. However, we have something called the Public Prosecution Service, which is at arm's length, and it is the Public Prosecution Service that makes the call on whether or not this deferred prosecution agreement is used. The public prosecutor said that no, the service was not doing this and the case was going to trial.
Then the former attorney general held firm on that decision and said it was going to trial. Then, according to the Clerk of the Privy Council in testimony last week, after the Prime Minister's story on this issue has changed a million times, he essentially said that they went to the former attorney general and laid out the economic implications of what would happen if this went to trial and there was a conviction. This happened after she had made her decision to proceed.
What we are talking about here is the Prime Minister's Office and the supposedly non-partisan head of the public service standing accused of being involved in obstruction of justice at the highest levels. That is why the Prime Minister needs to testify in front of Canadians.
Let me lay out five reasons that this is so important.
First of all, keep in mind the former attorney general stood her ground after all of this and then what happened? She was fired. The Prime Minister fired her. This is a potential obstruction of justice. This is not just an ethics breach. This is not just an Aga Khan island slap-on-the-wrist situation. There could potentially be serious criminality involved in this.
Second, what message does this send? It sends a message to everybody in this country that there are two sets of rules, that there are two different justice systems in this country, in Canada, one for people who can afford millions of dollars for lobbyists and can apply pressure based on ridings in Montreal, and one for racialized communities, women, who do not have that opportunity. We can sit here and talk about all sorts of ways to deal with that issue, but that is the reality. There are many people in Canada who do not get this opportunity and that is a huge problem.
The third thing is that the Prime Minister, “Mr. Feminist”, acts like he is such a feminist and stands up for women. The Clerk of the Privy Council, at the justice committee last week, basically said the former attorney general experienced things differently when he was trying to explain whether this was “inappropriate pressure” that could be criminal. Where did we hear that before? The Prime Minister had a groping allegation and he used those exact same words: She experienced it “differently”. This is not he said, she said. As Maclean's magazine said, “It’s a ‘he, he, he-said'.” He is a fake feminist.
The Prime Minister is somebody who wraps feminism around him like a warm, fuzzy cloak to get votes and then when the rubber hits the road, when lobbyists come upon him, it is “she experienced it differently” and “she should have done something else”. That is garbage. That is disgusting. He needs to be held accountable for that in front of the justice committee. One does not get to stand up and claim to be a feminist and then do that to a woman. That just cannot be done.
The Prime Minister has also kept her silent. He has kept her muzzled and on a leash while he goes out and spins this story. That is disgusting. That is wrong. He needs to be held to account for that.
Finally, as a Calgary MP, deferred prosecution agreements are not supposed to consider economic arguments, yet the Clerk of the Privy Council said in the justice committee that he told the former attorney general about the economic argument and that a lot of jobs were at stake.
Maybe the company should not have bribed Libyan officials to begin with. Maybe it should not have bribed people for contracts. Maybe there should be a cost for doing that. Where is the economic considerations for all of the punitive policies the government has put against Albertan energy companies?
Constituents in my riding are looking at this and asking why Montreal gets deferred prosecution agreements. As we found out today, the government is considering changing the rules, so even if the company is convicted, it can still bid on federal contracts. Why are those jobs better than jobs in my riding? The role of a prime minister is to unite our country. All jobs are important. The Prime Minister should stand for justice.
This is disgusting. This is what every single one of us in this place should be standing up against, regardless of political stripe. Every person sitting on the Liberal backbench is not here just for themselves. They are here to stand up for justice and for their community. Their role is to hold the government to account, even if that government is of the same partisan stripe as they are. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where we stand for what is right or we stand for nothing at all.
The Prime Minister was wrong. He should stand in front of the justice committee and answer for the fact that he has put words in a strong woman's mouth, that he said that one set of jobs is better than another set of jobs, that he stands accused of obstruction of justice.
Everybody in this country, regardless of how we vote, stands for one thing and that is the independence of our judiciary, the fact that our country can stand tall and proud and say we do not do business the same way that other countries do. That starts today with the leader of our country. He needs to be in front of this committee and he needs to be held to account.
Every person who votes against the motion will be giving him a shield for this type of abrogation of democracy. Every person who votes against the motion should be held to account by the people in their communities who do not want to be divided on this type of garbage, and this is the stuff that can divide our country.
When, at the highest level of government, the leader of our country, a fake feminist, stands up for jobs with a company that is accused of bribing Libyans, we have to get our act together and it starts with the Prime Minister.
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-25 13:53 [p.25728]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, yelling and screaming a crock of baloney makes it no less a crock of baloney, and that is what we just heard.
For the member to stand and have the audacity to say we have a responsibility as members of Parliament, he is darn right we do and it is to stand for the rule of law. The member stood earlier today and said there was no inappropriate pressure. He just said that. He just said nothing wrong happened and we should just take the Prime Minister's word for it, who is in the middle of this. He stands at the heart of this.
The member stands here and expects all of us to just take his word for it, when his job is at stake. Do we think he is going to have his appointment if he does not defend the Prime Minister? No. Anybody in this place needs to stand against what this man just did and stand up for justice in Canada.
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-25 13:55 [p.25728]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, this is exactly why every member in this place needs to vote to bring the Prime Minister to the justice committee to be held to account. This is the man at the centre of eight million changing narratives. This is the man who has dragged the impartiality of the public service into question by allowing the Clerk of the Privy Council to tell a woman that she experienced things differently. That is what is at stake here.
The fact that the Prime Minister has not been able to answer these questions and is hiding behind his back bench, his front bench, whatever, that is where democracy dies. I am not going to allow that to happen and I do not think Canadians are either. Canadians are not going to allow this sort of garbage to happen and they are not going to allow it to happen come October. Therefore, I ask my colleagues opposite and in every corner of this place to reach around, find their spine and do what is right.
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View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-02-25 13:57 [p.25729]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, we have moments in this place where we have to decide to do what is right or what is right for ourselves. Any colleague opposite who stands up and votes against this is firmly doing the latter. On behalf of Canadians, I ask each and every one of them to not cover up for their boss and to make sure that he gets to committee and is held to account for this absolute disaster that is of his own making.
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-25 14:45 [p.25738]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, Michael Wernick testified that on December 19, he met with the Prime Minister and immediately following this meeting he picked up the phone and called the former attorney general to check in on the SNC-Lavalin matter.
What instructions did the Prime Minister provide Wernick to initiate this call?
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View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2019-02-25 14:46 [p.25738]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister conspired to stop the criminal trial of a company charged with bribery. Canadians deserve transparency. Canadians deserve answers about the Prime Minister's involvement in this sordid affair.
Again, what did the Prime Minister say to Wernick that prompted him to pick up the phone and call the former attorney general to check in on the SNC-Lavalin matter? What did he say?
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