- MPconNov 26, 2013 3:00 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
I declare the motion defeated.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 2:15 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 2:10 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
It being 5:30 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.
The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 2:05 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
I would draw to the attention of the member for Davenport that it is not proper to mention any member's name, including the Prime Minister's, as opposed to one's riding.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 1:50 pm | Ontario, Northumberland—Quinte West
Mr. Speaker, I listened to mostly condescending sarcasm over there.
One of the things I learned in my years of police experience is that the last thing one wants to do is to presume the outcome of an investigation. In this place, fairness need not raise its ugly head, but if one wanted to be fair, one does not have to be a lawyer; one need only be a fair person and allow the authorities to do their investigation. If it comes out that there is some criminal liability, charges will be laid, but the police are doing an investigation primarily at the behest of the Prime Minister.
I, for one of those backbenchers, am getting up to say that I believe what the Prime Minister has said. Members should just give the police time to do their investigation. Then, if it comes out the way the member hopes it does or thinks it is going to, the member can get up and do her skulduggery and do her thing. The member should save her head from spinning by putting her mind to some useful things and letting the police do their job.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 1:50 pm | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the question, but I would be presuming as to what I think is going on across the way.
I can only say that it is very strange that the Conservative Party would miss six slots in which they could speak to the issue, lay down the track, talk about what they need to talk about, and rebut some of the things being said here on what the RCMP has obtained from the emails. I don't understand why. The only reason I could think of is that they were told not to speak, that they were muzzled.
The only person who gave any kind of speech in the House was the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary, who obviously knows who gave him the appointment and what he is doing, and he follows the script.
It is really quite sad, because I know a lot of the members across the way and I have a lot of respect for some of them. I thought that they would want to clear the air. I thought that they would want to stand up and speak to this issue.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 1:45 pm | Ontario, Kitchener—Conestoga
Mr. Speaker, I suspect the members on that side are having a little difficulty hearing, because a number of times this afternoon I have heard the accusation that no members on this side were getting up to speak. However, just in the last hour there have been a number of us on this side getting up to speak to defend the Prime Minister. The RCMP clearly indicated that there is no evidence to link the Prime Minister to the deal between Duffy and Wright.
I cannot help but wonder if the conversation today is meant to somehow take away from the lack of support that the caucus members on the Liberal side have for their leader. Would my colleague stand up today and defend her leader's action in going into an elementary school to promote a reckless plan to legalize marijuana to elementary students?
The other question I have is this. On any given day, does this member know exactly what every member of her staff is doing? Does she have total knowledge of every staff member?
Finally, I am sure she will have a lot of time after answering those two questions to answer this one. Where is the $40 million that is still missing? There has been no accounting provided for it. I would love to have an answer.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 1:45 pm | Ontario, Davenport
Mr. Speaker, I am intrigued by the comments of the hon. member about whether or not the Prime Minister is either complicit or incompetent by not knowing what is going on behind him. Were those accusations that they were either complicit or incompetent not the same accusations that were levelled against Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien in the sponsorship scandal? In fact, somebody did go to jail as a result of that.
As we have come to discover, the Senate is being used by both the Liberals and the Conservatives for partisan political activities on the taxpayer's dime. We in the NDP put forward a motion not too long ago asking that the practice of doing partisan fundraising activities and the like on the taxpayer's dime cease. There are several Liberal senators out there who are doing that on a regular basis, and the Liberals have voted against that motion, so they seem to agree that it is a good thing for the Senate and that it is acceptable for taxpayers' money to be used for political fundraising.
Would the member care to comment?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 1:45 pm | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to comment on that point.
It really surprises me that the NDP does not seem to care about what went on in the Prime Minister's Office. The NDP members are not the slightest bit interested. Rather, they hype on about this ideological idea that the Senate must go.
The Liberals did not vote for the bill to abolish the Senate because we understand the rule of law. We adhere to the rule of law in this House. It is a constitutional requirement. That question is before the Supreme Court of Canada, and when the Supreme Court of Canada answers the questions, the Liberals will then make a decision based on what the rule of law tells us.
This idea that the NDP can cast aside the rule of law and cast aside process is somewhat intriguing, but I still want an answer to this question: does the NDP not care about what went on in the Prime Minister's Office?
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 1:25 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Drummond, The Environment.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Vancouver Centre.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 1:25 pm | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I guess one has to go over this and explain it very slowly, over and over, before the penny drops across the way with the Conservative caucus.
This Liberal motion has followed the thread of the RCMP investigation, the timelines of that investigation, with emails and affidavits that show that on February 21, 2013, the Prime Minister asked Senator Duffy to repay his expenses. Nobody has a problem with that. Everyone thinks that is fair. That is what the Prime Minister should have asked him and that is what he should have done.
Then the very next day, February 22, the Prime Minister's chief of staff wanted to speak to the Prime Minister before everything was considered final, and he did. He got confirmation from the Prime Minister's Office, according to the RCMP affidavits, that in fact things were good to go once the PM had got confirmation from the lawyers, Benjamin Perrin and Janice Payne. This is an important piece of the thread that we need to talk about.
The PM was aware that his lawyers were looking at this, that there was something going on and discussions were obviously going on between Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses.
Suddenly the amount for Senator Duffy's expenses was larger than everybody thought and then the tactic changed and it was suddenly an arrangement between Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy, when Mr. Wright paid it out of his own personal expenses.
After the $90,000, which was paid by Nigel Wright, it was found, again, according to the RCMP affidavits, that the PMO was engaged in what should be called, and what it calls it, obstruction of the Deloitte audit and the whitewash of the Senate report.
We have two other things in which the Prime Minister's Office seemed to be involved. The question is that the RCMP, looking at these emails and affidavits, concluded that it believed, according to that thread of information, that there was a violation of sections 119, 121 and 122 of the Criminal Code.
This is clear. This is not made up. This is fact. These are affidavits. The questions we are asking, and a lot of people on this of the House are asking, is this. Did the Prime Minister know about this? Is he fully aware? Some of the emails say that up to a particular point, when it comes to whether his lawyers were okay about it, that he seemed to have known and then suddenly the communication stopped. Nobody decided to talk to the Prime Minister after that. Everything just disappeared.
This is really unbelievable. It is illogical, to say the least. I am not a lawyer. It seems to me suddenly strange that the Prime Minister had his lawyers involved and then, kaboom, nobody wanted to talk to the Prime Minister after this. He did not know what was going on. He was absolutely deaf and could not hear or people kept him out of the loop. This is the question we are asking. These things do not make sense, and we want to make sense of them.
If they are simple, if they are explicable, if the Prime Minister can say this is true, why does everybody just say they have a great explanation for why the Prime Minister suddenly, after his lawyers were involved and he said “good to go”, he was shut out of everything.
There should be an explanation. If the Prime Minister is clear about all this, he could stand and say that he could explain it all. However, we are not getting these explanations. We are getting the same kind of pieces of talking points that go on and on which actually do not even answer the questions, but continue to slander everybody else in the House about what they did, whether their mother wore combat boots and whether they were in a pub one night, things that have absolutely nothing to do with the questions.
What is a person supposed to believe? It is obvious that Canadians are asking these same questions, because only two out of ten Canadians are reported as believing the Prime Minister. People are saying, “Oh, come on. We weren't born yesterday. Why can the Prime Minister not answer the questions if they are so easy to answer?”
These again are some of the things that are concerning some of us. Why can he not just answer the question, if it is clear and if the answers are reasonable and fair? Here is another thing. Why did the Prime Minister's Office intervene in the Senate? We not only heard that it intervened in terms of whitewashing a report, we also found out that people from the Prime Minister's Office were in the room when the two co-chairs of the Senate were discussing the report. It is unbelievable that the House of Commons would be there in the room discussing a Senate report with the chairs of the Senate. This House is not supposed to interfere in that place over there.
Here we go, we find this interference going on. Then again we find out that there was a question and an email flow that told us that people were asking Senator Gerstein to try to intervene in the Deloitte report so that it could be modified, moderated, whatever they want to call it. I am trying to be kind here with my language and trying not to be obnoxious with it. I am just saying “moderated” or “modified”.
However, this also is tampering. This is interfering. These are the things that we want to know.
Was there something that people wanted to hide? Why did they want to tamper with the Deloitte report? Did they want to hide something? Why did they tamper with the Senate chairs' report? When the Senate met, the committee had a report. The chairs do not usually tamper with committee reports. There would be heck to pay if our chairs tampered with our committee reports here in the House. Why would that happen there? We have to conclude there is something to hide, that there is something that is irregular and therefore people do not want it to come out.
Those are some of the questions that we are asking in the House. They are simple questions. They should give us simple answers, if everything is above board.
The Prime Minister says he did not know, and everyone in the House has said that is unbelievable, for a Prime Minister who controls every word that comes out of the mouths of his ministers, his parliamentary secretaries and his backbenchers.
We are not making this up. Backbenchers who have walked away from the Conservative Party have subsequently said that they had been muzzled, that they did not like the fact that they were being told what to say, especially some of them who came from the old Reform Party and remain there, who felt that they ran on openness and all the accountability that Preston Manning believed in. They felt in some ways that this did not sit well with them, so some of them left. Some of them refused to run again and they said why. Some of them have left and are now sitting in the House as independent members. As members heard today, they still hold a Conservative card, believe in Conservative values and want to be Conservatives. They just do not like what the Prime Minister's Office is doing, how it has muzzled them and kept everybody quiet, and how the talking points must be exactly as they are told.
This is why I must conclude, in all my innocence, that the only reason we are getting anyone answering questions or anyone standing up and saying anything in the House is that it is the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary, who has been here with his little script. He repeats his script every day and adds to it some insults for everyone else in the House, to change the channel and deflect.
The question here is simply this. Did the Prime Minister know? Most of us around here find it very difficult to understand or to believe that this Prime Minister did not know what was going on, and that suddenly doors slammed shut and communications ended on February 22 when his lawyers became involved and all of that, and he wanted to talk with his lawyers. Suddenly everything went blank or whatever happened. Whether the Prime Minister went to sleep like Rip Van Winkle and only woke up in May when this whole thing broke loose, I do not know. However, we find it hard to believe that the Prime Minister did not know.
The Prime Minister also stood in the House when he was the leader of an opposition party and asked the former prime minister a very simple question. He said that it was unconscionable, and if the former prime minister didn't know, it was incompetent. I apply that same question across the way. Did the Prime Minister know? If he did know, indeed it has to be unconscionable, according to his own words and to his own moral compass. If he did not know then it is incompetence. What CEO of any company would have his top executives, 12 of them in this case, and his right-hand man in this case, especially since he knew about it on February 22 when his lawyers were involved, carry on under his nose and know absolutely nothing about it, and tell us that he absolutely did not know?
If he did not know what was going on under his nose, then he was incompetent. In CEO-speak in most corporations in our country that would mean he would have to take responsibility for whatever the consequences were of his incompetence.
I want to remind everyone of what the Prime Minister said on page 28 of his “Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State”.
Ministers and Ministers of State are personally responsible for the conduct and operation of their offices and the exempt staff in their employ.
Therefore, whether the Prime Minister knew or did not know, he is personally responsible. He has to take the heat for whatever went on. He said so on page 28 of his own memo to ministers and ministers of state. This is his ethical code, so why is he not taking responsibility? Why is he blaming everyone else? I am not making this up. This comes out of the Prime Minister's mouth. Is the Prime Minister going to stand by his own words or is he going to try to weasel out of them somehow, and say, “I saw no evil, I heard no evil and I therefore speak no evil because it's all not about me at all”?
This is incompetence from any CEO, in a small company, a big company or an international corporation. This is clear incompetence. These are some of the questions that we are asking.
What we are asking is for the Prime Minister to be fair to all Canadians, be open and transparent. That is what his party ran on, saying that was what it was going to bring to what it considered a House full of duplicity, et cetera. The Conservatives were coming in. They were going to form government and be open and transparent and accountable.
If I had about an hour I might go down the list of all the times that the Conservatives were not open and not transparent and not accountable, starting with budgets and with the Parliamentary Budget Officer having to take the government to court, or the Privacy Commissioner having to ask them to divulge information. We have seen this. I do not have to go down the list. This is now history, this pattern of behaviour. The modus operandi of the government is to keep as much secrecy as it can.
I might add, it is a pity it cannot keep secrecy for Canadians. When Canadians have medical information and such, it seems to be able to throw that one out, but it sure knows how to keep its little backroom deals secret. I just thought I would throw that in for good measure.
We are asking the Prime Minister to, under oath, stand up and tell Canadians what Mr. Wright, or any member of his staff or other Conservative, told him at any time about the whole Duffy affair and his expenses and what happened. What did they tell him about interference with the Senate report? What did they tell him about trying to water down the Deloitte report, or whatever happened when they talked to the Deloitte people? What did he know about that? When did he know about it? He said he did not know anything about it.
We have this whole confusion from everyone around who says they do not believe him. Two out of 10 Canadians are the only ones who believe him. About 80% of Canadians do not seem to believe what he is saying. This is purely because of this man's behaviour, the fact that he has been very controlling and suddenly, on February 22, he said he was good to go provided his lawyers who were involved were okay with it. Then suddenly everything ended. It was like a chasm opened and the Prime Minister fell into it. There was nothing, a void.
This is just unbelievable. I like watching Twilight Zone with the best of them, but this is just completely and totally unbelievable in terms of this issue.
We have no questions being answered here. No one is standing up to defend the Prime Minister in the House. There are no backbenchers standing up to do that. Why not? I would hope that if they felt this was unjust they would. We are talking about defending the Prime Minister not lobbing grenades over to this side of the House. We are talking about actually defending the Prime Minister and saying, “No, we believe the Prime Minister did this”. No one is doing that. No one is standing up here to defend him, except of course the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
We have a couple of questions to ask. These questions are very simple. Let us go back, the Prime Minister continues to say that the senators are bad, the senators are all wrong, the Senate is horrible and the Senate is a bad place, but this Prime Minister embraced the Senate when he became Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister came here saying that he was going to reform it, but he did not because he was trying to reform it through the back door and not through Constitutional requirements. He could not get anywhere with that. Now, he embraced it wholeheartedly to the extent that the Prime Minister appointed two senators whom everyone knew, for the last 25 years, did not live in the provinces they were supposed to represent. Is that not going to create a problem? Suddenly these senators were going to have to find a primary residence in those places, and they did, indeed.
My colleague, the member for Malpeque, talked about how Prince Edward Islanders were absolutely embarrassed and appalled, and how the person who owned the house that Senator Duffy bought was ashamed and embarrassed that a picture of their little cottage was being seen all the time.
Somewhere at the beginning the rot began. The Prime Minister put people into the Senate to represent provinces that they had not lived in. Now they have to hurry and go find primary residences and make up stories about primary residences and bill according to primary residence. How did that happen? The Prime Minister obviously either did not know what he was doing when he did it, or he did know and he had a secondary reason for appointing these two senators. We all know what the reason was. These were the two biggest fundraisers for the Prime Minister. They went all over the place. They were celebrities. People flocked to listen to them, blah, blah, blah. We know all of that. That is common knowledge.
Here is a Prime Minister who took advantage of the situation for his own gain and his party's gain. Now all of a sudden, he did not know how all this happened. He could not understand why these wondrous people who did not live in their provinces in the first place could suddenly do such a thing. Again, it defies common sense, simple common sense, people do not have to be lawyers to understand. It defies common sense.
Why did this chain of communication end suddenly? Can someone on the backbench get up during questions and comments and answer why the door shut on communications after February 22, and left this big void. Then all of a sudden the Prime Minister found out, and it was oh, my gosh, shock and surprise, shock and awe, he did not know about it. Suddenly he found out about it and what a wonderful man like Nigel Wright had done, this good deed. The Prime Minister praised him to the skies, and then suddenly he stopped praising him to the skies and said he did not know and it was terrible.
These are some of the questions that we want to ask. The Prime Minister seemed to change his story. That is another thing. In question period, the Prime Minister, over a period of time, moving aside the RCMP affidavits and emails that seemed to implicate the Prime Minister, said he did not know yet, he could not understand how that could happen, when the emails tell a different story.
Suddenly the Prime Minister, as we say colloquially, threw everyone under the bus, including Mr. Wright, whom he had first said he reluctantly took his resignation. Then all of a sudden he had fired him. Then he went back to saying he reluctantly took his resignation. I do not know what to believe anymore. My head is spinning.
Why would the Prime Minister not agree to do this, to just openly report the truth to the citizens of this country? Why not? I do not understand the problem. I do not understand why he would not do this.
The other question I have to ask is this. If all of these people kept the truth from him, “deceived” him that way, why did he promote them to minister's offices? Why? Is this a patting on the back for a job well done? What is this? Is this a shut up and I will give you a better job? What is this? I do not know. We want answers. The motion is seeking to get those answers. I am hoping that the motion will pass, and everyone in the House believes that it is time to tell Canadians the truth.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 1:10 pm | Ontario, Kitchener Centre
Mr. Speaker, I really am compelled to comment on what I regard as disgraceful comments from the member opposite. When he takes a statement and says “the Conservatives are known to be tough on crimes, so what about Mr. Woodcock?” or when he refers to Mr. Perrin as part of a “fraud squad”, he is slurring the reputations of innocent people, against whom there has been no allegation of criminality.
Through slimy innuendo, half truths and gossip, he is in effect saying things under the privilege of the House, this august and sacred chamber, which allows us to speak freely. He is abusing that privilege to slur the reputations of others.
The fact is that the RCMP has not even suggested any criminal conduct against anyone other than Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright. The RCMP has said in black and white that there is no evidence that the Prime Minister was in any way aware of what Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright did. It has not suggested any criminal conduct against anyone else.
Quite frankly, this is a new low that I did not expect from that member in particular, who I thought had higher standards. It should be stopped.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 1:10 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
That is the second time the member has spoken directly to the members on the opposite side. He must direct all of his comments to the Chair.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 12:25 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's logic is inescapable. This is a Prime Minister who we know takes an interest in everything going on in his government. I think it is difficult for most Canadians to imagine that he did not know what was going on in his office when there were as many as a dozen senior Conservatives, some in his office and some in the Senate, who knew about and were part of this. How could he not have known, given the way he has his hand into everything? If he did not know that surely indicates incompetence and if he did know it is unconscionable.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 12:25 pm | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on an excellent presentation, but I want to ask him a question. My colleague from Malpeque earlier today quoted the Prime Minister as saying during the ad scam that if the prime minister knew about ad scam, it was unconscionable, and if he didn't know, it was incompetent.
I would like my colleague to comment on this aspect. The Prime Minister continues to say he did not know and that everyone around him was deceiving him. Is that incompetence? If he did know, is that unconscionable? It has to be one of the two, and I would like my colleague to answer.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 12:20 pm | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Superior North
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal motion is quite good and I am going to support it for sure. The member for Halifax West is always eloquent and well spoken, and he was logical today, and I thank him for that.
It is clear to most Canadians that the Prime Minister not only knew about this, but quite likely ordered the bribery and the cover-up. At least, that is the way it appears to many of my constituents. That is worrisome, to put it mildly.
However, I and many Canadians feel this is really a symptom of a more basic problem: an undemocratic electoral system; House and committee rules tailored to ensure undue control by the main parties; and especially since 1970, the requirement that party leaders basically choose the candidates and control them.
My question for the hon. member is this. Can he think of ways that we can reduce the power of the parties to control backbenchers, and even ministers, and increase democracy in Parliament?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 12:20 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is a little off the topic we have today, although I can see the link that he is making to the topic. That is fine.
He talks about the fact that the Prime Minister, he feels, ordered this cover-up. Whether he ordered it or knew of it, it seems clear that he ought to have known about it, and most Canadians think he probably did know about it.
The member goes from there to our electoral system. That is a bit of a stretch from this topic. We have had a discussion about where we would go, and I am not one of those who favours what his preferred route is for proportional representation.
Yesterday I read an article that talked about the economic situation in France these days. It talked about the inability of government to move and said basically that the government was either in the hands of the far right or the far left, that both of those groups had far too much influence, as I think can happen with that system and the coalitions that result. The government's survival can depend upon a small group with an extreme point of view. The result is that it does not move forward in a way that represents what most people want.
The fact that we are having open nominations in our party will go a long way to making sure people can choose the candidates they want, and I am sure they will.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 12:15 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, I note that my hon. colleague from Peterborough is no longer a member of the Conservative caucus, yet he is certainly defending the Conservatives here today.
Why is he no longer a member of that caucus? It seems to me it is because he has been charged under the Elections Act. I believe strongly in the presumption of innocence, so we are going to presume that he is innocent, and I wish him well with whatever happens with those charges. However, he is no position to be attacking this party about transparency in the way that he has.
What we are really talking about here today is the record of the current government and the way it acted in this event, and that is important.
It is important, in fact, that if an individual is no longer a member of the Conservative caucus, he or she shares the responsibility of holding the government to account. I can recall lots of times when we were in government when Liberal backbenchers took part in that process, especially in committees, where they acted independently and insisted that the government be held to account and that it answer questions. I can recall as a minister being asked some tough questions from my own members, not just the lob-balls we see on the other side all the time.
These are things that my hon. colleague should reflect on.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 12:15 pm | Ontario, Peterborough
Mr. Speaker, I know this member to be a very decent person, but I would like to ask him a question that goes more to the spirit of this motion.
The Liberals seem to be saying on one hand they would really like to see transparency, but on the other hand they do not provide transparency. I have been here since 2006, and I have never heard a Liberal member stand up and say, “We demand to know which Quebec Liberal riding associations got illegal sponsorship money. We would like to have Elections Canada look into this and determine it”. They have never once said that.
When at least three of their members were caught charging rent to this place, the House of Commons, and paying it to their children, which is contrary to the rules of this Parliament, the Liberal Party actually participated in covering that up by allowing the members to simply pay it back and sweeping it under the rug. The information was completely covered up and kept from taxpayers.
If the Liberals really want to have this kind of transparency, why will they not stand up and demand it of their own members? Why will they not demand accountability for Colin Kenny?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 12:00 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this opposition day motion from my colleagues down the way.
I will review a bit, some of what is worth reviewing. It is important for people to understand what we are talking about, especially when there has been a pause for question period in the debate. The motions says:
That, given the recent sworn statements by RCMP Corporal Greg Horton, which revealed that: (i) on February 21, 2013, the Prime Minister’s Office had agreed that, with regard to Mike Duffy's controversial expenses, the Conservative Party of Canada would “keep him whole on the repayment”; (ii) on February 22, 2013, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff wanted to “speak to the PM before everything is considered final”; (iii) later on February 22, 2013, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff confirmed “We are good to go from the PM once Ben has his confirmation from Payne”; (iv) an agreement was reached between Benjamin Perrin and Janice Payne, counsels for the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy; (v) the amount to keep Mike Duffy whole was calculated to be higher than first determined, requiring a changed source of funds from Conservative Party funds to Nigel Wright’s personal funds, after which the arrangement proceeded and Duffy's expenses were re-paid; and (vi) subsequently, the Prime Minister's Office engaged in the obstruction of a Deloitte audit and a whitewash of a Senate report; the House condemn the deeply disappointing actions of the Prime Minister's Office in devising, organizing and participating in an arrangement that the RCMP believes violated sections 119, 121 and 122 of the Criminal Code of Canada...
It reminds the Prime Minister of his own code of conduct for ministers, which surely applies to him. It states on page 28 that “Ministers and Ministers of State are personally responsible for the conduct and operation of their offices and the exempt staff in their employ”.
The Prime Minister is a minister. He is one of the ministers to whom that rule ought to apply, so it is hard to understand how he could think he should not take responsibility for the actions of his own staff if it were the case that we were to believe he did not know what was going on, which is a little hard to believe in his case. Therefore, the cover-up continues.
The Prime Minister's Office fraud squad have really been the authors of a scheme whereby we have seen the bribing of a sitting senator and seen it swept under the rug until the truth leaked out by CTV's Robert Fife.
I see across from me the cowering Conservative caucus members. The silence from that side today has been deafening when only one of them stood to speak to the motion. It is a remarkable thing. Aside from vitriol from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, no one else on that side has deigned to make a speech on this all day long.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 10:45 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for the best speech I have heard from him since he has been in the House. It was very well-informed and very precise.
He said at the beginning that in the Liberal motion, we asked the Prime Minister to testify under oath, and he made the point that we were under oath in the House. The problem is that we want to have answers under oath, and the Prime Minister is not giving any in the House, so we would like to find a way that the Prime Minister would be obligated to answer very specific questions. For example, who in his office knew about the deal with Mr. Duffy? Why are the people who knew still working with the Prime Minister?
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 10:45 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Superior North
Mr. Speaker, a woman named Alison Stodin, a lifelong Conservative, contacted CTV News recently and said that she was disillusioned by the party she supported for decades. In her email, she wrote:
It started in 2006. First [the Prime Minister] tried to put all of the chiefs (of staff) in place who were [Prime Minister] loyalists. Then they started planting their people in the ministers' offices at director level. Over time the ministers were marginalized and all the staff became Stepford Wives to the PMO.
Later, in a phone call, she went further, stating, “there's nobody inside anymore to stand up and say, “You can't do that, that's wrong”. She said that this was “because everybody just follows orders”. After 40 years, she is “ashamed by this sort of behaviour”.
My question for the hon. member on my side is this. What can we do to get MPs standing up and working for constituents, their conscience and Canada, instead of parties?
- MPconNov 26, 2013 10:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, as I said in an earlier question and comment, it is unlikely that will agree with many of the things the hon. member has had to say.
However, I cannot help but comment on the member for Malpeque and how odd it was to have the Liberals put him up to talk about ethics in government and ethics in expenses. This is coming from the Liberal member for Malpeque, who claimed thousands of dollars in expenses for a house he said he owned, but actually did not. He was being cheered by the member for Vancouver Centre, who is guilty of elections act charges. He is sitting next to the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, who is guilty of elections act charges. My gosh, how funny it is to have that ethical standard by the Liberal Party.
I wonder if the member opposite might comment on something. As I said, we are not going to agree on a lot of things. I wonder if he would agree with me that the fact that the Liberal Party refused to allow its leader to speak on this issue is an indictment of the fact that it does not trust him to speak not only on this issue, but on any issue. Would he, in essence, agree that the Liberal leader is in way over his head not only this, but on just about every topic that matters to Canadians?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 10:30 am | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque
Mr. Speaker, I certainly do, but only the Prime Minister can tell us for sure, and he is constantly spinning the issue himself, and those around him are trying to spin it as well.
My colleague from Guelph talked about the $32,000. It seemed okay from everything I see. The “good to go” really meant it was okay to spend $32,000 out of the Conservative fund, with the approval of the senator in the Senate. However, when they realized that it was more money than that, then it was not okay to go with the $90,000 that Nigel Wright paid privately. Both are the same principle.
Mr. Speaker, I ask you, when is a bribe a bribe? That is clearly what it was. It was a payoff, auditing of the Senate report, as a result. Now we have a massive cover-up by the whole of the Conservative Party. What we are seeing here today is not just the Prime Minister's Office anymore. It is the whole of the backbench along with it.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 10:25 am | Ontario, Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock
The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North is rising on a point of order.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 10:25 am | Alberta, Medicine Hat
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise to speak to the motion. I want to point out that in no way do I condone senators for taking illegal funds they are not entitled to, including Mac Harb, who in fact took more than any other senator.
I am surprised that the Liberals are “holier than thou”. We know they had illegal robocalls. We know they have taken illegal donations for their leadership. We know they have taken illegal brown envelopes, transferring moneys to their Liberal ridings through the ad scam. I find that totally surprising, and the prime minister at the time, Jean Chrétien, said, “What is a couple of million dollars among friends?”
I am still wondering, and I ask my colleague from Prince Edward Island this. Can he honestly tell us where that $40 million is that is still missing from ad scam?
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 10:25 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Superior North
Mr. Speaker, I am trying to listen to the hon. member. The heckling from the Conservative side is not only disrespectful but it makes it impossible to hear.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 10:25 am | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque
Mr. Speaker, as colleagues are saying here, that is the only line the member has.
I will say that in terms of anybody in the Prime Minister's Office, and in the previous government—
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 10:05 am | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque
Mr. Speaker, I might say at the beginning that I would not be too worried about the accusations from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, because he would not know the truth if it hit him in the eyes.
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this opposition day motion. The key point of the motion is that:
...the House call upon the Prime Minister to explain in detail to Canadians, under oath, what Nigel Wright or any other member of his staff or any other Conservative told him at any time about any aspect of any possible arrangement pertaining to Mike Duffy, what he did about it, and when.
That is the context of the motion. That is the important part of the motion. What the opposition motion really does, I believe, is give the Prime Minister an opportunity to clear the record, if he has nothing to hide.
Comments expressed by his parliamentary secretary, however, lead me to believe that the government will continue the cover-up. It is interesting, as my colleague previously said, that in this debate, the only person who is allowed to speak on the government side is the parliamentary secretary himself.
There are a lot of good people on the backbench of the Conservative Party. There are. I have to ask them if they are under orders not to speak. Do they not care about the scandal in the Prime Minister's Office, this group that came to Ottawa on accountability and transparency? Are they fearful of standing in this place and asking the Prime Minister a question? In the Conservative government, have accountability and transparency just gone out the window in what is now clearly not just a cover-up in the Prime Minister's Office, but a cover-up by the whole Conservative Party of Canada and its entire backbench? They are all party to this cover-up in trying to protect the Prime Minister.
It must be difficult for backbench MPs who came to this place on a law and order, tough-on-crime agenda to swallow themselves whole. It really must be difficult. I sympathize with them that they came on here on a law and order agenda and now they are swallowing themselves whole.
Yes, there are laws, and they need to be abided by, but not by those in the Prime Minister's Office, that is for sure. Being tough on crime clearly only applies to others and not themselves when it comes to this particular government under the current Prime Minister's leadership.
If it is a youth from a broken family or a mentally ill person who has got in trouble and broken the law, everything we have seen in the Conservative government is punishment, punishment, punishment, and the harsher the better. The idea is to throw them in jail, practically, and throw away the key.
However, when it comes to government folks, some of their own, it is an entirely different story. In this case, looking at this issue in its simplest terms, it is bribery, fostered by the highest office in this land, the Prime Minister's Office, and that is okay. It is okay to the backbenchers over there. Influencing the buying privileges of senators and sanitizing a Senate report are okay. That bribery is not a crime to Conservative backbenchers, and they do not seem to want any answers.
Let us recall again what I said a moment ago about the Federal Accountability Act. The Conservative government may have had great intentions and it may have passed the Accountability Act, but it sure does not follow it. As far as transparency goes, every Canadian knows, except seemingly those on the backbench over here, that this is the most secretive government in Canadian history.
There are lots of areas where laws do not seem to matter to the Conservative Party. We have the in-and-out scandal, the robocalls, the Duffy-PMO scandal, and the list goes on.
I want to recall the words of this Conservative Prime Minister to a former prime minister and ask members in the governing party if these words apply to this Prime Minister . He said that if the Prime Minister knew about the scam, it was unconscionable, and if he did not, it was incompetence.
Does that statement not apply to this Prime Minister? That statement certainly does.
Let us imagine this: his chief of staff knew, but the Prime Minister did not. About a dozen people, his closest advisers, knew, but the Prime Minister did not. The head of the Conservative Fund knew, and was willing to pay the bribe as long as it was only $32,000. That is the head of the Conservative Fund, a senator appointed by this Prime Minister. He knew, but the Prime Minister did not.
An audit of Duffy was sanitized at the request of close advisers to the PMO, a circle of them, and with the full co-operation of the Prime Minister's leader in the Senate; a second senator, his former communications director; and a third loyal senator. This neat little trifecta of three closest loyal senators knew about the changing of evidence, fostered by a buyout, a bribe in the Senate, but the Prime Minister did not know.
Does that not really stretch reality? I certainly think so. Do Conservative members expect us to believe that the Prime Minister did not know? That is incredible.
Let me come back and re-quote that statement. It was that if the Prime Minister knew about the scam, it was unconscionable, and if he did not, it was incompetence.
I ask members on the government side, those who are sitting there with their lips zipped, which is it? It has to be one or the other.
Let us go back to the real reason the Senate scandal has landed on the Prime Minister's desk. The Prime Minister made the appointment in the first place, in violation of the residency requirements. Why did he do that?
When we think about it, we realize why. Many in the country, many of the legal and constitutional experts, believe what the Prime Minister did in the appointment of Wallin and Duffy was a violation of the Constitution. I certainly believe it was.
Senator Duffy is supposed to be my senator. He lives in my riding. However, he certainly does not represent Prince Edward Island; he represents the Prime Minister's voice in coming back to Prince Edward Island to tell them what they should do.
I have not heard Senator Duffy speak out on EI. I have not seen him in the coffee shops, talking to the people affected by employment insurance. He is a messenger for the Prime Minister in Prince Edward Island. That is not the way it is supposed to be, which is the other way around.
On this issue, as on other issues, the Prime Minister clearly just did not care. He just did not care about violating the Constitution of this country that we in this Parliament are supposed to represent. I can say to all those quiet backbenchers over there who were sent here with an obligation to represent the country that when the Constitution is being violated, they obviously do not care either. They stand and they cheer on the issue as the Prime Minister defends himself in an unconscionable cover-up.
What was the real objective of having two high-profile media types appointed to the Senate? A government member can correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was to have those senators, because they were well known in the media, go out and spin the message. Recall, they were the two key fundraisers within the Conservative Party for awhile. I believe they co-chaired the last Conservative convention before the one just about a month ago. I believe that a year or two ago they co-chaired that convention. They were the high and mighty, but now the Prime Minister is throwing them under the bus to try to cover up his own involvement in terms of the bribery of the Senate and the auditing of a report.
I vividly remember watching the program, and I can recall Senator Duffy sitting on his little stool in the media-type atmosphere, interviewing the Prime Minister, looking him in the eye and asking him tough questions with only invited guests in the audience, all the Conservative lawyers. The whole idea behind the thing was to make it look on TV like this was the Mike Duffy of old asking a Prime Minister tough questions. Really what it was all about was spin, trying to manipulate and manoeuvre Canadians into believing the Prime Minister's message. That is what it was all about. It was spin, and nothing else. That is one of the reasons the Prime Minister appointed Mike Duffy. The Prime Minister violated the Constitution in terms of the residential requirements to appoint these two media-profile people to go out there and really, in effect, abuse the trust of Canadians by providing spin for the Conservative message and the Conservative song.
When these folks were appointed, can members picture the gaggle of advisers, the hangers-on around the Prime Minister's Office as to whom they should appoint and how they should do it? The Prime Minister was probably advised that it could be a violation of the Constitution. However, the Prime Minister probably said not to worry about it, that he did not care about the Constitution and that they needed these people for a purpose, to sell the Conservative message on what the Conservative government was doing, in everything from its cutbacks on services to Canadians to its attack on seasonal workers to whatever we can name, to provide the spin to try to massage the message. Therefore, the Prime Minister went with the appointment.
I would even go a little further. Maybe the parliamentary secretary can tell me if this actually happened. He was not parliamentary secretary then, but he might have been in the meeting. Can members imagine that first meeting of the Prime Minister with Senators Duffy and Wallin? As I said, the parliamentary secretary can tell me if I am right or wrong, but I expect this is what was said: “Pam, Mike, go out there and sell the message. Do the fundraising for the Conservative Party and bill the Senate”. Was that what was said? “Bill the Senate and do it at the taxpayers' expense”.
I know Mike Duffy well. I have known him for years. He is a visitor to the province from time to time. He has a fictional residence in Green Gables, so I know him well. He took his orders well. I will not get into the wording of what Senator Duffy said in the Senate on this issue. He thought he had permission to bill the Senate. He maybe never looked at the rules, but I expect he was told by the Prime Minister to just bill the Senate and everything would be fine. Now we know it was not fine.
Really, only the Prime Minister can tell us if that is what actually happened to get these senators in this kind of trouble. I would think the Prime Minister and his minions on the other side would see this as an opportunity. For the Prime Minister , if he has nothing to hide, it is an opportunity to come forward and clear the record. I think that would be a good thing.
As a member of Parliament from Prince Edward Island, this entire scandal concerning Senator Duffy, the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Office has been one that has had a direct impact on residents in my province. It really bothers me when I read in the press or I see in the nightly news, night after night, Prince Edward Island Senator Mike Duffy, then the scandal, then the expenses and all that kind of stuff. Prince Edward Islanders are so embarrassed. I have had people call me from Vancouver asking what is wrong with Prince Edward Islanders. They did not realize that, from our point of view as Islanders, Mike Duffy is not our senator. He is the Prime Minister 's senator.
It is a real problem. As I said, this is the Prime Minister's senator, not Prince Edward Island's.
As for the previous owner of that cottage, seeing the cottage on the news nightly with this kind of scandal, for which the Prime Minister has to accept responsibility, it brought the daughter of the previous owner near to tears in talking to me. She said if her dad saw that cottage held in the light that it was on the nightly news, he would be very saddened. That is as a result of the Prime Minister appointing a senator who is not actually a resident of Prince Edward Island and then abusing that privilege and that trust.
Let me sum up and close by rereading what we are really asking for, and that is that:
...the House call upon the Prime Minister to explain in detail to Canadians, under oath, what Nigel Wright or any other member of his staff or any other Conservative told him at any time about any aspect of any possible arrangement pertaining to Mike Duffy, what he did about it, and when.
I see it as an opportunity to come forward and come clean, to stop the cover-up, to explain to us how a dozen people in his office knew and he did not, how his chief of staff knew and he did not, how senators down the hall knew about the whitewashing of the Senate report and he did not.
Either it is a scam that he knew about or it is absolute incompetence. However, he is the Prime Minister of this country and he does have to accept responsibility for decisions made in his office. That used to be the tradition in this place, and the Prime Minister should accept that responsibility and abide by the motion. I expect the Conservative backbenchers should like to see him have that opportunity, where we could have accountability in this place and those backbenchers could support it, the way they did when they talked about it in the last election. That would be quite a change.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 10:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, why are the Conservatives unable to answer any questions about what happened in the Duffy-Wright-Prime Minister saga? Why are they avoiding any question on it and speaking about everything else?
Why is there only one member of the Conservative Party who is willing to speak on that today? Are they in a position where they cannot say anything positive about what the Prime Minister did in this affair? Is it that they do not want to discover the truth? Do they not think it is a responsibility to help Canadians discover the truth? Do they think it is their responsibility to hide the truth? These are the questions I ask of my colleague after his very excellent speech.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 10:00 am | Ontario, Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock
Order, please. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 10:00 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, it is odd hearing the member for Vancouver Centre talk about reading documents. She must have read the Canada Elections Act before she decided to break the rules with respect to her leadership expense debts, which she has not paid back.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 10:00 am | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
I did not break the rules. Read the ruling.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 9:55 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:55 am | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on an excellent speech. I want to ask him a particular question.
I have noticed, and he has noted, that the Conservatives have now had three slots in which to put forward a speaker. They have not. The only person who seems to stand up to speak or to ask questions or to do anything at all is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
It is interesting. The only reason people are so tightly scripted and secretive about everything they are going to do is that they are afraid that someone will make a mistake. Does the hon. member think that is so?
Second, the Prime Minister's Office actually gave to many of its ministers a guide, which, on page 28, said:
Ministers and Ministers of State are personally responsible for the conduct and operation of their offices and the exempt staff in their employ.
The Prime Minister has said that, what, 15 of his staff had deceived him. Should he not be responsible for this? Should the buck not stop with him?
- MPconNov 26, 2013 9:45 am | Ontario, Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock
Before we go to questions and comments, I just want to clarify that the member for Kingston and the Islands actually was mistaken. He has a 20-minute time slot to be followed by 10 minutes of questions and comments. There are eight minutes remaining. I do not know if he wishes to retake the floor or proceed directly to questions and comments.
The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:35 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, sunlight is the best disinfectant out there. I credit the member for the things she did earlier, the same thing we did, on proactive disclosure and that sort of thing which is buried meteorologically.
Again, I am not a real meteorologist but I played one on television.
The mauzy conditions due to the weather of Newfoundland and Labrador always cleared up to be sunny due to one thing: the passage of time. With the passage of time, we, too, will get better answers, or at least we hope to, which is what this debate is all about.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:30 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, I have to rise to that occasion and see how this goes. There is a word in the Newfoundland dictionary called mauzy, M-A-U-Z-Y. It describes a weather phenomenon. I used to be a TV weatherman so I kind of know what I am talking about.
Anyway, mauzy usually occurs in the morning. It is like a thick grey fog with a bit of rain in the air so it is very obscured and very hard to see. Visibility is reduced dramatically. What I am getting at is that within the Prime Minister's Office it is very mauzy. The visibility has been reduced dramatically. We cannot see a hand in front of our eyes. That is the word mauzy. It is a bit rainy and a bit wet. It is very uncomfortable in the PMO. Therefore, to say that the greyness that surrounds the PMO is mauzy is an understatement.
I enjoy what the member said. I also appreciate the fact that there are so many contradictions involved here.
Let us take a look at Mr. Hamilton, another lawyer. The PM has defended the actions of his party and its lawyer. If he has no problem with what Hamilton has done, he should have no problem testifying before a court where real answers can be given rather than 15-second talking points. That is pretty mauzy as well, if we think about it. There is a greyness around that area. There are so many lawyers involved here who are doing what are considered substandard ethical things, one gets a little awry upstairs. We start to understand exactly what is going on.
There is the mauzy that takes place within the PMO. I want to thank my colleague for bringing that up. Any more words? I am kind of running out of a dictionary.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 9:30 am | Ontario, Hamilton Mountain
Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to the comments by the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor. As one might expect, I was a bit surprised and interested in his comments about the Newfoundland dictionary. I want to ask him about that dictionary because there are some words that have been used in the House where the meaning is not entirely clear to me.
On this side of the House, we have been asking the Prime Minister about the investigation into the Prime Minister's Office around the Wright-Duffy scandal. Clearly, we know that the RCMP is involved. We know that questions are being asked of a number of staff members in the Prime Minister's Office. We do not know who else is being questioned by the RCMP but we do know that the PMO is involved. However, when we rise in the House to ask the Prime Minister a question about the investigation to get some clarity so that the Canadian public can understand what the breadth and scope of this investigation is, which I would argue every Canadian is entitled to as we are talking about the money of Canadian taxpayers being at stake here, he responds by saying that there is no investigation. Therefore, people are being questioned, the RCMP is doing the questioning, but apparently there is no investigation.
I wonder whether the member could turn to his Newfoundland dictionary and tell us what the definition of an investigation might be. Perhaps that would help us answer a question that the Prime Minister refuses to answer.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:25 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, the member wanted proof of the leader of the Liberal Party doing his job and asking about this. We offered to table it earlier but he said no. Therefore, I am not sure what he wants.
I will say this. At the beginning, the member said “elevate the debate” and I used a term with the word “fraud” in it. My apologies. He is absolutely right. Sometimes what can happen in the course of debate is that we get carried away. However, we have to be a measure above what people expect so that we can say that it is probably not the right terminology to use. If the member was offended, I apologize.
What he did talk about was the lone person involved in that situation, in that office. The recent documents that were tabled were talking about what the RCMP discovered. How can we look at this now and say that only one person was involved? That is just not possible. It is to the extent now where I am flabbergasted to think that somebody was the lone individual in all of this, the fall guy. Nigel Wright started out as the saviour of the Conservative Party. Now he is the biggest sleveen we know within this area.
Does the member who asked the question still believe there is only one person involved in all of this despite all of the evidence we have?
- MPconNov 26, 2013 9:25 am | Ontario, Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock
Order, please. Before I go to the member, I would remind all hon. members that it is not acceptable to reference who is or is not in the chamber at any time.
The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 9:25 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech. He started off talking about how upset he was, how when he was in government he did not like the course of debate, and he thought we could elevate the debate. Then he goes on in his speech. He talked about four individuals and coins them, in his attempt to elevate the debate, the “fraud squad”. These are people, of course, who have not been accused of anything and who are not the subject of any investigation.
He talked earlier on in his speech about how we should be more respectful of each other. The Prime Minister has said that he did not know. The RCMP documents on page 72 outlined that the RCMP do not have any evidence that the Prime Minister knew anything about this. The member does not accept this at face value. The Prime Minister said he expected more from his staff. The Liberals do not accept that at face value. Nigel Wright has said that he did not bring the Prime Minister into his confidence on this. They do not accept that at face value.
As we go on and on in the report, every time there is something that shows that this Prime Minister worked with, co-operated with and assisted the RCMP, the Liberals never accept it at face value.
My question, ultimately, to the member is this. If it is such a priority for the Liberals, why is it that day in and day out their leader sits on his hands and does not make this a priority? Why is he not in the House? Why is he sitting in his place in the House not directly making the case for this?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:20 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Sure, let us use Mexico. It is the same sort of difference; the person dealt with is gone. That is how malfeasance works, but that is admitted to.
To my hon. colleague who intends to interrupt my speech, I did not mean to interrupt her interruptions of my speech. I apologize.
However, that was the case. The light was shone on that and actions were taken. For this one, where is the spotlight?
Here we have a situation where it is not just one person anymore, it is several. The story unravels, the details come out and the documents come out. Let us just have a look at it for what it is. It is people behaving badly. People not behaving in the way in which Canadians expect them to behave.
I would leave with this thought. In 2006 I was in government. The Conservative candidate at the time put a flyer in the mail to every person in my riding. They said the worst thing one can do is not keep promises. Well, that is a good point.
However, here is a worse one. Since then we have seen this many times by the government. Not only did the Conservatives break the promise they made, but they continue to try to convince Canadians that they kept it when they know that they did not. When will the Conservatives practice what they used to preach?
- MPconNov 26, 2013 9:20 am | Ontario, Newmarket—Aurora
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:05 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being recognized in the House today in support of this Liberal motion.
I would like to, at this point, start my speech by talking about the narrative that is talked about not only here but when it comes to public discourse, public discussions. I speak of politics, of course, but I speak about politics in the general sense of what we do here, which is to enable the discussion to be centred right here, at this focal point, because this is what Canadians are talking about.
A lot of people would say the issue we are debating today is not germane to everyday goings-on, the machinations of how we live and how we operate as a society. The economy, yes, jobs, yes, as we have talked about, and crime are all important products of this place.
However, I will say this. We also compel our politicians to strive to be the utmost in ethical behaviour.
We have heard it. Many people in this House have either been accused or have been brought to a court and found guilty over the years. Many have admitted their guilt. Many of them have been found guilty. Some of them have been found innocent of all accusations.
However, this is the type of discourse we have here. This is the type of conversation we need to have to get to the bottom of the matter as to what behaviour took place in the office, funded by taxpayers, the office we put trust in every four years, via a ballot box, being the democracy that we are—the greatest democracy, I might add, in the whole world.
Let me go back to the narrative. The narrative of the story is that we expect public officials to strive to be the most ethical individuals and, also, to be the caretakers of our finances, of our taxes, to exercise authority in this office to ensure they are doing it at the utmost level of the ethical standards and, of course, to do it as any reasonable person in this country would expect them to.
Let me go back. Let me flash back for a just moment to when I first arrived here in the House of Commons. It was 2004 when I arrived here in the fall, for the first time. I sat on the other side of the House, in the Liberal Party, which was government at the time.
What I faced was an absolute barrage of angst, hatred and accusations, some true, some not, but the hatred and the vitriol that was in this House was palpable and was incredibly thick.
Flash forward a few years and we found ourselves overturned in an election. We then, at that time, sat in the opposition.
I heard it on the doorstep during that 2004 period, but a lot of this vitriol and a lot of this hatred was put forward by the opposition parties of the day, including, I might add, the current government. Many of those people are in this House today.
However, a lot of the people who are in this House today, I would even say the majority of the people in the government in this House today, were not here at that time.
I hear the argument, every time we lay out what has happened and we say to Canadians and we say in this House, in public discourse, “Look. Here is the situation that happened within the Prime Minister's Office. It is something that is substandard. It is something that does not measure up to the ethical expectations of this country”, and we get back, “Well, the Liberals did this back then” and “But back then, you did this”, without answering the question.
My response to this is always that if the government can only say to us what was done in the past, as opposed to what we are dealing with in the present, then it proves that the government has become everything it said it would not be.
There we have it, the narrative that goes from then to now.
The problem with many politicians today, sometimes me included, is that we need to own up to what was done wrong. We need to tell ourselves that there has to be a time when we reflect upon what we say, what we do and the actions we take, and ask if they are up to the standard of what a reasonable taxpayer and citizen of this country would expect. I would say that in many cases we do not and turn a blind eye.
What bothers me the most is that when we turn the blind eye by avoiding the topic and talking about something else, we have to make one base assumption, which is that the citizens watching this today did not notice or that the citizens watching today do not care enough to listen to the specific questions. What a sad mistake that is when we campaign, do television commercials, tweet the nasty stuff and simply say, “If you think what we did is bad, look at what you did”, and the argument goes back and forth—to use the vernacular, “I know you are, but what am I”, as said by many four and five year olds. We pretend Canadians do not even notice, but they do. We do not give the average citizen in this country enough credit for being intelligent enough to read between the lines.
Yes, by the way, before the question comes, I will follow my own advice and try to measure up to a standard that was given to us to be sitting here in the House of Commons. Can anyone imagine how many citizens in this country would dream some day of standing or sitting in this place where we are today, my friends? Let us make this debate about an ethical standard that we feel is not up to par. Let us make this debate about an ethical standard that we strive to be. However, in doing that, we have to point out that there are people among us—and I am including all parties—who do not measure up to this, given the trust of the public. There are people who are given the trust of the public who need to be looked at. We need to shine a spotlight on their actions and come up with answers. We talk about judicial inquiries. They are expensive and they take time. Sometimes they are necessary. The problem is that many times we have to realize that this is a forum that taxpayers pay for and their voices need to be heard.
The motion today was brought forward by my hon. colleague from Beauséjour, in New Brunswick. We talk about the recent sworn statements by the RCMP, Corporal Greg Horton. They reveal that in many cases the ethical standard was not reached, which is putting it mildly, and some cases that ethical standard appears to have been subverted.
On February 21, the Prime Minister's Office had agreed, with regard to Mike Duffy's controversial expenses, that the Conservative Party of Canada would keep him whole on the repayment. This is the type of conversation that took place. What exactly does that mean? We try to pontificate as to what exactly that means, and I am sure the average Canadian does. In other words, how do we protect an individual who has—pardon the vernacular again—fallen off the rails when it comes to ethical standards?
On February 22, the Prime Minister's chief of staff wanted “to speak to the PM before everything is considered final”. Later the same day, February 22, the Prime Minister's chief of staff confirmed, “We are good to go from the PM once Ben has his confirmation from Payne”.
My hon. colleagues have already discussed the details, names and faces, colleagues like the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. What I want to focus on again is the narrative, and the narrative is about how these actions do not measure up to the ethical standard, which was not met.
Agreement was reached between Benjamin Perrin and Janice Payne, counsels for the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy. The amount to keep Mike Duffy whole was calculated to be higher than first determined, requiring a changed source of funds from Conservative Party funds to Nigel Wright's personal funds, after which the arrangement proceeded and Duffy's expenses were repaid.
Let us go back for a moment. As citizens, we have the right, thank goodness, because we are the best democracy in the world, to not only vote for a particular party, its beliefs, ideals, ideology, but we also have the right to donate money to help them communicate that message to the masses.
As a Conservative Party fundraiser, certainly as a donor, if I were, imagine my dismay and shock to realize that my money went to Mike Duffy to say this is something for him to walk out and look good while doing it. It is particularly galling, to say the least. It got to a certain level where even Senator Gerstein could not handle it anymore. That threshold was gone. He had a certain threshold and a certain amount of money, but he just could not go any further.
Certainly when it climbed close to $100,000 and the personal cheque was written, I ask the people watching this at home or in the gallery to imagine that someone we barely know has done something wrong so we are going to reimburse them with a cheque close to $100,000 and by the way, that is from our account. Imagine that. We might do it for our children, but certainly not for someone we barely know. The narrative goes to the fact that there is not just one person in on this. There is a network of people involved in keeping this from the spotlight. That is the narrative that fails Canadians.
I know the Conservatives are going to talk about the past and about certain things that happened in my party in the past, but the point is that we go through the process of getting to the answers, which is what in 2004 we did to find the answers to make sure it did not happen again.
This morning I attended a briefing with the Auditor General, a fantastic exercise, highlighting the inefficiencies of government, even though it had the best of intentions. For example, we talked about issues of meat inspection. We talked about examples of border guards. We talked about the example of online services that need to be centralized and more accessible to people of all walks of life from everywhere in the country, whether it is urban, rural, east, west or north. However, these are inefficiencies in the system that start out with the best of intentions.
We want to engage citizens across this country by using online resources. Yes, it saves money and allows people to do it any time of the day. We know people are busy travelling back and forth to work, not just from a small geographical area, but many people in my riding travel from Newfoundland and Labrador to Alberta on a bi-weekly basis, or around the world to Russia, to Africa. They want their services to be online.
I bring this up by way of example because the inefficiencies that we have right now started out with the best of intentions. Is that germane to this debate? Yes, it is because this situation we are dealing with today did not start with the best of intentions and it got worse and worse. It pulled more and more people in. It became a situation of not just inefficiencies but of some substandard ethical actions taking place.
I certainly believe that the motion today not only highlights that, but also looks at ways that we can fix it.
Let us have a look at some of the other details in this. The Prime Minister has given contradictory responses to the House of Commons, that we know. To the people out there watching today, we know exactly what it is we are talking about. Did he quit? Was he fired? Originally he quit. He is a nice guy, a good guy, means well. A few months later it was, he was fired.
There is a word we use in Newfoundland, called “sleveen”. It is someone of sub-ethical standards, and I am being kind. They are usually described in a much harsher way. They basically sleeveened the guy. If nothing, I hope we have learned a new word today from the Newfoundland dictionary: sleveen, someone of substandard ethical values.
Basically they have pointed out that this man is the sleveen of the most sleveen nature. I do not even know if that makes sense. I am trying to illustrate the point by saying that everybody in this country is talking about it. Everybody wants to know what is happened here, because they do not want to see it happen again.
The RCMP court filing also paints a disturbing picture of the entire PMO senior staff. The “fraud squad” engaged in the whitewash of a Senate report. Now we are going back to the other side with the whitewashing of a report that looks at this and says that there are people involved here, calls made from people on the board of the internal economy to the senator involved in the actions.
The conversation went like this, and this is why everybody is talking about it, because everybody understands this part. I am not a lawyer and when we look at some of this stuff, the vernacular of what is written down in legalize, sometimes it is hard to understand. Here is what is easy to understand. They wanted to get rid of the part or fix the part that shows that Senator Mike Duffy claimed per diems, claiming money because he was working in Ottawa on the very same day he was in Florida.
Now that I get, any Canadian can get that, anybody watching today can get that. Someone claimed money for doing their job in Canada while finding themselves in Florida. I doubt if anyone would even consider Florida the 11th province.
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:05 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, it is a shame, because he has no proof against these individuals. They are honourable people.
The member missed an opportunity to answer the question. He tried to deflect to others. Even if he were right that we Liberals are as awful as he is describing, it does not give him the right to be as awful as that. Each time they try to describe others as awful, they do not deflect the fact that they are in trouble.
The trouble is that the Prime Minister is keeping people who, according to this affidavit, lied to him. So whether he knew what was happening and is not saying the truth to Canadians, or whether they lied to him and he is keeping them working with him, which is complete nonsense, we need to have clarification. All the mud my colleague may send to others will not change the fact that he is only dodging question after question.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 9:05 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member the same question: Why is it that he sits in a caucus with the members for Kings—Hants, Wascana, York West, Guelph, Westmount—Ville-Marie, Malpeque and Vancouver Centre? I could go on and on.
These are all people who, one way or another, have either been accused of wrongdoing or have been found guilty of wrongdoing, either with their expense accounts or with respect to Elections Canada rules. If the hon. member has such high standards, I wonder why he sits in a caucus with so many people who have broken so many rules. I wonder if he is going to call and ask them to resign their seats in the House of Commons.
- MPndpNov 26, 2013 9:00 am | Ontario, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, I do not see that gentleman as a henchman. I see him as a duly elected member of Parliament doing his job.
I must say I was surprised to see so many Conservative MPs willing to risk or even sacrifice their personal reputations over this scheme that has come out of the PMO. I am reminded, and I am sure the member who just spoke is reminded as well, of the l970s, when a particular saying oozed out of Washington. It was called “plausible deniability”. This is the worst of times in this place because of that type of attitude.
However, my question to the member is this. He has listed off repeatedly the number of people in the Conservative Party from the PMO and from other places such as the Senate who are involved with putting together this scheme. Would he deem that to have been a conspiracy?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 9:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, everybody knows that is not correct. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister himself knows it is not correct.
He is showing an admirable imagination to not answer questions. However, I do not have admiration for that. I do not think he should sleep very well today and in the coming weeks, because he should do his best to get the truth from his Prime Minister, and he is doing his best to hide the truth in answering nothing except the very basic questions.
I repeat my question, which will have an answer before the end of today: Why are people who were aware of the cheque to Duffy still working for the government? Why?
- MPlibNov 26, 2013 8:55 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, I have no problem tabling the attendance list if he has no problem tabling the questions. Why this selective request? It is always the same.
The point is not that questions have not been asked; it is that answers to the questions have not been given. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister once again failed to answer questions.
I asked specific questions in my speech. I asked why David van Hemmen is still working for the government since, according to the Prime Minister, he did not tell the truth. He did not tell the Prime Minister what he knew about the $90,000 cheque. Why are Patrick Rogers, Chris Woodcock, and Senator Gerstein still working for the government? That is a very simple question, and we do not have an answer. The Conservatives do not want to answer because it is very likely they have something to hide.
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