House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was care.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the commission has heard months and months of testimony from numerous witnesses. Admittedly, there is conflicting testimony but we can pick whatever version we want and it is all bad. Not one version has anything actually good to say about the Liberal Party.

Compounding that is the evidence that has now been submitted in documents that could not be refuted. We have heard from the forensic auditors who have confirmed the paper trail of Jean Brault, the president of Groupaction, who confirmed that envelopes of cash and suitcases of money went to the Liberal Party.

The reason it is important that everyone in the House support this motion is to make it crystal clear that the commissioner has the ability to name names and assign responsibilities.

This commission is different than any other commission we have had. The others all related to public policy, whether it was Krever or Somalia. This is the first time we have had a commission where millions of dollars have gone to a governing Liberal Party. Therefore it is imperative that responsibility be assigned and names be named.

Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member to clarify the language for all who are watching the proceedings. I believe there is an insinuation in certain words, such as “to assign responsibility and name names”, which also means to be identified as being guilty of a criminal or civil offence. The words are very carefully crafted and I want to be sure that everybody understands.

If the member is going to suggest that naming names and assigning responsibility means finding out who is guilty and naming who is guilty of offences, maybe he should apologize to the House simply because if someone is going to be found guilty of any criminal offence or civil liability, that individual would have had access to due process under the rule of law and had an opportunity to call witnesses in his or her defence. That person would have to have been charged in the first place and been part of a process. We have to separate this idea of assigning responsibility. It could not in this particular inquiry conclude guilty of a criminal offence.

I will ask the member very sincerely to please explain to this place, in the clearest terms he understands, whether or not he interprets assigning responsibility as being guilty.

Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely ridiculous to even suggest that. The only place that can assign guilt to a criminal offence is in a court of law and it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not what we are suggesting. Some people are facing criminal charges now as we know and there may be more.

What we are suggesting is that Justice Gomery have the ability to name names and assign responsibility. If subsequent further actions result, then so be it, that is what needs to happen. People need to be held accountable, whether it is a civil action that is beyond a balance of probabilities or whether it is a criminal action that is beyond a reasonable doubt.

However what we are getting to is the fact that there is a much higher standard for elected officials. We have a duty of care as members of Parliament. I would argue, from the litany of testimony and evidence that we have heard before Justice Gomery, that standard has been breached. I think it is imperative that Justice Gomery name names and assign responsibility. We are not talking about criminal responsibility. That would be in a separate action and it has to be done before a court of law. The same thing goes for civil action.

What we have heard in the evidence is unrefuted. No one has ever denied that millions of dollars went into the Liberal Party. I believe elected officials were involved and a lot of the evidence suggests that.

I believe the duty of care is so much higher as we have a higher public trust. That has been breached and that is what we are talking about.

We are asking the government to amend section (k) to read:

That the House call on the Government to amend section (k) of the Gomery Commission's terms of reference to allow the Commissioner to name names and assign responsibility.

People need to be held to account. Yes, criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt and yes, a civil suit is a balance of probabilities, but I would argue that elected officials have a much higher duty of care and they have breached that. Justice Gomery has heard a mountain of evidence. Yes, there are some conflicts but we can pick any version we want and it is uniformly bad. The Canadian people have every right to be outraged and they want to get to the bottom of this.

Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on the first supply day that we have been granted due to the stalling of supply days by the Liberal government. This is the first one we have had a chance to get back in the groove on and it is a great day for Canadians.

In the tremendous job Justice Gomery is doing we are going to see section (k) changed in his terms of reference. Right now that really handcuffs him in his final report. I know we have struck a nerve because I saw the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Works on television this morning talking about how this would disable Gomery, how procedurally it would be unfair and unjust to witnesses, and that this was not a court or tribunal but an inquiry.

However, if that is the case, why are they so concerned with Justice Gomery naming names? All of the witnesses have given sworn testimony before Justice Gomery. These are not allegations any more. Certainly, there are some cross purposes here as we see one faction of Liberals try to point the finger at another faction of Liberals, but the bottom line is they are all Liberals. This is a Liberal crisis, not a Canadian crisis. It should not even be a government crisis. The Liberals have taken another $1 million of taxpayers' money to set up a war room to counter a lot of the negative media reports coming out of Gomery.

As the public works critic, I took this to heart when a lot of this broke a couple of years ago. We received a tremendous number of anonymous brown envelopes with undocumented and unsubstantiated claims. It is amazing to watch what has happened at the Gomery inquiry over the last six to eight months and much of the testimony coming forward. Those names are there; the dollar figures are there. It is amazing how accurate those brown envelopes were.

We were not able to use them because we could not substantiate them, but now we are seeing those same names and numbers coming out of Gomery. It really speaks to the fact that there is a lot of credibility in that inquiry, which we called for months before the government got around to calling for it.

The Prime Minister gets some credit for calling Gomery, but let us look at the chronology that led up to that. We started in November 2003 when the Auditor General came forward with a scathing indictment of what was happening at the sponsorship program saying there was over $100 million that did not have any value for taxpayers' money. But no one saw that report.

The government received that report in November. It quickly prorogued the House due to a little leadership contest that happened over there. It actually went on for 10 years and culminated in November, but the report did not see the light of day until February. The Liberals had it for three months to clean it, sanitize it, and actually put their spin on it. We finally saw the Gomery inquiry called later that spring just before the election.

The Gomery inquiry did not start. It was actually held in abeyance until September. Justice Gomery had holidays to take. He had a couple of trial procedures that he was working on that he had to finish up. Basically, the Liberals bought some time. They came back here with a minority government. Canadians took this scandal to heart. The polls at that time said 66% of Canadians believed that all politicians were crooked.

That paints us all with that same brush and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who just spoke, talked about the public trust. That is what is so important about letting Justice Gomery name names, trace the cash, and actually prepare a report to that end. We are not seeing that with the way he is handcuffed under section (k) and the way the Liberals set this up.

The public works minister stood in his place one day during question period and said that section (k) is standard in any inquiry. Maybe it is, but not in a case where public money has been abused and misused to this extent. Then section (k) becomes a roadblock to getting to the bottom of this.

As Justice Gomery gets to the end of his witness list and starts to think about putting together his report, it is incumbent on us to take those handcuffs off, to let him get to the bottom of this, and actually name some names, put them on paper. He is not going to ascertain guilt at that point. He is going to say that this is where his allegations lie because these people have come forward and this is what is being said about them. He must be able to do that.

That sets the stage for the criminal investigations to follow after the Gomery report. The witnesses will get their day in court again. This is all sworn testimony that can be used again. He has been very careful with publication bans on several of the civil servants who are facing criminal charges, but there are always political masters when it comes to bureaucrats.

We have a problem here. Either the minister of the day, and there have been several at Public Works, did not have a clue of what the department was doing, which is incompetence, or the minister was involved at the political level and then we have a whole new problem.

These guys took it serious enough that they brought Alfonso Gagliano home from Denmark. They had him over there in the witness protection program. However, he came back and he sang like a canary when he got before Gomery.

We saw these folks come before the public accounts committee, which the existing Prime Minister shut down and would not allow to go any further saying that Gomery would take over when the public accounts committee was doing a great job. I sat in on some of those meetings. We had guys like Chuck Guité before the committee. He did not see anything, he did not hear anything, and he did not know anything. I could not for the life of me understand why we kept this guy on the payroll. If he did not do anything, did not see anything, and did not know anything, what was he getting paid for?

It turns out that under Gomery's cross-examination and testimony this guy was the linchpin, or one of them. However, he did not do it in a vacuum. No bureaucrat has access to $355 million and is able to funnel it out there as was done. It just does not happen.

Then we see other folks come forward and testify that they had Liberal staffers who were paid for with cash. They had them on their payroll on a cash basis doing work for the Liberal Party in Quebec. That is a total misuse of taxpayers' money.

We had a little hiccup in Saskatchewan a number of years ago under then Premier Grant Devine. There was $180,000 of party communications money, not public money, and not to the same extent that we are talking about here. We are talking millions here. That took that government out of existence. That party does not even exist in Saskatchewan any more.

However, these guys are so busy trying to hide from the fallout from this because they are so concerned about their Liberal Party future, and they should be because they are going to wear this into the next election and beyond.

Under the Gomery inquiry, we have seen that they have run the last three elections using bad money, dirty money. They are saying that there should be no ramifications and that Justice Gomery should not be able to name names. They are saying to keep them hidden and send them all to Denmark. How many ambassadors can we use? It just goes on and on. These guys just want this public inquiry for the media spin. They have set up a war room with $1 million of taxpayers' money to counter the negative spin that is coming out.

I do not think the Gomery inquiry would ever have happened if the Liberals had come back with a majority government. I think Justice Gomery would have had the shortest job in history. He never would have started. However, with a minority government, they had to go forward with it. Now they are starting to face the wrath of public opinion out there. They are dropping like a rock in the polls as more and more people see the degree of the tainted money and the way it was followed through.

The firm that is investigating this, Kroll Lindquist Avey, an American firm, are the guys that got to the bottom of the Enron scandal. They tracked down Saddam Hussein's money. Now they are in Canada. That speaks to the degree of this. They are saying they are stymied in some of their reporting by the roadblocks set up by the government. There are criminal charges facing a few folks. The government is suing some ad companies for $41 million worth of money because it says there was no work for those dollars.

We talked about that years ago. We remember the three sets of photocopies that was done for $500,000 a pop. Three pages were photocopied three times for $1.5 million. The Liberals were saying there was work for money at that time. They were trying to hide behind that. If we were to go back in Hansard , we would see where the government was trying to justify what happened. Now it is saying, “Oh, my God, this thing was off the rails. It was just a few rogue people taking advantage of the largesse of the Liberal Party”.

Can members imagine somebody taking advantage of the Liberal Party in government and using taxpayers' money in that way? There is no political connection here. That is what they would like us to believe.

If that is the case, why were we hiding a former public works minister in Denmark? Why do we have a litany of them rushing through here? Nobody wanted the job. It was the kiss of death to take that on. They all know how corrupt a cesspool it was.

Justice Gomery needs every tool available to him when he starts to write that report. He needs to be able to name names. He is not going to assign guilt, but he is going to be able to name those names and turn that over to the RCMP for the proper investigation that this merits.

Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is anybody in this place, or those watching, who would question whether or not Justice Gomery is going to name names. Clearly, in a public proceeding that has been in the newspapers for months names are going to be mentioned in the report. I think the context of what the member has been talking about is more about assigning guilt.

I believe the member is going to find that the Gomery report will in fact identify who made what allegations and who was responsible in the context of accountability for certain actions and activities, but will not comment on whether or not there is guilt or innocence with regard to something that would require the due process of law.

Has the member checked with legal counsel to determine whether or not a change in the mandate of Justice Gomery may lead to a charge by some persons involved in that inquiry to say that since the mandate has changed, this must all be redone? These individuals may now want an opportunity to defend themselves because we are now doing something different than what they were told in the first place. Has the member checked this? Is he in fact absolutely sure that he is not going to jeopardize the Gomery inquiry?

Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, members opposite cannot have it both ways. They argue that this is not a courtroom, so it cannot be binding and we cannot name names. Then they hide behind the fact that it is only an inquiry, so we cannot name names. The hon. member opposite asks if this will disable Gomery? Of course it will not. This is all done in his report. He will not ascertain blame, but he will be able to name names. Let me read section (k) again. It says:

the Commissioner be directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization and to ensure that the conduct of the inquiry does not jeopardize any ongoing criminal investigation or criminal proceedings;

All we are saying is that we should take out the terms that say “without expressing any conclusion”. Justice Gomery must be able to follow the money trail like everybody else. He must be able to connect the dots. Everybody is innocent until proven guilty in this country. No one is going to jail the day Gomery presents his report, but the report from Justice Gomery will set the stage.

He has done the groundwork. The RCMP will not have to go back and reinvent the wheel. He will be able to carry on from that point. This will actually enhance the Gomery report, not take away from it by any stretch of the imagination. The members opposite would love to say that this will somehow disable Gomery.

The public works minister is announcing today that he is coming forward with his own motion. If that is the case, why did we not do it six months ago? Why did we put section (k) in to begin with? Why did we jeopardize the outcome of the Gomery inquiry by handcuffing Justice Gomery to begin with?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties concerning the debate that is scheduled for later this day on a motion from the member for Nunavut concerning the adoption of the third report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I believe that you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That today's debate on the motion from the member for Nunavut and the amendment from the member for Kitchener Centre concerning the third report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development be deemed to have taken place, the questions deemed to have been put, recorded divisions requested and deferred to the end of government orders on Wednesday, June 8.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has head the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Supply
Government Orders

May 31st, 2005 / 10:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for the fact that the official opposition can bring forth any debate for a motion. After a week of being in my riding, an awful lot of people spoke to me about issues other than Gomery. They spoke to issues about the trouble seniors are having in this country, the difficulty farmers and forestry products people are having. They spoke about our fishery people, our people in the mining industry and about workers who are unable to write off their expenses for going across the country.

Although I have respect for what opposition members do and they are correct, the fact is that the Liberals will be judged on the Gomery inquiry eventually and people will have their day.

However, of all the issues facing Canadians, from farmers to students to seniors and to everyone else, I am wondering why members of that party thought that this was the most important issue to discuss, even though the inquiry is still ongoing, and all the other issues facing Canadians seem to fall by the wayside for now. I would like the hon. member to answer that question.

Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has a supply day coming up too and I am sure its members will address that hodge-podge of issues he is talking about.

Certainly, there are other issues out there. There is no doubt about it. However, this is basic public trust. The Liberals no longer consider the House relevant and until we get to the bottom of it, clean it up, and begin to rebuild that foundation of public trust, it will not happen.

Let me speak to the NDP wish list for a minute. Let us talk about the magic beans budget that it attached to the other one. There is nothing in that budget about the funding problems in the equalization formula. That speaks to all of the provinces across this country, other than the Atlantic accord, especially to Saskatchewan, my home province. It did not say anything about agriculture, coast to coast. There is nothing in that budget that the NDP attached about agriculture. I take no lessons from that member on what is a priority in the House.

Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the opposition day motion about the Gomery commission.

First, the Gomery commission is doing very important work. I know the hon. member opposite just said that the Prime Minister deserved credit for having established the Gomery commission, and that is true.

I am proud of our Prime Minister for having the guts to establish the commission and give it the resources necessary to get at the truth.

Frankly, it seems the Conservatives are now trying to tarnish the reputation of the work that Justice Gomery is doing by trying to discredit the very strong and significant mandate that Justice Gomery has been given.

The opposition day motion suggests that the Gomery commission should have, in the final days of testimony, its mandate changed such that the Gomery commission would have the ability to name names and assign responsibility.

The Gomery commission and Justice Gomery already has the authority to name names and assign responsibility.

It would seem that the motion is either redundant or mischievous. I am tempted by the notion that it could be mischievous. It either speaks to the Conservatives' ongoing contempt for the court system and the judicial process or to their desire to tarnish the work that Justice Gomery is doing in anticipation of a report that will be balanced and that will judge our Prime Minister fairly and reasonably as someone who has conducted himself honourably.

On February 19, 2004, by order in council, the sponsorship inquiry was created under part I of the Inquiries Act with Justice John Gomery appointed as the commissioner. He was asked to make a factual inquiry, investigate and report on questions raised directly or indirectly by chapters 3 and 4 of the November 2003 report of the Auditor General.

The Conservative Party misunderstands clause (k), a clause that says the following:

the Commissioner be directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization and to ensure that the conduct of the inquiry does not jeopardize any ongoing criminal investigation or criminal proceedings;

Let us consider that.

For a start, clause k is also consistent with many examples from other inquiries.

The same wording is present in the Arar inquiry under Justice O'Connor. It is the number three term of reference for the Ipperwash inquiry set up by the Conservative government in Ontario. It was there as well in the Walkerton commission set up by the Conservative government in Ontario. It was part of the terms of reference for the Stonechild inquiry set up set up by the NDP government in Saskatchewan.

Clause (k) is also consistent with what the courts say about inquiries and the criminal justice system. For example, here is what the Federal Court of Canada said about the Somalia inquiry, “A public inquiry is not equivalent to a civil or criminal trial”.

The Supreme Court ruling in the case of the Attorney General versus the commission of inquiry on the blood system ruled that several basic principles were applicable to inquiries. It stated the following:

A commission of inquiry is not a court or tribunal and has no authority to determine legal liability...A commissioner accordingly should endeavour to avoid setting out conclusions that are couched in the specific language of criminal culpability or civil liability.

Again it would seem that the Conservatives lack an understanding or perhaps a respect for the judicial process and the court system.

There is obvious difference between inquiries and criminal prosecutions. Still, let us be clear. Justice Gomery can indeed name names and draw conclusions as to responsibility and as to whether there has been misconduct on behalf of any individual or organization.

Let us look at what Justice Gomery himself said in his opening statement for his inquiry, and I quote Justice Gomery directly:

According to s.13 of the Inquiries Act, which will be discussed in more detail later, I am entitled to draw conclusions as to whether there has been misconduct and who may be responsible for it.

Later Justice Gomery elaborates on how he will determine accountability and the extent to which specific individuals failed to carry out their responsibilities, and again I quote directly from Justice Gomery:

--whether there was political influence involved in the activities and, if so, by whom, to what purpose, and to what effect...whether any person or organization in the Government of Canada gained an advantage financially, politically or otherwise from the activities and, if so who, to what purpose, and to what effect;

It is curious that the mandate is sufficient for Justice Gomery to say emphatically that he has the right and intends to exercise that right to name names and assign responsibilities. It is good enough for Justice Gomery but it does not seem good enough for the Conservatives.

Let me again quote from what the Supreme Court said in the Krever case:

A commissioner has the power to make all relevant findings of fact necessary to explain or support the recommendations, even if these findings reflect adversely upon individuals. Further, a commissioner may make findings of misconduct based on the factual findings...

Inquiries are designed as a tool to help us get to the truth about wrongdoing or misconduct in the administration of a government.

There is a further reason why there must be a difference between a criminal trial and a public inquiry. Individuals cannot participate freely, openly and honestly in a public inquiry if they fear that the inquiry itself will name them as being criminally responsible with the threat of criminal prosecution to follow.

Clause (k) simply ensures and protects individuals testifying in a public inquiry from this type of self-incrimination, something that is a legal right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then again, we know where the Conservative Party stands on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I believe this is an example of a misunderstanding and/or contempt for the independence of the judiciary, the court system and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Remember that is the party where the member of Parliament for Abbotsford said last year “The heck with the courts. Serious flaws exist in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. Any party that seeks to govern our country needs to at least understand the laws of the land.

The key point is that public inquiries by design are not aimed at replacing or superceding the criminal or civil justice system. Again, they cannot find anyone guilty of a criminal offence or make a finding of civil liability. Besides, there is already parallel processes in place currently that are working well to do exactly that.

There are criminal investigations. Charges have been laid against several individuals who are now awaiting trial. There are nineteen charges against Paul Coffin, six charges against both Jean Brault and Chuck Guité, one against Jacques Paradis. In fact, I believe Paul Coffin earlier today pled guilty. We do not want to interfere with those criminal proceedings and we ought not to do that.

The hon. member for Central Nova, who has in the past been a crown prosecutor, ought to understand how troublesome it would be if, as a crown prosecutor, a case against an individual was jeopardized by an inquiry that was seeking to involve itself in assigning criminal or civil liabilities.

At least a few months ago he understood that principle. This is what the hon. member for Central Nova said to the Toronto Star last year about the terms of reference for Gomery. He said:

Well, they're certainly broad. There's no denying that the early indications are that the terms of reference will allow people to go where they have to go.

The member for Central Nova was right then and that is why the Conservative Party is wrong today.

Also a civil action was filed in the Quebec Superior Court by our government on March 11. This action is aimed at recovering $41 million from 19 firms and individuals. All along we have said that this can be amended to reflect new claims and defendants if supporting evidence is found or comes out of the hearings before the sponsorship inquiry.

We are reviewing the forensic reports from Kroll Lindquist. Not only do they affirm the validity of our claim against these firms and individuals, but they also allow us to seriously consider amending and augmenting that claim in the near future.

There is another important reason why we should not change the terms of reference for the Gomery commission—a reason that touches on basic fairness as well as justice.

To suddenly change the rules, to change the terms of reference of an independent judicial inquiry could mean in fact starting over from scratch and redoing the entire hearings. After all, every single witness has appeared before Gomery under specific rules exempting him or her from being named as criminally responsible or being threatened with criminal prosecution as a result of the person's testimony.

In fact, any change to the terms of reference whatsoever would allow individuals who have appeared and have provided testimony in good faith before Gomery to say their testimony is null and void because the rules have changed in the final days of testimony. It is a fact that both the inquiry and the government would be exposed to legitimate legal action by individuals who, in good faith, appeared before Justice Gomery according to the terms of reference of the Gomery inquiry and the mandate of that inquiry.

It is ludicrous to think of redefining the mandate in the final weeks of Gomery testimony. To take action that would jeopardize the good work that Justice Gomery has done would mean delaying justice. Justice delayed is justice denied. It would also mean spending more hard-earned taxpayers' money when in fact Canadians have confidence in Justice Gomery and in the mandate he has.

Canadians understand that Justice Gomery has the right to name names and assign responsibilities. In fact we as a government affirm and support that right and look forward to him doing exactly that. We have criminal actions and civil actions to recover funds, and we have Justice Gomery who can indeed make findings of misconduct against individuals. More important, he can recommend actions to make certain that this kind of unacceptable behaviour cannot happen again.

It is a matter of finding facts but most important, it is about lessons learned and recommendations on how to avoid a repeat of the same unfortunate situation in the future. We intend to use the recommendations of Justice Gomery, his prescriptives, to strengthen the governance of this country and to benefit taxpayers for generations.

I would like to quote Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto, who said, “Public inquiries play an important role by helping us see the social, political, economic and organizational factors that play a role in wrongdoing and which must be changed if wrongs are to be prevented”. That is exactly the point. Justice Gomery is going to give us a blueprint to prevent this type of activity from ever happening again.

This attempt to amend clause (k) is redundant and frivolous, or simply mischievous. It is all about making a concerted attempt, in the final days of the Gomery inquiry, to try to cast some seeds of doubt about the work of Justice Gomery, to cast a pall over the important work that he is doing. It is obvious that the Conservatives have now realized that in fact Justice Gomery could present a balanced, fair and tough report but one that will not provide the kind of blanket recriminations that the Conservatives would like to see. The fact is the Gomery report will identify individual wrongdoing, and we are confident he will conclude that our Prime Minister acted honourably.

The Globe and Mail said recently in an editorial, “Despite the opposition's attempts to tar the Prime Minister with the sponsorship brush, there is nothing so far to suggest that he himself did anything wrong”. The National Post said, “The Prime Minister's relationship to the sponsorship program appears tangential at best”.

The Conservatives want to discredit Justice Gomery and discredit his report before it even comes out.

The Conservatives want to cast a pall over the work of this commission. The fact is that if they have an understanding of the laws of the land, they will realize that Justice Gomery already has the right to name names and assign responsibilities. In fact, by the time Justice Gomery reports, the criminal courts may have already passed judgment on the criminal liability of some of the players involved in this situation.

I say let Justice Gomery do his work. Let him finish the important work he is doing on behalf of Canadians. I would like to present a motion we are tabling today to underscore our confidence in Justice Gomery's mandate. The motion reads, “The House confirms that with reference to the Gomery inquiry, the commissioner has the authority under the Inquiries Act rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada and his existing terms of reference to name names and assign responsibility”.

The fact is if the Conservatives simply want to ensure that Justice Gomery has the right to name names and assign responsibility, but at the same time to avoid changing the terms of reference that could disable the work that he is doing, it would be appropriate for them to work constructively with us to support this motion and to affirm once again that Justice Gomery has the authority to name names and to assign responsibility.

Canadians want us to make this Parliament work. This is a constructive motion that seeks to affirm the intent of the Conservative motion and at the same time not jeopardize the work of the Gomery commission.

Supply
Government Orders

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

During his remarks the minister mentioned that he would like to propose a motion, but we are already debating a motion and it is not within the rules to propose another motion. He could propose an amendment if he had the consent of the member for Saanich--Gulf Islands, but it was not worded in the form of an amendment and so it is not receivable at this time. Perhaps the minister would like to talk to members opposite.

Supply
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am going to mention a few names. They may disagree on details, but these individuals have confessed to serious wrongdoings: Corriveau, Béliveau, Corbeil, Boulay, Lafleur, Gagliano, Renaud, and many others.

People in the province of Quebec who have been following this very intensely know two things. Those individuals have confessed to serious wrongdoings, a massive conspiracy to defraud taxpayers of this country. More individuals have confessed. They may disagree on detail, but they have confessed to that. This is not testimony; it is their confessions. The second thing people in Quebec understand is that every one of those individuals is a Liberal. They include three executive directors of the Liberal Party of Quebec.

The minister should know that he is totally wrong in saying that Justice Gomery has a free hand to say what has happened is a massive criminal fraud against the taxpayers of Canada. The terms of reference do not allow Justice Gomery to make that finding. He is talking about the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin with his technical arguments. I know the minister has no legal training, but he is trying to make people believe that he has some great legal mind.

There is a big difference between what he is saying and what Justice Gomery can say. When Justice Gomery is finished he should have the freedom to say that a massive criminal fraud was perpetrated against the Canadian public by the Liberal Party of Canada. The terms of reference do not give him that power. I am quite sure that if he even tried to move in that area, people in the party opposite would be the first ones to go to court to file injunctions to try to restrict his ability to do so.

Will the minister tell me whether Justice Gomery has a free hand to determine whether the Liberal Party was involved in a massive criminal and civil fraud conspiracy against Canadian taxpayers? It is a straightforward question.