House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lobbying.

Topics

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

To commemorate the Centennial of the Canadian Navy, I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of Canadian Maritime Staff and Commander of the Canadian Navy.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Allergy Awareness Month
Oral Questions

May 4th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties, and if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:

That in the opinion of the House, the month of May be recognized as food allergy awareness month.

Allergy Awareness Month
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Allergy Awareness Month
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Allergy Awareness Month
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Allergy Awareness Month
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Allergy Awareness Month
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Opposition Motion—Lobbying Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When the motion was last before the House, the hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's had the floor. There are four minutes remaining in the time allotted for her remarks.

The hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's.

Opposition Motion—Lobbying Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, as I said when I was addressing the House, it is troublesome that the government will stand today and boast about its record on accountability and transparency. One only has to look at the newspapers of the past couple of months to see that it has been taking advantage of this loophole to get around the rules outlined in the Lobbying Act. That loophole is that the parliamentary secretaries are not included in the act. It is simply unacceptable that the government is tolerating, even touting, a system that enables those people who know the right people to bypass the requirements of federal legislation.

Canadians are rightfully outraged by the recent media reports, which indicate that former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer had access to the Conservative government above and beyond that which would have been granted to someone who did not have connections to the Conservative Party. Former MP Jaffer was once the chair of the Conservative caucus.

Time and time again, particularly with the distribution of stimulus funding, we have seen that the government has no problem favouring its own ridings. The Conservative government has consistently demonstrated its preference for using the back door on legislative issues. We should not be surprised that it would use that same back door to bypass the Federal Accountability Act and enable lobbyists to meet with parliamentary secretaries outside of the light of public scrutiny. This should not be tolerated and the government should move on this, as is suggested in the motion by the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.

No wonder Canadians are apathetic to politics when they see the government in action. We have a situation where there are two sets of rules, one being who someone knows determining the rule book he or she follows. The transport minister put his parliamentary secretary in charge of the lucrative $1 billion green infrastructure fund. That is a tremendous responsibility for a parliamentary secretary. Just imagine the clout this carried when someone who knew him or who knew a parliamentary secretary made advances to him about accessing that fund.

Due to the loophole in the Lobbying Act, lobbyists who had the appropriate connections, including unregistered lobbyist, Rahim Jaffer, can meet with the parliamentary secretary regarding the fund without having to publicly disclose it. This is simply not right and it has to be fixed.

This is the Conservative government's own Federal Accountability Act. The government would have Canadians believe that this legislation is a looking glass that enables them to see everything there is to know about the workings of government.

If the government were sincere about its commitment to transparency, if it were truly accountable to the people of Canada, as it claims to be because that is the platform on which it was elected, it would support the Liberal motion before us today and close the loophole by including parliamentary secretaries in the definition of designated public office holder under the act.

The solution exists, but does the will? Does the will exist in the government to in fact close that loophole, to make right what is wrong today, to ensure that we never again have this situation Canadians face today. They really do not know whether the government is being accountable and transparent?

It would appear from this loophole that it is not. The government is on record as being transparent and accountable to the Canadian taxpayers. When we have a situation, such as we have seen and that has been reported on in the media, clearly the will must exist to change it.

We call on the Conservative government to make the amendments.

Opposition Motion—Lobbying Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would inform the House if she would be willing to amend the law in order to make it a requirement that any lobbyist that contacts her about an issue would have to register that contact.

Opposition Motion—Lobbying Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member opposite does not realize that he is part of the government and this is, in fact, the government's opportunity to change this loophole that exists. The government has the responsibility to act and if it wants to include anyone, it can. What we are asking today, which would be a step in the right direction, is to include parliamentary secretaries.

Opposition Motion—Lobbying Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, clearly, the Conservatives are not taking this motion seriously. They are trying to create all kinds of diversions and smokescreens all day. They have been wanting to talk about the gun registry. They want to amend the Liberal motion when it is very simple. If they are concerned about including MPs in the definition of people who have to be registered under this legislation, then it is incumbent upon them to introduce the legislation. I ask the government, where is it? Introduce it and we will deal with it at that time.

Rahim Jaffer was an unregistered lobbyist. In spite of all the rules that were set up, he was an unregistered lobbyist. He was running amok in the government. We do not know if he is the only person in that category, so I would like to ask the member, does she think that Rahim Jaffer is the only unregistered lobbyist running amok in the Conservative government trying to obtain contracts for himself and his friends?