House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am glad we had comments and a question from my colleagues over in the Liberal area. When we are talking about scandals, I do not think we can talk very long without going back to the mother of all scandals, which is of course the sponsorship scandal. It was proven, not alleged, that members of the Liberal Party pocketed taxpayer dollars, put them into Liberal bank accounts, stealing money from the Canadian taxpayer through the sponsorship program. That is not an allegation. That is rock solid proof.

If the member truly wants to enhance and elevate the level of debate on today's motion, he should merely stand, or at least one of his colleagues who has more knowledge of the sponsorship scandal, and tell Canadians where the forty million bucks are.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, listening to the Conservative and Liberal Parties accuse each other of corruption is like listening Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone trying to find out which one of them stole more from each other in the 1930s.

The bottom line is the Conservative government transferred money in and out for the purpose of avoiding legal spending limits, and that is the difference. The Conservative government continues to stand and say that it transferred money in and transferred money out and other parties did it as well. Other parties did do it because that was legal. What is not legal is to do it for the purpose of avoiding a national spending limit.

When the Conservatives hit their $18 million ceiling nationally in 2006, they transferred money to local campaigns to pay for national ads, therefore exceeding national spending limits by a further $1 million. That is why they have been charged.

If the other parties had done the same thing as the Conservatives, why is it only the Conservative Party officials from the 2006 campaign that find themselves charged and facing a year in jail or $25,000 fines?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, that is a question we keep asking Elections Canada. We would like to know that as well. In 2004 every party engaged in identical transactions between national and local campaigns, every party and everyone was in compliance with the electoral law in 2004.

In 2006 similar practices occurred, but it was not until following the conclusion of the 2006 election that Elections Canada said that it had examined the law regarding the transfers between national and local campaigns, that it had reinterpreted the law and that it had determined that perhaps the Conservative Party might be in violation.

Had Elections Canada informed all parties of its new interpretation of the law, prior to the 2006 election, perhaps we would not be in the situation today. We have said fully that we readjusted our practice before the 2008 election to comply with the new interpretation of Elections Canada because we finally got some guidance as to its expectations. Unfortunately, it did not do that before the 2006 election.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, Taxation; the member for Gatineau, Democratic Reform.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to discuss the motion that we moved this morning. First, I would like to say that I will share the time I have with the member for Outremont.

Contrary to what the member for Saint-Boniface says, it was not rhetoric that we included in this morning's motion. We ourselves did not decide that the Conservative Party had violated the Elections Act and the Access to Information Act. Nor did we decide ourselves that the government had broken the law when it came to telling the House the truth.

We moved this motion because we had proof and because the Speaker of the House himself showed us yesterday that, in two of these cases, we had reason to doubt the accuracy of what we were told in the House.

As for election fraud, it has been proven that even Conservative members from Quebec made claims for amounts of money that belonged to the people of Quebec, because these members represented Quebec. They were not entitled to the money they received to run in the election. Because they were not entitled, they should have to give it back.

We are not the ones who decided this; it was the appeal court. I think that the appeal court judges are smart enough to know the difference between election fraud and an in and out transfer. The member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre tried to make us believe that all of the other parties took advantage of the same scheme, but I must point out that we never submitted false invoices and we did not request any refunds from the Chief Electoral Officer. That is why we were not accused of anything. What we did was legal. The Conservatives are under investigation because what they did was illegal.

I would also like to remind members of some rather comical incidents. If we look back, we should have seen this coming. We should have already been thinking that something was not right about what the Prime Minister was telling us when he was in the opposition. For example, on June 18, 2004, LCN reported that the Conservative leader had adopted a brand new slogan to appeal to Quebeckers: “Un gouvernement propre au Québec”, while the slogan of the Bloc Québécois was “Un parti propre au Québec”. Already, the Prime Minister was confused and was trying to use our good idea for himself.

On another occasion, he also said that he thought people should elect a cat person because if you elect a dog person, you elect someone who wants to be loved. If you elect a cat person, you elect someone who wants to serve. He said that in an interview with Kevin Newman on Global National on April 5, 2006. He could have also said that if you elect a cat person, you elect someone who likes to serve himself.

And even before he destroyed everything that was happening at Status of Women Canada and before he destroyed the hopes of women in this country and in Quebec, Andrée Côté, the director of legislative reform at the National Association of Women and Law, which had to shut down because its funding was cut, wrote this on January 18, 2007:

Exactly one year ago, to the day, January 18, 2006, in the midst of an election campaign, [the Prime Minister] declared:

“Yes, I'm ready to support women's human rights and I agree that Canada has to do more to meet its international obligations to women's equality. If elected I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women.”

On the federal election date of January 23, 2006, his party was elected to office. In spite of its minority government status, the government was quick to set in motion a series of policy decisions that have sent a resounding message, namely: that women’s equality and the promotion and protection of their human rights is not of concern to this government.

To finish up with the anecdotes, I would like to remind the members that it was also said that by refusing to testify before the Standing Committee on Public Safety, the member for Beauce and the members of this government were trampling on the foundations of ministerial accountability and parliamentary democracy:

And above all else, they are violating the formal commitments they made during their 2006 election campaign. “The time for accountability has arrived,” declared the Prime Minister on page 1 of his party's election platform. It seems that that time has come and gone.

I have another quote from the Prime Minister who, as Leader of the Opposition, told the Montreal newspaper The Gazette the following, the year before he came to power:

Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions, and incompetent or corrupt governance can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.

When he became Prime Minister, his attitude appeared to undergo a shift of considerable proportions.

According to Lawrence Martin in The Politics of Control, “It often took the Conservatives twice as long as previous governments to handle access requests. Sometimes it took six months to a year”.

Moving on, I would like to refer to the director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Kevin Gaudet, who has said there should be an investigation to determine whether the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism routinely misused government resources to win votes.

I believe our motion clearly describes the facts as I just listed them in this House. We did not conjure this motion completely out of thin air. We thought about it very carefully and reflected on it after a series of indisputable facts that we have listed and that I could continue to list for several minutes.

Of course we are going to ask all members of this House, or at least all opposition members, to vote in support of our motion. In closing, I would like to remind the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre that in 2005, the Prime Minister himself wanted to sign and then did sign a letter to form a coalition with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. If a coalition can work for him, it can work for others, too.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for that woman from the Bloc Québécois. She does her part to deliver speeches for women, vulnerable women in particular.

I wonder whether she could tell me how she sees us advancing as women here in this House. Two of her female colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, who are presently here in this House, are being quite vicious in their comments toward other women in this House. I will not stoop to their level, but nevertheless, I wonder how we can advance as women if we are unable to support one another here.

This motion to divide the government and our country aside, I am asking the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois whether she will rise today to say she will work with me and the other women in this House to prevent women from treating each other the way they did here 15 minutes ago.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the hon. member's question.

I would say to her that in a democracy, we are entitled to our opinions. I would add that if she cannot stand the heat, then she should stay out of the kitchen.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the thrust of the debate in the House for some time now has been an assessment of the integrity, the honesty, the openness, the transparency and the accountability of the government.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on the reaction of the Conservatives to the Speaker's ruling where they seem to suggest that they will see what they can give us and maybe come up with some other reasons as to why they should not disclose the information that has been requested by the finance committee. It would appear that they are still fighting a Speaker's ruling on the rights and privileges of Parliament.

The Conservative government, obviously, is not a government that is here to govern in the best interests of the public.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I think he should not be surprised by the government's reaction to the Speaker's ruling. As always, we are dealing with a government that does not respect Speaker's rulings. As we know, we are still waiting for certain documents to do with Afghan detainees and we are still waiting for documents to do with everything we are asking about in this House. Nonetheless, we never get an answer. I am not surprised.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the situation before us were not so serious, it would be quite amusing to watch the so-called law and order party using the cheap defence lines of every crook that has ever walked the planet.

We are dealing with misleading the House. We are dealing with a minister who perjured herself in committee and forged documents. We are also dealing with a criminal investigation into a money laundering scheme. Now that some Conservatives are up on criminal charges, the government is doing the classic “whoa, whoa officer do not pick on me. Everybody is doing it”. If they had any evidence that people were doing it they should have given it to the police, but they did not. They are the ones who are busted.

When that does not stick, they claim that their elaborate scheme to funnel money through ridings to get kickbacks for local riding associations was an administrative error. I know so many guys in prison and I have never heard one of them say that they were guilty. It was always an error. Folks back home who go before Revenue Canada and claim that it was an administrative error will get the book thrown at them.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague--

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I do not know how the member for Laval heard the question with all that chatter going back and forth but I will give her a chance to respond.

The hon. member for Laval.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

March 10th, 2011 / 4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I did not understand the question, but I presume it had to do with the answers we are getting from the government.

I would say to the hon. member that I am not surprised that we are getting these answers from the government. We always get the same answers to the same questions.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a debate on our democratic institutions. The Bloc Québécois has brought forward a motion that we will support. This motion sets out, one by one, the events, most of which occurred recently, that show just how far the current Conservative government will go to sabotage our country's democratic institutions.

Let us start with the fundamental principle of democracy, namely, a free election process in which each person has the right to seek office. As soon as individuals are able to vote, they have the right to seek office and the rules must be the same for everyone. Each person seeking office is allowed to spend a fixed amount. There is an electoral law that covers all of this. The person responsible for administering this law, the Chief Electoral Officer, is an impartial, highly respected person who deserves our respect.

What happened in this famous case of the false invoices submitted by the Conservatives? They devised a scheme wherein they were able to get a rebate for what they claimed were local expenses when it was not. As a result of this scheme, they were able to obtain over $30,000 for a riding like Hull—Aylmer, which had legitimate expenditures of only some $15,000. That is why it was illegal. That is why what the Conservatives did has nothing to do with the other parties. The other parties' local expenses are legal and recognized.

The police went to the Conservatives' office, but that did not stop them from complaining. They said that the police were wrong, that the crown prosecutors were wrong, that everyone was wrong, except them. However, the highest federal court, the Federal Court of Appeal, has just handed down a unanimous decision that the Conservative Party, the governing party, was wrong and that the scheme was illegal. The charges laid may result in jail time for some people. This is serious because it erodes public trust and undermines the ability of our institution to function democratically. It also influences the outcome of an election. If they have the right to spend more than the other parties and they also illegally fill their coffers with taxpayers' money, the rules no longer apply equally to all.

Another matter is mentioned. A minister went before a parliamentary committee and said that senior public officials, high-level bureaucrats, told her that they believed KAIROS should not receive funding. Therein lies the problem. No one is questioning a minister's right to make decisions about how public money will be spent, or how she make decisions based on criteria established by others. That is not the issue here. She said that the officials told her to say no to KAIROS. That part was false. A document was doctored. For that reason, the Speaker found the government to be at fault.

We should remember that the current Speaker of the House of Commons is the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Canada. He is held in such high regard, that this is the second time he has served as speaker for a government formed by a political party other than his own. There can be no doubt about his neutrality.

Yet, time after time, whenever they are not pleased with something, the Conservatives go on the attack. They attacked the Chief Electoral Officer. I remember asking him questions after the Conservatives attacked him. They suggested that they were the victims. The House heard the speech made a little earlier by the member for Saint Boniface. The Conservatives are always the victims of plots made against them by everyone. They are innocent victims. Unfortunately, they are not the victims. They are the ones committing the offence. That is what we are talking about here. It does not prevent them from blaming the Chief Electoral Officer and going so far as to say that these rules only apply to them. In fact, what only applies to them is the scheme that they set up to give precedence to their partisan interests over public interests. According to them, the ends always justify the means, even if it means cheating, bending the rules and not respect our democratic institutions. That is the art of the Conservatives.

The 2006 election resulted in our second consecutive minority government. In 2008, we had our third one, which is unique in Canadian history. The Conservatives have no intention of stopping there. They will do anything to get a majority. That is their one and only goal, even if it means cheating on election rules. That is what we have in front of us: a government which, through its repeated actions, is undermining the public's trust in our democratic institutions. That is why the New Democratic Party is going to support the Bloc Québécois' motion.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member has put his finger on the objective of the Bloc Québécois motion. This clearly demonstrates that we are now debating some important values. And the values on this side are not the same as those on the other side.

If we look at what is happening on the other side, we see a policy of secrecy, as our colleague was saying. We see a reduction in the privileges of the elected members of this House. We see theft, for they have been found guilty of theft by means of the in and out system. We see manipulation of the truth. This is unacceptable for members who should be legitimately receiving necessary information. We see a failure to respect this institution and all the institutions, and the various committees of the House of Commons. And then they come and tell us, at every meeting we have, that this government is the very embodiment of transparency and ethics.

It quite plainly is not. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about the undemocratic behaviour and attitude of this government.