House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member was kind enough to state that all the other parties are innocent of anything and everything they have done is perfectly legitimate.

If that is the case and what the other parties have done was straightforward, and the member acknowledges there was nothing wrong there, then what on earth does he and his government believe is the motivation of the federal prosecutor and Elections Canada if not other than following the facts and doing their job?

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member will have to ask Elections Canada that.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary said, the discussion today is really about how the Conservatives spend Conservative funds and whether those certain expenses should be Canada's, either local or national. I can state that it is certainly not like the previous Liberal government. Some people might take offence when I mention the $40 million missing scandal, but the fact is that it is still missing.

I have three quick questions for the hon. member. Where would the opposition get that kind of cash? Why would Elections Canada not investigate the use of the $40 million in the Liberals' previous election campaign? Why are Canadians still paying off that debt? We have written off close to $16 million which was directly paid by the taxpayers of Canada, not the Liberal Party.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I will not relive before the House the horror that was the sponsorship scandal. I think Canadians know very well what happened.

However, what they do not know and what they have never understood is why, with a criminal conspiracy of that nature and the amount of cash that was flowing around during that era in the Liberal Party from taxpayers, all of it unreported during the election campaign, why did Elections Canada never open an investigation? It seemed like an obvious thing for an electoral agency to consider given that it was an electoral, in addition to financial, fraud.

I think there is still time for Elections Canada to open an investigation and find out what happened to all that money and to find out if it was used in excess of the spending limits of the elections during which that cash was circulating.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary's speech. What is worrying is that he seems to sincerely believe it when he says that they obeyed the law, that everything is fine, and that the Chief Electoral Officer and others are ultimately to blame. He accepts absolutely no responsibility for what is going on.

Does he believe in the Chief Electoral Officer's authority? Does he believe in our democratic rules if he is calling into question the work of the Chief Electoral Officer and his investigation process? Does he believe in this democratic institution?

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe that the Conservative candidates spent Conservative money on Conservative ads. All of the practices of the Conservative Party in every election have followed the rules. The Conservatives got results ethically, legally and in the same way as all of the other parties.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

March 8th, 2011 / 11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, you have no idea how pleased I am to be speaking during today's opposition day. It will allow me to put the spotlight on some of the lines that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister has been feeding us during question period for the past two weeks. I believe, as does my party, that the Prime Minister, through the parliamentary secretary, is completely misleading the House, and that is serious.

The Conservatives are trying to make the public and members here believe that the case involving the CEOC and the Conservative Party is simply an administrative dispute. They seem to be saying that they are disliked by the CEOC, that all of the other parties did the same thing and that, really, it is unfair that the CEOC is picking on the Conservative Party. They would even have us believe that the CEOC's actions are politically motivated.

Today's issue is very important. The topic that we are discussing today, the topic that the Liberal Party chose to raise on its opposition day, is the final outcome of the case that is currently before the courts. The Conservative Party will launch an appeal. It is a question of guaranteeing independence and following the established rules when running for election.

This is what the Conservatives did. It is clearly laid out in the ruling, which I took the time to read. The Conservatives deliberately transferred funds—in order to pay for a national ad—to ridings and candidates that had not reached their spending limits, as set out in the Canada Elections Act, or to candidates who were not likely to reach their limit. The member for Beauce, who had nearly reached his spending limit, received an invoice that differed from the others, to ensure that he would not exceed his limit.

Listening to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, we are left with the impression that he is completely shocked and that all these insinuations are futile. However, before proceeding with the investigation, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections already had their suspicions about the documents they had received to justify those expenses.

For the benefit of people watching, I would like to give a little background and explain what happened, so everyone understands. They took some money. They identified which ridings still had some spending room, namely, ridings in which the Conservative Party was unlikely to win, where less money was being spent. The campaign was almost over, they wanted to win and they did not have enough money to complete the national advertising campaign, so they took $1.5 million from 67 ridings. So those 67 Conservative candidates signed an agreement with their party, whereby the money would be given to the candidates, who would then turn around and give it back in order to pay the company that had been hired to create media placements and national advertising.

This is called cheating. The Conservative Party knowingly cheated in order to win. They knew what they were doing. That is serious. We do not encourage the Conservative Party to appeal this case, because it should respect the Federal Court of Appeal decision, acknowledge its offence and pay back what needs to be paid back.

When one is a candidate in a riding with little chance of winning, one might sign a letter because we tend to listen to our parties. It appears that these candidates signed a letter of agreement, but one person refused to sign it: the candidate in Brome—Missisquoi. He sensed that something was not right.

It must be said that this candidate was a knowledgeable lawyer capable of analyzing what he was asked to sign. He refused to sign. He even gave an account that was published in the papers last week, in which he stated that he knew it was a way to circumvent the Elections Act for improper purposes, and to win by cheating.

What is even more alarming is that there are ministers in the House who signed this letter and who went along with the in and out scheme. Today, they are caught up in the scandal. Conservative senators and organizers have also been charged by Elections Canada for breaking the law.

If we find ourselves debating the issue here, it is because, in question period, we are repeatedly given answers that make no sense and, above all, that mislead the House. It is often said the Conservative Party gets bad press abroad. I was really surprised to read what was published in France in Le Figaro about the matter we are examining today. It is worthwhile reading an excerpt to make our audience at home aware of the fact that this article is solely about the Conservative Party and the illegal acts carried out during the 2006 election campaign.

On March 2, 2011, Le Figaro, a major French newspaper, published an article that truly shows the negative image of Canada abroad.

Today the Canadian electoral authority formally charged the Prime Minister's Conservative Party and two senators from the governing party with fraud for allegedly concealing cost overruns during the 2006 election. The charges, laid at a time when many observers expect a spring election to be held, revolve around “a false or misleading statement” about the budget for the campaign that brought [the Conservatives] to power, writes Elections Canada in a press release.

According to this independent agency, the Conservative Party deliberately exceeded election spending limits—set at $18 million—by $1 million through an accounting scheme involving the right-wing party's local committees. The 2006 election is the one that put an end to the Liberal Party's reign and propelled [the Conservatives] into power.

That is what is being written in a newspaper in France. I will stop here because that is enough to see that the opposition parties understand that a scheme was used involving illegal activities. Analysts in France understand that as well. The Chief Electoral Officer understood that, as did the judge of the Federal Court of Appeal. There is only one party that does not understand the seriousness of its actions: the party being accused, in other words, the Conservative Party.

There were a number of indications. The Chief Electoral Officer heads an independent agency. He was selected by the current Prime Minister. The CEOC is serious and recognized for his expertise. This gives Quebeckers and Canadians the assurance that federal elections obey the rules, and it gives people the assurance that our democratic rules are valid and are being followed.

When the Chief Electoral Officer received documents from the Conservative candidates, he began to have his doubts. In the ruling we can see that the local media buys by the candidates were actually made by the national party and the costs transferred to the ridings.

However, he had a nagging suspicion that the interests of the party and those of the candidates engaging in the in and out transfers largely overlapped. Everything was calculated so that no candidate and no riding would exceed their spending limit. Adjustments were even made to ensure that the limits would not be exceeded, and they were such that the Chief Electoral Officer could prove it when he read all of the documents that were handed over.

I say that because the documents were handed over. However, I must point out that, in order for the Chief Electoral Officer to be able to investigate, the RCMP had to search Conservative Party offices and seize documents that the Chief Electoral Officer deemed necessary to carry out his investigation. He had reasonable grounds to suspect that he did not have everything he needed to continue with his investigation. Therefore, he used legal means since the Conservative Party refused to co-operate and answer his questions.

It seems that it was easy to prove from the documents that some very precise adjustments had been made to ensure that candidates were under their spending limit and transferred $1.5 million to pay an invoice for national advertisements.

It was also clear that there was a small problem with the transmission of the invoice. The Chief Electoral Officer asked a number of questions about the invoices, particularly those from the advertising company, because these invoices did not look like standard advertising invoices. So he asked questions and analyzed the invoices. During his investigation he questioned someone whose name escapes me, who was managing media placement for the company. This person said—I read it—that the invoices had been altered and that his company had not decided what to put in or how to present the invoices. Throughout the process, a number of witnesses indicated that the Conservatives knew that what they were doing was not entirely above board and that they had even made an effort to hide their illegal activities. Various witnesses corroborated that point.

When the Prime Minister appointed the Chief Electoral Officer, he surely had good reason to do so and he recognized his abilities. Today, they seem to be saying that the Chief Electoral Officer is not doing such a good job. Furthermore, they are even questioning the amount of taxpayers' money being spent on prosecuting the Conservative Party. That is what bothers me the most. They are challenging the fact that the head of an independent organization—which has the important mandate of guaranteeing that the process is democratic—is conducting an investigation and going to court to ensure compliance with the Canada Elections Act. That is being questioned and it is very dangerous. They are beginning to criticize the person who has a very important position. They are insinuating that he has a political bias and that he targeted the Conservative Party outright while leaving the other parties alone. It is a very serious matter to plant such seeds of doubt in the minds of Canadians, and especially to call into question the money spent to prosecute the Conservative Party. The fact remains that a ruling has been handed down and it cannot be refuted. Illegal activities took place. The Conservatives should face the facts and agree to repay the amounts received by candidates.

They should admit that they made a mistake rather than continuing to fight the Chief Electoral Officer.

In our opinion, the Liberal Party of Canada set up some government programs to buy votes. There was the sponsorship program and the HRSDC transitional jobs fund, which allowed the Liberals to spend money in ridings held by political opponents and to sway voter sympathies. As we saw in Justice Gomery's report, which brought to light a complex system of kickbacks, the sponsorship program allowed the Liberals to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to its election spending.

The Conservatives have been caught at a different game. They decided to use what is known as the in and out scheme in order to circumvent the Election Act and spend more than the limit, in other words, to buy votes by cheating.

It is not difficult to see why Canadians do not understand why the Conservative Party is challenging the latest ruling and even trying to make us believe that the Chief Electoral Officer and the judge were off the mark and do not understand what transpired.

I would like to add that they went over their legal national campaign limit by $1.5 million. After two rulings, especially the last one, the Conservatives need to realize that the message could not be clearer. They should not take their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. It is their right to do so, but the evidence is so clear that I truly hope they do not take that route.

To conclude, I would like to read an excerpt from an article by Ms. Cornellier of Le Devoir:

Phew, that was close! A Conservative victory would have meant a free-for-all in election campaigns. And perhaps as soon as this spring. All the parties could have assigned some of their national expenses to ridings where they already know they will not win and that spend far less than the legal limit. That would allow a party to offload some of its expenses and would give it the flexibility, on a national scale, to basically spend more than the legal limit. The only limit would be the party's bank account. National spending limits would become a joke, which would only hurt parties with less funding. And we all know which is the rich party these days.

We are clearly very happy with the Federal Court of Appeal's ruling. If a different ruling had been handed down, we would have had to question both the strength of our Elections Act and the idea that elections follow the rules and respect the institution.

The Bloc Québécois will support the motion that has been moved in the House today.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to give the member an opportunity to affirm her position.

The Chief Electoral Officer and Elections Canada do a rigorous review of all elections. With regard to the situation that occurred in 2006, the Conservative Party put money in and immediately took it out, and then transferred its own expenses into a campaign so it could spend more on its national advertising campaign. It was a scheme. The Chief Electoral Officer said that no other parties or candidates were found to have violated the elections law in that regard. I would ask the member if that is her understanding.

Also, with regard to the Conservative member who said that one court was for and another was against, in fact it was a unanimous decision of the appeal court that said the Conservative Party broke the rules and was in breach of the Canadian Elections Act.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. I completely agree with him. Given the Federal Court of Appeal's ruling, it seems perfectly clear that the Conservative Party violated the Canada Elections Act and was involved in illegal activities. It is clear to everyone, both here in the House and outside the House, except the Conservative Party.

I also agree with the hon. member's statement that the Chief Electoral Officer conducts thorough investigations; the same is true of his commissioner. In order for a complaint to be filed regarding the violation of a regulation, there must be proof, doubt and suspicions. I hope that I will have the opportunity to point out a few of these. Here is one example.

On December 6, 2006, an employee of Retail Media Group, the marketing company with which the Conservatives were working, raised doubts about the transfers that were being made to Conservative Party members. When he requested permission to learn more about the situation from the Elections Canada broadcasting arbitrator, he was told to wait because it was possible that the party would not want to speak to Elections Canada about it.

The CEOC had reasonable doubt as to whether the Conservative Party was abiding by the law. All sorts of evidence was circulating, which was gathered and submitted to the courts. This led to the Federal Court of Appeal's recent ruling that the Conservative Party did in fact violate the Canada Elections Act and was involved in illegal activities.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Bloc Québécois member on her speech.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister clearly stated that Elections Canada has exonerated the opposition parties in the in and out scandal.

I would like the member to explain why Elections Canada and the RCMP accused the Conservatives, and explain the difference between the opposition parties and the Conservatives.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would be difficult to answer that question in so little time, but I can say that Elections Canada found that their national advertising expenses had been deliberately spread out among ridings that had not reached their election spending limits. Thus, they passed on the bill for national advertising, which had absolutely nothing to do with local advertising or local issues. The ads promoted national themes.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada saw this and began asking questions, and very quickly realized that further investigation was needed. This is what we have read. So he wanted to consult other documents, which the Conservative Party refused to hand over. For a party that advocates transparency—so much for that idea. This party refused to co-operate with the Chief Electoral Officer, who simply wanted more information and answers to some questions.

So a search warrant was needed to seize documents from the Conservative Party headquarters. The parliamentary secretary said that we should not get so worked up, that the judge is completely “out to lunch” and that we are all wrong because all the parties use the in and out system, but that is completely false. Are the NDP, the Liberal Party or the Bloc Québécois in court right now, answering to the Chief Electoral Officer? Is the Chief Electoral Officer questioning our practices? Did he find us in violation of the Canada Elections Act during the 2006 election? No; only one party in this House is on trial—the Conservative Party, the governing party.

I must add that this is not the first time the Conservatives have tried to cheat. As we know, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism used departmental letterhead, his parliamentary office letterhead, for promotional purposes and to solicit funds. It seems that the Conservatives are getting in the habit of cheating and trying to get around the rules.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, when the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics held hearings on this matter in the summer of 2008, the committee had subpoenaed 31 witnesses who were Conservative candidates and had participated in the in and out scandal. It came out that the Conservative Party instructed them to disregard the subpoenas and not appear. Then the government called an election just to shut it down.

If this were an administrative disagreement, why has the government failed to show openness, accountability and transparency on this matter? If this is just an administrative disagreement, why not fully co-operate?

The reason, and I hope the member will have an opinion, is that the Conservatives were caught just like they were in all of the other incidents where the government has been accused. It is not simply about this one particular event, but the motion is about the character, honesty, credibility and accountability of the government which it has failed on all counts.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

I think we agree since we share the same opinion on the Conservatives' attitude since coming to power. We all agree on their contempt for democratic institutions.

We can see a parallel with their refusal to have departmental staff appear to answer questions by members of the standing committees. We also saw what happened with the Minister of International Cooperation and her refusal to give funding to KAIROS; we also saw what the Minister of Natural Resources did to obstruct the Access to Information Act in his own department and what the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism did with regard to electoral financing.

The Conservatives are receiving a lot of criticism these days and are getting caught in their own game of cheating the law and not wanting to co-operate to clarify entirely justifiable debates.

In the “in and out” situation before us today, I believe that the claim that this was just an administrative error is intended to mislead the public and the House. Saying that the Chief Electoral Officer is attacking their party is an attempt to discredit the democratic institution that guarantees the legitimacy of our federal elections in Quebec and Canada.

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is our intent to support the motion before us today. I say that because some may think it is rather obvious, but I also would be more comfortable with different wording. There were points of order made at the beginning about continuing to ensure that Canadians are innocent until found guilty, the presumption of innocence and so on.

Some of the wording says it was an act of electoral fraud. I am not a lawyer but that is a serious word to use and has implications for legal processes in courts. The motion would order the government to repay, although this is not a binding motion. Because I have spent many years in parliament and have the greatest respect for the place and all members, I want to put on the record that I am not 100% comfortable with the way the motion reads. However, at the end of the day it is an opposition motion. We need to ensure there is as much latitude as possible for opposition. It is the only opportunity for us to put matters before the House and command the time of the House, so we want to keep it very broad. It is a matter of accountability. The primary function of opposition members is to hold the government to account.

The motion is not legally binding. It is our opinion. If the government votes against it and all opposition members vote for it, we will have expressed our opinion on the matter. Since it goes no further than that, I can live with the language and certainly live with the intent. I love the intent, but I can live with the language given the reasons I have mentioned.

Having been in politics for so long, my heart goes out to and I have some sympathy for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I served on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts with him for a number of years when I first came here and know him well. He is a very intelligent member of Parliament, very feisty and ready to do battle at the drop of a hat, yet he is still a backbench member, although clearly someone who is “18 with a bullet” as was said in the radio business.

He reminds me very much of the current government House leader who in the Ontario legislature was the parliamentary assistant to the minister of labour under the Mike Harris government. Provincially we call them parliamentary assistants and here they are parliamentary secretaries. The first thing the government did and continued to do for the eight years it was in power was go after the labour movement. There was the poor parliamentary assistant, a rookie MPP, having to stand and defend the draconian attack on the labour movement. I remember similar feelings watching the current government House leader perform. I thought he was a sharp, smart fellow who clearly was going somewhere in politics, but was given the impossible job of trying to defend the Harris agenda of attacking the labour movement.

He was the poor MPP who had to go to the labour conventions. I remember one in Windsor where he had to have a police escort to get him into the convention, to get him to the podium so he could speak. As a courtesy at conventions the labour movement traditionally gives the guest speakers one of the convention bags. The government House leader carried that bag around for years because as far as he was concerned he earned it with blood and rightly so. That was a tough moment and a tough gig.

I say that for the member for Nepean—Carleton. Having to defend what is alleged to be illegal criminal activity on the part of a government, whose raison d'être is to go after the bad guys, is not an easy road to walk down no matter who one is. I offer up that sympathy.

On a personal level, if things continue to go that way, this is earning one's spurs, putting in one's time. If the example of the current government House leader is any example, then the member for Nepean—Carleton hopefully will get many more opportunities to reflect on matters that have a lot more positiveness to them than this.

Along the way, the government has been scrambling to grapple with the message box and massaging it as things have changed along the way. I find it interesting that the parliamentary secretary said that all of, what he termed, the in and out transactions on the part of the three opposition parties were entirely legal, that there was no problem. The parliamentary secretary said that the only thing the opposition parties were guilty of was hypocrisy.

If I have been following the bouncing ball correctly, the government has maintained it did nothing different than the rest of us. In other words, the Conservatives have done nothing different than what the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP did. Yet the parliamentary secretary now says that what they did, and he is trying to say they did not do anything, is leave this one little gap, which is incredible thinking.

The gap is this. Elections Canada has an absolutely stellar reputation, not only with Canadians but all of us involved in politics and, quite frankly, internationally. The way we hold our elections, the rules we have, the non-partisan, professional arm's-length nature of Elections Canada is something we should be very proud of because we are lucky to have that. Ironically, if I understand correctly, the federal prosecutor was a creation of the current government.

What we are left with is Elections Canada, an internationally respected arm's-length parliamentary agency, and the federal prosecutor, who is too new to have that reputation. One would think the government at least believes it is a good idea to have one since it created the position. One would assume it supports the person and the work being done. The gap requires that, at best, Elections Canada and the federal prosecutor are wrong and, at worst, there is a conspiracy going on. There are a bunch of government bureaucrats running around trying to attack the government and bring it down.

The way they will do that is by manipulating the interpretation of the election laws and make it look like the sitting government defrauded the Canadian people. What a stupid plan that would be in this era of “H's” Canada. It goes after bureaucrats who are only doing their jobs. However, if a senior bureaucrat, who has been appointed by the government through and order-in-council, happens to damage the government, or its reputation or suggests it has done wrong, the government will chop off his or her head. That is what it does to bureaucrats who, in its mind, cross it.

Therefore, with all that, does any reasonable Canadian believe Elections Canada and the federal prosecutor have conspired together to create a false charge in the hope that, after all the court proceedings years down the road, would somehow be the undoing of the sitting government because the people at Elections Canada and at the federal prosecutor's office did not like the government? It makes no sense.

What does make sense is that all the transactions of the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP were legal, appropriate, accounted for and signed off by Elections Canada. When Elections Canada looked at the Conservative transactions, they were different.

One of my Liberal colleagues, the member for St. Paul's, spoke about the allegations of forged invoices. Some of this money was in bank accounts in less than an hour.

The truth, it would seem, is the Conservatives are in a lot of serious trouble. That is why I opened my remarks by commenting on the member for Nepean—Carleton, who has this impossible task in question period and here today to try to defend this. If members will notice, there really was not much defence. There were a lot of points of order to try to get the member to speak to the motion, because he wanted to talk about everything but. Why? They do not have an excuse. They do not have a good defence. They got caught.

The other part of the motion speaks to senators, two of whom have been charged, stepping down while the charges are in place.

It is interesting. I think most of us would accept that if there were cabinet ministers, or even parliamentary secretaries, with this kind of cloud hanging over them, there would be pressure and I suspect they would step down. Every instance I have ever experienced, whether here or in the Ontario legislature, when a minister was charged with anything that was at all deemed serious, not a parking ticking but a very serious charge, he or she immediately stepped down to preserve his or her dignity. I have seen where the minister has never came back and I have seen where the minister has been exonerated and brought back to exactly the same position.

Senators, and it hurts me to say this, are members of the upper house. They are all honourable. They all get that title, which only cabinet ministers get. They have incredible power over there. It is highly appropriate that the majority of the House would call on senators, appointed or otherwise, to do the right thing, to do the honourable parliamentary thing, and at least step aside. We are not saying to give up the pay or anything else at this stage, but show the respect that not only the House and that place deserve but the respect that Canadian people deserve.

It speaks to how frustrating it is when we cannot hold senators to account. When we take a look at who is there, let us remember that the two senators who have been charged are both full-time senators, getting all the benefits, the pay and everything else. They have all but full-time jobs as Conservative Party operatives, which are nicely paid for by the Canadian people.

I want to take a moment to also remind members in this debate, and any Canadians who might be watching, just how partisan the Prime Minister and the government are in everything they do, especially when it comes to the supposed independent senators in that other place. I will not name names because that is not my issue. However, I will give the dates and give a little description of some of the people who the Prime Minister has put into what is supposed to be a non-partisan, independent sober second thought chamber.

On February 27, 2006, a Tory organizer was appointed to sit in cabinet as a Quebec representative. We all remember that. Do members remember when nobody would be appointed to the Senate who had not been elected? That was the first.

On January 2, 2009, a red letter day for a lot of lucky Canadians, a former director of the Progressive Conservative Fund, who chaired Tory leadership and policy conventions, was appointed.

On January 2, 2009, and this is one of the people charged, the Conservative national campaign director for the 2006 and 2008 elections was appointed to the Senate.

On January 2, 2009, a fundraiser and former chair of the Conservative Party fund, another person who has been charged, was appointed.

I want to mention a quote that senator said on the floor of the Senate on November 27, 2010. He said, “I want to tell you that I do not admit to being a bagman; I proclaim it”. He also said, “I love politics but never had the time to become a candidate”.

How many people watching this also love politics, but life gets in the way, the job, the kids, taking care of parents, earning money, all those little things that we little people in Canada have to think about? I am sure they would love a chance to be in that other place if all they had to do was show their love of politics but did not have the time to be a candidate. What arrogance.

I will give more on that big red letter day of January 2, 2009. These folks had a great 2009.

A former Conservative MP, who was defeated in the 2008 election, was appointed to the Senate. That MP was elected to this place, the people did not like the job the member did, was fired, but is now back in a law-making seat, having been put in through an appointment. That is independent, sober second thought all right.

On January 2, 2009, another unsuccessful Conservative in the 2008 election was appointed. It appears that an individual gets two shots when a Conservative candidate, one through the legitimate way, through that door, and then the other way, through the back door down the hall.

More were appointed on January 2, 2009. That was a record-setting day. Never have so many senators been appointed on one day. I stand to be corrected, but I do think that was the date. The current Prime Minister has the title. Another individual appointed on that date was a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister from New Brunswick.

On January 2, 2009, another unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the 2006 election became a senator and won the greatest lottery in the world, where it is not only cash for life but the individual can make the laws of the country. What a deal. All people have to do is know the Prime Minister really well.

I will mention just a couple more because I like to do it.

On January 8, an unsuccessful Canadian Alliance candidate in 2000 made it to the gilded cage.

On January 14, 2009, another former Progressive Conservative MP was appointed.

August 27, 2009, another unsuccessful Conservative in the 2008 election was appointed to the other place. The former president of the Conservative Party was appointed on that day as were the Quebec co-chair of the Prime Minister's leadership campaign and the Prime Minister's former press secretary. The list goes on. It is so depressing.

Let me turn now to this whole issue of—

Opposition Motion—Electoral Financing
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The member is out of time. We will move on to questions and comments. The hon. member for Calgary East.