An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of Oct. 19, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-27.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 to provide a framework for the establishment, administration and supervision of target benefit plans. It also amends the Act to permit pension plan administrators to purchase immediate or deferred life annuities for former members or survivors so as to satisfy an obligation to provide pension benefits if the obligation arises from a defined benefit provision.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent once again for his fabulous speech. He is a man of conviction, and I learn something from him every day. Although we do not always share the same values, I want to commend him on his work and compliment him on his beautiful bow tie. It suits him quite well.

To get back to the serious matter at hand, I listened carefully to his speech. It raised a number of concerns for me.

Does my colleague think that, with everything going on in relation to the alleged conflict of interest and the introduction of BIll C-27, which related directly to a financial benefit for the Minister of Finance, Canadians' trust in our Minister of Finance could be affected, especially since he holds the key to Canada's finances?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, we pay all our respects to the Ethics Commissioner, but the Ethics Commissioner was misled three times by the finance minister. First, he said that “...all my assets will go into a blind trust”. He said that, but he did not do that. Second, he forgot his villa in Provence, France—forgot to tell the commissioner. Third, he said he collaborated with the Ethics Commissioner on Bill C-27, which is false. He did so afterwards.

This is why the minister was wrong, three times in a row. One, two, three, and he is out.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take the floor in this debate. It seems some people are surprised to see me wearing a bow tie. I have received a few oblique and humorous comments about it on Twitter. I just want to say that it is in support of my colleague from Hull—Aylmer, who is my MP when I am here in Gatineau, and the Movember movement.

Today’s motion is about ethics, and there is no more sensitive and serious topic in politics than ethics. Debates are never more fierce and passionate than when the subject of ethics comes up, because ethics are so very dear to our hearts, and should be closely monitored. Today we are talking about the Minister of Finance's ethics.

For almost a year, I had the pleasure and honour of being the official opposition’s finance critic, so the finance minister was my counterpart at the time. I have expressed the respect and esteem I have for this man on several occasions, and I would like to do so again, even despite his serious ethical problems.

When a man of his calibre, a Bay Street baron, goes into politics and decides to help Canada in his own way, the political class as a whole is the better for it. However, as a high-profile minister, he must meet the highest ethical standards, and there is the rub. Unfortunately, the minister’s ethics seem to have eroded over time.

What happened when this fantastically successful businessman, an inspiration to all Canadian entrepreneurs, entered the political arena? What did he say? On November 4, 2015, a few weeks after the election, on CBC’s Power and Politics, a show then hosted by Rosemary Barton, who now co-anchors the evening news, the Minister of Finance said the following:

He said, “I resigned my position as chair of the firm that I was chair of before and I expect that all my assets will go into a blind trust. I’ve already communicated with the ethics commissioner in that regard and I do need to work through that process and will do in the appropriate time frame.” I repeat that he stated, “all my assets will go into a blind trust.”

That day, the Minister of Finance said that all of his assets would go into a blind trust. Well, two years later, when we looked for this blind trust, we realized that we had been utterly misled. The Minister of Finance had been playing semantics. That is the sad part.

The hon. members across the aisle keep repeating that the minister followed the Ethics Commissioner’s recommendations, but we know he was playing semantics. He said that he did not hold any shares in his company directly, but that he did own a numbered company that just happened to run his company. Playing semantics means playing fast and loose with one's ethics, and above all, one's honour. As Global News reported:

Records show that before the 2015 election Morneau held nearly 2.07 million common shares in Morneau Shepell through the Alberta numbered company, 1193536 Alberta Ltd. There is no public data about his current holdings in the company. At their current value of just over $20 per share, those holdings would be worth more than $40 million.

It seems, then, that the Minister of Finance was playing semantics. Rather than acknowledging that he had a company and that he had direct access to Morneau Shepell, he played semantics, saying that it was a numbered company. The Ethics Commissioner was misled just like the rest of Canadians. Every month, the Minister of Finance was receiving $65,000 in dividends from this numbered company. That is considerable.

Then, we learned that he hid information from the Ethics Commissioner about the numbered company, which, among other things, owns a villa in Provence, France.

In my riding, I have had a condo for the past 15 years or so; I am very proud of it. I presume that some of my colleagues have a principal residence, a cottage and things like that.

However, forgetting that you have a house in Provence, France, probably does not happen very often. It is only when the minister was caught with his hand in the cookie jar that the Ethics Commissioner investigated and found him guilty. That is why he was ordered to pay a measly $200 fine.

Once all of his numbered companies and the villa in Provence had been exposed, what did the minister do? Recognizing that he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he decided to do what he should have done from the start: sell his shares. He also decided to donate all of his company’s profits to charity. I cried a little when I heard that.

If that is not an admission of guilt, I do not know what is. If I suddenly decided to sell something that I insisted for two years I had nothing to do with, it might be because I wanted to clear my conscience.

That is the saddest part of this whole mess. Unfortunately, this senior member can be forgetful and enjoys playing semantics. He is acting only now that he has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar; he should have taken the appropriate action two years ago. Canadians are not fooled by this sad state of affairs. Remember that the minister’s assets increased by $5 million in the past two years. He is Minister of Finance, and Morneau Shepell, a company founded by his father and built up by the minister himself, is in direct conflict of interest with the Minister of Finance.

Let me explain. Morneau Shepell is one of the biggest players in pension plans. The Minister of Finance establishes the government’s financial and tax policy. This is a direct conflict of interest. I know what I am talking about. I used to work at TQS, whose pension plan just happens to be administered by Morneau Shepell. When I received the envelope seven or eight months ago, I was amused, and I even mentioned it to the minister. He had simply forgotten to tell me that, at the time, he was still in control of the company, which he also forgot to tell Canadians.

I am getting to the heart of the matter. The minister himself introduced Bill C-27. Morneau Shepell, his family company, specializes in pension plans. Bill C-27 is a bill that directly concerns pension plans. That, right there, constitutes a direct conflict of interest. Worse still, Morneau Shepell is the company that designed the pension plan for the Province of New Brunswick. Bill C-27, it just so happens, is largely based on what Morneau Shepell did with New Brunswick’s pension plan. That is the definition of conflict of interest.

What did the minister say then? He said that he his actions were sanctioned by the Ethics Commissioner. That is not true. He went to see the Ethics Commissioner after introducing the bill. That is the most crooked part in all this. He played semantics with his numbered company, he forgot his house in Provence, and then he claimed to have worked with the Ethics Commissioner, even though he only met with the Ethics Commissioner after he introduced the bill. How can you trust someone who changes his story every time he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar?

That is what is so sad and unfortunate in this case. That is why, as we speak, the Minister of Finance is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. The Prime Minister is, as well. For the first time in the history of Canada, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are both under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner.

It is sad to see that the Minister of Finance, who has a noble, rich and exciting past and who is such an inspiration for all business people or would-be politicians who are now in business, has burned away all of his prestige by making basic errors of ethical judgment. It is unfortunate.

That is why we have introduced this motion calling on the Minister of Finance to declare all of his assets once and for all, like all members of Parliament must do, and that he disclose what assets he holds in his numbered companies.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alex Nuttall Conservative Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

Today, we have the honour to debate a motion that was put forward by the opposition, which reads:

That the House agree with the Prime Minister’s statement in the House on November 1, 2017, that “sunshine is the best disinfectant”; and call on the Finance Minister to reveal all assets he has bought, sold or held within...his private companies or trust funds since he became Finance Minister, to determine if his financial interests have conflicted with his public duties.

I would also like to read a quote from the Prime Minister, which states, “he trust Canadians have in public institutions—including Parliament—has, at times, been compromised. By working with greater openness and transparency, Parliament can restore it.”

That is what is happening today. Parliament is overseeing and debating a motion that seeks to restore what has been compromised by the finance minister over the past couple of years.

I have another quote from the Prime Minister, which states:

We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

Those are the words of the Prime Minister to the finance minister in his mandate letter.

We are speaking on this subject today, because the finance minister has broken trust with Canadians through a pattern of perhaps half-truths or premeditated dishonesty, we do not know for sure. However, for two years the finance minister held shares. worth approximately $20 million, in Morneau Shepell, a company that he now regulates as finance minister. He held these shares outside of a blind trust, despite his colleagues, on both sides of the House, believing his shares were in a blind trust.

While he held these shares, the finance minister introduced Bill C-27, which would create a targeted benefit pension plan. TBPs are highly specialized products offered by, guess who, Morneau Shepell. Only after the finance minister was revealed to be not holding his assets in a blind trust did he acknowledge any wrongdoing and agree to sell those assets.

The finance minister is under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner for tabling Bill C-27 while continuing to hold shares in Morneau Shepell. The Prime Minister and the finance minister are two of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, officials in the country. Canadians must trust that they will act in the public interest rather than in their own private personal interest.

As the Prime Minister has said, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Therefore, let us throw open the shades and reveal the assets of the finance minister.

To quote the Prime Minister again, he stated, “Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.” That is from the Prime Minister to the finance minister. Therefore, let us test that.

We know the finance minister neglected to put his assets in a blind trust, even though he was advised to. We know he told Canadians he was going to put them in a blind trust. We know the finance minister is sponsoring legislation that will directly benefit his family company Morneau Shepell. These are the same shares that he said he would put in a blind trust and did not. We know the finance minister misled or, at the very least, neglected to let the Ethics Commissioner know about the villa in France. We know the finance minister paid $200 for this “omission”. We know he continues to hold assets in at least six numbered companies, but the assets held within those numbered companies are not publicly known. These are undeniable facts.

Is the finance minister being open and transparent with his current personal holdings and numbered companies even after he was caught with holdings outside of blind trusts? The answer is no. Is the finance minister being sincere when he is sponsoring Bill C-27, when his friends, his family, and his indeed own finances stand to benefit greatly? The answer is no.

We know they will benefit because he said so as much when he was in an executive position at Morneau Shepell. The only thing the finance minister is being sincere about is himself, helping himself and his cronies. It is clear he failed to live up to the mandate letter he received from the Prime Minister on the first day being an office-holder of the Government of Canada. What other assets did he conveniently forget to tell the Ethics Commissioner about? It is because of this clear and established pattern of perhaps misinformation coming out of the finance minister that we have brought forward this opposition motion today.

Everyone knows how much I love quoting the Prime Minister so I am going to continue to do it. This is again from the Prime Minister to the finance minister, “Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians.” How can the government expect its citizens to trust it when the Prime Minister has allowed this finance minister to flagrantly ignore the ethical standards the Prime Minister set himself?

This finance minister has demonstrated to Canadians that he does not trust them by refusing to provide us with the information about his numbered companies, by failing to disclose his villa to the Ethics Commissioner, and by introducing legislation that benefits himself, his friends, and his cronies. In addition, over the course of the last few months, the finance minister decided to tackle the issue of tax avoidance. It sounds great, it sounds full of integrity, but instead of targeting his friends in the trust fund world who are actually engaged in overseas tax avoidance schemes, the Liberal government has relentlessly gone after the average, run-of-the-mill, middle-class Canadian.

One of the groups the finance minister and Prime Minister have singled out are small business owners. Apparently they are tax cheats. Consultation never happened before they introduced what they were planning on turning into legislation. It does not sound like they trust small business owners. Family farmers, who work from dusk to dawn and feed our cities, are apparently tax cheats. Canadians suffering from diabetes have apparently been cheating the system so they need to change it and take away the disability tax credit or the RDSP. Families dealing with autism or mental health issues are thrown into the exact same basket. We never thought we would hear this but we have. Now even wounded veterans are seen in this same light.

“I believe in sunny ways. I believe in staying focused on Canadians, and that is exactly what we are doing. I believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant. Openness and transparency is what Canadians expect. That is what we will always stand for.” That was the Prime Minister's statement not even 30 days ago. Not even a month has gone by since he stated this in the House of Commons.

We have a bill and a Speech from the Throne that said we need to trust the government and the government needs to trust its people first. We have a mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the finance minister that talked about honesty, truth, sincerity, openness, about trusting the people of Canada. We have the Prime Minister's own words not even a month ago stating that it is, in fact, openness and transparency that Canadians expect, and apparently that is what they will always stand for. However, we question today whether they will stand and vote for openness and transparency when this motion is heard.

The media and members of this House have opened the shutters and have found out about the finance minister's villa in France. We have pulled back the curtains and found out that the finance minister's shares in Morneau Shepell were not held in a blind trust and that legislation he was sponsoring would greatly benefit his personal finances. We drew back the blinds, and again we found the finance minister holding assets in at least six unnamed numbered companies.

Now is the time for the finance minister to face the audience and come clean with Canadians about what assets he has in these numbered companies. Now is the time for the finance minister to let the sun shine in.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sitting here listening to the arrogance dripping from the other side.

I am very curious if, when there is knocking on door, people who have public pensions, people who are part of organized labour are telling the member how much they love Bill C-27 and how much they love that the minister has put this on the table.

I do understand why the member does not want to stay on topic, does not want to answer questions, because, to be quite honest, it is indefensible. Here is the question, and I would like the answer to be yes or no.

When the member ran in 2015, did he promise his voters that a Liberal finance minister would take advantage of an ethical rule loophole, all the while misleading everyone into believing his assets were in a blind trust, yes or no?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to get this straight. When the finance minister was elected, he put his $21 million in Morneau Shepell shares into a numbered company in Alberta, and that company has made $5 million since he was elected. In fact, we have learned that the minister's investments grew 5% the day that Bill C-27 was tabled, which benefited Morneau Shepell.

The member seems to think that this is okay, that the recommendations were made by the Ethics Commissioner. Maybe he can clarify this. Did the Ethics Commissioner recommend to the finance minister that he take his Morneau Shepell shares, put them in Alberta into a numbered company, and use this loophole so he could protect his assets? It would be nice to get clarification on this. While I am at it, I would like the member to tell me whether anyone in his riding has said that he or she thinks this ethical and okay?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alex Nuttall Conservative Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we look at the finance minister putting forward Bill C-27, being fined $200 because of his place in France, and saying everything would be in a blind trust when it was not, those things seem to erode the trust of the Canadian people. Could the member comment on that?

EthicsOral Questions

November 23rd, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 1, the Prime Minister said, “sunshine is the best disinfectant”.

Today, Canadians all know that the Minister of Finance put himself in a direct conflict of interest with Bill C-27 and that he earned millions of dollars, a fact that he is now trying to sweep under the rug.

The Minister of Finance is the most senior minister in this country. He used his privileged position to grow his own fortune. He broke the trust of 35 million Canadians.

Will the Minister of Finance finally let the sun cast some light on his personal finances or will he continue to hide in the shadow of his many numbered companies?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise on behalf of my constituents.

The way this place works oftentimes is that the Canadian public decides who is going to be in government and who is going to be in opposition and they do so because they want to provide contrast. Today, Her Majesty's loyal opposition I am proud to report will be offering some contrast to the bromides we have heard from the government.

When I was first elected to this place one of the very first things I did was to read the member's handbook. We all know that is a lengthy read. One of the first things it impressed upon me was the great number of rules that have accumulated over the years. Some are extremely specific and others are quite obscure. With others, we question if it really needs to be said. We all know why we have such a variety of rules. Over time, someone invariably did something that he or she should not have done, and that individual was caught. Typically, when that situation occurs the excuse is that there is nothing specific in the rules which says it could not be done so therefore nothing wrong was done. Does that sound familiar? Let us look at this case.

We do not have a rule that specifically says a minister must place his or her assets into a blind trust. We do have a rule that says that a minister may not hold publicly traded securities directly and if those securities are not sold, they must be held in a blind trust. We know about this loophole and I imagine others will explore the loophole as the government has said no to closing said loophole. When we have a situation where the rules are not explicitly clear, one could say I am following the rules.

According to our rules, I have to ask permission to share time with the MP for Edmonton West. I hope that will be accommodated.

We know that the finance minister told his former firm that he expected he would put his assets into a blind trust. This has been said publicly. Why do we think the minister said that to his former firm? I would submit to this place that the minister is an intelligent man and he knew full well that placing his assets into a blind trust was the correct thing to do, which is why at that time he made that comment.

Despite having made the comment and clearly knowing the importance of blind trusts to our system of ensuring that those who lead the country do not personally profit from activities of their own office, the minister ultimately refused to do so. I will leave it up to this place to speculate on the reasons why.

Unfortunately, things only get worse from here.

We also know that at the same time, the finance minister continued to knowingly hold shares indirectly in a company that would significantly benefit from Bill C-27. At no time did the minister recuse himself from that legislation and that is deeply troubling.

Lest we not forget, we only learned of these details as they slowly leaked out. At first the minister claimed he was not in any conflict. Then, under pressure, the minister finally sold all of the shares that he accumulated, dividends most likely that he profited from. Then in question period this week, he told us that he is no longer in a conflict position because he has sold the shares in question. The problem with that is if not owning the shares means he is not in conflict, what did it mean when the Minister of Finance did own the shares? Once again I will leave it up to this place to contemplate that.

More troubling is that when the Prime Minister was asked when he first learned that his finance minister had not placed his assets into a blind trust, as many believe he had, the Prime Minister refused to answer this question.

One thing we have learned about this particular Prime Minister is that the only time we get a clear answer is when the answer is not politically damaging. Let us not forget the Prime Minister tells this place very little about his own ethics investigation.

Now we have this problem. Canadians thought they had a finance minister who had placed his assets into a blind trust and by extension when he failed to do this, he introduced a bill that caused those shares to increase in value.

Yes, he may well have since sold those shares, after the fact I might add, and donated those profits away, but that does not change the fact that this was all after the fact, once someone else leaked that information. When we learned that the finance minister did not recuse himself from Bill C-27 and that there was no ethics screen, I asked this question: What would happen had no one leaked that these shares were not in a blind trust? I will leave it to those in this place to contemplate that.

However, one thing that is clear is this. When all of these things occurred on the part of the finance minister, it created a serious credibility problem. Of course, that is why we are here today, because we know that the finance minister has other numbered companies. What we do not know is what assets are in those companies. If the finance minister truly has nothing to hide, then surely he would just disclose those assets. The finance minister is an intelligent person and would know this. However, despite knowing this, he continues to refuse to provide the necessary transparency, and he now has the gall to question this as somehow being an attack on his character.

I can assure the finance minister and this place that there is no such thing. Instead, it is an opportunity for transparency to help restore badly needed confidence. After all, why do we have conflict of interest guidelines? Why do we have a Conflict of Interest Act? It is to ensure that public office holders, and in particular ministers of the crown, do not personally profit from the decisions they make that are meant to be for the public benefit. It is a matter of trust. This is not a new thing. Why were blind trusts first created? Why did the Prime Minister publicly disclose he was using a blind trust? Why are other members of the cabinet using blind trusts? Why have previous ministers of the crown used blind trusts? We all know the answer to these questions. I do not have to leave it up to this place to contemplate that. It is all about transparency and how ministers of the crown honourably conduct themselves.

Before I close, I would like to leave members with this one question. There is no doubt that they will hear many times throughout the discussion today that the Prime Minister, as we all know, came into this place and said, “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” Why do we think the Prime Minister said that? Did he say it because it was politically convenient to do so at the time? Did he say it because the principle should only apply to everyone else but a Liberal finance minister, or because it happens to be true? At the end of this debate, when we vote on this motion, the Prime Minister will have an opportunity to show his commitment to his own words of wisdom, as will all members of this place. Will we vote for transparency or will some choose to vote for the continued cloak of darkness and secrecy?

I look forward to hearing the good questions that members have for me today.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 1 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is what he has done and it is what he has not done. We know that he has not claimed a certain corporation in the south of France that owned a beautiful chateau. He did not want Canadians to know about it. He did not want the Ethics Commissioner to know about it. He failed to report it and was found guilty, as charged by the Ethics Commissioner, and paid a fine. We know that is one thing he did not do.

One of the things that concerns me about what the minister did was that he brought bringing forward the new legislation, Bill C-27. I am not going to get into the positives and negatives of Bill C-27, but all we know is that with that one piece of legislation, the minister stands, and indeed stood, to profit massively. We know that his family company's expertise is in target benefit plans. We know that the company has been used to help formulate the target benefit plan in New Brunswick. The minister has not reported his own corporations, he has not reported his own assets to the Ethics Commissioner. He has withheld that, but he has come in the backdoor with legislation. The legislation may be alright, but his company will benefit from it.

When I signed on as a minister, I signed on recognizing that the code says that I should not bring forward anything that would benefit me financially or my family members. It may even say “friends”. I cannot recall right now. Here is the problem. This is why all the opposition parties have joined together and asked why the Prime Minister will not allow this—

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak during the debate on the opposition day motion calling on the Liberal government's finance minister to reveal all assets he has bought, sold, or held within all his private companies and trust funds since he became a finance minister.

We all heard, and we all know, about the Prime Minister's statement in the House on November 1, 2017, where he said, “sunshine is the best disinfectant”. In his quote, the Prime Minister was referring to his election pledge, promising to provide Canadians with open and transparent government. His belief was that his cabinet ministers would be above all reproach, and the best way to prove it was to be able to shine this sunshine on it and use it as a disinfectant.

We all know about the multiple failures the Prime Minister and his Liberal government have had when it comes to fulfilling their election promises. It is a terrible record of failure. They have disappointed many Canadians who believed in the campaign promises. They believed the deficit would only be $10 billion, and Liberals missed it by another $18 billion.

The finance minister has, for weeks now, refused to use the disinfectant that the Prime Minister recommends to cleanse himself of the shroud of secrecy that clouds his tenure as finance minister. The finance minister refuses to come clean and tell Canadians about his personal wealth.

Before we go on further, I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.

Has the finance minister intentionally refused to conduct himself under the open and transparent rules that the Prime Minister promised Canadians? Has the Prime Minister a-okayed the finance minister's constant and continuous refusal to tell Canadians what investments he owns? Has the Prime Minister a-okayed the fact that the finance minister is using his position to enrich his personal finances and his family's firm?

Is the finance minister wilfully disobeying the Prime Minister? Or is the Prime Minister backing down, succumbing to threats made by the finance minister as he refuses to confess what he owns and how he is using Canadian law, or how he used it, to enrich his own family portfolio?

The Prime Minister talks about his family fortune, so it is possible that the Prime Minister understands his fellow multi-millionaire finance minister's stubborn refusal to share with the Canadian public the details concerning the numbered companies that the finance minister owns. This refusal to be honest and open is disrespectful to all Canadian taxpayers, to the Canadian public, and to middle-class Canadians. No one can trust someone who refuses to tell the truth.

Worse, the finance minister has been playing what we call “silly games” with Canada's Ethics Commissioner for two years. The Ethics Commissioner, contrary to what the former member said, has found him guilty, and I am reading from the nature of the violation that she printed, of “Failure to include in a Confidential Report a corporation”, one of the minister's corporations, “established in France and an estimate of its value”, and it was the corporation that controlled the interest of his chalet in southern France; and “failure to include in the Confidential Report his directorship of that corporation”.

The finance minister is playing games with the Ethics Commissioner. He is playing games with Canadians. That is why he belittled the NDP for joining together with Conservatives. I think every member of Parliament, including many on the Liberal side, are very much concerned with the direction they see this finance minister going. Canadians understand the process.

When someone is named to cabinet, they declare their assets, and the Ethics Commissioner helps the new cabinet ministers sort out their assets so that the new cabinet minister is free to work on policies and government business without a conflict of interest. Everyone does it. Well, everyone is supposed to do it. It is actually easy unless there is something to hide.

We had a prime minister, the Right Hon. Paul Martin, who was also a cabinet minister. He was the minister of finance. He is very wealthy man. His family was famous for owning ships, and paying some taxes in Canada. These were massive ocean liner-sized cargo ships that operated all over the world.

Paul Martin immediately placed his holdings into a blind trust so he could be free to be finance minister, and then prime minister. Canadians had a reasonable assurance that he was not writing laws aimed at enriching his personal wealth. However, the current Prime Minister and his rich finance minister do not seem to understand that, or if they do, they do not care.

Paul Martin took his job and his wealth seriously, more seriously than the present Prime Minister and finance minister do. Both of them have come to Parliament fairly recently and maybe they are just uncertain. Maybe they think there are two different laws for Canadians, the wealthy and those not quite so fortunate. The current Prime Minister was born into his family fortune and considers it a privilege.

The Ethics Commissioner makes certain that these types of issues should not come to the front, and when concerns do come to the fore, she judges them. She has already found him guilty. She is already going through another investigation of the finance minister, the Prime Minister, and of other cabinet ministers.

Canadians do not need or want to hear the details of every asset, but they do want the watchdog to be satisfied that these rich politicians are doing their job without a conflict of interest between the work they do and their personal wealth. Canadians want to be sure that legislation put forward by a finance minister is not above and beyond what normal legislation is. They do not want legislation that would enhance the wealth of the finance minister.

That is part of the concern with Bill C-27, but it is not why we are here. We are here because we want to see what corporations, what assets, the finance minister has held in the last two years, and he is refusing to tell Parliament. He has refused in question period for weeks now.

The paradise papers released a few weeks ago unveiled $250 billion owned by Canadians in offshore tax havens, where no Canadian taxes are paid on the investment profits they generate. Instead of chasing these investments and the rich Canadians who own this $250 billion, the finance minister and the Prime Minister think it is better to raise government tax revenues off the backs of the working class, the middle class, lower income people, small business owners, farmers, waitresses, fishermen, and more.

That is why Canadians are upset about this. They see a double standard. Canadians are upset because they see one set of rules for the finance minister and another set of rules for every other politician, and yet they bear the brunt of the finance minister's attacks. This is disgraceful.

We are watching the 1% right here in action in the House of Commons on that Liberal side. They take care of their own.

I chair the public accounts committee and this morning the Auditor General issued a report on the Phoenix system, a report on the Canada Revenue Agency, and a report on Syrian refugees. Part of what he said in his report is disappointing. He said,

I was hoping that I would be able to talk about something other than results for citizens. I keep delivering the same message that the government does not understand its results from the citizen's perspective....

It appears that our message is not being heard at a whole-of-government level.... Getting these requires a concerted effort across government to understand and measure the citizen experience.

We have the same issue with the Liberal government. It simply does not understand that the people who are being governed are asking for certain responsible measures to protect them from those who govern. That is what the Ethics Commissioner does.

That is why we need to shine a light on the finance minister, so we can see exactly what the House has been asking for, namely, what corporations did he own and what corporations benefited from the measures he has put in place.

For all we know, he could own shares in any number of companies across this country that the government has lent, granted, or given money to, including Bombardier, marijuana grow plants, all kinds of things. All we want is the information. Canadians deserve it.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / noon
See context

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, a lot of people in Beauport—Limoilou are listening to us right now, and I want to say hello to them.

Our political system is a parliamentary democracy. I believe that it is the best system in the world, and I think all members of the House would agree.

In this system, ministerial responsibility is the most important thing we carry out every day, primarily in question period and through opposition days like today. Ministerial responsibility was acquired as a result of long debates and long military campaigns.

Les Patriotes were not all French Canadians; they included some English Canadians, too. They fought in the 1820s and 1830s to obtain ministerial responsibility, which the British monarchy and British Parliament granted us with the Act of Union, creating a united Canada in 1841.

What we are doing today with our opposition day is exercising that ministerial responsibility and ensuring that it is fulfilled. One of the ways this is done is through investigative journalism, which is very important and which we on this side of the House take very seriously. In fact, with the help of its sponsor here, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a senator in the other place managed to get a bill passed that provides greater protection to whistleblowers and the confidential sources of investigative journalism.

What have investigative journalists discovered in recent months? The Minister of Finance did three things, or overlooked three things, or made three serious mistakes.

Need we remind members that the finance minister is second in command in the Government of Canada. He is second in command not because he is more important than other ministers, but it can still be argued that a country's finances are critical given their implications for education, health, and the well-being of Canadians. For that reason, the position of finance minister is held in high regard and the incumbent must do everything possible to ensure that Canadians' confidence in the minister is never in doubt or undermined.

Unfortunately, the three things that the finance minister did in two years, which were reported by investigative journalists in recent months, have slowly and surely undermined Canadians' confidence in the minister.

In my view, the attitude, behaviour, and actions of all members in their day-to-day activities both inside and outside the House must always be guided by three principles: a sense of duty, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of honour.

I urge my Liberal colleagues to listen carefully. The Minister of Finance, like all of us, had the solemn, legal duty to disclose his assets to the Ethics Commissioner right away. He had six months to do so, using a form that is pretty easy to fill out. It may have been more difficult for him, since he has so many assets. However, he had a duty to disclose all of his assets, in black and white, clearly and openly, leaving no doubt and leaving nothing out. He had a duty, and he did not properly fulfill it. I will get back to this and explain why.

The minister also had the responsibility, and still does today, to inform the Ethics Commissioner of any changes to his personal situation throughout his term. Such changes would include a new acquisition, a boat in the Bahamas, or, who knows, a second villa in France.

As a member of Parliament, I receive updates from the Ethics Commissioner reminding me of my responsibility and duty to disclose any new assets, throughout my term. For example, I recently declared that I purchased a home for my lovely little family; I was happy to do so. All members of Parliament have this responsibility.

In my opinion, however, honour is even more important than duty or responsibility. When members of Parliament are guided by a sense a honour, their actions are naturally guided by a sense of duty and responsibility. The Minister of Finance failed in his duty and his responsibility as an elected official, minister, and member of Cabinet over the past two years, and I will talk about this failure in a few seconds. Unfortunately for him and for this government, he sullied his honour.

First, two years ago, when he was made to fill out the much-discussed form disclosing his assets, interests, and so on to the Ethics Commissioner, he forgot, nay, omitted to declare a company incorporated in France that owns a luxurious villa in Provence in the south of France. I imagine it is very luxurious and quite expensive. That is unbelievable.

I have here a public notice of penalty issued under the authority of the Conflict of Interest Act. This is not a joke. These are not allegations or opposition attacks. This is fact. The Ethics Commissioner issued a penalty just a few weeks ago and fined the Minister of Finance $200 for violating paragraphs 22(2)(a) and 22(2)(d) of the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to include in a confidential report a corporation established in France and an estimate of its value and, crucially, by failing to include in the report his directorship in that corporation. This is serious business.

The Minister of Finance, an important businessman from Bay Street in Toronto who manages a huge family business, somehow forgot to report that asset in France, although he claims it was just an administrative oversight. That is a first. This actually happened; he paid the fine. He was caught and had to face the music, although only administratively. Of course, these are not criminal charges. That was his first dereliction of duty and breach of Canadian laws, the first stain on his reputation, and the first thing that shook Canadians' confidence in him.

On top of that, he did not put his shares in Morneau Shepell, worth $20 million, in a blind trust. He hid them in a numbered company in Alberta and has made millions on them over the past two years. Thank goodness he donated it to charity. It was the least he could do, but he still has not apologized and he refuses to talk about the fact that he has been violating the spirit of the law over the past year.

Lastly, he is once again being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner regarding a conflict of interest, because he introduced Bill C-27, which makes changes to pension plans and will benefit the family business started by his father. He is therefore in a direct conflict of interest, he failed in his duty and his responsibilities, and his honour is besmirched.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.

Trust is earned when actions meet words. It is unfortunate that today we are here in the House having to call out the finance minister for breaking the trust of Canadians.

The Prime Minister and the finance minister arguably are the two most important, powerful officials in government. We as parliamentarians and, more important, Canadians must be able to trust that they will act in the public interest rather than in their own private interest. As the Prime Minister has said “sunshine is the best disinfectant”. Therefore, let us lift up the rug, throw open the doors, and reveal what is in all those numbered companies the finance minister has set up in various provinces.

The Liberals clearly are not very comfortable talking about this topic. Either at town halls or through correspondence and phone calls, they have had to defend the bad life decisions the minister has made.

For folks at home wondering why we are having this debate, it is because Canada is not a backward country where elected officials get to live off the largesse of the office they hold. When the actions of a minister of the crown are in dispute, the minister has a moral duty to provide the information needed to uphold the trust bestowed unto him or her by Canadians, but also to the overall institution.

Parliament is bigger than any one minister. Regardless of one's self-appointed importance, the reputation of all of us is at risk due to the mistakes of one individual, particularly when the circumstances of the incident are as serious as this. Politicians should not personally benefit from the office they hold. Ministers of the crown are fairly compensated for the work they do on behalf of Canadians. They do not need to set up numbered companies that are designed in such a manner as to avoid giving up control of their assets.

We are here because the Minister of Finance did not live up to his mandate letter. To quote the mandate letter from the Prime Minister, it said the following:

...you.... must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

We are here because the minister thought, in some twisted world, that he could have his cake and eat it too. His actions in this ethical quagmire do not live up to the standards to which ministers of the crown should aspire. The Minister of Finance has clearly broken the spirit of the conflict of interest rules. There is no ambiguity about that. He said that he was going to put his assets in a blind trust, but conveniently did not. Regardless of whatever lame excuse or spin the government tries to use today to defend the minister, it does not pass the smell test. No one is buying it.

His approvals ratings have dramatically dropped and the Liberals' narrative of fighting for the middle class is not even believed on the pages of the Toronto Star anymore. We know a Liberal minister is in trouble when the Toronto Star starts criticizing his or her behaviour.

This bad news is taking a toll on the minister's public approval. According to a new poll, he is now the most negatively received member of the Prime Minister's cabinet. Forty-six per cent of those who knew of him gave the finance minister the thumbs down, while 23% said that he had done a good job in his position so far.

For the benefit of all members, those numbers are even lower than President Trump's approval in the United States. Furthermore, if the finance minister continues to drag the government down with him, he will soon find himself joining his former colleagues John McCallum and Stéphane Dion doing the embassy cocktail circuit with the prefix “His Excellency” added to his to business card.

That is where we find ourselves today. The ethical pyramid that has been constructed has come crashing down and the Minister of Finance has no one to blame for this but himself. Time and again, he has avoided doing the right thing, which is, for a start, to apologize.

For two years, the finance minister held shares worth approximately $20 million in Morneau Shepell, a company he regulates. He held these shares outside of a blind trust, despite his own colleagues believing his shares were in a blind trust.

Right after being sworn in as finance minister he spoke to the CBC. It was in that interview where he said, “I've resigned my position as chair of the firm that I was chair of before. I expect that all my assets will go into a blind trust.” Well, it turns out that this did not happen. His assets were not placed in a blind trust, but were set up in an elaborate way that still allowed him to control them in a numbered company in Alberta. Only after it was revealed that the finance minister was not holding his assets in a blind trust did he acknowledge his wrongdoing and agree to sell those assets. He continues to hold several numbered companies, but the assets held within those companies are not publicly known.

While he held these shares, the finance minister also introduced Bill C-27, which would create targeted benefit pension plans. We also know that benefit pension plans are a highly specialized product offered by Morneau Shepell. In this regard, it has just been announced that the Ethics Commissioner has launched an investigation into the minister's involvement with Bill C-27, particularly as his shares in Morneau Shepell rose in value after the legislation was announced.

These are the facts that the Liberal member for Eglinton—Lawrence just called “tissues of nonsense”. These costly mistakes have tarnished the minister's reputation and, from media reports, will end up costing him roughly $5 million dollars after his assets are divested.

For someone who is as educated and successful as he is, it boggles the mind how he could have thought his actions were ethical. Even the most casual political observer would have recognized that the Minister of Finance should not have control over his assets, which would surely be impacted by the decisions he would make in office.

In this debate today we will ask the finance minister to reveal all of the assets he has bought, sold, or held within all of his private companies or trust funds since being sworn in. We are calling for this information to be revealed to determine if his financial interests have conflicted with his public duties.

Now the Liberals may try to shrug this off and pretend this debate is not happening. In fact, I suspect that many will not even try to defend the finance minister's ethical lapses. They know they cannot defend the indefensible. They can bob and weave during question period and avoid answering the tough questions, but if they tried for one moment to do this with their constituents back home, the latters' wrath and fury would surely be quick to follow.

Today, many members will lay out the argument why this motion should pass. Members will hear why the Minister of Finance should do the right thing and begin the process of revealing what he has bought and sold since he became the finance minister. Then and only then can we be sure that he did not personally financially gain from the decisions he has made while in office.

To my friends in the Liberal Party, this is their chance to stand up and demand better from those who govern us. Regardless of political stripe, I think we can all admit that the Minister of Finance has been less than forthcoming with Canadians. If the shoes were on the other feet, many of the MPs who sit across from us today would be in an uproar over what has transpired over these past two years. From secret villas to numbered companies to legislation that will financially benefit the minister's bank account, this paints a very troubling picture.

I call on every MP to demand better. Demand that the Prime Minister be held to his word. Demand that ministers be held to a higher standard than finding a loophole and then proclaiming their innocence.

Canadians are smarter than to fall for the claptrap that is far too often peddled. We know in our guts that what has become known is not only morally unacceptable, but also very clearly in breach of the law. Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.

The very least the finance minister could do is to be transparent and forthcoming with Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know this is going to be a difficult day for my Liberal colleagues because this is the role of Parliament and sometimes we have to discuss things that they do not want us to talk about.

There are two parts to the Conservatives' motion today. The first part calls upon the House to agree with the Prime Minister's statement in the House on November 1, that “sunshine is the best disinfectant”. I believe he was responding to a question from my hon. colleague from Hochelaga. This is a very widely known proverb, but the origins are less well known. The proverb is actually derived from the quote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants” which is attributed to Louis Brandeis, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 1914, he published a series of essays under the title Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It, in which he harshly criticized investment bankers who control large amounts of money deposited in their banks by middle-class people, the very people who will be harmed if Bill C-27 is passed.

The quote in question is found in chapter 5, “What publicity can do”. It was used in support of regulation to disclosure obligations, which is precisely what we are trying to accomplish in the House today. There is a delicious sort of irony here. The Liberal Prime Minister, who leads a party and a government that have traditionally been very friendly to Canada's big banks, who refused to do anything to tackle their business practices, including how they sell their financial products and the exorbitant fees they levy as service charges on middle-class Canadians, this same Prime Minister has unwittingly quoted a man who is very harshly critical of those same banks.

We know Morneau Shepell is getting quite concerned by all of the bad press it is receiving. It has basically become a household name in Canadian political discourse now. It has actually reached out to friends in the Financial Post. Yesterday it published an article in which it reported that Morneau Shepell rejects the suggestion that Bill C-27 would generate of flood of business for it, because guess what? There are many suppliers of pension services and the added business would not at all be significant. The article then relies on the fact that Morneau Shepell shares actually dipped in value a few weeks after Bill C-27 was introduced, as if this made it all okay for the finance minister to have owned shares in it in the first place because he would have lost some money.

That is really all the article can do as a defence because it then proceeds to do a hit job on the union leaders who are, surprise, surprise, going out and standing up for their members in advocating against the very thing that Bill C-27 is trying to do. That is really the only defence possible because this is an indefensible situation that we are in.

I find it very helpful for members in this place and for my constituents in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford to really go to the crux of the matter. It has to do with a very important piece of federal legislation, the Conflict of Interest Act. I will read, starting with section 4:

For the purposes of this Act, a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives...

It also says under section 5 that:

Every public office holder shall arrange his or her private affairs in a manner that will prevent the public office holder from being in a conflict of interest.

It is all spelled out quite clearly under the legislation and it is unfortunate that members on the government side seem to have some trouble understanding why we are debating this very issue today. The government's publication “An Open and Accountable Government” states quite clearly that:

Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must act with honesty and uphold the highest ethical standards so that public confidence and trust in the integrity and impartiality of government are maintained and enhanced.

Moreover, they have an obligation to perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny. This obligation is not fully discharged merely by acting within the law.

Those are not my words; those are the government's words. The Liberals can rely on the defence that they are complying with the commissioner and the act, but they are ignoring the fact the spirit of the law has been completely trampled upon.

We are all very well aware of the Prime Minister's mandate letters to each of his ministers, in which these tenets were upheld and even pushed.

Because of the opposition's line of questioning during question period and by bringing forward this motion today, some Liberals accuse members of the opposition of launching personal attacks. That is a complete deflection from the issue at hand. The role of Parliament, one of its most important roles, is to hold government to account.

I want to refer to a quote from the great Stanley Knowles, who gave a great speech to the Empire Club in 1957. He said:

The Parliament of this country, elected by free men and women on the basis of free discussions which cannot be abrogated, is not just a club of good fellows who ought to do the nation's business in the shortest...time and with the least possible contention; rather it is a body which should examine every proposal...to make sure that it is in the country's best interest; it is a body in which attention should be drawn to proposals that ought to be made but which are often overlooked, unless an election is just around the corner; it is a body which should scrutinize expenditures and inquire into the administration of public affairs to make sure that fairness, justice and equity are maintained.

I will let that hang in the air for a moment. That is precisely what we are doing today.

We operate by a system of responsible government, where the executive branch of the Liberal government sits within the legislature, and it can only continue to do its function with the support of the legislature. It is responsible to us, and we hold lines of inquires to ensure that ministers of the crown are living up to their fullest obligations possible. This is a very legitimate line of questioning and the government is deflecting by going over all the great things it has been doing. If the government is so happy with those great things, I invite a minister of the crown to move the appropriate motion so we can have that debate on a different day. The motion before us today is what we are debating, and it goes directly to the finance minister's conduct.

I believe my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley mentioned that this was a time when both the finance minister and Prime Minister were under investigation. The very fact that they engaged in activities that led to the investigations in the first place should be very troubling.

I want to refer all hon. members from the government's side to the second part of the motion before us today, which reads, “and call on the Finance Minister to reveal all assets he has bought, sold or held within all his private companies or trust funds since he became Finance Minister, to determine if his financial interests have conflicted with his public duties.”

When we ask questions of the government, we see a lot of glum faces on Liberal backbenchers as they have to listen to this finance minister day after day try to defend the indefensible. They may not see it from their point of view, but in the opposition we see the reactions of the Liberals. They know this is a tough position to defend.

I would like to end with a reference to “sunny ways”. The Liberal leader Wilfrid Laurier proposed that a diplomatic sunny way would work better, and he used an illustration of Aesop's fable in which the sun and the wind held a contest to see who could remove a traveller's coat. The sun's warm rays proved more effective to the wind's bluster. If the Liberals truly believe in sunlight being the best disinfectant, I call upon them to use their sunny ways to remove the finance minister's coat of silence so we, as the people's representatives, can truly have confidence in his role.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's assetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2017 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be splitting my time with my colleague from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

Let us start where we need to start, which is at the beginning.

Let us begin with the motion moved by the member for Carleton:

That the House agree with the Prime Minister’s statement in the House on November 1, 2017, that “sunshine is the best disinfectant”; and call on the Finance Minister to reveal all assets he has bought, sold or held within all his private companies....

This kind of thing happens because a loophole in the Conflict of Interest Act makes it possible for the minister not to be considered in conflict of interest if he holds his shares in a private numbered corporation, which is what the ultra-rich do. However, let us consider this statement by the Prime Minister about his ministers:

...the Ethical Guidelines...apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny.

It is bizarre that we should have to spend the day on a debate to help the Liberals keep a Liberal promise. That is our intention, and this is an opportunity for the Liberals and the Minister of Finance in particular to save their reputation.

We are simply asking the minister to keep the promise that he and the Prime Minister made to all Canadians to ensure that his private affairs can bear the closest public scrutiny.

We are spending the entire day trying to help Liberals out. It is not an easy thing to do sometimes, because it is correcting bad behaviour. We do not have to do it once, but over and over again, because there is a certain amount of recidivism when we are talking about Liberals and the Liberal culture when it comes to ethics.

Canadians have seen this movie before. The Liberals are entitled to their entitlements. The concern I have is that this finance minister does not even understand that he has done something wrong. It is not just that he has done something wrong with the introduction of a bill that personally helped him and his company, but it is that he does not see any problem with that.

Not only is the behaviour itself bad—the decisions that were made initially not just by the finance minister but by the Prime Minister's Office and the Prime Minister's staff—in breaking faith with Canadians, but after that faith was broken, and it was revealed publicly, the finance minister stands up day after day and asks what the problem is. He is just under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, he has already had to pay a fine for his French villa, and he says he is moving on; he has no problem here, and why should anybody else?

Having faith in the finance minister is important for Parliament and important for all Canadians, because it is such a powerful position. I think it is important to read out the promise that we are trying to help the Liberals keep today, because it is a promise that the Prime Minister himself made. He came in on a white stallion of integrity and was going to bring forth a new era in Canadian politics and integrity. Here is what the Prime Minister told Canadians, and demanded of all of his ministers, including the finance minister:

...you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny.

We found out that the finance minister's shares in Morneau Shepell totalled, depending on the date, some $32 million, and when he eventually sold them, they were worth between $6 million and $12 million more. Liberals talk about the personal sacrifices the finance minister has made, but I would love to make a personal sacrifice for which I gained $6 million to $12 million. Most Canadians would love the idea of that being the definition of personal sacrifice: being forced under public pressure to make $12 million profit. I am sorry if we do not hand out Kleenex for the tears that Canadians are shedding for the finance minister, who may have just cleared between $6 million and $12 million profit. It is tough to be him, I guess.

The notion is this, though. It only came to light because journalists dug through records to find out that he was still controlling these shares. They were in a numbered company in Alberta. There is a loophole in the ethics code that has never been exploited before, to my knowledge, because no one thought of it, I guess, where, if he took the shares he owned in Morneau Shepell and simply moved them into a numbered company in Alberta, even though all of the profits would still eventually go to him, and him alone, that was no longer considered a conflict of interest. That is a shell game.

Canadians sitting back and watching this ask who made the money, and we say he did. That seems like a conflict of interest, because he introduced Bill C-27 that directly helped out Morneau Shepell, in which he still had tens of millions of dollars of shares. That seems wrong. If the health minister introduced a bill while still owning pharmaceutical shares worth tens of millions of dollars that helped out that pharmaceutical company, we would scream foul. The finance minister gets up day after day and says the opposition is obsessed with him. He is under a conflict of interest investigation.

It was revealed only after the media dug into his personal accounts, in ways that they could, to find out about the French villa that was in a numbered company that he forgot about. It was only because the media dug into public and semi-private records that they found out he was still controlling shares in Morneau Shepell worth millions of dollars while regulating the pension industry. Hold that thought for a moment. He worked in the pension industry, his company made profits in the pension industry, and he moved into public life to serve the public. He maintains millions of dollars of shares in a pension company while being the regulator of the pension industry, and the finance minister does not see a potential conflict of interest.

Today, we have a motion on which the entire day in the House will be spent asking the Liberals to simply do this: to keep their promise about public scrutiny. It does not end with the Morneau Shepell Bill C-27 affair. We know the finance minister has at least five other numbered companies, the contents of which we know nothing about. The very first test he faced on whether we should trust him or not was around introducing Bill C-27. He failed the test. The Ethics Commissioner is now investigating him because he failed that test. She believes there is enough evidence to launch that investigation.

When it was revealed that the finance minister was going under this investigation, his office tried to spin it and say it was not an investigation, that it was just an examination. That is what his office said. Lo and behold, we found out there is no difference, because in the ethics act the only word for it is “examination”. Liberals are in a hole and they just keep on digging. In fact, I think they went out and bought a bigger shovel.

Never mind that Morneau Shepell, as revealed through an access to information request, still maintains 171 contracts with the federal government. It has contracts valued at $53 million with the federal government while the finance minister maintains shares in Morneau Shepell. It is a minefield of conflicts of interest all over the place, in every decision he is making. One would have thought that if he wanted to keep his promise, knowing all of his personal affairs would bear the fullest public scrutiny, he would have divested.

That a cabinet minister sitting in Donald Trump's cabinet cannot do what this finance minister has done should cause Canadians some alarm. People in cabinet working for the President of the United States, even the current president, have to divest themselves of their interests. Otherwise, they will run into conflicts of interest almost every day. The finance minister still has not come clean. He has not revealed to Canadians what he owns or what his interests are. He says we should trust him, he is a good guy. He may be a good guy, but he is doing bad things.

Doing the right thing after getting caught is not exactly the same as doing the right thing, is it? One does not exactly build up trust by saying that now that he has been caught, he will do this, this, and this. The finance minister needs confidence, not just of the Prime Minister but of all Canadians. If he wants to regain confidence, this would all go away, if he just does this. The only person who can make this story end is the finance minister himself, who simply has to keep his promise that he and the Prime Minister made to all Canadians, to tell us what he owns and how he owns it so that Canadians can judge, because that is who we work for.

We all in this place work for the Canadians who sent us here. The finance minister promised that he would reveal what he owns and how he owns it. He, to this day, has not done that. The only record that we have is his dealing with a pension bill that would directly help out his company. Only after he got caught did he beget generosity toward charities and donate the profits, and we still do not even know how he did that and if he is getting a tax receipt for that. I ask the Liberals to come now, join with us, come into the light, let the sun shine in, and tell us what he owns and how he owns it.