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Evidence of meeting #33 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was carroll.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Chad Mariage
Adam Carroll  As an Individual
Paul Champ  Lawyer, Champ and Associates

April 24th, 2012 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Conservative Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Carroll, I appreciate your being here today.

You stated earlier that you hadn't committed anything illegal. We are a committee here, and the chair is not a judge and we're not a jury, but we're the ethics committee.

The question really is are your actions ethical, and is it ethical to use an office that's funded by taxpayers, and a computer that's funded by taxpayers, and your salary that is funded by taxpayers to do what you did? I think that's a serious question, and it's the question that needs to be answered here. Do you feel that what you did was ethical? That's my first question.

The second question is that Mr. Andrews correctly pointed out that there are funds given to interns for severance, but there's also the question of separation. Are you receiving or did you receive discretionary funds from the Liberal leader's office?

The first question is do you feel that you were being unethical?

12:35 p.m.

As an Individual

Adam Carroll

Thank you for your questions. I'll answer them in order.

I think this actually gets to the bottom of my question earlier, why are we here? I think there are some people who think that because this is called the ethics committee, we're here to judge ethics. There is no forum to discuss what is ethical or what is not ethical. I have no answer to your question because I think that it is for every individual to answer for themself.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Conservative Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

And what's your response to my second question?

12:35 p.m.

As an Individual

Adam Carroll

In the second question you're asking about my severance. I'm not sure why, or where you're trying to go with that. I assume it's because you're trying to build up a storyline that doesn't exist, but I assure you that....

You know what? I'm just going to simply say that I will not answer that question because it's completely inappropriate.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Conservative Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Okay.

I don't have any more questions.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

You have two and a half minutes left, Mr. Del Mastro.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Thank you very much.

Mr. Carroll, as you'll know from your decades of political experience.... I believe you've worked for a number of MPs—Bonnie Crombie, you mentioned, and Joe Volpe, whose leadership campaign raised people from the dead....

Many Canadians in public life have gone through family breakdowns, and I'm proud that my party, the Conservative Party, has maintained a high ethical standard. We've never engaged in circulating divorce records of our political opponents—never—but there have been many.

If your smear campaign has served any purpose, I hope it will be to shame the Liberal Party into demanding better from its staff and, more importantly, reflecting on its own internal culture of rot, which produces activists who undertake things like you did.

I want to thank you for your appearance today. I think we've gained a number of answers today. But I'm left with an awful lot of questions as well, because it's very clear to me that you've indicated, for example, that everyone in the Liberal office—you said everyone—had access to these files. I can't see what purpose a file like this would serve in the Liberal Research Bureau other than to be used for the exact purpose that you used it for. I would think it was done with the full knowledge of the leadership of the Liberal Party, that files like this were being compiled with the intention of at some point turning someone like you self loose with them, to use them in the fashion you did. I'd also suggest that if the Liberal Party truly wants to demonstrate....

You know, I read a file from 2002, a newspaper story, from when Kevin Bosch first arrived on the Hill. It talked about how Mr. Bosch came with files full of personal information, attack information, on opposition MPs.

I believe this has been a culture within the Liberal Party for some time. I think you were picking up on that culture. I think you were using resource materials that, you've indicated, you don't even know where they came from, but they were readily available to every staff member in the Liberal office.

I can't help but believe, and I don't think anyone who's impartial in this room can help but believe, that those files were compiled in the Liberal Research Bureau for any reason other than to do exactly what you did with them.

As I pointed out, the Liberal Party itself in 2005 brought a bill similar to Bill C-30 to assist police in tracking this kind of crime that we see in our streets. Marlene Jennings twice championed it as a private member's bill, and I believe Francis Scarpaleggia demanded that the government support that bill and bring it forward at the time.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Monsieur Del Mastro—

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I don't remember your using this information, or using this kind of information or attack.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Mr. Del Mastro, unfortunately, your time is up.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

This is the exact kind of faceless, bullying smear campaign that we see other governments in other parts of the province are trying to put an end to and stop. Frankly, I would expect better from the Liberal Party, and I think Mr. Rae needs to come clean on this.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you, Mr. Del Mastro. Your time is up.

Can you answer quickly, Mr. Carroll?

12:40 p.m.

As an Individual

Adam Carroll

I didn't hear a question in that sermon, but I do want to point out that I think you used the word “hypocrisy” in there at least once. Are you suggesting that the Conservative Party of Canada's opposition research files are just perfectly clean, with encyclopedia-level information about every member of Parliament in the opposition? Is that what you're suggesting?

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you, Mr. Carroll.

12:40 p.m.

As an Individual

Adam Carroll

Will you be willing to invite the media over to take a quick look?

12:40 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you, Mr. Carroll, but your time is up. If you want to continue that answer, you are going to have to do it by using your own speaking time.

Mr. Andrews, you have five minutes.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Thank you very much.

I just have a couple of questions.

First, on the mysterious files parties have and where this information comes from, I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister that after being in power for over six years, we often get delivered to our offices a lot of brown envelopes with a lot of information from government departments and people who have information. So this information does appear in our offices. It's nothing new. It's nothing that didn't happen before and nothing that won't happen again.

It's interesting to talk about the ethical part of this particular discussion.

My final question to you, Mr. Carroll, is about ethical funds from taxpayers. In the particular affidavits on Mr. Toews, were there any allegations that he used House of Commons resources?

12:40 p.m.

As an Individual

Adam Carroll

Thank you for your question.

Yes. The parliamentary secretary asked an open-ended question about why we would have these files.

There is information in those affidavits that is very relevant to the work of the House of Commons and to members of Parliament, in particular with respect to the discussion of meal expenses. It's been a little while since I've had the opportunity to go through each and every one of the postings, but if I recall, there seemed to be a couple of postings. One in particular said:

Vic claims the maximum allowable in “per diems” for food ($83.30 per day) because no receipts are required. This is what amounts to a tax free allowance for Vic, in the past, while we were living together, of approximately $10,000.00 per year.

There is another point in here that says,

Vic receives approximately $25,500 tax free annually from the government in order to pay for his accommodation and meals while in Ottawa.

Then we get into the next section, which I term Vikieats, where we talk about how that money was spent, or whether these per diems were claimed while he was also out spending over $500 on pancakes.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Do I have any time left, or are we done?

12:45 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

It is 12:45 p.m. We are going to have to interrupt the discussion and suspend our work for a few minutes. We will then resume with a discussion on the committee's future work.

I thank our witness for being here. Have a good afternoon.

12:48 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Order, please. Let us resume.

As you know, we have had discussions about our future work. Unfortunately, what we need to do in the long term has not yet been determined. Today we had Mr. Carroll with us.

This Thursday we have a meeting with Jennifer Stoddart about the main estimates and the PIPEDA law.

The French acronym is LPRPDE. It is about a report on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Then we have to study the main estimates.

Next week, we have Ms. Karen Shepherd scheduled to appear. She is coming to talk about the main estimates; that's next Tuesday, May 1 st. After that, nothing has been planned.

It has also been suggested that we continue drafting the report on lobbying which is already underway and for which we set a deadline of two weeks during the Easter break. We can do that after the study on the main estimates with Karen Shepherd.

I do not know whether committee members are in agreement with that. It would happen next week, in the second hour of the meeting on May 1 st and during the meeting on May 3rd. Is the committee in favour of continuing our study of the report on lobbying?

Mr. Del Mastro, I think you want to say something about it.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm in agreement with the schedule that is before you. I'd just ask that when the committee returns to considering the report on the Lobbying Act we stay on it until it's ready to be submitted to Parliament.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Agreed. That was the intention. So we will take the time we need to do that study. Nothing is scheduled on our calendar afterwards.

Last April 2, I made a motion about privacy and the Canada-US border. There seemed to be some informal agreement on the motion. Unfortunately, since I am now chair of the committee, I cannot introduce that motion again. Someone else would have to introduce it, if we have the unanimous consent of all committee members. if not, we will have to have a notice of motion to introduce it two days later. I do not know if we have consent on that.

Ms. Borg.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

I will ask for unanimous consent to consider that motion.

By the way, Mr. Chair, congratulations on your election.

Given your election as chair of the committee, I think it would be only fair to ask for and to give unanimous consent for that motion.