Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm going to put in my two cents. It won't take more than a few minutes. I'll try not to repeat anything that's already been said. In the course of our parliamentary lives, there are times when we have to decide between certain interests and our conscience. I hope the members on the other side will have all the freedom they need to make that decision in the face of a situation that many Canadians find troubling, that we find troubling.
Today is about deciding whether or not to let the former ministers appear before the committee. They unfortunately had to step down from their positions, which they did with a heavy heart, I'm sure. The course of action they chose demonstrated great courage; choosing to leave such high office as a matter of principle, for the benefit of Canadians, but not being able to explain why. That is quite disturbing indeed. Being parliamentarians as they are, we cannot help but wonder how uneasy their conscience must have been in order for them to resign as they did.
This motion is perfectly legitimate. Surely, it is incumbent upon this committee to probe the issue. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights refused the request no doubt because justice was upheld. The former attorney general simply said no, and the answer was no. Justice was therefore served by the Department of Justice. As for whether there was any conflict of interest or pressure, it is really this committee's job to get to the truth about certain individuals' actions and the pressure that parliamentarians face in these kinds of situations when they hold such high-ranking positions as minister, Attorney General and minister for the Treasury Board and exercise their executive duties. Safeguarding the division between justice, politics and executive authority is paramount. It is the very foundation of our democracy and the reason Canadians have confidence in our system—a system that shepherds us along as we advance towards the society we aspire to be.
Unfortunately, the country doesn't seem to be on the right path. Even the international community is sending the signal that we need to clean up our act. A lot of people are disappointed. As a country that has always upheld freedom of expression and the rule of law on the world stage, we never would have expected to find ourselves in a situation like this. Right now, we're getting a rap on the knuckles, and we don't understand why. The potential short, medium and long term damage is misunderstood. The responsibility on each of us today practically bears historic significance, because it is up to us to let the truth come out. It is our duty to give these individuals the opportunity to speak their truth freely, so I urge all of my fellow committee members to make the right decision.
From time to time, as parliamentarians, we have to make tough decisions, but we must never forget that we are here on behalf of all Canadians, so that they can have better lives and brighter futures. We have a duty to protect our institutions. That responsibility is on our shoulders. In just a few moments, we'll find out whether the truth will finally be revealed or the problem will simply worsen like a festering abscess. Of course, cutting open an abscess is painful and unpleasant at the time, but it is necessary if the wound is to heal. Similarly, certain things must be done if our society is to heal.
We must have the courage of our convictions, so I hope this committee does what is right.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.