We've heard these lines repeated that Jody Wilson-Raybould had four hours to have her say and that this was good enough. Now the Liberals have made up their minds. They think everything she had to say is out, which we know isn't true, because we know that she herself, Ms. Wilson-Raybould, has said both publicly and in writing that she has more to say, and now Jane Philpott, in the article in Maclean's, has indicated that she also has some things to contribute to this conversation. Canadians want to hear what they have to say.
This isn't good enough for Canadians. Every place I go in my riding of Essex, people are talking about this. To think that this is just somehow an Ottawa bubble story and that no one is paying attention to it, because it's too difficult to understand all the moving pieces, which I, frankly, understand, because this story has been changing every single day.... People are talking about it. I went to the post office and a lady was talking to me about it in there. She knew Jody Wilson-Raybould's name and Jane Philpott's name and was using them, saying, “We want them to speak the truth”.
I was in airport security yesterday to come here, and the screener was talking to me about this. They want these women to come and speak. People who typically don't pay attention to politics are gripped by this story. To see the budget come and go and no one is even talking about the budget tells us that Canadians are not ready to let this story go.
The motion before us today is about getting to the truth. We're willing to use all the tools available. If the Prime Minister at this point won't do the right thing and expand the waiver, which is what's being asked, to expand the scope of the order in council, then we have to have a full public inquiry. At the very least, he has to let these former cabinet ministers speak because of the indication they have given that they would like to speak and that they have something substantive to contribute to the story.
When Jane Philpott, last week, said that there is much more to the SNC-Lavalin affair and that Canadians have concerns about the government's attempts to shut down the story, that rang true to me. I can tell from the op-ed this morning that my colleague Mr. Erskine-Smith feels the same way, that it rang true, that people are talking about this and want the truth. As elected officials, that's the obligation we have. Our obligation isn't to the party we represent. It's actually to our constituents and to Canadians as a whole when we're sitting in committee.
I want to talk a little bit about the justice committee and what happened there. A lot of people told us that they felt that it was the best place for the study for the truth to come out, but the Liberals were quite clear that they had no desire to see that happen at the justice committee. They used every tool available to them to shut down the debate, to shut down the conversation and to essentially end the study.
We don't have an ongoing study anymore at the justice committee to get to the bottom of this, and that's concerning, because this isn't just about Canada. The OECD is watching what we're doing here. Our minister had to provide a letter saying that yes, we will have a robust investigation at the justice committee. Well, that's no longer happening, so what is the response to the globe right now about our trying to pull our own weight and stick to the international commitments we've made, not just in words but in writing, and the standard we are held to? We can't just skate away from them. The ethics committee is another opportunity for a study that would satisfy the global community and let it know that our commitments are serious and that we take them seriously.
On the justice committee, the Liberal majority, in my opinion, did not act in good faith. The NDP moved three motions to have Jody Wilson-Raybould testify again, on February 27, March 6 and March 13, and was consistently voted down and ignored.
This is another opportunity for the Liberals to understand that this isn't a story that's going away. Canadians want the truth. This is another opportunity to get to that truth. Ms. Wilson-Raybould was repeatedly denied the opportunity to return to the justice committee, even though we saw the former Privy Council clerk, Michael Wernick, come back, and he refuted the testimony she had given. Fundamentally, that's unfair. She has a right of reply. It's just a fundamental unfairness that she was not able to come back and address the comments made about her. I hope that her colleagues who sit on this committee see that for the injustice it was and that she deserves a right to speak to what was said about her.
We moved motions to hear from everyone implicated in her testimony, and these were consistently voted down. We heard from three people out of 11. There are still other players named in this who need the opportunity to come forward to speak and to clear their own names, because some pretty incriminating things were said about them. I'm sure those people do not want this to follow their careers either and would welcome the opportunity to come before this committee to air the truth. I'm talking about people at the highest levels. We're talking about four resignations. We're talking about the former attorney general's chief of staff. We're talking about the current chief of staff to the Prime Minister. We're talking about two PMO staff members who are still sitting there. I would imagine that they would like the opportunity to come before the committee. I hope you'll extend that to them, because, at a bare minimum, in terms of fairness and as a courtesy, I think they deserve that as well.
What happened? We saw what happened. The Liberals voted to shut down the debate. They adjourned the debate. Again, last week, they shut down the entire study. Now there's nothing happening at the justice committee. We saw a letter come from Ms. Wilson–Raybould to the justice committee last week in direct response to questions asked by Mr. Rankin during her testimony. She will provide some of the documents and text messages that were requested of her. She alluded to a report in her letter. There is no such report. There's no report to come from the justice committee, because the Liberal members on the justice committee shut down any opportunity for that. There's nothing going forward there.
Again, we have to understand that Ms. Wilson–Raybould will only be addressing in her response those direct questions asked of her. The question I think is outstanding is why the Liberal members on that committee did not want to get to the truth. I hope the Liberal members on this committee, who hold the majority here, are seriously considering what has been happening around our country and the fact that this isn't going away. Every single day there's a new bombshell coming out on this.
The best path for all of us is to go to the truth. When the truth comes out, we can deal with the fallout from it. I sincerely hope there won't be a movement to adjourn, there won't be a movement to go in camera and there won't be an attempt to once again put things behind closed doors, which Canadians are strongly indicating they do not want to see.
I want to address a comment made that's been a theme, a very horrible theme in this entire thing, which has been the attempt to smear these very credible, intelligent women. We saw a smear campaign against Ms. Wilson–Raybould, which continued yesterday in this debacle, about her being difficult to work with. If she is so difficult to work with, why was the Prime Minister offering her the indigenous file, which, by his own admission, is the most important relationship that exists? It doesn't hold water that she is difficult, but we're going to give her the best file, the most important file, we have. This doesn't add up, and Canadians can see through these attempts.
What Ms. Sgro said shocked people on the weekend, when she said that she wanted Ms. Wilson–Raybould and Ms. Philpott to “put up or shut up.” First of all, I don't know who speaks to their colleagues that way. I can tell you that my colleagues in the New Democratic Party would never speak to me in that manner. That's misogynistic. That's sexist. Coming from a woman, a senior woman, it is even more shocking. I hope you'll address this issue with your colleague. She needs to issue an apology, and I don't think an apology just to the people she was discussing, but to women parliamentarians.
We have 26% women sitting in this Parliament. How on earth are we going to attract strong, intelligent women to this Parliament if the message is that if you don't go along with your party, if you don't protect the Prime Minister, you had better shut up? The interpretation I got wasn't “put up or shut up”; it was “shut up or we'll find a way to shut you up.” Women in Canada will not tolerate that, so I hope you'll address that with your colleague. I hope she will retract that statement and understand the impact it has on young women who are going to be filling our Parliament in another week during Daughters of the Vote. I implore you, as colleagues, to please address that issue within your caucus and with Ms. Sgro directly.
These comments tell Canadians that the Liberals are more interested in protecting the Prime Minister than in finding the truth. Your political future, my political future, are not more important than the truth. I think what Mr. Erskine–Smith wrote in his op-ed today was basically that we are here to get to the truth. We are not here to serve the parties we're in. We can disagree with the parties we're in. We can do so in a respectful way. We can do so in a way that's in line with our party values, but when we try to block the truth from Canadians and block our colleagues from being able to speak that truth, there's something fundamentally wrong. I really implore you today to support this.
I mentioned at the justice committee last week that the Liberal Party campaigned on transparency and accountability. This is not transparency and accountability. You can't continue to say one thing and do another, because it's putting a lot of doubt in the minds of Canadians about what is happening here. We're talking about corporations having access to the Prime Minister's Office and being able to write laws. Then, when they can't use those laws, the Prime Minister uses his power to pressure the one person who can change her mind and do so. This is serious and Canadians understand this. I think it would be a grave mistake for the Liberal members to think that Canadians don't understand what this is all about. This is the fear that Canadians have.
When a constituent walks into my office because their application for EI has been refused because they wrote one thing incorrectly in their application, that's not fair. They're coming to me for help. How do I then turn around and say to those constituents, “Well, guess what? There are different rules that apply to you and that apply to the Prime Minister of Canada.” That's the message you're sending to Canadians—that they have to do all the right things and can't even breach anything or be in view of breaching anything or they'll be prevented from receiving the services they are owed, when you have the Prime Minister doing the exact opposite. I really implore you to take that seriously because that is what Canadians are paying attention to.
I want to talk about the oath because there's been a lot of discussion about the oath that Jody Wilson–Raybould and Dr. Philpott took. There's been a lot of speculation that they could stand up in Parliament and use their parliamentary privilege. You're asking them to take an incredible risk on something that hasn't been tested to that length. These are professional, intelligent, strong women, and I don't blame them for not wanting to take a risk that they'll wear for the rest of their lives. It's disgraceful that you're asking them to do that.
There's one person who can change this.
First, I'll get back to the oath. I want to read the following section of the oath. The reason I think we heard Ms. Philpott say she's taking it seriously and why Jody Wilson–Raybould is taking it so seriously is this:
I shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council. Generally, in all things I shall do as a faithful and true servant ought to do for Her Majesty.
So help me God.
This is something they take incredibly seriously and you're asking them to break it. The New Democrats and I are asking you to go to your Prime Minister and have him, with the stroke of pen—he could do it right now or right after this meeting—expand the order in council and lift the waiver and let them say what they've indicated strongly they want to say. Why are you asking them to jeopardize themselves, to jeopardize their careers, to jeopardize their oath and potentially be under some type of legal case following their standing up?
I don't understand that. Again, as a colleague, I don't know how you can impose that on your own colleague, in your own caucus, and say, “I'm going to prevent you from speaking the truth.” I would not go to the Prime Minister and say that. I just can't comprehend that. I think it's very unfortunate. I believe there are a lot of Liberal members who don't believe this is the proper path either.
I implore you in this particular motion to expand the order in council and stop asking Jody Wilson–Raybould and Jane Philpott to break everything they've said they cannot do, but that you instead go back and do the one thing they're asking you to do. That's to expand the order in council so they can speak. It's so simple. Fundamentally, it's fair. I think that Canadians understand that and I think all of you, I hope, understand it.
I'll leave it at that, but I would like to introduce my amendment at this point, Mr. Chair, if I can read it into the record. It's being distributed.
The amendment is that paragraph (A) of the motion be replaced with the following:
That the motion be amended by replacing the words “A. Immediately begin a study of the ongoing corruption scandal involving the Prime Minister;” with the words “A, Immediately begin a study, pursuant to Standing Order 108 (3)(h)(vi), to review any federal legislation, regulation or Standing Order which impacts the ethical standards of public office holders as it relates to the question of exerting inappropriate pressure on the Attorney General of Canada, for political or other reasons, with respect to decisions regarding whether to proceed with a criminal prosecution, and that a vote on this motion be conducted while the Committee is open to the public;”.
I think this speaks to the mandate of this committee. There has been some confusion among the public about whether or not the ethics committee is the appropriate place, whether it's the mandate of this committee, which the New Democrats strongly feel it is.
I think this amendment offers some clarity.
The last part of the amendment talks about the vote being open to the public. Canadians have been clear that they don't support the efforts of the Liberal government to bring things behind closed doors and to keep them from Canadians. That's the rationale we're offering here in having the vote in public and being transparent to Canadians.