I hear Mr. Kent's intervention in terms of continuity. That was one of the concerns we had raised in the media weeks and weeks ago, knowing that Ms. Dawson's term was coming due January 8 and that this committee would not sit until the end of January. In fact, we were the ones who first proposed the idea of the committee coming back together to find out what was going on and whether we were going to have an Ethics Commissioner at all.
That's simply a lack of planning on the government's part. If they conducted the interviews, as Mr. Dion testified today, in mid-August.... Excuse me, if they took the applications in mid-August—I don't want to get the record wrong—and interviewed three weeks ago, which is what I think we determined, and at the very last moments of Parliament's sitting, with the fear of having no Ethics Commissioner at all, this is the path the government has chosen.
My grandmother used to say a lack of planning on your part does not create a crisis on mine. With 18 months' notice, two years plus in government, the government knew this day was coming and chose the eleventh hour in which to put this through.
I don't know about Mr. Dion or my colleagues, but I have more rigour in hiring my legislative assistants and staff assistants in the riding in an hour's interview from a list of one. This is such an incredibly important position. The officers of Parliament have great sway, as Mr. Dion and others have said. This is the process, and the Prime Minister still today chose to call this meaningful consultation. I don't understand how my Liberal colleagues can see it as that. They would certainly not accept it if they were sitting on this side of the table.
In the past, when we've hired Sergeants-at-Arms and other officers of Parliament, other people who work for all of us, we've had multi-party committees. It worked, because every party had input into the candidates, short-listed them, and then put that forward to thePrime Minister for the nomination of a candidate. That's still giving the Prime Minister an enormous amount of discretion, to choose from a list of three or four, but importantly, with all-party support throughout the process so that, as Mr. Dion and others have pointed out, these officers remain beyond any concern of partisanship or influence or any of those things, as was rightly questioned by one of my Liberal colleagues today.
To push the opposition completely out of the process, to send what I think is an insulting letter saying, “Here's the one name. You've been consulted. Congratulations. Have a one-hour meeting and then a vote tomorrow in the House of Commons”, and call that due process.... My Liberal colleagues know it's not.
It's unfortunate, because it creates this tension that, I would argue, is totally unnecessary. We want to get this right. We want the best people in the position, because they run our elections, they guide us on ethics and lobbying, and do all these important things. To create an insulting process is really unfortunate, and it's certainly not the expectation of the promise made by the Liberal Prime Minister when he was running as a candidate for this office. It's unfortunate.
I'll be abstaining again.
As I said to Mr. Dion, it's no reflection on his candidacy. It's just a totally disgraceful process that got us to this place.