Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22 proposed by the federal government is flawed since it contains no provisions aimed at making the work done by lobbyists more transparent.
This bill just cancels one of the most important political scandals concocted by political friends and well-connected lobbyists. The government simply wants to put out the fire without anyone knowing how it was started in the first place.
Moreover, Liberals do not want to lift the veil on the whole issue of lobbying. If they are behaving in such a way, it is because they want to spare the people around them and not smear anyone, since they too are stuck with some powerful friends in the Pearson affair. And yet, the Prime Minister had promised to get right to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding the negotiation and agreement on the airport privatization.
The results coming out of that promise are very small: a mere study done by a former Ontario Liberal minister behind closed doors and explaining to us that the political staff and lobbyists played an uncommon role in that affair. If the government wants to show that it is clean and transparent, it should order a public inquiry in the Pearson matter.
I remind you that several Liberal members of the Toronto caucus were in favour of such an inquiry. But after realizing that the interests of some friends of the party were at stake, and not only of the Conservative Party, the government, or I should say the Prime Minister unenthusiastically fell back on a mere report produced behind closed doors, that is the Nixon report.
When going through the list of people involved, one can easily make a close connection between these friends and lobbyists, and the previous Conservative administration and the present Liberal one.
I would like to name a few actors that took part in the deal: Pat MacAdam, Conservative lobbyist and schoolmate of Brian Mulroney; Bill Fox, a crafty fox of lobbying and a Conservative, ex-media relations officer and personal friend of Brian Mulroney; Harry Near, lobbyist for the Conservatives and an old member of the party. Also, Hugh Riopelle, lobbyist and strong-man of the Mulroney cabinet; Fred Doucet, always closely or remotely tied to that party that was almost wiped out of this House. There is also John Llegate, a good friend of Michael Wilson. And finally Don Matthews who is the king of the ex: ex-president of the nomination campaign of Brian Mulroney in 1983, ex-president of the Conservative Party and ex-president of the fund-raising campaign for the same party.
All those people gave a helping hand to cook the biggest Tory pie in the history of Canada. But with pies, it is the same as with puddings: the proof is in the eating. We did not swallow that. However all those Tory angels, who always considered public interest as a priority, were not alone in the kitchen of the Pearson Airport.
There were also Liberal angels and that is probably where the shoe pinches. It is surely for that reason that the royal commission of inquiry suddenly became the Nixon study. Transparency went out of the door. There were a few actors, namely senator Leo Kolber who is the specialist of private dinners at $1,000 a plate. For that price you can shake hands with the present Prime Minister. There must have been more than bread and butter served to guests on that evening, among whom was Charles Bronfman, also part of the Pearson deal.
Bread, butter, dignity, pride, openness-all words used to excess by the people opposite. Come on! Let us have a bit of decency and respect for the low-income people of our society. Those people have a clear eye and know pretty well what friends discuss about during picnics at $1,000 a plate.
In the Liberal group there was also Herb Metcalfe, a lobbyist for Capital Hill, representative of Claridge Properties and former organizer of the present Prime Minister. Ramsay Whitters, a Liberal lobbyist closely related to the Prime Minister. A
pretty nice bunch! A bunch of heavies exerting undue influence on the government decision-makers in an unspeakable manner.
Their domination puts our institutions in danger. It produces harmful effects on decision-makers who see and rub shoulders only with one reality, the reality of rich people and large firms. That is very disturbing for ordinary people because decision-makers get disconnected from real social and economic problems that affect the poorest.
The social and human issues are over-shadowed by financial and economic interest linked to profit. All those ex-friends and lobbyists wandering around government offices are looking for profits and they have exceptional tools and means to reach that goal. They can easily open all the doors that give access to ministers and senior officials, and it is not to discuss the weather. All the pressure and influence peddling often gives good results. Decision-makers yield to the requests of friends and lobbyists who are often working for firms that will not hesitate to contribute to the old parties' election funds.
What becomes of ordinary citizens in that system? What becomes of those thousands of organizations without money that are working to improve the well-being of groups and individuals? Do ordinary citizens and those organizations have the same powers, the same access and the same opportunities as those who use their considerable means to influence decision-makers? I do not think so. Certain results are very revealing. The poor and people living in difficult conditions are increasingly forgotten. There are more unemployed workers and more people on social welfare. There are more people who are hungry, more children living in unacceptable conditions and more elderly living alone and receiving less treatment.
As a matter of fact, there are more poor people. And the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer! Is that the kind of society that we want? Do we want a society increasingly divided into categories? That is what is happening on the field. Figures and statistics are clear. Decision-makers must absolutely come back to reality and try to ensure a better distribution of disposable income between social classes, and they must find a solution to all those excruciating problems. I do not believe that ex-friends and lobbyists can be trusted to see to that. As regards the airport and big profits, I agree they do an excellent job; but when it comes to social problems, we should look elsewhere.
It is urgent that the government establish strict rules for lobbyists. The population has the right, and it is essential, to be informed of all activities pertaining to public administration. The population has that right because at the end of the day it is the one who pays.
Those rules must allow us to know everything about lobbyists. Who are they? Who hires them? Who pays them? What are the goals and results of their activity? Whom do they meet? Actually they should be X-rayed and they should be followed around by a little bird so that we can know everything they do. If the government does not address that problem, the confidence of the population in its elected officials and in our institutions will continue to deteriorate even more rapidly.
I ask the people opposite to wake up because the population is awakening and it is getting fed up with favouritism, bribing on the part of the friends of the party and lobbying of the rich at the expense of the ordinary citizens.
You have denounced for years the absence of openness. I think time has come for you to act.