Mr. Speaker, the chairman of the Standing Committee on Transport presented the committee's report to the House, following its consideration of Bill C-22. You will agree that the amendments proposed to this House hardly deal with the questions we have raised since the bill was tabled for first reading on April 13.
What the report proposes to hon. members of this House boils down to three short recommendations. The first one is on Clause 11, where we are asked to strike out line 36 on page 3 and substitute the following therefor: "The Governor in Council may, etc." The second recommendation is to add, immediately after line 2, on page 4, the following: "An order made by the Governor in Council under sub-section (1) shall be laid before the House of Commons not later than the fifth sitting day of the House of Commons after it is made". And the third brief recommendation: "A copy of the Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, relating to this Bill-Issues 7, 8, 9 and 10-is tabled".
After the many hours we have spent working in the House of Commons and the Transport Committee, it is astonishing to read these recommendations by the committee of which I am a member, although a dissident one. Let me explain. On June 11, the Ottawa Citizen gave a good summary of the drawbacks of this legislation and the problems encountered by the transport committee, except that it mistakenly reported, and I quote:
Gouk for instance tried to have key Pearson players subpoenaed to testify before the committee after only seven witnesses showed up out of the 17 who were invited to appear. The Liberals killed that move.
With respect, the Ottawa Citizen was wrong. It was the Bloc Quebecois member who made that request-in fact, yours truly-and I think the hon. member will agree that the attribution was erroneous. However, the Ottawa Citizen was right when it said that the Liberals turned down my request. I submitted a list of 17 witnesses, 13 of whom declined to appear. I asked for three people to be subpoenaed: Otto Jelinek, Peter Couglin and Senator Leo Kolber. This motion was also defeated, thanks to the Liberal majority on the committee. These witnesses would have clarified the issues for the committee and, in that case, the report to the House would not have been the same.
It was not a frivolous request on my part. These three people were closely linked to the process that awarded the contract to Pearson Development Corporation. In fact, Peter Couglin was president of Pearson Development Corporation, and he was not heard. Liberal Senator Leo Kolber, was, according to the Financial Post Directory of Directors , a director of Claridge. Canadians will recall that during the last election campaign, at his residence in Westmount, this valiant senator entertained guests such as Charles Bronfman, who is linked to the project, at a $1,000-a-plate dinner to hear the present Prime Minister who was then trying to get elected.
I had also asked that Mr. Otto Jelinek, former Conservative minister, who now heads the Matthews Group branch responsible for Asia, be subpoenaed.
Why did the Liberal members on the transport committee refuse my request? What were they afraid of? Why did 13 of the 17 witnesses on the list presented by the Bloc Quebecois refuse to appear in front of the transport committee?
Since the bill was introduced in the House on April 13 last, the opposition parties have been suggesting numerous amendments, making many requests, and demanding a royal commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of dealings the Prime Minister himself denounced during the election campaign. And yet, his Liberal government is turning down all our requests, either in committee or in the House of Commons. Democracy is all fine and good, Mr. Speaker, but the Liberal version of it is you talk and we decide.
There is a limit to people's patience. I said it many times here, Canadians were expecting transparency from this government and all they have seen so far is scheming. The Conservatives and the Liberals are cast from the same mold.
I am getting repetitive, you will say. Unfortunately people in Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, whom I am proud to represent, and I have lost faith in the present system.
All the parties in this House are aware that the Pearson airport contract was awarded to the Pearson Development Corporation to benefit friends of the Conservative Party. The proof is that before the elections, the present Prime Minister promised to cancel the deal for the reasons I just mentioned. And yet, today, he refuses to get to the bottom of things and introduces a bill to compensate friends of the former regime. Could it be that he has the same friends and the same financial backers? I do not know, but it makes me wonder.
We cannot allow the minister, with the approval of the Governor in Council, pursuant to clause 10 of the bill, to enter into agreements on behalf of Her Majesty to provide for the payment of such amounts as the minister considers appropriate in connection with the coming into force of the act, subject to the terms and conditions that the minister considers appropriate. As you can see, I quoted clause 10, which we find contentious. We cannot agree to that as long as this House does not have all the facts and does not know exactly how much the cancellation of the contract awarded to the Pearson Development Corporation to manage Pearson airport will cost taxpayers.
Nor can we authorize the Governor in Council to enter into an agreement and simply lay it before the House not later than five days following the entering into the agreement. First of all, we have to know the truth. Considering that requests have been made and rejected, I feel compelled to propose a motion.
I propose the following motion:
That Bill C-22 be amended by deleting Clause 10.
There is a good reason for this motion. Given that, in committee, the minister told us that compensation could be nil, zero dollars, I tell you that, having played an active role in the work of the committee, I am not in a position to determine whether compensation, if granted, will be reasonable. With respect, I ask my colleagues in this House to support this motion and refuse to give the Minister of Transport a blank cheque.