Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Peace River.
For the folks back home, late last Friday afternoon the government decided that it had dawdled a little too long on a piece of legislation and thought that it would bring it before the House to try to get it passed as soon as possible. We all smell a whiff of proroguing in the air, and that is the reason it did that.
I will tell a few stories in the time I have today. First I will start with a number of quotes and let everybody in the House in on a little game. They can try to guess who I am quoting. The first person said: “I on the other hand support Senate reform. If it is done properly, a restructured and revitalized upper chamber can give Albertans a voice in the governance of Canada. If elected Liberal leader I pledge to work for a Senate that is elected, that has legislative powers of its own and contains strong representation from all regions of Canada”.
That was spoken at the Liberal leadership convention on June 23, 1990. I will drop a little hint. This person is currently the Liberal leader of Canada.
I will go on in case people do not have the drift. The second quote is: “The regions of Canada need to be more involved in decision making and policy making at the national level. To meet the hopes and dreams of those who live in the west and the Atlantic, a reformed Senate is essential. It must be a Senate that is elected, effective and equitable”. This was taken from the Hansard of September 24, 1991. For those who do not have a clue, the person I am quoting was once upon a time a finance minister under Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
Referring to the Senate, I go on: “The Liberal government in two years will make it elected. As Prime Minister I can take steps to make it happen”. This person was speaking to 400 delegates at the annual general meeting of the Alberta branch of the federal Liberal Party. Once again it was the same individual, the one we know so well to always say “ya know”.
I offer a fourth quote: “You want the triple E Senate and I want one too”. This was given to the Toronto Star on February 2, 1990.
I will not leave members in the dark and guessing. I will share it with the folks back home. All four quotes were from our current Prime Minister who continues to appoint people to the Senate of Canada despite all these promises.
I will touch on several issues we are dealing with today in Bill S-21 as it relates to Canada's international obligations under the OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. First I will talk about the foreign component.
Until recently we had foreigners who helped serve the House. I remember a gentleman down the way by the name of Andrew Thompson. He was a foreigner, indeed, for he only spent one day in the spring and one day in the fall in the chamber we call the other place. As a result he only spent 2.6% of his time. What time is that, some may ask. The sentence he served in the Senate which was only 65 to 68 days a year. It was not a tough or arduous sentence by a long stretch but he only served 2.6% of it. It left him with 97.4% of his time down in Mexico, a luxury many Canadians would like to enjoy.
I will touch on a few things in this regard. Our Prime Minister, whom I quoted four times in terms of his commitment to an elected Senate, wrote about Andrew Thompson in a letter: “The absence from the sittings of the Senate and the record of non-participation in the work of the caucus over many years are totally unacceptable”. Our Prime Minister brought attention to the fact of the non-participation and the absence of a senator from the Liberal caucus. Even the Prime Minister agrees that we had foreigners operating as legislators in our land.
Since the Senate began keeping attendance sheets in June 1990, Andrew Thompson attended 12 sittings out of a total of 459 in the past two parliaments, a foreigner by any stretch of the imagination. He was absent so often that, with the $519,550 he collected for attending his 14 days in the Senate, this absentee foreign senator earned $37,110 per day that he sat in that chamber, a handsome salary for a one day sitting. Who in the land earns over $37,000 a day for merely sitting down in a chair? I cannot think of anyone, but Andy Thompson did. He is not the only one.
I recently debated a senator who had to defend Andy's record, a senator who has a 100% attendance record but is few and far between. There are 17 senators who miss more days than they actually attend. Can we imagine having a job and missing more days that we actually attend? They are supposed to be docked $120 for every day missed. However there is an honour system that allows them to miss for illness or business. Some honour system, indeed.
That addresses, as I said, the foreign aspects of Bill C-21, foreign bribery, foreign corruption. Let us now talk more specifically about just the word corruption, this bribery. I do not have to look very far. I can look into the other place and see Michel Cogger. What have we there?
Cogger, as of June 2 this year, was convicted of influence peddling, indeed some form of bribery. He was convicted of peddling his influence between 1986 and 1988 to businessman Guy Montpetit for $212,000. He was said to have plied his influence in Mr. Montpetit's bid to land government subsidies to set up a computer chip foundry in Vaudreuil and for his assistance in the computer translation project that benefited from $4 million from the Saskatchewan government.
Fitting with the term of corruption, Cogger's defence was that he did not have a corrupt state of mind, and there was some debate over whether or not his state of mind was corrupt, touching on the whole idea of corruption. He was convicted of an indictable offence. He was convicted of a felony or certainly an infamous crime.
Did the Senate actually go ahead and request his resignation? No. Senators were too busy coming forward with Bill S-21, were they not? That seemed to be a higher priority to our senators than to go ahead and get a resignation from one of their colleagues who was convicted of influence peddling. That conviction has brought the Canadian Senate into further disrepute. Senator Cogger should be the one who submits his resignation. Otherwise he brings further disrepute over time to that institution.
I had a debate this weekend in Montreal. I was debating one of the senators from that other place. He was one of the senators who has a 100% attendance record. My compliments go out to him for he is few and far between in that place. I have heard from some people that the whole point there is to kind of reward loyal party followers. I was told something that I found interesting.
Even though Iona Campagnolo, whom I also met this weekend, is a very loyal party worker for the Liberal Party and many would suspect should be sitting in the Senate, she did not cosy up to the right prime minister or to the right candidate. As everyone knows, she was a floor worker for Paul Martin at the Liberal leadership convention. As a result, even though she is very competent and is a well respected Liberal MP, she was never appointed to the Senate.
I would like to touch on my fifth point with regard to Bill S-21 as it relates to bribery of foreign public officials and the idea that our Senate is full of bagmen, party fundraisers and people who have vested political interests with various parties. I could go on. I was going to refer to some of the things that have gone on in the Senate and a list of some of the bills that originated there, but I digress.