Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and discuss this important matter. As the public complaints commission resumes its hearings today into the APEC security fiasco, it is my pleasure to speak to this matter.
On November 23, 1998, I asked the Prime Minister during question period when the government would call a complete independent judicial inquiry into the security at APEC, a relevant question then and now. Because the public complaints commission has never had a mandate under the RCMP act to investigate the Prime Minister's office, the public complaints commission has never had the opportunity to delve into allegations that the RCMP was only following government orders when it pepper sprayed protesters in 1997.
The embarrassing actions of the Liberal government and the solicitor general of the day to avoid broad accountability prompted some to call for the end of the RCMP public complaints commission. In the aftermath of resignations, indignation and media manipulations, the commission went into hibernation and only recently returned to the spotlight when the new committee chairman, Ted Hughes, a very able and learned jurist, was appointed.
Since his appointment by the Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes has shown his ability to make an impartial and fair process work. Mr. Hughes has stated that he will go where the evidence leads him and that his questions will be answered. Mr. Hughes must have the Liberals shaking in their boots with this attitude because as he has stated he will not rule out issuing a subpoena that might call for the testimony of the Prime Minister at this inquiry.
During question period in November the Prime Minister responded to my question by stating: “The inquiry can ask on all subjects it wants of anybody in the bureaucracy and even in my office and not only of the RCMP”. I wonder how comfortable the Prime Minister is with that statement now that he does not control the commission like a puppet on a string.
Whether it is the public complaints commission or the building of summer cottage access roads, the Prime Minister likes to have his own way and people in place to control the outcome when he does not have his own way. This time, however, the process will not be easily manipulated. Canadians are left still wondering about the meaning behind the former solicitor general's famous comments on his ill fated plane ride when he stated that Hughie would take the fall.
What is next? The RCMP has been directed to chase after dead ends in the Airbus scandal, so will the Liberal government make the RCMP again take the brunt of the criticism after the decisions of the Prime Minister's office which actually led to the APEC scandal? I am hopeful that this current version of the public complaints commission will have the mandate to look at what happened as a result of the PMO's direction should those events transpire and as it relates to the RCMP's handling of these protesters.
As I mentioned, I am cautiously optimistic that the commission will now be able to draft a report that will give us answers that get to the bottom of these important questions. This being said, I am hopeful that the public complaints commission will be able to make a proposal for the proper and meaningful retribution of student protesters involved in the APEC scandal.
These are questions Canadians deserve to have answers to. Now that the commission is back in full operation and is down to the business of looking at these issues as they are brought forward by lawyers like Cameron Ward for the protesters currently giving evidence, we are hopeful these answers will be carefully studied by the government. There is an opportunity here to perhaps restore some of the lost faith that came about as a result of the events in Vancouver.
As Mr. Speaker is a very ardent supporter of individual rights and has always taken an interest in transparency and openness in government, I am sure you would agree this is an ample opportunity for the government to do the right thing for a change, to have an opportunity to let the public see what is actually behind some of the inner workings of this government.
I thank the House very much for its indulgence and I am anxiously awaiting the response of government.