Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate of the member of the Bloc Québécois and the great protestations by the government House leader about how wonderful the current system is. He made specific reference to Standing Order 110 and talked about how these appointments were automatically referred to the standing committee and therefore we did not need to vote in the House. I fully agree with the government House leader because it states that they shall be deemed to have been referred to a standing committee. The only problem, of course, is that they are referred after the decision has been made and the decision is not reviewable.
I will be splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the hon. member for Calgary East.
What is the point of a committee reviewing the appointment after the government has made the decision, it is an actual fact and that is the way it will be? We could talk about it until the cows come home but the government will not listen. The whole system is about getting in a huddle in a corner behind closed doors, making a decision, some Liberal hack gets a job, then it is referred to a committee. What are we supposed to do about it? We can do nothing because there is no opportunity in the Standing Orders for us to do anything other than talk about it.
The government House leader has told us that Standing Order is great, that there is control and supervision and that we have input in these appointments. We have no input on these appointments, none whatsoever.
It is interesting that we are having this debate today and that the Bloc is putting forward a motion that states that we should review appointments of ambassadors, consuls general, heads of regulatory bodies, Crown corporations, et cetera. We have to ask ourselves why the Bloc is coming forward with this motion today, with ambassadors being first.
Of course, one ambassador comes to mind immediately. That is the ambassador to Denmark, a former member of the cabinet and the House, who made a very quick exit from this place. He disappeared from here and popped up as our ambassador to Denmark, Perhaps it was under a cloud but we have never been able to ascertain that, so I have to be careful what I say. However there are serious allegations against the way his department managed the advertising contracts, a $40 million program under his watch.
The current Minister of Public Works has told us that there are 13 police investigations. The Auditor General absolutely trashed the administration of that program. Every rule in the book was broken, money disappeared, and now we have police investigations. One day the minister is gone and he pops up in Denmark, and we wonder why the Bloc has brought forth a motion that says perhaps we should review these appointments. Of course we should review them. We should have reviewed the appointment of the ambassador to Denmark long before he left the country. It is an embarrassment to the country that an ambassador would have a cloud hanging over his head and yet be representing the country. It is shameful.
The Bloc's motion is very much in order. The days are over when the government can huddle in a corner behind closed doors, come up with a name and say that this person will be our Supreme Court judge, or the head of a Crown corporation in charge of the railways, transportation, ships or whatever the Crown corporation happens to be and that he is a wonderful guy because he contributes to the Liberal party. Those days should be gone completely.
The government House leader has drawn the comparison that we could have either this non-transparent system of doing it behind closed doors or have the American system where everything is on television, front and centre. I think there is something else in between. That is why I have Motion No. 79 on the Order Paper which states:
That, in the opinion of this House, appointees and potential appointees to the positions of Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada should receive parliamentary scrutiny, and that Standing Orders 110 and 111 of the House of Commons should be amended to include such appointees and potential appointees.
They are the exact same standing orders referred to by the government House leader which say we need to change the system to one where parliament has a role to play in vetting appointments, especially ambassadors under a cloud, as well as the justices and chief justice of the Supreme Court. Today they do not apply the law; they interpret the law and even create law. They strike down laws that have been passed by this place, the highest court in the land, yet those people down the street think they are the highest court. They are not. This is the highest court in the land, yet the government has abdicated its responsibility so that when the judges down the street say that a law does not meet the test, we just acquiesce, fall over and say, “Okay, I guess they are right”.
This House determines what society shall have, what it wants and what it needs. We are the ones who provide it. It is not the Supreme Court justices down the street. We are not supposed to fall down prostrate at their feet every time they make a pronouncement that offends society. We need to review the people who get appointed to that place before they take a seat down there so that we can find out if their morality reflects the morality of society. That is fundamentally important.
As the government House leader said, the Minister of Justice, the Prime Minister and a few bureaucrats huddle in a corner, maybe check with the law society, come up with a name and it is foisted upon us, this the highest court in the land. It is an affront to us. We say why is this and why do we not change the rules?
The member for LaSalle—Émard has made a proposal that if he ever gets to the big chair, the Prime Minister's chair, he will change Parliament and give us more authority. I say, and I think I was quoted in my local paper as saying, wimps to them, because we have the authority today. The member for LaSalle—Émard proposed that if he became the Prime Minister he would give us some extra authority. He would allow us to vote freely. We can vote freely today. There is nothing that he has proposed that we do not have today, if we choose to exercise that authority.
If we want to change Standing Order 110, and if we want to say that we want to examine ambassadors, consuls general, heads of regulatory bodies and Supreme Court justices before they take their positions, we have that authority. However, the wimps on that side of the House say that whatever the Prime Minister wants is what the Prime Minister gets. They acquiesce, prostrate at his feet. That is why this place is dysfunctional.
Here we have a potential prime minister saying, “I will allow you to exercise the little bit of authority that you have”. We have a huge amount of authority. We are the highest court in the land, yet because of the government majority that bows down and gives the Prime Minister whatever he wants, we are ineffective. The country knows it and that is why people say we are dysfunctional. That is why Pierre Trudeau said that 100 yards from this place MPs are all nobodies. It is because the Prime Minister has all the authority.
I congratulate the Bloc for bringing forward this motion today. I would hope that, since that side of the House is talking about parliamentary reform, we recognize that parliamentary reform simply means taking command of the powers that we already have and exercising them to ensure that this is a better society and that the House works to deliver the services to society that it wants. This includes ensuring that the people who are given the authority to make the rules and make the decisions on behalf of the country are accountable. Need I say more?