Mr. Speaker, it is with considerable sadness for the state of democracy in Canada that I find it necessary to rise and debate Liberal Party corruption.
It is a sad commentary on the deteriorated state of politics in Canada that members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition should be distracted from the deplorable state of national affairs, the chronic underfunding of health care, the softwood lumber crisis, and the unfolding crisis on the family farm resulting from inept foreign policy with our largest trading partner.
If the purpose of all the petty scandals is to distract the official opposition from the crisis in leadership the country currently faces, the government's strategy is not working. Ethical political behaviour is important to Canadians. While the government has used its friends in the media and elsewhere to slime its way out of past scandals, this time the smell of corruption is too great not to be noticed by the Canadian people.
The current tone of sleaze and corruption was set by no less than the Prime Minister when he directed members of his party during the last campaign to cry racist and try to smear opponents rather than engage in meaningful debate. The Prime Minister set the tone. There can be no doubt that the rot starts in his own office and trickles down to every nook and cranny of the Liberal Party.
There is a myth being sold by supporters of the finance minister that if only the Prime Minister would leave the corruption would leave with him and it would be all right. How wrong they are. Corruption is so deeply ingrained in anyone even remotely associated with the Liberal Party that it would take 20 years to find all the buried skeletons let alone clean up the mess.
In addition to the startling revelations of former senior staffer Jonathan Murphy, sure evidence of rot in the Prime Minister's Office is the Prime Minister's own decision to hire the defeated former candidate for Renfrew--Nipissing-Pembroke as a fetch-it in his office. This two time loser is the same person the Prime Minister condemned for making racist comments against natives at the Pembroke Outdoor Sportsman's Club. His own party supporters wrote the Prime Minister a letter to asking him to intervene so the person would not “spout his extreme positions in the name of the Liberal Party”. The Prime Minister answered the people in a letter dated March 20, 1992. He said he had looked into the issue could assure the members “that the views expressed by Mr. Clouthier at a meeting...are, frankly, unacceptable to me.”
In case there is any doubt about the sincerity of his attack against natives, the same person went on local television months later to boast about his comments. He bragged that he stood by everything he had said and would not retract his statements. Regarding the Prime Minister, he commented on the CBC that “The bottom line is, I believe he is not a leader”. Yet there he sits at the Prime Minister's right hand.
It would appear that what was unacceptable to the Prime Minister then is now all right. It looks like a lot of things are acceptable now that were not before, or are they? People in my riding say he is there because the two are so alike. However I have news for the Prime Minister. The 43 Grit supporters who signed the letter to the Prime Minister have nominated a candidate to run against the gopher. As supporters of the finance minister they are counting the days until the Prime Minister is forced from office in disgrace and takes the caucus snitch with him.
The Prime Minister's own party is abandoning him. Why else would they run someone against his favourite? Nothing could be more telling than the startling revelations this week by the former Liberal research director Jonathan Murphy. As someone who has endured a smear campaign from the Prime Minister's office I can appreciate Mr. Murphy's description of the Prime Minister's family friend Francine Ducros as a communications director who “favoured a small group of press gallery journalists who were prepared to regurgitate PMO propaganda”.
Only one who lives the life of Riley knows if Mr. Murphy is referring to Ms. Ducros or to the civil servants who report the news at the government broadcasting corporation, the CBC, and collect paycheques thanks to the taxpayers of Canada.
As a knowledgeable party insider, Murphy refers to the “nepotism and politicization of the bureaucracy...in a manner reminiscent of a one-party state”. In Mr. Murphy's words, the secretive “Communications Co-ordination Group” is just a front for deceptive government propaganda to thwart access to information requests and formulate smear campaigns against the auditor general as that public servant performs her responsibilities.
Earlier I referred to the rot and corruption that have infiltrated every nook and cranny in the Liberal Party. Nowhere is this more evident than in my riding of Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke where the local Liberal Party association decided to set up a committee it calls the communication and strategy committee. Communication, to a Liberal, means smear. In the Prime Minister's Office, in a riding association, there is no difference: smear is smear.
Strategy consists of sending hate letters to newspapers. In fact, the riding association president bragged to his members that the so-called work of the committee would, and I quote their newsletter, “become evident throughout the riding's media outlets”.
The Prime Minister sets the tone. How many other propaganda committees has the party set up in ridings across the country? The Prime Minister's corruption has rotted the grassroots, or what is left of them, in his party. Only a cynical person looking for an appointment with a crown corporation or for some kind of handout wants to join his party now. What a sad commentary on the state of political discourse in his party.
The absolute lowest point of this session had to be the member for Vancouver Centre and her attempt to smear the entire city of Prince George with visions of crosses burning in front yards. The next lowest point was the attempt by the Liberal MPs to smear the auditor general in her role as an impartial public servant in exposing government mismanagement and waste.
If one examines corruption in this current government, it can be divided into two types: institutional and political. The first type of government corruption is political, which I have spoken about. Now I will deal with corruption that is institutional, which includes conscious mismanagement of government.
The Sea King helicopter fiasco is the most public example of this corruption. The decision to cancel the contract was totally political. How many Canadian soldiers must die because they are forced to use unsafe equipment? In the 1960s there was a jet aircraft in use that had the nickname “the widow-maker”. How many military widows will there be now because of military cutbacks?
How many other Canadians have died because of Liberal cutbacks to our health care system? In the city of Pembroke in my riding residents are denied basic health care that is taken for granted in other areas, such as MRIs, because of the Liberal cutbacks to health care.
The government's response is that it had to balance the budget, yet it can find almost a billion dollars to harass duck hunters and hundreds of millions of dollars for ad campaigns, but there is no money for health care.
On July 6, 2001, a coroner's jury clearly placed the blame for the drowning deaths of two Bruce Township Central Public School students near Tobermory, Ontario, on federal government cutbacks. Of the 61 recommendations made by the coroner's jury, forty-four were directed to Transport Canada, three to Parks Canada and one each to Environment Canada and the Transportation Safety Board. In the words of the local superintendent of education, “Over forty recommendations were directed at Transport Canada. The poor regulatory process of the Federal Government was likely the reason the boat sank”.
What has happened? The cutbacks continue. There is no accountability in the system. The federal Minister of Transport should have resigned and taken responsibility for the needless deaths of these children. Instead the Prime Minister is proud that no minister has resigned. I call the need to resign accountability in our parliamentary democracy. Failure to respect that is corruption of our political institution.
It is clear that the sequel to On the Take , crime, corruption and greed in the Prime Minister's years, is now being written. The Prime Minister has said that once there was honour in his party. He has the opportunity to leave a positive legacy. No one wants to be remembered for corruption and greed. He has an option, Sir. He can continue the old ways or he can be remembered as a statesman. The choice is his. Ethical behaviour is important to the Canadian people. He will be judged by his actions, not by the empty words of communication of the propaganda committee. The choice is clear.