Mr. Speaker, I know that you will ensure that I can speak without these constant interruptions. I have that absolute privilege.
The Bloc Québécois purports to be the great champion of integrity, rigour and Quebec. I think that, on all three fronts, the Bloc Québécois wants to assume power and an image that it does not have. It is easily proved wrong, in substance, on all accounts.
In 2002, we noticed, as did all the political parties, that the Parti Québécois was involved in a scandal. Before that, 11 Conservative government ministers were forced to resign due to a scandal. We had the sponsorship scandal. I say this because, in 2002, the Parti Québécois was affected by what was known as the Oxygène 9 scandal. Some very senior PQ officials, including a minister in the Quebec government as well as Premier Landry's chief of staff and director-general of the PQ, were involved.
At the time, a well-known and very credible journalist, Mr. Lessard, wrote, “Some influential people in Bernard Landry's entourage—with connections throughout government—too many, according to some— managed to spin a huge spider's web, all the ramifications of which we have barely begun to uncover”. A little later, he talks about “revolving doors” and “cronyism”. He said that “in particular, Oxygène 9 received commissions on funding or contracts obtained” and so on.
Why do I speak about that today? It is because I think that if one wants to be the champion of integrity, moral values and rigour, one must apply the same set of principles to similar events. If, at the time, there had been a scandal involving the Parti Québécois, which financed the Bloc's election campaigns of 1997 and 2000, I would have expected to see the leader of the Bloc stand up in his place to ask for a public inquiry on Oxygène 9, as Mario Dumont, from the ADQ, and Quebec's Liberals did. Apparently, when the Parti Québecois is involved, we must forget everything, but when it is the Liberals, that is a different story.
What is remarkable in this instance is that, contrary to what happened in the past with the Conservative Party or the Parti Québécois, which had the implicit agreement or complicit silence of the Bloc Québécois, our Prime Minister declared that enough was enough and that a standard of ethics and integrity was necessary to restore people's confidence in the political system. The situation goes far beyond the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister of Canada made a decision unprecedented in our democracy. He decided to strike an independent commission of public inquiry to formulate conclusions without knowing how far-reaching they might be or what might be revealed. In spite of those risks, the Prime Minister has been honest, frank and visionary and said that the inquiry was in the public interest.
That public inquiry has been held, and produced some conclusions that revealed certain important points. The first: that certain Liberal Party senior managers had brought dishonour to the party. The immediate reaction was to expel those people from our party, and the amounts given in the report were immediately reimbursed.
Another conclusion was that certain agencies had managed to pocket huge amounts of money through manoeuvres that were dubious, to say the least, some of them even leading to allegations or charges of criminal acts. The Prime Minister made the decision to initiate proceedings against these agencies in order to recover the lost funds, the money that had been misappropriated.
There is a third point. Interestingly enough, my colleagues often raise the first two, but not the third. They do not talk about the one that clearly establishes that the Prime Minister, the ministers, and the current MPs are fully exonerated for any acts of omission or commission, whether relating to administration or misappropriation. All have been fully exonerated. They just happen not to talk of that point. All of a sudden they do not know what to say: either one believes Justice Gomery or one does not.
Justice Gomery was on television for months. Everyone knows just what a man of integrity and extreme credibility he is. People respect him to the utmost. If that integrity is accepted, then the integrity of his findings must be accepted as well. There cannot be a double standard; people cannot pick and choose what to believe and what to reject. There must be consistency and integrity. I would humbly submit that this is exactly what we have done. We have adopted, approved, received in their entirety, as presented, all the findings by Justice Gomery, both good and bad
If I am revisiting this question, the reason I really felt the need to speak of this today—although, like many of us here, I was a simple MP at the time—is because the Bloc Québécois has had its scandals as well. It did not bat an eyelid over them nor said a word; it has demanded no independent investigation as it did when the Liberal Party was concerned. Now that is a double standard.
Therefore, I wonder why. What is the ultimate objective of the Bloc Québécois? Is it trying to disparage the Liberal Party because of the misconduct which may have occurred and for which some people should be blamed? No, it is even more important. The objective of the Bloc is to use all available means, including slander, to systematically undermine the credibility of any spokesperson of the federalist cause in Quebec. The ultimate objective of the Bloc is to attempt to muzzle anybody who is at the same time proud to be a Quebecer and a Canadian and who wants to speak up for this country.
The objective of the Bloc is once again to try to destroy the spokespersons of an idea which is not their idea. Its goal is not integrity, nor transparency, nor objectivity, nor the limpidity of the public accounts. The objective of the Bloc is the independence of Quebec, and it does not care at all if it needs to destroy reputations to reach this objective. This is why, in the mailing, very credible spokespersons of the federalist cause are shown as being involved. Be it the member for Bourassa, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Minister of the Environment, the Prime Minister or other persons, we are all devoted, on this side of the House, to defending our country because this is the best solution for Quebec. The Bloc does not like this idea. It does not act for the sake of integrity.
For some time now, and I regret it deeply, a new standard has been used in Quebec, under the influence of the Bloc Québécois and the Parti Québécois. Either we agree with them, and therefore we are very good, very nice and very intelligent, or we do not agree, and then, they try to shoot the messenger.
They did this recently with commissions and political spokespersons. This is a grand scheme that goes way beyond the Gomery case. They do not realize that this is a totally unfair and outrageous tactic to destroy those who been the voice of Canada in Quebec. This is what the Bloc Québécois is doing.
What saddens me is to see how arrogantly they manipulate this House, the debates and public opinion in order to advance a cause that, in the beginning, might have been noble. I do not share it, but it was noble. It is being misrepresented. Is the kind of country that the Bloc Québécois wants to build based on defamation, on rejecting the right of speech, on rejecting debate, on a lack of integrity? Is that the kind of country that Quebec would build under the Bloc Québécois? This is what that party is trying to do now. To build that country of Quebec, it wants to rely on fraudulent tactics. It is intellectual fraud to try to smear in order to destroy spokespersons.
No one anywhere is perfect. We do not have a perfect country. We have had our scandals, as have others. The difference is that we faced them with integrity, while they refused to do the same.
I find something extremely interesting. I understand the objective of the Bloc. I even understand the positioning of the Conservatives. Defending Canada may not be a top priority for the Conservatives. Let me quote something.
In saying this, I am relying not on sensational political allegations, but on direct quotations that I will read. In a speech made during the Colin Brown Memorial Dinner, when he was chair of the National Citizens Coalition in 1994, the current leader of the Conservative Party said:
Whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion—
This is a direct quotation. The fact that the Conservatives are joining forces with the Bloc Québécois does not even surprise me. The truth is the Conservatives are placing their own political interests ahead of the national interest of the country that is Canada. This is what the Conservatives are guilty of doing.
I accuse the Conservatives of placing their own political interests, in the short term, above the interests of Canada.
I do not understand why the NDP is playing along. I believe the NDP acts in good faith. And so I would ask it to recognize that, manipulating the House for election purposes in the short term, it is adding both strength and credibility to a movement intended not to protect Canada and Canadians but to protect the sovereignist option, which the Bloc is trying to promote. The NDP cannot align itself with that, because if there is one party here in this House, aside from the Liberal Party, with a tradition of defending the country's interests, it is the NDP. I cannot therefore understand why childish short term strategies for an election we have already promised, in any case, are leading the NDP to support action that has nothing to do with Canada's best interests, but with Quebec's independence. That is what I find deplorable.
I would now like to speak of democracy for one simple reason. In my opinion, it is the ultimate objective of our efforts here. We are elected by our fellow citizens because we want to initiate progressive measures to help the public and in the most democratic manner possible. When we speak of democracy, we must speak of justice and, accordingly, of the fair treatment of similar questions. The Bloc Québécois members, however, have refused. Democracy involves debate. Killing debate by shooting the messenger is what they have just done. It limits debate and therefore one of the most important and fundamental components of our democracy. They are prepared to prevent debate and force an election to be held at a moment particularly inopportune for Canadians to be going to vote because they are prepared to sacrifice public participation in the election on the altar of personal political ambition. It is democracy gone wrong.
I rose today because I have a fundamental belief in our party's integrity, in our country's future and in the need for everyone to come to the defence of beleaguered democracy.