Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate and I will say from the outset that I will be voting against this motion because it does not consider the reality or the context of the matter we are discussing today.
Look at the previous speaker who just a few minutes ago made serious allegations and said that the Liberal Party of Canada had diverted $2.2 million. Nothing could be further from the truth and the hon. member would never dare say such a thing outside the House. Neither he nor any of his colleagues know and no one has proven that the Liberal Party of Canada received such large sums of money.
The reality is that we are in the middle of uncovering various aspects of this case. Every day at the Gomery inquiry, one testimony can be contradicted by another. That is why we absolutely want to hear all the testimony and evidence in order to get to the truth.
Could an individual have made personal gains? That would not be the responsibility of the Liberal Party of Canada. Could some people have abused the name and trust of the Liberal Party of Canada and its thousands of supporters? Should they not be held responsible for their improprieties? Obviously, the answer is yes.
When I hear the Bloc MPs telling us what to do, I remind them that we can hear the evidence and the allegations and, once the process is over, we will leave it up to Justice Gomery. We want him to tell us what was not right. If the Liberal Party did profit inappropriately from sums of money, every cent of it will be returned.
The Liberal Party of Canada has no need to set up a trust fund. We are not a transitional party, like the Bloc. Our party has been solvent for the 138 years it has existed. In all this time, we have paid our debts year in and year out, and so we are no fly by night outfit as is being contended.
This is why Canadians may rest assured that, when the report is tabled, any money that has found its way into Liberal coffers illegitimately, will, in the Liberal tradition of integrity, be returned in full, because individuals would have acted inappropriately in the name of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I hear these members saying that attention has to be paid, because we are preparing to run another campaign with tainted money. The fact is that, when the Prime Minister became the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, not only was there no dirty money in the coffers, there were no coffers. Worse yet, in Quebec, the party had nearly $3 million on a line of credit. So, to say that the Liberal Party of Canada got richer is to ignore the fact that for the people on this government's current team this was not the case.
And so, the situation has to be considered directly. Did, for example, the very serious allegations benefit the party? When I hear the allegations and testimony, my perception—I know that I can reach no conclusion, because the commission has not finished its work—my perception today is that some abuse may have been committed by a parallel and isolated clique.
Clearly, right now, there is no question of a widespread phenomenon. No doubt has been cast on any member of this House or of this party.
Let us look at the general context. It is important to have a good memory in that regard. When there was a question mark concerning the management of the sponsorship scandal, who said, “It is over, O-V-E-R”? It was the Prime Minister. Who said, following the release of the Auditor General's report, that something was wrong? It was the Prime Minister. Who decided that Justice Gomery could search all of the government's books and company books, that he could call people to testify, that he could get the bottom of the issues, and that nothing would escape him? Once again, it was the Prime Minister.
Thus, every time I hear members trying to question the Prime Minister's integrity, I find that totally irrelevant, as it is obvious that the man who put the whole process in motion is the man who possesses the total integrity to do a total review. I am not sure that the leader of the Conservative Party would have had the same courage, and maybe not the leader of the Bloc Québécois either. However, those two will never be making any decisions.
No minister's integrity is in doubt. Party personnel, those who were members of executives, have guaranteed me that they never saw anything in the ranks of the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec that looked even the least like scandal.
There is probably a small group, therefore, that decided to take advantage and misuse the name of the Liberal Party of Canada. It is obvious, though, that this was not a party practice. This is certainly not an acceptable practice. It is not an honest practice either. I feel, therefore, that it is terrible to think that the opposition can just splatter everyone.
This morning I heard a few Bloc members making a list of names, here in this House, thereby abusing their parliamentary privilege because they did not have the courage to repeat them outside. I find that especially disgusting.
We owe it to ourselves here to be quite responsible and not trample reputations without serious evidence. Parliamentary privilege was not invented to say just anything about anyone. We must not take advantage of parliamentary privilege just to smear our adversaries.
It is a very sad story. I heard allegations that people went out “collecting for the cause”. What cause? I have no idea. The cause may be general in nature. The cause may be oneself, one's standard of living, or one's personal enrichment. So now they are trying to load all that on the party's back. Are there not people in every party who, at one time or another, take advantage of the party's confidence? Are there not people who act under false pretences, out of overweening ambition and with illegal intent?
No party is safe from that. The Bloc should know very well. The Parti Québécois is wrestling with the same kind of allegations. Really, none of us is safe from that. Maybe the Bloc is safe to some extent because it will never be in power and not many people will want to invest in it, that is for sure.
In my view, we do not know what the definition is of the cause. We do not know who profited from it. It would therefore be premature. Worse yet, I think that we need the report to know the details. Of course the party will pay back.
So, courage is needed to say, “No, no, there may be people we know; there may be people who were part of previous administrations. Nobody will be sacrificed. We will put in place an open, judicial process”. One has to have courage to do that and it is certainly not political opportunism, with all the revelations we see on a daily basis. It is obvious that the Prime Minister has exceptional courage and an integrity that cannot be questioned.
We went even further. Not only did we say we wanted to set up a commission of inquiry, we also permitted the RCMP to come and audit our books. We want to make sure that those who might have misused those funds will pay the price. If some group has misused funds, its members should be taken away in handcuffs.
We are not trying to protect anybody. What we are trying to do is ensure that integrity is part of the public standards. We all know how cynicism towards politics can affect each one of us. There is not one MP in this House who is not honest. That is what I want to believe and why I am proud to be part of this institution. I am convinced that none of us wants to live with some sort of lingering doubt that gives the impression anybody in politics is a crook. I do not believe that. I did not come here for that and none of us did.
Those who try to use the situation for partisan purposes and to smear everybody with a dirty brush are in fact discrediting the political process and, in so doing, discrediting all our members.
If some group of persons abused those funds, they should be arrested.