Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Red Deer for the opportunity to speak on this issue again. It seems that the government did not hear clearly enough from the committee, when we had this in front of us in committee, that we needed to bring the debate into the House for greater clarification on what essentially the problem was with this appointment.
A great deal of time has been spent on the qualifications of Mr. Murray and his ability to take this position. The story is getting somewhat lost, and the importance of the Prime Minister's role throughout this discussion and the credibility of the Prime Minister, the Privy Council and the Prime Minister's Office, and their ability to conduct their affairs in such a way that is in the best interests of Canadians, not in the best interests of failed Liberal candidates.
I would suggest that the difficulty they are having is that there are a large number of defeated Liberal candidates in the country who need to be taken care of. There are many candidates that we saw in British Columbia, for example, who are high profile people and wish to enter politics, enter an electoral race. They are taking a great risk.
For Mr. Murray, we saw a pattern, a consequence of his choosing to break his word, as it turned out to be, to the people of Winnipeg that he would fulfill his term as mayor. He made that commitment during the mayoral race. There was then an appointment made in his province to remove a sitting Liberal member to make space, essentially, for Mr. Murray. He then left the mayor's office, which then caused a mayoral race to occur and the consequence to the voters and the people of Winnipeg was detrimental.
Because of this pattern of appointments, of securing places for Liberals to ensure that if they take a chance, and it is becoming an increasingly risky chance to run for their party, they will be taken care of if it goes awry, which happened in the case of Mr. Murray's appointment.
However, I think the credibility question, the larger question, is around this Prime Minister's sincerity of fulfilling the promise made during the last election. We know that in the heat of the moment of a debate promises can be made and blown out of proportion. This promise was made over and over again in this House and across the country, as many times as this Prime Minister could make it. He would talk about fixing the democratic deficit and that the age of cronyism and who one knew in the PMO would be over. He said that would be fixed.
So Mr. Murray came in front of us. Now if this appointment had been about cities, if it had been about municipalities and infrastructure and grants, something that Mr. Murray is obviously very familiar with, I do not think we would be having this debate today because his credibility and his experience are well known throughout the country on that issue.
The second question is how serious is this Prime Minister about the environment outside of the rhetoric, but in the actual application of how this country is going to go ahead with some serious environment questions that have been ignored over the last 12 years by this Liberal government? Promises were made about the ability to reduce and the commitment to reduce pollution and make Canada an efficient and thriving part of the global economy and the global environmental picture.
We have seen year after year that this promise has been broken and that Canada continues to pollute more than is necessary and breaking the commitment that the Liberals have consistently made toward the environment.
If the environment were so important to this Prime Minister and to this Liberal Party, then clearly making a patronage appointment out of such an important position within the environmental framework would not have occurred to them.
There is a question about Mr. Murray's ability. I have some sympathy for Mr. Murray at this point. It is not a common experience for Canadians applying for a job to have three hours of dedicated time devoted to them in the House of Commons and have their record scrutinized. Unfortunately, he chose to accept this position which incurred a certain amount of risk and the risk of having parliamentarians view the appointment, and view the credibility of that appointment in the House as we are doing today.
He made a commitment to us. He said that he would not leave this appointment to jump down and run in some future federal election, and who knows when that will be. I asked him about his commitment to the people of Winnipeg when he was in front of committee because he had made a similar commitment that he would not leave that position, which was by coincidence also a mandate of similar length. He responded by saying:
Would I have preferred that the election was at the end of the second term? Absolutely, but you know sometimes you change your mind. That's not breaking trust, and there is a difference.
I would suggest that credibility does not fill me with a great sense of trust of his commitment toward filling this position where simply breaking one's promise is not breaking one's promise. It is not something about trust. It is just simply changing one's mind.
I suspect that if given another opportunity to run, although perhaps not after this particular round of discussions about his abilities, Mr. Murray would then perhaps have another change of mind, thereby setting the environmental agenda back again another number of months, if not years.
It has been suggested by the parliamentary secretary a number of times that this is simply a matter of sour grapes, that two of the opposition parties had sought Mr. Murray as a candidate and clearly, because we did not get him, we are frustrated and want to take out our vengeance. That is absolutely far from the truth.
The parliamentary secretary particularly points to the New Democratic Party saying that Alexa McDonough has been put on this committee. The important distinction for Canadians to understand is that Ms. McDonough, having retired from politics and now is choosing a life to be on the committee--