Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on the first supply day that we have been granted due to the stalling of supply days by the Liberal government. This is the first one we have had a chance to get back in the groove on and it is a great day for Canadians.
In the tremendous job Justice Gomery is doing we are going to see section (k) changed in his terms of reference. Right now that really handcuffs him in his final report. I know we have struck a nerve because I saw the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Works on television this morning talking about how this would disable Gomery, how procedurally it would be unfair and unjust to witnesses, and that this was not a court or tribunal but an inquiry.
However, if that is the case, why are they so concerned with Justice Gomery naming names? All of the witnesses have given sworn testimony before Justice Gomery. These are not allegations any more. Certainly, there are some cross purposes here as we see one faction of Liberals try to point the finger at another faction of Liberals, but the bottom line is they are all Liberals. This is a Liberal crisis, not a Canadian crisis. It should not even be a government crisis. The Liberals have taken another $1 million of taxpayers' money to set up a war room to counter a lot of the negative media reports coming out of Gomery.
As the public works critic, I took this to heart when a lot of this broke a couple of years ago. We received a tremendous number of anonymous brown envelopes with undocumented and unsubstantiated claims. It is amazing to watch what has happened at the Gomery inquiry over the last six to eight months and much of the testimony coming forward. Those names are there; the dollar figures are there. It is amazing how accurate those brown envelopes were.
We were not able to use them because we could not substantiate them, but now we are seeing those same names and numbers coming out of Gomery. It really speaks to the fact that there is a lot of credibility in that inquiry, which we called for months before the government got around to calling for it.
The Prime Minister gets some credit for calling Gomery, but let us look at the chronology that led up to that. We started in November 2003 when the Auditor General came forward with a scathing indictment of what was happening at the sponsorship program saying there was over $100 million that did not have any value for taxpayers' money. But no one saw that report.
The government received that report in November. It quickly prorogued the House due to a little leadership contest that happened over there. It actually went on for 10 years and culminated in November, but the report did not see the light of day until February. The Liberals had it for three months to clean it, sanitize it, and actually put their spin on it. We finally saw the Gomery inquiry called later that spring just before the election.
The Gomery inquiry did not start. It was actually held in abeyance until September. Justice Gomery had holidays to take. He had a couple of trial procedures that he was working on that he had to finish up. Basically, the Liberals bought some time. They came back here with a minority government. Canadians took this scandal to heart. The polls at that time said 66% of Canadians believed that all politicians were crooked.
That paints us all with that same brush and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who just spoke, talked about the public trust. That is what is so important about letting Justice Gomery name names, trace the cash, and actually prepare a report to that end. We are not seeing that with the way he is handcuffed under section (k) and the way the Liberals set this up.
The public works minister stood in his place one day during question period and said that section (k) is standard in any inquiry. Maybe it is, but not in a case where public money has been abused and misused to this extent. Then section (k) becomes a roadblock to getting to the bottom of this.
As Justice Gomery gets to the end of his witness list and starts to think about putting together his report, it is incumbent on us to take those handcuffs off, to let him get to the bottom of this, and actually name some names, put them on paper. He is not going to ascertain guilt at that point. He is going to say that this is where his allegations lie because these people have come forward and this is what is being said about them. He must be able to do that.
That sets the stage for the criminal investigations to follow after the Gomery report. The witnesses will get their day in court again. This is all sworn testimony that can be used again. He has been very careful with publication bans on several of the civil servants who are facing criminal charges, but there are always political masters when it comes to bureaucrats.
We have a problem here. Either the minister of the day, and there have been several at Public Works, did not have a clue of what the department was doing, which is incompetence, or the minister was involved at the political level and then we have a whole new problem.
These guys took it serious enough that they brought Alfonso Gagliano home from Denmark. They had him over there in the witness protection program. However, he came back and he sang like a canary when he got before Gomery.
We saw these folks come before the public accounts committee, which the existing Prime Minister shut down and would not allow to go any further saying that Gomery would take over when the public accounts committee was doing a great job. I sat in on some of those meetings. We had guys like Chuck Guité before the committee. He did not see anything, he did not hear anything, and he did not know anything. I could not for the life of me understand why we kept this guy on the payroll. If he did not do anything, did not see anything, and did not know anything, what was he getting paid for?
It turns out that under Gomery's cross-examination and testimony this guy was the linchpin, or one of them. However, he did not do it in a vacuum. No bureaucrat has access to $355 million and is able to funnel it out there as was done. It just does not happen.
Then we see other folks come forward and testify that they had Liberal staffers who were paid for with cash. They had them on their payroll on a cash basis doing work for the Liberal Party in Quebec. That is a total misuse of taxpayers' money.
We had a little hiccup in Saskatchewan a number of years ago under then Premier Grant Devine. There was $180,000 of party communications money, not public money, and not to the same extent that we are talking about here. We are talking millions here. That took that government out of existence. That party does not even exist in Saskatchewan any more.
However, these guys are so busy trying to hide from the fallout from this because they are so concerned about their Liberal Party future, and they should be because they are going to wear this into the next election and beyond.
Under the Gomery inquiry, we have seen that they have run the last three elections using bad money, dirty money. They are saying that there should be no ramifications and that Justice Gomery should not be able to name names. They are saying to keep them hidden and send them all to Denmark. How many ambassadors can we use? It just goes on and on. These guys just want this public inquiry for the media spin. They have set up a war room with $1 million of taxpayers' money to counter the negative spin that is coming out.
I do not think the Gomery inquiry would ever have happened if the Liberals had come back with a majority government. I think Justice Gomery would have had the shortest job in history. He never would have started. However, with a minority government, they had to go forward with it. Now they are starting to face the wrath of public opinion out there. They are dropping like a rock in the polls as more and more people see the degree of the tainted money and the way it was followed through.
The firm that is investigating this, Kroll Lindquist Avey, an American firm, are the guys that got to the bottom of the Enron scandal. They tracked down Saddam Hussein's money. Now they are in Canada. That speaks to the degree of this. They are saying they are stymied in some of their reporting by the roadblocks set up by the government. There are criminal charges facing a few folks. The government is suing some ad companies for $41 million worth of money because it says there was no work for those dollars.
We talked about that years ago. We remember the three sets of photocopies that was done for $500,000 a pop. Three pages were photocopied three times for $1.5 million. The Liberals were saying there was work for money at that time. They were trying to hide behind that. If we were to go back in Hansard , we would see where the government was trying to justify what happened. Now it is saying, “Oh, my God, this thing was off the rails. It was just a few rogue people taking advantage of the largesse of the Liberal Party”.
Can members imagine somebody taking advantage of the Liberal Party in government and using taxpayers' money in that way? There is no political connection here. That is what they would like us to believe.
If that is the case, why were we hiding a former public works minister in Denmark? Why do we have a litany of them rushing through here? Nobody wanted the job. It was the kiss of death to take that on. They all know how corrupt a cesspool it was.
Justice Gomery needs every tool available to him when he starts to write that report. He needs to be able to name names. He is not going to assign guilt, but he is going to be able to name those names and turn that over to the RCMP for the proper investigation that this merits.