Mr. Speaker, when we are in our constituency offices on Fridays, Mondays or during recesses, like the one we just had, do groups that want to meet with us have to have lobbyists to make an appointment?
Unemployed people who find the current employment insurance system inadequate do not need lobbyists to meet with us in our constituency offices. Organized groups and associations, such as the Canadian Real Estate Association or the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires do not need lobbyists to gain access to members. Therein lies the problem.
I will respond to my colleague by way of a question. The current Minister of National Defence was a lobbyist for Hill and Knowlton for close to ten years. From 1996 to February 2004, he represented the interests of the following companies: BAE Systems, General Dynamics, United Defense, Raytheon, ADGA Group, Irwin Aerospace, Airbus, Orion Bus Industries, Galaxy Aerospace Co., and Bennett Environmental. This is our current Minister of National Defence. Are some of the companies I just listed involved in the defence sector? Will the minister be able to remove his lobbyist hat and meet with various groups without being influenced by his history as a lobbyist from 1996 to 2004?
As I was saying, this is another example of the important role that lobbyists play in this House. The Prime Minister made a mistake when he appointed a former lobbyist involved in the defence sector as Minister of National Defence.