Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on the comments made by the parliamentary secretary just moments ago and commend him for his efforts in defending the indefensible.
It is clear that most Canadians could be forgiven for assuming that this question of a deal with a particular property in mind, in the Ottawa area, is part of a pattern of conduct that the government has embraced very early on in its mandate.
Let me state something for the record clearly. I think all parliamentarians would join me in saying that we are trying to encourage and strengthen accountability. Most parliamentarians are working feverishly to see the accountability act pass with the right kinds of amendments. I still think Canadians could be forgiven for deducing that there is a pattern of conduct here, which is leading Canadians to ask some fundamental questions. Let me illustrate.
First, the government is wreaking havoc, for example, in changes it is making to the sole source procurement system of our country, without notice and without consultation. Many of my constituents and thousands of companies are working now in concert with the federal government, and have been for years, only to find out one morning that the sole source system, which the government is forcing down their throats, is one about which they have not even been consulted.
It has done away with the procurement strategy for aboriginal businesses. It has been silenced behind the scenes. This is again part of a pattern.
The House of Commons legal counsel has issued an opinion saying that the accountability bill is at least partly unconstitutional, but the government has not addressed the unconstitutionality of the bill.
The Minister of National Defence, leaving aside the optics of the fact that he was a former lobbyist for the defence industry, wanted to sole source and acquire $3.2 billion worth of airplanes without any kind of tendering process. He is now denying it and backtracking.
Now we have a real estate deal, a letter of intent, as acknowledged by the parliamentary secretary, and, on his behalf, the Minister of PWGSC has acknowledged it as well, but apparently there is no deal. The government is backtracking again. I think Canadians could be forgiven for deducing there is a pattern of conduct here.
The government has not learned anything from the Nielsen report in the Mulroney years. At that time, Prime Minister Mulroney asked the former minister, the member for Yukon, Mr. Nielsen, to do a major analysis of property deals with respect to the federal government because of the trying circumstances around many of those deals. This ended up causing problems for the former prime minister and his Conservative government. I really do not think the present government has read that report or understood much from it.
This is reminiscent of the comments recently made by the Minister of Transport who, in a speech in Gatineau, said that he was prepared to move an $800 million museum from my riding in Ottawa South to his riding across the river because he would exercise his political influence. He said this even though a $1 million engineering and architectural design and analysis study was commissioned by the museum, which suggested that the site the minister was targeting was not even on the short list of five. Again, I would forgive Canadians for deducing a pattern of conduct here.
Furthermore, the Minister of Transport freelanced recently on a question on the National Capital Commission, an instrumental organization in the development of this region. He said that he questioned the very existence of the NCC. There was no notice given, no dialogue, no debate, no commentary and no input. Instead of pursuing constructive reform ideas, we get a pattern of conduct that seems to continue. It is a do as I say, not as I do pattern.
Most recently we heard about the Minister of Health owning 25% of a private health care company, which he now regulates as the Minister of Health. The government, while in opposition, savaged the Ethics Commissioner saying that he was not a real Ethics Commissioner. Now it hides behind his ruling. The Minister of Health did not place his stocks in a blind trust. On the contrary, he makes a very small statement that he has no intention of dealing with the matter while he is a minister of the Crown. Again, I would forgive Canadians for deducing there is a pattern of conduct here.
Finally, the question of unsolicited proposals, allowing economic development versus value for taxpayer dollars, as the parliamentary secretary to the minister puts to the House, is frankly a mugs game. It makes no rational sense whatsoever.
Public tendering is the central building block of any procurement regime. It is the central building block of any transparent procurement regime. For a government that rode into town high on its horse of accountability, it is bewildering for most Canadians to try to understand this pattern of conduct in the short 120-odd days since being elected.
In my estimation, the motion is a sound one. I would urge all parliamentarians to support it. It really does speak now to the question of our willingness as parliamentary colleagues to address the question of transparency and accountability in a serious way.
It is very unfortunate for the government, in its unwise decision, to appoint an unelected individual, who refused to seek office in the last election, to the Senate so he could be responsible for managing billions of dollars of procurement and not be here to answer those questions.