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House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today something very peculiar happened in the procedure and House affairs committee.

The Conservative members put forward a motion in order to see that all the parties would have their financial and electoral practices from the last two elections brought forward for public scrutiny in a committee forum, on camera, for all Canadians to judge and see, but curiously, right before the motion could come for a vote, members of the opposition bounced to their feet and sprinted out the door, denying quorum and shutting down the committee.

This happened only hours after members of the Conservative Party put forward an affidavit exposing hypocritical electoral and financial practices amongst the other parties in the last two elections. Coincidence? I think not.

If they really believe in what they did and want to condemn what we have done, why did they turn tail and run when they had their chance?

AirbusOral Questions

November 13th, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, for months the government has known about very serious allegations concerning former prime minister Brian Mulroney. It received hundreds of pages on the whole affair.

The Prime Minister even received personal letters from Mr. Schreiber and yet the government did nothing for months. Why?

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2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, last week I announced that as a result of a sworn affidavit that has been filed in court the government would appoint an independent third party to advise the government on how to proceed with such allegations.

Let me make clear what we will be doing. We will be asking that independent third party, whom we will be naming very shortly, to provide us with the terms of reference for a full public inquiry as well as any other course of action that the independent party deems appropriate.

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2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the information prompting a reaction from the Prime Minister had been in his hands for months: a letter from Mr. Schreiber, marked “To the Addressee Only - For His Eyes Only”.

This from a Prime Minister obsessed with controlling everything down to the last detail, as his caucus knows all too well. The Prime Minister is hiding behind the PCO and junior staff in his own office.

Will he step up to the plate and do the right thing, that is to launch immediately a full public inquiry?

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2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I just answered this question about a public inquiry. The independent third party will give the government the appropriate terms of reference for such an inquiry, and such an inquiry will be launched.

Let me just speak to this issue of the letters, which the Leader of the Opposition alleges I have. Let us be very clear. I remind the Liberal leader that Karlheinz Schreiber has been the subject of extradition proceedings by the federal government for the past eight years. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that when somebody writes about his extradition proceedings, that is not handled by the Prime Minister. That goes to appropriate government officials.

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2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, even Mr. Mulroney is calling for a full public inquiry. The Prime Minister must be the only person who does not think it is a good idea.

Why? What is he afraid of? Will he do the right thing? Will he take on his responsibilities and call a full public inquiry now?

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2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the Leader of the Opposition had whipped himself up into that question and has failed to listen to the previous two answers.

That is precisely what the government will be doing. Under the circumstances, the independent party that the government will be employing will be making a recommendation to the government on the appropriate terms of inquiry for a full public inquiry.

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has shamelessly pointed his finger--

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2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I am sure all hon. members want to hear the question the member for Ajax--Pickering is about to put. He has the floor.

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has shamelessly pointed his finger at the Privy Council and its Clerk, Kevin Lynch. That is absurd.

All correspondence sent to the Prime Minister receives a routing slip and a docket. It is fully tracked and traceable. Letters of such political sensitivity, like those detailing allegations of abuse by a former prime minister, are immediately forwarded by PCO to the Prime Minister's most senior staff. The Prime Minister's Office has these letters.

If he wants to retain any credibility, the Prime Minister should stand up in his place now and tell the truth.

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2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, Karlheinz Schreiber is the subject of ongoing court action by the federal government since those members were in office seeking his extradition. The Prime Minister is never going to get involved in reading correspondence on that matter from such an individual.

I have to inform the hon. member, who never misses a chance at a good conspiracy theory, that I have no relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber and I certainly do not intend to become his pen pal now.

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

But, Mr. Speaker, he certainly has a relationship with Brian Mulroney and that is exactly what this is about.

If the Prime Minister is so certain that these particular letters got lost in the system, then he should table in the House the routing slips and dockets for all the related correspondence from Mr. Schreiber to the Prime Minister. He should table the paper trail that will prove either the gross incompetence and negligence of the Prime Minister's Office or that there was a cover-up, a deliberate attempt to mislead Canadians, a choice to protect Mr. Mulroney rather than see justice served.

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2:20 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there may be many letters from this individual, but what is clear is that the Prime Minister has acted on new allegations in a sworn affidavit, and I think he is taking the very responsible course of action.

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2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am having a hard time understanding why the Prime Minister is refusing to hold a public inquiry into the allegations concerning the relationship between former prime minister Brian Mulroney and businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. All of the opposition parties and Mr. Mulroney himself are calling for a public inquiry. We have every reason to wonder what is motivating the Prime Minister.

Is the Prime Minister worried about what kind of information such an inquiry might bring to light? Or is he afraid of what might be revealed by people like Elmer McKay and Marc Lalonde, who paid the—

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

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2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, last week I announced that I would appoint an independent third party to advise the government on this issue. We intend to ask this advisor to give us the appropriate terms of reference for a full public inquiry into this issue.

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2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the sponsorship scandal, the Prime Minister, who was then the leader of the official opposition, continually demanded a public inquiry.

Now I am calling on him not to wait for a recommendation from his adviser, but to tell us today if there is to be a public inquiry and, if so, what kind of inquiry it will be. He should tell us now. He should not ask an adviser to decide for him. He should make an announcement in this House that there will be a public inquiry into this affair.

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2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I just said yes. I do not think that it is appropriate for this government to define such a commission's terms of reference, and that is why I will be asking an independent third party to advise us on the appropriate terms of reference for a public inquiry.

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2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has asked his MPs to put an end to any contact with Brian Mulroney, and he intends to impose this restriction on himself as well. If the debate is to be begun with any peace of mind, we would have to have the assurance that the Prime Minister has no connection to the key figures in this affair. For example, we cannot find out whether Schreiber and Mulroney funded the PM's leadership campaign, since his list of contributors has never been made public.

Can the Prime Minister make a public commitment to produce the list of those who contributed to his own leadership campaign?

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2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, those lists are available. I believe the fact that the former Prime Minister did not support me as a candidate for the leadership of this party is a matter of public knowledge.

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2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will not, therefore, have any objection to making that list public.

Are we to construe from the Prime Minister's refusal to call a public inquiry that he is afraid that the list of contributors would be made public in such an inquiry—and this is something he does not want to get out?

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2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this list is public. We need to keep in mind that we are discussing things that took place some fifteen years ago.

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2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about pen pals here. This is no laughing matter. Canadians are losing confidence in their government, not just one government and one Conservative prime minister, but back and forth, from side to side, scandal after scandal.

Will the Prime Minister be serious about taking action? He is happy to instruct his ministers on who not to talk to. Will he instruct them all, including the ones in the Senate, to speak to whatever public inquiry is brought forward and cooperate fully in every way to get to the bottom of this scandal, yes or no?

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2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Of course, Mr. Speaker. However, I do have to remind the leader of the NDP, while he is in fine flying form, that the events we are talking about did occur somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 to 20 years ago and involved a settlement signed by the previous government 10 years ago.

Obviously we will cooperate, as I expect every member of Parliament would.