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House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was voters.

Topics

Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, since September something very distressing has been going on in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Conservative members have been systematically stalling committee work since the introduction of a motion requiring that the questionable accounting practices of the Conservative Party during the last general election be examined by the committee, on camera, so that Quebeckers and Canadians can see for themselves that the Conservatives' grand promises of transparency and honesty were nothing but smoke and mirrors.

This has been going on meeting after meeting. All the Bloc Québécois is trying to do is understand why the Conservative Party is the only party in the House whose expense claims were investigated by Elections Canada.

If the Conservative members truly believe they have nothing to hide, they should stop stalling committee work so that we can get to the bottom of this rather troubling issue.

AirbusStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I, as do many Canadians, ask the Prime Minister to provide the public the full details of the cash that former prime minister Brian Mulroney received from Karlheinz Schreiber in 1993-94.

The public is demanding answers.

What was the money paid for? Why was it paid in cash? Why was it paid in hotel rooms? Why did Mr. Mulroney not pay taxes on the money until it was disclosed to the public later on? What was the purpose of the meeting in Zurich? Why did the Prime Minister not do anything when his office was notified in March of this year?

Until these answers are provided, there is a dark cloud over the government and over all government agencies and departments.

For example, Revenue Canada will have difficulty auditing other Canadians. How can it charge other Canadians? How can it penalize other Canadians? Canadians will use this excuse: “Give me the same deal that was given to Mulroney”.

I hope the Prime Minister, for the sake of the government and for the sake of this institution of Parliament, will ensure that Canadians are given these answers as soon as absolutely possible.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

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

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, in recent years a growing number of Canadians have come to realize that the Liberal Party does not actually stand for anything, but who would have guessed that this fall it would turn “not standing” into its defining characteristic?

First the Liberals abstained from the Speech from the Throne. Next they abstained from the ways and means motion to reduce the GST to five per cent. Yesterday they extended their abstention strategy beyond just confidence votes to abstain on a Bloc opposition day motion.

Where I come from, there is a commonly shared principle that if one does not vote one cannot complain. I know the whole concept of principles is not really high on the Liberal Party's priority list and that the whole priorities thing does not come easily to the Liberal leader, but until the Liberals develop a list of priorities that they can stand up for one way or another, perhaps they should offer up their official opposition status to a party that actually knows what it believes.

AirbusOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister wants to limit the political fallout from the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, so he prevents Dr. Johnston from investigating the behaviour of the Conservative government over the last 22 months.

The terms of reference for Dr. Johnston include only specific financial dealings between Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber. They do not include any negligence, wilful blindness, interference, invasion or concealment by the Prime Minister, his office, his ministers or Conservative insiders.

Why did the Prime Minister exempt himself from this investigation?

AirbusOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we did no such thing. Mr. Johnston is free to propose any terms of reference that are in any way connected with the events in question.

Canadians understand that the events in question occurred between 10 and 20 years ago. These are rather pathetic attempts by the opposition to link them to this government.

AirbusOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is not Dr. Johnston's credibility that is at stake here; it is the Prime Minister's.

Dr. Johnston has been hired to look only at Mulroney-Schreiber financial dealings, nothing more. He cannot examine Privy Council officials or political staff about the paper trail into the Prime Minister 's Office. That would be beyond his mandate. He cannot find out who ordered the justice department to stop a fresh investigation, which the department began last year, because that would be beyond his mandate.

What is the government so afraid that he will find?

AirbusOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, Professor Johnston can recommend any terms of reference that are in any way related to the affairs at hand.

I would not say the only person's credibility, but one of the people's credibility who is very much in question this week is the member for Wascana, who actually suggested that the government would break the law and release private tax records.

When we hear that kind of recommendation, we understand why the previous government had to pay out $2.1 million in taxpayer money.

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the question was whether Mr. Mulroney complied with the law.

The Mulroney-Schreiber issue reignited in the media only days after the government came into power. There are damning letters in the Prime Minister's Office, but the paper trail is hidden.

Ministers deliberately refused to be briefed. A justice department review was started and then suddenly stopped. Some ministers consult Mr. Mulroney daily. He has numerous personal encounters with the Prime Minister. Was Mr. Schreiber ever discussed?

Will the Prime Minister change the mandate to include specifically whether the government was involved in a cover-up?

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all the allegations made by the member for Wascana are completely baseless. They are complete fabrications.

All they are is designed to try to prove that other people are just as corrupt as the Liberal Party of Canada. I am afraid the Liberal Party of Canada has the trademark on corruption.

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that by not asking Mr. Johnston to investigate the actions of the current government, the Prime Minister is trying to do some damage control. His government's actions with respect to this issue have been questionable.

The Prime Minister admitted to having met with Brian Mulroney at Harrington Lake in the summer of 2006, as Mr. Schreiber indicated. However, we still do not know whether they talked about Mr. Schreiber. Mr. Johnston's terms of reference do not allow him to investigate that.

What is the Prime Minister trying to hide from Canadians?

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the process is very clear. Right after Mr. Schreiber testified that there were allegations, the Prime Minister started the process. That process will give us the answers we are looking for. Canadians want answers. We launched the inquiry process.

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not all. Mr. Johnston will not investigate whether the letters Mr. Schreiber wrote to the Prime Minister actually reached his office. He will not investigate why the Minister of Justice is refusing to accept any information about the $2.1 million paid to Brian Mulroney or whether the minister put an end to his own department's investigation into those millions.

Will the Prime Minister let Mr. Johnston find out whether political interference occurred to hide these facts?

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, once again, the process is clear. Mr. Johnston can set the terms of reference for the inquiry and ask important questions for himself, for Canadians, and also for us.

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned this morning that Karlheinz Schreiber will be extradited to Germany where he is facing fraud charges. However, Mr. Schreiber's testimony is crucial to the public inquiry concerning former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Under section 40 of the Extradition Act, the Minister of Justice has the power to refuse to extradite an individual. Why does he refuse to invoke his discretionary power to postpone the extradition of Mr. Schreiber, who is a key witness in this affair?

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the judicial process is ongoing. Ultimately, the decision is up to the Minister of Justice. Clearly, the government will not comment on such a judicial process.

AirbusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in their ruling this morning, the judges called the Minister of Justice's decision a political decision. Yet—and I am referring to their own ruling—in order to delay the extradition, Mr. Schreiber disclosed the explosive allegations against former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, since, once he returns to Germany where he faces fraud charges, delays could arise and slow down the inquiry.

Since the government has the authority to do so, would it not be wiser to postpone the extradition until Mr. Schreiber has a chance to testify?

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on a decision that is the exclusive responsibility of the Minister of Justice.

We do recognize, however, that there are two issues of public interest here: on one hand, this government's commitment to conduct a full public inquiry; and on the other hand, to ensure that Mr. Schreiber appears in court to face criminal charges of fraud, tax evasion, bribery and forgery.

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the mandates given to David Johnston and Justice Gomery are completely different. After appointing Justice Gomery it took the government nine days to establish the terms of reference for the inquiry. The Prime Minister has just told us that he is giving David Johnston 57 days to determine the parameters for the future public inquiry, which takes us to January 11, 2008. That is too long.

Rather than dragging things out, should the Prime Minister not be ensuring that the facts come to light as quickly as possible?

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Johnston is free to provide his report much more quickly, if possible. That will be up to him.

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, given that there are allegations about the involvement of other individuals, Conservatives and Liberals, in the activities of Mr. Schreiber, it is important to establish as broad a framework for the commission as possible. If the Prime Minister wishes to get to the bottom of it all, it is in his best interest for the commission to review all of Mr. Schreiber's dealings with Canadian politicians in general.

Does the Prime Minister have something to hide?

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, Mr. Johnston is free to recommend any terms of reference for the commission. That is up to him. The government has given that power to Mr. Johnston, an eminent and impartial individual. The government has not written the terms of reference for this public inquiry.

However, I am certain that Mr. Johnston will not propose an inquiry into Canadian federalism, desired by the Bloc Québécois.

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, today's La Presse makes it clear, as it was to Mr. Schreiber, that the field was a broad one.

For example, Elmer MacKay, whose son is the Minister of National Defence, once worked in Germany for Mr. Schreiber's arms company. Mr. MacKay senior even posted $100,000 bail for Mr. Schreiber.

Can the Prime Minister tell us whether his Minister of National Defence was at the cabinet meeting where this matter was discussed? Did he recuse himself, yes or no?

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, we are going to hear some strange fabrications or accusations like that one.

We now have a process and Mr. Johnston will carry out his mandate. We will find answers and will wait for Mr. Johnston to do his job.

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, sustainable development is about taking care of future generations. Sustainable corruption is producing the same effect: Marc Lalonde, Liberal minister; Elmer MacKay, Conservative minister; Allan MacEachen, Liberal minister; Brian Mulroney, Conservative prime minister. There were decades of shady dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber, the summum of which was a $2.1 million Liberal payment to Mulroney for hurting his feelings.

Will the Prime Minister take a first concrete step and inform Canadians that we will at least get our $2.1 million back?

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, Professor Johnston will draft the terms of reference for the full public inquiry, and that is one matter on which he will obviously make recommendations.