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House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am going to look at the transcript. If unparliamentary language was used, I will come back to the House on this issue.

I did not hear anything. The member for Terrebonne—Blainville is indicating that she did not use unparliamentary language. I will check the record and come back to the House if necessary.

On that note, hon. members are not doing themselves or the chamber any favours by heckling and yelling back and forth on both sides of the House while members are trying to answer a question, pose a question, or give a speech.

We have enough time for one more question or comment. The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the in and out issue here. A larger issue that voters may want to know about is that of third party advertising, where groups were encouraged to give large sums of money to support Conservative candidates across the country, which created a massive uneven playing field. If that does not violate the law, it certainly violates it in spirit.

Given the member's current position, does she not think that one of the government's top priorities has to be a plan to get back to balanced budgets? The Liberal Party did that when we were in power. Would the member not agree that her government should lay out to the Canadian public a deficit reduction plan to get the country's finances back into a surplus as soon as possible?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have laid out a plan to bring back balanced budgets. We are moving forward with the next phase of our economic action plan. The budget that is coming on March 22 is designed to do exactly that. It will focus on bringing us back into balance. It will focus on restraint. We will continue to create jobs and maintain those jobs that are so very important to our families.

I know what will not help. Raising taxes will not help. We cannot raise the GST by 2%, impose an iPod tax, or raise the corporate tax rate from 16.5% to 18% as the Liberals propose. We cannot afford a carbon tax, as proposed by the Liberal Party. This would damage our families and our economy.

I will stand up for families with this next phase of the economic action plan.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have vigorous debates in the House and from time to time things get out of hand. I would ask the hon. member to please retract the statement she just made, because she just gave a long diatribe of complete untruths to the House and to the Canadian public. I will give her a chance to retract her statement.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The Chair is not going to make a ruling on the interpretation of facts. Members have disagreements on the facts all the time. We will move on.

Resuming debate. The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I must say I am overjoyed to be able to join in on the spirited debate we are having today.

I will take a different approach to what some of my other colleagues in the House have been doing with their remarks, in that I will try to explain more clearly to the Canadian public who may be watching this debate what is happening here and the motivation behind the motion that we have before us today.

Primarily, another element that has not really been discussed is we will be voting on this motion tonight. That is relevant and I will get to that in a moment.

Of course the motion itself, as anyone who has taken time to participate in or to listen to the debate today undoubtedly knows, is so over the top, so inflammatory, it was done for a purpose. It was done to try and score some cheap political points. That is okay. All political parties do that from time to time.

What we see as well is that we are actually having a vote on the motion tonight. Why that is relevant is that normally, the Bloc Québécois does not want to have votes on Thursday evenings. If it has an opposition day motion on a Thursday, It normally defers the vote to the following week. The reason it is having the vote tonight is that next week is a constituency week and perhaps, if one believes the rumours, the last week before an impending election. The Bloc is using the vote tonight, where the coalition parties I am sure will vote in favour of the motion, so that the Bloc members can go back to their ridings in Quebec and say that Parliament condemned the government for the Bloc's conduct. The Bloc members can use this for politically partisan reasons. However, all they will be doing is using this motion to try and enhance their own political well-being, and that is okay. Other parties do that. I am not begrudging them the fact that they want to do this.

However, I have a few suggestions for my colleagues from the Bloc. If in fact next week they will be out campaigning and getting ready for what they believe might be an election to be called perhaps as early as the following week, I have a few suggestions of some of the things they may want to discuss with their constituents.

Their constituents may want to hear what plans the Bloc has to form a coalition government if the opportunity were to arise. We know that at its recent convention in Quebec there was a resolution passed where Bloc members said that they would entertain and actually involve themselves in a coalition government if the opportunity were to arise. It would be incumbent upon themselves to spell out the details of what that exactly means.

We do have a bit of history on this. As we all know, shortly after the results were known of the 2008 election, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois entered into a formal coalition agreement. We all saw the pictures on television where the three party leaders at that time got together, signed a little document, shook hands, stood before Canadians and said, “We are prepared to form a coalition government”. The former leader of the Liberal Party said, “I am prepared to lead this new coalition government”.

We all know what happened shortly thereafter. Canadians were so outraged at the very thought that a coalition government could try and rush the power away from a duly elected government that the coalition quickly fell apart.

However, since the Bloc Québécois is now talking about entering into a new coalition government should the opportunity arise, I would like those members to explain to the House, as well as their own constituents, what the relationships would be.

Let us go back to 2008. We know what the Bloc said at the time. It said it did not want to have any members in cabinet, but it would have the right to veto.

Let us talk about this for a minute. What exactly does that mean? What does a right to veto mean? Does that mean if the Bloc Québécois did not see anything in the new coalition government legislation that benefited it personally, the Bloc could veto that and the legislation would be no more? How can a government be run like that?

Here is what I find confusing. The raison d'être of the Bloc Québécois apparently is to separate from Canada. On one hand it came into this Parliament over 20 years ago saying that its raison d'être was to separate, to promote the cause of separation in Quebec. On the other hand, it is now saying that it is willing to enter into a coalition government to govern Canada.

Perhaps someone from the Bloc Québécois side can explain to me how it could be promoting separation, yet, at the same time, promoting coalition governments to govern the country it wishes to separate from. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I would very much like to hear—

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I fail to see what anything the member has said has to do with the Bloc motion before us. I would ask you to call the member to order and direct the member to direct his comments toward the motion on the floor today.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Chair has reminded members in the past and earlier today that, while their remarks may stray somewhat from to time, the bulk of their remarks should address the motion that is before the House.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, again, as I pointed out earlier, the reason I am speaking about this is this is exactly the motivation behind the motion. This is not anything more than a very superficial attempt to try to embarrass the government for its own political purposes. That is why the motion was brought forward.

If that is not germane to the motion, I do not know what is. How can we not argue that the motivation is critical when debating the motion before us?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Because it is fictional.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

It certainly is, Mr. Speaker, and I will continue my remarks in that vein.

I know the member from the NDP does not want me to remind Canadians about the ill-thought out, ill-conceived coalition agreement that took place after the 2008 election. I know the member does not want me to remind Canadians that the NDP will probably be a willing partner in a new coalition agreement should the opportunity arise. However, the reality is that is what the Bloc has stated it would be prepared to do.

We have not quite heard the views from the other opposition parties on the matter, but I have not heard anyone say that they are against it either.

However, on the point where the Bloc Québécois is coming from, while, on one hand, it condemns the government, on the other hand, it says that it wants to enter into an agreement with other coalition partners to perhaps govern the country in which it loses an election.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You just pointed out that the motion being debated today must be the core of members' statements in the House. The parliamentary secretary has just said that he wanted to talk about the motivation of the Bloc bringing it forward. That is a side issue and his entire speech has been on that and not on the actual substance of the motion.

I would ask you to remind the member again that the majority of his comments are to be the substance of the motion, not his psychobabble about what may or may not be the motivation in bringing forward the motion.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is making a good point. The member has been speaking for almost nine minutes. It is time for his remarks to come more to the substance of the motion and not to stray into hypothetical situations. I find it is irrelevant to the motion before the House. If he could address the remainder of his remarks to the substance of the motion, I think the House would appreciate it.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will use the remaining time, short as it may be, to address one of the elements of the motion before us, and that is, the so-called in and out scheme.

As we all know, anyone who has studied this process of transferring money between national and local campaigns recognizes very quickly that the first party in Parliament to use the technique was the Bloc Québécois. Its members are the fathers and the mothers of the in and out. I find it passing strange to say the least that the Bloc would now complain that our government should be condemned or should be somehow censored for doing the very techniques it used in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Everyone knows we have a dispute with Elections Canada. However, we have heard time and time again, over the past few days in question period, examples of how all political parties, including the Bloc Québécois, have used the same in and out money transfer between national and local campaigns.

It is more than passing strange. It almost hypocritical that the Bloc would condemn the government for using a technique which it invented.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague summed up his speech quite well, with the mantra of Elections Canada regarding the in and out. He used the term “passing strange”. Elections Canada saw something passing by that was quite strange and therefore investigated it and made charges.

The hon. member talked about the coalition and he is right. There is a history of this. In 2005, a press conference was called with the Prime Minister, the then leader of the opposition, and the other parties. The history is his. Therefore, the Conservatives can write the book, and that too is passing strange.

I will get back to the issue of the in and out scandal. The hon. member insists that money passed in and passed out in each particular case. However, what is most germane to this conversation is the visitations of local authorities. They showed up at the Conservative Party headquarters, not at our or other opposition party headquarters.

Could the member comment on the fact that other members of the Conservative Party have publicly said that they refuse to get involved in this issue?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am glad we had comments and a question from my colleagues over in the Liberal area. When we are talking about scandals, I do not think we can talk very long without going back to the mother of all scandals, which is of course the sponsorship scandal. It was proven, not alleged, that members of the Liberal Party pocketed taxpayer dollars, put them into Liberal bank accounts, stealing money from the Canadian taxpayer through the sponsorship program. That is not an allegation. That is rock solid proof.

If the member truly wants to enhance and elevate the level of debate on today's motion, he should merely stand, or at least one of his colleagues who has more knowledge of the sponsorship scandal, and tell Canadians where the forty million bucks are.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, listening to the Conservative and Liberal Parties accuse each other of corruption is like listening Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone trying to find out which one of them stole more from each other in the 1930s.

The bottom line is the Conservative government transferred money in and out for the purpose of avoiding legal spending limits, and that is the difference. The Conservative government continues to stand and say that it transferred money in and transferred money out and other parties did it as well. Other parties did do it because that was legal. What is not legal is to do it for the purpose of avoiding a national spending limit.

When the Conservatives hit their $18 million ceiling nationally in 2006, they transferred money to local campaigns to pay for national ads, therefore exceeding national spending limits by a further $1 million. That is why they have been charged.

If the other parties had done the same thing as the Conservatives, why is it only the Conservative Party officials from the 2006 campaign that find themselves charged and facing a year in jail or $25,000 fines?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, that is a question we keep asking Elections Canada. We would like to know that as well. In 2004 every party engaged in identical transactions between national and local campaigns, every party and everyone was in compliance with the electoral law in 2004.

In 2006 similar practices occurred, but it was not until following the conclusion of the 2006 election that Elections Canada said that it had examined the law regarding the transfers between national and local campaigns, that it had reinterpreted the law and that it had determined that perhaps the Conservative Party might be in violation.

Had Elections Canada informed all parties of its new interpretation of the law, prior to the 2006 election, perhaps we would not be in the situation today. We have said fully that we readjusted our practice before the 2008 election to comply with the new interpretation of Elections Canada because we finally got some guidance as to its expectations. Unfortunately, it did not do that before the 2006 election.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, Taxation; the member for Gatineau, Democratic Reform.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to discuss the motion that we moved this morning. First, I would like to say that I will share the time I have with the member for Outremont.

Contrary to what the member for Saint-Boniface says, it was not rhetoric that we included in this morning's motion. We ourselves did not decide that the Conservative Party had violated the Elections Act and the Access to Information Act. Nor did we decide ourselves that the government had broken the law when it came to telling the House the truth.

We moved this motion because we had proof and because the Speaker of the House himself showed us yesterday that, in two of these cases, we had reason to doubt the accuracy of what we were told in the House.

As for election fraud, it has been proven that even Conservative members from Quebec made claims for amounts of money that belonged to the people of Quebec, because these members represented Quebec. They were not entitled to the money they received to run in the election. Because they were not entitled, they should have to give it back.

We are not the ones who decided this; it was the appeal court. I think that the appeal court judges are smart enough to know the difference between election fraud and an in and out transfer. The member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre tried to make us believe that all of the other parties took advantage of the same scheme, but I must point out that we never submitted false invoices and we did not request any refunds from the Chief Electoral Officer. That is why we were not accused of anything. What we did was legal. The Conservatives are under investigation because what they did was illegal.

I would also like to remind members of some rather comical incidents. If we look back, we should have seen this coming. We should have already been thinking that something was not right about what the Prime Minister was telling us when he was in the opposition. For example, on June 18, 2004, LCN reported that the Conservative leader had adopted a brand new slogan to appeal to Quebeckers: “Un gouvernement propre au Québec”, while the slogan of the Bloc Québécois was “Un parti propre au Québec”. Already, the Prime Minister was confused and was trying to use our good idea for himself.

On another occasion, he also said that he thought people should elect a cat person because if you elect a dog person, you elect someone who wants to be loved. If you elect a cat person, you elect someone who wants to serve. He said that in an interview with Kevin Newman on Global National on April 5, 2006. He could have also said that if you elect a cat person, you elect someone who likes to serve himself.

And even before he destroyed everything that was happening at Status of Women Canada and before he destroyed the hopes of women in this country and in Quebec, Andrée Côté, the director of legislative reform at the National Association of Women and Law, which had to shut down because its funding was cut, wrote this on January 18, 2007:

Exactly one year ago, to the day, January 18, 2006, in the midst of an election campaign, [the Prime Minister] declared:

“Yes, I'm ready to support women's human rights and I agree that Canada has to do more to meet its international obligations to women's equality. If elected I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women.”

On the federal election date of January 23, 2006, his party was elected to office. In spite of its minority government status, the government was quick to set in motion a series of policy decisions that have sent a resounding message, namely: that women’s equality and the promotion and protection of their human rights is not of concern to this government.

To finish up with the anecdotes, I would like to remind the members that it was also said that by refusing to testify before the Standing Committee on Public Safety, the member for Beauce and the members of this government were trampling on the foundations of ministerial accountability and parliamentary democracy:

And above all else, they are violating the formal commitments they made during their 2006 election campaign. “The time for accountability has arrived,” declared the Prime Minister on page 1 of his party's election platform. It seems that that time has come and gone.

I have another quote from the Prime Minister who, as Leader of the Opposition, told the Montreal newspaper The Gazette the following, the year before he came to power:

Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions, and incompetent or corrupt governance can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.

When he became Prime Minister, his attitude appeared to undergo a shift of considerable proportions.

According to Lawrence Martin in The Politics of Control, “It often took the Conservatives twice as long as previous governments to handle access requests. Sometimes it took six months to a year”.

Moving on, I would like to refer to the director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Kevin Gaudet, who has said there should be an investigation to determine whether the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism routinely misused government resources to win votes.

I believe our motion clearly describes the facts as I just listed them in this House. We did not conjure this motion completely out of thin air. We thought about it very carefully and reflected on it after a series of indisputable facts that we have listed and that I could continue to list for several minutes.

Of course we are going to ask all members of this House, or at least all opposition members, to vote in support of our motion. In closing, I would like to remind the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre that in 2005, the Prime Minister himself wanted to sign and then did sign a letter to form a coalition with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. If a coalition can work for him, it can work for others, too.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for that woman from the Bloc Québécois. She does her part to deliver speeches for women, vulnerable women in particular.

I wonder whether she could tell me how she sees us advancing as women here in this House. Two of her female colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, who are presently here in this House, are being quite vicious in their comments toward other women in this House. I will not stoop to their level, but nevertheless, I wonder how we can advance as women if we are unable to support one another here.

This motion to divide the government and our country aside, I am asking the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois whether she will rise today to say she will work with me and the other women in this House to prevent women from treating each other the way they did here 15 minutes ago.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the hon. member's question.

I would say to her that in a democracy, we are entitled to our opinions. I would add that if she cannot stand the heat, then she should stay out of the kitchen.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the thrust of the debate in the House for some time now has been an assessment of the integrity, the honesty, the openness, the transparency and the accountability of the government.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on the reaction of the Conservatives to the Speaker's ruling where they seem to suggest that they will see what they can give us and maybe come up with some other reasons as to why they should not disclose the information that has been requested by the finance committee. It would appear that they are still fighting a Speaker's ruling on the rights and privileges of Parliament.

The Conservative government, obviously, is not a government that is here to govern in the best interests of the public.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I think he should not be surprised by the government's reaction to the Speaker's ruling. As always, we are dealing with a government that does not respect Speaker's rulings. As we know, we are still waiting for certain documents to do with Afghan detainees and we are still waiting for documents to do with everything we are asking about in this House. Nonetheless, we never get an answer. I am not surprised.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the situation before us were not so serious, it would be quite amusing to watch the so-called law and order party using the cheap defence lines of every crook that has ever walked the planet.

We are dealing with misleading the House. We are dealing with a minister who perjured herself in committee and forged documents. We are also dealing with a criminal investigation into a money laundering scheme. Now that some Conservatives are up on criminal charges, the government is doing the classic “whoa, whoa officer do not pick on me. Everybody is doing it”. If they had any evidence that people were doing it they should have given it to the police, but they did not. They are the ones who are busted.

When that does not stick, they claim that their elaborate scheme to funnel money through ridings to get kickbacks for local riding associations was an administrative error. I know so many guys in prison and I have never heard one of them say that they were guilty. It was always an error. Folks back home who go before Revenue Canada and claim that it was an administrative error will get the book thrown at them.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague--