Mr. Speaker, I had reached the fifth point in my list of government breaches of parliamentary privilege. We were talking in particular about a “very ethnic” fundraising letter from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
The minister was caught red-handed using public resources to market a Conservative advertising campaign targeting what he called “very ethnic” ridings. The minister has been denounced for the serious conflict of interest between his responsibility to develop fair policies as the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and his political job of delivering the votes of new Canadians. In addition to the conflict of interest, his description of ridings as “very ethnic” raises much doubt about the Conservatives’ respect for new Canadians.
I want to turn now to the departure of Christiane Ouimet and the gag order on her. After the independent Public Service Integrity Commissioner resigned in disgrace for sweeping aside 228 whistleblower complaints, this Conservative regime gave her more than $500,000 in severance pay and made her sign a gag order. Canadians deserve to know what role the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office played in rejecting embarrassing whistleblower cases without an investigation.
Moving along to the dishonesty of the Minister of International Cooperation, over 24,000 people have signed a petition calling for her to resign after she misled Parliament about falsifying a ministerial document. Even though she faces censure for breaching parliamentary privilege, the minister refuses to step down or answer very specific questions about her conduct. Instead of saying this dishonesty has no place in Parliament, the Prime Minister continues to shield and even applaud her.
The Minister of International Cooperation breached a basic principle of our democratic system by straight-out misleading Canadians about the falsified documents. In any other line of work, she would have been fired. The Prime Minister should immediately relieve her of her position. Continuing to protect her is totally unacceptable.
My colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood, has referred the question to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs so that it can recommend an appropriate sanction and report to the House on the question before March 25.
“Own the Podium”, in the most literal sense: after the prime minister’s speech at the celebration of the Year of India event, the Prime Minister’s Office tried to muzzle the leader of the opposition by removing the podium and ushering the journalists present out of the room before his speech. In the end, it was the Prime Minister who was embarrassed for misusing government resources and treating Canada’s ethnic communities like mere pawns on the political chessboard.
Now let us talk about the obscurantism of government documents relating to the arena in Quebec City. The Conservative regime is so afraid of negative political fallout over the Quebec City arena proposal that it is treating the debate on this issue like a matter of national security. It has censored the background information on its position on funding an NHL-calibre arena in Quebec City.
The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill has also breached the code of ethics. Before she was questioned on this specific subject in the House of Commons, the Conservative minister from Calgary—Nose Hill did not know that she had been fined by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for “failure to disclose a material change” and she was cited for failing to pay the fine. The member is the third minister of this government and the tenth Conservative public office holder to be fined by the commissioner, joining previous wrongdoers such as the defence minister.
Now let us move to the attack on public servants over the F-35s. The recent attack by the Conservative member for Edmonton Centre on the highly respected former deputy minister of defence, Mr. Alan Williams, shows that the Conservatives can only resort to name calling when it comes to justifying their $29 billion untendered fighter jet purchase.
The facts speak for themselves. On the weekend the media reported that the Conservatives have no legitimate argument to support their claims about the purchase and maintenance costs of the F-35s.
Canadians are seeing this government in its true light. The Conservatives have abused their power and damaged our democracy. They have demonstrated nothing but contempt for Parliament and for Canadians. They are out of touch with the priorities of middle-class families.
In the interest of clarity, here are just the facts in the other official language, including 10 instances of Conservative regime recent abuses of power. The Conservative regime's culture of secrecy and deceit is adding up and as official opposition, it is our duty to bring light to these issues.
With respect to hiding corporate taxes, megaprison and F-35 costs, the Conservative regime failed to comply with the motion demanding that by March 7 it provide the House of Commons with details concerning its plans to spend billions of tax dollars on corporate tax cuts, prison expansions and untendered stealth fighters.
Hiding these costs undermines the credibility of the entire budget. We need answers on these matters before the budget is tabled. The member for Kings—Hants has referred to the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and is demanding that it report back to the House by March 21.
With respect to the in and out election fraud, the Prime Minister's inner circle stands accused of a $1.2 million scam to break election spending limits and buy more attack ads than those permitted. Senior Conservatives wired money in to local campaigns and transferred the money right back out to the national campaign. Now they face serious charges involving potential jail time.
When candidates claimed the transfers to get $800,000 more than allowed by Elections Canada, it stepped in.
The Prime Minister is using public resources for partisan purposes by forcing federal public servants to replace the words “Government of Canada” with the “H Government”. Canadians know it is not the Prime Minister's government. It belongs to all citizens.
With respect to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism's very ethic fundraising letter, the insulting nature of the very ethnic definition by and of itself is a matter for concern. Furthermore, the citizenship and immigration minister was caught using public resources for polling and marketing a Conservative advertising campaign aimed at what he called “very ethic ridings”. The minister has been exposed for serious conflict of interest between his responsibility to make fair policies as the citizenship and immigration minister and his political role of delivering the votes of new Canadians.
With respect to Christiane Ouimet's gag order and severance pay, after the independent public service integrity commissioner resigned in disgrace for sweeping aside 228 whistleblower complaints, the Conservative regime paid her more than $500,000 and made her sign a gag order. Canadians deserve to know what role the Prime Minister Office's and the Privy Council Office's had in influencing the dismissal of embarrassing whistleblower cases, involving all sorts of misuse of government resources.
With respect to the Minister of International Cooperation's dishonesty, over 24,000 people signed a petition calling for the international cooperation minister to resign after she misled Parliament about ordering a ministerial document to be falsified. Even though she faces censure for breaching parliamentary privilege, the minister refuses to step down or answer questions about her conduct. Instead of saying this dishonesty has no place in Parliament, the Prime Minister continues to shield her and even applauds his minister.
The Minister of International Cooperation has breached the privileges of our democratic system by blatantly misleading Canadians about forging documents. In any other job, this would get someone fired. The Prime Minister should immediately fire her from cabinet. This is unacceptable.
My colleague, the MP for Scarborough—Guildwood, has referred the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to recommend the appropriate punishment and is demanding that they report back to the House by March 25.
With respect to “own the podium”, after the Prime Minister spoke at the celebration of the year of India event, the Prime Minister's office tried to muzzle the Leader of the Opposition by removing the podium and ushering the media out of the room before his speech. In the end, it was the Prime Minister who was embarrassed for misusing government resources and treating Canada's ethnic communities like mere political pawns.
With respect to the Quebec City arena documents, the Conservative regime is so afraid of political fallout over the Quebec City arena proposal that it is treating the debate like a national security threat, after blacking out background documents that would have made our position clear on the funding, or not, of this NHL-calibre arena in Quebec City.
Regarding the member for Calgary—Nose Hill's ethics breach, until she was questioned about it in the House of Commons, she had no idea that she had been fined by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and cited for failing to pay the fine. The member is the third Conservative minister and the 10th Conservative public office holder overall to be fined by the commissioner, joining previous wrongdoers like the Minister of National Defence.
With respect to lashing out at public servants on F-35s, the Conservative MP for Edmonton Centre's recent attack on the respected former assistant deputy minister of defence, Alan Williams, shows that the Conservatives can only resort to name calling when it comes to justifying their $16 billion, or should I say $29 billion, untendered fighter jet purchase. A media report over the weekend also indicated that the Conservatives did not have a leg to stand on when it came to backing up their claims on the purchase or maintenance costs of the F-35s.
Furthermore, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed this morning that all estimates so far provided by the Conservative government were totally out of synch with reality.
Canadians are seeing the government for what it really is. The Conservatives have abused their power, attacked our democracy and have showed nothing but contempt for Parliament and the Canadian people. They have lost touch with the priorities of middle-class families, which is why I will vote in support of the motion from the Bloc Québécois.