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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

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I do not know how the member for Laval heard the question with all that chatter going back and forth but I will give her a chance to respond.

The hon. member for Laval.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 10th, 2011 / 4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I did not understand the question, but I presume it had to do with the answers we are getting from the government.

I would say to the hon. member that I am not surprised that we are getting these answers from the government. We always get the same answers to the same questions.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a debate on our democratic institutions. The Bloc Québécois has brought forward a motion that we will support. This motion sets out, one by one, the events, most of which occurred recently, that show just how far the current Conservative government will go to sabotage our country's democratic institutions.

Let us start with the fundamental principle of democracy, namely, a free election process in which each person has the right to seek office. As soon as individuals are able to vote, they have the right to seek office and the rules must be the same for everyone. Each person seeking office is allowed to spend a fixed amount. There is an electoral law that covers all of this. The person responsible for administering this law, the Chief Electoral Officer, is an impartial, highly respected person who deserves our respect.

What happened in this famous case of the false invoices submitted by the Conservatives? They devised a scheme wherein they were able to get a rebate for what they claimed were local expenses when it was not. As a result of this scheme, they were able to obtain over $30,000 for a riding like Hull—Aylmer, which had legitimate expenditures of only some $15,000. That is why it was illegal. That is why what the Conservatives did has nothing to do with the other parties. The other parties' local expenses are legal and recognized.

The police went to the Conservatives' office, but that did not stop them from complaining. They said that the police were wrong, that the crown prosecutors were wrong, that everyone was wrong, except them. However, the highest federal court, the Federal Court of Appeal, has just handed down a unanimous decision that the Conservative Party, the governing party, was wrong and that the scheme was illegal. The charges laid may result in jail time for some people. This is serious because it erodes public trust and undermines the ability of our institution to function democratically. It also influences the outcome of an election. If they have the right to spend more than the other parties and they also illegally fill their coffers with taxpayers' money, the rules no longer apply equally to all.

Another matter is mentioned. A minister went before a parliamentary committee and said that senior public officials, high-level bureaucrats, told her that they believed KAIROS should not receive funding. Therein lies the problem. No one is questioning a minister's right to make decisions about how public money will be spent, or how she make decisions based on criteria established by others. That is not the issue here. She said that the officials told her to say no to KAIROS. That part was false. A document was doctored. For that reason, the Speaker found the government to be at fault.

We should remember that the current Speaker of the House of Commons is the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Canada. He is held in such high regard, that this is the second time he has served as speaker for a government formed by a political party other than his own. There can be no doubt about his neutrality.

Yet, time after time, whenever they are not pleased with something, the Conservatives go on the attack. They attacked the Chief Electoral Officer. I remember asking him questions after the Conservatives attacked him. They suggested that they were the victims. The House heard the speech made a little earlier by the member for Saint Boniface. The Conservatives are always the victims of plots made against them by everyone. They are innocent victims. Unfortunately, they are not the victims. They are the ones committing the offence. That is what we are talking about here. It does not prevent them from blaming the Chief Electoral Officer and going so far as to say that these rules only apply to them. In fact, what only applies to them is the scheme that they set up to give precedence to their partisan interests over public interests. According to them, the ends always justify the means, even if it means cheating, bending the rules and not respect our democratic institutions. That is the art of the Conservatives.

The 2006 election resulted in our second consecutive minority government. In 2008, we had our third one, which is unique in Canadian history. The Conservatives have no intention of stopping there. They will do anything to get a majority. That is their one and only goal, even if it means cheating on election rules. That is what we have in front of us: a government which, through its repeated actions, is undermining the public's trust in our democratic institutions. That is why the New Democratic Party is going to support the Bloc Québécois' motion.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member has put his finger on the objective of the Bloc Québécois motion. This clearly demonstrates that we are now debating some important values. And the values on this side are not the same as those on the other side.

If we look at what is happening on the other side, we see a policy of secrecy, as our colleague was saying. We see a reduction in the privileges of the elected members of this House. We see theft, for they have been found guilty of theft by means of the in and out system. We see manipulation of the truth. This is unacceptable for members who should be legitimately receiving necessary information. We see a failure to respect this institution and all the institutions, and the various committees of the House of Commons. And then they come and tell us, at every meeting we have, that this government is the very embodiment of transparency and ethics.

It quite plainly is not. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about the undemocratic behaviour and attitude of this government.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the main functions of a Parliament, in our system of government, is to oversee government spending. Unlike the American system, where there is watertight separation between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, here the executive also sits in the legislature. Some members of Parliament therefore sit in the cabinet, but they come back here. Together, we all have to decide on how public resources are spent.

The Conservatives had the nerve to say that once something has been studied in cabinet, it becomes a secret and they would speak no more about it. This was an absurdity which obviously was nullified yesterday by the courageous ruling of our Speaker. However that will not prevent them from persisting. The games started again in front of the microphones three seconds later. This is a lack of respect for our democratic institutions. It crosses party lines. It affects all Canadians, and it is now affecting Canada.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague's speech and I did not hear him refer to the comments made by Mr. Robin Sears. His remarks were mentioned several times here today, in fact I mentioned them myself earlier today.

I would like to inform the member, because he may not have been here when I was speaking earlier, that I actually had a personal conversation with Mr. Robin Sears. Mr. Robin Sears is a former national campaign director of the New Democratic Party. He told me that the New Democratic Party did exactly this. It was not just transferring funds from the local level to the national level and back and forth. It was actually transferring funds from the national level to the local level for the purposes of advertising during election campaigns.

I am prepared to swear an affidavit about the comments and the discussions I had with Mr. Sears. I will say clearly what he told me, which is that the New Democratic Party has for many years done exactly what was done in the case we are talking about today.

I wonder if that member would like to comment on those comments.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Listen intently to this, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Immigration took government property. He thinks it has to do with pieces of paper. Again today in the House he said that he only took a dozen pieces of paper and that he would give $10 back for that. That was the problem.

As if that was the problem, instead of the fact that in his ministerial office, with his ministerial staff, on government property and on government time, he was shilling for his political party with the very groups his office is supposed to help in applying the law. It is about suborning the institutions that we are all here to serve.

With regard to the lobbyist he just talked about, if he knows anything he should do the same thing that happened to his party, which is to take it to the police. However, he will not do that because there is only one party in the House of Commons that has broken the law and it is the Conservative Party.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, we say that we are proud to stand in this House because this is the House of Commons and the House of Commons is the House of the people of Canada. Unfortunately, however, what we are dealing with in this debate today is that the present regime has decided to undermine and show contempt for the people of Canada through secrecy, through misrepresentation of facts, through perjury at committees, and ministerial roles, to take roles that are supposed to be there to represent all the people and use them as the private stash of the Conservative Party. They are up on criminal charges. A minister has been found in contempt of this House.

However, we cannot blame the poor little staffers that the Conservatives throw to the bus every week when someone gets caught. I am not even blaming the hapless minister. The Prime Minister himself has put his imprimatur on every single thing in this regime and it is time the Prime Minister was held accountable .

Let us look at the Conservatives' behaviour in the in and out scandal. They are acting like every busted crook who has ever walked the planet. They did not do anything wrong. They just have a dispute with the prosecutor. Every guy going to jail has a dispute with the prosecutor.

The people back home need to understand what the Conservatives were doing here. This was an elaborate scheme cooked up by the leaders of the Conservative Party to launder money. They took money from the central campaign and they filtered it quickly through some deadbeat campaign in the middle of Palookaville, Manitoba. Then they got the money back immediately to buy national ads because they were trying to get around the democratically enforced election spending limits.

We now hear them say that everybody did this. That is the other line that all crooks use when they get caught. Everybody wants to know why they are the ones being picked out. There is always a conspiracy as to why they are the poor people caught out. They are the only ones up on charges.

However, this was not just a money laundering scheme. The Conservatives show their contempt by taking the two key buddies who made this and they put them in the Senate. Senator Doug Finley sits there for life. Senator Gerstein is a bagman.

The Conservatives told the people of Canada that they would clean up, that they would do something different. What do they do? They put bagmen and party hacks, like Senator Housakos, in the other house that is supposed to have sober second thought. That line is kind of a misnomer. The Conservatives are using taxpayer money to fund their operation.

Not only did they get caught on this in and out scheme and not only has the Federal Court ruled it quite appropriately as a scheme, but the other piece of the puzzle here was that they enticed local ridings to get kickbacks.

I have many friends who are Conservatives and many Conservatives are honest and they refused to participate. We have Conservative candidates who stood up and said that they would not participate in that illegal action. However, the other ones were enticed by the kickback. Because they flowed the money through their bank accounts and took it out, the local riding association was able to go to the taxpayer of Canada to claim receipts that it was not eligible for. Maybe it raised only $9,000 or $10,000 in a campaign but then it walked out with a cheque for $30,000. Even the mob could not give that kind of return on an investment. This is what caught them out. They thought they were flying high. This is exactly like something we would see in Panama.

All these dead dog riding associations that could hardly even find candidates to run, started asking for the kickback they were entitled to. Elections Canada looked at it and said that it was a criminal act.

Canadians look to government to set a certain standard but what do they find with the government? Whenever the government is accused and it needs to do the right thing, it refuses to stand up and be accountable. It hides the evidence. It prorogues and shuts down. It attacks Elections Canada. It is time the government was held--

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #202

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Message from the SenateGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, to which the concurrence of the House is desired.

It being 5:56 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Competition Act (inquiry into industry sector), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Competition ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Competition ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc Shefford, QC

moved that Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Competition Act (inquiry into industry sector), be concurred in at report stage.

Competition ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Competition ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Competition ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.