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House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, it seems that the Conservative Party had one invoice for the big media buy that election.

What seems to have happened is that they took that one invoice and in order to back up the in and out scheme, they forged the invoice and made, I would assume, 66 copies of it, or however many copies, in which they could not even spell “invoice” correctly. They left the “i” out of invoice and made the same mistake in all 66 of them. Then there was a little handwriting about the GST.

This was the sloppiest job. However, the idea that after that had been done and the invoices had been falsified that they would then go to court and ask for the money back without waiting for due process and whether they would be charged by the director of public prosecutions in the courts was audacious. In fact, the director of public prosecutions was instituted by the government so that there would not be any frivolous or vexatious suits by the Government of Canada. That director knew of the voluminous evidence, including these falsified invoices, and has now taken the matter to court.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the welcome extended to me by my honourable Liberal colleague.

I rise today and am going to begin my remarks by addressing the issues that matter to Canadians. It is unfortunate that the Liberal motion fails to do that.

The motion says nothing about jobs. Why is that? It is because the government, through its economic action plan, has created 460,000 new jobs since the valley of the recession.

It says nothing about unemployment, and that is because our unemployment rate is two—

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This morning I had an opportunity to review the minutes of the procedure and House affairs committee from January 31 through March 28, all of which led to a filibuster. The filibuster dealt with totally irrelevant information.

I want to stop it right at the beginning. If the member will not address the motion before the floor, then he should yield the floor. Talking about jobs and the economy is outside the scope of the motion now before the House.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I think all members realize that their comments must be pertinent to the motion and I am sure the hon. member will tie his comments to the motion.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member has just made a very honest admission, that his party's motion has absolutely nothing to do with jobs and the economy. That is precisely my point. The measure of a motion is not just what it says, but what it fails to say.

The motion fails to address the issue of jobs. Why? Because we have created 460,000 of them through our economic action plan.

It fails to address unemployment. Why? Because under this government and the Prime Minister, unemployment is two percentage points lower in our country than in the United States, for the first time in a generation.

It fails to address savings for middle-class families that want to prepare for the future. Why? Because this government has created a tax-free savings account that five million Canadians have taken advantage of in the very first year of its existence and three million Canadians have already maximized their contributions to that savings account.

It fails to address the issue of deficits. Why? Because we have the smallest deficit in the G7 and it will be gone by 2015, before any of our competitors.

It fails to address the issue of prices in our country and that is because we reduced the GST.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is a prima facie case the member is making. All motions do not deal with all issues. They have to address something. The member continues on the economy and other issues that the motion does not address. He has admitted it in his statements. We have to remain relevant to the motion now before the House.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant on the same point of order.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

I would like to point out once again that my distinguished colleague, with whom I sit on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, is completely off topic today because he is discussing the economy instead of clearly addressing today's motion. He is in the habit of going off on tangents, dodging the issues and leading us in all directions. However, I would like us to discuss this motion that deals specifically with the election fraud committed by the Conservative Party in 2006.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would like to thank the hon. members for their comments. I will note the arguments that have been presented and I will specifically ask the hon. member to get back to the issue. However, I think that everyone will agree that arguments against a motion can be presented.

I would just ask the hon. member not to elaborate too fully on those arguments.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I think the hon. members of the coalition have just explained the argument that I have been trying to make. They said it better than I ever could have. They showed their lack of interest in the economy and jobs for Canadians. They accidentally admitted that they have nothing to say about the issue that is of interest to Canadians—the economy. Finally, they indirectly admitted that our government is currently running an admirable and supportable economic program. The opposition has admitted that such is the case by disregarding this issue and leaving it to the Conservative government to deal with, because we keep our promises in this regard.

Let us talk about the false allegations that the opposition is making regarding the issue—

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on this point of order for the third time. When members of his party start giggling about how he is wasting the time of the House, which is their intent, we have to take this seriously at this time. We will have the entire day filled with these matters, which have nothing to do with the motion.

The Chair will have to take a stand on this and ensure that the time of the House is used debating a motion properly before the House.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Again, I thank the hon. member. I do not think I have to insist again. I sensed, from listening to the hon. member, he was about to come back to the point of the motion and I will give him the floor to do that.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the reality is Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. It is true that the national party transferred funds to those local candidates and that those local candidates purchased services from the national party. This is not only legal and ethical, it is common practice.

In the 2006 election, the Liberal Party of Canada transferred $1.7 million to its local candidates and in that same election those local candidates transferred $1.3 million back to the Liberal Party. This means Liberal riding associations moved $6.6 million in monetary and non-monetary transfers to Liberal candidates and invoiced $1.4 million in goods and services for those candidates to pay back. Not only does these transfer in happen from national parties, but it is in fact the case that the Liberal Party engaged in transfers out.

I do not say that to throw mud or besmirch reputations. The Liberal Party officials who made these transfers to local riding associations and the local riding associations that transferred the money right back, oftentimes the exact same amount on the exact same day, engaged in a legal and ethical practice for which I would not condemn them. They were fully within the law and clearly within the balance of ethics to which we all ought to adhere. That was the 2006 election.

In 2004 the Liberal Party made monetary transfers of $1.6 million to local candidates and its local candidates transferred $1.3 million back to the national party. In that election, the national party gave money to riding associations that probably did not have means of their own and those riding associations then purchased services from the central party, which is entirely a legal practice. As we can see from the enormity of the transfer, $1.6 million in and then $1.3 million out was not an exception, but it would be more accurately called the rule. It was widely practised over at least two elections by the Liberal Party. Those elections I refer to are 2004 and 2006.

The Liberal Party was not unique in engaging in the in and out transfers. The NDP transferred $884,000 to local candidates and those local candidates transferred back $545,000 to the central party. Roughly three-quarters of a million dollars went in and $500,000 went out with respect to the NDP in the 2006 election campaign.

In the 2004 campaign, just to show this was not a one-time practice for the NDP, the party transferred roughly half a million dollars to local candidates and those local candidates transferred back $385,000, about half a million dollars in and about $400,000 out. Again, this was not an isolated case, not an unusual practise, not an anomaly, but a systematic in and out effort exercised by the New Democratic Party.

May I emphasize for my colleagues in the NDP, for many of whom I have a great deal of respect, that when they made these in and out transfers on such a large scale, they did absolutely nothing wrong. There was nothing illegal, nothing unethical, just like the Conservative Party did absolutely nothing wrong when it made similar transactions.

The NDP and the Liberal Party did not engage in criminal activity when they made those in and out transfers. Their only crime is hypocrisy, and they are committing it today, not then.

That leaves the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois national party transferred $732,000 to its local candidates and local candidates transferred back $820,000 in that election. This is not only a practice that the party engaged in but one that it engaged in systematically, as we can tell by the enormity of the size of the transfers. It is impossible that this would have been just a on-off practice for the Bloc Québécois because those kinds of numbers would not be exercised through a single riding association. It would need to have involved at least dozens.

I have example after example of where members of literally every central party represented in this House of Commons transferred exact amounts to riding associations and those riding associations transferred those same exact amounts back to the central party, often on the very same day. This was widely practised, systematically undertaken by every political party in the House of Commons. I have a whole binder full of examples that I can share of where those in and out transfers occurred in other political parties.

Let us break down this debate into its component parts. Is it legal and ethical for a party to transfer funds to local candidates? Yes. That has never been a matter of dispute. Are local candidates allowed to purchase services from a central campaign? Yes. It happens literally every day. I imagine it probably has happened during the time that has transpired since I began my speech only moments ago, although I suspect it seems like a longer time to my friends on the other side.

Is it legal for local candidates to include national messages, national leaders, national party logos and names in their advertisements? Yes. That is not only common practice, it would be considered extremely unusual if a local candidate did not mention the party leader name and national message in his or her advertisements.

Therefore, if we take those three component parts of this controversy, and we all agree that they are completely legal, ethical and common practice, then we must conclude by those three steps that the ensemble of those three steps is also legal, ethical and commonplace. That is why we have taken Elections Canada to court. In one case, one court sided with the Conservative Party. In another case it was otherwise. However, we will continue to defend our position because it is legal, ethical and common practice among all political parties.

Given that the party followed all of the rules and conducted itself with the highest standard of ethics, I think what we are witnessing here, unfortunately, is the politics of personal destruction undertaken by the Liberal Party in this case. I think the Liberal Party can do better than that. All of us should be focused on the issues that matter to Canadians.

When I travel through the constituency of Nepean—Carleton and I ask my constituents what issues are on their mind, they tell me that it is jobs, saving for the future, a plan to get rid of the deficit and efforts to keep prices reasonable for Canadian consumers. I say to my friends on the opposition benches that never did one of their slurs create a job, reduce unemployment, give a middle-class family the chance to save for its future, help reduce the deficit or keep prices reasonable for Canadian families.

What will do those things is our economic action plan, which has created 460,000 jobs. What will help families save is our tax free savings account, which has allowed five million Canadians to put aside money for their futures. What will help us lead the world out of deficit is the plan that we have that will balance our budget by 2015 and has so far kept our deficit to roughly a quarter or a third of the size of our American neighbours on a per capita basis. What will help with the global concern of rising prices is this government's and Prime Minister's decision to lower the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%.

On those issues, we are getting the job done for everyday Canadians, which is why the Canadian people support this government.

I would encourage my distinguished colleagues on all sides of this House to work with us in order to advance the cause of our economic action plan. We need to put aside small differences and focus on the big picture, the big picture being the jobs that Canadians need so that the 460,000 people who got the jobs can be met by hundreds of thousands more, which is our goal. These people will be able to come home at the end of the day, open the door proudly and tell their spouse or their children that they got the job and that they will be able to pay the bills. Their hopes and dreams will be possible. They will be able to afford to send their daughter or son to post-secondary education because they are working again. They will be able to have the retirement they dreamed about and worked for their entire lives because they will be able to put aside money and take advantage of the new tax free savings accounts. The mother of three children will be able to shop and provide food for the family because the prices are reasonable.

Those should be the goals of this House. We should be working with all parties, as we have through five successful budgets that we have managed to pass in a minority Parliament, to advance the kind of economic agenda that brings prosperity to the families that form the backbone of this country. That is the centre of this government's undertaking. We are committed to provide the stable and prosperous future that the Canadian people sent us here to deliver. We are leading in the world. We have unemployment lower than our competitors, hundreds of thousands of jobs being created and money being saved by families for their future. That is what we are elected to do and hat is what we will continue to do.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope the member will offer to table his binder. I think it would be helpful.

The member has always said that this was just an administrative disagreement. However, the Federal Court of Appeal did not see it that way and, in fact, unanimously ruled that the Conservatives had broken the Canada Elections law.

To further show their lack of good faith, between January and March 2008, the Conservatives filibustered an effort to look into this matter at the procedure and House affairs committee, to the point where the chair was shown non-confidence and thrown out, the committee never met for the remainder of the time and then they called an election to shut it down. The matter went to the ethics committee. The ethics committee subpoenaed 30 witnesses. What did the Conservatives do? They told the witnesses not to appear, to ignore the subpoenas.

If this is just an administrative disagreement, why can the government not be open, transparent and accountable on all of the facts related to this matter?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, we have been. In fact, I would remind the hon. member that this party wanted to have an investigation at a committee level into the very questions he just raised.

There was just one small amendment that we raised when his committee wanted to investigate the question of transfers in and transfers out. We just asked that all parties be brought before the same committee to be asked the same questions.

When we introduced that motion, the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP fought tooth and nail against proceeding with hearings in that committee. We were the only party actually putting forward a motion to investigate and study the question because we had nothing to hide. We turned everything over to Elections Canada almost five years ago. The only reason that Elections Canada is aware of any of our practices is precisely because we voluntarily told it.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a question. I moved a motion in the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to study the Conservative government's in and out scheme, but there was an election. The committee, which was chaired by my distinguished colleague across the way, was therefore unable to thoroughly review this motion.

Each time he goes on about how this was common practice among all the parties, including the Bloc Québécois, I have to wonder why the Chief Electoral Officer did not then investigate the other parties but, rather, only yours. Why did the investigation target only your party? Does the hon. member feel that his party is being singled out? Let me finish my question.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I ask all members to address their comments and questions to the Chair and not directly to the person speaking.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like the member to respond to the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer directed his investigation and the fact that the results of this investigation prove that the Conservatives committed offences. I would like to hear what he has to say about that.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I was going to say that the Bloc Québécois made in and out transfers, but that would not be right because it was that party that invented these practices.

I can provide examples. On July 15, 2004, the Bloc Québécois transferred $17,071.20 to the Québec riding. Then, on July 16, 2004, the following day, the Québec riding transferred $17,071.20 to the Bloc Québécois. The amounts transferred by the Bloc to the riding and from the riding to the Bloc were exactly the same. The two transactions carried out in that two-day period were for the exact same amount. That is one example, but I have more. This all shows that the Bloc Québécois is directly involved with in and out transfers.

We know all about it and we know that the leader of the Bloc is the real inventor of in and out transfers.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 8th, 2011 / 11:25 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member was kind enough to state that all the other parties are innocent of anything and everything they have done is perfectly legitimate.

If that is the case and what the other parties have done was straightforward, and the member acknowledges there was nothing wrong there, then what on earth does he and his government believe is the motivation of the federal prosecutor and Elections Canada if not other than following the facts and doing their job?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member will have to ask Elections Canada that.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary said, the discussion today is really about how the Conservatives spend Conservative funds and whether those certain expenses should be Canada's, either local or national. I can state that it is certainly not like the previous Liberal government. Some people might take offence when I mention the $40 million missing scandal, but the fact is that it is still missing.

I have three quick questions for the hon. member. Where would the opposition get that kind of cash? Why would Elections Canada not investigate the use of the $40 million in the Liberals' previous election campaign? Why are Canadians still paying off that debt? We have written off close to $16 million which was directly paid by the taxpayers of Canada, not the Liberal Party.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I will not relive before the House the horror that was the sponsorship scandal. I think Canadians know very well what happened.

However, what they do not know and what they have never understood is why, with a criminal conspiracy of that nature and the amount of cash that was flowing around during that era in the Liberal Party from taxpayers, all of it unreported during the election campaign, why did Elections Canada never open an investigation? It seemed like an obvious thing for an electoral agency to consider given that it was an electoral, in addition to financial, fraud.

I think there is still time for Elections Canada to open an investigation and find out what happened to all that money and to find out if it was used in excess of the spending limits of the elections during which that cash was circulating.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary's speech. What is worrying is that he seems to sincerely believe it when he says that they obeyed the law, that everything is fine, and that the Chief Electoral Officer and others are ultimately to blame. He accepts absolutely no responsibility for what is going on.

Does he believe in the Chief Electoral Officer's authority? Does he believe in our democratic rules if he is calling into question the work of the Chief Electoral Officer and his investigation process? Does he believe in this democratic institution?