Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Ajax—Pickering.
A worrying trend has emerged in Ottawa. There is a gradual and unprecedented undermining of our electoral and parliamentary processes. The current Conservative government's slow, insidious assault on our democracy is lowering the bar on the time-honoured way that politics is done in Canada. This is being accomplished by overriding and circumventing the rules of fair play and accountability, and slowly, bit by bit, changing the standards and expectations of our democracy.
This process is not unlike the cautionary tale of the frog placed in a pot of water sitting on the stove top. The hapless frog does not notice the slow incremental rise in temperature of the water until it is much too late. The result is inevitable. The frog gets cooked.
Canada's very identity is tied to our democratic form of electing representatives, our form of government and the role of Parliament in representing citizens. This has been the result of a centuries long and determined struggle by many people.
Our democratic principles of openness and accountability, of civility and fair play have made us who and what we are as a country. Over time these have made Canada the envy of the world, an inclusive, prosperous and peaceful nation where we recognize the fairness of basic rights and equality of all Canadians regardless of their worldwide origins.
The Conservative government's pattern of deceit gnaws at democracy's edges. A minister wrongly blamed bureaucrats for her decision to cut funding to the church-backed charity KAIROS, doctoring documents and misleading the House of Commons. The Prime Minister prorogued Parliament to hide information on Afghan detainee torture. Cabinet ministers have refused to reveal how many billions of taxpayer dollars will be needed to pay for their crime bills and their prison expansion plans. Civil servants are muzzled. Independent officers of Parliament are fired when they disagree with government ideology. NGOs are punished. Now, top Conservative officials are facing criminal charges for election fraud in the 2006 campaign.
Each of those examples is important, but the pattern as a whole of the undermining of democracy is what I am most concerned about.
The members of this institution over time have a long history of fighting for what is right. That is what I was elected by the citizens of Vancouver Quadra to do. I hope that is what the members opposite were elected to do, to fight for what is right, to protect others, to protect the environment. I think of: David Anderson and the Species at Risk Act; Judy LaMarsh, the first Liberal woman cabinet minister, who fought for women's equality; MPs who fought for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, health care, pensions, seniors, children, poverty.
What we have here, and what is so egregious, is Conservative members and ministers are fighting to defend what is wrong. They are fighting to defend their abuse of power day after day after day. This in and out election fraud is wrong. It may be proven to be illegal. If the Director of Public Prosecutions is filing charges, that means there is a substantial chance of conviction.
What is being alleged? I would say it is $2 million in pure electoral fraud: $1.2 million in spending over the legal limit, that is $1.2 million in illegal advertising by the Conservative Party in the 2006 election; forging fake invoices to cover the tracks; and then another fraudulent acquisition of $800,000 in ill-gotten gains by bilking taxpayers.
For me the term “money laundering”, another dirty, illegal activity, comes to mind. What is money laundering? One, it is placement, cash introduced into a financial system, illicit cash. That would be the $1.2 million. Two, it is layering, such as, complex transactions to camouflage the illegal source. That would be the doctored invoices and the ridings being asked to be complicit in this. Three, it is integration, acquiring wealth generated by the transaction of the illicit funds. That would be the $800,000 to be paid by taxpayers back to those ridings. This sure smells a lot like money laundering.
In British Columbia there are a number of MPs and executive council who are implicit in this, including the President of the Treasury Board and the former government whip. Seventy ridings were implicated, a dozen in British Columbia alone. This is a critical issue at the heart of our democracy.
I want to talk about what may seem like a sidetrack and that is Darwin's theory of evolution. It is no longer a theory. There is no scientific refuting of this understanding of species evolution. One of the understandings is that individuals in a species co-operate and they also compete. They compete within their group, but if they do not co-operate enough, then their group will lose in the competition to another group. Whether it is dictyostelium amoebae, ants, wolves or humans, we all compete and co-operate.
What stops us from competing or undermining those in our own group to the detriment of the group and our evolutionary survival? It could be called a “cheater detection system”, which is exactly what we are talking about with all of these abuses of power of the Conservative government. It is cheating and undermining the cheater detection systems of our parliamentary and electoral processes. The direction in which Canada is going under the government is bad for Canadians. I will give a few examples.
Not only are the Conservatives systematically cheating and breaking the law, we have a Prime Minister who is alleged to have bribed a dying MP or had been implicit in bribing a dying MP for his vote. The immigration minister was recently caught having developed a strategy on fundraising for targeting ethnic Canadians through his ministry, through public funds. We have ministers who have signed-off on multi-million dollar--