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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

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from the Liberal Party for this discussion today.

As we know, 65 Conservative candidates claimed 60% of their rebate from the government for phantom money that passed through their accounts. This means they collected taxpayer money to pay for their campaigns.

The previous speaker from the Conservative Party said that the opposition members were going down a slippery slope. I think that slippery slope is on the other side of the House.

I would like the hon. member to comment on the slippery slope that is occurring on the other side of the House.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are many things that could be commented on, and quite rightly so.

Four members of the Prime Minister's inner circle, two of them senators and one of them his chief bagman, have been charged in this scheme. We absolutely need to get to the bottom of this.

I would like to add something about exceeding the legal spending limits. Spending limits are put in place to ensure there is a level playing field, that massive amounts of money, that massive and uncontrolled election spending as we see in the United States cannot occur here, so that it is equal and level for everyone.

In short, they cheated. They cheated in the 2006 election. Those Conservative riding associations were claiming hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that they were not entitled to claim because they were based on funds that were essentially illegally laundered. This is laundered money, money that was laundered through their accounts.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue is there seems to be a pattern of abuse of power and somehow a belief that the Conservative Party is above the laws of Canada. A simple example is when witnesses were asked to come before committee and the government actually told them to ignore the subpoenas. It is a right and a privilege of parliamentary committees to call for witnesses, to subpoena them. The government decided to put itself above the law and told them to ignore the law.

I wonder if the member has any comment on that.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the neighbouring riding of Mississauga South for the question. In fact, that is exactly where I wanted to go. I want to highlight a list of abuses the government has undertaken, abuses of power, abuses of democracy.

First is the Minister of International Cooperation and the forging of a document. Second is the former public sector integrity commissioner, who had over 200 cases to analyze and review, who received a half a million dollar severance package after receiving only--

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The member's time has expired.

The hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hasten to support the hon. member for Beauséjour because, indeed, the electoral financing transfer scheme used by the Conservative Party of Canada constitutes electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based. At the end of February, the Commissioner of Canada Elections filed four electoral fraud charges against the Conservative Party and four of the senior directors of its electoral fund, Conservative Fund Canada, including two senators. All were charged with knowingly violating the Canada Elections Act during the 2006 election.

The first charge is against Conservative Fund Canada, Senator Finley, Senator Gerstein, Michael Donison and Susan J. Kehoe and reads:

Between November 1st, 2005 and January 23rd, 2006, in the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, did wilfully incur election expenses in relation to the 39th federal general election that exceeded the maximum of $18, 278, 278.64 for the Conservative Party of Canada, contrary to Section 423 (1) of the Canada Elections Act and did thereby commit an offence punishable on summary conviction contrary to Sections 497 (3) (g) and 500 (5) (a) of the said Act.

The second charge is against the Conservative Party of Canada and reads:

Between November 1st, 2005 and January 23rd, 2006, in the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, being a registered party whose chief agent, the Conservative Fund Canada, did wilfully incur election expenses in relation to the 39th federal general election that exceeded the maximum of $18,278,278.64 for the Conservative Party of Canada, contrary to Sections 423(1) and 497(3)(g) of the Canada Elections Act is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction contrary to Section 507 of the said Act.

The third charge is against Conservative Fund Canada and Irving Gerstein and reads:

Between January 23rd, 2006 and December 18th, 2006, in the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario, did provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a return on the general election expenses of the Conservative Party of Canada, in relation to the 39th federal general election, that they knew or ought reasonably to have known contained a materially false or misleading statement, namely that all election expenses in respect of the 39th federal general election had been properly recorded, contrary to Section 431(a) of the Canada Elections Act and did thereby commit an offence punishable on summary conviction contrary to Sections 497(3)(m)(ii) and 500(5)(a) of the said Act.

I want to point out that the party being named in these charges is the same party that claimed, in 2006, that it wanted to amend the Canada Elections Act in order to improve the integrity of the electoral process and instill complete confidence in the Canadian public. That is not what I call leading by example.

The fourth charge is against the Conservative Party of Canada:

Between January 23rd, 2006 and December 18th, 2006, in the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario, being a registered party whose chief agent, the Conservative Fund Canada, did provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a return on its general election expenses, in relation to the 39th federal general election, that the Conservative Fund Canada knew or ought reasonably to have known contained a materially false or misleading statement, namely that all election expenses in respect of the 39th federal general election had been properly recorded, contrary to sections 431(a) and 497(3)(m)(ii) of the Canada Elections Act is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction contrary to section 507 of the said Act.

How can the Prime Minister claim that this is a difference of opinion? These charges clearly indicate that it is a question of bogus invoices, misleading statements made to Elections Canada and deliberate overspending. These offences could result in a $5,000 fine, five years in prison, or both.

This in and out scheme shows the Conservatives for what they truly are. They can talk all they like about an administrative dispute between their party and Elections Canada, but the Federal Court of Appeal unanimously sided with Elections Canada, which alleges that the Conservative Party deliberately spent more than the national campaign limit by having 67 candidates pay some of the party's advertising costs, to the tune of $1.3 million.

This is how the Conservative scheme worked. After the Conservative Party reached its $18.3 million spending limit, it decided to transfer $1.3 million to 67 ridings that had not reached their $80,000 limit. The ridings returned the same amount, claiming that the money had been used for local ads. The ads, however, were exactly the same as the national ones. The riding associations had no control over these transfers.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister can try to dismiss the facts and maintain that the matter is an administrative dispute, but it will be hard to fight the charges when so many candidates are now coming forward to tell their stories.

Inky Mark, who resigned his Manitoba seat last year, said that his staff was contacted by party officials during the 2006 election campaign. He said that Conservative Party officials asked if they could deposit several thousand dollars into his campaign account and withdraw it later to buy advertising. It did not make sense to him, so he refused.

Mark's former campaign manager said she recalls being asked to receive money and then have the funds withdrawn quickly afterward. She remembers the issue because it sounded similar to a case involving a Conservative cabinet minister from Manitoba who had to plead guilty and was convicted of electoral overspending.

Also, the independent Conservative MP for Simcoe—Grey, who was turfed from the Conservative caucus last year, said her campaign was approached and she rejected the plan.

There is also David Marler, a candidate in the Brome—Missisquoi riding in the Eastern Townships. In an interview with La Presse, he explained why he refused to sign a form in December 2006: the document would have authorized Conservative Party officials to transfer money to his account and then take it right back out again. David Marler declined the offer when an organizer was unable to explain to him the reason and purpose of this transaction. As a lawyer, he understood right away that this scheme was illegal.

The Conservative Party's behaviour during the 2005-06 election campaign, when it claimed to be the champion of public ethics, does not fall into the category of an administrative dispute but, rather, that of hypocrisy and abuse of power. The Conservative Party used a shell game to give the impression that it had complied with the national spending limit. The national organization distributed some $1.3 million to 67 candidates who were below their campaign spending limits.

The Conservatives can try to downplay what they did, but Canadians are well aware of their fraudulent tactics. The Canada Elections Act applies to all political parties. Creating a level playing field for everyone serves to promote a healthy democracy. There is no point in imposing a spending limit on political parties if they can circumvent that limit by moving money around to their local organizations.

The Prime Minister must order the immediate repayment of any and all illegally obtained electoral rebates that were paid out to candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada as a result of the in and out fraud and must remove all individuals facing charges for this fraud from any position of responsibility within government or the Conservative Party of Canada. The issue here is the integrity of the electoral process and thus of Canadian democracy.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. Her speech was excellent and comprehensive. I have a question for her. Normally, when someone is innocent and is accused of something, he wants to know what he is accused of and then wonders what the problem is. But when the Conservatives were accused, they did not wonder what the problem was. The RCMP had to be sent into their offices to find the problem.

This is not about the legislation or Elections Canada. What does everything going on today tell us about the character of the Conservative Party?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. It tells us that the Conservative Party is still abusing its power and is still trying to circumvent the law. It still refuses to take responsibility for its actions. It even wants to appeal the court's decision. That shows that the party thinks it is above the law.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member is quite simple.

It is quite scandalous that we are spending a full day talking about why the Liberals lost the 2006 election. The reality is the Liberals lost the 2006 election because they were a corrupt government that the people turned their backs on.

The only in and out we have here is that we were brought in to clean up the mess of the Liberals who were actually thrown out of government after stealing $40 million of taxpayers money and using it to help them win elections. That is the only scandal here.

When will the Liberals focus on what Canadians want us to focus on? Canadians want us to focus on jobs, the economy, getting people back to work, the investments we have made across the country with respect to infrastructure, all of the great things the government has done to make sure the economy is moving in the right direction. Canada is recognized internationally as one of the best places in which to live, work, invest and raise a family because of the decisions made by the government and this party.

When will the Liberals stop focusing on why they lost the 2006 election and start focusing on the needs of Canadians, and in looking forward help us to build a bigger, better and stronger Canada?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 8th, 2011 / 1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not a matter of who won or lost the election; it is a matter of election fraud. We are well off in Canada, and the Conservatives can thank the Liberal government that left them a huge surplus. That is why they are managing quite well. But despite all that, the deficit has reached $56 billion.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, today's motion deals with electoral fraud. It deals with the issue of a moral compass, that the government has lost its moral compass. It does not have economic competency. It has lost its moral compass.

The government keeps saying that this is an administrative matter. There are no administrative jails, unless the Conservatives are preparing to build one.

Those forged invoices resulted in the headquarters of the Conservative Party being raided. Could the member explain why the Conservatives are so scared of admitting the truth and returning the ill-gotten, dirty money back to Canadians?

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question. The Conservative government would not dare admit that it was caught red-handed. That is the problem. It cheated and violated the Canada Elections Act.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about the motion before us. I would like to read several lines:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada’s “in and out” electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based, and that, further, the House calls upon the Prime Minister...

The Bloc Québécois supports this motion. I would like to quote an article published by Agence France-Presse that was reprinted by Le Figaro on March 2, 2011. It states:

Today the Canadian electoral authority formally charged the Prime Minister's Conservative Party and two senators from the governing party with fraud for allegedly concealing cost overruns during the 2006 election. The charges, laid at a time when many observers expect a spring election to be held, revolve around a “false or misleading statement” about the budget for the campaign that brought [the Conservatives] to power, writes Elections Canada in a news release.

These charges of fraud, which were reported by Agence France-Presse and by Le Figaro on March 2, are very serious and constitute an attack on democracy. It is important that the House take a stand on the Conservative Party's fraud.

In the 2006 election campaign, when a certain opportunity presented itself to the Conservative Party and the cash was beginning to pour into its coffers, it lacked resources for its national campaign. Given that the Conservatives had a national spending limit of $18 million, they transferred national party money to the ridings, which then returned the money to the national party to run national ads.

That is clearly against the law. A riding can collect donations from people and then run a campaign. The Conservatives did the opposite, thus contravening the Canada Elections Act. It is not surprising that they were charged. What is surprising is that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister told the House that they provided all the documents. That is false. The RCMP had to search the Conservative headquarters to obtain the evidence.

Day after day in the House of Commons, they have tried to cover up this scandal. It is becoming an international scandal given that an article in the March 2, 2011 edition of Le Figaro discussed the modus operandi of the right-wing party.

After question period, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

Getting back to the article in Le Figaro, the second paragraph states:

According to this independent [Canadian] agency, the Conservative Party deliberately exceeded election spending limits...by $1 million through an accounting scheme involving the right-wing party's local committees.

The right-wing Conservatives do not hesitate to circumvent the law and commit fraud to achieve their ends.

Opposition Motion—Electoral FinancingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have seven minutes to finish his speech after question period. It is now time for statements by members.

Carol WilliamsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Conservative Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, Carol Williams, a resident of Coldstream in my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap, passed away on February 26 of this year.

Carol's life was one of dedication to her career as a nurse, her family and her community.

Her love of life was always evident not just by what she did for the community but also how she did it. Carol served as a Coldstream councillor and director of the Vernon winter carnival and was an active organizer and volunteer in the Vernon region.

When I met Carol she was the chair of the Okanagan Regional Library. At that time she was in her 70s. I was so impressed by her energy level and dedication to her position and those that she served. She was a great example to me.

Carol will be missed by her husband Verne, three children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Carol's smiles, hugs and service will be missed by the community she loved.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today is the centenary of International Women's Day. What began as a struggle to achieve equality rights has become a celebration of the trail-blazing women who made our society more equal.

Today is no different. It is remarkable to see so many women pursuing non-traditional occupations, and to live in a time when young girls do not see barriers but only opportunities.

While we celebrate, let us also remember that the struggle for equality is not yet over. Over the past five years the fundamental human right to equal pay for work of equal value has been undermined. Federal support for advocacy and research into the status of women in Canada has been eliminated and the gender wage gap remains significant. The lack of access to quality, affordable early learning and child care services is a barrier to full equality.

I join my colleagues in the House in celebrating this anniversary but remain mindful of the challenges that remain.

Marie-Andrée BertrandStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 6, we lost one of our pioneering feminists and criminologists, Marie-Andrée Bertrand.

She was the first female Quebecker—the first woman, actually—to earn a Ph.D. in criminology from the University of California's Berkeley campus. A leader of the anti-prohibition movement, she did not believe that criminal legislation was the way to fight illegal substance abuse. She believed in reconciling the confusion between harm reduction and drug prohibition policies.

Her work and research on women and criminal law and her critiques on gender, class and ethnic inequality were well written.

She fought and remained active to the end, and in 2007 she said that a retired feminist cannot easily relax and does not want to.

The Bloc Québécois pays tribute to this woman who was both ahead of her time and inspirational. We offer our deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a day when we celebrate the profound and divine feminine power that graces our world.

There is no way we can truly express all that we owe to the women of our communities, our country and our planet. The givers of life, powerful voices of understanding, compassion and peace, women make our society a nobler and more civilized place. To every woman in our lives we owe everything.

International Women's Day is to celebrate women but also to highlight the struggles that remain. Women want and deserve: reproductive health and choice; equal pay for work of equal value; to be free from the use, threat or fear of violence; and to be free from all barriers and forms of discrimination.

Women want and deserve equality, respect and full participation in all aspects of society.

Today we renew our commitment to work with the women and men in this House, in our communities and throughout the world to pursue and achieve true equality for all women.

Forestry IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report some good news in my riding. Many of our local lumber producers are going back to full operations, recording profits and making major upgrades. This in turn is helping communities, local forestry workers and their families.

West Fraser's mill in 100 Mile House as well as Aspen Planers in Savona have reported they will be back to full production. As a result, they are now hiring new workers and training is under way.

The Ainsworth mill in 100 Mile House has completed a major project to enhance the mill's ability to process trees infected by pine beetles and has returned to profitability.

On February 28, it was reported that Canfor plans to reopen its Vavenby sawmill operations, while at the Kamloops Domtar mill, significant environmental upgrades have been made .

There have been 24 sawmills reopened in B.C. in the last 24 months. Along with new international trade deals and support from Canada's economic action plan, the forestry industry is solidly rebounding.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, March 8, marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. It is only fitting that we should take a moment to think of the many pioneers who paved the way for this important annual celebration.

At the beginning of the 20th century, women began to rise up, demanding better working conditions and the right to vote. This social action undertaken by these courageous women is still paying off today in 2011.

Unfortunately, the reality here in Canada is quite sad. The Conservative government is not only ignoring the interests of Canadian women, but it has systematically and deliberately made choices that have reversed at least a decade of progress in terms of gender equality.

Furthermore, this government axed the Kelowna accord, which would have provided much-needed health and education funding for aboriginal women. It treats aboriginal women like second-class citizens, first by cutting the generous social programs that were included in the Kelowna accord, and then by refusing to launch a thorough investigation into the disappearance of young aboriginal women.

Unlike the Conservative Party, our party is convinced that Canada's federal government—

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Brant.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was first elected in 2008, the global economic recession had taken hold in my riding of Brant. It was a time of uncertainty for workers and their families.

Today, I am proud to report that the economic climate is changing, thanks to the hard work and determination of the good people of Brant. Our downtown core is being revitalized. We are attracting investments in green energy and technology. Our post-secondary institutions are flourishing and driving the renewal of the economy. Nipissing University, Mohawk College and Laurier Brantford are expanding their curricula, drawing in students and creating new opportunities.

Our government has been there every step of the way. We have supported efforts to build a new academic centre and install state of the art equipment at Laurier Brantford, and have supported the development of plans for a new athletic complex.

There are signs everywhere that Brant is moving toward a new era of growth, innovation and prosperity, and we are excited.

Jeanne ManceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, I would like to speak about the City of Montreal's decision to recognize Jeanne Mance as the co-founder of Montreal, Quebec's metropolis, alongside Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.

Arriving in Montreal at the same time as Maisonneuve, on May 17, 1642, this amazing woman founded the Hôtel-Dieu hospital, which still exists today. She was also the driving force behind the colonization effort known as the “great recruitment,” which brought about 100 new colonists to the area when New France's survival was in jeopardy.

Very few cities founded during that time can say that they were founded by a woman. The City of Montreal hopes to correct this historical inaccuracy in time for its 375th anniversary in 2017.

The Bloc Québécois would like to honour the great contribution this pioneer made to founding the “city of 100 steeples.”

Fraud Prevention MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, March is Fraud Prevention Month and I would like to remind Canadians to take precautions in order to safeguard themselves and their personal information against financial abuse and fraud.

The most common forms of fraud are telemarketing scams, the cloning or skimming of debit or credit cards and identity theft. While anyone can be a victim of fraud, this type of abuse is the number one crime against older Canadians.

Our government has demonstrated it strong commitment to seniors and we believe that all forms of elder abuse, including fraud and financial abuse, are unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Next week, in my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo, I will be hosting an information session for seniors and will be raising awareness of this issue among my constituents. The more people know about financial abuse and fraud, the more protected they will be.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

Today, more women than ever before are getting an education, whether a university degree or learning a skilled trade. I recently toured an operating engineers training centre where one-third of those in the course were women learning to operate cranes and other heavy machinery. A single mom with two kids was doing her part to learn a skilled trade that is in high demand and would provide her with a well-paying job. However, without child care she will be unable to take that job. She is not looking for a handout; she is looking for her government to invest in her future.

Women are achieving great success in the workforce and excelling in leadership positions. However, there is still much more we can do to help women succeed. Families need early learning and child care spaces to help them get back to work but the Conservative government cancelled the program.

We do not want handouts. We want equality.