Mr. Speaker, I am an NDP member. We have never taken federal power and so we look at the long game and often go to history to see the mistakes made in the past.
There is a famous saying by one of the major figures in Canadian politics. It was “You had an option, sir.” Those famous words were what cleared out the Liberal government at the tail end of the Trudeau era. They were words uttered by former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, then only a candidate, debating former prime minister John Turner about a raft of patronage appointments that had been made.
The member across who will probably speak to this would have probably been tucked into his bed at that time, when the debate was televised. That might account for the lack of historical awareness of this pivotal debate. Those words were credited with bringing down years of Liberal arrogance, to usher in the greatest Tory majority that Canada had seen.
Mr. Mulroney, we would come to learn, would have ethical challenges of his own. Therefore, nobody's hands were clean in the end. Eventually he, too, was swept from power, leaving his party in tatters.
Often what undoes a party is a lapse in ethical judgment concerning appointments, what is called patronage.
What I am going to say tonight here in this place is a warning to members across. They too are vulnerable to the will of Canadians. The member across has a bright future, but the electors do not look favourably upon the political class when we give our friends plum positions at the expense of taxpayers. No one would denigrate the competence of these people, but their closely linked past with the party leads one to question if the appointment was based on merit or favouritism. It puts it into question and it taints the appointment itself.
The Prime Minister used to call the Senate a dumping ground for political cronies. I guess he has caved in to the rotten precedent set by Liberal and Tory administrations of past years.
In the words of our former leader:
He has declared to the Canadian public that he would not name unelected people to the Senate....His word means less and less every day he's in office, and he's behaving more and more like the Liberals.
These appointments are not limited to the Senate only, but through a whole range of public positions. I only have four minutes, so I would never be able to get through all the appointments. Let me look at the ones that stand out.
Doug Finley, husband of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, was the former campaign manager of the Conservative Party. He was at the head of the campaign during the in and out scandal. Wow, nice reward, a plum Senate position.
Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, the Prime Minister's communications assistant, was given a Senate job.
Don Plett, former president of the Conservative Party of Canada, was given a Senate job.
Elmer Derrick is not a Conservative, so I guess my theory is, but wait a second, he signed a deal to support Enbridge's $5.5 billion oil pipeline. He was appointed director of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
Bernard Généreux, former Conservative MP, was appointed to the Quebec Port Authority conseil d'administration.
Jean Pierre Blackburn, former Conservative cabinet minister, was appointed as ambassador to UNESCO.
Larry Smith, failed Conservative candidate in Lac-Saint-Louis, was given a plum job in the Senate. He had the gall to complain about his pay cut.
Josée Verner, former Conservative cabinet minister, was given a plum Senate job.
Jennifer Clarke, a Vancouver Tory who failed in the 2011 election, was named director of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Wow, Prince Rupert is really hopping.
Mark Wright, former assistant to a Conservative MP, found himself appointed to the Thunder Bay Port Authority.
Andrew Paterson, who massively donated to the Conservatives, was named to a well-paying job with Canada Post.
The list could go on and on. “I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine” works between buddies, but it is not a valid framework for public appointments. It has become so bad that Canadians have lost faith in the political class. Whether it is the Liberals or Cons, they always come in promising—