Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on what I think is a very important issue for all Canadians. In fact, I have had the opportunity to do a lot of door-knocking, as many other members have, and I can say that it is an issue that is top of mind for many Canadians, I would argue, from coast to coast to coast.
I must say that I am a little disappointed in the official opposition. I think that the NDP has dropped the ball in that this is not about Senate reform. The issue before us deals with the alleged fraud that has taken place in the Prime Minister's Office. That is what we need to focus our attention on.
Canadians want the Prime Minister to be straightforward and to tell the full truth as to what has taken place. The NDP can continue to debate the Senate, something they know they will never be able to realize, but they are missing the point here today. What we are talking about today is how critically important it is that the Prime Minister of our country come before Canadians and explain exactly what, in full detail, he knows. We are not going to settle for anything less.
I find it very interesting that there was an opportunity for five Conservative speakers to stand and talk about the motion. They chose not to do that. One member of the Conservative caucus, the one responsible for damage control on the fraud that has taken place in the Prime Minister's Office, the member for Oak Ridges—Markham, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, has been the human shield who has been trying to deflect a very serious issue.
Now we see that the glass bubble around the Prime Minister's Office has made it very clear that if one is a Conservative member of Parliament, one does not stand up and deal with the issue before us today. That is the reason we have not seen one Conservative MP, other than the one responsible for damage control, stand and attempt to defend the Prime Minister or express what he or she feels is going on or went on in the Prime Minister's Office.
The leader of the Liberal Party talks a lot about how important it is that as members of Parliament, we are supposed to go into the constituencies and bring constituents' concerns to Ottawa. He contrasts that with the Conservative government, the Prime Minister, and this PMO, which do the absolute opposite.
The PMO's instructions are very clear. As a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party, one does not represent one's constituents in Ottawa; one represents Ottawa in one's constituency. The Prime Minister has that wrong, and we are seeing it today, because none of them are standing up.
I knocked on doors in Brandon and talked to people. I talked to people in Provencher and to my own constituents in Winnipeg North. One of the issues that came up time and time again was the issue of the Prime Minister's Office and what has been taking place there. I can say that they just do not believe the Prime Minister. They do not believe that the Prime Minister has been straightforward and is telling the full truth regarding what has taken place in what some call the Senate scandal. I think it is more of a PMO scandal than it is a Senate scandal. We need to be very clear on that particular point.
No doubt there were a number of factors in what took place in the province of Manitoba last night. It was an exciting time when we saw a very clear indication that Manitobans are looking at abandoning the Conservative Party. Even in areas where it traditionally had good strength, they are looking for an alternative.
It is the Liberal Party and the messaging and the attitudes we bring that I think is making the difference. What we have seen in a lot of the feedback I received at the door was that people want, and very much so, for the government to come clean on this issue.
What does the resolution actually call for? It is nothing earth shattering. The essence of the opposition motion that was introduced by the Liberal Party today is that we:
...call upon the Prime Minister to explain in detail to Canadians, under oath, what Nigel Wright or any other member of his staff or any other Conservative told him at any time about any aspect of any possible arrangement pertaining to Mike Duffy, what he did about it, and when.
That is all we are asking for. Why are the Conservatives so fearful of being able to address that issue? Why are the Conservatives so concerned that they are not prepared to stand in their place and take a position on this particular motion?
If the Conservatives wanted to canvass their constituents to see what they had to say and were to share those thoughts with the House today, I suspect this particular motion would indeed pass.
It has been a very interesting process. We call it the “fraud squad”, coming out of the Prime Minister's Office. It is amazing, the types of personalities that are actually involved. We talked about Nigel Wright. RCMP Corporal Greg Horton has ultimately alleged that Mr. Wright in fact broke the law with that payment of $90,000. This is coming from the RCMP. It is very serious.
Who was Wright at the time? He was the chief of staff for the Prime Minister's Office. That means he was the go-to person. There was no one closer to the Prime Minister. Well, possibly his wife is. The point is that this is an individual who carried a great deal of influence here in Canada. He had the ear of the Prime Minister. That is just one person.
Remember, the Prime Minister initially said that it was only one person, only Nigel Wright, who knew anything about it and that he was disappointed that Nigel Wright kept it from him, and so forth. That is what the Prime Minister said.
Of course we found out that it is not true. A lot of people knew about it. A number of weeks ago, the Prime Minister said it was a few people. On my plane ride back to Winnipeg on Friday, I took a snap of something on the Internet. I wanted to try to get a better sense of how many people were actually around. It is quite impressive.
We can talk about some of the senators at play who would have known. Obviously, Senator Duffy would have been one of them. He is in fact the key man here. We have Senator Tkachuk. He was the chair of the Senate standing committee. Remember the bit of a whitewash attempt that was being done there? We have Senator Stewart Olsen, again, a member of that particular standing committee. We have Senator LeBreton, government leader in the Senate.
These are all senators who knew about it, who we know knew about it. What amazes me is the individuals who worked for the PMO. There are individuals like Mr. Perrin, a lawyer, former PMO lawyer, who knew about it.
What about the PMO staffer who now works for the Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Woodcock? He was engaged and actually very much aware of what was going on. Again, he was working for the Prime Minister. The irony there is, of course, that he still works for the Government of Canada. He now works in the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The government talks a lot about getting tough on crime and issues of that nature. What is happening here, with regard to Mr. Woodcock?
Another PMO staff person was Nigel Wright's executive assistant, Mr. van Hemmen.
What about another PMO staffer's involvement, Mr. Rogers? Again, he now works for a leading minister from Manitoba.
We can talk about Mr. Hilton, who is the Conservative Party executive director, who was also engaged.
We also had Mr. Hamilton, the Conservative Party lawyer.
What about Senator Gerstein? He is the fundraiser. Many refer to him as the bagman for the Conservative Party. I believe he was the individual who made a connection call with regard to the audit.
Those were just some of the individuals I was able to kind of pull together, primarily because of news agencies.
Andrew MacDougall is another individual, the director of communications for the PMO. Christopher Montgomery is now responsible for issues management for the government in the Senate. Ray Novak is the deputy chief of staff to the PM.
Last week, prior to going out to Winnipeg, I talked about Jenni Byrne. She is the deputy chief of staff today, I understand. She had some prime ministerial responsibilities that had to be conducted in Brandon, I understand. She worked very closely with individuals like Dan Hilton and Senator Gerstein.
It is a pretty impressive group. We do not know to what degree or how big the fraud squad really was, at the time. We do not know all of the personalities who were engaged.
All I know is we have the Prime Minister who says there was only one. If I do a quick count, there are a lot more than one.
Yes, a number of months later, he did admit that there were more than one. There were a few.
We believe that there were a lot more than just a few. That is one of the reasons we are challenging the Prime Minister to come forward and start telling the full truth about who knew, what they knew and when they knew it.
These are not just average party Conservatives who we would find in some annual meetings. These are individuals who have been elevated to the highest levels within the Conservative Party, within the Prime Minister's Office. These are the elite who the Prime Minister himself would have, in many cases, appointed or had confidence in. It seems to be a fairly big circle.
What is the Prime Minister saying? He is trying to convince Canadians that he knew nothing about it. That is a hard one to accept.
One member from the other side finally speaks up and he says, “Accept it”. I do not accept it, and I do not believe Canadians are buying it.
It is interesting. It was not that long ago that we had a poll, I believe, that came out saying there were more people who thought that Mike Duffy actually was more believable than the Prime Minister on the issue.