Mr. Speaker, I guess one has to go over this and explain it very slowly, over and over, before the penny drops across the way with the Conservative caucus.
This Liberal motion has followed the thread of the RCMP investigation, the timelines of that investigation, with emails and affidavits that show that on February 21, 2013, the Prime Minister asked Senator Duffy to repay his expenses. Nobody has a problem with that. Everyone thinks that is fair. That is what the Prime Minister should have asked him and that is what he should have done.
Then the very next day, February 22, the Prime Minister's chief of staff wanted to speak to the Prime Minister before everything was considered final, and he did. He got confirmation from the Prime Minister's Office, according to the RCMP affidavits, that in fact things were good to go once the PM had got confirmation from the lawyers, Benjamin Perrin and Janice Payne. This is an important piece of the thread that we need to talk about.
The PM was aware that his lawyers were looking at this, that there was something going on and discussions were obviously going on between Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses.
Suddenly the amount for Senator Duffy's expenses was larger than everybody thought and then the tactic changed and it was suddenly an arrangement between Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy, when Mr. Wright paid it out of his own personal expenses.
After the $90,000, which was paid by Nigel Wright, it was found, again, according to the RCMP affidavits, that the PMO was engaged in what should be called, and what it calls it, obstruction of the Deloitte audit and the whitewash of the Senate report.
We have two other things in which the Prime Minister's Office seemed to be involved. The question is that the RCMP, looking at these emails and affidavits, concluded that it believed, according to that thread of information, that there was a violation of sections 119, 121 and 122 of the Criminal Code.
This is clear. This is not made up. This is fact. These are affidavits. The questions we are asking, and a lot of people on this of the House are asking, is this. Did the Prime Minister know about this? Is he fully aware? Some of the emails say that up to a particular point, when it comes to whether his lawyers were okay about it, that he seemed to have known and then suddenly the communication stopped. Nobody decided to talk to the Prime Minister after that. Everything just disappeared.
This is really unbelievable. It is illogical, to say the least. I am not a lawyer. It seems to me suddenly strange that the Prime Minister had his lawyers involved and then, kaboom, nobody wanted to talk to the Prime Minister after this. He did not know what was going on. He was absolutely deaf and could not hear or people kept him out of the loop. This is the question we are asking. These things do not make sense, and we want to make sense of them.
If they are simple, if they are explicable, if the Prime Minister can say this is true, why does everybody just say they have a great explanation for why the Prime Minister suddenly, after his lawyers were involved and he said “good to go”, he was shut out of everything.
There should be an explanation. If the Prime Minister is clear about all this, he could stand and say that he could explain it all. However, we are not getting these explanations. We are getting the same kind of pieces of talking points that go on and on which actually do not even answer the questions, but continue to slander everybody else in the House about what they did, whether their mother wore combat boots and whether they were in a pub one night, things that have absolutely nothing to do with the questions.
What is a person supposed to believe? It is obvious that Canadians are asking these same questions, because only two out of ten Canadians are reported as believing the Prime Minister. People are saying, “Oh, come on. We weren't born yesterday. Why can the Prime Minister not answer the questions if they are so easy to answer?”
These again are some of the things that are concerning some of us. Why can he not just answer the question, if it is clear and if the answers are reasonable and fair? Here is another thing. Why did the Prime Minister's Office intervene in the Senate? We not only heard that it intervened in terms of whitewashing a report, we also found out that people from the Prime Minister's Office were in the room when the two co-chairs of the Senate were discussing the report. It is unbelievable that the House of Commons would be there in the room discussing a Senate report with the chairs of the Senate. This House is not supposed to interfere in that place over there.
Here we go, we find this interference going on. Then again we find out that there was a question and an email flow that told us that people were asking Senator Gerstein to try to intervene in the Deloitte report so that it could be modified, moderated, whatever they want to call it. I am trying to be kind here with my language and trying not to be obnoxious with it. I am just saying “moderated” or “modified”.
However, this also is tampering. This is interfering. These are the things that we want to know.
Was there something that people wanted to hide? Why did they want to tamper with the Deloitte report? Did they want to hide something? Why did they tamper with the Senate chairs' report? When the Senate met, the committee had a report. The chairs do not usually tamper with committee reports. There would be heck to pay if our chairs tampered with our committee reports here in the House. Why would that happen there? We have to conclude there is something to hide, that there is something that is irregular and therefore people do not want it to come out.
Those are some of the questions that we are asking in the House. They are simple questions. They should give us simple answers, if everything is above board.
The Prime Minister says he did not know, and everyone in the House has said that is unbelievable, for a Prime Minister who controls every word that comes out of the mouths of his ministers, his parliamentary secretaries and his backbenchers.
We are not making this up. Backbenchers who have walked away from the Conservative Party have subsequently said that they had been muzzled, that they did not like the fact that they were being told what to say, especially some of them who came from the old Reform Party and remain there, who felt that they ran on openness and all the accountability that Preston Manning believed in. They felt in some ways that this did not sit well with them, so some of them left. Some of them refused to run again and they said why. Some of them have left and are now sitting in the House as independent members. As members heard today, they still hold a Conservative card, believe in Conservative values and want to be Conservatives. They just do not like what the Prime Minister's Office is doing, how it has muzzled them and kept everybody quiet, and how the talking points must be exactly as they are told.
This is why I must conclude, in all my innocence, that the only reason we are getting anyone answering questions or anyone standing up and saying anything in the House is that it is the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary, who has been here with his little script. He repeats his script every day and adds to it some insults for everyone else in the House, to change the channel and deflect.
The question here is simply this. Did the Prime Minister know? Most of us around here find it very difficult to understand or to believe that this Prime Minister did not know what was going on, and that suddenly doors slammed shut and communications ended on February 22 when his lawyers became involved and all of that, and he wanted to talk with his lawyers. Suddenly everything went blank or whatever happened. Whether the Prime Minister went to sleep like Rip Van Winkle and only woke up in May when this whole thing broke loose, I do not know. However, we find it hard to believe that the Prime Minister did not know.
The Prime Minister also stood in the House when he was the leader of an opposition party and asked the former prime minister a very simple question. He said that it was unconscionable, and if the former prime minister didn't know, it was incompetent. I apply that same question across the way. Did the Prime Minister know? If he did know, indeed it has to be unconscionable, according to his own words and to his own moral compass. If he did not know then it is incompetence. What CEO of any company would have his top executives, 12 of them in this case, and his right-hand man in this case, especially since he knew about it on February 22 when his lawyers were involved, carry on under his nose and know absolutely nothing about it, and tell us that he absolutely did not know?
If he did not know what was going on under his nose, then he was incompetent. In CEO-speak in most corporations in our country that would mean he would have to take responsibility for whatever the consequences were of his incompetence.
I want to remind everyone of what the Prime Minister said on page 28 of his “Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State”.
Ministers and Ministers of State are personally responsible for the conduct and operation of their offices and the exempt staff in their employ.
Therefore, whether the Prime Minister knew or did not know, he is personally responsible. He has to take the heat for whatever went on. He said so on page 28 of his own memo to ministers and ministers of state. This is his ethical code, so why is he not taking responsibility? Why is he blaming everyone else? I am not making this up. This comes out of the Prime Minister's mouth. Is the Prime Minister going to stand by his own words or is he going to try to weasel out of them somehow, and say, “I saw no evil, I heard no evil and I therefore speak no evil because it's all not about me at all”?
This is incompetence from any CEO, in a small company, a big company or an international corporation. This is clear incompetence. These are some of the questions that we are asking.
What we are asking is for the Prime Minister to be fair to all Canadians, be open and transparent. That is what his party ran on, saying that was what it was going to bring to what it considered a House full of duplicity, et cetera. The Conservatives were coming in. They were going to form government and be open and transparent and accountable.
If I had about an hour I might go down the list of all the times that the Conservatives were not open and not transparent and not accountable, starting with budgets and with the Parliamentary Budget Officer having to take the government to court, or the Privacy Commissioner having to ask them to divulge information. We have seen this. I do not have to go down the list. This is now history, this pattern of behaviour. The modus operandi of the government is to keep as much secrecy as it can.
I might add, it is a pity it cannot keep secrecy for Canadians. When Canadians have medical information and such, it seems to be able to throw that one out, but it sure knows how to keep its little backroom deals secret. I just thought I would throw that in for good measure.
We are asking the Prime Minister to, under oath, stand up and tell Canadians what Mr. Wright, or any member of his staff or other Conservative, told him at any time about the whole Duffy affair and his expenses and what happened. What did they tell him about interference with the Senate report? What did they tell him about trying to water down the Deloitte report, or whatever happened when they talked to the Deloitte people? What did he know about that? When did he know about it? He said he did not know anything about it.
We have this whole confusion from everyone around who says they do not believe him. Two out of 10 Canadians are the only ones who believe him. About 80% of Canadians do not seem to believe what he is saying. This is purely because of this man's behaviour, the fact that he has been very controlling and suddenly, on February 22, he said he was good to go provided his lawyers who were involved were okay with it. Then suddenly everything ended. It was like a chasm opened and the Prime Minister fell into it. There was nothing, a void.
This is just unbelievable. I like watching Twilight Zone with the best of them, but this is just completely and totally unbelievable in terms of this issue.
We have no questions being answered here. No one is standing up to defend the Prime Minister in the House. There are no backbenchers standing up to do that. Why not? I would hope that if they felt this was unjust they would. We are talking about defending the Prime Minister not lobbing grenades over to this side of the House. We are talking about actually defending the Prime Minister and saying, “No, we believe the Prime Minister did this”. No one is doing that. No one is standing up here to defend him, except of course the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
We have a couple of questions to ask. These questions are very simple. Let us go back, the Prime Minister continues to say that the senators are bad, the senators are all wrong, the Senate is horrible and the Senate is a bad place, but this Prime Minister embraced the Senate when he became Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister came here saying that he was going to reform it, but he did not because he was trying to reform it through the back door and not through Constitutional requirements. He could not get anywhere with that. Now, he embraced it wholeheartedly to the extent that the Prime Minister appointed two senators whom everyone knew, for the last 25 years, did not live in the provinces they were supposed to represent. Is that not going to create a problem? Suddenly these senators were going to have to find a primary residence in those places, and they did, indeed.
My colleague, the member for Malpeque, talked about how Prince Edward Islanders were absolutely embarrassed and appalled, and how the person who owned the house that Senator Duffy bought was ashamed and embarrassed that a picture of their little cottage was being seen all the time.
Somewhere at the beginning the rot began. The Prime Minister put people into the Senate to represent provinces that they had not lived in. Now they have to hurry and go find primary residences and make up stories about primary residences and bill according to primary residence. How did that happen? The Prime Minister obviously either did not know what he was doing when he did it, or he did know and he had a secondary reason for appointing these two senators. We all know what the reason was. These were the two biggest fundraisers for the Prime Minister. They went all over the place. They were celebrities. People flocked to listen to them, blah, blah, blah. We know all of that. That is common knowledge.
Here is a Prime Minister who took advantage of the situation for his own gain and his party's gain. Now all of a sudden, he did not know how all this happened. He could not understand why these wondrous people who did not live in their provinces in the first place could suddenly do such a thing. Again, it defies common sense, simple common sense, people do not have to be lawyers to understand. It defies common sense.
Why did this chain of communication end suddenly? Can someone on the backbench get up during questions and comments and answer why the door shut on communications after February 22, and left this big void. Then all of a sudden the Prime Minister found out, and it was oh, my gosh, shock and surprise, shock and awe, he did not know about it. Suddenly he found out about it and what a wonderful man like Nigel Wright had done, this good deed. The Prime Minister praised him to the skies, and then suddenly he stopped praising him to the skies and said he did not know and it was terrible.
These are some of the questions that we want to ask. The Prime Minister seemed to change his story. That is another thing. In question period, the Prime Minister, over a period of time, moving aside the RCMP affidavits and emails that seemed to implicate the Prime Minister, said he did not know yet, he could not understand how that could happen, when the emails tell a different story.
Suddenly the Prime Minister, as we say colloquially, threw everyone under the bus, including Mr. Wright, whom he had first said he reluctantly took his resignation. Then all of a sudden he had fired him. Then he went back to saying he reluctantly took his resignation. I do not know what to believe anymore. My head is spinning.
Why would the Prime Minister not agree to do this, to just openly report the truth to the citizens of this country? Why not? I do not understand the problem. I do not understand why he would not do this.
The other question I have to ask is this. If all of these people kept the truth from him, “deceived” him that way, why did he promote them to minister's offices? Why? Is this a patting on the back for a job well done? What is this? Is this a shut up and I will give you a better job? What is this? I do not know. We want answers. The motion is seeking to get those answers. I am hoping that the motion will pass, and everyone in the House believes that it is time to tell Canadians the truth.