Mr. Speaker, if the Liberal members would have shown the same level of enthusiasm trying to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal as they have with this motion today, we might have found out where those bank accounts were held.
According to the results and conclusions of the Gomery commission, we know that millions of dollars were stolen by the Liberals and funnelled back into Liberal accounts primarily in Quebec. Even though the Liberal Party admitted culpability and repaid a million dollars of the money that was stolen, there are still tens of millions of dollars that have been unaccounted for. Justice Gomery noted that there was $40 million that he could not account for, the reason being that the terms of reference set by the Liberals when they established the Gomery commission prevented Justice Gomery from going beyond this narrow perspective. Therefore, he was not able to pursue the trail of that missing $40 million, that stolen $40 million.
I would suggest for members opposite that if they truly want to deal with corruption and stolen money, money that was taken from taxpayers, they only have to look at themselves and try to explain to Canadians why that stolen money has still yet to be recovered.
However, I digress. We all know the credibility problem the Liberals have on that issue. I will not spend too much more time on that.
Besides the irony that I note in this motion, I also note with great interest why, outside of for the obvious political partisan reasons, the Liberals brought forward a motion such as this today. The reason is quite obvious to me. It is because they have nothing else to speak of. They have no policies on virtually anything that is of importance to Canadians. This was their opportunity had they wanted to speak to the Canada-Europe trade agreement. They could have offered critiques, suggestions and analysis. They chose not to. Why? Because they have no position. They have no position on the economy, on the environment and on health care.
The only position and policy brought forward by the Liberal Party to date under the leadership of their new leader, the member for Papineau, is that he would like to see a policy that legalizes marijuana. Whether that is an appropriate policy is up for debate and probably will be debated at some future time, perhaps even in this Parliament. However, I find it passing strange that would be the first policy that the new Liberal leader decided was worthy of comment.
If Canadians were to be well-served by the Liberal Party, or any member in the House, we should have a debate that deals with issues that are of importance to Canadians. The economy is the number one issue that all Canadians are still gripped with. There is a lot of worldwide uncertainty about the state of the economy. We are not out of the woods yet. However, rather than deal with an economic issue, the Liberals decided to bring forward a motion to the House on this day that they believe would do nothing more than advance their political partisan purposes. I will let them live with that, but I would have thought the new leader would expect more of his caucus than to leave this motion on the floor.
I know it is the proper practice of the House to deal with a motion before us, even though I think it is frivolous and a political stunt, so let me try and set some of the record straight.
What we have heard in this Parliament by many members of the opposition, not just the third party but also the official opposition, is a lot of unfounded allegations and a lot of spin. There have been many attempts to try and torque an issue beyond any sense of normalcy. Therefore, let us examine what we know. Let us deal with the facts as we know them, facts that have been confirmed.
First, we know there was an inappropriate payment by Nigel Wright of $90,000 to cover the inappropriate expenses claimed by Senator Mike Duffy. That is indisputable. That is agreed upon by everyone, including Mr. Wright.
Second, we know, confirmed by Mr. Wright and the Prime Minister, that Mr. Wright acted alone. It was his decision to provide a $90,000 payment to cover Mike Duffy's expenses. He did not inform the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has stated this in the House on many occasions. Nigel Wright has confirmed this.
Nigel Wright, frankly, has no reason to do anything but tell the truth on this issue. It is not in his best interest to say that the Prime Minister was unaware of this payment. He simply stated the facts and told the truth. The Prime Minister has confirmed that.
We know now that Mr. Duffy tried to get the Prime Minister to agree to repay his expenses. The Prime Minister refused. On February 13, he had a conversation with Senator Duffy and he told him that he must repay his own expenses. To the best of the Prime Minister's knowledge, that is exactly what happened. Senator Duffy went on national television and said that he had repaid it and that he had taken a mortgage on his house to repay the money. We know this is a lie.
The facts are simply this. Mr. Wright acted inappropriately. He made a decision on his own. The Prime Minister was simply unaware of it until May 15, when he heard media reports. As soon as the Prime Minister was aware of what had transpired, he went public to confirm it.
Is this a cover-up? Clearly not. How can he cover something up when he admits that a transgression had been made and that improper payments had been made? It simply does not make sense.
Let me deal with a couple of examples that underscore what I have been saying about how the opposition attempts to spin a story like this out of control and how it likes to torque up its rhetoric to try to make a situation that should never have occurred in the first place sound even more ominous and more sinister.
There is one example that the members of the opposition have been fond of raising in the last couple of weeks and that was, in fact, just raised by the previous speaker on the Liberal benches. Somehow, there is this great flip-flop on behalf of the Prime Minister as to whether Nigel Wright resigned or was fired. To me, that is largely irrelevant. What we know is that Mr. Wright met with the Prime Minister after the story of Mr. Wright's payment came to surface. They both agreed that what he did was wrong. They both agreed that he had to leave the Prime Minister's employ.
Was it a resignation? Was it a dismissal? It does not matter. The issue is what he did was wrong and he had to leave. They both agreed. For that reason, Mr. Wright is no longer employed by the PMO.
The members opposite seem to think, for some reason, that the differentiation they point out between a resignation and a dismissal is something that should concern all Canadians. Why? What is at issue is whether Nigel Wright should have paid the price for his actions, and he did. The Prime Minister was insistent upon that. Nigel Wright agreed with it. Whether he officially resigned, or whether he was asked to resign or whether he was dismissed is of no consequence, as I argue it.
The fact is that he admitted a wrongdoing. He informed the Prime Minister that he had kept the information secret from him, and the Prime Minister agreed with Nigel Wright that it was unacceptable. Both of them agreed that he could no longer work in the Prime Minister's Office.
Where is the controversy? Where is the furor that the opposition is trying to raise, based on dismissal versus resignation? That is why I say it is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is that what Nigel Wright did was wrong and he had to pay a price, as does Senator Duffy.
As the Prime Minister and many others in this place have noted on several occasions over the last few weeks, not only did Senator Duffy inappropriately claim expenses which he did not incur, he has still not repaid that money. The taxpayers have recovered the money, but that was because of Nigel Wright's actions. Senator Duffy still has not repaid the money.
Nigel Wright paid the price for his wrongdoing. Senator Duffy should do the same.
Let me give yet another example of how the opposition is trying to torque this story into something larger than it needs to be, how it is trying to take small examples of words, of actions, and make a point that somehow this proves the Prime Minister's involvement in all of this; because it actually makes no sense whatsoever.
The latest thing coming from members of the opposition, and I find this fairly amusing, is that they are defending Nigel Wright and saying the Prime Minister somehow threw him under the bus. On one hand, the opposition members have continually said the Prime Minister must come clean, be more forthright and candid in Parliament about what occurred, yet when the Prime Minister did exactly that by saying he was deceived by Nigel Wright, the opposition members are now saying the Prime Minister is changing his story and throwing Nigel Wright under the bus. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The facts are these, as corroborated by Mr. Wright himself. Mr. Wright did not tell the Prime Minister of his plans to secretly repay Mr. Duffy's expenses. That is a deception. Frankly, I think the world of Nigel Wright. He is a man of extraordinarily high character. Unfortunately, in this particular case, he exhibited extraordinarily poor judgment. He made a terrible mistake and it has cost him. He has admitted his mistake.
When the Prime Minister answers questions in this place by saying that he and the Canadian public were deceived by Mr. Wright, he is merely stating the facts. He is simply telling the truth. Once he had done that, the opposition members found yet another reason to criticize the Prime Minister, asking how he could, weeks ago, call Mr. Wright honourable and now throw him under the bus by saying he has deceived him. Well, he did. Nigel Wright did not tell the Prime Minister about his plans to give a personal cheque to repay the obligations of Senator Duffy. I am sorry. As much as I am a fan of Nigel Wright, I say that is deception. Nigel Wright admits he deceived the Prime Minister, and he admits he was wrong in doing so.
While I know the opposition members are seized with this issue and spend almost all of their time in question period trying to embarrass the Prime Minister and our government, the facts are very clear. Number one, a $90,000 cheque was given by Nigel Wright to cover the improper expenses claimed and received by Senator Duffy. Number two, the Prime Minister was not aware of this plan to use Nigel Wright's personal resources to repay the money. Number three, both Nigel Wright and the Prime Minister agreed that it was inappropriate that he continue to work in the Prime Minister's Office, that it was appropriate that he be sanctioned, and sanctioned he was.
The final issue that should be of importance, not only to members of the House but to all Canadians, is that the actions of certain senators in the other place should not be tolerated. Those actions have proven to be unacceptable, improper and potentially illegal. We will see what the results of the RCMP investigations into some of the senators' actions say about that.
Without question, not only should they be required to repay the inappropriate expenses they have taken from the Canadian taxpayer, but they should be sanctioned. That type of action, abusing the public taxpayers' funds, should not be tolerated by members of this place and certainly not by members in the other place. Our position, which we have been stating from the outset, is simply that because wrongdoing was uncovered by certain senators, they have to have consequences attached to their actions. There should be sanctions.
Those sanctions, in our view, are to remove those senators from the public payroll. Hopefully later today, we will find that the Senate itself, as an institution, agrees with our position and has taken remedial action to remove these senators from the public payroll.
I would only ask that members of the Liberal caucus in this place tell their members of the Senate caucus in the other place to join with us and our senators in demanding sanctions for wrongdoing, because that is what it comes down to; nothing more, nothing less.
When the public purse is abused, when taxpayers are abused, when wrongdoing has been uncovered, sanctions and repercussions must occur. We are asking for that. Canadian people are asking for that. We simply ask Liberals to join with us in administering those sanctions.