Mr. Speaker, I move that the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, presented on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, be concurred in.
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand in the House and speak to this motion today. I am proud to be splitting my time with my deputy critic, the capable member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
With respect to the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, I want to focus specifically on the order in council appointment of the hon. Stéphane Dion to the position of special adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The House will recall that Mr. Dion had a very distinguished career in the House of Commons. In fact, his order in council appointment took place at the conclusion of that career, and speculation at the time was that the conclusion of his career in the House of Commons was not his own choice but was the decision of the Prime Minister.
Think for a moment about that career. This was a former minister in the Chrétien government, the author of the Clarity Act and a strong federalist.
I had a good relationship with Mr. Dion, but he was pushed aside as the member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent to become a special adviser, and ultimately, Canada's ambassador to Germany, with a cross-appointment as a special envoy to the European Union. We still have not really heard a good explanation of that cross-appointment or the specific outline of his role as special adviser.
When the Liberal government was formed in 2015, Mr. Dion became the first foreign affairs minister. It is very unusual that partway through his mandate, that minister was not just shuffled but was shuffled right out of the House of Commons. The ninth report outlines that order in council process and how that transition of Mr. Dion happened.
Members may recall that he was elected for the first time in 1996. When I was first starting to follow politics, Mr. Dion led the Liberal Party. Clearly, for the Prime Minister, after a while Mr. Dion was not helpful, or he was seen as a hindrance, and he was disposed of. He was dismissed from his role. The report covers the order in council appointment and where the government shuffled him to.
It is clear that after a while, if people are not helpful to the Prime Minister, he makes sure that they are out of the way.
I would add that in the same time frame we are dealing with this order in council appointment for Mr. Dion, the same thing happened to Mr. John McCallum, a former minister as well in the previous Liberal governments of Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin. He is now Canada's ambassador to China. The foreign affairs committee, and I am the shadow minister for foreign affairs, is now seized with Canada's relations with Asian countries and with China, although Ambassador McCallum was not there when the foreign affairs committee went to Beijing to meet and study. It was quite unusual that he was not there.
In the same time frame when Mr. Dion, a former leader of the Liberal Party, was shuffled aside, Mr. McCallum was also shuffled aside. He had not served quite as long as Mr. Dion. He was the member of Parliament for Markham, and later Markham—Unionville, from 2000.
There is a pattern emerging, starting with foreign affairs specifically. The pattern is that for distinguished Canadians, once they are not helpful to the Prime Minister, there is a plan afoot to slide them out. This motion highlights the report and the order in council process that slid Mr. Dion to the side.
I cannot help but think that the same thing happened last night, on October 30, to someone the Prime Minister was upset with.
On September 17, the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill made a decision, after a lot of reflection, after consultation with trusted friends, after canvassing on issues she was here to safeguard, to leave the government benches and sit on the Conservative opposition benches.
The Prime Minister, on September 17, at the beginning of this fall sitting, said that is what happens in our political system from time to time and said, “I wish her well.” That is a quote from the Prime Minister of Canada. He said, “I wish her well.”
However, sometime after that date, a plan was afoot to push the hon. member out of a role in the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, much like, as this report references, the order in council appointment of Stéphane Dion. The Prime Minister no longer needed these people or no longer felt that they were helpful to him, so not only were they slid aside, they had to be actually removed from a position. That is what happened last night. The member for Etobicoke Centre rushed the stage. We outlined some of the concerns about that.
It is a pattern. We saw it with the former leader of the Liberal Party. We have seen it now with the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran and a strong and proud former business executive. She was not just shoved aside but was treated with disrespect by a Prime Minister who suggests, quite frequently, that he is a feminist.
On that point, Christine Innes, someone who was a very active person in politics and whose partner, Tony Ianno, was a member of Parliament in this place for the Liberal Party, was shoved aside as well, in Trinity—Spadina, and was not permitted to run.
There was Julie Desjardins in Mississauga Lakeshore. In fact, a former Liberal MP, Paul Szabo, was quite upset about the way that was handled.
Another colleague on my benches, the hon. member for Lethbridge, was elected by her constituents and given the trust of her colleagues and her leader to be shadow minister for the status of women. She was denied the ability to chair a committee because she does not agree with the Prime Minister on all issues.
We see a pattern emerging with this Prime Minister. There is a public persona presented to Canadians in hashtags and photos, where the Prime Minister will suggest that he is a feminist and that there is a feminist foreign policy. In fact, the member for Etobicoke Centre has this ridiculous position of being someone who is championing a position to have an ambassador for women in peace and security, and last night, he besmirched the good name of one of the few women in this House who have worked in uniform in peace and security. It was shameful. No doubt, he was ordered by the Prime Minister's Office to do that.
It was quite distasteful to see a lot of the cabinet of the federal government marching into a room and allowing the member for Etobicoke Centre to turn it into a farce, and, after there had been an adjournment, recommencing a meeting, after people had left, all to extract revenge.