Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate at this hour, because so far I have been listening to a whole bunch of deflection and different subjects being brought up.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Unionville, my dear colleague from Ontario.
As I see it, there are only three possible scenarios. I am going to go through them, and explain what they are. Mostly, I am going to explain why the public safety committee has to be allowed to meet Daniel Jean.
The first scenario that is possible, and has been floated by the government, is that agents of the Indian government, from, I guess, a Tom Clancy novel, somehow managed to invite Mr. Atwal at some point. He got to the high commission to enjoy wine, food, and drink at the expense of taxpayers of Canada. This notion was actually floated by the national security adviser, and confirmed by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons during an exchange with our leader.
The second scenario is that this was an honest mistake by the member of Parliament for Surrey Centre. That is a notion that has been floated by the public safety minister, by the foreign affairs minister, and by the member himself both outside of this House and to the media.
There is a third scenario available, which is that this was a purposeful act by the Government of Canada to include Mr. Atwal, on purpose, because of poor judgment, incompetence, and oversight. Hanlon's razor says never to ascribe malice when incompetence is sufficient. Any one of those could fit within that third scenario. That is not the one the government uses often, but there are only three scenarios available.
There are only three possible variations on what happened. We have gotten the first two scenarios quite often. We want Mr. Jean to appear before the public safety committee, and tell the committee members exactly what he told the media, and then answer questions. I believe in parliamentary supremacy, that this House of Commons, through its committees and through this chamber, can exercise complete oversight over government. That is our role here.
Members of the backbench are not members of the government. They are members of the government caucus. Just because they support the government on most votes, nearly all votes at times, does not mean they have to defend every single action. This is one of those cases where they should exercise their better judgment as members of Parliament, and demand that Mr. Jean appear before the public safety committee.
We want the same information that was given to the media by the same person who gave it to them, for him to appear before the committee, and give it to members of Parliament. It has never been a question about Mr. Jean's professionalism, his ability, or his competence. Mr. Jean is a long-time public servant. That is the excuse given by the public safety minister.
Seemingly, members of Parliament are not allowed to meet competent, smart, professional members of the public service at a committee of the House of Commons that is supposed to keep them accountable. That is seemingly the excuse floated by the public safety minister, that this man is so professional that he just cannot force himself, and we cannot ask him to appear before a committee. It seems it is right for the Prime Minister of this country to hide behind his national security adviser, and then refuse to allow him to appear before the public safety committee of the House of Commons. That seems like an aberrant, impossible argument to make. It defies logic.
I would like to meet this gentleman. I would like to meet him at the public safety committee, in fact. I think he is a professional, so why am I not allowed to meet him? That is the government's position. The Government of Canada is saying this man is so professional that I am not allowed to meet him. That is absolutely ridiculous. Perhaps he is calling right now, asking if he could speak to me.
This is a gentleman who was the deputy minister of foreign affairs, and according to media reports, he was pushing the Government of Canada to sign an extradition treaty with the People's Republic of China. This is a gentleman who later was appointed as the national security adviser, and was in Beijing during the inauguration of the extradition treaty, the transfer of offenders treaty. I would love to meet him at the public safety committee if only members on the Liberal side would allow for it to happen.
I do not know why the government caucus members want to protect the frontbenchers on this. I do not know why they are protecting the executive council on this. Government ministers are impeding the ability of the House of Commons to hold public servants accountable.
Public servants do not exist in the nether, on some superior plane to the House of Commons. Parliament exists in that plane. We exist here as a board of directors of the Government of Canada. It is supposed to be us holding it accountable, not the other way around. However, that is seemingly the argument being made by member after member on the opposite side of the House, and it is wrong.
The excuses that have been given by the government brings up a Yiddish proverb. Many members always wait for these. The proverb goes like this, “He is mediocre—not near to a wise man, not far from a fool.” We would like to ascertain which one he is the closest to. We will not be able to do that without Mr. Jean appearing before the public safety committee. Those three scenarios only have three logical end results, or three logical conclusions that we can draw.
If the information was good enough for the media where Mr. Jean floated a conspiracy theory worthy of a Tom Clancy novel, that rogue agents in the Indian government participated somehow in this invitation to Mr. Atwal, and confirmed by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons in debate, then it is good enough for members of Parliament to hear the same information at committee.
In fact, that is exactly what a member of the media tried to tell the public safety minister during the elevator pitch with members of the media not too long ago. If that is not the case, and if the information is so sensitive, then by all means, there are procedures at committee to deal with sensitive information.
I have had the privilege of sitting on the foreign affairs committee and the finance committee where sensitive information has been dealt with, like FINTRAC. There is a procedure to consider sensitive information where we can clear the room of members of the public if we need to. There are mechanisms for that to be done at committee, but it is still done at a House of Commons committee by members of Parliament.
We were sent here by residents of our ridings, by the citizens of Canada, duly elected all of us, to hold the Government of Canada to account, which is the front bench. It is the public servants who work, or the professional public service, we are always told. I agree, and I want to meet him at the public safety committee. I want to hear what he has to say. I want members of the opposition caucus to be able to question Mr. Jean, and ask him about the contents of that media briefing.
Lastly, if the information and the answers to be provided during the question period section at committee are so sensitive that only the national security intelligence committee of parliamentarians can see it, as the public safety minister said during his elevator pitch, then why was that information given to the media in an open Q and A session? Why did Mr. Jean float the conspiracy there?
If the information or content was so sensitive that only this particular committee of parliamentarians could then review it, then why did he say those things to the media? It is illogical; it is irrational. It does not make sense. The argument does not hold.
Therefore, the only correct thing to do, the only logical thing for the House to do, is to exercise its supremacy over the Government of Canada, pass this motion, and demand that Mr. Jean appear before the public safety committee. There is no other way out of this.
The Parliament of Canada holds the Government of Canada to account, not the other way around. If Mr. Jean is as professional as the government believes, and as I believe, then I want him to appear before the public safety committee and answer questions from all parliamentarians, opposition members as well as members of the government caucus who may also have questions to ask him. He is obviously contradicting one of the scenarios I mentioned at the beginning, or at least two of the scenarios, one from the public safety minister and one from the Prime Minister on Mr. Atwal. It can only be one of them.
The only way we will find out, the only way the people of Canada will find out, is if we pass this motion, and get to meet this professional national security adviser at the public safety committee. I look forward to a yes vote from all sides of the House.