That the House: (a) call on the Prime Minister to waive solicitor-client privilege for the former Attorney General with respect to allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin; and (b) urge the government to launch a public inquiry, under the Inquiries Act, in order to provide Canadians with the transparency and accountability promised by the Liberals in the 2015 election campaign.
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to rise in the House to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay and as the ethics spokesman for the New Democratic Party.
I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Sherbrooke.
We are now two weeks into the explosive allegations that the Prime Minister's Office attempted to end a legal investigation, a legal case into corruption against SNC-Lavalin.
Yesterday, Gerry Butts, who was the architect of the sunny-ways' revolution that propelled the present Prime Minister into the office he holds, was forced to resign in disgrace. This shows us that the crisis and corrosive nature of this scandal is eating its way right into the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister must come clean with Canadians today.
The Prime Minister needs to explain himself. The allegation that the PMO tried to shut down the legal case of corruption against SNC-Lavalin is extremely serious. What is even more serious is the open bar for lobbyists and the privatization of public goods and services to benefit companies like SNC-Lavalin. Canadians deserve credible answers. The Prime Minister needs to assure them that the government did not cover up this scandal.
I am going to start off with four really concerning issues we need to consider when are looking at the SNC-Lavalin case.
The first is a very serious allegation that the Prime Minister's Office attempted to shut down the legal case of corruption against SNC-Lavalin. If that allegation is true, then the Prime Minister has lost all moral standing with the Canadian people.
The second, which is just as explosive and very important, is the possibility that because the former justice minister, the very first indigenous woman justice minister in the country, did not go along with the pressure from the Prime Minister's Office, she was demoted, punished. Then we saw this horrific whisper campaign against her credibility by key Liberal staffers to assassinate her credibility. These allegations must be answered.
The third issue is the powerful backroom lobby system in Canada, that when SNC-Lavalin called everyone in the Prime Minister's Office and all key departments, they jumped and responded and whether, because of those lobbying efforts, the government rewrote the laws of Canada and slipped that into an omnibus bill to specifically protect SNC from its legal consequences.
The fourth is the culture of insider access that has taken place under the Prime Minister, the open bar for lobbyists and the privatization of public services to benefit companies like SNC-Lavalin at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer.
We can put these issues under the three toxic Cs of political life: the allegations of corruption, which have to be answered for the Canadian people; cronyism, which has been the underpinning of the Liberal Party for much too long with its insider pals; and third, the corrosive effect this has on public confidence.
We are here today to restore public confidence and to ask the Prime Minister to come clean with the Canadian people, to stop hiding between the solicitor-client privilege that is keeping the former justice minister from speaking and to agree to an independent inquiry, similar to what we had under Gomery, so the answers can be looked at and presented to the Canadian people in a credible light, so they will know whether the government has undermined its legal obligations or whether it can come clean. That is what we are asking the Prime Minister to do.
Just three months ago, SNC was the sponsor of the biggest schmoozefest in Ottawa. It was the ultimate insider access event to get to meet all the top Liberal ministers. They were all at the beck and call of SNC. The person the Liberals had advertising this SNC event was the indigenous affairs minister. They were using this minister's photo for an SNC event. What were they all coming together for? It certainly was not reconciliation, because that is not the most important relationship for the Prime Minister. They were all coming together to talk about how they could benefit from the privatization of public services.
Let us think about this for a moment. How is it possible that a company that was under criminal investigation for illegal bribes to both the Liberals and the Conservatives was able to host an event where all the key Liberal ministers and staffers were there? How is it possible that a company with a long and ugly history of allegations of corruption and bribery in Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Libya was able to host this event, knowing it could promote every key Liberal to be there, and the Liberals saw nothing wrong with this? It is not that their moral compass is bent in the wrong direction, there is no moral compass. It never was about the middle class and those wanting to join it. It was always about the Fortune 500 and those who were on the inside track to get there. The most important relationship never was about reconciliation with first nation people; it was about protecting their friends.
We get told now that SNC is too big to jail, too big to fail. However, I would point to Arthur Porter, who was the centre of one of the biggest fraud investigations in Canadian history. Under the former government, which is as in with SNC-Lavalin as the present one, Stephen Harper appointed Arthur Porter to oversee Canada's spy agency. This shows how much Canada is up for sale to these insiders. They always say “Too big to fail, too big to jail”, but Arthur Porter ended up in a Panamanian jail, and Canadians were no worse off for him finally getting punished.
We need to talk about clearing the air, because the government is now talking about the jobs. I am very concerned about the jobs for all the honest working people at SNC-Lavalin. However, I am also worried about the jobs of many Canadians. Their jobs have been taken away, like the workers at the heating plant right here in the National Capital Region. They worked there for years, but their jobs are being undermined because the government wants to privatize to SNC. The government says that it is worried about jobs, but it never worried about jobs when those working for Stelco and Sears lost their pensions. Why not? Because it was the family business of the finance minister that had the contract to windup their pensions. The Liberals were looking after the 1%. They would not stand up for the pension rights of Sears or Stelco workers, but they would stand up for the rights of Morneau Shepell. The finance minister is the minister of the 1%.
Let us talk about KPMG, a company that established an offshore fraud account so that multi-millionaires could evade paying their taxes. What did the government do? It not only cut a deal with KPMG and said it was okay, but it actually hired a KPMG representative to be the treasurer of the Liberal Party. It never was about the middle class and those wanting to join it. It never was about reconciliation. It was about the government and the Prime Minister's insider relationships for whom they would bend the laws of the country. They will look after their friends. They will do things behind closed doors. They will turn the public services of Canada into a cash cow for their lobbyists and their friends.
Now the Liberals are saying not to be negative but talk about positive things. However, there is nothing more negative for Canadian public life than corruption and cronyism. Until we clear that up, until we can say to the Canadian people that they can trust that everyone will have a fair chance, then Canadians have no reason to believe. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister to do the right thing, to stop hiding, to explain why Gerry Butts had to take the fall, and for the Prime Minister to vote for our motion to have an independent investigation and stop hiding behind that fig leaf of solicitor-client privilege.