Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate, even though, as a Canadian, I would have preferred if this sad story had never happened.
What we want to know is how much political interference, by the Prime Minister or the PMO, occurred in a criminal case.
One of the cornerstones of our democracy is the separation between politics and justice. There has to be a wall between the two. However, unfortunately, there has obviously been political interference in a criminal case.
Let us review the facts. In 2015, criminal charges of corruption were brought against a large corporation in Montreal regarding its dealings in Libya. Unfortunately, this same company was found guilty of corruption less than a year ago in the case involving the McGill University Health Centre, or MUHC, in Montreal.
Then, on June 21, the government passed omnibus Bill C-74. At the very end of the bill, there is a measure concerning remediation agreements that has absolutely nothing to do with the budget.
Over seven or eight pages, the government clearly defined a process to allow a company that is facing serious international prosecution, as is the case here, to sign an agreement with the government. If, by chance, this were ever to happen, the bill explains the procedure.
I want to remind members that subsection 715.32(3) explicitly states that “the prosecutor must not consider the national economic interest”. The prosecutor is the Government of Canada.
This omnibus bill passed with clauses regarding agreements, as defined earlier, that have absolutely nothing to do with the budget. This happened on June 21.
In similar cases, the director of public prosecutions could look into the matter, make a decision and inform the respondent. This is exactly what happened. On September 4, the director of public prosecutions informed the company in question that she would be moving forward and that an agreement was not possible. There we go.
Nearly three weeks ago, The Globe and Mail reported that strong pressure on the former attorney general allegedly led her to quit her job, a very prestigious position in our parliamentary system if ever there was one.
On September 17, the Prime Minister of Canada contacted the former attorney general to discuss this case. On December 5, the Prime Minister of Canada's principal secretary contacted the former attorney general to discuss this case. On December 19, Canada's top public servant, the most powerful man in the public service of Canada, the Clerk of the Privy Council, picked up the telephone and directly contacted the former attorney general. On January 14, the former attorney general was relieved of her duties by the Prime Minister. Those are the facts.
We now want to find out just how much undue pressure was applied to influence the former attorney general.
I should mention that last week, The Globe and Mail, the newspaper that broke the story that has been tarnishing the government's image and consequently Canada's image abroad for the past three weeks, published another story claiming that the former attorney general told cabinet that she had been subjected to undue pressure.
Was she subjected to undue pressure, yes or no?
Last week, Canada's top public servant clearly stated three times that, yes, there had been pressure, but that it was not undue pressure.
Of course it was not undue pressure. It was just pressure from the Prime Minister, his principal secretary and Canada's top public servant.
One, two, three people pressured the former attorney general about a specific matter, and that was not undue pressure? Clearly, there was undue pressure on Canada's former attorney general.
Canada's highest-ranking public servant testified that, yes, there was pressure, but it was not undue pressure. With all due respect to that important figure in our political hierarchy, I have something to say to him. If the question is whether the pressure was undue, I would rather hear the person who was pressured, not the party applying the pressure, say whether it was undue or not, whether it was appropriate or not. In this particular case, the end result was the former attorney general's departure, since she was relieved of her duties.
As I said, The Globe and Mail exposed the whole affair three weeks ago. What happened then? The government and the Prime Minister have treated us to a comedy of errors ever since. The Prime Minister changed his story at least five times over the first few days. He contradicted himself at least five times. He started off by saying that no one could comment on the matter due to cabinet confidence. Canada's highest-ranking public servant contradicted the Prime Minister last week when he said it was never discussed in cabinet.
The Prime Minister clearly stated that the continued presence of the former attorney general in cabinet spoke for itself. Fifteen hours later, she quit cabinet for good. It does not get much clearer than that. That is what happened.
A few days later, a teary-eyed Prime Minister apologized for not being quick enough to condemn the bad people who had attacked the former attorney general. An hour later, here in the House, she said she was eager to speak her truth.
I was here in my seat. The Prime Minister was 10 or 12 feet away from me. I can say one thing. If looks could kill, it would not have been pretty. He was not happy when the member said she was looking forward to sharing her version of events.
From the start, we have wanted everyone to testify, from the former attorney general to the Prime Minister's chief adviser or the Prime Minister himself. Initially, when we asked for that, government members called it a witch hunt and a distraction. Eventually, they realized it was the right thing to do. The country's top civil servant and the former attorney general can testify. That is a win.
We need the whole truth to come out. That is why, in this motion moved by the leader of the official opposition for the good of Canada, we are calling on the Prime Minister, the one who ignited this scandal, to give his side of the story.
Today I heard the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons say at least 10 times that the Liberals have confidence in the work of parliamentary committees, that they respect the committees. Let them prove it. The best way to shed light on this is to allow the key players in this affair, unfortunate as it may be, to give their version of the facts. So far we have only heard the version of Canada's top public servant, the Clerk of the Privy Council. God knows that that testimony was spectacular to say the least, given all the revelations there have been. He talked about the famous phone call that he himself had with the former attorney general during which he said there was no pressure and that he simply reminded the attorney general of the significance of her decision. There was nothing wrong with that. It is just the most senior public servant in Canada.
A few days earlier, the Prime Minister's principal adviser had set everything in motion. That is not a problem in the least. It is totally normal. Not to mention that, on September 17, the Prime Minister had a conversation with the former attorney general.
Canadians want the truth—the whole truth. The best way to get the truth is to allow the Prime Minister to testify in parliamentary committee.