House of Commons Hansard #390 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-83.

Topics

JusticeOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week we heard explosive testimony from the former attorney general. We heard that the Prime Minister led a concerted pressure campaign to protect corporate and Liberal interests with inappropriate political interference. These allegations are so serious that yesterday, five former attorneys general wrote to the RCMP commissioner requesting a criminal investigation.

The Liberals continue to pretend that a justice committee investigation, with a limited mandate and controlled by a Liberal majority, can get to the bottom of this, but they are the only ones who think so. When are they going to do the right thing and launch a full public inquiry so Canadians can get the whole story?

JusticeOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would make the point that the RCMP in this country is completely independent. It makes its own decisions in a professional way about where and when to investigate anything. As a matter of fact, the former attorney general for the Conservative Party, Mr. MacKay, this morning indicated that it is fine for citizens or the public to write to the commissioner of the RCMP to ask about an investigation or suggest one, but they dare not direct that. That is beyond the jurisdiction. The RCMP will make its own decisions.

JusticeOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the red herrings continue. No one has said that it is not the prerogative of the RCMP whether or not to decide to launch that investigation, but someone who has been in politics that long should know that it is very significant to have five former attorneys general suggest that a criminal investigation might be warranted. So can we please stop with the red herrings?

The fact of the matter is that we have heard that there was a concerted political pressure campaign in the PMO. We want to get to the bottom of that. We believe that a full public inquiry is the way to get to the bottom of that. When are they going to launch one?

JusticeOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the justice committee has members on both sides who are actually working together to have witnesses appear. Witnesses are appearing and answering those questions.

What is fascinating is that the member, who talks about the length of a member's service in this place, has also been here. It is fascinating that they choose when they like to hear certain things, and they choose when they do not.

Other attorneys general have also commented on what has been taking place, and they have been saying that it is pretty impressive that the Prime Minister worked with the former attorney general to waive client-solicitor privilege and waive cabinet confidence so that the former attorney general could appear at committee and share her story.

EmploymentOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, give me a break. The Prime Minister and his office did not pressure the former attorney general in order to protect jobs. She was very clear in her testimony that they pressured her for their re-election.

If they wanted to protect jobs, they would have done the same for workers at Sears, Aveos, Rona, and the Davie shipyard. In the meantime, steel and aluminum workers in Jonquière might lose their jobs because the government failed to do the work required to eliminate the unfair tariffs.

When will the government admit that it is not working for workers but rather for those who fill its coffers?

EmploymentOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

François-Philippe Champagne Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

We on this side of the House will always stand up for workers across the country. Of course we can stand up for workers, pensioners and suppliers while obeying all rules of law.

The real issue, for Canadians watching us today, is that the Conservatives have not asked a single question about standing up for workers across the country. That is what we should be focusing on today.

Why are the Conservatives not standing up to defend workers across the country when now is the time to do so?

JusticeOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, they are not the ones who asked the question.

The former attorney general was clear. The Prime Minister wanted to help the executives who support his party. We in the NDP stand up for workers.

The workers affected by the Phoenix fiasco are another example. It has been three years, as of this week, and they still are not being paid correctly. People across the country have been shocked by the former attorney general's testimony regarding repeated and inappropriate pressure from the Prime Minister and his office. People want the truth.

Will the Liberal government do the right thing and agree to an independent inquiry so we can finally get to the truth?

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, this very important matter was raised in the House by members this morning.

I would like to point out that the objective of the amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada is to eliminate the negative consequences for the employees, customers or retirees of a given company.

The purpose of these amendments to the Criminal Code and all measures we introduce is to protect workers and to convict and make liable the executives of any company.

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order. I want to remind hon. members that when the question is asked, we want to hear the answer, and we want to hear the question as well.

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week at the finance committee, I asked why the finance minister met with SNC-Lavalin after the prosecutor had decided not to waive the trial into SNC's charges. The chair of the finance committee slammed his gavel down, said the questions were completely out of order and suspended the meeting altogether.

We now know, from the former attorney general, that the finance minister inappropriately pressured her in that matter. Why will the finance minister not testify as to his conduct in this matter before the finance committee?

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member is intentionally mixing different things up, and he can do what he pleases. That is the approach of the Conservatives.

We on this side respect the work of committees. We know the director of the Public Prosecution Service confirmed that prosecutors in every case “exercise their discretion independently and free from any political or partisan consideration.”

We on this side will look at the facts. We are looking at what is being shared at committee. We know that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is also looking at this matter. We have confidence in our committees and the independent—

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Carleton.

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance committee chair claimed that these deferred prosecution agreements had nothing to do with finance and therefore could not be discussed in the finance committee. The only problem is that they were in the budget and they were approved by the finance committee, yet the Liberal chair is blocking questions to the finance minister about what the former attorney general said was inappropriate interference by that same minister.

Will the Minister of Finance come out of hiding, appear before the finance committee and answer as to why he was interfering with the former attorney general's work?

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, after having this experience, that member, who is a member of the finance committee, came into this House and addressed you, Mr. Speaker. You ruled on this matter, and you said that it is a matter members of the committee need to address and take care of.

Rather than work with his colleagues and try to find a way forward, he does what Conservatives do. They do the politics of division. They tattle when it is convenient for them, rather than trying to find solutions.

We on this side work with Canadians, and we will find solutions. Canadians will have a clear choice to make. They can choose a government that is going to invest and is demonstrating its results and programs are working, or Conservatives with no—

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order. The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, we heard the powerful testimony of the former attorney general and former justice minister.

She stated that various officials had urged her to take into account partisan political considerations. That was clearly inappropriate.

The Liberal's conduct is completely unacceptable.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and resign?

JusticeOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been clear since the beginning that he and his staff always acted appropriately and professionally.

The members who sit on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights are doing their job. On this side of the House, we believe that they can do this job.

Canadians will have a choice to make between our plan to invest in our communities, grow our economy and support middle-class jobs or the party of Stephen Harper that wants to divide Canadians and has no plan for the economy or jobs.

We know that the Conservatives are saying one thing in French and another in English. They should get together and talk about a plan. We know that they do not have one.

JusticeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what we are hearing in the House right now.

The former attorney general was very clear on Wednesday. She said that she had faced repeated pressure from individuals at the Prime Minister's Office, individuals at the Privy Council, the Minister of Finance and his entourage, and the Prime Minister himself. She faced constant pressure for four months from 11 individuals. That is unacceptable.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for to resign?

JusticeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her it was her decision to make. The former attorney general said it was appropriate to discuss job impacts. In the end, the former attorney general chose not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way.

The job of any prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and Canadian workers, and that is exactly what we on this side of the House are going to do. It is clear that the Conservatives do not have a plan and will not stand up for workers the way we will.

JusticeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear the Prime Minister fired the former attorney general when she refused to break the rules or bend the law for him. The first thing he planned to discuss with his new Attorney General was SNC-Lavalin.

No one knows what has happened since, and the former attorney general cannot say anything else because of the Prime Minister's legal gag order. He is using privilege and committees to shield his own wrongdoings. She said, “...some of the questions would be answered if that information was made available.”

Therefore, will the Prime Minister remove his restrictions—yes or no?

JusticeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, as we have said in this chamber, it was extremely important not just for parliamentarians but for all Canadians to hear different perspectives on this matter, specifically the perspective of the former attorney general.

That is why the government and the Prime Minister took the extremely historic step of waiving cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege, a privilege that all lawyers in this chamber know to be sacrosanct.

What we understand is that the committee is doing its work to ensure that those perspectives are heard. We have confidence in the perspective of that committee, as well as in the ability of the ethics investigator to conduct a non-partisan investigation.

JusticeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are actually using all of their tools to hide the truth.

The former attorney general has gone to great lengths not to jeopardize active prosecutions and to uphold their independence. However, the Prime Minister and senior Liberals, including the finance minister and his office, ganged up to threaten and pressure her to interfere.

The only thing the Prime Minister is really worried about is his job and his power. If he has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to fear.

Therefore, will he let her tell us all of the facts—yes or no?

JusticeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, the waiver of privilege in this context was wide and historic. It was wide insofar as it relieved the former attorney general from her cabinet confidence responsibilities as well as her solicitor-client responsibilities.

What was not waived—and this is important for the other side and for all Canadians to understand—is the aspect of privilege that relates to two ongoing matters that are before the courts. When matters are before the courts, they are not to be influenced by members of Parliament, members of government or cabinet, because they are under judicial consideration. That is an important precept in the very rule of law that all members of the House seek to uphold and ensure.

HousingOral Questions

March 1st, 2019 / 11:30 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Waskahegen Corporation is a non-profit organization that provides affordable rental housing to urban indigenous Canadians. However, it has emerged that their tenants include some non-indigenous Canadians, even though many first nations members have been waiting for years to secure an apartment. Furthermore, discrimination already makes it harder for people from first nations to find housing.

Will the minister ensure that the federal funding earmarked for off-reserve indigenous housing actually reaches its intended target?

HousingOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, the specific case to which the member refers is one that raises some important questions. I would be happy to discuss the issue with her afterwards to understand exactly how federal funding and the tenant list is constructed in that situation to ensure that dollars assigned to urban indigenous housing programs serve people from that particular community.

In general, though, the housing programs that have been put in place—and this is an important distinction from the previous government—such as the co-investment fund, as an example, and also the homelessness partnering strategy, now called Reaching Home, have all been broadened to include indigenous communities. They are no longer told not to apply. We include them in the mainstream—