Madam Speaker, I am honoured, as always, to rise to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay. I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Victoria, British Columbia, which is a beautiful community somewhere west of Thunder Bay, I am told.
I want to begin with the fact that we are dealing with an ongoing crisis created by the Prime Minister through interference by his office to help some very powerful corporate interests through the use of lobbyists and the use of very powerful people like Kevin Lynch, who could call the Clerk of the Privy Council from his role as chair at SNC-Lavalin and say, “We want the public prosecution to back off.”
That is not how the rule of law is supposed to be exercised in Canada. That is the fundamental issue. We have come full circle, back to the worst of the cronyism of the Chrétien-Martin days, to “who you know in the PMO”. This crisis is from interfering in a bribery corruption scandal in Libya with SNC-Lavalin, which had been barred by the World Bank for 10 years for numerous consistent violations of the law in countries like Cambodia, with allegations in Algeria, allegations in country after country. The company was barred by the World Bank. It is a company that we are told used to make sure that their bribes were recorded so that it could get tax deductions in Canada. It is a company that is very tied to the Prime Minister.
The issue before us today is the question of the interference by the Prime Minister's Office in the work of the director of public prosecutions, and that undermines the rule of law. What has that meant? It has meant that we have had five former attorneys general from across Canada call on the RCMP for an investigation into what they call a constitutional crisis. Former Liberal attorney general Michael Bryant said that he had never seen interference as brazen and reckless as the Liberal government's interference that created this constitutional crisis.
We have lost the former attorney general from cabinet. We have seen the resignation of the former president of the Treasury Board, who spoke about her constitutional obligations to the people of Canada and that she had to step down because she had lost confidence in the Prime Minister.
Today, we saw the resignation of the Clerk of the Privy Council. This is unprecedented in the history of Canada. The Clerk of the Privy Council has had to resign because what we saw from his testimony was that he had become a clear political actor, working at the behest of the Prime Minister to interfere with the work of the director of public prosecutions.
The first day of testimony by the former attorney general was very shocking to many Canadians, because we never get to see how decisions are made behind the scenes. She said that the reasons they were trying to interfere with the SNC-Lavalin prosecution was, number one, there was a Quebec election coming; number two, it was going to affect share prices; and number three, there was a board meeting and they had to get back to the chair of the board as quickly as possibly to reassure him. None of these are reasons for a public prosecution in a credible company to be stopped and backed off.
We also saw the really shocking testimony from the former attorney general that the Prime Minister said that he needed action because he was “the MP for Papineau”. He was putting his own personal electoral interests ahead of the law of Canada. She said that the director of public prosecutions had determined that SNC-Lavalin was not eligible for the deferred public prosecution agreement, which had been handwritten for SNC-Lavalin and slipped into an omnibus bill. Even though it had been handwritten for SNC-Lavalin, it still was not eligible for it.
Then we had the Clerk of the Privy Council, Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques reach out to her to say they wanted to do an informal reach-around to talk to the director of public prosecutions. That is interference and obstruction in the rule of law. That was done from the Prime Minister's Office, with the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Gerry Butts, telling the former attorney general, when she was warning him about interference, that they would not get through this without interference.
He did not like the law because it was a Stephen Harper law. I have been on the record many times saying that I do not like very much that Stephen Harper did. However, when a law is the law and one does not like the law, one repeals it. One does not go around behind the scenes because one is trying to help Liberal friends. That is undermining the rule of law.
Then we have Katie Telford, who is still in the Prime Minister's Office and who told the former attorney general's staff that the PMO was not interested in legalities. How can someone run a government when the key people around the Prime Minister do not give a darn about the rule of law?
The former attorney general talked about meeting with Michael Wernick. Michael Wernick resigned today, and I think it was good for the people of Canada that Mr. Wernick resigned, because he had become a political actor and compromised his role.
I had asked the former attorney general if he had threatened her in that December 19 meeting. She responded that he did not threaten her once but threatened her three times.
I asked Mr. Wernick about the nature of those threats, and he said that he could not remember; he was not wearing a wire. We are talking about the Government of Canada, not a Sopranos episode.
This is all swirling around the Prime Minister's Office. A belief I still see from the people in that office today is that they do not understand why people are upset. It is as though helping Liberal friends is how they do business, and if the law has to be broken, well, that is how it is done. They do not seem to understand that they have damaged their credibility even to the point that the OECD anti-bribery unit is now investigating Canada. It is not just a black mark for the Prime Minister's credibility but a black mark for Canada. A company can be charged internationally with bribery, corruption, paying for prostitutes for Gadhafi's son, building prisons and being involved in that whole torture regime, but then all these people have to do is come back and call in to the Prime Minister's Office and it will make it go away.
No wonder the OECD said that all the alarm bells are sounding. We should say that all the alarm bells are sounding for Canadians. We have to do justice better than this in this country. We have to respect the independent role of the Public Prosecution Service.
We still see the Prime Minister's Office attempting to get around this. The new Attorney General was put in and the former attorney general said that his first order of business was going to be SNC-Lavalin. The PMO is still talking about supposed new evidence that allows it to cut a deal and help its friends at SNC-Lavalin despite the fact that this has completely damaged the Prime Minister's credibility on reconciliation and completely damaged his credibility as a so-called feminist prime minister and completely damaged his reputation on accountability, but he still has to deliver for the friends of the Liberal Party.
That is the toxic, corrosive power of the 1%, and it is what is driving the Prime Minister's agenda into the ground.
Today the Prime Minister announced a solution to this crisis. He has ignored calls for an independent inquiry. What the Prime Minister sees an independent inquiry is to find a Liberal out doing the hustings and raising cash for the Liberal Party, a Liberal who was involved in Adscam in the worst days of sponsorship, and bring someone back from the sponsorship scandal who is doing fundraising for the Liberal Party to look at whether Liberals broke the law on the independence of the Public Prosecution Service in order to help Liberal friends. That is so politically toxic.
I almost feel we should call Gerry Butts back just to try to help the Prime Minister, the MP forPapineau, get out of this hole that he keeps digging. Liberals do not seem to understand that if they keep going back to that toxic partisan Liberal well, keep going back to the rum-bottle politics with which they have run business on the banks of the Rideau for the last 150 years, keep going back to that toxic relationship of insider friends, it is going to continue to burn the Prime Minister.
I urge the Prime Minister to do the right thing and let the former attorney general speak. I urge him to remove all the hand puppets on the justice committee who are interfering, to stop hiding and come clean with Canadians and tell us just how far he is willing to go in order to help his friends at SNC-Lavalin, even if it means undermining the rule of law in Canada.