Madam Speaker, I appreciate following my friend from Timmins—James Bay, because he has channelled the anger that many Canadians have.
Today I come to this discussion more in sadness than anything, and I will explain why.
I was at the committee that chose Kathleen Roussel as the director of public prosecutions. As members may know, under section 4 of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, there is ability, I think appropriately, for members of Parliament from all recognized political parties to be involved in the selection process, and I was very pleased to be part of the group that chose her for that role. I do not know her, but over the last couple of weeks I have acquired enormous respect for her integrity. I think she has proven to Canadians that she is the right person for that job.
I raise that point because technically, of course, this is a concurrence motion in respect of her appointment, and I want to say that. Also, under her constituent statute, section 10 allows for an attorney general to take over a specific prosecution if he or she wishes, and section 15 allows that as well at a later time. If that is done, it has to be put in the Canada Gazette and the Canadian public gets to know that it has been done. I am happy to say it has not been done, although there were efforts made at the highest level of this country to cause that to be done, and to her everlasting credit, the former attorney general said no. She said no because the buck stops with the attorney general when it comes to decisions on criminal prosecution in our system. Even that has been constrained, as I said, by the Director of Public Prosecutions Act in the way that I have just described.
I come in sadness today because the Liberals have been trying to change the channel on this story for months. They started by saying that there is nothing here, that she was still in cabinet, until she was not, and then it was a different story. Then it was Scott Brison's fault, and then it was there is nothing to see here. I do not even know where the bouncing ball stops, but Canadians have to have serious concerns about this issue.
The former well-respected President of the Treasury Board left the employ of the Canadian public and said, in doing so, “Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.” She talked of the ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations that she has as a member of cabinet.
Any Canadian who watched the testimony of the former attorney general would know, because of the way in which she spoke and the clarity of her testimony, that she was telling the truth. She wants to come back and tell the remainder of her story, but the government will not let her do that.
Tomorrow the justice committee is having another meeting. We will see whether the government changes its mind and allows that to happen, notwithstanding two previous efforts through motions the government, through the Liberal majority, chose to squash.
This is about the rule of law. That is part of our Constitution. It is in the preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Does the government care? It is changing the channel again, and this is where the sadness I started my speech with comes to bear.
I have known Anne McLellan for many years. We taught constitutional law at the same time at different universities. She was an extraordinary academic and an excellent minister. I have great respect for her work on the cannabis report as well, which saw all of its recommendations implemented. Why she would let herself get into this charade saddens me greatly, because it is another example of changing the channel. She is now going to study whether the attorney general should no longer be a member of cabinet, but she is a partisan Liberal. There is nothing wrong with that, but how can Canadians have any confidence that our rule of law principles are going to be maintained?
Ms. McLellan is not, presumably, going to talk about whether the former attorney general was fired from her role because the Prime Minister did not like her standing up and doing her job. We do not know, because the Prime Minister will not let us know. He will not let her testify. I do not think that Anne McLellan, talented, competent and ethical as she is, is going to be given that mandate.
Liberals are turning this into an academic law reform question, rather than the central question Canadians are anxious to hear about.
When I say anxious to hear about, I was in a village called Witset in northwest British Columbia on the weekend with many leaders of the Wet'suwet'en in First Nation. I cannot say how many people thanked me for the work we did on the justice committee when the former attorney general testified. They were watching, and they are angry at the government.
I come at this more with sadness in that the Liberals they think they can get away with this and use Anne McLellan to change the channel.
I say I am sad for another reason. I have had the honour of serving with my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton on a committee in which we produced unanimous reports consistently. It has been an excellent committee and I have publicly praised the chair for the way in which he has run our committee meetings. However, that all changed dramatically when we had carriage of this hot potato issue.
We saw a bunch of new Liberals, who I had never met before, being brought in to committee. I wondered who those people were. All of a sudden they voted as a bloc. It looked to me that they were voting as they were told by someone else. However, the Prime Minister as recently as this afternoon said that we must let the committee do its job, as if it had any independent role yet to play.
Canadians should watch this process. They should watch this charade. However, they cannot because it will be held in camera tomorrow. All of us will be watching whether the motion I have put forward on the Order Paper will be allowed. The motion would allow her to come and testify again. Although it is an in camera meeting, we will find out very clearly what the answer is.
My point is that the Prime Minister said that we had the Ethics Commissioner and not to worry, that he would come to the rescue even though his mandate does not have anything at all to do with whether there was political interference in this issue. It has to do with private interests, which is economic in nature.
Then the Liberals tell us not to worry, that the justice committee will do its job. Canadians should watch TV and see how it is doing that job. I dare any Canadian to conclude that the fix is not in on that committee, which I am very sad to say.
The last version the Prime Minister used today was the sub judice rule. I invite anyone to read the decision of the Federal Court. It laughed SNC-Lavalin out of court in an absolutely staggering way. There is this notion that we can interfere legally within a court at the discretion of the director of public prosecution. There is no way that can be done, and the court has made that clear. A slap down would be a light way of describing it. The Prime Minister tells us we have sub judice rules, it is before the court. If that case is appealed, it will be even more of a joke than what happened at Federal Court. Do not take my word for it. I invite Canadians to read the decision of Madam Justice Kane. If they appeal to keep this before the courts, that would be even more scandalous. Then there is a simple fraud case in Montreal, as if that has anything to do with the work we are doing here.
All three excuses are completely bogus. That the justice committee will get to the bottom of it is wrong. That the conflict commissioner will deal with this is wrong. That it is sub judice is essentially wrong. We need to have a public inquiry into this. I am sad to say that the justice committee is completely debased. I am so sad to be saying that because I was so proud to be on that committee. It is not going to get to the bottom of this. People should watch TV to see what it did. They should watch what the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell did at the emergency debate last Friday, He moved adjournment. It was non-debatable and home we went. We sat for 15 minutes at great expense to the taxpayers to bring people to committee from different parts of the country, and for what?
It is supposed to be coming up tomorrow I am told. The eyes of the nation will be on that committee tomorrow. We will see whether the Liberals are prepared to let the former attorney general be unmuzzled and let her tell her truth. They let other people like Michael Wernick come back. We will see whether the Liberals will allow that to happen. If they do not, we will know how they feel about the rule of law in our country.