Madam Speaker, I am painfully aware of the fact that we are debating a subamendment, but I thank the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for his desire to clarify the record. If he needs to rise on another point of order, I am sure he will feel free to do so.
The point is that the member for Timmins—James Bay stood in the House just moments ago and asked a question of the member who just rose. That question was whether what he sought to do would jeopardize the independence of the director of public prosecutions. Therefore, let us unpack that.
The notion of the director of public prosecutions, if memory serves, was created around 2004 or 2006 specifically to address the need to ensure there was a depoliticization and an arm's-length nature of important matters and decisions that were taken with respect to prosecutions in the country. That is an important feature. It is hallmarked in the rule of law and the constitutional precepts that the member opposite has raised on numerous occasions in this very House.
By bringing that individual before the committee, the member for Timmins—James Bay raises an important point of whether that might be, unwittingly or de facto, politicizing the very exercise and decision-making power of that very individual. I put that to the House for the purposes of returning to this debate.
What is important to outline is that when we talk about the independence of the director of public prosecutions, a critically important role, it is a role that has been created for many reasons and a role that we need to jealously protect and safeguard.
I find it a bit ironic as well, as a prefatory comment to the comments I will be making, that the official opposition is seeking to direct the committees with respect to their work. We know from the record that when the official opposition was in power, which has been alluded to on numerous occasions by the government House leader, it reduced the resources provided to committees and took parliamentary secretaries like myself and inserted them completely within the committee structure and in so doing, ensured they served almost as de facto whips on committees.
What we did, conversely, was campaign on a different role for parliamentary secretaries and a different role for committees. We fulfilled that campaign commitment by providing better resources to committees and by ensuring that parliamentary secretaries like myself and 34 of my colleagues would not have a vote, for example, at committee. Those are important features that enhance the very committee process that the members opposite say we are somehow impugning.
Perhaps most egregious, and Canadians need to be reminded of this, is that on a day when the official opposition seeks to somehow take the side of the committee process, that is the same party that, when in power, circulated a memo to all committee chairs about how to deliberately obstruct committee processes to better manage the committees to do the Conservative Party's bidding. Those are facts and those facts are important so people understand how perhaps ironic and incredulous I find the position currently being taken by the members opposite.
Let us now look at the work the committees have been doing thus far. Official opposition members who sit on the justice committee, on pretty much every occasion I have seen when a justice bill is being debated in the House, have said it has worked in an amazingly harmonious and consensual manner. They have gone to great lengths to point out on many occasions the work of the member for Mount Royal, as chair, who has always sought to produce consensus-based, multi-party reports and have a consensus-based model and approach toward the committee deliberations, which is very important to note. It happened again earlier today, for Canadians watching or consulting Hansard.
Earlier today, we were debating Bill C-84 and the member for St. Albert—Edmonton talked about the member for Mount Royal, his studious chairmanship of that committee and his efforts to build consensus on numerous occasions. At the same time, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton reflected on the fact that he proposed an amendment to Bill C-84. What we did, like any logical government that is taking a non-partisan approach to committees should do and one that is empowering committees to do their work should do, we accepted that amendment, as we have done on other occasions on other bills, such as Bill C-75, the Criminal Code review amendment.
Again, those are prefatory comments about how committee structures operate and committees work. It is very important for people to understand that the justice committee stands out as an example of the great work committees can do on a multi-party basis. It stands out as an example where committees are fulfilling that kind of role.
In this context, what have we heard from the justice committee? We had people questioning their desire to engage in a discussion about the issues. We had people perhaps being surprised that the justice committee was very willing to hear from people.
The justice committee heard from the former attorney general, the current Attorney General of Canada and the deputy attorney general. It heard from the former principal secretary to the Prime Minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council. I will pause there to particularly acknowledge his 37 or 38 years of non-partisan service to the people of Canada and the Government of Canada and recognize that body of work.
It also heard from important experts and legal academics. That is something that I will confess tickles my fancy, as a lawyer who came here after 15 years of practice in human rights and constitutional law. It heard from people talking about the constitutional precepts that the member for Wellington—Halton Hills is regularly invoking here. The member for, I believe Victoria, from the New Democratic Party, who is the vice-chair of the justice committee, has also referred to it on numerous occasions. They have invoked concepts about what we call the Shawcross doctrine, which has been invoked so many times that people are starting to develop a familiarity about it. They have been talking about the importance of the role of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and the fused notion that we have here in Canada, both federally and at every provincial level.
They have also talked, by comparison, about how things operate in Britain. For example, in Britain, there is a divorced role. Each entity is fulfilled by different individuals, which helps to address or alleviate some of the concerns that have been expressed here. That is an important issue. It came up today once again in question period.
These issues are being discussed and entered into the public debate, which is a very good thing. It is a hallmark of the committees and Parliament doing their work, which is an important precept. The Canadians who are watching right now should understand that these issues have all been advanced because the committee has been allowed to do its work.
What has the committee learned or what has come out of the committee process? Let us go there for a moment.
A motion was raised today by the member opposite, when we were meant to be debating Bill C-92, child welfare legislation, which would take indigenous kids out of the child welfare system and keep them in and among indigenous families and communities. Instead, they wanted to raise the issue of committee structure and to compel the reappearance of Ms. Roussel at the committee. However, in understanding our position on that, the members opposite need to understand what has already been heard at committee. What I am hearing and learning from reviewing the materials and watching the proceedings is this.
We heard testimony that the former attorney general stated that the Prime Minister told her this was her decision to take. We heard her state on the record that it is appropriate to discuss job impacts. We heard her say that nothing occurred that was unlawful. In response to a question by the leader of the Green Party, she said that nothing that occurred was criminal. We heard her say that she was never directed. We heard her state that the state of our institutions, the rule of law and the independence of the legal process, are intact.
I want to go to a couple of quotes that arose during the context of the proceedings to illustrate this point. The former attorney general herself stated this at the very committee that the members opposite are impugning. She said, “I do not want members of this committee or Canadians to think that the integrity of our institutions has somehow evaporated. The integrity of our justice system, the integrity of the director of public prosecutions and prosecutors, is intact.”
This position on this issue of the rule of law, which is an important point, has been raised by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills on numerous occasions in the context of this debate. It was also raised in the context of Mr. Wernick's testimony, when he said, “I think Canadians should feel assured that they work in a democracy under the rule of law.”
In the same exchange with the member for Willowdale, Mr. Wernick went on to state, “I think Canadians need to be assured that their police and investigators, with the powers of the state, operate independently, and that the prosecution service, the state charging people with offences, is completely independent. There is a legislative and statutory shield around that, which demonstrably is working...”
That echoes exactly what we heard from the member for Timmins—James Bay. It also echoes what we heard from communications that have been put out by the director of public prosecutions. That office has gone to pains and at length to reassure Canadians that it has not been influenced in this case, nor has it been influenced in any other case with respect to how it conducts prosecutions. That is a critically important point to raise in the context of contemplations by the members opposite about recalling Madame Roussel before the committee.
In the end, what we heard at that committee was that the former attorney general made the decision not to proceed. The law was followed every step of the way. What we have also heard, and what we know, is that the rule of law has remained intact. Those are critical points to be underscored at this juncture.
I want to return to what was raised by the member for St. Albert—Edmonton this afternoon when he first raised the motion about the issue of appropriate versus inappropriate discussion points with respect to the remediation agreement regime. I want to read this into the record so that it is crystal clear for Canadians. The remediation agreement regime exists in the Criminal Code. It is entrenched in the Criminal Code of Canada, based on amendments that were made last year.
The remediation agreement regime was studied at length in Canada-wide consultations. Following that study, it was proposed in legislation. That legislation was then studied by the finance committee and the justice committee of the House of Commons as well as a Senate committee. That remediation regime was then enacted into law and fully gazetted in an open and transparent manner to the public.
As has been stated on different occasions in the context of debates that we have been having over the past five or six weeks, the remediation agreement regime exists in five member countries of the G7. Those include the United States, Britain, France, Japan and now Canada. What we are doing by invoking a remediation agreement regime is harmonizing Canadian law with the laws of many other western democratic nations, particularly many other western democratic nations with whom we have trading relationships, which is an important point.
What is misunderstood here is this notion of what the remediation agreement concept invokes, or more specifically what it involves. There have been active discussions about whether the Prime Minister invoking the necessity and propriety of discussing jobs and job impacts was in fact appropriate. The position of Her Majesty's official opposition, articulated even earlier this afternoon, is that somehow that was inappropriate.
I want to read this into the record so that is is absolutely crystal clear. This is how one would conduct this matter if we were debating it in a much more rigorous way in a court of law. One would look to the statute for guidance.
Section 715.31 of the Criminal Code of Canada says:
The purpose of this Part is to establish a remediation agreement regime that is applicable to organizations alleged to have committed an offence and that has the following objectives:
It then lists six objectives:
(a) to denounce an organization’s wrongdoing and the harm that the wrongdoing has caused to victims or to the community;
(b) to hold the organization accountable for its wrongdoing through effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties;
That is an important point, because much has been made by members opposite about there being no accountability if a remediation agreement even enters the discussion points.
Paragraph 715.31(c) of the Criminal Code states:
to contribute to respect for the law by imposing an obligation on the organization to put in place corrective measures and promote a compliance culture;
That objective is clearly redressing the circumstances or the harm or the organizational capacity that allowed such a problem to occur. The fourth objective is as follows:
(d) to encourage voluntary disclosure of the wrongdoing;
That is to ensure that corporate actors or other actors come forward on a voluntary basis. The fifth point for the remediation agreement regime is this:
(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community;
Again, that is addressing the victims. We have repeatedly heard invocations about the harms that has occurred in the context of SNC-Lavalin or other corporate actors in the context of remediation agreement regimes. What the statute itself talks about is ensuring that there are reparations for harm done to victims. That is important.
However, the last point is the most important point. It addresses precisely what has been raised by the member for St. Albert—Edmonton in his comments, which is why government members or the Prime Minister are even talking about jobs. Well, here is why, and, again, I am reading the Criminal Code of Canada, subsection 715.31(f), which says that the purpose of a remediation agreement regime is as follows:
to reduce the negative consequences of the wrongdoing for persons—employees, customers, pensioners and others—who did not engage in the wrongdoing, while holding responsible those individuals who did engage in that wrongdoing.
I will simplify that for the viewers. A remediation agreement is meant to ensure that the people who make decisions at a corporation are held accountable because they committed the wrongdoing, but those who are on the front lines, such as people who work on the assembly lines, answer the phone, stock the water cooler, are not held responsible, nor are people who no longer work at the company because they are pensioners. That is the point of a remediation agreement, which is why it has taken hold in now five member countries of the G7. It is why it has been adopted into law in Canada. It is important. The fundamental priority of any government is to keep its citizens safe and to promote their economic stability and security. That is a critical component.
These are important aspects, and I raise them today because it shows that concepts such as these need to be understood better. We can already understand them better by looking at the committee track record thus far. It has been a robust one. It has heard from a number of witnesses. That committee work is continuing as it should, in a manner that has been forthright and transparent.