That the House:
(a) note that the WE Charity scandal has preoccupied Parliament since the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) was announced on June 25, 2020, and despite many meetings on this topic held by several of the standing committees of the House of Commons in the subsequent weeks, the outstanding and unanswered questions only became more numerous and increasingly serious;
(b) further note that several other scandals and potential scandals have come to light more recently in the context of government expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, including, but not limited to,
(i) the awarding of contracts to the employer of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s spouse to administer the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program,
(ii) allegations of lobbying by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s spouse to secure amendments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS) which would benefit his employer,
(iii) the acquisition of ventilators, which did not have regulatory approval for use, manufactured by a company owned by a retired Liberal member of the House of Commons;
(c) acknowledge that the Prime Minister’s abrupt decision to prorogue Parliament intensified the need for parliamentary accountability;
(d) believe that, to ensure that the work required to achieve this accountability does not interfere with the ordinary operations of the House’s network of committees, a special committee with a dedicated mandate should be established; and
(e) therefore appoint a special committee on anti-corruption, to be styled: The Anti-Corruption Committee, with the mandate to examine and review,
(i) all aspects of the CSSG, including its conceptualization, planning, development, establishment, implementation and termination,
(ii) the assorted relationships between WE Charity, including any of its affiliated or related organizations and the Kielburger family, on the one part, and the government and ministers of the Crown and their families, on the other part,
(iii) all aspects of the CECRA program, including its planning, development, establishment and implementation,
(iv) all aspects related to the allegations of lobbying by Rob Silver or MCAP for amendments to the Income Tax Act in respect of the CEWS program,
(v) all aspects related to the acquisition, purchase and regulatory approval of ventilators manufactured by, or otherwise associated with, the Baylis Medical Company,
(vi) any other matter connected to the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response measures that any standing committee of the House may request the committee to investigate,
(vii) the committee be composed of 15 members, of which six shall be government members, five shall be from the official opposition, two shall be from the Bloc Québécois and two shall be from the New Democratic Party,
(viii) the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than the day following the adoption of this order,
(ix) the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the said committee within five days of the adoption of this order,
(x) changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House,
(xi) membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2),
(xii) notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), the committee be chaired by a member of the official opposition, and in addition to the Chair, the first vice-chair shall be from the Bloc Québécois, the second vice-chair shall be from the New Democratic Party, and the third vice-chair shall be from the government party,
(xiii) quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government,
(xiv) the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders,
(xv) the provisions of Standing Order 106(4) shall extend to the committee,
(xvi) the committee and any of its subcommittees have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings,
(xvii) the provisions of paragraph (o) of the order adopted on September 23, 2020, shall apply to the committee and any of its subcommittees until January 29, 2021, provided that the meetings of the committee and any of its subcommittees shall have the first claim to the priority use of House resources available for committees,
(xviii) the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth may be ordered to appear as witnesses from time to time, as the committee sees fit,
(xix) the committee be instructed to present an interim report no later than February 15, 2021,
(xx) the committee’s initial work shall be supported by orders of the House issuing for
(A) the unredacted version of all documents produced by the government in response to the July 7, 2020, order of the Standing Committee on Finance, provided that these records shall be filed directly with the Clerk of the House either electronically or in hardcopy within 24 hours of the adoption of this order and, in turn, transmitted to the committee which shall, until it may decide otherwise, consider them in camera,
(B) a copy of all records at Speakers’ Spotlight pertaining to speaking appearances arranged, since October 14, 2008, for the current Prime Minister, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Margaret Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau, including, in respect of each speaking appearance, an indication of the fee provided, any expenses that were reimbursed and the name of the company, organization, person or entity booking it, which had been originally ordered to be produced on July 22, 2020, by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, provided that these records shall be filed directly with the Clerk of the House either electronically or in hardcopy within 24 hours of the adoption of this order and, in turn, transmitted to the committee which shall, until it may decide otherwise, consider them in camera,
(C) all memoranda, e-mails, documents, notes or other records from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office, since June 25, 2020, concerning options, plans and preparations for the prorogation of Parliament, including polling and public opinion research, provided that these documents shall be laid upon the table within 10 days of the adoption of this order and, upon tabling, shall stand referred to the committee and to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs,
(D) a complete accounting of all communications between the government and any of WE Charity (or its affiliated organizations), Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger, Speakers’ Spotlight, Rob Silver, MCAP, Frank Baylis or Baylis Medical Company since June 25, 2020, in respect of the prorogation of Parliament, provided that these documents shall be laid upon the table within 10 days of the adoption of this order and, upon tabling, shall stand referred to the committee and to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
We are here this morning for accountability. As public officials, all parties, including the government, should re-evaluate their reason for being in this Parliament. Public service is deeply important to me. That service is rooted in respect for all Canadians, love of country and deep respect for parliamentary democracy.
I have high expectations of my colleagues because I have high expectations of myself. I believe in this country and the nobility of serving it.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Ultimately, it boils down to trust. Public officials should garner the trust of Canadians, not erode it.
There is no question that this government has been incompetent for several years now, as evidenced by its mismanagement.
Our party has uncovered a trove of compromising information in this WE scandal affair, a pattern that started to arise involving Liberal insiders and the Prime Minister's family.
A charitable organization, WE, became an extension of the Liberal Party, but worse yet, it soon became clear that the more WE paid members of the Trudeau family, the more the Liberal government rewarded WE. That connection undermines the trust of Canadians.
The opposition must stand up for Canadians. There is concern about corruption, in some cases with the highest offices in the land and with the Prime Minister, who has already been found twice to have violated public ethics rules. The WE Charity, we know, secretly lobbied the Liberal government dozens of times in the past, including during the pandemic, and never registered to do so. That is just further proof that the Canada student service grant program was never truly about the students.
The Ethics Commissioner is investigating. The lobbying commissioner is investigating. The official languages commissioner is investigating. The procurement ombudsman is investigating. We are running out of agencies to investigate the government's conduct. These are valid questions we have that we bring today.
I want to share, for a moment, a lesson I learned from my air force time, talking to some of our incredible World War II bomber command veterans. They had a rule of thumb. They said that when they were navigating night bombing missions and they started getting lots of fire from below, when they started getting flak, it meant they were over their target.
We are getting a lot of flak for this motion. That is because Canadians know we are over the target and we should keep asking questions. We will hold the Prime Minister and his government accountable, as it is our parliamentary function.
We know that when the Prime Minister took office, WE Charity had already begun paying members of his family. Over the past five years, those payments have totalled more than half a billion dollars.
The WE Charity was awarded multiple sole-source contracts over the past five years, well before it worked directly with Bill Morneau to come up with the Canada student service grant. We know that the WE Charity employed a member of former finance minister Morneau's family, and that his family went on two luxury vacations paid for by the WE Charity. We also know that the Prime Minister, Mr. Morneau and several officials and ministers in the current government turned around and handed to their friends a WE management contract of a billion dollars under the guise of supporting youth programming during the pandemic: youth programming that never came to fruition.
The Liberals must immediately stop this cover up, release the documents, tell Canadians the truth and let Parliament do its job. If the documents do not contain anything incriminating, there is no reason for the Liberals to spend so much time and resources hiding them. We are still wondering how much we do not know.
We have already seen that flak firing up from below. The Prime Minister is throwing all of his heavy artillery at us because we are over the target. Prorogation, resignation, filibusters, delays, political games and threatening elections are all just to ask us to stop asking to remove the blacking out of documents and asking for transparency. The Liberals were willing to shut down Parliament in a pandemic after it had already been shut down for months while emergency programs for the country, like the CERB, were expiring. They were willing to put all those Canadians to the side in order to stop a few tough questions from the MP for Carleton. Canadians should wonder why. Now the Liberals are threatening an election in the middle of a pandemic to avoid these secrets coming out.
When the government got caught, it tried to hide. It answered with talking points. It turned over redacted documents. It filibustered at committee. Then it shut down Parliament.
Today, I am introducing the Conservative opposition day motion. We are making a modest proposal to establish a committee to look into various ethical questions and problems with the government's handing out of COVID-19 funding to insiders and friends. It is a committee that would examine the misuse and potential breach of trust during the worst crisis Canadians have experienced in their lifetimes. The committee would examine the Canada student service grant, as well as the relationship between WE, the Liberal government and members of family; lobbying efforts for income tax changes, particularly with respect to the Canada emergency wage program; the acquisition, purchase and approval of Baylis Medical Company ventilators, and I know the name “Baylis” is pretty well known in this chamber; and, of course, topics the other parties will identify specifically for this committee.
The committee's initial work would be supported by the disclosure of documents, which this government continues to delay and avoid. The committee would simplify multiple committees into one special committee with a specific mandate to allow finance, health and other committees to do their work.
It is time to put our house back in order and rebuild Canadians' trust. This is the primary duty of any government managing a crisis. We must unite Canadians and put an end to the double standard, with one set of rules for the Liberals' friends and another set for everyone else.
The motion would also be amended today to make clear that the appointment of a special committee to look into the use of public funds by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic shall not constitute legitimate grounds for a general election. We would be changing the name of the committee based on some advice from the New Democratic Party, and we would be challenging all members, including the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party who is shrugging and guffawing at my remarks. I would remind him of his public duty to Canadians. I would remind him that to whom much is given, much is expected. Canadians expect the truth.
Can that member handle the truth? Canadians also deserve accountability, and that is exactly what this committee would do.