That the report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, entitled “Maloney Report”, tabled on Thursday, November 19, 2020, be concurred in.
Madam Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner sought to determine if the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore had contravened subsection 20(1) of the Code. All members have now received a copy of the “Maloney Report” and I want to share some of those details with the House.
The report says, “Under subsection 20(1), Members must fully disclose their private interests and those of their family members to the Commissioner as the first step in their initial compliance process after they are elected.” We all know this as members. The Code requires us to do this within 60 days of notice of our election having been published in the Canada Gazette.
All members received a letter from the commissioner, just as the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore did. This member, of course, was reminded of his obligations, including his obligation to file a disclosure statement and provide all required supporting documents by January 7, 2020. No disclosure was received by that deadline.
After multiple reminders to the member to properly complete his disclosure, which went ignored into late February, the commissioner had to go to the government whip to try to have the member's obligations fulfilled. I will note that on March 18, when the commissioner again tried to have the member fulfill his obligations, the commissioner's office was met for a second time with a very harsh response for having the audacity to contact the member and ask him to complete his obligations under the Code, which are important ethical obligations of all members.
For the rest of March, all of April and May and into June, there was no reply to many inquiries by the commissioner. At the end of June, the commissioner informed the member to make himself available for an interview, but he ignored the request. However, when media started asking questions, the member reached out to the commissioner on August 5. At long last, the disclosure that was originally due on January 7 was finally completed on September 14. After months of ignoring repeated communications from the commissioner, the member finally complied.
What was his excuse? He said he was busy dealing with the pandemic, as if all members had not been dealing with the exact same thing, yet they found time to comply with their obligations. I will note that, of course, this disclosure was due before we knew that the pandemic had started. If the member knew in November, December and January that we were due for the pandemic and that was why he was unable to fulfill his obligations, he could have at least informed his colleagues in the governing party. Of course, it is an excuse. It is not the reason the member was unable to fulfill their obligations.
It is no surprise that, with all of these details and facts, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore was found guilty of breaching subsection 20(1)(i) of the Code. The “Maloney Report” clearly demonstrates the lack of respect the Liberals have for the Ethics Commissioner and the ethical rules and laws of this place. If a fish rots from the head down, this is the tail.
The problem has gone unaddressed with these Liberals for five years. The Prime Minister himself, now under investigation for a third time, has been already found guilty of breaking ethics laws twice. We know those details from the “Trudeau Report”, with the Prime Minister's trip to billionaire island, and the “Trudeau II Report”, which details the Prime Minister's interference in the criminal prosecution of his friends at SNC-Lavalin.
The Liberals need to have respect for Canadians. Frankly, they need to get their act together. This year, the subject of what will be the third report is incredibly concerning for many Canadians. With the culture that we see around the cabinet table with multiple breaches by the former finance minister Mr. Morneau, by other ministers and friends of the Prime Minister, and findings of guilt by the Ethics Commissioner, it is no wonder that members who sit behind the government front bench feel they do not need to follow the rules. The top-down example is a complete disregard for the ethical rules of this place. It sows a distrust of our democratic institutions into the national conversation and the public discourse, and Canadians are rightly concerned.
This summer, we saw with the WE scandal that half a million dollars had been paid to members of the Prime Minister's family after we had first been told by the Prime Minister's Office that, of course, no money had been paid. That turned out to be untrue. We know that half a million was paid. Later we learned, with pictures of the Prime Minister's family in the documents presented to cabinet, a half-billion-dollar contribution agreement had been approved for these same folks who had given the Prime Minister's family huge sums of money.
When that investigation started to damage the government, the Prime Minister broke another promise. While he had promised a transparent and open government, and we certainly have not seen that, he also promised not to prorogue Parliament to avoid scrutiny. Of course, that is exactly what he did on the eve before documents were to be released to the ethics committee. Immediately following the prorogation of Parliament, he illegally dumped redacted documents on the finance committee.
The fact that the government did this is a demonstration of its understanding that what it was doing was wrong. The committee had ordered the documents unredacted and to be reviewed by the parliamentary law clerk. This is the contempt shown by this government for the rules of this place, for a lawful order of committee. They are just like the rules that we are all bound to follow under the code for members, as is detailed in the “Maloney Report", where we see the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore disregard those rules for nearly a year, and we have now seen it under the act where the Prime Minister has been found guilty of breaking those laws.
Once Parliament resumed, of course, we had filibuster after filibuster from the Liberals. This, of course, was after the Prime Minister promised to allow for all questions to be asked once Parliament resumed, but that is not what happened. For dozens of hours at the ethics committee and dozens of hours at the finance committee, Liberals obstructed the work of parliamentarians to get to the truth, during a pandemic no less. While we should be focusing on what Canadians need, and how to protect Canadians' lives and livelihoods, we are left having to also follow up on the inability of Liberal members to follow the rules of this place.
The Liberals have said before that we should ignore these transgressions and that we should wait until the pandemic is over, but, frankly, that would be irresponsible. The Liberal members suggest that the official opposition is not able to walk and chew gum at the same time, we are able to hold the government to account on multiple fronts, but it is unfortunate that we find that this rot of corruption and inability to follow the rules has spread from the front benches of the Liberal ranks into the backbenches. It is important to note that we find ourselves in a unique position with the Prime Minister found guilty not once or twice, but under investigation a third time for breaking ethical rules.
We will hear from Liberals today that it was, of course, the previous prime minister who brought these rules into force. Well, it is also interesting to note that the previous prime minister was never found to have contravened the act, and that is because there was no contravention. These rules were put in place to ensure that Canadians can have confidence in their democratic institutions. That is essential to the function of this democracy. It is shameful that the temporary office holders, and we are all placeholders in our constituencies, just like the occupants in the Prime Minister's Office are temporary, doing this disservice to the legacy, to the institution of this place, with their disregard for the rules.
Frankly, if the Liberals have such contempt for the rules, why do they not put forward a bill in House to repeal them? Then we would see if they have the courage of their convictions, and it could be laid bare for all Canadians to see the true contempt for the rules of this place that these Liberals have. I hope that in 2021 the Liberals have a New Year's resolution to finally show respect for Canadians and follow the rules of this place.