Mr. Speaker, answers tabled in response to a query from my colleague, the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, showed 38 government agencies reported a total of more than 5,000 incidents last year in which classified or otherwise protected documents were mishandled and stored in a manner that did not meet security requirements. In reality this number is likely much higher as Global Affairs Canada did not disclose any reported breaches, but we know in the past it has mishandled sensitive information many times.
It is disturbing that this ethical disregard for the privacy of Canadians is so widespread throughout the government. Across 38 departments, sensitive information was mishandled 20 times per working day. The ethical bar that has been set by the Prime Minister and his cabinet is so low that this should not come as a surprise.
Disregard for ethics is a top-down problem for the government, where the Prime Minister himself has twice been found to have breached ethics laws. That is a hallmark of the government. It breaks ethics laws, and then tries to cover it up. From illegal vacations on a billionaire's island, clam scam and forgotten French villas to, of course, the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the government's ethical record is abysmal.
When the Prime Minister politically interfered in the criminal prosecution of his friends at SNC-Lavalin, it became clear that the government and the Prime Minister had no intention of reforming their actions and had thrown any ethical considerations by the wayside, all in the name of re-election.
The Liberals' contempt for ethics has led the Prime Minister to mandate that his ministers hold themselves to the highest ethical standards. However, they carry on their disregard for ethics by continuing to block investigations and awarding sole-sourced contracts to former Liberal MPs. It has gotten to the point that it is almost laughable, but of course it is not. Canadians are losing their confidence in public institutions, and believe that there are now two sets of rules: one for the governing class and one for those it governs.
A government ought to operate at the intersection of responsibility and principle, being responsible for its actions and being a proper steward of the trust that Canadians give it to govern both rightly and justly. Further, when a government takes a principled approach to governance, being prudent and doing the right thing, it should have no problem working within the prescribed bounds of ethical law.
There is so much work to be done to restore the public's confidence in their institutions, but the government's negligence in cultivating that trust and its continued ethical apathy are not helping. Canadians deserve better.
Since I asked my initial question in this place, we have found out this week that personal information naming more than 69,000 victims of the government's failed Phoenix payroll system was shared across the government into dozens of departments. It was seen by hundreds of staff who had no business seeing it. More than 69,000 public servants' personal information was inappropriately handled.
This same week, we found out that the Prime Minister again failed to meet his obligations as set out under the conflict of interest code for members when he failed to file his disclosures.
We continue to see examples of failures or an unwillingness to follow ethical rules, and Canadians expect more of the government. They deserve more of the government.
I would like to ask, when will the government start to treat Canadians with respect?