Madam Speaker, it is really important tonight of all nights that we discuss this issue. In a world of disinformation and political interference from foreign actors, democracy is in a fragile condition these days. It is incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to reassure the public and give them reason to believe that the public service has integrity. This is the reason that New Democrats came forward tonight to bring this motion, and we can see how excited the Conservatives are that, once again, they are able to respond to the NDP's lead on this. This is why, on a number of issues, we have used our position in Parliament not to burn the House to the ground but to try and find solutions.
When the Liberals overreached on Bill C-21, the gun bill, the Conservatives just loved it. They were going to raise money off of it. We were like, “No, we are going to find a solution so that farmers and hunters are not targeted.” We pushed relentlessly and negotiated. That is what we do in Parliament.
It is the same for the issue of getting Ms. Katie Telford to come before committee. The Conservatives were just using their tactics of character assassination and smear, but we said no to the Liberals. We said that we have to find a way to start getting answers.
The NDP was the first party, with our leader, to call for a public inquiry. Tonight, we are the ones leading this discussion. We need this because we are in a situation where we have just gotten allegations, which I think are explosive, that a sitting member of Parliament may have advised a senior Chinese official over the illegal detention, the hostage-taking, of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, whom we know as “the two Michaels”.
The hostage-taking of those two men was a real line that was crossed in this new century in terms of the breakdown of international order and international law. It was incumbent upon all of us, regardless of party, to put the interests of those men and their families first.
I know the member who has been accused. I have sat with him on committee. I am not here to say whether those allegations are true. However, I am saying they are so explosive that the Prime Minister must respond. One of the ways he can respond now is by following the New Democrat call for a public inquiry to restore confidence.
I am not confident that addressing this in just a parliamentary committee is enough. We are also dealing with serious state secret issues. A lot of this comes through what CSIS is going to tell us. Quite frankly, I do not trust the Conservative leader with this kind of information anymore because I see the tactics that he has brought forward.
I blame the Prime Minister for delaying, obfuscating, not addressing the seriousness of this issue and undermining public confidence. However, I think it is equally dangerous to use the tactic of character assassination and smear, as well as trashing anyone who stands in the way of the Conservative agenda on this. Knowing what they are doing, I would certainly never be comfortable knowing that state secrets could be brought to a committee. They can say what they want about David Johnston or the decision of the Prime Minister, in terms of whether it was right or wrong to appoint a special rapporteur, but shame on Conservatives who trashed the reputation of a former governor general. This is a man who was appointed by Stephen Harper and who serves his country with dignity. He deserves better than this kind of smear.
I do not think I will ever be invited to a Trudeau Foundation dinner; I would be very surprised if I were. However, when we have institutions that actually serve the public, it is not acceptable to decide to try and smear them as though they are some kind of Chinese, communist-run foundation of friends and pals. That is ignorant. I disagree with the Prime Minister on most things, but I would never stoop so low as to say that he is some kind of paid stooge for a foreign government. However, that is the language that comes from the leader of the Conservative Party, and that is dangerous because it undermines confidence.
The first time I was called a “traitor”, I thought it was a joke because I serve my country with dignity. However, I realized language like calling people “traitors” and “enemies” is now part of the Conservatives' discourse. This is why we have death threats in this country. There are disinformation reports from the World Economic Forum. We have to rise above this.
There was a time when the Parliament of Canada would have been shocked and appalled that any member would have partied with an extreme right neo-Nazi German extremist, like Christine Anderson. However, she is a folk hero to many on that side. There was a time when any Conservative leader who knew that their members were cavorting with extreme-right German extremist groups would have drawn a line, but that does not happen anymore.
We are in a situation where we are moving further away from where we need to be as an institution that reassures faith in the public that they can trust not only that our elections are completely protected and the rights of citizens are protected, but also that public institutions serve the public interest and that the people we elect to serve are doing it with a belief that public service is a public good. We have to get back there.
When we look at the situation before us, with the allegations of foreign interference, we know that there were serious questions during the convoy about Russian disinformation, proxy sites and the use of RT. It favoured certain political interests in this country, because it was undermining the present government, but there were serious questions about Russian disinformation in the convoy scandal.
We need to make sure that we have the tools to examine if this is interfering with how our democracy operates. The situation of allegations of potential interference by Chinese state actors is also concerning for another profound reason. We see a rise of anti-Asian hate and anti-Asian violence in this country. We need to say very clearly, as parliamentarians, that we are not exploiting this situation for our own personal and political gain. We are deeply concerned, just as people in the Chinese community are concerned and just as people in the Iranian community or any other community would be concerned, about any potential foreign actors. This is why the Prime Minister needs to reassure the public that he understands this.
I respect David Johnston. I do not know if we needed him as a special rapporteur. The allegations that have come out tonight are very serious, and I think the Prime Minister must respond to those allegations. I think it is incumbent upon the Prime Minister to say that we have to take this out of the realm of the partisan monkey house, which this place has sometimes descended to in the last few days, and to put it in the hands of an independent inquiry that has the power to compel testimony, the power to gather documents and—