Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today. I want to start by thanking you for your very important ruling on the matter of privilege raised by my colleague, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, a ruling in which you found a prima facie case of a breach of privilege and allowed the member to present his motion for this matter to be further studied at the procedure and House affairs committee. I want to put your ruling in some common language for the common people. I do not want to put words in your mouth, Mr. Speaker, but when I thought about it, I was reminded of the quote from the movie Network when the anchor said, “I’m as mad as [blank], and I’m not going to take this anymore!” That is how Canadians feel about what has happened with these allegations around foreign interference in our elections.
What a nightmare. One can imagine waking up one morning and reading in the paper that a foreign power is threatening one's family. I cannot imagine waking up, seeing that and knowing how I, or any member of this House, or any Canadian, might feel. The problem is that many Canadians are experiencing this. I will get to that in a minute.
Let us think about that. A foreign power decides it does not like how a high-profile elected politician voted in this House and makes it its mission to threaten and intimidate his family. I wish it was just something from a spy novel or a movie, but it is real. It actually happened and it is happening as we speak.
Those who are watching this broadcast right now might think that I am talking about the Prime Minister, but I am not. In fact, the Prime Minister abstained from the vote that triggered this whole matter, which is like not showing up to play with his team and then saying that because he was not there he is not to blame that they lost. I am not speaking of the Prime Minister or a cabinet minister, although they also abstained from the vote, or a member of the government or even a Liberal member; in fact, I am speaking about an opposition member. The member for Wellington—Halton Hills was sanctioned by Beijing for taking a moral stance and voting against genocide.
I want to take a moment to read from an article published on March 27, 2021, after this occurred. After the sanctions, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, said, like the mensch he is, that he was going to wear those sanctions “as a badge of honour.” That is leadership. That is not hiding, delaying or impeding the progress of this House in terms of passing laws that are important to Canadians. He stood up to the PRC, the Communist Party in China, and said that he was going to wear this as a badge of honour: in other words, that he was not going to allow it to intimidate him by doing this.
What were those sanctions? After the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, who is also our party's foreign affairs critic, voted on the motion, which I will get to in a minute, the sanctions were also placed on the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which concluded in October that China's treatment of its Uyghur population amounted to genocide. The Chinese Communist Party said that the individuals concerned are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, and Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with the relevant individuals and having exchanges with the relevant entity.
Other members might have just said nothing. They might have said that they did not want to stir the pot any more than it has already been stirred. However, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills took a principled stand, and he said, to the Chinese Communist Party, that he was wearing it as a badge of honour. That is what leadership looks like.
When I was a young man, I would often tune into the proceedings in this place. I looked at the MPs debating and understood the high honour bestowed on those who put their names on a ballot and come to this place to make laws and shape the future of this great country. It is a high honour.
My favourite, Winston Churchill, said something that has been quoted many times in this House but it could never be quoted enough. He said that “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms.” Our system is messy by design, chaotic, as members know, and at times descends into a serious state of disorder. Many people ask, “What are these guys doing? Why are they so critical of the government? Why do they not actually offer solutions?” Our debate can, at times, be furious in this place, but it is from the hot cauldron of debate that good policies and laws are created.
The reality is that we, in this party, are His Majesty's official loyal opposition. We believe that it is an act of loyalty to oppose the government. Consider what things are like in countries with no strong opposition that is free to be critical of the government. We need look no further than what Mr. Putin has done to his critics, like Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza and Sergei Magnitsky, or what China has done to its Uyghur population, to the Turkic Muslim population and to Hong Kong, and what it wants to do to Taiwan, to understand that in countries where opposition is silenced, terrible things happen.
That is what Beijing tried to do. It tried to silence this opposition through intimidation efforts against the member for Wellington—Halton Hills and his family, and to silence Chinese Canadians through ongoing intimidation and scare them into thinking that voting in Canada might be hazardous to their future. I will get into more of that in a moment.
This did not happen in China. This is happening right here, on Canadian soil. I am astounded at the lack of care, the lack of attention, the lack of interest by the government in dealing with this fact. I am going to talk a little more about that as well.
I just want to say, to Canadians of Chinese descent, Chinese Canadians who are watching this speech right now, that I want them to know that the Conservative Party of Canada stands with them. We will always stand with them. Just like my grandparents came here 100 years ago to avoid the pogroms in Ukraine perpetrated against Jewish communities, they came here to avoid the oppressive freedom-hating regime in Beijing. On behalf of all my colleagues, I want to thank them for being here and I want them to know that we will always stand up for their rights as citizens of this country.
So many stories have come out of this about Chinese communities in ridings across this country, where, as the leader spoke about in his speech yesterday, there is demonstrably lower voter turnout. Why is that? It is because, although the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has the ability to stand up in the House, on the biggest stage in this country, and defend himself, millions of Canadians who do not have that ability are suffering at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party in this country. The House needs to wake up and do something about it before it goes on any longer.
I say to the members of the Chinese community that they should always know that we will be with them and that they should never be afraid to go vote in this country. It is a great privilege. I can say, as someone who won by only 460 votes in the last campaign, that every vote counts. Their vote really matters, and that is what makes Canada such a great country. I want to thank the Chinese Canadian community for trusting our country to do the right thing, even if the government needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into doing the right thing by His Majesty's official and very loyal opposition.
With respect to the facts of the specific matter, the Prime Minister claims he did not know until last Monday about a Beijing operative's intimidating a sitting MP. He claims that he did not know about it, even though the intelligence report was in his office two years ago. It is hard to imagine. It was not just in his office; it was with his national security adviser, ironically. It was not with his chief of staff. It was not from someone else in the PMO; it was actually with a person who is responsible for advising the Prime Minister about national security threats. That is what the role of the national security adviser is.
This whole sordid affair reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes quote, “when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” We have a mystery here. The Prime Minister says that he would never deliberately keep such information from any member, and that it would be wrong to do so. I agree with him. It would be very wrong to do that. Therefore, for the moment, let us take him at his word. He says he did not know. That is something I can somewhat believe, because he does not seem to know much about what is going on in his office. He did not know that the Trudeau Foundation had a meeting in his office. He did not know that Beijing donated $140,000 to that very foundation. He did not know about an important intelligence report that his national security adviser was given two years ago. He did not know, even though Katie Telford, his chief of staff, said in committee that he reads everything and that nothing is kept from him.
How do we reconcile these things? There is something missing here when the Prime Minister says he did not know about this until a week ago, but his chief of staff says he is told everything and he reads everything. There is a disconnect here. That is why it is so important to pass this motion; we need to get these questions answered, and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is the right place to get to the bottom of all this. The bottom line is that we have a Prime Minister who does not know what is going on in his office. That should be a concern to every Canadian.
What is left? The report was in his office, but he never read it. The only thing really left to assume is incompetence and negligence. There it is. Option one is that he knew and is denying it; option two is that he did not know and is incompetent.
Two years ago, the government was briefed by our security agency, CSIS, which said that there was an ongoing intimidation campaign against the member for Wellington—Halton Hills. Why was this happening? It was because that member brought an important motion to the House. I thought it would be worth taking a moment to read that motion and bring us back in time to two years ago, the time of that vote, to understand what that important motion was speaking to. The motion said:
(a) in the opinion of the House, the People's Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the “Genocide Convention”, including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims; and
(b) given that (i) where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with its allies when it comes to the recognition of a genocide, (ii) there is a bipartisan consensus in the United States where it has been the position of two consecutive administrations that Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims are being subjected to a genocide by the Government of the People's Republic of China, the House, therefore, recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, call upon the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games if the Chinese government continues this genocide and call on the government to officially adopt this position.
That was a very important motion. To put it in basic language, it was about calling out Beijing for committing genocide, the most heinous crime a government can commit against any people. We did the right thing, or most of us did. Conservatives voted for the motion, with the Bloc, the NDP and even some Liberal members, but there was one important Member of Parliament in the House who did not vote for it; it was the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister refused to recognize that there is a serious problem. Not only did he not vote for it, but he did not vote at all, which is even worse. It was a gutless move that left the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, a member of the opposition, to bear it, which is what I am trying to get across. In the aftermath, China banned him from entering the mainland, as we talked about, and it did something else: It threatened his family because of his motion and how he voted. Nothing is more important than our democracy, and that is underpinned by the privilege MPs have to speak their mind in this place and to vote how they choose.
There have been a lot of leaks about foreign interference since last fall. Intelligence officials, frustrated with the Prime Minister's actions, have taken to leaking information to The Globe and Mail. Each leak is like a bomb going off. First, there was the one about funding 11 candidates. Then came foreign police stations, and then there was the allegation that a Liberal member tried to get Beijing to hold the two Michaels longer for political reasons. Now we have this.
Canadians desperately want a public inquiry. Members want a public inquiry. What does the Prime Minister do? He drags his feet and appoints a “special rapporteur”, a term never used before, who happens to be a member of the Trudeau Foundation.
The Prime Minister looks weak, and I am sure Beijing thinks he is weak. In fact, I think this is pure Neville Chamberlain-level weakness and incompetence.
Finally, yesterday, after a week of questions and immense pressure from His Majesty's loyal opposition, the Prime Minister expelled the diplomat.
I just want to conclude by saying that it is time for the House to wake up from this nightmare. This country desperately needs a real leader who will stand up to tyrants and dictators without delay or hesitation, and bring home respect for Canada on the international stage. The member for Carleton would be that leader after the next election.