Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour to stand to debate the things that are so important to Canadians in this place.
Since it is the first opportunity I have had to speak since last Wednesday, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that May 3 was Constitution Day in Poland. This takes on a special relevance in the midst of the debate taking place today, because it is a celebration in the midst of significant adversity that the Republic of Poland experienced throughout its history. In 1791, it brought about the first modern constitution on the European continent. For many years, though, while Poland was under Soviet control, people were not allowed to celebrate that milestone. It is certainly an honour for me, as someone of Polish heritage, and for many of the Polish diaspora across our country and so many around the world who look at that example of peace, freedom and democracy and acknowledge the importance of that. I wish the Polish diaspora here in Canada and around the world who celebrated on May 3 a happy Constitution Day.
We have before us what is a very unique debate. It has been very troubling over the last couple of weeks and number of months, when we have seen highlighted in this place, and specifically in media across the country, how there have been attacks on Canadian democracy. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to ensure that the first priority of any prime minister, any member who sits in the chamber, and, I suggest, every Canadian should be to be aware of how important the preservation of our democracy is.
When I was first elected, in 2019, and, more than that, as I have been engaged in politics in various capacities, from a volunteer to a political staffer and a number of other different ways throughout my life, I have seen that we need to emphasize how important the preservation of our democratic infrastructure is. However, over the last number of weeks, we have seen that it is under threat. It is one thing to see something under threat; what is worse is that we have seen that the current Prime Minister and what seems like a small group within the Liberal government that is apparently calling the shots have refused to take meaningful action to protect Canada's democratic infrastructure. We see that hitting a boiling point.
We have before us a privilege motion, concerning the privileges of a member of Parliament that were seen to be violated, according to the Speaker's ruling that was made yesterday. We have what is, in its very nature, something that takes priority. For the many Canadians watching this debate, let me unpack a bit of the history as to why this debate is even taking place, because the word “privilege” is something that does not necessarily enter the lexicon of most people when they think about democracy.
When we look back at the very origins of this place, the reason why there is green carpet in this place speaks back to the more than 800-year history of why we have the democratic institution called the House of Commons. We have what are called privileges as members of Parliament in this place, and they date back to when there was a tension with the executive government, which was the Crown in the United Kingdom about 800 years ago, that led to a large group of English noblemen who were not in agreement with the Crown at the time. It led to disagreements, and they came to a resolution, which resulted largely in, although not limited to, the Magna Carta, which created the ability for discourse to take place without fear of repercussions from the Crown.
Many of the symbols that exist in this place today are in direct reference to that strong democratic history that we have. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is even to just have the honour and privilege of being able to stand here to represent the 110,000 or so people I represent in east central Alberta, in the constituency of Battle River—Crowfoot. That came from eight centuries of figuring out how that works. When it comes to a privilege motion or a privilege debate, as we have before us, what that means, for all those watching, is that somebody's ability to do their job in this place was hindered.
My colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills is someone I have come to know over the last couple of years and have followed significantly throughout his career in politics as I volunteered for the Conservative Party and monitored all things Canadian politics, including his run for leadership and his efforts to protect and build Canadian democratic infrastructure. What we see here is that, because of the actions of a hostile foreign regime, the Communist dictatorship in Beijing, the People's Republic of China, his ability to do his job in this place was put at risk.
That is egregious, and I do not think there is any disagreement in this place that it is egregious, and it is good we are able to have debate and discussion about it here today. The context in which that has happened is astounding. Like I said to start, it is one thing for a threat to take place against our democratic infrastructure, but it is very much another thing for it to have taken place and not been responded to.
Over the last number of months, we have had significant debate in this place about the idea of foreign interference. It is certainly not new. This is something that has been debated at length over different points in history over the last number of years, and certainly going back much further than that. However, we have seen that the Liberals did not seem to take it seriously. I would suggest today that this is the real crux of why what we are doing here today is so important and why their actions have been so disappointing.
Again, I will come back to the idea of privilege. A member of Parliament has the right to speak and be unhindered in their ability to do their job in this place. That is very important. It is absolutely essential. We cannot have a hostile foreign regime, or anybody, keeping us from being able to represent our constituents. That is the idea of privilege.
The lack of action on the part of the Prime Minister and the Liberal government is very concerning, and I will get into some of the timelines and specifics as to why, when we look at the facts, that certainly is the conclusion that I and so many have come to.
The member for Wellington—Halton Hills has spoken very eloquently throughout the course of the debate over the last couple of weeks, even when members from the Liberal Party were accusing him of maybe being the one perpetrating falsehoods. There were a whole host of other peripheral discussions taking place.
What the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has emphasized is that he, as a member of Parliament, has the opportunity to rise on a point of privilege to be able to make his case heard in Canada's democratic institution, the House of Commons, the people's House of Commons, yet many Canadians do not have that ability. How many Canadians are facing pressure from the Communist dictatorship in Beijing or other hostile foreign regimes, yet do not have the voice or ability to make their stand in a place like this?
It is not simply about whether an MP was able to perform his duties. That is certainly part of it, but so significant is the fact that there are so many Canadians, whether of the Chinese diaspora, from other groups who may face pressure from different governments around the world, or any Canadian who would face that kind of pressure, who do not necessarily have the same voice that we do in this place. As we stand and debate our right to be able to protect Canadian democracy, we need to not only think about the 338 of us in this place, but also to think so seriously about every single Canadian who could face similar struggles.
As we look at that, let us make sure we look at the regular, common person. Let us make sure we look at every single person, whether they escaped a hostile foreign regime to come to Canada for a free and better life, or whether they are a multi-generational Canadian. We need to take this seriously, because it is not only about MPs. This is often what the Liberals forget. They talk about what happens in Ottawa as if it were the pinnacle of all things that matter. Everything that happens in this place needs to be focused on the Canadian people, because they are who matter.
Let me unpack the timeline before us.
Approximately two years ago, it was revealed that intelligence was sent up the chain, and we know for a fact it reached the Prime Minister's national security adviser, that there was an effort to influence the decisions of a member of this place by a hostile foreign regime, being the Communist dictatorship in Beijing. It is not simply media reports that have highlighted it. It has been corroborated through testimony and evidence.
Let us look back two years ago at the context for which that pressure was placed on the member's family, which still lives in Hong Kong. It is important to know what the debate was that led to that.
There were two motions, and this happened around the time of the second of two motions. One was a committee motion and the other an opposition day motion. Parliament was tasked with discussing and debating the idea that the Communist dictatorship in Beijing was perpetrating a genocide against a minority group, specifically the Uyghurs, in China.
If we want to look at the context for that, we can look at the public record to see what those votes and debates were. For both of those motions, the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois, I believe the NDP and in fact many Liberals were part of the group of MPs who voted to say that what the dictatorship in Beijing was doing was bad news, it was constituted genocide, from forced abortions to slave labour camps to other very serious things.
I cannot help but recall one specific instance that left me deeply troubled about the state of our Canadian democracy and specifically about how flippantly the Liberals treated it. When faced with one of those votes, a member of the Liberal cabinet stood while the vote was taking place and said that he was abstaining from the vote on behalf of the Canadian government.
As somebody who knows parliamentary procedure, and I know the table has followed closely all things that have happened in this place in its 800 or so years of tradition, that is not how things work in this place. MPs vote. Therefore, it was not only unprecedented for a member of the Liberal cabinet to stand and make that declaration, but it certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. For many observers who follow Canadian democracy closely, it was incredibly concerning that an effort was made by the government, the cabinet, ministers of the Crown led by the Prime Minister, to make a declaration like that. In fact, it was the chair occupant at the time who basically highlighted that it was not okay, that this was not how things worked around here. We saw two motions over a period of a number of months when the Liberal government, the cabinet, the ministers of the Crown, refused to take a stand on the issue.
Two years later, because Conservatives took a stand, pressure was applied to a member. This is not just any member, although constitutionally all MPs are equal in this place, which is one of the cornerstones of what our Westminster system of democratic government means. This member is the shadow minister for foreign affairs, the person responsible for providing that critical oppositional perspective to the minister of the Crown. It is incredibly poignant that it was not the family of some random member of the House, but specifically the opposition critic, the shadow minister for foreign affairs, whose family had this pressure exerted upon it.
That is the context for what happened two years ago.
We now fast-forward to about two weeks ago. On a Monday morning, I happened to be on Twitter while I was on my way to a meeting when all of a sudden I started to see these articles referencing that the family of the member for Wellington—Halton Hills had been pressured. This was a developing story. It was one of those days, as the Speaker and others in this place would know well when something like that develops, things changed rapidly.
We started asking questions. We learned over the course of the last two weeks a very concerning trend of events. The Prime Minister's national security adviser was advised of this two years ago. I have before me the 2022 CSIS public report in which it talks about a lot of the efforts it undertakes. It talks about accountability, about people being first, outreach, briefings to elected officials and whatnot. This is all well and good, and important, but the fact is that the Prime Minister's national security adviser was advised two years ago, yet the Prime Minister was not informed.
I am going to talk about the disconnect between the legislative branch and the executive branch of government in a moment. I want to highlight some testimony that we heard at committee.
The Prime Minister's chief of staff, who acts as the gatekeeper, so to speak, talked at length about all the information and the process in which the Prime Minister received security information. When Ms. Telford testified before committee, she may not have realized the implication of the testimony when she referenced, and I am paraphrasing, that the Prime Minister read everything that was put before him. Quite frankly, I have my doubts as to whether that is the case, but that is my personal opinion.
We have a great disconnect between what has been said and what seems to have happened. We have a great disconnect between the security apparatus in our country and the information that it is obviously trying to get to the decision-makers and the ability for the Crown, the government, being able to make decisions. That is deeply concerning.
I have talked a lot about how it is so essential to safeguard our democratic infrastructure, to stand up for the abilities of Canadians to be involved and engaged in their democracy. One of the issues I would suggest should be highlighted as of primary importance is one of a technical matter, and it is somewhat unique to the Westminster system of Parliament and how it operates in Canada, and that is the growing disconnect between the legislative and the executive branch of government.
It is inconvenient to the Liberal agenda to have a minority Parliament. We know that. The Prime Minister has referenced that on many occasions. Democracy is the reason why this place exists, the reason why a government operates on the idea of confidence from the people's House, notwithstanding the coalition agreement and some of those intricacies of the current circumstances, whether it is committees or actions of this place. In fact, it seems to be no accident that the government sued the Speaker when it did not want to follow through on actions of the House, and that puts Canadian democracy at risk.
I would be remiss if I did not mention this. Everyone in this place has a mom, and as we come to the conclusion of this debate, I hope I will be given the latitude to simply say this. As Mother's Day is soon upon us, I wish Danielle, my beautiful wife, my mom, my two grandmas and my great-grandma, who is 100 years old, a happy Mother's Day. On behalf of myself and all my constituents, happy Mother's Day to every mom in Canada.