Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity this evening to speak to the House on the issue that has garnered many questions over the past few months but very few answers from this Conservative government.
This winter I asked the Prime Minister to provide the names of the individuals who were representing the Conservative Party when they went to the parliamentary office of the late Chuck Cadman and offered him a $1 million life insurance policy in exchange for his vote.
Canadians expect elected officials to conduct themselves with integrity, honesty and transparency. As a matter of fact, these are the very things that this current Prime Minister promised Canadians two years ago when he came to office. He promised openness and accountability.
Yet today, this very same Prime Minister, who claims to have done nothing wrong, refuses to provide any information on a very important allegation. The Prime Minister has been very tight-lipped on an issue for someone who claimed they have simply nothing to hide.
This Conservative government has been heavily cloaked in scandals for several months now. It has created a bit of confusion among the public trying to keep them all straight. We have NAFTA-gate, the Mulroney-Schreiber scandal, and the Kilrea-O'Brien affair, involving the environment minister. More and more this Conservative government adopted a motto that says: “I have nothing to say, I have everything to hide”.
Anyone who knew Chuck Cadman, and I knew Chuck Cadman as I served with him for years, would say that he was a man of the highest integrity. He respected this House and he earned the respect of his colleagues, his constituents and Canadians-at-large.
The Liberal opposition has called upon the Prime Minister to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain his role in what has become known as the Cadman affair.
One would expect that a prime minister would readily agree to dispel any of these allegations of vote buying when they have been levied against himself and his party, the Conservatives.
Canadians want to know what role their Prime Minister played in efforts to recruit Chuck Cadman's support. Do Canadians no longer have the right to demand transparency and accountability from the federal government?
With this constantly changing story on this issue, we cannot believe the Conservatives are telling Canadians what actually happened in the days leading up to the dramatic confidence vote in 2005. All the Conservative comments on this issue sharply contradict the claims that are made by the three remaining Cadman family members. They claim Conservative representatives offered the terminally ill MP Chuck Cadman a $1 million life insurance policy in exchange for being the swing vote bringing down the previous Liberal government.
Of course, the more serious part of the allegation is really the matter of the tape recording, where the Prime Minister himself appears to confirm that there was an offer involving financial considerations to get Mr. Cadman to switch his vote. The tape suggests the Prime Minister knew about the financial considerations that were being provided to Mr. Cadman ahead of time and yet, did nothing to stop the offer from being made.
When will the Conservative government end its stonewalling and allow parliamentary committees to get the answers about the Cadman affair and come clean with Canadians?