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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was health.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for West Nova (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, as a member of a parliamentary committee, I am not in the role of a judge, a prosecutor or a defending attorney. I am not a lawyer. My job on that committee is to find out any information I can about the matter that is being studied. Between sessions of a committee, it is my responsibility to prepare myself in order to ask the relevant questions.

I am also on the health committee. I have been on the finance committee for a number of years. It is quite regular for me, on the very day that we are having sessions of those committees, to meet the people who will be appearing as witnesses. They may want to explain to me what it is they are doing on this subject, how they see this going or what they believe our recommendations should be. I agree to meet people who represent all sides at those committees and who want to bring me information. I think that is the road that most MPs take.

Because this is a charged issue, it does not change what we do as members of Parliament in our roles on those committees.

Committees of the House April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, first, I regret to inform the House that the Canadiens have only two goals to Boston's one, but we know that it will only get better.

Second, I would like to inform you that it is my pleasure to be sharing my time with the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

There is a lot that has been raised by the member opposite that I would like to deal with. We spent the last six months doing some of this I guess, but one of the questions was about my meeting with Karlheinz Schreiber.

Yes, I met with him a number of times, always in very public places and always to get information. I offered the same meeting with spokespeople for Mr. Mulroney because Mr. Mulroney is a very proud and important man. He does not meet with a member of Parliament; he has a staff that does that.

He had a Mr. Robin Sears who was to meet with me. He called three or four times to set up some meetings hoping that I would refuse I imagine. I accepted every time and he kept changing the time. On the fourth or fifth time, finally, he had to admit that he had no intention to meet with me, so we did not meet.

I spoke to many journalists who had done work on this. I spoke to many people who were named in the books that were written on these matters and got as much information as I could to prepare myself to ask relevant questions of witnesses. First, to see, and this is an important and sensitive question on this matter that spans 30 years, if we should be dredging the bottom again, should we be bringing that to the attention of Canadians, and should we be putting stress on a former prime minister and ministers that were named and some people who were still very active in the lobbying business in Ottawa whose names would be raised.

We had to find out whether it was worthwhile. One of the things that was of interest to me was how it had been set up going way back to the early 1980s and the people who were involved. The set up that was done put this person with the Prime Minister. There was a group that would decide who would do business and people would get rich this way and that way, and that is how the money would move around.

We can look around today and we see many of the same players and many similar structures. We see them around the government.

One of the things that concerned me was that our current Prime Minister had embarked on a great project of rehabilitating Brian Mulroney. He went so far as to call him a valued adviser and mentor. He put many of the people who were surrounding Brian Mulroney into key positions. A partner at the law firm, he put in public works. A former speech writer is now chief of staff at transport. Those are departments that do a lot of contracting. We have the Minister of National Defence who was a very close associate. We have a number of people like that, a number of MPs. The Minister of Justice was a parliamentary secretary.

I remember reading a story in the paper where the former minister of justice, now President of the Treasury Board, when he heard about the $300,000 cash payments to Mulroney, asked his department for a briefing. All of a sudden, no, he was not going to get a briefing.

I do not know if that happens very often in government. I had not seen any of that in my three years in cabinet. The minister could not get the briefing from his department. The minister was moved out and in comes a new one, the current minister who was a parliamentary secretary. All of a sudden there is no such desire to review these matters.

Therefore, I got very interested. I asked for a public inquiry in the House many times and the Prime Minister refused. Government members laughed at us across the way, laughed at us and reminded us of the $2.1 million that had been paid to Brian Mulroney because of the errors at that time. They made a joke of it until finally a letter comes out. Karlheinz Schreiber puts out an affidavit. He raises the question of a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Then all of a sudden there is a meeting with the Prime Minister and Brian Mulroney carrying a letter written by Karlheinz Schreiber negotiated by Elmer MacKay. When that affidavit came out, that was hard on the Prime Minister. For the second week in a row he ran to the national press theatre where he had not been in two years. There were no press conferences before and now, all of a sudden, he had to have many.

He said, at that time, that he was going to name an independent third party to advise him on how he should handle this matter. Then on that weekend Brian Mulroney told the newspapers that we have to have an inquiry. Of course, that was done through Luc Lavoie at the time. That was before Mr. Sears came along. Luc Lavoie was still the spokesman at that time.

On the Monday or Tuesday after a week break we came to question period and our leader pressed the Prime Minister on it. He said that he would ask that person to give him the terms for an inquiry. That is the first time there was talk of an inquiry. Before that it was laughter, denial and delay. There was no way that there would be one.

The person who was charged with doing the reference was Professor Johnston, a highly distinguished Canadian. I have no qualms with Professor Johnston. I do not wish to debate his recommendations. He did what he was asked to do. He did it to the best of ability and to what he believes is right.

We can pick apart everything he says but at the end of the day the Prime Minister of Canada has the responsibility to name a public inquiry. He can delegate any authority he wishes. He can get advice from anyone he chooses but the inquiry is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and he will have to answer for that.

If he now accepts these terms 100% as presented they are his and he must answer for those.

Some of the suggestions made I fully agree with but I have serious reservations when we are looking at a project such as Thyssen. We know the money paid to Brian Mulroney came from that project. Because of the signature of the federal government on the memorandum of understanding, $2 million were generated for the construction of the Bear Head project. A quarter of that was set aside: $500,000 in that account, $300,000 in cash paid to Brian Mulroney by Karlheinz Schreiber and $200,000 more available, exactly one-quarter of the commission.

A few weeks after leaving the prime minister's office, Fred Doucet received $90,000 out of those same commissions, the exact same amount that was paid to Frank Moores, Gerry Doucet and Gary Ouellet, the partners in GCI who were set up to do the business of the federal government. We see an agent of the prime minister leaving and collecting very shortly thereafter. Those are serious allegations.

Now the government is saying that we cannot examine those four gentlemen at a public inquiry. Regrettably, two of them have died, but two of them are still here. Fred Doucet is very much here. He is on the record as lobbying on many of the most expensive files the federal government is dealing with. He has a hand on the back of the current Minister of National Defence. He runs that puppet. He ran it at his leadership. That is his game. When he was in front of the committee I said to him that he was a Cape Bretoner and that he knew about the Bear Head project. I said that he had a direct interest in that and that I was sure he was following it.

The member for Burlington will remember the reply. Mr. Doucet said that he knew of the project in passing but that he did not have a big interest because his job at the prime minister's office was to organize international conferences. He said that he was not too much involved on that. However, a few weeks after he leaves office he receives $90,000 from that project.

Then we have Senator Lowell Murray, a distinguished gentleman and the minister for ACOA at the time. He tells us that in all that period that Fred Doucet was there that he approached him dealing with that many times when he was directly in the prime minister's office and when he was supposedly organizing these international meetings for the prime minister and working out of External Affairs.

We did not bring Senator Murray before the committee. All I know is what I read by Daniel Leblanc or by Greg McArthur but I believe it was LeBlanc who interviewed Senator Murray.

We need to go through a lot of information. We know Mulroney misled us at the committee and gave us misleading information, as he did when he did his examination for discovery for the $2.1 million. We also know that Fred Doucet misled us. Today a high officer of this country was brought up on contempt of Parliament. These people did no less than that person did. Perhaps the proof is less detailed but I believe a public inquiry can do that.

Committees of the House April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Habs, les porteurs du tricolore, les Glorieux, in short, Montreal, are leading 2-0. I ask all ladies and gentlemen not to touch the dial. We will give reports regularly on CPAC for viewers following the debates of the House of Commons.

I want to thank the member for his presentation and also for his participation on committee. He was there throughout this thing. It was difficult at a parliamentary committee to deal with something this sensitive. He correctly pointed out that this is not really what parliamentary committees are set up to do. Parliamentary committees are not the best way to do this.

However, my colleague may remember that I was the one in this House of Commons and in an interview who said that this matter should not go to committee when there was a movement by the NDP to have it there. I was asking for a public inquiry. I said that the only way we could deal with it properly was through a public inquiry, but at the time the Prime Minister refused. Plus, he was threatening to extradite Karlheinz Schreiber, with the Minister of Justice telling us he could not keep him in the country.

Only after the committee was preparing to start its work did the Prime Minister go ahead on that fatal Friday night when Mulroney said that he should have a public inquiry. He was forced to announce one. It was only when the signed affidavit by Karlheinz Schreiber implicating the Prime Minister came out that he said there would be a public inquiry, but we still had no guarantee that Mr. Schreiber would be in the country to participate. We agreed and this matter went to committee. That is the reason it went to committee. It is the same thing that we had with the public accounts committee in the Parliament before the member joined the House, when we dealt with the sponsorship issue. It was equally difficult.

Parliamentary committees are meant to hear from constituents on matters before Parliament and to hear from experts to guide us in the establishment of laws or reviews of programs. They are not necessarily meant to do investigations of this type. On that, I agree with my colleague.

Here is where I part from agreement with my colleague, although I also must say to his credit that he did a pretty good job in committee. He asked questions. Sometimes when people associated with Mr. Mulroney were on the stand he even asked questions that surprised them. Sometimes I think he missed the preparatory meetings beforehand.

However, my colleague talked about the bipartisan approach that his side took on this issue. I failed to see that. Today he was at the ethics committee, as I was. Some members may remember reading in the press that Brian Mulroney took exception to things that I said in an interview. He threatened a lawsuit against me, which he eventually filed.

Before that lawsuit was filed, before I was threatened, the member for Dufferin—Caledon asked the ethics commissioner to review the matter and also made the motion that I not be on the committee. I found out today at the ethics committee that a full two months before I saw the statement of claim the member of the Conservative Party had a copy of the statement of claim. He gave it to the ethics commissioner fully two months before I was aware of it, yet I was the party being sued.

If someone told me that was not a set-up by the Conservative Party, I would have to tell them that I find that difficult to believe. I think there were a lot of links between Mr. Mulroney, Mr. Mulroney's communications team, Mr. Mulroney's legal team and the committee.

I will give the House one further instance. In the Chronicle Herald, after Professor Johnston came out with his recommendations, the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, who also served on committee, stated that it was a brilliant report. As a matter of fact, it was exactly the same as the minority report that the Conservatives attached to the committee report. That is not a surprise. I believe it was written by the same people.

Committees of the House April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to have been chosen over all the distinguished members in the House this evening, wishing for the floor to ask the member for Burlington a question on his presentation.

Airbus April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, as parliamentarians, we are not addressing any questions to Professor Johnston, but rather to the Prime Minister. He is responsible for launching an inquiry and he promised a public inquiry. The fundamental nature of a public inquiry means that testimony is given publicly, Canadians can watch and listen to it, and everyone who should appear does appear, including Fred Doucet and everyone close to Mr. Mulroney.

We understand why the Prime Minister said that Mr. Mulroney was appreciated as a mentor and advisor, and that he found it awkward to get to the bottom of all this concerning Mr. Mulroney and those close to him. We—

Airbus April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want answers from this government on the upcoming Mulroney inquiry, not more bafflegab. Will the government commit here and now that it will be a full public inquiry, with full powers, under part I of the Inquiries Act?

Ethics April 8th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the responsibility for a public inquiry lies with the Prime Minister. He cannot hide behind David Johnston or anybody else.

Important evidence in this affair should not be examined behind closed doors. It is precisely because Mulroney concealed his dealings with Schreiber that we are faced with all of this in the first place. Unless the mandate and the investigative powers are broad enough to actually follow the money, this exercise will not achieve the finality Canadians deserve.

It is in the Prime Minister's hands. Will he give Canadians a serious public inquiry, yes or no? Will the inquiry cover Fred Doucet?

Ethics April 8th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the adviser chosen by the Prime Minister himself published a report that fails to understand the fundamental characteristic of a public inquiry—that it be public.

Setting limits on the mandate and holding parts of the inquiry behind closed doors will only leave Canadians with more questions. In particular, did Mulroney preserve the integrity of the Prime Minister's office?

The Prime Minister must stop protecting Mulroney. Will the commissioner have all of the powers laid out in the Inquiries Act? Yes or no?

Airbus April 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can delegate any authority he wants, but the responsibility remains with him to name the terms of reference of this inquiry.

Canadians want answers even if the Conservatives do not want to provide any. Canadians want to know why a Conservative Prime Minister accepted envelopes of cash and they want to have a public inquiry to get to the bottom of this.

If there is no public inquiry, then Canadians want to know why the current Conservative Prime Minister is covering for Brian Mulroney. Why is he protecting a Conservative Prime Minister?

Airbus April 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Brian Mulroney refused to return to the ethics committee and he refused to provide documentation to back up his claim.

He refused to explain why no one at Thyssen knew he was lobbying for them, as he claimed. He refused to explain his bizarre plan to sell tanks to the Communist Chinese right after the Tiananmen Square massacre, as he claimed.

Given Mr. Mulroney's refusal to cooperate, will the government stop protecting him and ensure the public inquiry, which it can no longer delay, has a broad enough mandate to finally get to the bottom of this sordid affair?