Government Orders: Pledging Support for NDP Motion to Investigate the PM for his Role in the SNC-Lavalin Scandal

Government Orders

February 19th, 2019

“Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak in support of the motion put forward by the New Democratic Party. The Conservative Party stands with the NDP to call on the Prime Minister to waive solicitor-client privilege and to urge the government to launch a public inquiry to provide Canadians with transparency and accountability with respect to allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The rule of law is a framework of laws and institutions that embodies four universal principles. One is accountability, the idea that the government as well as private actors is accountable under the law. Another is just laws, laws that are clear, publicized, stable and just. They are applied evenly and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons, contract and property rights, and certain core human rights. A third principle is open government, such that the processes by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced are accessible, fair and efficient. The fourth principle is accessible and impartial dispute resolution, such that justice is delivered in a timely fashion by competent, ethical and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve. Any member of a police force, and I as a former chief of police, understands how the rule of law dictates our daily life. This continues to be something I aim to uphold as a member of Parliament. It is important in our roles as politicians to uphold these core principles of the rule of law, as they must be upheld for any democracy to function. Last week the Liberal Party blocked all attempts of accountability at the justice committee meeting. There was an opportunity to be open and transparent on the SNC-Lavalin affair. Instead, the Liberal majority at committee attempted to cover up and block the search for the truth on this affair. Opposition MPs worked together to come up with a reasonable witness list, with three key individuals. The Liberal Party offered up its own watered-down motion that excluded key witnesses and called for a closed-door meeting, with no media present or transcripts provided. Though the Liberal members hold a majority on the justice committee, they had an opportunity, with the motion they put forward, to make an amendment and not hold the consideration and selection of witnesses in secret this week. Though it may be a tradition that those deliberations be done in camera, there was an opportunity in these exceptional circumstances to avoid the perception that there is something to hide. I must say that earlier today, one of the Liberal members publicly posted a tweet that she was going to ask the former attorney general to speak. That was not done in private, but certainly in public. As we speak, this meeting is happening. However, the Canadian people will be unable to see or read what transpired. This is not the open and transparent government that Canadians were promised during the last election. The Prime Minister tried to assure Canadians that nothing unethical took place, citing that the former attorney general’s presence in cabinet would speak for itself. Lo and behold, the former attorney general resigned, making it crystal clear that the Prime Minister is trying to hide from the truth with respect to the SNC-Lavalin affair. It is clear that the Liberal Party has no interest in finding out the truth. The former attorney general has once again been denied an opportunity to speak. To top it off, yesterday one of the Prime Minister’s closest and most trusted political advisers resigned from office. This resignation is the clearest indication yet that there is much more to the SNC-Lavalin affair than we know. The events that have transpired in the last several days are not the actions of someone with nothing to hide. This resignation does not settle this matter; instead, it only presents more questions that must be answered. Canadians are rightly concerned about this issue, and we want to make sure that Canadians understand what has happened. My office has been flooded with emails and phone calls from Canadians across the country. They are concerned about this issue. My staff have received calls and emails from Canadians—not constituents of mine, but Canadians across the country—who have been unable to reach the offices of their Liberal MPs. We are hearing from frustrated Canadians expressing their disbelief on how the government is covering up this affair. One email says that something is still going on in the justice committee. All the writer asks is to have the justice committee follow the rules, do the job and respect the rule of law to fix a serious problem for this country. There have been troubling allegations with respect to possible interference by the Prime Minister’s Office in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and inconsistencies in the response from the Liberal Party. This is not a government that shows Canadians it is under control but a government in total chaos, and it raises critical questions of ethics and conduct from the highest-ranking office in this country. The Conservative Party supports the NDP motion to call on the Prime Minister to waive solicitor-client privilege and urges the government to launch a public inquiry. In 2015, the Liberal Party promised transparency and accountability during the election campaign. Today, we call on the Liberal Party to uphold that election promise. Canadians are rightly concerned about the allegations of political interference in a criminal prosecution. Canadians expect the truth, and we have the power here to make sure they get it. The Prime Minister refuses to waive solicitor-client privilege as prime ministers before him have done when the public has demanded it. This would allow the former attorney general to speak, to tell her story, but the Prime Minister has kept her silent. The story has been unfolding in a bizarre way, with almost daily changes to the Prime Minister’s versions of events. High-profile resignations and coordinated cover-up manoeuvring suggest this is not an ordinary political scandal. I am proud to stand with my colleagues today to support this motion urging the Prime Minister to waive privilege and launch a full public inquiry.”