Mr. Francis Fox (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice):
Madam Speaker, I thank my dear colleague from Calgary. I was thinking about his remarkable comments on the results of a certain game.
Madam Speaker, I now come to the subject of this debate. Points have been raised, arguments have been made during the day by members of the official opposition. I would simply like to say that we had the impression today of witnessing a "de-escalation". On the basis of insinuations which seem serious by themselves, supported by anonymous affidavits which were flourished in the air, all that resulted during the debate in the colleagues of the mover of the motion themselves taking a stance against him. We witnessed a real "de-escalation", as I said. His own colleagues seemed very embarrassed to come back to the subject he had himself raised, and during the afternoon we heard apologies, people almost apologizing for being associated with the kind of things done today by the member in question.
The hon. member for Joliette (Mr. La Salle) for example is maintaining that no accusations are being made. These are the hon. member's words. The hon. member for Qu'Ap-pelle-Moose Mountain (Mr. Hamilton) complains that the motion is incomplete. Well, if he has criticism to make about the incompetence of those who drafted the motion, he only has to turn around and face his own colleagues. Indeed he was really successful in underlining the incompetence of his colleagues who drafted the motion. It was almost an election speech, possibly unveiling his own election campaign and I hope, Madam Speaker, that it will be cleaner than the speech he made this evening.
It looks as if he chose the anniversary of Laurier to start off. He spoke of a slaughter. I have the impression, Madam Speaker, that the blue slaughter of February will be a reality well before his pious wishes for the red slaughter. He criticized my colleague the hon. member for Nipissing (Mr. Blais) because he was not here in 1963 and because he does not know the great debates they may have had in this House at that time.
Madam Speaker, if the spectacle the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain gave us tonight is typical of the type of debate, of things that went on in the House of Commons at that time, I am very happy to be among the colleagues of the hon. member for Nipissing rather than those of the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain.
And so, we had a "de-escalation" throughout the day. The hon. member for Central Nova (Mr. MacKay) started off, followed by the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen) who felt obliged to excuse him by saying it was the role of
Confidence in Government
the opposition to make that type of accusation. The hon. member for Joliette, as I mentioned before, also said that in fact the accusations were not made against the government, that they were pious wishes because everyone is interested in improving public administration in Canada. The situation is quite embarrassing. The last speaker of the party, the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River (Mr. Oberle) did not even speak to the motion before the House. The only thing he mentioned was a series of "Dear Jim" and "Cher Marc", making allusions to people in the office of the Prime Minister, and more particularly to the current head of Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. And those very same people, on the back and front benches of that opp party, Madam Speaker, keep saying to the government that more people in private enterprise should take part in government decisions. No sooner does someone leave the ranks of that same enterprise to give the Canadian people, the affairs of state, the benefit of his experience in a certain field, people like the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River rise and with innuendos and insinuations try to prove that there is something wrong somewhere. But he never lays a charge. He only gives innuendos and, frankly speaking, I do not think this is on a level with the kind of parliamentary debates we should hear in the House of Commons.
It has been said that the role of the opposition was to give the kind of show we had before us today. Madam Speaker, I always thought the role of the opposition was to make loyal opposition. In fact, the title of the opposition is "loyal opposition". I always thought it meant intellectually loyal. I was very disappointed about that throughout the day.
Is it really responsible, Madam Speaker, to hold up anonymous affidavits? Is it really responsible to say that there is no difference between allegations, to use the word of the hon. member for Central Nova (Mr. MacKay) when he said this afternoon: True or not?
After all, the Canadian Parliament has become a place where the vilest rumours can be spread and thrown at the people's face without the least evidence. Hon. members opposite have reached the point where they talk about prima facie allegations. I would advise them all to return to their law textbooks or their books on the constitution and political science, and brush up their knowledge. There is no such thing as prima facie allegations but only prima facie evidence. Allegations as such are groundless!
By the way, they are the same members who, on many occasions, have accused reporters of the press gallery of reporting false information at times. I believe they could say in turn: "Have a good look at the members throwing allegations across the House and claiming that those unsubstantiated allegations amount to evidence or point to wrongdoing.
In his brief remarks, the hon. member for Joliette (Mr. La Salle) particularly disagreed with his colleague who put the motion when he said that public confidence in the government was decreasing. He should ask himself what is his own party's responsibility for this situation, because day after day, the only thing opposition parties can do is to criticize thoroughly the government's position without
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making the least positive suggestion or proposing any alternative. No wonder the public finds that opposition parties do not have much to offer and indeed they do not offer much.
Then, the hon. member for Joliette commented that the RCMP had searched Senator Giguere's offices and home. I think it is difficult to claim that government agencies do not do anything. On the contrary, those situations they hold against us are all to the government's credit and show quite clearly that there is no one in Canada who is not equal before the law, that nobody is above it. We had other examples in recent years, namely the action brought against CMHC officers. So, there was never any attempt to try and hyde anything. When there was some evidence that criminal offences had been committed, the government took its responsibilities. There is proof of that once again in the Hamilton case, the Air Canada and Mirabel cases that the RCMP are now investigating.
The hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen) suggested this afternoon that all those allegations, all those things were embarrassing for the government. I think this is not so. It is not embarrassing for the government to discover that a Crown official or agent might have committed at a certain time a criminal offence. If such was the case, if the evidence-and I stress evidence, not allegations out of nowhere-was brought before the government, on each occasion the government took its responsibilities, brought the persons involved before the courts which then acted according to the provisions of the Criminal Code.
In spite of what the hon. member for Yukon might have said or thought, nobody questioned the right of the hon. member for Central Nova to raise those matters in this House.
But we should really ask ourselves, Madam Speaker, if it was the best thing to do. The RCMP declared they had started their investigation nine months ago already. Nine months ago, Madam Speaker, and the hon. member for Central Nova (Mr. MacKay) has just made public accusations.
Sensationalism is very tempting. The RCMP commissioner regretted that the member did not proceed otherwise and, besides, the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen) did say this afternoon that in 1963 he had lodged a complaint and put his documents in the hands of law officers of the Crown.
To be efficient an inquiry must often be carried on without the knowledge of the suspected parties. The fleeting publicity made around a good part of this case may have given headlines to the hon. member but then it may also have made it easy to get rid of files and evidence that might have helped throw some light on those matters.
Finally, instead of seeking sensationalism by revealing every day some more information an approach which can only be profitable to the member who wants to make the headlines, to the accused or to the person suspected of some illegal action, Madam Speaker, I think that every member should rather give the information to whom it may concern, as suggested by the Minister of Justice, to the officers of the RCMP so that an official inquiry be carried on.
In fact, all the evidence presented to the government has been referred to the RCMP so they can accomplish the work with the great expertise recognized most of the time by hon. members opposite when they are not indulging in childish political partisanship.
The hon. member for Central Nova also mentioned things that I consider not too serious, things which did not relate to this debate at all. He started mentioning the PTV, passenger transport vehicles in use at Mirabel Airport. He found with a certain smile great relief in the fact that a certain PTV malfunctioned on the opening day of the airport.
Madam Speaker, he even went to the point of criticizing the operators of those PTV's. Those operators come from my area, they are the guys from home, the guys who were hired by Manpower Centres in three constituencies of the Mirabel and Greater Montreal areas. Those guys met every standard required by the Department of Transport, attended the necessary courses to perform their task, and they are now being childishly accused of not being able to perform their work.
I think it is somewhat disgusting to stress the kind of minor incident which was reported by the hon. member for Central Nova. Besides, he talked about Mirabel before and I guess it will not be the last time he will do so. For instance, he said, as the Minister of Transport stressed today, that some difficulty was experienced with respect to runways, and actually the Minister of Transport thoroughly disproved his statement.
That again is another example of a groundless representation, after what the Minister of Transport mentioned to the House this afternoon. But he is not afraid of those unfounded representations to the House. Not in the least.
I might also stress to him the fact that the development and design of Mirabel are the results, Madam Speaker, of the work of thousands of Quebec people and Canadians who are to us, in my area, a striking example of the genius of our province, and we will not have this kind of slander, this kind of libel which he thinks he is entitled to whether true or not, as he said when he mentioned examples this afternoon.
I shall tell him that the House of Commons is not the place for gossip, rumors, libel through anonymous affidavits. Opposition members dare cry out "shame". In my opinion, when a member rises and holds up to the House of Commons, to the members of this House, anonymous affidavits to tarnish the reputations of some people, I think this cry of "shame" does in fact fit opposition members much better.
Madam Speaker, if the hon. member, instead of wishing to enhance his reputation with gossips and rumours, brought forward some evidence of bad conduct, I would be the first one to support and back him up, because I really believe in an honest and just public administration in this country. That is just what we have and unless the hon. member has specific evidence to give us, I think he should wait until he is in position to do do.
Madam Speaker, some members opposite while they like to criticize government members prove by their protests, as soon as we pay them back in their own coin, that it is unacceptable, that in a certain way, members sitting on
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this side of the House must bear their criticisms whether they are justified or not. Well, I tell them from this side of the House that each time they want to launch attacks as stupid and ridiculous as the debate this afternoon, we will pay them back in their own coin, argument for argument but not like the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain (Mr. Hamilton), insult for insult, because we on this side of the House do not believe in the kind of language used by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain during this debate, a language which is not to the credit of members opposite. Further, I know very well that a number of them would not support the kind of remarks that were made, the language used this evening by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain.
As far as the hon. member opposite is concerned, I shall wait, I will come to him latter on. I will discuss one by one the attitudes of members opposite, if they will wait. I now come to the hon. member for Grenville-Carleton (Mr. Baker). In a style exclusive to him, because nobody on this side would imitate it, he said the current situation is horrible, that we have reached the point where the RCMP are making raids in the offices and homes of parliamentarians. And in the same breath the hon. member goes on to say the government is "stonewalling" opposition charges. There is a clear contradiction there. Such inconsistent logic is hidden behind the hon. member for Grenville-Carleton's customary eloquence. And not fearing anything, he said in conclusion it is important an investigation be made on the matter, implicating no investigation is being made. If the RCMP raided a parliamentarian's office, if they are making raids here and there, how is it possible to suggest the government is doing nothing to clear these charges? I believe the hon. member is neither inconsistent or hard of hearing. He concluded in a certain manner, and I might paraphrase him in his own mother tongue: "If there is nothing to hide, open-up".
Finally, what a novel principle! Let us push aside serious investigations, let us open the door now to large public inquests. Let us open the door to insinuations. Let us open the door to innuendoes, charges they themselves called "prima facie allegations". But where then, may I ask, are our most basic principles?
The hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen) said that procedures before "law offices of the Crown", before officials of the Department of Justice, may lead to abuse. I presume the idea was that maybe the Minister of Justice or the Solicitor General, after investigation by the RCMP, would shelve the latter's report. Frankly, I wonder how far the hon. member has gone, if he believes that kind of thing would be done on this side. The hon. member said this happened before, and in the context of his own indication, since the matter has been made public, he demonstrates such a situation is now impossible. In order that such a thing be true, three things would be required. First, that the Minister of Justice put the lid on the file. Second, that the Solicitor General put the lid on the file. Third, that the RCMP commissioner put the lid on the file.
And finally, the hon. member said that it is precisely what happened. After all, if that had happened, I suppose the file would have been buried, which it has not been.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY