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Senator Plett asks about the SNC Lavalin scandal

Senator Don Plett on the SNC Lavalin scandal: "How are Canadians supposed to have any confidence in a Prime Minister who says he is going to seek expert advice when he has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not listen and does not take responsibility when things go wrong?"

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Senate of Canada
2019-03-18

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Harder, first it was Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, then Jane Philpott, then Ms. Caesar-Chavannes. It has become abundantly clear that Prime Minister Trudeau is failing as a leader and doesn’t know how to listen or create an environment of trust. Yet he still is asking Canadians to just trust him. Now he wants Canadians to find comfort in the fact that he is going to seek the advice of experts regarding the mess he has found himself in, yet he got into this mess by failing to listen to the advice of his former expert Justice Minister when she chose a path different from what he wanted.

Senator Harder, how are Canadians supposed to have any confidence in a Prime Minister who says he is going to seek expert advice when he has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not listen and does not take responsibility when things go wrong?

Senator Harder: I would, of course, dispute the honourable senator’s preamble. If there’s a question there, let me respond by saying this Prime Minister has on no occasion directed the previous minister in terms of how she should exercise her judgement. At no time were any laws broken and there was no inappropriate behaviour.

As I said, there’s a committee of the other place examining this question. They’ve had a number of witnesses, including the former Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, as well as the present Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The matter is being looked at by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and Ethics Commissioner of the other place, who has appropriate jurisdiction in this matter, jurisdiction similar to a Superior Court judge, so that all matters that are relevant in the mind of the decision maker can be brought forward.

I would leave it to them to adjudicate the issues that the honourable senator is raising.

With respect to the confidence that he’s asking Canadians to have, I think that confidence expresses itself every day in the work of the government. I certainly look forward to tomorrow’s budget, where again, for the fourth time in this mandate, this government will have the opportunity to tell Canadians how the economic performance of this government is enhanced by the actions of this government.

Senator Plett: Deficits, deficits, deficits. Well, Senator Harder, as you know, the Prime Minister has characterized the SNC-Lavalin scandal as simply a misunderstanding due to the erosion of trust in his office. This seems about as credible as suggesting that a groping allegation occurred only because people experience things differently.

The simple fact of the matter is that the House of Commons Justice Committee is not going to get to the bottom of this because it is dominated by Liberals. The Ethics Commissioner will not get to the bottom of this because not only is he on medical leave, but the scope of these allegations are beyond his mandate. If anyone has the ability to satisfy Canadians with answers, it is the Senate of Canada. Yet, Senator Harder, you are standing in the way.

Will you do the right thing, leader, and withdraw your amendment to Motion 435 and instruct all senators to support you on this in order to allow the Senate to call Ms. Wilson-Raybould to testify before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs?

Senator Harder: Alas, senator, I have neither the temperament nor the capacity to instruct anybody how to vote in this chamber, unlike others. So let me simply say I will not withdraw the motion. I hope that we get to it tonight, and Senate willing, that we vote on it.

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