Fighting Foreign Corruption Act (Bill S-14)

Elizabeth May : Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could respond to the same question I asked the parliamentary secretary earlier.

I think we are seeing a general problem. I never thought I would see the day, for instance, when academics would forge their research in order to get grants. There is a decline in our general sense of “all I have is my good name”, which people used to say in my grandfather’s day. It used to mean something.

Celebrities seem to think that as long as they are in the media, it does not matter if the stories they are telling about themselves are good, bad or indifferent. The standard to which we hold ourselves is falling. There is no question about that.

The response from the minister was as if the member for Ottawa Centre had said something outrageous. Analogies, irony and metaphor have a place, even here.

My question to him is what would he do, and what would all Canadians do, when we hold up a mirror and look at ourselves, to know that Canada is the ethical country we think it is? How do we get rid of corruption, which seems to be on the increase across Canada?

Paul Dewar : Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on two aspects of my colleague’s question. One is what we can do domestically. We need to be a lot more ethical in our standards, obviously, as politicians. We have to make sure that the people we appoint to senior posts are going to live up to that ethical standard.

In the case of Arthur Porter, here was someone who was appointed to essentially oversee national security and ensure that there was accountability there. Now we find him in a jail in Panama. That could have been avoided. We on this side think that we should have a public appointments commission that would allow for the vetting of appointments of senior officials.

However, the Conservatives are so stubborn on this issue. They just avoid it. They thought their guy, Gwyn Morgan, who they thought was somehow objective and unaffected by partisanship—and I leave it to others to look into that—was the only person out of 30 million who could do the job. Then they picked up their toys and went home. They killed the public appointments commission.

That is the problem with the current government. We should have that in place. We should have all ministerial staff abiding by an ethics code, as they do in the U.K. That was part of the NDP’s platform in the last election. We should have ethical standards for advisers and we should have more accountability in ministers’ offices. We should allow Parliament to be a little more autonomous from the executive branch. Clearly we have seen problems in that area with this government.

That would be a start. Maybe later on we could talk about what we could do internationally.