Opposition Motion – Prime Minister’s Office

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Liberals for the motion today and I will be voting for it. Unfortunately, in the media the topic is being referred to as the Senate scandal, and it is really not a Senate scandal. It is the Prime Minister’s Office scandal.

The scandal is that the Prime Minister’s Office has allowed this kind of insular control freak operation to exert itself over all aspects of government policy. It has been incremental. I will accept that it is incremental, since the notion of such a thing as the PMO was first put on the agenda back in 1968, but the PMO is not in our Constitution. The PMO, unlike the Senate, would be easy to abolish. It is just a question of how much money the House, this Parliament in charge of the public purse, is prepared to allow an unaccountable partisan operation that bullies and oppresses people throughout the system to be allowed to continue to exist.

Earlier in this debate, my hon. friend from Thunder Bay—Superior North quoted a current Conservative, who describes it as “the Stepford wives” for the PMO throughout the system who no longer have the moral compass to say when something is wrong.

Will the Liberal Party assist us in dismantling PMO?


Geoff Regan: Mr. Speaker, I remember reading The Stepford Wives. I think it was back in high school that we were required to read it, and I thought it was quite illuminating. It was an excellent book and it made one think about the condition of women in our society, but that is not what the member is talking about today. In particular, she is talking about the situation in the Prime Minister’s Office.

In relation to the question that this has become a very insular Prime Minister’s Office in which there is a determination to have absolute control, that is a reason to be concerned. Does her prescription for it solve the problem, or is it the right answer? I have seen a number of prime ministers’ offices over the years, and they have not all been like this one.

What the resources of the Prime Minister’s Office should be is certainly open to debate. I do not share the member’s view that it should be abolished, but what we need most of all is a Prime Minister who has the confidence in his team and in Canadians not to be a control freak.