Colleagues, like you, this kind of politics is not why I came to the Senate of Canada. It’s not why millions of Canadians voted for the Conservative party. It’s not the Canadian way.
I came here to build a better country, to use my experience as a journalist to help build a better Prince Edward Island. I want to continue my hard work for the island and I can only do that if you follow due process.
Honourable senators, this particular motion, should it pass, would be a serious violation of my human rights, including the most fundamental right of all: to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
That’s a basic right in our democracy. In the words of the Bill of Rights Act of 1960 – one of the great Tory accomplishments in my lifetime and in my view John Diefenbaker’s most important legacy – we are all entitled to fundamental justice.
This motion put forward by Senator Carignan is in direct conflict with any sense of fundamental justice. Not only is it a firing without a firing, as Senator Segal has correctly pointed out, it deprives me not only of a paycheque but of a health plan, of life insurance.
This, a guy who came back off sick leave because of a serious heart problem, who’s going to buy the heart drugs I need? What kind of a country do we have when the power can override the sick leave provisions of the federal government of Canada health care act or arrangement.
I’ve got a certificate at home that says I’m a member of the government health plan. Well, guess what? Senator Carignan has the power to tear it up. It doesn’t matter I gave up a life insurance plan because I had government insurance under the Senate. What, that’s all going to be gone in the twinkling of an eye because of a conspiracy?
Let me repeat, Deloitte investigated, their audit of my expenses related to my home in PEI did not find wrongdoing and they said I had not broken the Senate’s rules. It was the 15 members of the Senate board of internal economy who refused to accept the determination of the independent auditor at Deloitte. Why? I still don’t understand.
And those same senators who conspired to put me in this corner, conspired to destroy my reputation with Canadians, they are going to sit here in judgment of me?
Let me be clear. I’ve violated no laws, I’ve followed the rules and I’ve got a ton of documentation, including a memo, a two-page memo from Senator LeBreton’s office about it, and I never received a single note from Senate finance or the leadership that suggested anything in my travels was amiss.
In fact, those on the other side will remember how often I was lauded by the prime minister in a weekly meeting for all of the travelling I was doing and all of the assistance I was providing Senator Gerstein, who has been an honourable man throughout this sad affair.
Serving in this chamber has been, I’ll repeat, the greatest public or professional honour I’ve ever had. Why would I want to subvert it or discredit it in any way? I did not and I do not.
Needless to say, I strongly agree with the remarks made on the weekend by Senator Segal. This motion is something one might expect to see in Iraq or Iran or Vladimir Putin’s Russia but not in democratic Canada. It is not, I repeat, fundamental justice. Mr. Diefenbaker and Mr. Trudeau, were they here today, would be mortified.
I urge you to defeat these motions or at very least vote in favour of Senator Cowan’s motion to refer so that people can have their day in court.
Honourable senators and my friends, especially my colleagues on the other side, today you are facing what I faced in February: Be a team player and go along with the PMO and Senate leadership or stand up and do your constitutional duty. I wish I’d had the courage to say no back in February when this monstrous political scheme was first ordered.
Today, you have an opportunity to stand strong and use your power to restrain the unaccountable power of the PMO. That’s what this Senate’s about – sober second thought, not taking dictation from kids in short pants down the hall.
I urge you to say No to these outrageous motions. Tell the whips, “My oath as a senator is to put Canada first and that comes before my loyalty to any party or any leader.” Senators, Canadians are watching. Thank you.