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Ontario Hansard - 22-November2016
BY-ELECTION IN SUDBURY
Mr. Steve Clark: I know I can’t ask my question to the Minister of Energy so I’m going to ask it to the Attorney General, but I encourage the Attorney General and government House leader to use standing order 37(e). It allows him to refer the question to another minister, and I encourage him to pass it to the Minister of Energy.
A federal crown prosecutor has accused the Minister of Energy of seeking an alleged bribe. Guilty or innocent, charged or not charged, an accusation of this magnitude shatters any moral or ethical authority this minister has to govern. It also calls into question whether the public can trust this minister.
He cannot and he must not remain as a minister until the case concludes. Speaker, again, I’m going to ask the Attorney General, I implore him to use 37(e) and refer it to the Minister of Energy. Since a crown federal prosecutor has accused the Minister of Energy of seeking an alleged bribe, will the Minister of Energy resign until the case against Patricia Sorbara has been concluded?
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I remind the member opposite again—and I think he knows this very well—that this matter is before the courts. It’s not appropriate for this matter to be discussed here in the Legislature.
Speaker, I want to be very clear. Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition said, no member of this House has been charged in this matter. Let’s be absolutely clear on this. The Minister of Energy continues to do his job honourably as the Minister of Energy. He continues to serve the people of Sudbury honourably. There are no charges against him nor are there any charges against any member of this House.
There are two charges laid against individuals who do not serve in this House. That matter is before the courts. It’s only appropriate that it be dealt with in the court.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Steve Clark: Again, back to the Attorney General: For once, I actually agree with this government. I do believe that guilt or innocence is a matter for the courts. The opposition would not ask that this case be tried here in the Legislative Assembly.
But this isn’t about the outcome of the bribery charges. These questions aren’t about the matter before the courts. They are about the trust in this minister of the crown. This is about the moral and ethical implications of a minister who’s being named in a bribery charge by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Mr. Speaker, how can the public trust this Minister of Energy to do his job when his ethics have been questioned by a federal prosecutor? How can he do that? Why doesn’t he do the honourable thing and resign?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.
Hon. Yasir Naqvi: The Deputy Premier, Speaker.
Hon. Deborah Matthews: As we look in history, we’re seeing some more examples where the Leader of the Opposition maybe wishes he could revisit some decisions. I’m looking to July 22, 2015, when the Leader of the Opposition thanked Garfield Dunlop for 35 years of public service at the municipal and provincial levels, and said the former PC education critic would now be the “chief education adviser” to the party.
I wonder whether Mr. Dunlop did actually provide some education to the Leader of the Opposition on throwing stones in glass houses.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.
Mr. Steve Clark: I’m going to again try to go back to the Attorney General. There are numerous ministers who have stepped down when they’ve been named in an investigation: my predecessor Senator Runciman, the member for Simcoe–Grey, the former Liberal finance minister, Greg Sorbara. They all left office until the ethical questions that surrounded them had been cleared. Speaker, I can’t for the life of me understand why this Minister of Energy has not already tendered his resignation. I can’t understand it. It’s beyond me.
Again, we’re talking about doing the honourable thing. We’re asking what Ontarians expect that he would have already done. The people who had elected him in that by-election in Sudbury all think the same way. They can’t understand why you haven’t already tendered your resignation and stepped aside.
Speaker, I’m going to give him another chance. Attorney General, refer the matter under 37(e) to the Minister of Energy: Will the Minister of Energy do the right thing? Will he resign?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think what we’re hearing is some attack on that side to this way, but they are very uncomfortable with hearing allegations that maybe they behaved in a questionable way. Whether it’s Queenie Yu, whether it’s Garfield Dunlop, whether it’s the member from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock or whether it’s the Leader of the Opposition himself, we have clearly documented examples where I suggest—
Mr. Steve Clark: Bob Runciman, Jim Wilson, Mike Colle, Greg Sorbara: They all did the honourable thing.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Leeds–Grenville is warned.
Hon. Deborah Matthews: It is beyond me to understand how they can be calling on us to do what they call the honourable thing when it is very, very clear that the transgressions from that party are far more serious.
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