Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Emanuel Montenegrino is the Prime Minister’s lawyer. He is also now registered to lobby the Conservatives to approve the sale of RADARSAT technology to an American weapons maker.
Considering Mr. Montenegrino’s regular contributions to the Prime Minister’s Conservative campaigns, would the government not want to keep its promise of openness and accountability and tell the Prime Minister’s counsel to stick to practising law and not political lobbying?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr. Speaker, in our new tough accountability act we brought in sweeping provisions, including those which extended to lobbying and further effort to ensure transparency, more sweeping than has ever been done by any previous government.
Let me assure everyone that when the Minister of Industry makes the decisions he is required to make in this, it will not be one that is determined by lobbyists. It is a decision that will be determined entirely by the best interests of Canada. He takes that responsibility very seriously and I think all of us in the House know he will take it on that basis.
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, that answer is exactly why Canadians do not trust the Conservative government.
It is very simple. Mr. Montenegrino is the Prime Minister’s lawyer. He is lobbying for approval of the unethical sale of Canadian RADARSAT technology to an American weapons maker in violation of our national interests, putting Canadian sovereignty at risk.
The Conservatives promised accountability, so why is the Prime Minister’s lawyer and long time friend lobbying a minister for a rotten deal that should never go through?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this government has taken great steps to advance and assert our sovereignty on the world stage, much more strongly than has happened under previous governments. We have seen that with our initiatives in the north, where we are extending Canadian sovereignty with serious commitments and investments, and we are seeing that with our action elsewhere on the world stage.
In terms of the transaction in question, the decision will be made on a simple basis: What is in Canada’s best interests? That is how the minister will make that decision.