Motion to Suspend the Honourable Senator Patrick Brazeau

Well, honourable senators, that was the first period on that vote, so who knows about overtime.

I think it’s important that we’ve heard a lot of senators speak on this issue. It’s like we’re all talking inside the same room saying different things, so I thought I’d like to put on the record a number of emails that we’ve all received from Canadians across the country. I find it rather interesting that the same Canadians who had justifiable anger over what they had read over the past three or four months about what was perceived or the allegations of what happened with the three senators and their expenses, the same Canadians are now sending another message, and that is a message of due process, due diligence, being fair in what we’re doing here in the Senate. While we speak here and everybody has their voice heard, I don’t think Canadians are having their voices heard as much as we would like, so I’m going to read into the record a number of emails from across the country.

The first one:

Dear Senator Munson

I urge you to exercise your duty to give sober second thought in the issue of the motion presently before the Canadian Senate intended to suspend, without pay, Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau.

I was an immigrant to Canada and am now proud to be a citizen of this country, where I have come to expect fairness and justice will be properly exercised at all times in respect of judging all citizens. Thus, I am greatly troubled by this motion, which in my view, fails with respect to providing fairness or due process to these three senators.

Like many Canadians, I was appalled by the allegations of misuse of public funds when they were reported….

However, while there have been allegations of abuse of that trust by the three Senators, named above, levelled by the media, many members of the public and in particular by the leaders of the federal Conservative Party of Canada, these individuals have not been charged with a crime and have had no opportunity to respond, in an appropriate forum and with due process, to the allegations.

That was from a gentleman in Toronto.

In dealing with other emails, to respected senators, there are more in my binder.

I am emailing you because you represent me, a resident of Ontario, in the Senate. The Senate should not be a political toy, but must represent the democratic values of the country.

As one of your constituents, I want you to know that I view the motion to expel Senators without due process or confirmed guilt, as contrary to the principles upon which our system is built. In fact I view it as an expression of contempt for our institutions and processes. You owe it to Canadians to vote against this motion on principle….

I trust you will find this input from your constituent useful.

This next gentleman is from Kitchener.

Dear Ontario Senators

As an Ontario citizen, I want to call for ensuring there is no compromising, or risking the appearance of compromising, due process to dealing with the question of expenses.

We must uphold the principle of fairness and rule of law. Failure to do so would be to set a precedent that would diminish our country, and damage the reputation of politicians in general and the Conservative brand in particular. Might it also open the way to lawsuits and related costs arising from any ruling that found fault with such a process?

My position is not based on partisan politics. I am simply a citizen who is taking time to stand up and be counted in defence of the principle of due process based on established facts and unbiased judgments based on those facts. Any punishment without transparent due process seems to me to be tainted; punishment without due process diminishes those who impose it.

As I read a few of these, it’s interesting, when you have many issues before you in Parliament, normally you get a stream of emails that you know are all being done by one person. A hundred are coming out at any one time and you’re being swamped with them. That is not the case here. It is interesting how all of us — and I’m sure Conservative senators — have received the same emails.

And it’s interesting. It’s not because I’m a Liberal senator and has nothing to do with that at all, but I have not myself received — maybe others have — one email to say “suspend them without pay for two years.” I haven’t received one about that. I haven’t heard anybody say “do it and do it now,” not one.

This is a gentleman from Ottawa. If you want to read emails into the record from others who believe in suspending for two years without pay and benefits, then go ahead. Maybe the same thing holds true if they’re suspended without pay and benefits. I have been thinking — and talk about being sideswiped here — that these three senators have staff. If you’re a senator in title only, what happens to the staff? Are they gone? What about their benefits? I guess they, too, could be on the street, and personally I don’t find that fair.

This is from a gentleman in Ottawa:

I write to you today to respectfully request that you oppose both the motion to suspend Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, and the subsequent motion to impose closure on debate of the suspension motion.

I do not in any way endorse the behaviours of Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau. Nevertheless, due process and the presumption of innocence are fundamental tenets of the rule of law in any democracy, and must be upheld. Furthermore, it is unjust to punish someone retroactively for acts which were legal at the time.

These were the words of the persons who were sending these emails. “In every other field of endeavour, the appropriate response is to close the loophole and move on. I recognize that the behaviours of Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau brings the Senate into disrepute in the minds of many Canadians and is an embarrassment of all hard-working senators like yourself who strive to serve the public with honour and to the best of their abilities. And, like many Canadians, I will be watching closely to see that the appropriate censure is handed out once due process has been followed and that the rules governing these matters be clarified and enforced going ahead. But I do not want to see these senators railroaded in the interests of expediency. That would only bring the Senate into further disrepute.”

I would go on and read a few more, because I think it’s important. This one is from Langley, British Columbia. Since I haven’t spoken to the people who have written these emails, I have no idea who they are. I don’t think I should mention their names, but I will call them and ask them if they would like that, because they’re very concerned.

Senators….

I’m beginning to think that many of you do not have a grasp on the situation. It’s not a case of whether you do, or do not, toss “the infamous threesome” out. It’s a matter of throwing Democracy out- and that’s what Stephen Harper—

These aren’t my words.

—and his lackeys are demanding that you do.

I don’t look at it from that perspective. I have great respect, and always have, in working with senators on all sides in this chamber.

As for the latest suggestion of a watered-down punishment before the actual investigation has been concluded, this is totally ridiculous too. I think every Senator should be looking behind them; one step out of line and you will join the ranks of the unemployed and tarnished.

Canada is on the cusp of becoming a brain-numbed totalitarian state….

I won’t repeat the other part of this letter.

For heaven’s sake, do your job instead of kowtowing….

And so on.

Do the job you are appointed to do on behalf of Canadian people.

There are some words in this one even I can’t repeat.

I guess you’re getting the message of what these Canadians are saying. I, too, sit on the board of internal economy. At the very beginning of this process, I said that at the end of every day, when you look at our country and its values — Senator Hugh Segal talked about John Diefenbaker and the Bill of Rights and we talk about the Charter of Rights — it seems that Progressive Conservatives and like-minded Liberals are always on the same wavelength when it comes to democratic rights. I think that sometimes we lose sight of that fact in this country.

By the way, on John Diefenbaker, you go back to 1962. I go back to 1958, the election campaign. Both Mr. Diefenbaker and Mr. Pearson came to town on the back of the train. I was 12 years old in 1958. Mr. Diefenbaker came down off the back of the train, maybe because I’m so short, I don’t know, and my father wanted to introduce me to him. I was a paper boy, and I wanted to put my hand out. I put my hand out, and he walked right by. I was crushed. That was northern New Brunswick, the 1958 campaign.

A week later, Lester Pearson came to town, and it was that same imagery of the bunting, the steam, the whistle stop and the speech. Mr. Pearson came down and he stuck out his hand, and I shook his hand. It took me a long time. I became a Liberal in 2001 or 2003.

In any case, these are the messages from Canadians. They’re telling us to be fair and, as has been said here by Senator Plett, to do the right thing. Honourable senators, I hope at the end of all of these debates that we really do the right thing.

The Hon. the Speaker: Question and comments? Continuing debate.