Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Green Power Generation Corporation):
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would like to thank all the members of this committee for the opportunity to be here today as witnesses.
We've been invited here today to participate in a study being undertaken by the committee that relates to renewable energy project funding by the Government of Canada, and lobbying activities associated with that funding.
Madam Chair, when I was elected to Parliament in 1997 as the first Muslim MP, many people, including my family, were very excited about this achievement, especially because of where we came from and the circumstances around our arrival to Canada. As you are aware, Madam Chair, we share the same cultural background. Many of our families escaped persecution in Uganda and we were fortunate to come here as refugees.
Starting our lives as proud Canadians, we left behind the murderous regime of Idi Amin, where people were killed on the basis of allegations without any ability to defend themselves. We embraced the idea of becoming Canadians and we were proud to make this our home. The ideals of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law are ideals many take for granted. These were things that meant so much to us starting our new lives here in Canada.
I remember my family teaching me that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. They were right. Who would have imagined that a poor refugee family, 24 years later, would have their son sitting in the national legislature as a federal member of Parliament? I was proud of that achievement and honoured to have had the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
After the last election, my life changed. After nearly a dozen years of serving as an MP, it was time to shift gears and start a new direction. I got married and I hoped to start a new family. Having just finished my executive MBA, I joined with my university friend on work to start a new business, Green Power Generation, GPG, specializing in helping to commercialize innovative technology solutions that are profitable and good for the environment. The strength I bring to this company as a director is my ability to communicate with various stakeholders and mainly to develop new opportunities in emerging markets such as India and China.
Initially, when our names appeared as witnesses, I found it unusual that the committee wanted to speak to us, as our business does not conduct any lobbying activities, nor do we attempt to secure any public funding for our work. Then it became clear, from the vicious attacks from media sources and in particular the opposition parties, that the reason we were being hauled in front of this committee was due to second-hand allegations, rumour, and innuendo, all based on political agendas that have been playing fast and furious with people's reputations, destroying their lives without any basis in fact and not allowing them to defend themselves appropriately.
In regard to the subject matter being studied at this committee, for the record, the facts of this case are as follows. One, GPG and its directors have not received any money from any grant, contribution, or other financial benefit, or on behalf of the Government of Canada. GPG and its directors, number two, have not received any compensation or payments on behalf of any person or organization to undertake any lobbying activities.
It is my understanding that the matter I have been called upon to appear before this committee as a witness has been referred to an officer of Parliament, the commissioner of lobbying. Her office is the appropriate venue under the Lobbying Act to establish whether any of these allegations are founded or not. I find it passing strange that the Liberal Party of Canada, which demanded that the office of the commissioner investigate this matter, is not prepared to follow due process and wait for her findings. Instead, for short-term political gain, they are undermining any appearance of fairness by requesting witnesses to testify in front of this committee on the same matter.
With that being said, many of you have known me personally over the years I served this country. I have held in high regard the friendships I have developed on both sides of the House. After the devastating result of my last election loss, there is no doubt that many of those friends, be they MPs, ministers, or senators, would naturally inquire about me. If we had the opportunity to meet, it would be socially to catch up. Obviously, people would be curious as to the type of career I was embarking upon, and I would update them on the work we were doing in trying to build a new business. That would be the extent of the conversation as it related to my business affairs. In fact, over the past eight months I have had no interaction with anyone, due to the challenges I faced last fall.
I would like to take a moment to say a couple of things about those challenges, Madam Chair.
As most people know, I exercised poor judgment when I decided to drive home on the night of September 10, 2009. I was careless. I had a few drinks, and I should never have taken the risk of operating a motor vehicle. I want to apologize to those communities for being irresponsible, and I assure them that I have learned my lesson. I do want to state for the record, however, that I have never partaken of any illegal substance, nor have I ever endorsed this type of behaviour. This is why I believe the charges were dropped against me. But with that being said, I should have taken more care not to be put into this compromising situation.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to my former colleagues for the trouble this whole episode has caused them. I believe they know me well enough to agree that this was very out of character and not my usual behaviour.
I also want to apologize to my family, both immediate and new. The pain and suffering they have had to endure because of my actions have been immeasurable. If it were not for their unconditional love and support, I don't know how we would have made it through this incredibly difficult time.
Finally, I want to apologize to my wife, Helena. I've always tried to support her in her work, and I know the error of this judgment created significant problems for her politically. She's been a good minister, a great MP for her constituents, and I want to thank the people of Simcoe—Grey for their continued support of her hard work and dedication. She is the most important person in my life and I love her dearly. It is very unfortunate that her good name has been dragged into my problems so unfairly.
To conclude, Madam Chair, I would like to ask all members of this committee, and by extension all members of the House, to take a step back and take a look at the precedent they are setting. Instead of setting the bar at a record low, where people's lives are being destroyed on the basis of rumour and unsubstantiated allegations for short-term political benefit, set the bar at a higher standard. Base your arguments on fact and allow people to defend themselves fairly, not hide behind parliamentary privilege to level these personal attacks.
The foundation of our system is based on the rule of law and the presumption of innocence, something completely absent in the treatment of me, my partner, and particularly my wife. All Canadians deserve no less from their political representatives. If this were the standard, I am certain that I would not have had to be here today.
Mr. Patrick Glémaud (Green Power Generation Corporation):
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Madam Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates as a witness pertaining to a study of renewable energy project funding by the Government of Canada and associated lobbying and advising activities associated with such funding.
My name is Patrick Glémaud. I was born on August 13, 1968, in Haiti. I am married to a beautiful, extremely patient, and intelligent lady, Lenore, and I have four great and wonderful sons. Our new baby boy, named Bena, was born just four weeks ago.
My family moved to Canada when I was a teenager. We first settled in Montreal, we moved to Toronto, and we came to Ottawa in 1988. We were a family of six living in a two-bedroom apartment. My dad was sick and had to go on disability. My mom managed to get a part-time job as a supplementary teacher. I appreciate the sacrifice my parents made for me by leaving their home country to make a better life for their children in Canada. I'm a proud Canadian and I'm proud of my parents.
Through hard work and the guidance of my parents, I was able to overcome the obstacle of living in a low-income immigrant family and put myself through university and law school. I became heavily involved in student and community-based organizations. My motivation for community volunteering was my desire to share my knowledge and expertise and to learn from others. Being a new Canadian, I felt the need and responsibility to give back to this great land and people. I have a strong sense of pride in my community work.
Madam Chair, I am a hard-working Canadian. My first job was as a delivery boy for the Journal de Montréal . From there, I was fortunate to enjoy a variety of fantastic jobs with great social learning potential--as a farm seasonal worker, a porter for VIA Rail, a dishwasher at the CN Tower, and a guardsman with the Canadian armed forces reserve for the Governor General's Foot Guards, where I participated in the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill.
My first professional job after university, in 1995, was as a law student at community legal services, providing free legal representation and advice to low-income families. As a lawyer, I volunteered with the RCMP community police. I was also involved as a business mentor for immigrant and ethnic minority entrepreneurs, being board members of community-based organizations in and around Ottawa.
In 2002, Madam Chair, I became a public servant, and joined the Department of Justice of Canada. I later was promoted as senior counsel for corporate and commercial matters related to renewable energy and climate change. I had the opportunity to undertake and direct a wide range of assignments. I was asked to draft the first agreement of purchase of carbon credits by the Government of Canada, in 2002, in relation to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's announcement in Johannesburg that Canada would ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
I advised the federal government, mainly under the previous Liberal administration, and received various awards of excellence for my work. One that I am most proud of is being a recipient of the international visitor leadership program of the U.S. Department of State, climate change and energy security policy, in June of 2008.
In November of 2008 I incorporated GPG, Green Power Generation Corp., under Canadian law, as its first director. My friend Mr. Rahim Jaffer became a director in April of 2009.
Madam Chair, as stated on GPG's website, GPG specializes in commercializing “innovative technology solutions...in greenhouse gas mitigation”. As well, “GPG advises commercial enterprises on the course of action required to integrate and expand renewable energy capacity, improve energy efficiency, and...implement...cost-effective green power solutions to every corner of our planet.”
Madam Chair, based on the invitation to appear in front of this committee, it is stated that our testimony is restricted and is regarding a study of renewable energy project funding by the Government of Canada and lobbying and advising activities associated with such funding.
Madam Chair, as you are aware, the same subject matter in study by your committee was raised in a letter from the Liberal Party of Canada sent to the commissioner of lobbying dated April 12, 2010. It is stated in the said letter that the commissioner of lobbying has the authority to conduct an investigation into whether the activities of representatives of GPG are fully compliant with the provisions of the act and the lobbyists code of conduct.
Madam Chair, in response to the letter from the Liberal Party of Canada, a letter was sent to the commissioner of lobbying giving notice that GPG and its directors intend to cooperate fully with the office of the commissioner if any investigation or review is initiated regarding the alleged violations raised by the Liberal Party of Canada.
Last Friday, Madam Chair, I had a conversation with the director of investigations from the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada concerning the allegations raised by the Liberal Party of Canada. For the record, it is our position that having the same subject matter, based on the same facts, being heard by this committee while it is being reviewed by the office of the commissioner is contrary to natural justice and creates an appearance of double jeopardy, unfair treatment, and, simply put, the results of ongoing political machination.
However, Madam Chair, I decided to appear in front of this committee to defend my good name and reputation against allegations and innuendo that are completely unfounded and untruthful in law and in fact. Madam Chair, the ongoing circus, as acknowledged by one member of this committee, and these lies being perpetrated by the opposition parties are causing irreparable harm to my reputation and my ability to provide for my family.
Madam Chair, I am a hard-working new Canadian who abides by the rules. I am lucky and proud to be living in Canada. The cornerstone of this great country is the rule of law, based on the presumption of innocence.
In regard to the subject matter being studied by this committee, for the record, the facts are as follows.
GPG and its directors have not received any money from any grants, contributions, or other financial benefits by or on behalf of the Government of Canada. And GPG and its directors have not received any compensation or payments on behalf of any person or organization to undertake lobbying activities.
Madam Chair, based on the summary of new requirements dated June 2008 published by the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists: “The Lobbying Act defines activities that, when carried out for compensation, are considered to be lobbying”.
As someone who believes in encouraging Canadians—
Mr. Patrick Glémaud:
Let me add, Madam Chair, that I am the individual who sent an e-mail to Brian Jean's office with respect to three of what we call “executive summaries”.
Madam Chair, I am not sure whether the members of this committee have had the opportunity to actually go to the website of the green infrastructure fund to get an understanding of the terms and conditions of that program or to get an understanding of the policy on the transfer payment program that establishes how this program works and functions.
Based on that program, Madam Chair, there is a three-stage process. In the first process, you submit an executive summary, or a summary. If there is an interest, then you have to submit a full proposal, and after a full proposal a contribution.
Madam Chair, we only got to the first stage, which is basically submitting a letter of interest.
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP):
Thank you, Madam Chair.
You know what I really hate, Rahim, is you're making us all look really bad—seriously. I remember we were elected the same year. I remember you rode in here on Preston Manning's white horse, and you guys were going to clean up government. You were going to drive the moneylenders from the temple. It was very sanctimonious, and frankly you were vilifying so many people in those days, you and your party, you actually hurt a lot of careers.
And you also, frankly, in accusing everybody in Ottawa virtually in those days of being sleazy hog-troughers or whatever the terminology you used, added to the cynicism in the voting public about their democratic institution. So it's a little rich for you to be lecturing us today on raising the bar of ethical standards when it's you, Rahim, that we're here to talk about a paucity of ethical standards in your—never mind your personal life, I don't even want to know about that, but how could you not think that the work you're doing doesn't fit into the category of lobbying? You were around when we did the Federal Accountability Act. You know it as well as I do.
Your old website—you deny that it's there now, but we didn't just take this from The Toronto Star, we went to the website, which was still up and running, and it said things like that Rahim will help you “through his countless relationships developed from his former career as a parliamentarian”. Anybody, any client would read that and say, “Well, if I hire Rahim, he will help, through his countless relationships, develop my business.” I honestly don't know how, I don't know what's wrong with your ethical radar, personally, that some alarm didn't go off in your head and say “I'm crossing a line here.”
Before I let you speak, I also want to comment on this. You said you left that meeting with Gillani with the feeling that there was no synergy there. Well, you left him with a completely opposite point of view, that he had hit a gold mine here. He was excited. I mean, you left with a feeling of no synergy and a pocket full of cocaine; he was left with the opinion that you guys were going to be great business partners and it was full steam ahead, and next stop the PMO. That's a serious contradiction, though.
I'll ask you, you said you didn't receive any money for services rendered from any client. Did he give you that cocaine in terms of part of your payment for services to be rendered?
Mr. Rahim Jaffer:
Nor would I abuse my wife's resources in any capacity.
What had happened, and where the confusion had developed, was after the last election, as you know, we had two weeks to clear my office here in Centre Block. I had no place, I had no office set up, no place to set anything, so I sent whatever boxes I couldn't throw away or couldn't go through to my wife's office. I very rarely ever went in there, other than to do spousal things, like helping her with Christmas cards, sitting in on scheduling meetings, things maybe your spouse does, because my role has changed now.
And ultimately we had a separate office all through the time that I was trying to establish a new business, and we have records of that. The only reason I ever used the BlackBerry was to keep track of what my wife's schedule was, and that was it. I have separate business accounts, separate business e-mail--everything. And I never even went into the office for any work-related business of ours. It was simply to help in any way that I could, as a spouse to my wife.
So it's unfortunate that you're pulling out all these things, again based on allegation, without any facts.
Ms. Siobhan Coady:
Thank you very much.
This is quickly becoming a he-said, she-said scenario, and there is a matter of public trust, Mr. Glémaud.
I'm looking at Mr. Rahim Jaffer's website. It's rahimjaffer.com. Under the biography, it clearly states that Mr. Jaffer provides the company with "business expertise in industry financing" in order to help "secure support from the Canadian government and to obtain contracts abroad" and also plays a "crucial role in business development and marketing through his countless relationships developed from his former career as a parliamentarian".
It is clearly stated on the website that this is the case.
I'll go back to my he-said, she-said point. Mr. Glémaud, when I asked questions earlier about your meetings with Mr. Jean and how they advanced and what actually occurred, you said, “Look, I just made a phone call to the parliamentary secretary's office, and they told me to go this avenue. I did submit the executive summary.” Now Mr. Jean says that's not exactly accurate. He said that you did submit proposals and that he had the paperwork in front of him.
Again there is this he-said, she-said aspect, and there are many instances today. I could talk about Mr. Gallani's statement that you had a business relationship as well.
However, as an entrepreneur, I have a question. I'm a former entrepreneur. I've started many companies, and I'm confused about your business model. If you're just assisting or advising, I'd like to know how you actually get paid for your services.
I'll ask you a question. If the projects that you submitted to Mr. Jean for review had been successful, would you have had any financial or other benefit accrue to you?
Mr. Pat Martin:
Rahim, your company's name is Green Power Generation Corp., but you don't really generate any green power with that company. In fact, I put it to you the only marketable commodity you have is the influence that you're advertising for sale on your website, with the Conservative Party logo next to it.
We all have copies of this now. So when you denied any knowledge that you were leading people to believe that you could secure support from the Canadian government and that you had countless relationships developed from your time as a parliamentarian, what is a client or what is a prospective company to believe when they see this promotion? It says to me that for a price, I can sell you this service, which is to provide access.
It seems to me you've gone to the Frank Moores school of government relations or something--influence peddling, offshore bank accounts, and holding out for the big score. There's either an equity share in the business you say you're developing or a contingency fee, which you should know is wrong as well.
Your former government just sued David Dingwall for a contingency fee that he got from that drug company for the ten-year vaccine contract. You can't go for contingency fees within the Lobbying Act. You can go fee-for-service. You can charge $600 an hour, like Don Boudria. That's pretty good money. You don't have to hold out for the big score.
Everything you've told us just paints an unsavoury picture, Rahim. As much as I like you as a person, this really disappoints me, and it doesn't do the image of parliamentarians or our parliamentary system any good at all when as soon as you get the opportunity, you get your nose in the trough worse than the people you used to vilify when you got here.
Mr. Chris Warkentin:
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. Jaffer, not even an hour ago, I asked you specifically if it stated on your website that you would be able to secure support from the Canadian government. You said that it didn't. You made it absolutely clear. I don't think there's anybody in this room who heard it differently.
I have a copy now. I looked, actually.... When the news report came out, your website had come down. There was no cache of it. I hadn't been able to see it, so I was relying on news reports. You denied that those news reports were accurate.
I now have in my hand the biography, I guess from rahimjaffer.com, which states exactly that. It also goes on to talk about the important role that your former relationships, or the relationships you developed over your career as a politician, might avail you in terms of assisting in your current career.
I don't know why you would deny it if in fact it had been there. Clearly it was there when the reporter wrote the story, and then it subsequently went down. You must have been aware that there was something within that website that was untoward or not correct, or that at least appeared to be unethical.
Considering this, I don't even know what question I have. I mean, the evidence is before me. The statement is obviously untrue--at least it could imply unethical behaviour. What bothers me more is that we have you before our committee and you've stated, as a matter of fact, one thing and I now have a copy that indicates something different.
We all entered politics to do something good for Canadians. I don't doubt that this was your intention, Mr. Jaffer, but you have to understand that this type of behaviour sullies all of our names.
Mr. Rahim Jaffer:
May I respond, Mr. Warkentin?
As I mentioned to you, and I'm glad you're clarifying this, we were discussing my business website earlier and I told you that on that website there is no reference to securing any sort of government support--on our business website. Now, there was some sort of reference to that on my personal website.
I tried to clarify.... The only explanation that I could try to give to you was that in reflecting on the experience I had as a member of Parliament working to secure support for different things--and I know what's happening, still, in my old riding with the community centre, the GO centre, or other things--we worked hard to secure government support to support these sorts of initiatives.
These websites are completely different in what they're promoting. My personal website talked about all my experience; my business website talks about what business we're trying to build here today. That's what I've been trying to explain to you.
I'm sorry if there's been confusion, because by no means has there been any type--and I can assure you--of promotion on behalf of myself or my partner that we can secure any sort of government support for anything. If that wasn't the case, we would have been interacting with government members, we would have registered as lobbyists, we would have done all the things that we would have done. But that's not the focus of our business. That's why it's not on our business website.