Harper Conservatives are calling their rivals hypocrites for criticizing the controversial temporary foreign workers program.
Heritage Minister James Moore tried to turn the tables on both New Democrats and Liberals — in particular, rookie Grit leader Justin Trudeau — in Question Period on Wednesday.
Moore said that NDP MPs are trying to have it both ways by slamming the program while also trying to help constituents reap its benefits.
“The NDP, on the one hand, condemns the temporary foreign worker program, but on the other hand, we have letters from eight NDP members of Parliament begging the government to bring more temporary foreign workers into their ridings and to bend the rules to make it happen,” he said. “Either they are in favour of the temporary foreign worker program or they are against it, but they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.”
Then Moore attacked the Liberals, who introduced a motion on Tuesday condemning the use of temporary foreign workers to fill jobs "Canadians are qualified and able to do."
The minister produced a 2009 letter from Trudeau, sent to the visa and immigration section of Canada’s embassy in Beijing, requesting help to bring Chinese chefs to a Quebec restaurant.
“The new leader of the Liberal Party criticized yesterday the temporary foreign worker program, but I have a letter here from the new leader of the Liberal Party asking us to rush new temporary foreign workers from China to work in restaurants in his riding,” he said, to the apparent delight of the Tory caucus.
In the video of the exchange below, you can spot one Conservative MP mockingly pretend to lob a softball in the air and hit it.
When Trudeau rose to ask a question about the government’s plan (or lack thereof) to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Charter, Moore again hit him on the letter.
“The question again to the leader of the Liberal Party is why he will not defend his constituents in creating jobs for his constituents instead of writing letters to bring in Chinese workers for businesses in his riding?” Moore said.
“For now, I ask the questions,” Trudeau replied.
Trudeau’s office letter sings the praises of a restaurant that “achieved international recognition as one of the top restaurants in North America.” It reads that the eatery has served “distinguished guests that include five Canadian Prime Ministers (including my own father, the late Right Honourable, Pierre Elliott Trudeau).”
MPs regularly make requests on behalf of constituents aimed at taking advantage of government programs.
In January, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was found by the federal ethics commissioner to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act by writing a letter to the CRTC on behalf of a company in his riding.
“It is improper for you, as Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area, to have written a letter of support on behalf of a constituent to an administrative tribunal in relation to its decision making," Mary Dawson wrote.
Former Aboriginal Affairs minister John Duncan resigned from cabinet in February after he was found to have inappropriately advocated to a tax court on behalf of a constituent.
In a statement, Duncan said his character reference letter to the Tax Court of Canada crossed a line.
"While the letter was written with honourable intentions, I realize that it was not appropriate for me, as a minister of the Crown, to write to the Tax Court,” he said. “I take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences they have brought.”
With files from The Canadian Press
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