Evidence of meeting #18 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was perimeter.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Thank you very much, Mr. Lake, and I think you're—

3:45 p.m.

An hon. member

On that, Mr. Chair—

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Mr. Regan.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Sorry, Mr. Chairman, but it seems to me that anything we adopted as a resolution clearly was something that was decided, even if it was in camera.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Okay.

Sorry, Mr. Braid. We'll just wait a couple of seconds to get your time back.

Please go ahead.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I can certainly understand why the NDP is still a little ashamed about this, but not only is it germane to this study, but I'm also quoting from Hansard.

On October 31, Minister, you received a question in the House of Commons from the NDP member for Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. He stated that the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics has received “1,200 times [what] the annual maximum [to be] approved by Parliament”. Could you respond to that claim, Minister, with more than the 30 or 35 seconds you had in question period?

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Sure. I obviously don't remember the question, but it was obviously something like that. My response then was the same as it is now: the information was absolutely incorrect.

It's okay, I suppose, for a member to make a mistake the first time, but I did point out to the member that he was wrong. I pointed out where the facts could be found and that the Perimeter Institute received exactly what it was supposed to receive. The member came back and asked the same question. That causes me great concern, because now we're bordering on the reputation of the Perimeter, and we're bordering on premeditated misleading of Canadians. That is my concern.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

You have 20 seconds left.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Minister, what is the accurate source of information for this information?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Well, quite clearly it's the public accounts. This is by the Comptroller General. I have a copy of the exact page. We made reference to this to the member.

The member did not come to see me before question period. I only heard about it in the House. As I say, there was a mistake made, and I think the honourable thing to do would be to stand up and apologize so that we can in fact keep and continue to grow the research integrity of institutes like the Perimeter, which I believe has been tarnished by this.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Thank you, Minister. That's all the time in that round.

Madame LeBlanc, now you have the floor.

You have seven minutes.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Thank you, Minister Goodyear, for this presentation.

As you mentioned when you talked about the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, that organization received a fairly large investment at the outset from the founders and co-founders of RIM. It then received funding from the Government of Canada. You may say that this is a case of a private-public partnership. It is fairly special.

I was wondering whether the government saw that type of partnership as a model to follow.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Thank you.

I'm getting the last of the interpretation here, but I believe I understand your question. In fact, I believe this is a very good example of a private-public partnership. The science and technology strategy that the Prime Minister introduced in 2007 had a number of initiatives to it, three of which I spoke to earlier.

One, of course, is to support basic discovery-type research, which is known, as many will know, as blue-sky research. We're not really sure what you're going to find, but we need to invest in basic research so that we have those discoveries to build and to enjoy into the future.

The Perimeter Institute was supported by the previous government. We looked at it when we took government. We felt it was a very good initiative with incredible possibilities and probabilities. As a result of that, in our budget we supported the Perimeter Institute with $50 million over five years. That was in 2007. Indeed, that was also matched by the Province of Ontario.

I'm assuming, though I can't speak for Mr. Lazaridis.... Mr. Lazaridis and his colleagues put $120 million of their own personal money in to get this Perimeter Institute going. As far as I'm concerned, it is an example of a private-public partnership that has significant benefits to society, not just at the discovery end, but in the ability to attract top minds from around the world who will come to Canada, work here, discover things here, allow us to make them here, and create jobs. As well, those top minds will train our current students, who then will be the teachers and the leaders of tomorrow.

The outreach Perimeter does to help teachers do a better job of teaching physics and sciences is always a good idea. Encouraging young people to take science and technology courses is extremely important, particularly since Canada graduates fewer PhDs per year than we actually need. Going forward, these are problems we have to find solutions for.

So the Government of Canada's investment in such things as the Perimeter Institute is one way for us to not only create jobs and economic benefits today, but also build for the future economy and make sure that folks are trained to meet the needs of that future economy.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Thank you.

If you don't mind, I will share my floor time with Mr. Caron.

December 7th, 2011 / 3:50 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Thank you very much.

I want to begin by taking a moment to correct an earlier statement. The honourable member representing Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie never said that the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics had misused public funds; on the contrary. My colleague actually tried to show accounting irregularities in the figures related to program expenditures and the Department of Industry's operating expenditures. He did point out that a number of expenditures had been recorded in the Perimeter Institute's budget line, but that the organization never received that money.

That reveals disturbing deficiencies in terms of departmental and federal transparency when it comes to the accounting processes used. I must point out that those processes make it possible to fully inform parliamentarians about government expenditures, so that they may do their job properly.

In addition, I would be pleased to submit a document, in both official languages, to exemplify what my colleague wanted to show. I am certain that my committee colleagues share his concerns when it comes to information quality and the lack of transparency in government.

That said, I would like to submit the document in question, in both official languages.