Evidence of meeting #12 for Public Accounts in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was clement.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

But if they didn't submit an application, Minister, why would they expect it to be approved?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

I think it's perfectly--

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Through self-discipline, they'd jettisoned it from the list. It just doesn't make sense.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

That's the end of your time, Mr. Byrne.

Minister, I'll afford you the opportunity to respond, if you wish.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

I think what we did...and maybe we were being too polite, but we wanted to make sure that we closed the file on the projects that did not move forward. I think that's perfectly legitimate.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Very good. Thank you.

Mr. Hayes, sir, you have the floor.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This question is for the deputy minister for infrastructure.

The Auditor General's report has the following statement, which I'd like any one of you to explain for me in terms that most non-Ottawa people will understand.

It states:We found that for the 32 projects approved by the Minister, Infrastructure Canada set up mechanisms to administer the contribution agreements. The Department examined the 32 projects to ensure that they met the terms and conditions of the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund and that agreements were made in accordance with government policy. Infrastructure Canada maintained project records and established project management frameworks.

I want to understand what is meant by “project management frameworks”. I expect it has something to do with the process to ensure that the government got what it paid for.

Can you elaborate on project management frameworks?

4:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Transport

Yaprak Baltacioglu

The framework we apply to any funding program is to ensure that we follow the law, we make sure that government pays the bills that are appropriate, and we make sure that results are achieved. These are the general objectives of any program.

In this particular case, for the 32 projects we did the legal contribution agreements; we assessed and examined the submissions from the proponents, which in many cases were the municipalities, except one case, which was the Province of Ontario; and we made sure the files were robust, because in every project file you have to have the information around the processes, everything that has been submitted.

We made sure that...it's something called “control framework”, to make sure that, in any process, at what points do you put extra controls to make sure that you don't make any mistakes? Especially when you're dealing with as many files and projects as we deal with, we have, as a system, control points injected.

For example, before the final payments were made, we did further due diligence, and then we released the documentation. Then we closed the program.

So it's basic program management, and that, I think, is what the Auditor General referred to.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

The NDP are charging that the process was interfered with by Minister Clement. Can we confirm for Canadians whether the process was in fact interfered with?

4:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Transport

Yaprak Baltacioglu

First of all, Minister Clement was not our minister; therefore, there was no particular reason for Minister Clement and us to have any discussion on this file.

Second of all, absolutely no; we did the due diligence as we saw fit, and our minister, Minister Baird, has supported us throughout the way.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you.

I move now to Monsieur Caron.

You have the floor, sir.

November 2nd, 2011 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

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

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Clement and Mr. Baird, I'd like to thank you for being here.

I would like to summarize the current situation. The 32 projects have been mentioned a lot. The Auditor General had the opportunity to review the 32 projects.

One thing concerns us: $50 million, which was approved by Parliament for a Border Infrastructure Fund, was transferred for the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund without Parliament's approval or even it's knowledge. At the end of the day, a group called the Local Area Leadership Group was created and was consisted of Mr. Clement, the mayor of Huntsville and the general manager of the hotel. This group in question decided, alone, how to allocate this $50 million. That's the root of the problem. We're talking about 242 projects. That's what I'm concerned about now.

I'd like to talk to you about a conclusion the Auditor General made that I'm particularly concerned about. She said that she had asked the Summit Management Office to provide all documentation indicating how the office had been involved in the review or selection of the projects. The Auditor General told us that the office had not been involved in the review or selection of the 242 projects, but that it had held information sessions for the local communities on the G8 summit.

When we look at the minutes we obtained, we can see, among other things, that Mr. Gérald Cossette was present. He was the head of the Summit Management Office. He was also assistant deputy minister for Foreign Affairs. I assume the Auditor General spoke to him. I assume that she also spoke to other officials. But there was no response from these people who were involved in the process. I say this because our emails indicate that he was involved.

Did the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Summit Management Office mislead the Auditor General?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

I think we'll probably leave it to an official to answer that, but let me just make it clear that I was not involved in the border infrastructure fund issue, nor was I involved in project selection.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

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

It was just some context.