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 projects.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

It's one of the two.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

--why this $50-million fund was different from other infrastructure funds. But one of the ways it was the same was that we disciplined municipalities to come forward with their best projects. We did that on the Building Canada fund. We did it for the community adjustment, the stimulus fund, and for all of these funds, we said to municipalities, “Come forward with your best projects”, and that was the discipline of the system.

So this fund was different in many ways. I'm not suggesting they are completely analogous. But on that one point, I think it is important to say—

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Minister, to arrive at that conclusion, not only would the municipality have to decide what was best amongst their own applications; there would also have to be a level of agreement that the other communities' projects were also the best projects--

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

No, Mr. Byrne--

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

--to be able to avoid that objection.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

--I think I can clear up your confusion on this.

The projects were not announced simultaneously. They were announced over a period of time.

So when one project was announced, the municipalities knew that $4.5 million was reduced from the $50 million. When another project was announced, $3 million was reduced from the $50 million.

They knew that the fund was depleting as good projects were being announced. They tailored their remaining submissions accordingly.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

The project announced for sidewalks approximately 100 kilometres away from the summit site: was that in the initial round of projects or was that in the latter round of projects?

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

You have time for a very brief answer, Minister.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

I can't say whether it was first or second or what have you. I can say that there were three criteria for the fund: one, direct support for the summit; two, beautification of the region; and three, support as a legacy for the municipalities. There were plenty of summit participants who were staying well in excess of 50 kilometres, 75 kilometres, and yes, even more than 100 kilometres from the summit.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you.

I'm sorry, the time has expired.

We'll go over to Ms. Bateman. You have the floor, ma'am.

November 2nd, 2011 / 4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Thank you very much, Mr. President--or Mr. Chair, rather.

I'm sorry, I was thinking "monsieur le président".

My questions today are for the two deputy ministers. I have several questions.

I understand that you both worked together for the economic action plan. I am a chartered accountant, and I am a former public servant for the federal government, so my question comes through that lens.

You delivered $50 billion. You invested it in the economy. The Auditor General complimented both of your departments on how well you handled that plan. I just wonder if you could explain how you worked with the Auditor General.

Perhaps I'll go to you first, Mr. Dicerni.

4:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Industry

Richard Dicerni

Industry Canada was involved in the economic action plan through the knowledge infrastructure program primarily, which was a $2-billion fund to enhance post-secondary education infrastructure. It was for universities and colleges. We, in turn, leveraged another $2 billion from provinces and other parties to supplement those initial funds. We delivered this program in cooperation with provincial governments, and obviously with community colleges and universities.

In regard to the Auditor General's office, they had access to the documents they wanted to see, and it resulted, I think, in the assessment the Auditor General provided.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

It was exemplary, I would say.

If I could just continue on this piece with you, sir, the NDP have said that both of your departments--and you--have misled the Auditor General. Could you speak to this issue? This is a very heavy charge for an MP to make about senior government officials.

Could you expand on that, sir?

4:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Industry

Richard Dicerni

In regard to the G-8 summit, as Minister Clement mentioned, FedNor, which is a component of Industry Canada, did have four projects. I believe one of my ADMs testified to a committee last year or the year before and described exactly what those four projects were about.

FedNor, as an arm of Industry Canada supporting Minister Clement, was indeed present at some of the G-8 meetings as support to the minister and in the context of their ongoing responsibilities in FedNor, which include economic development and tourism support.

The officials there, and I think Mr. Angus referred to Mr. Dodds, who used to be an employee of Industry Canada, attended some of the meetings but did not, as Minister Clement has said, get involved in any project analysis and did not provide any support to the G-8 fund, to a large degree because it was not our fund--not my program, not my money.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

So you didn't mislead the Auditor General.