House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Collenette Don Valley East, ON

However, I will let other Canadians be the judge of that.

I would like to repeat that the comments which have been brought to my attention are disturbing. They are being looked at by the deputy minister. As to any action that may be taken, I will have to inform the House at a later date.

Agusta
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. The government is preparing to compensate the firm Agusta. After cancelling the contract to purchase nearly $6 billion worth of EH-101 helicopters, the Prime Minister stated, a few days after his election, and I quote:

"The program is cancelled and there isn't any compensation for anybody".

His Minister of Public Works reaffirmed yesterday the government's intention to conclude an agreement with Agusta.

How can the Prime Minister allow his government to pay compensation to Agusta from public funds, without any investigation into this $6 billion contract to purchase EH-101 helicopters, when Agusta is currently facing charges of corruption and influence peddling in Italy and Belgium?

[English]

Agusta
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, this is the third or fourth time that members of the opposition have raised this issue. Unfortunately I am going to have to give the same answer to the hon. member.

The hon. member is making reference to "no compensation for anybody", a phrase which was used by the Prime Minister. However the Prime Minister went on to promise that his ministers involved in those talks would ensure that we "pay not a cent more than we are absolutely required to pay".

What we are doing under the contract which we signed with that company is paying termination costs, which every government must pay. That is not pay for future work, that is payment for work which has been completed or which was being completed upon termination.

Agusta
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is clearly going to compensate Agusta. Therefore, if he will not refuse to compensate Agusta without an investigation first, will the Prime Minister at least guarantee, unlike his Minister of Public Works yesterday, that no new contracts for the purchase of helicopters are awarded to Agusta as a form of compensation for the cancellation of the first contract?

Agusta
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what the minister has just said is correct. I have said it and I repeat it: the government has a contractual obligation for expenses incurred up to that point, which we must fulfil. There will, however, be no compensation for loss of profit or for future work.

If we eventually have to buy new helicopters, no preference will be given to anybody. We will follow the usual procedures in order to obtain the best product at the best price.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The director general of public affairs, Ms. Cardinal, has left the perception that her comments to the Media Club represent the views of the Department of National Defence senior management team. The problem is greater than one person's irresponsible comments and points to the leadership culture at the Department of National Defence which shows ignorance of Canada's frontline soldiers. There is no respect for the minister's authority at the senior management level at DND.

What does the minister intend to do to gain control over his department?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the specific allegation the hon. member raised, I answered that question Friday. I answered it yesterday and I answered it again today.

Some disturbing comments have come to light as a result of a speech given by the director general of public affairs. The deputy minister is looking into it. If I have any further announcement on any action that may be taken, it will be made to the House in due course.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, surely the minister must understand it is all well and good that the deputy minister is looking into it but the Minister of National Defence is responsible for this.

The problem is deeper than Ms. Cardinal's speech. These are the views of senior management at DND. The director general of public affairs does not speak off the record. She is responsible for disseminating national defence positions and policies.

What action will the minister take with respect to his supervision with his entire senior management team at DND?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the deputy minister will be looking into this shows that there will be some action taken.

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

May 16th, 1995 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

All federal public servants have had their wages frozen for several years. In his latest report, the auditor general reveals that, since 1993, diplomats have been allowed to cash in their plane tickets to and from Ottawa to pay for vacations anywhere in the world, without even having to submit vouchers.

How does the President of the Treasury Board justify this 1993 directive, which nets Canadian diplomats posted overseas $8.4 million a year, or about $5,000 tax free per person?

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should understand that the auditor general's criticisms had to do with a former procedure that has since been completely corrected.

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the reduction in the number of diplomats posted overseas, the total cost of their vacations, paid for by taxpayers, continues to increase at the rate of 9 per cent a year.

Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us why public officials posted overseas can enjoy all-expenses-paid vacations in an era of budget cuts?

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would have appreciated it if the hon. member had at least listened to the answer I gave him. He refers to a situation that no longer exists. I cannot understand why he continues to claim that we give preferential treatment to some public officials when this practice has stopped.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The auditor general's report reveals that an astonishing 58 per cent of public servants are unaware of the federal government's conflict of interest policy. The auditor general also noted that the best conflict of interest guidelines are useless without leadership from the top, the cabinet.

When will the Prime Minister take the initiative to lead by example and prove that he has nothing to hide by appointing an independent ethics counsellor?