House of Commons Hansard #221 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Communications Security Establishment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

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

We have learned that the Canadian government's Communications Security Establishment might offer its services to private business to help pay the bills in the face of federal budget cuts. When questioned about this, the defence minister declined to answer.

Considering how important this information is, can the minister tell this House whether the CSE is really considering making its spying expertise available to the private sector?

Communications Security Establishment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is not signals intelligence, we are talking about the information security program, or INFOSEC. It is within the mandate of the CSE to give security advice on government telecommunications. It is an expertise that is probably the best in Canada and the CSE has been approached by other levels of government, other agencies and indeed people in the private sector to give advice.

It did occur to some officials that there should be some cost recovery associated with giving the advice. That was simply a working document with no government or cabinet approval.

Communications Security Establishment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, based on the information at hand, what is being contemplated is much more extensive than what the minister just described.

Given that Parliament has no control whatsoever over this agency, which is not accountable to anybody, how can the minister approve or even consider approving the provision of spying services to the private sector by a government agency?

Communications Security Establishment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member did not hear my first answer.

We are not talking about espionage. We are not talking about signals intelligence. We are talking about the security of telecommunications. Every company, every agency, every government in the country has a concern that its data banks and its telecommunications are kept as secret as possible to preserve their integrity. That is what we are talking about. We are not talking about foreign espionage.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

June 19th, 1995 / 2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the government came to power it promised to make integrity a number one priority. The Prime Minister said there was an unprecedented level of public cynicism toward government and unless trust could be restored the political system would not work. Twenty months later the government is practising exactly the same ethics as its predecessor with conflicts of interest, patronage and old style pork barrel politics. What makes matters worse is that the Prime Minister has stubbornly refused to fire or even discipline ministers who violated codes of ethical conduct.

Since the government is unwilling to do the right thing overall, will it at least introduce clearer guidelines for ministerial fundraisers to prevent future conflicts of interest such as those embroiling the heritage minister?

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Reform Party talks about integrity. In 1990 the leader of the Reform Party appeared before the royal commission on electoral reform and party financing where he stated: "The Reform Party of Canada believes that no tax credits or deductions from income should be permitted in respect of donations of money to political parties or candidates. Parties and candidates should finance themselves"-

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

"Parties and candidates should finance themselves with the money of their supporters and not with taxpayers' dollars".

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

More, more.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

"We recommend that the political contribution tax credit be eliminated".

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

However, that did not prevent every single member of the Reform Party from taking the government rebate that was offered to them at the end of the election campaign.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, pretending to not see an ethical issue is ignoring it or covering it up. We cannot go on with that vein of reply.

What has also become clear over the last two weeks is that the government's mechanisms and procedures for dealing with breaches in its code of ethics are simply not working. The heritage minister was caught in an obvious conflict of interest, yet the ethics counsellor was powerless to act. The Prime Minister only consulted the ethics counsellor as an afterthought and his report remains a deep, dark secret.

If this government is serious about restoring integrity to government and is unwilling to act itself, will it at least free the hands of the ethics counsellor and make him directly accountable to this Parliament?

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Reform Party says he sees no conflict in taking a public position that his party should not accept political tax credits nor should they accept money from the taxpayers, but when it is coming they are very happy to take it.

While the leader of the Reform Party was up very righteously in the House last week attacking the Minister of Canadian Heritage for having a private dinner, he himself was attending another private dinner at the posh Windsor Club where initiation fees are $1,000 and annual dues are $600.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.