House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Grain Shipments
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Regina—Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the grain backlog in western Canada is obviously a serious and costly problem.

There was a very constructive meeting held last week in Calgary, which I called and which involved all the players involved in the logistics of grain transportation in western Canada. There was a very determined attitude at that meeting aimed at solutions and not at finger pointing.

We identified the next six to eight weeks as obviously a critically important time not only to meet basic shipment targets but to whittle away at that accumulated backlog.

Agreement was reached to try to simplify grain collection logistics in the countryside on a temporary basis to make the most efficient use of locomotive power and to speed car turnaround times.

There were a variety of other measures agreed to to augment locomotive power, to improve terminal operations and to explore some trucking programs that could also add to the capacity of our system.

It is also important to note-

Grain Shipments
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of National Defence said that everybody in Canada knows exactly what happened on the ground in Somalia.

By Friday we reached the point where the minister admitted to misleading the House and he had to apologize. The minister is confused about what happened. The minister does not understand the Somalia file.

My question is for the Minister of National Defence. How can Canadians trust anything that this minister says? How many other times has he mislead Canadians?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that, as I said on Friday, I had made a mistake when I used the term murder in the plural to describe the situation that occurred in Somalia in March.

As a matter of fact, as a result of that mistake having been brought to my attention by the press after I left the House and not actually brought to my attention in this place, I returned.

I checked the first edition of the blues to make sure of exactly what I said. I understood that I had made a mistake. I came back to the House at the very first opportunity and made the clarification.

I want to welcome my hon. friend back to the House after what I know was a difficult period with his health. Just to make sure there is no confusion in my mind, I would like to make sure that the hon. member can explain to me why in April 1996 he was quoted as saying: "There is now sufficient evidence of problems. The utility of the commission has been exhausted. The taxpayer's money should now be spent on a criminal investigation".

What is the position of the hon. member with respect to the Somalia inquiry today?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is being very humble today, but it is far too late for the minister's apologies.

The minister continues to interfere with the Somalia commission. From the start his department has hindered this commission, refusing to release information. Now the minister's reckless statements are sabotaging its work.

Does the minister see that his actions demonstrate his total disregard for due process?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the due process the hon. member refers to was established in March 1995, had its mandate extended three times, the third time just recently by the government, asking the commission to report by June 30, a substantially longer period of time than was originally foreseen when the inquiry was put together.

What I am saying is that the government had to make a decision. We felt it was in the best interests of everyone concerned that we move on and deal with the specific issues facing the Canadian forces and the Department of National Defence.

The very due process that the hon. member now speaks so highly of is the one he said nearly a year ago should be ended because the utility of the commission had been exhausted.

I know it is difficult, and I did make a mistake last Friday, but at least I recognize when I make a mistake and I try to correct it. I urge the hon. member to do likewise when he recognizes that perhaps he has made a mistake.

Department Of Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

February 17th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On February 10, the Department of Foreign Affairs very quietly released its new guidelines on the funding of the arts. The new

policy provides that, in order to be sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs, cultural projects will have to promote national unity.

Given that the Department of Foreign Affairs is violating the freedom of expression of artists by restricting funding to cultural projects that promote Canada, will the minister pledge to transfer his department's cultural program to the Canada Council, which is an independent organization with no political ties whose mandate is precisely to manage support for artists?

Department Of Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, these changes were made to improve access for various groups, including young people and native people. These changes also seek to promote the interests and values of Canadians abroad.

This policy is an important tool to promote Canada's interests here at home, and to ensure that groups from across the country have access to the programs.

Department Of Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, surely the minister must know that this program has been in place for several decades to de-politicize the funding process, and that Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council were set up precisely for that purpose.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs not realize that he is taking part in a witch hunt that was started the day after the referendum by the heritage committee, and that is being led by the ineffable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage?

Department Of Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member has it all wrong. The whole point of the program which has been traditionally within the third pillar of our foreign policy is to ensure that we have an ability to engage the outside world in the important values of Canada.

To give an example, this is the year of Asia-Pacific. We are trying to get Canadians involved in the enormous opportunities developing in the Asia-Pacific rim. Part of the cultural program is to develop partnerships between Canadian and Asian groups to develop joint cultural interests both outside of Canada and inside Canada, and to invite groups here.

They are all judged on merit. They are all judged on artistic value. We make no reference to politics. We simply want to ensure that in the burgeoning area of the Asia-Pacific, Canadian culture and the values it represents will have an opportunity to be expressed.

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, last night CTV television revealed that $160,500 was allotted last year to the justice minister for strategic communications advice. In other words, taxpayer dollars were paid to spin doctors to try to make the justice minister and his government look good during the Airbus scandal.

How can the justice minister justify using Department of Justice money for purely partisan purposes?

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing for which the hon. member for Crowfoot can be relied on, it is to get the facts wrong. Once again he has done just that.

In keeping with ordinary government practice, the Department of Justice entered into the usual competitive process and awarded a contract to an outside consultant in 1995. The usual rates were provided for in the contract. The contract was extended for a year and the services were used for a variety of legislative purposes, all in keeping with standard government practice.

It is true to say there was advice with respect to Airbus but that was one of the smallest aspects of the contract. The reality is this was the usual kind of advice provided to government departments and was well within accepted guidelines and practice.

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, of course, $160,000 is a small portion of the $2 million that had to be paid out because of the bungling of the justice minister on the Airbus matter.

Seeing that all the money that was spent on the spin doctoring failed to make the justice minister look good, will he now demand a refund from his spin doctors?

Department Of Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is all in the eyes of the beholder. I can only imagine what my hon. friend must see from his distant perspective back there. But whatever it is, let me assure the hon. member and the House that everything in this matter was done entirely in accordance with appropriate government practice.

Rwanda
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jesse Flis Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Co-operation and Minister responsible for Francophonie.

In recent days, officials of the Government of Rwanda have allegedly stated that it is was justifiable for them to redirect foreign aid money toward objectives of the government. Can the minister tell this House if our foreign aid money in Rwanda has been redirected to those other than the people who need it the most?