House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if this is an example of the ethics and integrity that one finds in Hawaii, I do not think this will take you very far.

When we look at what was said in terms of the Reform Party strategy to try to operate in this House during this session, the first question that has to be asked of the hon. member is: Does she agree, yes or no, with the hon. leader of the third party who in September said he wanted it shut down before the next election? Which is it going to be?

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

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

Brian Mulroney's former chief of staff, Norman Spector, stated that he had informed the present Clerk of the Privy Council, Jocelyne Bourgon, about an RCMP investigation of former Prime Minister Mulroney, one month before The Financial Post made this information public. Yet Mrs. Bourgon continues to deny that she obtained this information and passed it on to the Prime Minister or his advisers.

How does the Prime Minister explain the contradictions between the version given by Mr. Spector and that of Mrs. Bourgon?

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Bourgon briefed me fully on this file, as was stated in a document released on November 20, when I was in Asia with the Commonwealth and at the APEC meeting.

Mrs. Bourgon's statement to the press was very clear. And I am completely satisfied with the answer she gave when questioned.

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in a somewhat special situation. Mr. Spector apparently passed this information on to Mrs. Bourgon in September 1995. Mr. Spector and Mrs. Bourgon have one thing in common: they both enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister. The latter appointed Mrs. Bourgon Clerk of the Privy Council and Mr. Spector head of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

In light of the circumstances and in light of the mess, what is the Prime Minister waiting for to set up an independent commission of inquiry in order to shed light on the Airbus affair?

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, debate on this topic was closed when we offered our apologies to Mr. Mulroney and the two other people. In Canada, no one is guilty until so declared by a court of law. Apologies were made.

Mr. Mulroney's own lawyers said clearly in their statement that there had been no political interference in this matter.

Airbus
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has always pretended to have high standards for his cabinet. He has always promised that every one of his ministers will have to take full responsibility for bungling in their departments. Well this has turned into a national joke.

Who is taking responsibility for the botched investigation into Airbus? The justice minister says he is not responsible, even though the letter to the Swiss authorities was written by his department and signed on his behalf. The solicitor general says he is not responsible; it is all the fault of an RCMP sergeant.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Is blaming RCMP sergeants his interpretation and understanding of ministerial responsibility?

Airbus
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is a very well known practice that when there are criminal investigations the political part of the government is not informed. It has always been that way.

Yesterday it was confirmed in a debate on TV between two of the most respected public servants who have served this country for a long time, Gordon Robertson and Arthur Kroeger. They said that everything was conducted according to tradition. When there is a criminal investigation it is for the police to conduct the investigation and the prime minister and the ministers are not involved in the investigation. This has been a very clear practice for a long time.

I do not believe it is the business of a minister or a prime minister to give instruction to the police to investigate one guy and not investigate another.

Airbus
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the evidence shows very clearly that the justice minister knew what was going on and what the content of the letter was back in November 1996 and he chose to do nothing about it.

When I look across at the Liberal cabinet, all they seem able to do is botch up, cover up and make the taxpayer cough up. The

backroom Airbus deal soaked taxpayers for over $2 million which kept the abuse of the justice system from coming out during a public trial.

Despite all of the Prime Minister's promises, his cabinet refuse to be accountable themselves and refuse to demand accountability from senior officials. I ask the Prime Minister: When will he stop making speeches about accountability, integrity and responsibility and start acting on it?

Airbus
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is part of the parliamentary tradition, for which I have great respect, that ministers show responsibility in cases such as this one by acting responsibly to address the problems in the system squarely, quickly and effectively. That is exactly what I have done. To be sure, there were problems in this system. To be sure, there were weaknesses to be overcome. We have done just that.

The very month this letter became public, I directed that there be changes made in the system for sending letters of request from the Department of Justice. In the past year we have made a variety of changes to minimize the risk of such a thing ever happening again. Two weeks ago I engaged the services of a former justice of the court of appeal for Ontario, a person of impeccable reputation, to look at the changes we have made, to examine the entire system and to recommend any other changes that he thinks should be made to improve the system.

That is how a minister acts responsibly in these circumstances, and that is exactly what we have done.

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

February 3rd, 1997 / 2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister.

This Liberal government was elected on a platform of transparency and good government. Nearly three and a half years after they came to the power, their record is a disgrace. Not long ago, the information commissioner severely criticized Health Canada officials who destroyed documents vital to the inquiry into the tainted blood scandal. This is outrageous.

Does the Prime Minister realize that the apologies of the Minister of Health are not enough? Does he realize that taxpayers do not want empty excuses but assurances that never again will an official be able to conceal or destroy government documents with impunity?

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member opposite in her comments with regard to destroying of documents, but let us be very clear so that all members of the House fully understand, this was an incident which occurred in 1989.

The commissioner's report is comprehensive. We in Health Canada have followed and accepted all of his recommendations as they relate to that particular incident. We will adhere to the recommendations of the commissioner to ensure that it does not happen again in the future.

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, even today, nothing prevents similar incidents from occurring. Nothing prevents other officials from concealing or destroying documents to avoid disclosure.

Will the Prime Minister promise to amend the Access to Information Act so as to prevent any recurrences?

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must realize that the contents of the commissioner's report have been forwarded to Justice Krever. He will then have an opportunity, if he so desires, to comment on the substance of the commissioner's report and make recommendations thereto.

The hon. member is fully aware that the commissioner has also made recommendations to Parliament, of which the hon. member is a member, in terms of recommendations and sanctions which may or may not take place as they relate to officials in the future if in fact actions of that nature do take place.

Microcredit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Cooperation and Francophonie.

Last weekend, a microcredit summit was held in Washington. Could the minister explain what Canada is doing in this respect and how microcredit can help developing countries?

Microcredit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the issue of microcredit is of great interest to Canada.

Since this week is International Cooperation Week, I would like to point out that, through the Canadian International Development Agency, Canada supports microcredit projects in several countries, including Vietnam and Haiti.

Last week, in Montreal, I had the opportunity to announce a microcredit project to take place in the Czech Republic, in partnership with Développement international Desjardins. We are

pleased to support this kind of project and we intend to increase our efforts in this area.