House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was businesses.

Topics

International Fishing Day
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, hundreds of young people from the Lafontaine community centre in Néguac took part in a march and in the raising of the orange flag. This was in preparation for the first international fishing day.

I was fortunate to spend some time on Saturday with the good people of Néguac in my riding of Miramichi to mark this important day. The livelihood and way of life of so many fishers have depended on the sea for centuries. However, over the past decades overfishing and environmental mismanagement have led to the problems we are facing today. Fishers from across Canada are on the Hill today to draw attention to the need to work together to protect the fish stocks of our waters. I congratulate and thank Madam Lucie Breau of Néguac for organizing these special events in my community and for all those who are here on the Hill today to celebrate with us the orange drapeau.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

One down and one to go, Mr. Speaker, Now it is the Prime Minister's turn to come clean.

Six weeks ago the solicitor general was caught red handed prejudicing the RCMP complaints inquiry, but for six weeks the Prime Minister's response was evasion, excuses, covering up, and even attacking people who asked the hard questions.

Why did the Prime Minister not fire the solicitor general six weeks ago when it might have meant something with respect to the RCMP complaints commission?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I did not fire the solicitor general. He is an extremely honourable member of the House.

Because of the constant attack from the opposition he decided it was too difficult for him to do all his work and he decided to offer me his resignation. I have accepted his resignation with regret because he was a good minister. He is an excellent member of parliament. He is a man of great integrity and honour and that is why I was happy to defend him.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, for six weeks the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been rabidly defending the integrity of the solicitor general. Even today, after he has been removed from his position for compromising the RCMP complaints inquiry, the Prime Minister defends him rather than give the proper explanation.

Is the Prime Minister's ethical standard to evade, to excuse and to cover up as long as possible and only to act when he is absolutely cornered?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the only thing the government wants is for the commission, which exists under the laws of parliament, to look into all the controversy of APEC as soon as possible.

The government has absolutely no fear of the commission. That is why we made available all the documentation and all the personnel it wanted so that it could look into all the facts. We want the truth to be known completely as soon as possible.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, if that is true, if the Prime Minister has nothing to fear, will he then appoint a full blown judicial inquiry and will he testify under oath before that inquiry with respect to his role in the APEC security staffing?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the commission exists under the laws of parliament to look into this matter. We want the commission to do its work absolutely.

I said and I repeat that the government is willing to help the commission as much as it wants because we have nothing to hide. The RCMP has done its job and always did its job. Now if it has to explain some things it will do it and the commission will have access to any people that it wants to interview. Even my own chief of staff has offered to testify if it wants him to.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, this resignation is the last nail in the coffin for the public complaints commission.

Peter Donolo from the Prime Minister's Office said today that the government does not consider the resignation an admission that the commission process is tainted.

My question is very simple. If the former solicitor general did not taint the process, why in the world did he resign?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was because the solicitor general was attacked unfairly by the opposition day after day.

Being a man of honour, he knew that it was not giving him all the time he needed to devote all his energy to his job. As a man who has great respect for his job in the House of Commons, and as he could not give all his effort to the job that needed all his attention, he decided to step down and I have accepted that with great regret.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the only thing worse than that behaviour is defending it. We are going to attack the government for 30 days more, for weeks, and the only bonus would be that this Prime Minister would step down at the end of it.

On the very day that the solicitor general quit the Prime Minister is still stonewalling and talking about what an honourable fellow he is. The only way to get to the bottom of this is an independent inquiry with an independent judge to find out what the Prime Minister's independent involvement was.

Will the Prime Minister stand right now and announce immediately a full judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this and quit this charade that has been going on for weeks?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I hope the opposition will let the inquiry, which has been set under the laws of parliament, do its job.

It is quite evident that the opposition does not want the inquiry to work. It wants to postpone it. It cannot attack the government on many fronts so it uses the inquiry. This is why the Reform Party is now behind the Tory Party in the polls.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general's resignation is clear proof that he had no credibility left whatsoever. The solicitor general had no other choice. The Prime Minister has no other choice either.

Is he going to bow to the evidence at last and call for the creation of a commission of inquiry to cast full light on this affair so that everyone can know the truth Is he going to go right back to square one with the inquiry process?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, an independent commission of inquiry was struck under a law of Parliament, and is in operation at present. We have no intention of going back to square one. We want it to finish its work.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, lets us keep in mind that this entire business of APEC and “peppergate” has its roots in actions by the PMO.

Now that he has lost his cover, will the Prime Minister create an independent commission of inquiry in order to cast full light on the actions of the RCMP, the actions of his own office, and his very own actions, if he is still able to recall them?