House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

December 4th, 2001 / 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, after the HRDC billion dollar boondoggle, we would have thought that the government would have cleaned up its act but it has not.

The Minister of Health approves grant programs with no authorization. The Minister of National Revenue is handing out grant money in Quebec without proper documentation. The Minister of Canadian Heritage still does not need an application for her to approve a grant.

My question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Do her new rules on grants and contributions mean anything or were they just some nice words to get the government out of a tight corner?

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member forgot to also say that the auditor general recognized that we have gone a long way in revising all our policies. I think she agreed with the fact that we have a new transfer payment policy, the right framework, an audit policy and a program evaluation policy, and now we are on the way to implementing them across government.

I think everyone can be confident that taxpayer money is really well spent in our country.

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry has ACOA in his pocket and has been asking his officials to work both sides of the fence.

The auditor general says ACOA officials set up a not for profit organization, filled out an application for $1.9 million and sent it to themselves for approval. The money is for sand dunes in the riding of the solicitor general. This is a blatant conflict of interest by Department of Industry officials and a minister who should know better.

Does the minister condone this behaviour or can we expect more of the same from him in the future?

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, the member typifies incorrectly the project. ACOA participated in the design, fabrication and installation of interpretation facilities within a great tourism facility in P.E.I., which is part of the priorities of the province and the community for economic development.

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general did not pull any punches in her report this morning to the federal government. She noted significant shortcomings in the management of grants and contributions in all departments.

How can the federal government claim to have made all the necessary efforts to manage taxpayers' money better when a review of the facts reveals that a large portion of the $16 billion in grants and contributions is badly managed and badly used?

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, I think that it is very clear that the auditor general recognized that important and significant steps have been taken in the management of all of this government's programs, including our new grants and contributions transfer policy and our new internal audit and program evaluation policy. She recognizes these positive steps.

We must now ensure that this is well entrenched throughout all government departments.

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general also says, and I quote “Where expected results are stated only vaguely, where risks are unassessed, project assessments incomplete, or performance unmeasured, management cannot be confident that [the programs] are achieving value for money.”

Has the attitude of the Prime Minister, who has always played down the management scandal at the Department of Human Resources Development, not sent a signal to all his ministers and officials that he will back them up however they manage?

Government Grants and Contributions
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the opposition member seems to forget that what happened at the Department of Human Resources Development was brought to the attention of the public by the responsible minister herself.

This was done after an internal audit exercise. This proves that there is an internal audit policy and that an action plan was implemented. This is what the government does each time: it improves its services.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, in today's report the auditor general says that the statement by the Minister of Defence that we are equipped and ready for war “should be taken with a grain of salt”. The Prime Minister's boast in Edmonton that the troops are equipped and ready is without substance. The auditor general says that the Sea Kings cannot fly, that Hercules missions are down 36% but maintenance is up 26%.

My question for the minister is: Who is wrong? The auditor general or the minister who claims that our military is equipped and ready for war.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member forgot the correct option and that is that he is wrong. He continues to distort the facts.

Whenever the Canadian forces have been called upon they have been there to do the job. They are combat capable. That is not just something being said by the government. It is something being said by the military leadership in the country. Whenever they have been called upon, they have been there to carry the Canadian flag and do honour to the country.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, our men and women serving in the forces have done so in spite of the government and the minister cutting back on their budget and equipment. The auditor general also said that there was a conscious decision to decrease equipment readiness because the international situation no longer warranted high states of readiness and because the money simply was not there. That is what the auditor general said.

September 11 has showed how the government gets caught with its pants down and leaves Canadians exposed. Will the minister finally do the right thing, stand up for our troops, stand up for Canadian security and commit at least $2 billion per year to the budget for the Canadian military and pay the extra costs of war on top of that?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member needs a better joke writer.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

An hon. member

The hon. member is a joke.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton York Centre, ON

He still has it wrong. We are investing money. We have invested $3 billion over the last three budgets. We have put additional money in the last year in the supplementary estimates and in other funds that were allocated to make up for the need for resources. All of our readiness levels post-September 11 have been reviewed and changes are being made.

Human Resources Development Canada
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the aftermath of the scandal at Human Resources Development Canada, the auditor general called for the department to assess its programs against nine specific criteria.

How can the Minister of Human Resources Development explain to the general public listening to us today that her department has never, according to the auditor general herself, used more than two of those nine proposed criteria, and what is more has applied them to its own choice of programs? This is just one more scandal to cover up a previous one.