House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

David Iftody
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I invite hon. members to rise for a minute of silence for our former colleague, David Iftody.

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general's latest report was tabled just minutes ago in the House. Sir, if you are looking for a good sleep tonight, I would not suggest that you read this book before retiring, retiring for the evening that is.

It says that Canadians are justifiably upset about scandals, about mismanagement and about waste. The auditor general states that things are getting worse and that he shares the frustrations of Canadians.

So do we. This is wasted and lost money that could have gone to health care. It could have gone to helping students with high debt loads. It could have gone to community agencies. It is lost forever.

The Prime Minister promised year after year that he would clean up his act. He has not. This is a mess. Why is it that way and why does he not care?

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have an auditor general who reports four times a year. Previously the auditor general reported once a year.

He is there to find out where we have problems in the administration. We receive the report. We study it very seriously and we implement the recommendations that he makes. It is a very good process. It is public and it is done to make sure that taxpayer dollars are well spent.

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that just does not reflect reality. I am quoting the auditor general. He says that the problems are by no means exclusive to one program or to one department. He goes on to say:

It is discouraging to witness new incidents of waste and mismanagement crop up hydra-like after older ones have been discovered—

New and ongoing mismanagement. In the red books that we hear about from time to time there is a promise that the Prime Minister will hold ministers responsible for waste and mismanagement. Which ministers is he holding responsible?

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, they are all responsible for their departments and they are very diligent.

I would like to inform the Leader of the Opposition that when we came to office in 1993 the federal government was spending something like $121 billion on programs every year. Since that time we have reduced the level of spending on programs by 20%. After seven years we are not back to the $121 billion.

This is great testimony that the government is taking public spending extremely seriously. Whenever there is an error we correct it as quickly as possible.

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that math is very scary. The Prime Minister says he has reduced spending 20% but the problems have increased. So with less money he is creating more problems.

The auditor general has some simple advice for the government: “Don't waste public money. Do nothing illegal. Act impartially, honestly and fairly”. The auditor general goes on to say that while these principles may seem self-evident, most of us would agree: “don't waste public money. Do nothing illegal. Act honestly”. Yet he goes on to say they are self-evident and not clear enough to have prevented breaches.

Would the minister responsible for HRDC tell us if she thinks these are fairly clear principles? If so, why does she not follow them?

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am very tempted to go through the list of all the things that were given to his riding when he was a member of the assembly in Alberta. Money was given to hair salons, Dairy Queens, limousine services, and even to a tuxedo rental company.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general says that—

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is difficult for the Chair to hear the questions and the answers, and I have to ensure they are in order.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, these kinds of answers have nothing to do with the real problem. The auditor general says that new incidents keep cropping up. I asked the industry minister about one yesterday. He did not even know of this latest one.

He knows that Mr. Lemire and Mr. Pepin have been charged with fraud and theft in their handling of government grants in the Prime Minister's riding. They are also involved in a questionable Shawinigan scheme that allowed them to qualify for $600,000 more by using previous federal grants for seed money.

Something is wrong with that. The Prime Minister's chief of staff was warned in writing, yet the deal slithered through anyway. Has the industry minister contacted the RCMP about this? Yes or no.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, on any matter that the RCMP should be involved in, the RCMP will have its own volition to take whatever action it deems appropriate.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, surely the industry minister, if he has a handle on his department, would of his own volition have some problems with some of the things that have gone on for years, not only in this department but in many departments across the way, evidently with full sanction from the Prime Minister.

The fact that the industry minister has announced that he is trying to demand money back from Lemire and Pepin proves that there was impropriety with taxpayer dollars. That is why we sent these documents to the RCMP last December 8 as soon as this was revealed.

Why did the government make $600,000 available without ensuring that absolutely all criteria were met?

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite keeps mixing up a variety of different files. It appears to me her only purpose seems to be to want to try to malign the reputation of people without proper examination of the facts.

The reality is that there was an overpayment which has been dealt with. Funds are now in the process of being returned by the agreement of all sides.

With respect to the RCMP, if the member has any evidence whatsoever that she thinks warrants an RCMP investigation, she should pass it on to the RCMP. If she is interested in justice, she should allow it to do its job before she attempts to carry on as she has, smearing on the floor of the House the reputations of many people. It is—

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Roberval.