House of Commons Hansard #195 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.

Topics

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

May 30th, 2002 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is now blaming public officials, his public officials for the problems and misfortunes that are currently plaguing his government.

Yet some time ago, this same Prime Minister said that he would never let others shoulder responsibilities that are his to bear.

Are we to understand that the Prime Minister's change in attitude is mostly due to the fact that he and some of his ministers were caught with their snouts in the trough?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Honestly, Mr. Speaker, I have always taken responsibility for my actions and I will always do so.

By the way, what is disgraceful is that while there are problems in this country, while people would like to discuss agriculture, Kyoto, softwood lumber, all the opposition is interested in is trying to ruin the reputation of members of the House.

You will see, Mr. Speaker, that people will recognize that this government is responsible, that it has always taken its responsibilities seriously, and that the opposition, desperate because it is faced with a good government, is trying to ruin reputations.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the real problem in Canada is the Prime Minister, who refuses to answer questions asked in the House.

He lays the blame on public officials who are not here to defend themselves, who are not here to listen to what we have to say. This is completely unfair of the Prime Minister.

Will the Prime Minister admit that until there is a public inquiry, which we are calling for, it is impossible to subpoena public officials, to swear them in and to question them on the extent of political interference, which falls outside the auditor general's mandate?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was at the opposition's request that we asked an officer of the House, the auditor general, who has all of the necessary powers to investigate, to look into this issue. She will report, and we will draw conclusions.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal scheme for doling out taxpayer money by passing it through the sticky fingers of their friends is truly unacceptable to Canadians. Lafleur Communications, a fishing buddy of the justice minister, donated $57,000 to the Liberals after receiving a $120,000 commission for taking $1 million in a briefcase down the street to VIA Rail.

When we see options like that out there in front of taxpayers, what they are crying for is a truly independent public inquiry. When will the minister set one up?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, consistent with the obligations that my officials have under the appropriate legislation, including the Financial Administration Act, steps have been taken by the appropriate officials to refer this matter to the RCMP.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the list grows. Week after week and day after day we see more and more things hitting the RCMP. I hope it has enough members and budget to take it all in.

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that giving huge commissions to Liberal friendly ad companies is just bilking the taxpayers for more money. It is greed and corruption: no reports, no files and verbal contracts, just cancelled Liberal donation cheques, which is really all we can go on.

All these ministers were sitting in cabinet when this scheme was hatched and implemented. How can they not see that it will take an outside independent public inquiry to clear the air?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more independent, more authoritative, than the RCMP. It will conduct the appropriate investigations. It will make the appropriate decisions. The proper course of justice will be served.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to know the connections that exist between public officials, deputy ministers and ministers. This is why the case of the minister of immigration is of interest to us.

Yesterday, the minister of heritage told us that the recommendation to select Everest had been made by public officials.

Could the minister of public works tell us which Canadian heritage official recommended that the contract be awarded to Everest, because we want to know the connections of this public official with the minister of immigration?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I do not have that information before me. Nor do I think it may be appropriate to discuss that in the House of Commons.

However I do want to assure the hon. member that the choice of Groupe Everest was made by officials in the Department of Public Works and Government Services on the basis of the agency's standing offer with the department, and that standing offer was the result of a competitive process.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the government has nothing to hide, why does it not produce the documents relating to the recommendation made by Canadian heritage that Groupe Everest be chosen for the Canada-wide tour of the former Secretary of State for Amateur Sport?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I will examine the request that has been made by the hon. member to see if further information can be presented. She may rest assured, however, that it is my intention and my responsibility to ensure that transparency, accountability and the public interest are served by my department.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister has acknowledge that Jean Lafleur is a friend of his and that he will continue to have a friendly relationship with him even though an RCMP investigation is under way.

Is this the way the minister of justice should conduct himself? Is it right for the minister of justice to pal around with someone who is at the centre of a serious police investigation that may involve a violation of the public trust?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is really a pity to hear such a statement. In Canada one is not guilty until found guilty.

As I said yesterday, I will go back fishing. I also said that Mr. Lafleur did not pay for my fishing trip. I have not been involved at all in the process, and the member knows that. The only thing that he is trying to do is to “assassiner un personnage ou un caractère”, as was said by the Prime Minister.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve an open and transparent way out of the contract mess of the government. There are two simple things the government can do to do that.

The first thing is the British have made public the ethical standards of their cabinet ministers and in fact they are published on the web. The government can do that. It is a very simple thing. The second thing is that the inquiry into the contract mess should be made public. These are two very simple things in which at one time in the past the Liberal government used to believe.

Why are these simple ideas so hard for the government to grasp?