House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was legislation.

Topics

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I suppose directing attention to someone else might be a good tactic but on this one the minister will not to get away with it.

This is about a culture of corruption. The minister, when stood on this side of the House, said that a culture of corruption should be wiped out. He was right. When are we going to wipe out the culture of corruption that exists over there?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, obviously there was no question in what the hon. member just said. Nonetheless, let me continue by answering like this.

Yesterday I announced a number of measures to ensure that we have the highest level of transparency into contracts that deal with sponsorships. The member knows that I announced those yesterday, and today he is not even asking questions about how this new system will work.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the revelations made by the auditor general, the Prime Minister refuses to shed light on the political ramifications of the awarding of sponsorship contracts by his government.

As far as he is concerned, the investigations that will be launched by the RCMP and the auditor general are more than enough.

Does the public works minister realize that the RCMP investigation will only focus on Groupaction, that the auditor general's investigation will be restricted to management practices, and that a public inquiry is necessary to determine the political role played by ministers in the awarding of contracts to friends of the government?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I believe there are a couple of inaccuracies in the question of the hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

First, there is no RCMP investigation yet. The case was referred to the RCMP to determine if an investigation is called for.

Second, the hon. member said that the Auditor General of Canada will only look at sponsorship contracts. This is not what she said yesterday and what she wrote in her report.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general only referred to the management aspect. The investigation has been referred to the RCMP. We are telling the minister that this is not enough, because the RCMP will only investigate Groupaction, it will only investigate a limited number of contracts.

There is political interference in this case. Orders were given to senior public servants by Liberals, including an ambassador who is in Denmark and some of his peers who are still here.

Therefore, I am asking the minister if the government will object to a public inquiry that would shed light on the stench of corruption that emanates from this government?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I will quote a comment made on May 7, 2002 by the hon. member for Longueuil. I believe she represents the party opposite. While directing a question to me, she said:

—call for a police investigation, or rush to consult the ethics counsellor—

This is what she asked. We said yes. This is the second time that we say yes to a question asked by the hon. member, and the answer is still yes, because we believe in transparency and we want to make things better.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the minister needs to understand is that, with every passing day, something new is coming out and only a public inquiry can shed light in what has gone on. That is what we are coming to realize.

On December 4, the President of the Treasury Board made the following statement:

—our contracting policy is very clear. It is respected by all departments, including Public Works Canada.

How could the President of the Treasury Board make such a statement about public works respecting the policy, knowing what we know today, unless she too was trying to put a lid on things?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, such accusations are not called for.

The hon. member has read yesterday's report by the auditor general, just as I have. He knows very well what it is all about. He knows that the auditor general spoke of three contracts and cautioned against generalizing. She said that yesterday, and again this morning in a national TV interview.

If the auditor general, an officer of this parliament, tells us that there must be no such generalization, why is the hon. member over there doing so?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the minister of public works has decided to come to the rescue of the President of the Treasury Board, we will look at his own words:

On March 11, he said the following:

Both contracts were in fact prepared in accordance with treasury board guidelines.

Having carried out a check in his own department in response to our questions, how could he not have noticed what the auditor general found so obvious that she realized it within days of starting her investigation? What is he, as the minister, trying to hide?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have not tried to hide anything, as everyone knows. I myself was the one to announce here in this House on March 19 that I had asked the Auditor General of Canada to cast light on this matter, and that is what she has done.

At that time, I also made a commitment to make the report public. Forty-eight hours after I was informed of the report, I myself tabled it in the House, still in the same effort to ensure transparency. I shall continue in the same way, as I most definitely do not wish to hide anything.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, over the last few years leading up to 2000, Groupaction Marketing and Groupaction-Gosselin, between the two of them, contributed over $136,000 to the Liberal Party, not quite the rumoured 10% but almost 8.5%.

Does the minister himself not see the inappropriateness of the fact that these donations stand alongside the discoveries of the auditor general with respect to these contracts? I say to the minister, would he not consider a public inquiry? An RCMP inquiry has its place but it is secretive, it is not open, and we need the public--

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, on an RCMP inquiry, should there be one, that determination will be made by the RCMP. Of course, as was said yesterday and as I said and as I believe the Prime Minister said too, if anyone committed any harm, these people will be brought to justice.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, they say that smell is the strongest sense we have with respect to memory. I ask the minister himself: does he not remember when he and I experienced the same aroma that we have in the House today when the Mulroney government was in power? He did not like that smell then. He did not like the stench. What is he going to do about it now when it is on his own side?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I say to the hon. member across, it is I who asked the Auditor General of Canada to do this report. It is I who tabled this report in the House of Commons. It is I who wanted transparency. It is I who wants to do these things right. With the support of members, hopefully on all sides of the House, that is what we are doing, that is what we will continue to do and we will strive to do even better.