House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.

Topics

Government Contracts
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the year 2002, the Bloc Quebecois has uncovered a whole series of facts that raise doubts about the integrity of certain Liberal ministers.

The departure of Alfonso Gagliano for Denmark was just the tip of the iceberg, which is becoming unbelievably huge.

The Prime Minister and his government set up a sponsorship program with the stated objective of counteracting sovereignists in Quebec. In their despicable mission, they turned to advertising agencies whose close connections with the Liberal Party are a well known fact. Millions of dollars in taxpayers' money were diverted for purely partisan reasons.

The Prime Minister may claim that, by seeing the Canadian flag, Quebecers have become more federalist, but we have our doubts about this. In fact, his comments are just a clumsy attempt to make people forget that friends of the Liberal Party unfairly benefited from public funds.

Snowboarding
Statements By Members

June 10th, 2002 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week the International Ski Federation awarded the prestigious World Snowboard Championships to Whistler, B.C. to be held from January 22 to January 30, 2005. This event has never been held outside of Europe and is a real coup for B.C.

The ski federation is a charter member of the Olympics. This recognition of Whistler as a worldclass site may bode well for our 2010 Olympic bid. The slopes used for the snowboard championships are the same ones proposed for the Alpine events in the Olympics. Snowboarding is a sport of youth and continues to increase in popularity. Whistler has long been the number one choice for worldclass snowboarders.

I wish to congratulate the Canadian Snowboard Federation and the Whistler organizing committee. Here is hoping for 2010.

VIA Rail
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the silence of VIA Rail with regard to the spending of public money is deafening. Once again $1 million of the public purse has been spent on advertising and sponsorship, but no one wants to give the public the answers it deserves.

It is time for the crown corporation to be accountable to the public. At issue is what kind of work was performed and why the sponsorship money was funnelled through VIA Rail. Something smells and it is not the pollution in the air. I will be recommending that the chairman of the VIA Rail board and the president and chief executive officer come before the transport committee and answer questions concerning the company's advertising and sponsorship programs.

VIA Rail is owned by the taxpayers of this country and they have a right to know how the money is being spent.

Burlington
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, seven outstanding residents were recently honoured with civic recognition awards by the mayor of Burlington, Robert MacIsaac.

A founding member of the Burlington Art Centre, Elizabeth Pudsey was named Arts Person of the Year. Athletes of the Year were award-winning rower and equestrian, Roslyn MacLeod, and Samantha Magalas, a member of Team Canada's women's baseball team and Assumption High School's 2001 student of the year and female athlete of the year. Sportsperson of the Year was Jennifer Cheyne O'Brien, coach of Burlington's Ice Image synchronized skating teams.

Community service awards went to Ross Cotton and Lee Fiamelli. Mr. Cotton is an active volunteer with the Burlington Committee for the Physically Challenged while Mr. Fiamelli has volunteered at Brantwood Lifecare Centre for 40 years. Our Junior Citizen of the Year was Jayde Duncombe who is involved in many activities at Nelson High School and in our community.

I wish to congratulate Elizabeth, Roslyn, Samantha, Jennifer, Ross, Lee and Jayde. Their work enriches our community and our country. I wish to say, way to go Team Burlington.

Millennium Scholarships
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute today to four winners of the millennium scholarship from the beautiful riding of Yellowhead.

The recipients for the 2002-2003 academic year are: Tomas Rochford from St. Joseph School, Whitecourt; Myka Jones from Hilltop High School, Whitecourt; Laura McPherson from Grande Cache Community High School, Grande Cache; and Sheena Ptokipchuk from Mayerthorpe High School, Mayerthorpe.

Their hard work, curiosity and dedication to their studies has led them to these honours. I wish to congratulate them for their academic achievements and wish them much success as they continue their studies. I also wish to congratulate the dedicated teachers and supportive parents who have made their own contributions to these achievements.

Tomas, Myka, Laura and Sheena, we wish them all the best as they begin their university studies and look forward to hearing from them in the future as they contribute to a better Canada.

Government Contracts
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, while friends of the Liberals are making a killing under a system that allows them to get contracts before calls for tenders are even issued and that provides a double billing mechanism, the Liberal government is incapable of ensuring day to day administration.

It is dragging its feet regarding the announcement of investments for highway 185. It is letting Les Escoumins pier go into disrepair, even though it owns it, thus jeopardizing the ferry season, the jobs of 26 workers and the whole tourism industry in the area. Moreover, the government is abandoning the provinces, which are the victims of a fiscal imbalance that is choking them.

It is high time that the federal government set up an independent public inquiry to shed light on the whole system that led to the sponsorship scandal, and started to take its responsibilities again.

The Prime Minister must put an end to the shenanigans, even though he initiated them.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have more questions on these contract scandals. We now know that the Prime Minister was aware of the sponsorship scams in September 2000.

This is what the Prime Minister did. He had his most senior officials huddle for a damage control session. Then the internal audit was sanitized and published without the names of the offending companies. Since that time tax dollars have kept flowing to these Liberal firms.

How does the Prime Minister justify this behaviour?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, in fact the internal audit was posted on the Internet on October 11, 2000. The only changes that were made were those required by the Access to Information Act and the privacy legislation. Otherwise there were no material differences whatsoever.

Media reports began to appear the very next day, October 12, 2000, as evidenced on page 3 of the Globe and Mail . Obviously this was not a secret operation.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Of course, Mr. Speaker, absolutely nothing changed for two years.

Even before the meeting in the Prime Minister's office, government authorities summoned officials from the five large firms to attend a meeting: Boulay, Brault, Coffin, Gosselin and so on.

The financial audit was released without names and, since then, millions of dollars in contracts have been paid, with taxpayers' money, to these Liberal companies. Is this how the government thinks Canadians' money should be used?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, indeed immediately upon the completion of the internal audit, which again I would say the auditor general has described as excellent, courageous and a critical piece of work, an action plan was developed in order to correct what the audit had revealed. That action plan was implemented over the course of the following 12 to 15 months. There was a review conducted in the spring of this year to verify that in fact the corrective action had been taken.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it was an action plan that led to nothing other than the companies getting more money.

Here is a specific example of what I am talking about. First, last week the Minister of Public Works and Government Services claimed it was natural justice for the government to continue to do business with Groupaction. Then after pressure he told us he would essentially not approve any more business. Today what do we learn? We now learn that there have already been back channels set up for more contracts with Groupaction through other departments.

How far is the government going to go to keep taxpayer money flowing to its friends?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear about the action that was taken last week.

Where my department is the contracting agent on behalf of either itself or any other department or agency of government, new advertising business to Groupaction will not be entertained. Whenever there is business caught in process by this decision, it will be reviewed on a case by case basis. My department is contacting every other agency of the Government of Canada to draw this position to their attention.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the one thing in that answer you will notice is that between 2000 and now, nothing happened, zero.

The Prime Minister sent his personal advisors to this meeting. They knew what was happening and they had a choice. They could have chosen to clean it up or cover it up. Why did the Prime Minister and the Liberal government choose to cover up the sleaze in public works?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, since the internal audit was posted on the Internet on October 11, 2000 it is hardly a cover-up. The matter in fact was public in the Globe and Mail on page 3 the very next day, Thursday, October 12. This was obviously not a covert operation.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the real question is what did the government do when it was made public? Absolutely nothing. The money flowed. The money continues to flow even today.

The government had an opportunity. It could clean up or cover up. My question stands. Why did the government choose to cover up the sleaze in public works?