House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, to justify her inaction in the Radwanski affair, the President of the Treasury Board said that there had been no indication of the magnitude of the problems. Yet the Auditor General is categorical: the Treasury Board was aware of the Privacy Commissioner's outlandish expenses, but the minister did nothing.

Will the President of the Treasury Board admit that, while she knew about it for at least a year, she did nothing to put an end to this abuse, because George Radwanski was the Prime Minister's man and, having protection from the top, he was untouchable?

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that we do not monitor officers of Parliament the same way we monitor departments in general.

That having been said, it is very clear that if there has been abuse or wrongdoing, the appropriate measures have to be taken. That is what we will be doing with the interim commissioner. The indications we had been given did not lead us to believe that public funds were being misused, as the Auditor General found out.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not what the Auditor General said. To use the phrase of the minister, who said there was no indication of a need to bring out the big guns, I think that the report very clearly indicates that the Treasury Board failed to take firm action.

Did the minister fail to take firm action because she learned from Alfonso Gagliano's experience that, “If you want to hold on to your job, you had better not impose sanctions”?

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois has a general tendency to exaggerate, instead of looking at the facts and acting accordingly.

I repeat that the indications we had been given did not lead us to believe what happened at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. In fact, nobody could believe it. The Auditor General herself was very surprised by her findings. I think that all of us, parliamentarians as well as the government, should learn from what happened.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Lanctôt Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board said yesterday that I like to exaggerate. She also stated that the Standing Committee on Governmental Operations and Estimates was responsible for discovering the truth behind the Radwanski affair. However, the findings of the Auditor General's report contradict the President of the Treasury Board.

How can the President of the Treasury Board continue to deny all knowledge when the Auditor General's report maintains that the Treasury Board Secretariat had known since the fall of 2002 that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was guilty of heavy overspending?

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report makes recommendations to everyone: the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Public Service Commission, the Privy Council and the Treasury Board Secretariat.

In November 2002, the Treasury Board Secretariat was asked to adjust the salaries of employees, which is a standard practice in the course of day to day operations, within all departments, because we negotiate collective agreements and salaries have to be consequently adjusted accordingly.

So, there was nothing to lead us to suspect any abuse within the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. What is important now is that action is taken to correct these abuses.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Lanctôt Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, the report did not make recommendations in this respect, but rather provided findings. How can the President of the Treasury Board maintain that this report does not single her out when the Auditor General is saying that the Treasury Board Secretariat, which reports directly to her, and the Public Service Commission did not take strong action when they learned there were problems? We want the President of the Treasury Board to explain why she failed to act.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I want the hon. member for Châteauguay to make the distinction between the Public Service Commission, which reports directly to Parliament, and the Treasury Board Secretariat, which plays a role in monitoring the financial administration of the entire government.

This role has always been limited when it comes to officers of Parliament. The current situation is encouraging us to take a closer look at accountability and oversight as they relate to all officers of Parliament.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

October 1st, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Veterans Affairs has said the only reason why 23,000 widows were being excluded from the veterans independence program was a lack of funding from the Minister of Finance.

We cannot have two classes of veterans' widows. We cannot divide these loving war widows and caregivers based on when their husbands died.

When will the Minister of Finance give the Minister of Veterans Affairs the money needed to treat these brave women with dignity and equality?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul
Manitoba

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, when we sat down with the leadership of the veterans organizations, we were facing six urgent veterans issues.

They included: benefits for children of members of the forces killed in the line of duty; Canadian, allied and overseas veterans; and older veterans. As per the latter, we did not want to distinguish between health needs due to infirmities and those due to pension conditions.

One of the issues was the extension of the VIP. We did what we could with what we had.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want the Minister of Finance to answer this question.

The National Council of Veterans' Associations has called May 12, 2003, a black day in May. I call it the blackest day in Canada that we have ever had.

If a veteran died before that date, his widow will be unfairly excluded from the extended benefits of the VIP. Not only is this the worst form of discrimination, it dishonours the memories of our national heroes.

When will the Minister of Finance do the right thing and give--

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul
Manitoba

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, we have done a lot for veterans and their families. As I said in debate in this House, this issue will always be in the heart of this minister. It is not for lack of heart. It was the reality of the times in terms of limited resources.

International Aid
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Jack Layton and the NDP have consistently called on Canada--

International Aid
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.