House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

October 20th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General is an independent watchdog of government spending. Here is what she found out about the $100 million purchase of luxury jets for the cabinet. First off, the jets were not needed; second, the money was spent suspiciously right at year end; and finally, there was no tendering of the contract.

Why did the former finance minister sign the cheques for this deal when it was so flawed and the priority so low?

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure where the hon. member got those quotes because it is my understanding the report of the Auditor General has yet to be released. It would be very difficult for me to comment on a report that I have not read because it has not been released.

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been leaked so that every journalist in the country knows what is in it.

The executive jets for Liberal cabinet ministers are new and flying 99% of the time. Sea Kings are old and spend much too much time on the ground for repairs. My question stands. Why are the priorities of the next Liberal leader so mixed up that he would sign off on this flawed process when the priority was so low?

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, since the hon. member mentioned Sea Kings, I might mention that my colleague, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and I have been working diligently to assure the fastest possible delivery of the new helicopter.

Indeed, just as that great economist Adam Smith once said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher...or the baker, that we expect our dinner”, so too is it not to the benevolence of the helicopter companies that we will seek speedy delivery? That is why my colleague and I are in the process of designing penalties for slow delivery and bonuses for fast delivery, which go to the bottom line--

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the respective memberships of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party will be interested to know that far from waiting to see what they thought of the matter, the union has been consummated on the floor of the House of Commons here in question period before they even get to say anything.

In the end, what is the difference between a marriage of convenience and a flag of convenience? Why does the right not go the whole way, sign up with the member for LaSalle—Émard and get it over with. We will have one big united right in this country with only the NDP standing up for what counts?

I want to ask the minister--

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member has run out of time. We are in question period, not S. O. 31s. The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona may have a supplementary question.

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the government House leader, does he not think the people of Canada are entitled to hear what the Auditor General has to say in a timely way when she is supposed to report? Will he guarantee that the House will live up to the calendar that it is bound by? Will he tell us that the House will be sitting and if it is not sitting, will he at least be honest and tell us we are not sitting so we can do something about it?

Auditor General's Report
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is getting a little agitated. He should know that the Auditor General can report four times a year. We are into that quarter. There is no one that stops the Auditor General from reporting and from tabling her report before the House of Commons.

Insofar as the parliamentary calendar is concerned, that is published on a weekly basis. His seatmate attends regularly and does an excellent job at the House leaders meeting. He should have a little bit more confidence in her than that.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government pays little attention to ethics. It seems clear that the ethics counsellor makes up rules on the fly and whether a member chooses to obey those rules or not is optional. The ethics counsellor instructed the Minister of Industry to remove himself from dealings with the Irving family and the Minister of Industry blatantly refused.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister explain to the House why his ethics standards are optional?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I sought the advice of the ethics counsellor. I followed his advice absolutely. I am satisfied that in every respect I complied with the direction of the ethics counsellor by not involving myself in any decisions that directly affected the interests of the Irving companies.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry accepted gifts from the Irving family well over the $200 limit. Not only did the member accept the gift, he delayed in reporting the gift and he ignored instructions from the ethics counsellor to remove himself from decisions affecting the Irving empire.

The Minister of Public Works did exactly the same thing and was forced to resign. Maybe the Minister of Industry could explain the double standard. I would like to hear his explanation.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I made full disclosure to the ethics counsellor with respect to the matter in question. The ethics counsellor provided me with advice. I took that advice and followed it to the letter. I excluded myself from decisions that directly involved the interests of the Irving companies. That was the advice and I followed it.

St. Lawrence Seaway
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last June, the federal government refused to even do a study of dredging and widening the St. Lawrence Seaway in order to allow large vessels to move from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Now, only a few months later, we learn the government is in favour of the project.

What happened in the last four months to prompt this total about-face by the federal government as far as the seaway is concerned?

St. Lawrence Seaway
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. government has decided to examine the possibility of expanding the St. Lawrence Seaway. We find this of interest, but we require studies before undertaking expansion.