House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

Ethics
Oral Question Period

October 21st, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am forced today to return to the industry minister. After staying at the Irving fishing lodge, the industry minister was subjected to a blackout on the Irving files by the ethics counsellor.

We have reviewed the industry minister's statements from yesterday and contrary to his statements, we believe he was involved in these files.

I will get to these conflicts of interest in a second, but my question for the minister is this. Has he tendered his resignation or has he spoken to the Prime Minister or the new Liberal leader about the appropriateness of his actions in this matter?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I told the ethics counsellor fully about the trip. After taking his advice to disqualify myself from involvement in other Irving matters, I disqualified myself.

Issues were raised last week to which I have responded. I have also referred some of those issues to the ethics counsellor to have his views on the subjects, as well.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, he should be speaking to at least one of his leaders so we know whether that party thinks these are appropriate actions.

In May 2002, after the industry minister began lobbying for a bailout package for the Irvings, the ethics counsellor told the minister to stay out of these files, to stay out of decisions on Irving business. However in June 2003 we know that the industry minister actually co-signed a $55 million package for Irving, while under the blackout.

Why did he not consult the ethics counsellor on the deal before signing off on it?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is very important to know that the decision in respect of that matter was made by people other than me. I had disqualified myself. The decision was made and contained in the budget of February 18. The document at the end of May was solely for the purpose of putting the matter before Treasury Board so it could decide on releasing the funds.

The Minister of Industry is required, as a technical matter, to sign the document. I do not believe that is a conflict. I have asked the ethics counsellor to look at it. I believe that I was well within the terms of the recusal, but I have asked the ethics counsellor to look at it, and he has agreed to do so.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I submit that the minister has asked the ethics counsellor now because he knows he should have asked then and he should have not done it. That is why he is asking now.

I will give another example. Once again, while under the ethics counsellor's blackout, in March 2003 the minister successfully lobbied cabinet for a financial aid package for the shipbuilding industry. The changes would result in direct benefit to the Irving business, one of the largest shipbuilders in the country.

On this conflict of interest, could the minister tell the House how he could not possibly have known that Irving would benefit directly from his decision in this matter?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the member may be referring to the structured financing facility, which is to assist purchasers of ships who come to Canada to get ships made or to buy them to buy down the interest rate they pay. That was a program started under my predecessor. I brought to my colleagues a proposal to change that program. It was for the shipbuilding industry as a whole, not for the Irvings or any particular yard.

I believe that is within the terms of my recusal. However, again, because this issue has been raised, I have referred it to the ethics counsellor and he has been kind enough to say he would review it.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, shortly after the resignation of the public works minister over his weekend jaunt to chateau Boulay, the Minister of Industry jetted over to see the ethics counsellor to find out how he could cover his tracks of his extravagant escapade to the palatial Irving fishing lodge.

The former minister of public works was relieved of his duties because he violated the code of ethics. The industry minister has done the identical thing. He is in a clear conflict of interest.

Why then does the Prime Minister simply not fire the Minister of Industry for having committed an identical breach?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I can only speak for myself. I can say that I approached the ethics counsellor after I became Minister of Industry and when the nature of the files before me made it obvious that I should do so. I spoke to the ethics counsellor in detail about the trip. He provided me with advice, which was to get out of files where the direct interests of the Irving company were involved by decisions that might be taken. I followed that advice.

Last week questions were raised about the items raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I referred those matters to the ethics counsellor. I believe I acted within the appropriate terms of the recusal, but the ethics counsellor has agreed to review it and for that I am grateful.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, after checking with an independent broker in New Brunswick on the cost of the industry minister's trip to the Irving fishing lodge, it was revealed that the cost of a private jet to New Brunswick was $19,000, the cost of staying at a luxury resort for a couple of days, $2,000, the cost of a New Brunswick salmon fishing licence, if he bought one, $40.25, and the savings to the Canadian taxpayer if the minister resigns, priceless. When will the Minister of Industry do the right thing and tender his resignation?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is--

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The Deputy Prime Minister has the floor and hon. members will want to hear the answer.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

John Manley Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is more than a little ironic to hear this member talking about ethics when there are still some outstanding questions that Mr. Orchard has put to him about his reliability.

Let it be understood that this is a minister who has acted with the utmost integrity. He has referred any outstanding issues to the ethics counsellor for his commentary. It would behoove the House to await the response of the ethics counsellor to those questions.

1995 Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a book to be released, journalist Lawrence Martin says that the federal government was prepared to send the army into Quebec the day after a yes victory in the 1995 referendum.

The journalist even quoted the current Minister of Transport as saying, and I quote, “I was minister of defence. There were things that went on that had to be prepared for”.

Will the Minister of Transport tell us whether the army was at the ready to move into Quebec in the event of a yes victory?

1995 Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately for Mr. Martin, the Prime Minister has already denied these allegations.