House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was leader.

Topics

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister has been repeatedly asked questions this week about his actions on the Irving file. Yesterday I reviewed his answers from Hansard and what I found was that he was giving the same pre-rehearsed, scripted response to every single question.

I would tell the minister that this is simply not good enough. I am going to ask one of the questions I asked yesterday and I expect a specific answer. Has he consulted the new Liberal leader to see whether his standards of actions on this file were acceptable?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. There seems to be a lot of yelling whether the question is in order or not.

The Minister of Industry is free to consult with whomever he wants. Whether he wishes to answer the question is up to him. If he does not wish to answer, then he does not have to answer. That is the rule in question period. There is a freedom to consult people. It seems to me it is legitimate for members to ask. If a member has consulted a particular individual, he might have consulted me.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the person I consulted was the ethics counsellor. He is the person to whom I made complete disclosure.

If there is a sameness to my answers, it is because I am telling the straightforward facts that are relevant to the issues being raised. The fact is that I spoke to the ethics counsellor, sought his advice and followed his advice to the letter.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the same stonewalling as yesterday.

The ethics counsellor already gave the minister his judgment. It was not to be involved in the Irving file. He got involved. He is now forced to consult the ethics counsellor again.

Has the minister consulted either of his leaders to see whether his standard of behaviour on this file is acceptable to the government?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, what is relevant to the question is the question of ethics. The counsellor is there for that very purpose. It was the ethics counsellor I consulted. I made full disclosure of the relevant facts. I sought his advice and accepted it.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister still has outstanding questions in front of the ethics counsellor.

Frankly, the Prime Minister or the new leader should be able to say whether these standards are acceptable to the government.

I am asking the question again, because we have asked questions but we have not yet got any answers.

The industry minister continues to give his prerecorded answers, scripted in advance. It is inappropriate for him to shirk this responsibility.

Has he consulted the new Liberal leader in order to determine whether his conduct meets the government's ethical standards?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I have answered every question concerning my behaviour in this matter. I have responded to the issues raised by the opposition. I consulted the ethics counsellor about the real questions raised by the opposition and I can say that I sought, accepted and followed the ethics counsellor's advice.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, article 23(1) of the conflict of interest code states clearly that “A public office holder shall take care to avoid being placed”--or the appearance of being placed--“under an obligation to any person or organization”.

The Minister of Industry has admitted to enjoying a family vacation paid for by the Irving Corporation far beyond the $200 allowable limit.

My question is simple. Exactly what part of being placed or the appearance of being placed under an obligation to any person or organization does the Minister of Industry not understand?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, at the time this occurred I was minister of health and, for one reason or another, I did not perceive a conflict.

When I became Minister of Industry and began dealing with files that affected this sector and this particular family, I did consult the ethics counsellor. I made full disclosure and I asked for advice on how I could continue my work and avoid a conflict of interest.

I received that advice and I followed it.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry would like Canadians to believe that his not reporting his free vacation from the Irving empire was a simple oversight and yet we know he clearly knew the rules.

On six occasions the Minister of Industry filed declarations with the ethics counsellor claiming such gifts as tea cups, a clock and some CDs. However he did not report the greatest gift of all. He hid his free, all expense paid vacation from the ethics counsellor.

As a result, will the minister do the right thing and resign?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it was a mistake not to declare the trip at the time. In fact, it was a mistake to go on the trip.

The fact is that when I was in circumstances that brought the possibility of conflict into focus, and before I was involved in any decisions that affected the interest of the family, I did make disclosure. I told the ethics counsellor about it. The ethics counsellor gave me advice, which I followed to the letter.

Team Canada Trade Missions
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the successor of the present Prime Minister has made it known that he questions the appropriateness of Team Canada's trade missions, which were initiated by the present Prime Minister. Eddie Goldenberg, chief of staff to the present PM, who is currently in China, has reacted by calling this “stupid”.

Is this not just one more example, actually the perfect illustration, of the fact that the motion before this House calling upon the Prime Minister to leave soon so as to get the government working again is totally justified?

Team Canada Trade Missions
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I believe Mr. Goldenberg has clearly explained what he said in China. It is clear, I think, that each government makes its own decisions while in power. It will be up to the next government to decide whether or not it wants to continue the Team Canada missions.

Team Canada Trade Missions
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister is in China, trying to develop trade connections with that country, his successor back here is stabbing him in the back. That is reality.

Does the government not realize that this cannot go on, because the infighting within the Liberal Party is not only paralyzing Parliament and the workings of government, but is now spilling out onto the international scene?