House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was human.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General, and it is the fifth time I have asked the question. I would like to have a really straight answer. I will ask it very simply.

Did any agency of the Government of Canada, RCMP, CSIS or any agency or department give any agency in the United States any information about Maher Arar before, during or after he was detained in New York?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, again along the lines of previous answers I have given, I will have to keep it as simple as I can for the member.

The facts are that the RCMP was not involved in the decision made by United States authorities to deport Mr. Arar and it did not at any time suggest to the United States authorities that Mr. Arar should be deported to Syria. Those are the simple facts and that is the answer.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Mr. Sergei Ivanov, the Defence Minister of the Russian Federation.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Roger Dehaybe, General Administrator of the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a point of order from the Minister of National Defence.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

October 6th, 2003 / 3 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify that the vehicle that will replace the Iltis jeep is the Mercedes G wagon.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period you ruled me out of order for asking the finance minister a question about commitments that might have been made by the member for LaSalle—Émard.

I wanted to raise this with you, Mr. Speaker, to get a better understanding as to where it is you see a boundary or a line because clearly other members in the House have been raising questions about the de facto prime minister with the finance minister and the Prime Minister and they have not been ruled out of order.

As far as I can see from Marleau and Montpetit, as long as my question was within the realm of the administrative responsibility of the minister in question, which I believe it was, then I am not clear on why it was ruled out of order. Maybe you could clarify that because I actually do want to understand what the issue or concern is from your point of view.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The question I heard, although I did not hear the last few words of it, was had the Minister of Finance had a discussion with the member for LaSalle—Émard concerning some proposed government policy that the member for LaSalle—Émard might want when he was prime minister.

It seemed to me that was beyond the administrative competence of the government. His responsibility and who he talks to maybe the subject of one question, but whether he had spoken with that member in particular did not strike me as something that had to do with the administrative responsibility of the government.

I will look at the question again and if I think otherwise I will certainly inform the hon. member and will allow the question. However, from what I heard, it sounded out of order to me because it sounded as though it was soliciting an opinion of somebody who was not a member of the government in respect of a government policy.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide further information on the point of order raised in the House on October 2 by the hon. member for St. Albert.

The member noted that the Auditor General's report on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner suggested that the office exceeded its authorized parliamentary expenditure for 2002-03 appropriations by a sum of $234,000 in unpaid liabilities and that the office had submitted inaccurate information in that respect, or so the allegation goes.

I would like to advise the House that the office in question had decided, so I am informed, not to accrue certain payables, including those for performance pay and salary, but to record the expenditures in fiscal year 2003-04 rather than record these expenditures in fiscal year 2002-03 as required by the Financial Administration Act and the Treasury Board policy on payables at year end.

Upon being alerted by the Office of the Auditor General that expenditures had not been recorded accurately, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, with direction from the Treasury Board Secretariat, processed an accounting entry to record the expenditures properly in the year 2002-03.

This item is now being handled under a well-established process which I will now describe.

The Financial Administration Act and the Treasury Board policies set out a clear authorization process for dealing with such expenditures.

Members will no doubt know that section 37.1 of the Financial Administration Act require that:

--a debt incurred by Her Majesty...and any amount due or owing under a contract, contribution or other similar arrangement entered into before the end of the fiscal year that remains unpaid at the end of the fiscal year, shall be recorded as a charge against the appropriation to which it relates.

Furthermore, the Treasury Board policy on payables at the end of the year states:

It is the policy of the Government of Canada to record liabilities to outside organizations and individuals incurred up to and including March 31st...and to charge them to existing appropriations...even when the appropriation has been, or will be over-expended.

Therefore, the $234,000 will be recorded in the public accounts for 2002-03 since that is the year when the expenses were incurred.

This will result in reporting in the Public Accounts 2002-03 an overexpenditure on that vote, in this case Vote 45 of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, by approximately $234,000, which is the amount that I was describing a moment ago.

Section 37.1 of the Financial Administration Act authorizes the payment of these overexpenditures through a well-established process for handling this kind of situation.

This section requires that when, and I quote:

--a payment is made that results in an expenditure that is in excess of an appropriation,

(a) the amount by which the expenditure exceeds the balance then remaining in the appropriation constitutes a first charge against the next appropriation of the immediately subsequent fiscal year;

Under the Treasury Board policy on payables at year end, it states:

Where the limit of an appropriation is overexpended...a reserved allotment for the amount of the excess must be established against the equivalent appropriation in the following fiscal year.

Otherwise there would be no mechanism for paying it.

Through the reserved allotment, Treasury Board controls the discharge of the overexpenditure.

In conclusion, Parliament, through the Financial Administration Act, anticipated payments in excess of appropriations, as they sometimes occur and in such special cases, and established in that act the means by which such special expenditures can be authorized and charged against the appropriation of the next year.

The expenditure in question is being dealt with in the proper way. If the Table or you, Mr. Speaker, need to have access to the documentation, the actual pages of the existing Treasury Board policy and the Financial Administration Act, I will gladly arrange for the officials to make those available to Mr. Speaker to render his decision should those be necessary. However I believe the explanation that I gave was quite clear and that most members will have understood it full well and will be more than satisfied.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. government House leader for his assistance on this matter and will continue to take the matter under advisement after that fine exposition on the law and practice in relation to this very technical and important matter.

Commissioner of Official Languages
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table, in both official languages, the annual report of the Commissioner of Official Languages covering the period from April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)( f ), this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

moved that Bill S-7, an act to protect heritage lighthouses, be read the first time.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present another petition on behalf of farmers and others who were hard hit by the BSE crisis, particularly in Ontario. The petitioners point out that the Canadian beef cattle, dairy goat and sheep industries are in a state of crisis due to BSE. The whole industry is in a state of crisis. They point out that the aid package to the industry is inadequate because it does not deal with the disastrously low prices and the imminent collapse of key sectors of the rural economy.

They call upon Parliament to open the American border to Canadian cattle now and as soon as possible develop a long term solution, an economic relief, that is fair and reflects the importance of these industries in Canada.