House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Minister of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I indicated yesterday that there are some problems with this kind of question. I hope that the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is taking my remarks of yesterday into account.

If the question is how much was spent, then I feel this is not an appropriate question to ask in this place, because this is outside the purview of ministers in the performance of their ministerial duties.

If the hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance wants to answer, he may do so. He has the floor.

Minister of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Morrison is a friend of mine. There is no doubt about that.

He is the former president of the Brewers Association of Canada; he no longer is the president. But the association made a presentation before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance when he was the president, and I did not accept what the Brewers Association was proposing. He remained my friend anyway.

We took a vacation, and I paid all my expenses. Ask a travel agent how much it costs; they can tell you. As far as I am concerned, it is a privilege—

Minister of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Minister of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is important to know how much it cost, because if the minister paid $500 for a luxury vacation worth $15,000, there is a problem.

At the very least, there is an apparent conflict of interest. To be sailing in the Caribbean with the former president of the Brewers Association of Canada, who is still an adviser with the association, days after making a decision unfavourable to the microbreweries, reeks if not of apparent conflict of interest, then of plain conflict of interest.

Minister of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this has absolutely nothing to do with the duties and responsibilities of the Minister of Finance. He clearly stated his opinion in the House of Commons and said that he knew this person who, at the time, was no longer the president of the Brewers Association of Canada. This is no big thing, really.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, for 10 years the Liberals have promised our military new helicopters to replace the aging Sea Kings, but all the military has seen since 1993 is excuses, delays and political interference in the procurement process.

Now we have heard that despite the fact that NHI Eurocopter did not meet pre-qualification, DND bureaucrats and some high profile Liberal friends seem to be working overtime to ensure the Eurocopter is kept in the running.

Why is the Liberal government continuing to interfere with the Sea King replacement process?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there has been absolutely no interference in that process. In terms of the hon. member's point as to speedy delivery of the helicopter, I have made it clear and my colleague in Public Works has made it clear that acting in the here and now, we have taken concrete steps to speed up the delivery.

We have gone from two contracts to one contract. We are instituting a system of bonuses and penalties to ensure that companies deliver as fast as possible. I am ensuring that the money is in the budget to get those helicopters as quickly as possible.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, if 10 years is speedy, I would hate to see what slow is.

The Eurocopter did not meet some pretty basic qualifications, things like rotors, cabin configuration, weight, and even the type of missions that it could be capable of carrying out. Not surprisingly, this is not the first time the procurement process has been tampered with by the government. Deadlines have been missed, qualifications have been rejigged and contracts have been split and then rejoined, all to avoid political embarrassment for the Prime Minister.

Why is the government so willing to bend the rules for Eurocopter?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you and I can assure the hon. gentleman that the Minister of National Defence and I have bent no rules for any contractor. We want a fair process that gets the right aircraft at the most economical price and as rapidly as possible.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the Maher Arar case, I do not think we have ever seen a government so energetically trying not to get to the bottom of anything. This situation needs to be fixed. Fortunately the members of the foreign affairs committee feel otherwise and they recommended by a majority vote with all parties participating that there be a public inquiry into the Maher Arar case to find out what kind of Canadian complicity there was and what happened to Mr. Arar.

I ask the Solicitor General, will he finally listen to reason and call for the public inquiry for which we have been calling for so long?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for other countries, but I can and do speak for the RCMP and CSIS. I can assure the House that those agencies are operating under their mandates and under Canadian law.

Further, the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has compiled those allegations and in fact has set a process in place to look into those allegations. That process was set up by a previous Parliament. It was set up to deal with these kinds of issues. I am sure that she will deal with this issue through the proper process.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we need an inquiry to find out how the Americans got hold of Mr. Arar's lease, or for that matter to find out whether or not we are in fact contracting out torture to the Syrians.

My second question is for the Minister of Agriculture, having to do with the Alberta government now moving to help farmers circumvent the Wheat Board. The government has not stood up to Alberta in the past when it has undermined health care. Could the Minister of Agriculture tell us today, will he stand up to Alberta now and help prevent the erosion of the Canadian Wheat Board?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wheat Board is established under Canadian federal law. The control of the Wheat Board is vested in the hands of its board of directors. That board of directors consists of 15 members, two-thirds of whom are directly elected by farmers themselves. I am quite content to trust the judgment of farmers.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister told the House that the president of the United States flies a Sea King between the White House and Camp David but he forgot to mention that the president's Sea Kings were built more than 10 years after ours and that they are due to be replaced before ours. Nor did he inform us that the Americans are looking to replace their Sea Kings based on a best value system.

Why does the Prime Minister insist on buying the cheapest aircraft for our military instead of the best it can get for the money?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are seeking, the best for our money, which is why we are having a bidding process. We hope three or four companies will put in bids so we will get the best helicopter at the lowest cost possible. What taxpayers will have for their money is what they are investing in these helicopters.