House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask questions about a new National Post story that gives new information on dealings between the Prime Minister, the Business Development Bank and the Grand-Mère hotel. The essence of this story is that the Prime Minister interfered to get a BDC loan to an insolvent company that owed him money.

Does the Prime Minister now admit that he received a direct financial benefit from the BDC loan to Grand-Mère, a loan that he engineered?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this has been looked upon by everybody for years and I have never received a cent from this company at all in my life, not a cent. It was looked at by the ethics counsellor and by the police. There is some document that was falsified and some people do not want to give this document back to the police to complete their inquiries.

I have been in public life for 40 years and I have never been accused of anything. I have a proud record. I have never received any money from anybody. It is my word after 40 years, so I am very surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would try to dig in dirt like that.

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister is as honest as he claims, he will not mind answering these questions.

The facts are these. The Prime Minister admits that he phoned the president of the Business Development Bank to get the loan. Before the calls there were no loans. After the calls there were. Apparently the manager of the branch of the bank now says that it was because of and only because of the Prime Minister's intervention that those loans were granted to the Grand-Mère hotel.

Does the Prime Minister deny that he engineered this loan?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the facts of this case have been gone into again and again.

The hon. member has nothing new to add. He is raising questions that have been answered in the past. The ethics counsellor himself decided this very issue in November 2000 when he made it clear there was nothing improper done.

I urge the hon. member to pay attention to those facts and be very careful with what he does with a reputation of long standing.

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can answer my question and this minister can answer about Joanne Meyer. That is what should be happening.

I want to ask about the other half, the direct benefit. Conveniently, the BDC documents indicating the Prime Minister's direct benefit are missing from the record. A page listing creditors beginning with the letter J has gone missing. BDC electronic records containing Grand-Mère financial records are also missing.

Does the government, does the Prime Minister expect anyone to believe that these records are missing for any reason other than that the name of the Prime Minister's personal company is on them?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, there he is, the Leader of the Opposition, hip deep in muck, hoping that broad, unsubstantiated allegations will get him through the day when he has nothing worthwhile to ask in the House of Commons.

To these questions we say, they have been answered, there is no substance, and he should get on with something of significance to Canadians.

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the circumstances surrounding this loan are appalling. Let me quote from financial analysts at BDC who first reviewed this loan, their statement, not ours: “...the financials clearly indicated inadequate cashflow to service the current obligations of the” Grand-Mère inn.

Could the Minister of Industry, the minister responsible for the BDC, explain why this company received this loan when it clearly did not qualify, in the words of the BDC analysts themselves?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the member might well reread the questions from Hansard posed in the past, asked and answered time and again, the same old questions and the same responses.

The answers are on the record. These matters were inquired into over time. All the facts are known. There is nothing new here.

The hon. member is asking them because he cannot find an issue of relevance to the Canadian people on which he has a position of any value.

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is relevant because it talks about respect for an independent crown corporation and respect for taxpayers' dollars.

A critical page of the Grand-Mère loan file has vanished. An electronic document has been erased from BDC computers. The missing page is the one on which any reference to the Prime Minister's family company would have appeared.

As the minister responsible for BDC, has he or will he launch an investigation into this matter?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, there have been investigations into this matter. These matters have been looked into. They have been asked about time and again and responses have been given.

That is a party bankrupt of ideas, bankrupt of policy, with nothing to offer, which is revisiting matters that have been looked into in the past, and we say they should get on with something that is of relevance to the Canadian people.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

May 12th, 2003 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the softwood lumber crisis began, the federal government could have helped this industry by providing loan guarantees, as allowed under the international agreements, but it did nothing of the sort. After letting the companies struggle along for two years, the Minister for International Trade is now prepared to sell them out by negotiating a unfavourable resolution to this conflict.

Since our softwood lumber is not subsidized and since the WTO will uphold our claims in less than a week, why has the Minister for International Trade decided to back down and further undermine these companies?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we have no intention whatsoever of backing down. Since the start, this government has always said that forestry practices in all provinces had already passed the test and were legal. We are continuing before the WTO and NAFTA, and we have total confidence in the decisions these international tribunals will hand down.

However, to expedite matters, in partnership with the provinces, we sat down with the Americans to see if this situation could be clarified with regard to the future.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if it is true that the tribunals will rule in our favour and the government truly believes this, then why is it imposing an export tax? Why seek a resolution instead of continuing with its claims? If a resolution is reached, the claims will be dropped. The Americans will demand this. Why not continue since we are assured victory?

This means that, until then, loan guarantees should be granted to keep things running. The government is preparing to do what it did in the past. If we back down again, the same problems will occur in another four or five years. I call that backing down.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we have won many times with regard to softwood lumber, and we keep ending up back at square one. The government is trying to sit down with the United States and have a dialogue about forestry systems as a whole, precisely to avoid having to go through this again in three, four or five years.

The Bloc is telling us, “Continue before the tribunals, we are going to win”. Yes, we are going to win. But the next day, the Americans will start all over again with a new petition. We want to resolve this situation once and for all and ensure unrestricted free trade for softwood lumber.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the closer we get to the date of the WTO and NAFTA decisions on softwood lumber, the less definite the Canadian position toward the United States becomes, whereas it ought to be firming up instead.

Is the present strategy of the federal government not likely to weaken our position, and take us back to square one as far as the softwood lumber issue is concerned, since the minister is preparing to back down—as he stated this past week—mere weeks before decisions in favour of the Canadian softwood lumber industry are brought down? Will he stand firm?