House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Public Service Commission
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a system that works. If somebody is abusing public funds, the Auditor General does her job. If there are criminal activities, it is referred to the RCMP.

I can see the frustration of the leader of the Conservative Party at this moment, but I want to tell him, I do not want to be a marriage counsellor because he has problems with the marriage with his friends in front.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General said she was outraged by George Radwanski's spending, and rightly so. In her words, “he abused funds”. However, the amount of Canadian tax that Canada Steamship Lines avoided paying is at least 12 times bigger than the amount wasted by Mr. Radwanski.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister, if the Auditor General's report about Radwanski, as he said a few minutes earlier, shows the system is working, does the government's failure to listen to the Auditor General on tax havens show the system is broken?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have been through this discussion with respect to the treatment of business income earned through active business entities based in other jurisdictions in the past. In a number of cases we have tax treaties with countries like Ireland and Barbados. In those cases, in order to make changes, obviously a renegotiation of those treaties would be required. No, we do not unilaterally abrogate them and they do serve some important other purposes.

Ottawa Centre Constituency
Oral Question Period

September 30th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, one would think that the government would want to get a little more comfortable, a little more forthright, about defending the former finance minister's corporate record before the election.

Mr. Radwanski's waste of public funds is truly appalling, but the cost attached to Mac Harb's Senate appointment is eight times bigger than the amount wasted by Radwanski.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister, when will the voters of Ottawa Centre get to decide whether Mac Harb is worth the cost and call a byelection?

Ottawa Centre Constituency
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there will be a byelection when the decision is made, but I do not know why the NDP is so anxious to lose another fight.

Voyageur Colonial Pension Fund
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is supposed to protect the pensions of federally regulated workers, but that is not how it is working. In OSFI rulings, the new Liberal leader got an $82.5 million payout on his pension plan, his managers got $10 million, but his Voyageur bus drivers just got stiffed. Their pensions went down 30%.

My question is, does the finance minister really think that those rulings are fair?

Voyageur Colonial Pension Fund
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member knows first of all that OSFI operates on an independent basis. Second, the review of the pension plan is based on the agreements that were in place between, in one case, the union and the company and in the other case, on behalf of the non-unionized employees and the company. OSFI's responsibility to ensure that the terms of the contracts were fully respected was one that they undertook and which they carried out with the independence upon which the office is based.

Voyageur Colonial Pension Fund
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest the minister take a look at the backroom dealings that the former finance minister was involved in.

The Liberal leader's pension payout: $82 million. His Voyageur manager's pension payout: $10 million. Reductions in the pension for Voyageur bus drivers: 30%. Revealing the scandalous behaviour of the new Liberal leader: priceless.

When will the Minister of Finance do his job and order an independent audit of that file?

Voyageur Colonial Pension Fund
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, accuracy of allegations: zero. Responsibility of accusations: zero.

I am getting a little fed up with the fact that these people come into the House and cast aspersions against an honourable person, suggesting that in no circumstance can somebody with broad business interests ever hold an important office in Canada because somebody over there is going to come in here and make unfounded allegations that are completely scurrilous. They are irresponsible.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has stated that the office of the Privacy Commissioner does not report directly to Treasury Board. The Auditor General, however, is clear. She said, “Nevertheless, if central agencies”—such as the Treasury Board— “become aware of wrongdoing by parliamentary officers,”—such as the Privacy Commissioner—“they are obliged to take corrective action.”

In the light of this analysis by the Auditor General, will the Prime Minister admit that his statements are only intended to create a diversion and protect the President of the Treasury Board, who has not done her job?

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, let us be a little more careful about what the Auditor General actually said. I have quoted her exact words, from her report and from the other statements she has made.

At the moment, we are on entirely new ground. The Auditor General is auditing another officer of Parliament, which raises questions of accountability and oversight of officers of Parliament. It is very clear that I will work with the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and with the officers of Parliament to put a new system in place.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not new ground; this is old Liberal territory. Every time there is a problem, it is the fault of the public servants. Every time there is a problem, no minister is responsible. That was the case with Alfonso Gagliano, and he became an ambassador. The minister will soon become a senator or whatever. It is their way of burying problems, by blaming other people.

I ask the Prime Minister, who has spent his career accepting the unacceptable, if, for once, he will say, “What was done was wrong and it is our responsibility. Radwanski was wrong and the President of the Treasury Board—

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Former Privacy Commissioner
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we did. When the House committee responsible for these matters looked into the affair that led to Mr. Radwanski's resignation, we asked the Auditor General to carry out this study, on the recommendation of the committee.

The Auditor General is also an officer of the House of Commons, as is the President of the Public Service Commission, which reports to the House of Commons. It is the duty of members of the committee, which includes some members of the Bloc Quebecois, to examine the issue and make their recommendations. At present, this matter has been treated fairly and equitably by all the parties involved.

Sex Offender Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Supreme Court ruled that the government's changes to dangerous offender laws made it easier for murderers and rapists to serve their time in the community rather than the prison they deserve.

Now the Liberal government is trying to pass a sex offender registry that excludes the names of those convicted of preying on children.

Why does the Solicitor General insist on protecting the interests of convicted criminals when they are destroying the lives of Canadian children?