House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine said she raised the sponsorship issue in caucus as early as 1999. She asked, among other things, why grants were going to companies that had not done anything. The Prime Minister said it was an administrative problem. It is not administrative, but criminal to pay money to people who have done nothing.

My question is for the Prime Minister. In light of the principle he has just announced at a press conference, that those who knew and did nothing should step down, should he not lead by example and step down himself?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was the deputy minister himself, when he was testifying before the committee in charge of reviewing expenses, who said that the problem that year was an administrative problem. It was the same year the whole Groupaction affair came to light. But it was the deputy minister himself who, after having done an internal audit, said it was an administrative problem.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, by hiding behind a flimsy argument like that, he makes it obvious that this action is criminal. In the case of the Prime Minister, who was finance minister and vice-president of the Treasury Board, could we speak not of departmental solidarity, but rather of departmental complicity?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is much of a revelation to imagine or hear that members of caucus were talking about the sponsorship program. Some may have had concerns about it. That is very likely where the initial concerns came from that led to the administrative review and the internal audit in 2000.

That went on with an administrative review, with an action plan, as far as cabinet was reported to and Treasury Board was reported to, of how to deal with the administrative difficulties. It was the member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell, then, when he became minister of public works, who identified the problem and referred Groupaction to the Auditor General--

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lotbinière-L'Érable.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton East and former heritage minister said that in her opinion, there certainly had been questions about the sponsorship program at the Treasury Board, and that the vice-president of the Treasury Board and finance minister at the time should have taken the necessary action.

How can the Prime Minister justify doing nothing, when he knew what was going on and it was his duty to act, as the former heritage minister has said?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the former minister of public works, in January 2001, sent a letter to members of Treasury Board attaching an action plan which was to address the administrative difficulties that were identified in the internal audit, with the action plan spreading over approximately one year to deal with these administrative issues. That was what was sent to Treasury Board and that is on the record.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General said in her report that the Treasury Board approved supplementary estimates for the sponsorships and that her responsibility was to check that everything was in compliance.

Why did the vice-president of the Treasury Board not do this?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, it is true that Treasury Board approved the request for additional funding for the delivery of the sponsorship program in November 1997, as departments are required to do. The money was approved. It went to the department to process and it handled the program from then, until such time as concerns were raised, at which time the auditor was brought in and action was undertaken. It is not that complicated.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

February 12th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister, whose excuse on both corporate and government scandals is that he is blameless because he is clueless.

The NDP has told him what is really going on with star wars and it is in the public record in the United States, but the Prime Minister still pretends that he has no clue that missile defence is in fact star wars.

Is the Prime Minister not coming clean on star wars because he believes that there are 14 clever rogue employees in the Department of National Defence who are not asking cabinet's permission to weaponize space?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I think there are some rogue members over on the other side, who perhaps will have an opportunity to debate this issue. On Tuesday night in the House, we will have a full take note debate about this issue. We can examine all the potential benefits of the program which we are looking at and all of the problems.

One thing I can assure you of, Mr. Speaker, and the Prime Minister made it clear in question period and this government has made it perpetually clear, we are not engaging in a program which will lead this country to or be engaged in any program which has anything to do with the weaponization of space or star wars.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a funny way to deal with the democratic deficit to have the Prime Minister willing to talk outside the House for half an hour to reporters but not answer questions inside the House from members of Parliament.

I have a question for the Prime Minister. No doubt some Liberal prime minister will one day want thanks for wanting to get to the bottom of how we helped to weaponize space, but it strikes me that both the Prime Minister and President Bush both have trouble being wholesome when it comes to the question of weapons.

Therefore I ask the Prime Minister this. Mr. Bush lied about why he went to war in Iraq and now he is talking about weapons again. I have one very simple question. Does the Prime Minister trust President Bush?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is correct for the hon. member to suggest that when the minister responsible for foreign affairs answers a question about foreign affairs in the House it is something to do with the democratic deficit.

This Prime Minister has trust in his cabinet and he has trust in caucus. We work together on this issue. Our caucus is united. We discussed this. This will not take Canada toward star wars. We will engage in discussions with the United States about the security of our country in the North American continent for the best interests of Canada and Canadians, finale.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the sponsorship scandal continues to spread through this whole government. Indeed, we learned that the companies involved in this scam gave money for the election campaigns of the Minister of Health and of the government House leader.

I want to know if the Prime Minister will suspend these cabinet ministers during the public inquiry?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, political donations are a matter of public record. There is no evidence before the House, before us in government, that links money paid to companies under the sponsorship program directly to political parties or individuals. However, donations are a matter of public record.

What I would like to say is we have four processes going on at the moment: a public inquiry, the public accounts committee, RCMP investigations, and a special counsel appointed for financial recoveries. If there is evidence of any link, please, hon. members, bring it forward to any one of those processes and it will be dealt with appropriately.