House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister met with the mayors of the big cities of the metropolitan region, with no representatives of the Government of Quebec present, and promised them more money, provided the Government of Quebec does its part.

Can the Prime Minister explain how he could, with one hand, substantially reduce the equalization transfer payments to Quebec by $1.5 billion over three years, and, with the other hand, create additional budgetary pressure on Quebec by using the big city mayors? Is this not a totally irresponsible way to act?

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the entitlements under the revised formula for equalization across the country will be going up by some $1.3 billion over the course of the next five years.

Obviously, we want an equalization program that is strong and robust. We wish to help municipalities in this country. I have noted that the mayors of Quebec City, Montreal, Laval and Gatineau have all applauded the measures taken by the government with respect to cities.

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is creating additional pressure on Quebec while cutting the equalization payments on which it relies.

Is the Prime Minister going to realize that it is not his place to negotiate directly with the municipalities, that the Government of Quebec is completely capable of assuming its responsibilities without him, and that his role is to deal with the fiscal imbalance that has left Ottawa with too much money for its responsibilities and Quebec with too little? Quebec is being strangled.

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, not only has there been no encroachment, but we talked with the big cities about immigration, the environment, our infrastructure capabilities, and the partnership we have enjoyed for years and years. We worked very hard and it was an excellent meeting. I want to congratulate the mayors of the big cities for holding this meeting, for taking this initiative, and for showing leadership for all cities in Canada.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

February 24th, 2004 / 2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, as far as we can tell, here is the scuzzy little arrangement that works for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Mr. Jamie Kelley blew the whistle on the Liberal cover up and here is how it worked. We make an application to the minister's office. Right away the minister and his staff respond with “No problem, sir. We have a secret slush fund just for this purpose”. Within days we get a call from Media IDA Vision, the same Media IDA Vision which commissioned the transfer of sponsorship funds to crown corporations that have been disciplined with a smack on the fingers today.

How can the minister make us believe that he did not know about this scuzzy Liberal cover up?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we are getting some accusations from the other side, but let us look at the facts.

A very valid and respected festival in the minister's riding was proposed in a four page proposal with 15 pages of endorsements from community supporters.

The application went to the minister's constituency office. It in turn informed the applicant where to send the application at public works. The festival got funded, not for the full amount applied for, but enough to support a very valid and successful festival.

I would like everyone on the other side to stand up and say what festivals in their--

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Ho, oh.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Before the hon. member for Fraser Valley asks his question, I would urge hon. members to listen to the questions and answers.

The minister has to answer a question and the member of the opposition has to be able to hear the answer in order to ask an intelligent supplementary. It makes it very difficult to do that if we cannot hear and everyone is yelling. The hon. member for Fraser Valley is doing his best, I am sure.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thought the principle of ministerial accountability might have the actual minister stand up and respond to this.

Here is how it worked according to the member from the Laurier Club, Mr. Kelley. There was a secret slush fund that one could get hold of at the minister's office. A letter was then written to Mr. Tremblay, the chief of staff to Alfonso Gagliano. Within a few days the minister would contact Mr. Gagliano and arrange all the fine details.

As far as Mr. Kelley could tell, Media IDA Vision got hold of the applicant to say that $50,000 was available, it was in the mail if the minister for the crown corporation had not been suspended.

How can the Liberals say that was a normal way of doing business? It was corruption from top to bottom.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we know that there was a very successful local event that received funds and was appreciated by the community. We do not know whether the third-hand accusation being quoted by the member opposite has any truth to it.

Therefore, let us go before the public inquiry or the public accounts committee and find out the truth. Those fact finding missions and processes are set up to find the truth.

What we do know is that it was a successful festival.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said he wanted to get to the bottom of this. However, all day today, the government has covered up the allegations that this was nothing but a Liberal slush fund.

Every minister has said there was no problem with this. That is absolutely ridiculous. It is the ugly face of Liberal arrogance.

If the government really wants to get to the bottom of this, when will it take serious an allegation coming from a long time Liberal who was complicit in the whole affair?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government is very aware of the problems with the sponsorship program. They were not with this minister acting as an MP through his constituency office. That is why we have problems with it. We killed it the first day that the government took office.

That is why we have a public inquiry. That is why we have a special counsel going after financial accountability. That is why we encouraged the public accounts committee to sit immediately, and it did. That is why the former minister of public works, Mr. Gagliano, is appearing on Thursday. Let us get to the bottom of it but not through third-hand accusations in a newspaper.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kelley said, “They told me of a secret slush fund where they could access money for constituency programs”. The aides in the minister's office told him that. I want to make that very clear.

The Prime Minister said that he interviewed the environment minister about whether or not he knew anything at all about this. I want to know, did the environment minister raise this issue with the Prime Minister or not?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, all moneys involved in this came from the sponsorship program. It was so secret that everybody in their riding offices knew about it as did the member's constituency association. They told the public about these government programs.

How can that be a secret slush fund? It is obvious that there was a government program. It is obvious that it is the duty of MPs, in their constituency offices, to tell the public about government programs.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.