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

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not want to talk about this issue and I can understand why. Perhaps he does not want to repeat the mistakes he has made with respect to the sponsorship scandal and say something that turns out not to be true.

I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, why this willingness to sacrifice Canadian sovereignty? How does he have the nerve to get up and say this is part of Canada's policy on disarmament when this has already led to a new arms race with respect to space?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have had two debates in the House about this extremely important issue. Let us not distort the facts. The facts that have come out in our debates have made it very clear this is a land based and sea based defensive initiative directed to a very limited possibility of an attack against North America.

In our view, it does not lead to an arms race, nor does it lead us toward weaponization of space. If, during our negotiations, we find out that such is the case, we will withdraw from those negotiations, but it would be improper to make that judgment before we even get into the negotiations.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, on February 13, the day after the sponsorship scandal was known to Canadians, the Prime Minister set the standard. He said anybody who knew about this and did nothing should resign immediately.

The environment minister knew. Why has the Prime Minister not asked for his resignation?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that many people in the House knew about the existence of the sponsorship program. That is why many members from all sides of the House, through their consistency offices, assisted people, who were proponents of festivals, with their applications to public works.

That is what happened in the constituency office of the Minister of the Environment. His office simply provided information on how to get to a very good festival. The problem was not with whether the festival was good. It was, as we know now, the commissions that were paid to advertising companies. That has been stopped.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is failing his test of leadership. The Prime Minister said that if any ministers knew about this scandal, or if they were responsible, they must resign.

One of two things is true. Either the Minister of the Environment knew, in which case he was complicit and by the Prime Minister's standards he must resign, or he did not know, in which case, how can Canadians trust him with billions of dollars in his portfolio? Which is it Mr. Prime Minister?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam intended to address the Chair. His question, I think, was addressed to the Prime Minister but he knows the rules. He must address the Chair. The right hon. Prime Minister.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is talking absolute nonsense. Every member in this House knew of the sponsorship program. They applied for it.

I referred to those who knew of wrongdoing at the time that it took place. The environment minister did not know of wrongdoing. The members of this cabinet did not know of wrongdoing at that time. Those are the facts. The hon. member ought to get his facts straight.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to Jamie Kelley, a long time Liberal, he was told by the minister's staff of a secret slush fund. Does that sound like a normal program? That is wrongdoing.

Why is it that the Prime Minister says that anybody who knew about mismanagement of this program would have to resign? Now we know that the environment minister knew about the operation of a secret slush fund. Why has he not resigned?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, money going to festivals and other activities in communities which were important to those communities were not secret slush funds.

The problem, as it has belatedly come to light, that has become obvious to all of us is that there was misdirection of funds, not to valuable programs and festivals in our communities, but for the paying of commissions that were unearned.

That has been stopped; that is being fixed. That is what is being investigated, not a valuable festival in the minister's riding.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

This crowd is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker. They change their story every day.

It was not just about the commissions paid. It was the entire program from start to finish, the lack of paperwork, the lack of procedures, the operation of, and in the words of the minister's assistant, “a secret slush fund”.

Jamie Kelley says the minister must have known about the modus operandi of this program. That being the case, why is he sitting in his cabinet seat today?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the festival took place in 2000. It was extremely valuable to that community. The application was made by the proponent through a four page letter describing the festival with 15 pages of endorsements from people in the community. It was a good festival for a good cause and it was properly funded.

The problem was, as has subsequently come to light, that there were false commissions paid. That is what is being investigated. That is why we are chasing those funds.

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

February 24th, 2004 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the most recent calculation of the federal government's equalization payments has had a catastrophic effect on Quebec. It has lost close to $1.5 billion between 2001-02 and 2003-04.

Instead of this divide and conquer approach, going over Quebec's head directly to the municipalities, does the Prime Minister not think it would have been better to amend the equalization formula and correct the fiscal imbalance, thus settling for once and for all the problems of the municipalities and the problems in the health sector?

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, indeed, we are changing the equalization formula. After more than a year of extensive discussions with the provinces and others, we are introducing a number of changes, the vast majority of which favour the calculation toward Quebec.

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are losing $1.5 billion yet this is being held up to us as a gain for Quebec. That is totally false. For example, Quebec's share of the $2 billion for health amounts to $472 million. That offsets barely one-third of the losses over the past three years because of the faulty equalization formula.

How can the Prime Minister claim health is a priority if he is not prepared to amend the equalization formula immediately?

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in my discussions with the finance minister from the Province of Quebec, he indicated to me that his number one priority was to secure the $2 billion that was indicated in the last health accord.

In fact, we have delivered on that $2 billion. We have put legislation in the House that will ensure that it is delivered and delivered in the fiscal year in which each province wishes to receive it. We have met Quebec's number one priority.