House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.

Topics

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we seem to be going over this ground over and over. We have processes to get to the bottom of this. Members of Parliament and their offices appropriately make representations on behalf of constituents allowing them to apply for programs. Many members of this House have done exactly the same. Many festivals are put on very successfully with the money.

The transition and flow of the money from public works to the festival is exactly what we are looking into. The members opposite and the public accounts committee, chaired by their member, are helping us do that.

Canadian National Railway
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gilbert Normand Bellechasse—Etchemins—Montmagny—L'Islet, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. Nearly 5,000 Canadian National employees have been on strike since last Thursday.

What measures is the minister planning to take to send the employees back to work? Did she even consider using special legislation to send them back to work?

Canadian National Railway
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Minister of Labour and Minister responsible for Homelessness

Mr. Speaker, the government is not considering using back to work legislation. Federal mediators who have been working with the parties since last week have asked the parties to return to mediation, and they will do so later today.

I invite employees and management to come to the table and negotiate a new positive collective agreement.

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, having been forced to cancel your own visit to Halifax Metro, our constituents are digging out from 95 centimetres of snow. They barely had time to recover from hurricane Juan. It could cost $5 million for Halifax to complete snow removal, yet the municipality may not qualify for federal funds because of the disaster relief assistance criteria.

Given the federal government's new-found commitment to support cities, will the government offer assistance to the Halifax Regional Municipality if it is needed?

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to speak with my provincial counterparts in relation to this matter. We are all aware of the Herculean task that those in the Province of Nova Scotia face in relation to digging out from this latest snowstorm.

My officials are in discussions with provincial officials and it is possible that the DFAA could apply in these circumstances. Those discussions are ongoing.

Equalization
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has cut equalization payments to the provinces, endangering the public services available to Canadians and ignoring the Romanow report recommendations. The provincial premiers say it is a tragedy to see the health system fall apart when the federal government is sitting on a multi-billion dollar surplus.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will the Liberal government stop giving with one hand, by transferring $2 billion to the provinces, and taking with the other, by cutting equalization payments by $2.2 billion?

Equalization
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we are in the last year of a five year period for equalization. The new period begins on April 1. There is legislation before the House at the moment to extend the present arrangement. I am in discussions with provinces and others about the renewal formula.

When the renewal is in place, it will provide over the next five years something in the order of $1.3 billion or more to the receiving provinces, on top of the basic entitlement.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

February 25th, 2004 / 2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said he was going to take the guillotine to the heads wearing the crowns. Instead, the government has suspended three crown corporation bosses without releasing the review done by the President of the Treasury Board.

When will the government release the evidence against and the defences made by these Liberal appointees?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member uses terms like evidence as though this is some sort of court of law prosecution. This was an examination of the actions of the various crowns based on the information that is already in the public domain and was given by the Auditor General.

We had further conversations with the principals of the Auditor General who reinforced the information we were given. I am quite willing to sit down with the member and point to the sections of the Auditor General's report that detail that.

I then presented my findings and beliefs about the confidence that the government could have in the 11 agencies. I was pleased to report confidence in 8 of them. I had some concerns with 3 of them and we acted on that.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, that evidence should be made public in this place so that we can do our work here in Parliament.

For André Ouellet, the former cabinet colleague of the Prime Minister, his suspension amounts to a $10,000 paid vacation. He is the highest paid bureaucrat in Canada, running Canada Post, a crown corporation responsible for the misdirecting of millions of dollars. Yet, as a Liberal friend of the Prime Minister, Mr. Ouellet continues to collect a salary.

Why is André Ouellet the only one involved in this scandal who continues to collect his paycheque?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton West
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, that question goes right to decisiveness and I think the Prime Minister and the government has been very decisive on the crown corporations.

It goes to a question of fairness. To that end, it also goes to the question of what Canadians feel and the encouragement they have for Canada Post.

Quite frankly, we must understand that on the Auditor General's suggestion, we acted quickly. I spoke with the chair of the board of the Canada Post Corporation. There is an independent audit being done. Concurrently, there is an audit being done on the internal management practices. We will have a report from those audits in 90 days.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Lester Pearson used to call the official opposition the detergents of democracy, which is pretty ironic given the Prime Minister's recent failed attempts to clean up his own mess. One cannot clean up a dirty wardrobe by hiding it in the closet and one certainly cannot clean up by sending a few suits out to the cleaners.

What is the Prime Minister hiding? Whitewashes and cover-ups do not change the fact that there is still dirt underneath.

Will the Prime Minister commit to letting the public know and see the defences filed by the heads of the crown corporations?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is an action that is comparable to a staff employee action. People who serve in positions of public trust are expected to meet certain values and certain actions. Those actions were evaluated based on information provided by the Auditor General that is public information.

We are dealing with our employees and we will deal with them in an appropriate and fair manner, but we will also deal with them in a manner that respects their privacy.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks about transparency.

What is transparent is the Prime Minister's willingness to stay glued in his seat and play dodge ball with this issue, simply unwilling to take accountability for the real openness that should occur, and deferring to other people to answer these questions.

Whatever happened to doctor democratic deficit? What ever happened to accountability? What ever happened to leadership? Why is the Prime Minister hiding? No one's best interests are served by secrecy here.

Will the Prime Minister commit to releasing the statements of the crown corporations offered in their defence?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, when the current Prime Minister was the finance minister and first put in that position in 1993, he had a very tough job to do. It was called getting the deficit down and balancing the books.

Now, as the Prime Minister, he has another very tough job to do. I guarantee the House that he will do it.