House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie and is on the same issue, namely Kyoto. The other day, I asked the Minister of the Environment how he plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by another 40 to 60 megatonnes. He told me that he would negotiate with the provinces.

I wonder if the hon. member could tell us whether he thinks that the provinces, including Quebec, are prepared to negotiate on such a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes, Quebec is prepared to negotiate. What Quebec had hoped for, in the announcement made in August by the Prime Minister on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, is that Quebec would get its fair share, that is $250 million to implement its action plan on climate change.

In Quebec, we must reduce our emissions in the transportation sector, which accounts for 38% of greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, we cannot get our fair share. Why? Because the action plan on climate change and the financial plan do not provide any funding for environmentally friendly means of transportation. This leaves $160 million for partnerships with the provinces, which is very little.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:05 p.m.

Hillsborough
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for the opportunity to participate in the debate today on the Speech from the Throne. I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg South Centre.

I want to associate myself with the great majority of speakers in the House, the great majority of speakers from civic and non-governmental organizations, and the great majority of Canadians, in saying that the statements, the messages, and the directions contained in the Speech from the Throne are embraced and welcomed.

It is my belief that the Speech from the Throne and the subsequent speech which we heard from the Prime Minister on Tuesday of this week reflect the actions that Canadians want the government to take. These actions include: living within our means, investing as we can afford, and laying the plans for the future. This is an aggressive and realistic agenda.

I like the general themes set out in the throne speech. I support the Prime Minister's objectives of dealing with our health care system. I support the new deal that was laid out for this nation's municipalities.

The statement and subsequent legislation introduced to the House changing the way things work in Ottawa is a major step in the right direction. Parliament is a tremendous institution but like every institution change is needed every now and then, and that time is now. I embrace these changes with confidence.

I fully support the statement that the government is launching a process of expenditure review. This is not something that should be launched. It should be an ongoing process. Every government, company, organization, family, and individual, should continually reallocate resources to present and emerging priorities. Taxpayers expect nothing less from us as a government.

I fully endorse the goals within the throne speech to strengthen Canada's social foundations. It has long been proven that there is a very strong connection between a strong social foundation and a strong economy.

The best investment, and it is not the only one from a social foundation point of view, is early childhood education. The government's goal to accelerate some of the initiatives under the early childhood development accord, already announced, will pay dividends down the road.

With regard to dealing with persons with disabilities, I support the goal to work with provinces and the territories to do more than what is being done now, to fill in the gaps in our educational system and skills development, and to put in place workplace supports to accommodate Canadians with disabilities.

The federal government ought to be a leader in this regard as the biggest employer in this country. The continual problem with the tax system--the fairness in which persons with disabilities are designated by CCRA--is going to be dealt with.

It is an aggressive agenda but it is also a progressive agenda. It is an agenda which I support and a direction which I believe all Canadians will support.

There is one area which I would like to dwell on and one area that I am particularly pleased with and that is the government's announcement to deal with the whole area of student loans and post-secondary student financing.

Right now the government is doing a lot in this whole area. A lot of money has been put into research right across Canada, funding for the granting councils, research chairs, and millennium scholarships. There is also the educational tax credit, the RESP system, and the Canada student loan program.

There is a whole continuum of support and a lot of money being spent. Despite that, there are still very significant problems. As a member of Parliament who deals with these issues on a daily basis, I see these problems. There are problems with young Canadians deciding whether to attend post-secondary institutions and making this decision on financial considerations. There are problems with young Canadians within post-secondary institutions deciding whether to remain in a post-secondary institution, and financing becomes a part of that consideration.

There are also problems after a person graduates from university, making that leap to the job market when the person has a certain amount of student loan debt.

I was so pleased to see that some of the directions set out in the Speech from the Throne will make the system fairer, especially for lower income Canadians. It is my belief that the education tax credit, the RESP system and the millennium scholarship system are working well but only working well for middle and higher income Canadians. It is perhaps the situation that we do not need a lot more money going into the system but the system can be improved considerably by reallocating the money that is already in the system. I would have a long look at the educational tax credit. Perhaps more of that money could be redirected to students from lower income families.

The objective set out in the Speech from the Throne to modernize the Canada student loan program, which means increasing loan limits, expanding the whole definition of expense deductibility and increasing income thresholds, are welcome initiatives, but loans are not the total answer. That is why I support the whole continuum of announcements that were set out in the Speech from the Throne.

Many young Canadians are having difficulty making that connection between the university degree and the job market. They do this with a student loan, which leads to a considerable amount of stress. I would like to see the system fairer for these young students who are having difficulty finding a job.

Another welcome announcement is the announcement to provide first year grants to lower income students and also to create incentives for lower income families to invest in the RESP program. It will depend on how the system evolves but I view these as tremendous announcements which I think will make the system fairer and level the playing field for everyone.

This is what I consider to be a tremendous announcement and one which I urge the government to move on with haste. I would like to see these announcements, these directions and these programs in place for the students who graduate from high school this June and enter post-secondary institutions in September.

In closing, I applaud the government for the directions, the programs and the initiatives announced in Monday's speech. I, like a great majority of Canadians, fully support the direction the government is taking and I am proud to part of it. I look forward to the tabling of the budget some time in the next month or two.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, given that the throne speech, which was a little over an hour long and had precisely 4,662 words in it, did not have one word that was fish, fisheries or any derivative thereof, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tell us why the throne speech does not make one mention of fisheries or the fisheries industry?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, this is a continual problem in the House and particularly with members of that party. They will take a document and, instead of reading the document, they count the words. They read every word and if something is not mentioned they come forward and ask why this or that was not mentioned.

I gave a speech this afternoon in which I set out the government's agenda, the programs, the policies and the initiatives of where the government is heading. I think it is good. There are all kinds of other issues that the government is working on now. Programs have been announced in the last eight months. The government is a whole continuum and fisheries is part of it.

The document is not perfect. I for one do not think that what is in the throne speech on the aboriginal issue is an answer to the issue. However I support the creation of an independent centre for aboriginal governance. I think it is a good initiative. Will it answer the issue? No. It needs more work.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am quite amazed that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans would not even mention fisheries in his speech. However I want to ask him a very specific and direct question.

On page 17 of the throne speech it states that the government wants to develop Canada's energy resources and provide opportunities to maximize the potential of our vast coastal and offshore areas through a new oceans action plan. It says energy and oceans in the same breath. I am very nervous about what that will mean to the habitat, the ecological grounds of our fish, and for fishermen and their coastal communities.

I am not the only one who thinks that way. The B.C. energy minister, Richard Neufeld, today said that he believes Ottawa will lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas in British Columbia, right in the ecological grounds off the Queen Charlotte Islands where a tremendous fishing opportunity exists for fishermen and aboriginal groups. It is an area that has sustained those people for thousands of years.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tell us whether Canada is serious about lifting the moratorium on oil and gas on the west coast? Also, on the east coast, this is a government that allows seismic testing on inshore waters when the government's own scientists say that they have very serious concerns about what seismic testing will do to fish stocks in those waters.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would like a nice, clear answer from my colleague from Prince Edward Island.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, my learned friend brings up a point that I did not raise, and I am glad he did; the announcement in the Speech from the Throne that the government will come forward with a Canada oceans action plan.

My learned colleague brings up some goods points. It is a horizontal issue. It does not deal only with fisheries. It does not deal only with energy. It does not deal only with environment. It deals with a whole continuum of departments, which is why the government needs an oceans action plan to deal with these issues, which are so complex, so vast and so important. These issues have to be dealt with on an integrated basis, not only with the Government of Canada but with the governments of the provinces and territories, and with all stakeholders. I look forward to working on the development and implementation of that plan.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have heard it said “May you live in interesting times”. I suggest that all members present today would agree that we do indeed live in interesting times.

Right now, we in Canada live in one of the most secure, well off, stable countries on the face of the earth. On the national level, we all work diligently to develop programs and initiatives that effectively address issues concerning health care, education and homelessness, to name but a few.

Similarly, at the international level, societies around the globe are compelled to come to terms with and seek solutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, clandestine and state terrorism and devastating living conditions among two-thirds of the world's population.

In the face of these domestic and international challenges, I stand before the House with hope and with confidence. My confidence stems from an understanding of the strengths of Canadian politics while my optimism stems from Canadians themselves.

Yes, we have gone through a change in government, a process not without its challenges, but the government has done it. We have changed leadership, we have changed cabinet and now we have presented changes in how we want to do things. We will demonstrate to the Canadian public that we are going to produce the government that is needed for the beginning of the 21st century. We have the people, we have the resources and we have the will.

The Prime Minister said it best most recently at the world economic forum in Switzerland. He spoke about the future of Canada and said:

The domestic political process is open and full of energy. It is about making the right choices among competing interests in priorities, choices which reflect the way ahead. Debates and trade-offs occur--in our Cabinets, in our Legislatures, in our town halls with our citizens. Eventually decisions are reached.

That is what I enjoy most in this role: this process of debate about choices, not only with my colleagues in Parliament but with the many citizens in our communities. We all need to discuss the way ahead.

So much is going on for us as Canadians. It is important to me to be part of a government that leads in the global campaign to provide affordable medicine to Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It is important to me to be part of a government that upholds the principles of medicare. It is equally important to me that our medical system responds to the changing realities of science, demographics, technology and the global challenges of diseases such as avian flu and SARS. That is why it is so important that Canada is part of the global emergency preparedness network.

I fully support the creation of the new Canada public health agency which will ensure the threat of infectious diseases is met quickly, efficiently and appropriately as these new and dangerous diseases surface in Canada and around the world. The establishment of the new infectious diseases control lab is a very important initiative. I would suggest, humbly and strongly, that the best possible location in the country for this lab is indeed in Winnipeg where those at the microbiology lab responded so brilliantly to the SARS threat earlier this year.

It is also important to me to be part of a government that looks ahead with regard to our seniors. In the past six months I participated in a task force on seniors. The issues, challenges and opportunities facing public policy makers and those interested in an aging population became clear: access to health care, transportation, elder care, ageism, income support and housing.

As I move around my community of Winnipeg South Centre I see 85 year old women looking after 81 year old men. I see 70 year old children looking after 92 year old parents. This concerns me. What will happen when one of them is no longer healthy? We need to look at the future of health care and the elderly.

Our challenge as politicians is to continue to uphold the principles of medicare that were developed by our parents. We owe them nothing less.

The organization of communities and cities because of shifting demographics will become increasingly important. It is important to develop the strategies and tools to deal with our generation getting older.

It is very important to me to be part of a government that looks ahead and recognizes that a good education is an essential ingredient of a vibrant, healthy community and country. To me it is particularly important that we work toward reducing student debt. I have heard far too many stories of crippling student debt, not only in my riding but across the country. I believe that it is time we worked with the other levels of government to develop a comprehensive plan that helps the students, their parents and the educational institutions.

On Monday the government did just that and announced that new incentives will be forthcoming to assist low income families to begin investing right from the birth of their children for their long term education. The new learning bond announced by the Prime Minister will help low income families begin the necessary savings for their children's post-secondary education.

I applaud the government for taking the initiative to provide starter grants for low income students to help cover first year tuition costs. This is a tremendous move in helping students access education.

The modernization of the Canada student loans program is a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of access to educational opportunities of all young people, whatever their economic background.

The Prime Minister has also set out on a rather unique path to engage our youth. When the Prime Minister returned the doll, Flat Mark, which we have all heard so much about, and when he spoke to the students, he said:

What Flat Mark has done is he has brought to Ottawa, to the nation's capital, to the government, this idea from you about how important it is that government look at new ideas, that they look at things differently and that government learn from people.

I am sure those children will remember the story of Flat Mark throughout their lives.

I believe that as politicians today we have a singular responsibility. The challenge we all face will be to safeguard the hard won financial and economic gains that have been accrued by Canada since we first balanced the budget in 1997 and paid down millions of dollars in debt.

Having said that, it is critical that we acknowledge the importance of the start we give our children, the access to education we give our students, the support we give to families, the health care we give to all our citizens, the openness we have to immigrants and refugees, the commitment to ensure gender equality and the hope that we give to those less privileged.

We need cooperative government, we need to end the blame game and we need a new approach to intergovernmental relations.

Some 80% of Canadians live in urban settings. We have heard much in recent days of the new deal for cities, of crumbling infrastructure and fiscal shortfalls. Those are very important issues. Now, the government has started the process of renewal. The results are immediate. As of February 1, the GST rebates began to accumulate.

I believe that my home city of Winnipeg is on the cusp of renewed greatness. We have new developments throughout the city and to me this is what government is all about. We need to continue to deal with the issues of the day. They are not unimportant, but we have to move ahead.

Winnipeg is home to one of the largest aboriginal communities in all of Canada. I visited many aboriginal based projects in Winnipeg and elsewhere in the country. In Winnipeg we have programs of gang members building and rebuilding their community and creating homes. I visited a grassroots drop-in centre in Regina. Not long ago I had the pleasure of helping open the first aboriginal sweat lodge in Winnipeg. The activities of MaMaWiChita and Urban Circle are models of urban service development.

What I see when I visit these various projects is certainly not despair. I very much welcome the important expansion of the urban aboriginal strategy announced in the throne speech.

I welcome the opportunity for all levels of government and urban aboriginal and Metis people to work together. It is critical that all levels leave behind the jurisdictional wrangling within governments and between governments that prevent all the good work being performed by the various agencies that I spoke of earlier.

It has been said, “Every once in awhile the door opens to let the future in”. Today the door is open. It is an opportunity for all Canadians to go through it together.

In closing, I offer to the House the wisdom of Yogi Berra who once said and I quote:

You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not got there.

The throne speech laid out where we are going. I look forward to the implementation of all of the initiatives put forward for the benefit of all Canadians, so that we can indeed get there.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to ask a question of my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre. I certainly agree with her last comment, that it helps through a Speech from the Throne for all of us here in this place and across Canada to know where we are going and where the government is going. Part of the problem we have is that sometimes the government stakes out where we are going and then never lives up to that commitment. Then we do not know where we are at.

There is an issue no more pressing in that regard than child care. The member for Winnipeg South Centre knows that we have a very active child care community in Winnipeg that was dearly hoping that finally the longest running broken promise in the history of politics, that of a national day care program, would have ended with a clear commitment in the Speech from the Throne.

The member will know that instead of that clear commitment we have some very vague general statement about cooperating with the provinces to accelerate initiatives under the present agreement to identify children at risk and to ensure the safety of children, blah, blah, blah.

That is not a clear commitment to a national day care program, something which the Manitoba Child Care Association would like to see and has long requested. That association has also asked the government if it would look at the Manitoba model, which is seen as one of the best in this country, as the example for the rest of Canada and that it become a pilot project for pursuing this goal.

Does the member support that idea? Will she advance that idea with the minister responsible? Will she at least get the Manitoba model used as an example for furthering our objective of a national child care program?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that I do not agree with her characterization of the blah, blah, blah of the throne speech. There is much in the throne speech to offer hope and excitement for those involved in the early child care and the day care movement.

The Manitoba model is indeed a model that one would hope will be replicated across the country. I too have met with many members of the Manitoba Child Care Association. I have been working with their representatives and with colleagues to advance their issues here in this capital.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, what is my colleague's position on why justice was left out of the throne speech?

I know the city of Winnipeg has an aboriginal gang problem. The same is developing in my city of Saskatoon. This causes me great concern, and money is not being put into our police forces and helping our cities cope with this. I would like to know her opinion as to why justice was left out of the throne speech.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, justice has many definitions. What we have seen in the throne speech as an advancement of justice in terms of creating opportunities and preventative opportunities for young people from early childhood right through education. I do not accept that justice has been left out of the throne speech.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk about the throne speech and aboriginal affairs today, but I would like to make reference to the last question and comment period.

Being from the province of British Columbia, we have had ongoing concern about grow operations, the production of B.C. bud as it is called. This has had a major impact on our economy and is something that the RCMP now described as an activity that is tearing at the social fabric of our province. We have had raids on our provincial legislature. We have had suggestions of some very criminal behaviour and money laundering reaching into the highest ranks of our provincial and/or our federal government representatives. All of this went completely unaddressed in the throne speech.

This is most inappropriate and is something that must be taken seriously by members of this government. Their behaviour, attitude and approach on this issue is the same as it is on the issue I wish to address today, which is aboriginal affairs. The government would rather bury problems and preserve the status quo than expose, fix and improve the agenda.

This would have major implications of course for the things Liberals pay lip service to in the throne speech and have paid lip service to every year dating back to the 1993 Liberal red book. That is children are to get a better start in life and the government will provide real economic opportunities, individuals will participate fully and we will have improved governance in first nation communities and so on.

The specificity is interesting. The attempt to say anything more than those nice words was much greater a year ago in the throne speech than it is this year. Even though this was touted as a throne speech where there would be a lot of attention paid to aboriginals, there are actually less specific commitments than there were one year ago, which was not considered to be a throne speech which paid attention to aboriginal issues.

As someone who has been in the aboriginal affairs portfolio for the official opposition during the period 1994 to 1997 and once again from June of last year, I have certainly seen my share of throne speeches. The very first throne speech I was present at and accounted for was in 1994 after the 1993 election. At that time the government made a commitment to turn over the Ipperwash site to the Kettle and Stoney Point Band.

That promise had far-reaching implications. DND was physically forced out by confrontation. We all know the story about Dudley George who was shot and killed by the Ontario Provincial Police. We know about the ongoing inquiry. Ten years later, this is all still going on. Throne speeches have important implications at times, and that was certainly something set in motion at that time.

The aboriginal section of the 1993 red book and this throne speech are somewhat similar. We have heard other members say this in their response to the throne speech. One of the statements in this throne speech is this one: “conditions in far too many Aboriginal communities can only be described as shameful”. It states that we must “turn the corner” now.

If so, why is there such a lack of specifics, and why did the only specific measures create more bureaucracy? The government established an independent centre for first nations government and established a new cabinet committee on aboriginal affairs. This is continuing lip service to the 1993 commitments regarding transparency and accountability. These are nice sentiments, but what this throne speech does is create more bureaucracy. The taxpayer pays and the results remain the same. We have a lot of evidence of that, which I wish to talk to.

Despite the ongoing scandal at the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation, which was first documented by Health Canada in a 1997 audit, the culture of massive financial abuse at the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada continues.

I have some very important things I would like to highlight from the recently released audit summary for the Virginia Fontaine centre at Sagkeeng First Nation. I wish to do that because it is a horrifying tale that makes one wonder if the federal government has any controls at all on behaviour, including the spending of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds that had been earmarked supposedly to improve aboriginal quality of life and other things that sound very nice, but which has led to enriching the few individuals involved in setting up what essentially amounted to a huge scam as opposed to something that was benefiting the people at large.

Here we have a centre that was audited in 1997, with major problems identified, and with which in 1999 the federal government entered into a new funding arrangement without fixing the old problems, with a set of directors that included three brothers and a daughter on a board of directors that included only three other individuals, one of whom for sure is a direct beneficiary of working as the chief financial officer. This was virtually a proprietary operation by a family, with Perry Fontaine in the chair; Keith Fontaine, the brother; Phil Fontaine, another brother; and Vera Bruyere, the daughter of Perry Fontaine, the chair.

What is most amazing is that we have an audit that has led to many charges by the RCMP, but this audit covers only the period from October 1, 1999, to February 28, 2002, while we know there were major problems identified in an earlier audit, not made public, dating to pre-1997. We know that 20 years of financial records were destroyed under the previous health minister, who is now conveniently no longer here, and under the previous deputy minister, who is now conveniently no longer here and has been appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada.

The suspicion is that tens of millions of dollars have basically gone AWOL and the government has no interest in exposing and fixing those problems because it does not believe it is in its best interests to do that. So far the only people who are being held accountable are not responsible bureaucrats. The only people being held accountable are bureaucrats who were on the take.

We have a corporate culture that entered into an agreement with a branch of Health Canada. The auditors speak in surgical, clinical language:

The management culture was dominated by Perry Fontaine with virtually no checks or restraints placed on his actions by the Board of Directors or other management.

The board in essence rubber-stamped Perry Fontaine's decisions. None of that should be a surprise, given the makeup of the board. The government officials had to have known the relationship of all of those people and they were flowing millions of dollars, close to $12 million in this audit period alone, through that group.

Three major consultants were paid in this period of time. They were paid upfront and provided no invoices, and there is little or no evidence that they completed the services required under the contracts. These consultant contracts were managed, by their own admission, solely by Perry Fontaine, the chair of the board, so we had consultants in name only enriching the pockets of the chair of the board. In the case of one of the consulting contracts, its principal, Keith Fontaine, indicated he provided no services for many of the contracts and the funds flowed to his brother, Perry. The owner of one of the other consulting companies is Randall Fontaine, another brother. States the report, “The value of services received from [that contractor] is questionable”. Those are the words the auditor used.

As I mentioned, $12 million in federal funding flowed through in that short audit period alone. The tale of horrors continues. There were seven flowthrough arrangements from the federal government, five of which were with Health Canada.

Here are some of the other abuses. During October 1999 through October 2000, four trips were paid for by the foundation where Perry Fontaine, the chair, and Paul Cochrane, who is the Health Canada official purportedly in charge, and their families travelled together. A rather cozy, close relationship, I would say, and totally against Treasury Board guidelines.

These trips included trips to Florida, the Caribbean, Bermuda, San Juan and St. Maarten, at a cost of $71,500. The cost related to the Health Canada bureaucrat, Mr. Cochrane, was $11,000, and nothing was recorded as owing by him to the foundation at any time. There were further cruises after that period of time. There were four season's tickets to the Ottawa Senators and for selected concerts at the Corel Centre for a total value of $63,000. Although these were in the name of Perry Fontaine, information obtained indicates these tickets were split with Paul Cochrane and delivered to Cochrane's house, and Paul Cochrane retained control of the tickets.

The cozy relationship continues. The approving federal bureaucrat and Mr. Cochrane's son confirmed that Perry Fontaine presented him and his girlfriend with an all-inclusive travel package to the Dominican Republic. The son was involved in the preparation of a proposal that resulted in a $600,000 one time contribution from Health Canada to the foundation, approved by who else, Paul Cochrane, his father. The son was further rewarded with a 2000 Nissan Xterra, purchased new by Perry Fontaine in February 2000 and transferred to the son of Paul Cochrane in May 2000.

We have a statement that Perry Fontaine said he sold this and another vehicle to Paul Cochrane in return for two promissory notes totalling $50,000, neither of which has been repaid. However, Mr. Fontaine declined to provide copies of the notes as he regards these transactions as personal. Mr. Cochrane confirmed that he did make this purchase but provided no details.

So suddenly public money becomes somebody's personal business and we have no way to get to the bottom of it. That displays to me that there is no interest on the part of the federal government when it transfers taxpayers' money in actually ensuring that it is able to be audited. This is a major problem and one we would identify and change. We are not going to allow personal agendas or abuses to manage the expenditure of public moneys.

There were further transactions entered into between the foundation and Perry Fontaine. The report states, “Given that Perry Fontaine was the decision maker for [the foundation], these agreements were effectively negotiated between Perry Fontaine and himself”. And let me say they were very lucrative indeed for Mr. Fontaine.

During the period from September 1999 to February 2002, the foundation provided at least $1,196,000 to Perry Fontaine through payments to him or on his behalf. Please note, the auditor points out, that Mr. Fontaine's company, O.A.G. Consultants, “also received another $308,000 of Health Canada funding through payments from companies owned by his brother Keith...”, and it goes on.

Chelsea and Cole Rodgers
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, today our community mourned the tragic loss of two young children in a fire last week. Hundreds of people from their home community of Michele Heights and from across Ottawa honoured Chelsea Rodgers and her little brother Cole.

Chelsea, age 10, was known for her unfailing kindness; Cole, age 7, for his impish sense of humour.

In the days since their tragic death, we have been reminded again of the importance of community as their neighbours, the whole city, voluntary organizations and their school rallied round to support the family.

Today especially, we wish to extend to the family our condolences and our sympathy, and for young Cole and Chelsea, our prayers.

Equalization Payments
Statements By Members

February 5th, 2004 / 1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Constitution commits Parliament and the Government of Canada to make equalization payments that ensure provinces have significant revenue to provide reasonable levels of public service at reasonable levels of taxation.

The current equalization system just does not work. Newfoundland and Labrador suffers greatly. The 5 province standard as opposed to the 10 province standard results in $132 million less revenue for our province. Also, the Government of Canada claws back 8l¢ of every new dollar earned on natural resources, while the province gets a mere 19¢ on every new resource dollar from offshore oil and gas development.

There are new economic realities facing provinces that require a new equalization system, one that is fairer. The new Prime Minister states his government is a new government with a new vision. Action is required now for the Prime Minister to reform the current equalization system.