House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The Budget
Statements By Members

March 24th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, shockingly, only a few days ago the Prime Minister loaded the public accounts committee so key documentation needed to get to the bottom of ad scam was refused.

Yesterday his entire budget was based on the premise that the Prime Minister needs a mandate to clean up his own party. Better yet was the raspberry winning display of the finance minister. His feeble and pathetic attempt to blame ad scam on a previous government was classic Liberal.

The present Prime Minister was minister of finance when he cut the office of comptroller general. The next excuse will be the Prime Minister's dog ate the surplus.

Meanwhile, Canadians wait in line for health care and infrastructure commitments. Worse yet, this budget was a classic missed opportunity to help Canadian students. Instead of helping students, the Prime Minister funnelled millions to his Liberal cronies. That is the fact.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget made an extraordinary claim that after a decade in power, the Prime Minister would better manage public funds. The problem is that he has promised this before. In one of his first budgets in 1995 he stated, “We will reform of government programs and procedures to eliminate waste and abuse”. That was the same year the sponsorship scandal was conceived.

We heard the Prime Minister's claims before. Why should anyone in this country believe him now?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it clear for a long time now that he believes the office of the comptroller general should be re-established within the machinery of government. That office did exist prior to 1993. It was eliminated by the former Conservative government.

This government has determined that in an operation as large as the Government of Canada, the function of the comptroller general ought to be there, together with comptrollers in each government department and a strengthened internal audit, all in the public interest.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty bad when the Prime Minister will not stand up and take credit for his own record of financial management.

The Prime Minister promised that he would start cleaning up the government by getting to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal. He promised that no stone would be left unturned. Yet he is now blocking the release of documents legally pertinent to Alfonso Gagliano's testimony before the public accounts committee.

How can Canadians believe the Prime Minister's claims of cleaning up the government when he is hiding the truth from the committee?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this matter was brought up yesterday. The government has confirmed that whatever information is requested by the committee, the government will provide.

The committee is master of its own destiny, as we well know, and the committee has decided to approve a number of recommendations. We will act on those. As soon as the information is collected and gathered, it will be made available, as we have in the past with cabinet documents.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have another idea. If the Prime Minister is not interested in getting up out of his seat, I can come over and sit in it instead. We will have to change parties, of course.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Perhaps instead of making helpful suggestions like that, the Leader of the Opposition could ask a question. It would perhaps speed things up in question period rather than create the disorder that these suggestions tend to do. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we did learn yesterday from the budget was that the government had been running a secret unity fund of $40 million a year that did not appear in the prime minister's budgets. Apparently, it was kept hidden from Parliament.

How many other secret Liberal slush funds has the Prime Minister had out there?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. member would be welcome to come to this side. Most of his seat mates' former party members have come to this side of the House.

In terms of the unity fund, the hon. member ought to know about the fund. In fact it was set up in 1992 by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, over nine years the Prime Minister put over $300 million into the national unity reserve, supposedly without even knowing it. In denying knowledge of the fund, he is saying that he lost track of a third of $1 billion.

Why would Canadians trust him to fix spending problems when, by his own admission, he was incompetent on the file?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 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--

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. member for Medicine Hat has to be able to hear the answer. The President of the Treasury Board has the floor.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what they are afraid of.

It is interesting to hear that party complain about transparency and openness when we still do not know who has been financing the leadership campaigns of their leader.

When it comes now to the unity fund, all of the transactions have been reported. It has been funding things like Terry Fox, Canada Day. They have been reported through the departments and reported to public accounts. I am not sure what the concern is.