House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parties.

Topics

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, what is outrageous is that the government took 10 years to cancel the same fund that existed. The finance minister axed the national unity reserve because it fell outside the bounds of normal accounting practices. It was a honey pot for Liberal cabinet ministers. In direct contradiction the Prime Minister has said that it was a normal program adhering to normal accounting practices. In reality it was a program that seeded ad scam.

Either the reserve is a honey pot of corruption or it was a normal program. Who are we supposed to believe, the finance minister or the Prime Minister?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General was aware and her predecessor was aware of the use of reserve funds. That is something that governments do, both at the federal and provincial levels, this government, the previous government of the previous prime minister and indeed the previous Conservative government used such funds. They are used by individual departments. They report their spending in their annual statements to the public accounts and therefore to the public accounts committee. There is nothing secret about such a process. It is all in the open.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, what is secret is the way the government abused those funds. That is what the secret is.

Let us see some facts about this unity reserve. One, it was used as seed money for the sponsorship scandal. Two, the finance minister, now the current Prime Minister, had to sign off on the usage. Three, it cost taxpayers half a billion dollars. Four, its existence was hidden from even the Auditor General.

The Prime Minister claims that it was nothing more than “a normal accounting procedure”. If so, why cancel it?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, first of all the facts as outlined by the hon. member vary from the true facts of this situation by a considerable margin. It would be helpful in the House if more accuracy were used.

He has asked a direct question: Why was it abolished? Because, as the Prime Minister made clear in his responses to questions in the House during question period, he has not accessed that fund and does not intend to. Therefore, the fund, in his mind, had no further purpose and he axed it. I should add that Treasury Board is looking at all such submissions from 1992 to identify the funds of this type that were used.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

March 26th, 2004 / 11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Huguette Tremblay confirmed that the President of the Treasury Board regularly telephoned Pierre Tremblay, the director of the sponsorship program. The President of the Treasury Board himself acknowledged this, adding that he had never exercised any pressure to help a communications firm secure a contract.

Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us whether he followed the same policy of non-interference when he was the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport and a senior official wrote, “The firm the secretary of state wants hired is Everest”?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I think the answer to that has been given a hundred times in the House, and I will not waste my time on it.

The second thing that strikes me as important is that the party opposite, which is so keen on transparency, never called for a public inquiry into the Oxygène 9 affair in Quebec. It never called for a public inquiry into the collusion or, at any rate, the suspicions raised by the fact that the head of the SGF was the husband of Quebec's finance minister.

There were never any questions forthcoming from that party on the integrity of all this. They had nothing to say. They played dead. Now they have taken on a holier than thou attitude.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, in an e-mail dated March 17, 2000, the director of the national sport policy task force, Roger Farley, wrote, “The firm the secretary of state wants to hire is Everest”. There it is in black and white. The President of the Treasury Board did indeed interfere in the contracting process in favour of Everest.

How, in that context, can we believe the President of the Treasury Board when, in connection with the sponsorship scandal, he claims to have never told Pierre Tremblay, “You will take this or that agency, this or that contract. You will give it to this or that person”? How can he be believed?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, he can be believed because I think that, in a democratic system such as ours, people are presumed innocent, and not guilty, particularly when the presumption comes from someone seeking direct political gain by sullying the reputation of a member of Parliament. This is totally unacceptable.

How is it that they have a double standard, depending on whether it involves what goes on here, or what goes on where they come from?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope that, when the minister says they, he includes himself. The Prime Minister stated that he had questioned each of his ministers about their integrity before appointing them to cabinet and that he was satisfied with their answers.

Can the President of the Privy Council tell us whether he informed the Prime Minister that the firm he wanted to hire at the time was Everest?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made it very clear in this House that he put the question to all his ministers, that he got satisfactory answers and that, as far as he is concerned, the question was very clear.

As for including myself when referring to where he comes from, I disagree. Like him, I am a Quebecker. But, unlike him, I am not going to sit on the Conseil de la souveraineté, I am not paying for studies by LeHir, and I am certainly not paying to promote Quebec's sovereignty.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us get back to the main issue. Does the Prime Minister still trust his minister, now that he is aware of the existence of this e-mail, which clearly shows that the President of the Privy Council got personally involved to help Everest secure the contract?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister trusts all his ministers, and particularly the minister to whom the hon. member is referring.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the real scandal is not sponsorship. It is the privatization of health care.

After 11 years of starving the system, now we read today that the Liberals want to reopen the Canada Health Act to make it easier for premiers like Ralph Klein to privatize health care. We hear of a secret Liberal plan to help corporate friends own their own hospitals.

How happy is the government today to learn that Ralph Klein thinks the secret federal Liberal privatization plan is a good thing?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the pretext of the hon. member's question comes from an anonymous report that there are changes being considered to the Canada Health Act. Let me say very clearly that the Canada Health Act will remain public, comprehensive, universal, portable and accessible, the five pillars. It will remain so.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

But not accountable, Mr. Speaker, which was the sixth principle that people wanted.

The fact of the matter is that the privatization of health care has grown exponentially under this government. The Liberals have already changed a law to make it easier. In fact, the lead B.C. staffer in the Prime Minister's office was a lobbyist for health care privatizers days before entering the PMO.

Did the B.C. Liberal premier know in advance of this secret Liberal plan to privatize health care? Did Gordon Campbell let private clinics grow because he knew the Liberal government in Ottawa would not stop him?