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

Topics

National Defence
Oral Question Period

April 20th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, when the defence minister was the chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, he supported an all-party recommendation that stated very clearly that any new or replacement vessels for Canada's navy will be built in Canada's shipyards.

Now, as the defence minister and a member of the cabinet, can he assure the House and all Canadians, and especially those people in the shipyard industry, that those new vessels for the Canadian navy will indeed be built in Canada?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the announcement that was made last week and the details which I provided in Esquimalt last Friday are I think important to people on both coasts in terms of the shipbuilding capabilities that we have.

These state of the art ships will be built in accordance with the current shipbuilding policy which states that if the competitive environment exists in this country, they will be built in this country.

It is important to keep in mind as well that, in fact, these will be the largest ships ever designed and constructed--

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's credibility gap is growing by the day. First, he was shocked to hear about corruption in the Liberal government. Now he is shocked to hear the suggestion that he broke the rules to funnel tax dollars to his cronies at Earnscliffe.

I have here a 1995 memo from one Chuck Guité which says that:

--it is felt that immediate action must be taken to correct the situation...it could become embarrassing to the government and certainly our Minister who is, according to the policy, the only contracting authority for Public Opinion Research.

Therefore, I have a simple question. Why did Chuck Guité have higher ethical standards than the Prime Minister?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would refer the hon. gentleman to the most recent report by the Auditor General. It indicated that, from her examination of the polling activities of the Government of Canada, in fact, those activities were by and large handled quite properly.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about 1995, when the Prime Minister was finance minister, and when he broke the rules to shovel tax dollars to his political cronies at Earnscliffe. Everybody on that side knows about the special relationship between the Prime Minister and Earnscliffe.

How does he expect us to believe that he did not break these rules and why is it that he would not even listen to the advice of Chuck Guité, when it came to ethical standards for government contracting?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, again the hon. gentleman refers to a particular piece of paper. I would ask him to refer to the memos that were sent by the minister's office. Those memos from the minister's office argue for more competition and argue for it faster.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, a confidential memo in 1995 to Warren Kinsella, then chief of staff to David Dingwall of public works, outlined how the Department of Finance twisted the rules to award contracts to Earnscliffe. That same memo stated that the Department of Finance was not the only one breaching the guidelines.

We know that the present Minister of Finance, when he was the agriculture minister, dictated that Earnscliffe be sole sourced as well.

How could the Prime Minister entrust a key position in his recycled government to the member for Wascana, when he clearly has a history of breaking these contracting rules?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. Minister of Finance has the floor.

The hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster I know wants to hear the answer. He is not going to be able to if everyone is yelling.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I am glad the hon. gentleman asked the question. I have reviewed the record and an appropriate procedure was followed.

The subject matter was a crucial matter for western farmers flowing from the 1995 budget. A payment of $1.6 billion had to be made and it had to be done properly and quickly. The situation was urgent. The work got done and the payment was made. After the fact, the program's administration was given a favourable review by the then Auditor General of Canada.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the only thing we are sure of is that two out of three Liberal finance ministers put the “earn” in Earnscliffe.

In a 1995 secret letter from David Dingwall to the minister of agriculture, Dingwall, as public works minister, stated that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has demonstrated a pattern of non-compliance and avoidance of the rules for awarding contracts. It is the same old thing.

How does the Prime Minister justify promoting the member for Wascana, when his own cabinet colleagues of the day were attacking him for breaking the rules to benefit Earnscliffe?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman should know that the argument in the particular case that he is referring to was an argument based on urgency.

The urgency was obvious, as the hon. gentleman will remember the circumstances of the time. At that time, the minister of public works indicated that it was satisfactory.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the situation for groundfish fishers in the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspésie is not rosy and many of them want the government to buy back their fishing permits. A buyback program would better protect the resources and the remaining fishers would then be able to hope for a quota increase.

Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans take action and promise right now to buy back permits from the fishers who are having difficulties?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I am aware of the fact that there are fishers in his region who are worried about this situation. I cannot say whether permits will be bought back as he has asked.