House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentence.

Topics

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Balderdash, Mr. Speaker. What is it with the Prime Minister and money? Instead of the original $40 million that was to be spent on the unity fund last year, it turns out that the figure has more than doubled. This is not about the typical Liberal Party slush fund; this is deliberate deceit and massive mismanagement.

Eddie Goldenberg, the former prime minister's chief of staff, said unequivocally that the current Prime Minister had personal knowledge of the secret fund every year since its existence.

Why did the Prime Minister mislead Canadians in the information contained in the last budget about this unity fund?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have said time and again in the House and elsewhere that the Prime Minister has a reserve that can help extend an existing program when it is needed and when there is a legitimate application for money. It needs to be a regular program. It goes through the regular program and it needs to be approved by Treasury Board every time. That is absolutely clear, but the opposition will just not hear about it.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the point is it was secret and it did not go through the proper channels. It was not only kept secret from Canadians, but it was kept secret from some members of the Liberal caucus. Not only that, but only those in the upper echelon of the Prime Minister's Office and their staff knew about this fund.

There is a disturbing trend developing here. When the Prime Minister feigns ignorance about something, the truth eventually comes out, whether it is government grants to CSL, contracts with Liberal friendly firms, and now it is the unity fund.

Why is it that the Prime Minister has repeatedly demonstrated that he will only come clean when he gets caught?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been absolutely transparent about this. He has explained things better than anyone else has ever done it. Certainly, the Prime Minister has ensured that things would be absolutely discussed at the public accounts committee. All the budget lines were approved and discussed at the public accounts committee as well.

These things are absolutely transparent.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 24, the Prime Minister's Office agreed to make public, within 48 hours, the list of events financed by the national unity fund, a fund that was used to finance the sponsorship scandal. A month has gone by and nothing has yet been disclosed.

Since the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs keeps saying that it will take some time because there is no such list, while the newspapers fill their pages with the list, can the Prime Minister tell us what his government has to hide?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Treasury Board Secretariat is working with all departments to collect information on the use of the unity reserve. Getting this information requires close scrutiny of government programs and activities over a number of years. Thus, it will take some time to do it. The Treasury Board is doing its job.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the list has existed for a number of years. It is all on a list and it exists. This list is being hidden from us. They cannot make us believe it does not exist; it has been seen.

I challenge the minister and the Prime Minister to provide us, within 24 hours, with all the information concerning the national unity fund, namely, what events it funded and what amounts were granted. It exists; it must be shown, otherwise the House has been misled, and the truth not told.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the Bloc has seen it, perhaps he could make it public. What I can say is that our officials in the Treasury Board are working on this list. It must deal with the last few years because some of the budget lines are recent. I know that the Treasury Board is doing its job with great diligence.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want this to be clear to the Minister of Health: the list exists; a journalist referred to it in his article. The list was seen. The minister cannot be unaware of its existence.

I am asking the government this question. Is this not another example of the usual government strategy to avoid having to be accountable in the House: pretending they are doing all they can to provide us with the information, when in fact there is a list? Let them table that list.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the journalist alluded to certain bits of information. However, what the opposition is asking for and what the government wants to make public is a full list indicating all the expenditures from this reserve fund, not just a partial list.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the government wants to do is increasingly clear, it wants to continue looking until the general election. That is what it is trying to do.

We were not told about this list. The amounts were minimized. Furthermore, the former president of the Privy Council just told us that he did not know how it worked, but he found it useful to keep both hands in the bag.

I want to ask the government a question. Who made the decisions and who used our money, who decided how much these amounts would be, and who chose the events? In short, who spent $600 million in taxpayers funds without telling us?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House of one thing and that is that the amounts invested from this reserve fund went to very legitimate programs. They were systematically approved by the Treasury Board and made public in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. This did not prevent the riding of the Bloc leader from getting several millions of dollars for several very worthy activities.

Health
Oral Question Period

April 26th, 2004 / 2:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the health minister said beyond any doubt that the Liberal government would use P3 privatization in health care, allowing private for profit delivery of health care. On Friday, the health minister was crystal clear that he supported the private for profit delivery of MRIs.

The Liberals like to pretend that they do not want what the Conservatives want on health care, but what the minister is saying is exactly what the Conservatives want on health care.

How can the Prime Minister pretend there is a difference, when his own health minister keeps talking about private for profit delivery of health care?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I do not have a clue about what the member is talking. I have never talked about privatization in the way he is attributing to me.

The government stands by the five principles of the Canada Health Act. I am looking for ways of better enforcing the five principles of the Canada Health Act, and working in cooperation with the provinces.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, if the minister does not know what I am talking about, he should open up his ears. It is indeed true that private, for profit health care has increased under the Liberals because they support a private health care system, just as the Conservatives do.

On the other side of the river, in Gatineau, a person can enter a private MRI clinic and receive health care more quickly. This is not a hypothetical solution. That is what the Liberal Minister of Health wants to implement.

Can he explain why he wants a system in which a person can enter a private clinic and pay to receive health care more quickly? Now does he know what I am talking about?