House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the present Prime Minister has not said that he was unaware of the fiscal reserve for purposes related to unity and the well-being of the nation.

He said that the actual use of such a reserve was determined, not by the finance department, but quite properly by the PCO and by the former Prime Minister.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about the $700 million fund that he did not seem to know anything about. I am talking about the million dollars that he got directly.

The former finance minister got $1 million for his department while it was under the current Prime Minister's watch. All it says on the chart is that it was used for communications.

Could the Minister of Finance explain to us what ad firms got the $1 million and where did the $1 million go? What was the $1 million used for by the former finance minister at that time?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the particular project had to do with information pertaining to the five year tax reduction plan that was introduced by the government.

Generally, it had the impact of reducing taxes for Canadians in the range of 20% to 27%. This was a major improvement in our tax system and it was important for Canadians to know about it.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like the finance minister to provide us with information indicating what ad firms were involved with that $1 million.

I want to ask the finance minister about the previous finance minister's handling of the $700 million. It went missing from the public treasury and the former finance minister said he knew nothing about it. He may have acknowledged that it existed, but he said he knew nothing about how it was used.

Could the finance minister explain how any finance minister could see $700 million slip through his or her fingers and not know where it went?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the question is utter nonsense. The fact of the matter is that every expenditure was duly included in the fiscal framework, duly included in the estimates, and duly included in the public accounts.

It is the obligation of every member of Parliament to review the public accounts and the estimates. It is all there.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, misleading financial reporting has become the norm for the Liberals

The Governor General did not spend $1 million on her circumpolar tour but $5.3 million. The Prime Minister's company, CSL, did not get $137,000 of federal business; it reaped $161 million. Now we know the ultra-secret unity reserve gave the Liberals not $500 million of taxpayers money but almost $800 million.

When will the Prime Minister tell Canadians, before they go to the polls, how many more scandalous accounting errors his government is hiding?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman's assertion is again simply nonsense.

My original estimate with respect to this matter had to do with how much my department felt we could save over the long term. It was a perfectly legitimate general figure.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is nonsense is the so-called details that the government provides to the House of Commons.

The Liberals are habitual offenders when it comes to lowballing federal spending. The skepticism of Canadians about what their own government tells them has turned into downright disbelief. The unity reserve has united Canadians all right; it has united them in the mistrust of what Liberals tell them.

When is the government going to stop its Enron style accounting and come clean with taxpayers?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the undertaking made in the House was to go through all of the official documents, including the public accounts and the estimates, and to put together a complete picture of the uses of the unity reserve over the course of the last 10 to 12 years.

A very comprehensive effort was made to do that. In the interests of full transparency, all of that information has now in fact been put before the House in a coordinated way.

Indeed, the information would have been there earlier because it is all included in the public accounts and the estimates.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

April 30th, 2004 / 11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal sponsorship scandal represents the misappropriation of taxpayers' money to the tune of much more than the $100 million out of a $250 million budget suggested by the Auditor General. Sheila Fraser did not know there was a hidden national unity fund, which, according to the list made public, was also used to fund sponsorships to the tune of $100 million.

Will the government admit that, with the regular Canadian unity program plus the secret funding combined, the sponsorship scandal cost a total of $350 million?

National Unity Fund
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, it is still quite remarkable to see just how far reality can be twisted purely to win votes.

The national unity reserve was used for numerous projects, all of which aimed to promote fundamentally Canadian values, with which Quebeckers themselves also identify. I am referring specifically to promoting the Francophonie, the 2002 youth event in Toronto, the 400th anniversary celebrations of the French presence in America and other events I will refer to later.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the only thing he did not refer to is my question.

For the year 1996-97 alone, according to the Auditor General and the public accounts, $300,000 was directed into the sponsorship program, although, on the list we have been provided, that amount is $17 million.

So the government has doctored the figures to conceal the approximately $800 million for the hidden fund, the existence of which the Prime Minister denied. He said that he did not know it existed. It is strange nonetheless to claim ignorance of the existence of a fund when his own department received $1 million when he was minister—

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

National Unity Fund
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, is it normal to think that, by making allegations that are clearly false, they will end up becoming true? How is it possible to justify the remarks just made by the colleague opposite when no part of this was hidden? Everything was public, everything was disclosed and everything was subject to a transparent process.

Enough with the unfounded allegations. I think they are well aware that these allegations are unfounded.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the year of the 1995 referendum, more than $31 million was spent to promote Canadian unity. In 1996, the then auditor general, Denis Desautels, admitted to having hit a wall when he tried to find where the $4.8 million spent by Option Canada had gone. We still do not know who benefited from it, but we now know where the money came from.

Can the minister deny today that this money, which was meant for the Official Languages Program, was diverted to Option Canada instead?