House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Foundations
Oral Question Period

May 4th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the fiscal realities of foundations are still a source of concern for Canadians. Yesterday, the government told us that the Auditor General or any individual can ask for copies of the foundations' audited reports. However, Ms. Fraser told us that she has neither the authority nor the resources to adequately protect taxpayers.

Why will the Prime Minister not let the Auditor General audit these foundations to protect Canadians?

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the foundations that have been created by the government in the past number of years have been a tremendous success. They are staffed by some of the best and the brightest that Canada has to offer. They do some of the best work in innovation and research and all their statements are audited and are available.

There are certain requests that have been put in through the budget whereby the minister can call for a review of those things. We have a tremendous system that is working very well.

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals may be prepared to call these a success but before taxpayers can call them a success we need to make sure that all the money is being spent properly and effectively.

What the Auditor General is asking for is the ability to do compliance and value for money audits so that Canadians know whether they got precisely what was stated with regard to their taxpayer dollars.

If the Prime Minister really believes in accountability, why does he not give the Auditor General the effective powers to ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted in a scandalous manner like all Canadians saw with regard to the sponsorships program?

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, these foundations are all audited. Annual statements are made. The opportunity is there for members of Parliament, or indeed committees, to call, at any time, any one of these foundations and ask how the money is being spent.

Parliament has a supervisory jurisdiction. If the hon. member wishes to engage in that supervisory jurisdiction, he is more than welcome.

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, just after the Prime Minister announced his tighter system to manage spending in the 1995 budget, which we know did not really work out that well, he started stashing $9 billion in off the books foundations, like Canada Health Infoway.

Those foundations are not open to access by the Auditor General or to access to information requests.

A month ago the finance minister acknowledged the problem and said that the Auditor General should have access to those foundations.

Why did the finance minister mislead Canadians and fail to follow through on his promise to allow the Auditor General access to those foundations?

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I noted in the newspaper today that the former prime minister is being recognized by Queen's University for his work in foundations. This was a significant achievement on the part of this government. The former prime minister is being awarded a doctorate for the ability of the government to put universities back in the research game.

Queen's University has recognized it. I know the University of Toronto recognizes it. I am sure there are other universities as well.

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was very nice but it was completely irrelevant to the question I asked.

The Auditor General said:

I am concerned that these huge amounts of public money are provided up front to foundations when there is such limited assurance of proper controls and accountability.

I wonder if she was thinking of Canada Health Infoway which is now on its fourth CEO in four years?

Why did the finance minister commit to letting the AG have access to these foundations only to break his promise?

Foundations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that these people do not believe in an organization that changed leaders four times in the last four years. That means that Canadians should not trust them to lead Canada.

As far as Canada Health Infoway is concerned, I can tell the House that it is doing a lot of good for Canadians. It is helping us to work on the electronic patient security and safety with our partners in the provinces. Health Infoway is doing a lot of good to ensure the long term sustainability of our health care system.

Social Development
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Social Development.

The birth certificates of constituents are accepted by the Department of Foreign Affairs to issue passports. At the same time, Canadian passports are rejected by her department to issue social insurance numbers.

Why is a Canadian passport deemed inadequate for the purpose of identity and citizenship?

Social Development
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles
Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla Minister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that, in her 2002 report, the Auditor General indicated that 2.6 million social insurance numbers were inactive. Following this report, an interdepartmental committee was set up and made recommendations that were approved by the federal-provincial-territorial council on identity in Canada. Following these recommendations, we no longer accept the passport, because it is not a primary document.

We have stricter requirements for issuing a social insurance number. We need the original of a birth certificate or an immigration document.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister attacked Conservatives for supporting the Iraqi war, yet he never showed his face at anti-war rallies and he hid behind the curtain while debate raged here in Parliament.

Now he apes the Conservatives on ballistic missile defence, despite pleas from every member of the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Islamic Congress, along with growing numbers of Canadians, that Canada not participate in NMD.

How can the Prime Minister slam Conservatives on the Iraqi war and missile defence while pursuing the exact same policies?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, as so often happens in the House, is wrong on both counts, not just one count.

The Prime Minister has been totally consistent in terms of the Iraq war, and this party's policy and this government's policy has been totally consistent in terms of NMD. We will examine this and if it is in the interests of Canadians we will enter into it. If it is not, we will not.

It is not going to lead to star wars however much they might try to persuade themselves and try to fool the Canadian electorate into believing that.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is no connection between what the Prime Minister says and what he does. He may have gotten some tips from George Bush on how to rewrite history, but the facts remain. He never said anything to keep Canada out of the war in Iraq.

How can the Prime Minister slam the Conservatives on the Iraqi war and missile defence, while pursuing the exact same policies?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is the same question in a different language, but the answer remains the same.

Canada Customs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, only three days after the Prime Minister's photo op with George Bush, Bob Zoellick , the U.S. trade representative, put Canada on the watch list as one of the world's worst offending nations when it comes to counterfeit goods.

Customs agents do not have the authority to protect Canadian markets from counterfeit material. If they see something illegally enter Canada they have to call the police.

Why have the Liberals not extended the proper authority to customs so that they can seize counterfeit goods?