House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Privilege

12:20 p.m.

An hon. member

In the case of the employment insurance, the figure was $46 billion.

Privilege

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Beauce, QC

I would remind the Bloc member that it was not $46 billion in the case of Oxygène 9. We will never know the figure, because the sovereignists lacked the nerve to investigate. They lacked the courage. Here, however, we did not lack the courage to acknowledge malfeasance and to have the guilty pay the price. We have sent this message here since the outset and will continue to do so.

Instead of being a responsible and transparent government, they had the minister Gilles Baril resign and promoted him to the position of vice-president of Hydro-Québec in Chile. They never investigated and never found out who was guilty. And the Bloc members are trying to teach us a lesson, we who established the Gomery commission and called in the RCMP to uncover the guilty parties.

Criminal charges were laid against four individuals, and 32 civil cases were initiated against individuals or companies for a total of $57 million. In so doing, we have demonstrated our desire to take action to ensure that such major problems never recur. That was the action of a responsible government. We have recreated the position of Comptroller General of Canada as well as comptroller positions for each department, in order to ensure that any program put in place will comply with Treasury Board standards and regulations.

My reading of these tactics is that the Bloc does not know what to do with a government that respects its commitments. This shows how important it is for the government to do exactly that. I will list but a few of our commitments, as time is unfortunately limited.

A few weeks after the election, a health agreement was signed for a total of $41.5 billion, $9.6 billion of that to go to Quebec over 10 years. Health is the ultimate priority of Quebeckers and Canadians. That was the action of a responsible government. We noted a major problem relating to equalization, and wanted to ensure its stability, so that the provincial governments will not be caught unawares because of an adjustment to the highly complex equalization program rules. What was the outcome of that? Within just weeks of the signing of the health agreement, an equalization agreement was concluded for $33 billion over ten years.

I would remind my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois that, this year, the agreement will see $4.8 billion going to Quebec in equalization payments. Next year, the amount will exceed $5.3 billion, or an increase of over $500 million in direct payments to Quebec. This is proof of how the Government of Canada respects its commitments.

We talked about parental leave. We have made an investment of $750 million per year to enable the province of Quebec to make its own decisions concerning parental leave and to enable families to have children, which is essential for our country. Subsequently, we have seen that Quebec is a leader in early learning and child care programs and we wanted to establish a national program. Therefore, an agreement of over $1 billion over five years was concluded. That enables Quebec, as a leader in this area, to share its know-how and expertise with the other provinces and territories, while respecting the fields of jurisdiction.

Too often we hear our colleagues from the Bloc Québécois say that the government does not respect provincial jurisdictions. The Charest government mentioned a while ago that it had concluded 150 agreements with the federal government. This is proof of mutual respect. And the interim leader of the Parti Québécois added: “One hundred and fifty agreements! The Parti Québécois has concluded 400 agreements with the Government of Canada.” This shows things are working out in this country. We are able to get along. However, when we are dealing with the Bloc Québécois, no agreement is possible.

It is too bad that I only have one minute left, because I could have continued for hours and hours to show just how much the Government of Canada has the interests of Quebeckers and all Canadians at heart.

In conclusion, I will talk about Bill C-9. Over $300 million will be given to the regions of Quebec, which constitutes concrete action. Going back to the main point of the debate, I would like to quote the Bloc leader:

On a sharply critical note, [the leader of the Bloc Québécois] said that in a society, attitudes fraught with hypocrisy and innuendo are not to be tolerated. If there is evidence, let it be known, do not let the rumour mill run. Rigour is required at all times; otherwise, we end up with statements starting with “Someone told me they have heard”. That is hearsay, gossip, and it is not right, be it directed at politicians or anyone else. There is nothing more harmful than rumour because it is not factual.

When the Bloc leader made this statement in Le Soleil , to whom do you think he was referring? He was referring to the separatists, who attack each other personally. This is reflected here when unaddressed householders contain personal attacks. Bloc members quote liberally from the Gomery report, saying it contains real and concrete facts, and yet, they do not say a word about the government. This is unacceptable and I hope they will apologize and demonstrate sound management and good behaviour in the House.

Privilege

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech my colleague from the other side delivered. Since the Gomery report is the topic of the day, let us talk about it. I want to tell my colleague across the floor that we have read the Gomery report. I am a lawyer so I will refer to the report and the summary.

Here is what Justice Gomery says on page 9 of the report:

As an initial finding, which will be expanded upon in the pages that follow, it became apparent to me throughout the hearings that, with virtually no exceptions, the conclusions of the Auditor General of Canada, expressed in Chapters 3 and 4 of her 2003 Report to Parliament, have been confirmed. With only one exception of a purely technical nature, relating to the purchase of horses by the RCMP, no one has seriously suggested to me that any of her conclusions were unfounded.

Thus, we must look at the conclusions and I am coming to my question. The conclusions of the Auditor General quoted on page 12 of the summary are as follows:

Parliament’s role was not respected;

there was a breakdown in internal controls;

there were problems related to the selection of agencies;

files were poorly documented; amendments were made irregularly;

there were serious problems relating to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act;

commissions and production costs were excessive; and

the Government’s Transfer Payments Policy was not observed.

Therefore, I read the report and I could keep asking questions for the remainder of the month. Do you agree with the conclusions of the Auditor General quoted by Justice Gomery on page 12 of his report? If so, since you must agree—I suppose you agree with the report entirely—what do you intend to do? What guarantee do we have? This is the reason why we have informed our constituents about this scandal.

Do you agree with the conclusions of the Auditor General stated again in the Gomery report, which is about one of the worst scandals in Canada?

Privilege

November 14th, 2005 / 12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Beauce, QC

Madam Speaker, I am somewhat surprised that the member would dare rise in this House to ask this question. I told him in my comments that, as regards the metro in Laval, it was over $900 million. With the sponsorship program, it was $350 million over a ten-year period.

Many organizations from which Bloc Québécois members benefited did receive the money as agreed. However, there was some misappropriation of funds, and we took action. We fully accept the content of the Gomery report. On page 77 of the Summary, it is mentioned that no government member was involved. Therefore, how can the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who is a lawyer, dare accuse some people, when the Gomery report tells the truth? The member refers to various pages, he says that he has read everything and that he is prepared to ask questions for weeks and months. He sent this piece of trash to his constituents and indirectly accused, through some comments, people who were exonerated by Justice Gomery himself in his report. But the member is nevertheless accusing these people. He has the nerve to rise in this House and ask questions, but we never saw him protect the interests of Quebeckers in the numerous scandals that involved his party's head office for years. Perhaps a reminder is in order here. Perhaps the member was pleading cases before the courts when these scandals occurred, and perhaps he was not aware of what was going on. Just think of the metro in Laval, the caisse de dépôt and Oxygène 9.

Given all this, perhaps the member should just keep quiet for a while.

Privilege

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to take my colleague back to the householder issue, which is at the core of the question of privilege. We are hearing all sorts of things back and forth across the House. Some people seem to find the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Bourassa very funny. However, all of us in this House maintain that we want to defend our democratic rights, and this is central to our role as politicians. We are supposed to be leaders of Canadian society, but there are times when some might wonder, given the level of some debates.

We are talking about a householder. I have here the householder of the member for Drummond. It is one of those that was sent out. It covers a lot of things. Indeed, it tries to make certain innuendoes. I would like to draw the attention of the honourable member—

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

A member called for a point of order. I would imagine he wanted to remind the member that she should not be using a prop. The member is not reading from it.

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, I was actually reading from it, but that is okay.

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I protest. I certainly would not debate your decision, but in my view it was not a prop. The member was using it. She had to. She is functioning in both languages at once and on these occasions I think members do from time to time have to read material such as this.

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Could the member for Gatineau please get to her question as the time is very brief.

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, I simply stressed the fact that we are discussing a question of privilege concerning mailings. If we want to call the material that is central to this issue a prop, then I have some problems.

That said, I will go straight to the point. I would like to hear the comment of the honourable member concerning the following:

Yesterday, in an editorial interview with Le Soleil, the leader of the Bloc Québécois had some fairly harsh words about certain people who, like candidate Jean Ouimet, fuel the rumours about André Boisclair's past.

Various things are being said. Here is what the leader of the Bloc Québécois said:

On a sharply critical note, [the leader of the Bloc Québécois] said that in a society, attitudes fraught with hypocrisy and innuendo are not to be tolerated. If there is evidence, let it be known, do not let the rumour mill run. Rigour is required at all times... it is not right, be it directed at politicians or anyone else. There is nothing more harmful than rumour because it is not factual.

He also added:

If it turns out that the rumours were unfounded, those who floated them will have to face the consequences. What goes around comes around, warned [the leader of the Bloc].

I would like to have the opinion of the hon. member concerning this quote, in the context of the question of privilege—

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The time has expired but I will give the hon. parliamentary secretary a brief opportunity to answer.

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, if you are going to give the government side extra time, are you going to give the opposition members extra time when their time runs out too?

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I am sure the member will not object to a 30 second answer.

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Madam Speaker, my question was, if you give the government extra time are you going to give the opposition extra time too?

Privilege

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

If there is an opportunity for a 30 second answer with respect to the members we do stretch it for a 30 second answer.