House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology, relating to the certificate of appointment of Peter D. Clark to the position of executive director of the Standards Council of Canada.

Trade Compensation Act
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-364, an act to provide compensation to Canadian industry associations and to Canadian exporters who incur financial losses as a result of unjustified restrictive trade actions by foreign governments which are signatories to trade agreements involving Canadian products.

Madam Speaker, the title of my private member's bill is “Trade Compensation Act”. The intent of this act is twofold: first, to repay Canadian industry exporters their legal fees if they are subject to unjustified trade restrictions by a foreign power; and second, for the government to provide loan guarantees if a foreign government indeed requires a security deposit until the conclusion of a trade disagreement.

This bill is directed primarily toward those exporters who deal with foreign powers, specifically in this case toward farmers, on BSE, and toward softwood lumber.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Telecommunications Act
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-365, an act to amend the Telecommunications Act (Voice over Internet Protocol).

Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank the seconder of my private member's bill, the member for Halton. I would also like to thank the legislative counsel from the Legislative Services Branch of the House of Commons for having expedited the preparation of this bill.

In summary, the purpose of this bill is “to reduce legislative controls with respect to the economic aspects of the new telecommunications service called Voice over Internet Protocol, while recognizing the need for legislative controls of the non-economic aspects of the service”, such as basic 9-1-1 service, access by law enforcement agencies and services for the hearing impaired.

This is an issue of choice for consumers. If we want to nurture the thriving, innovative and competitive communications industry, we need to let the market forces take root. Many countries around the world have decided not to price-regulate voice over IP communication services. Here in Canada, we should not be in the business of picking winners. We need to ensure that Canada's telecommunications policies are modern and consistent with the government's objective to stimulate innovation and economic growth through smart regulation.

In Quebec alone, some businesses are already providing telephone services through Voice over Internet Protocol. Consumer demand is driving the development of this technology. The best thing to do is let the consumer choose.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Exploits, NL

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-366, an act to change the name of the electoral district of Bonavista--Gander--Grand Falls--Windsor.

Madam Speaker, based on the advice of my constituents, I would like to introduce this bill in the House to change the name of the electoral district to its original name, Bonavista--Exploits. I would also like to thank the member for Halton for seconding this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

April 14th, 2005 / 10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House.

The first one is on the notwithstanding clause. The petitioners want to point out that the majority of Canadians believe that the fundamental matters of social policy should be decided by elected members of Parliament and not by the unelected judiciary. They also point out that it is the duty of Parliament to ensure that marriage is defined.

They therefore call on Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including the invocation of section 33 of the charter, commonly referred to as the notwithstanding clause, to preserve and protect the current definition of marriage as between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

The second petition also has to do with the subject matter of marriage. The petitioners wanted to point out to Parliament that marriage is the best foundation for families and for raising children, and that the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is being challenged.

The petitioners therefore also point out that marriage is the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament and therefore call upon Parliament to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Madam Speaker, I am proud to present, on behalf of constituents from Lloydminster, a petition on marriage.

These petitioners recognize that marriage is a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. They note that in fact that definition was passed in this House with a huge majority back in 1999. They acknowledge that Parliament is the body that should be determining the definition of marriage. They ask that Parliament carry out its responsibility and define in legislation marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Darrel Stinson North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I have five petitions to present today.

The first petition is from my constituents of Okanagan--Shuswap who call upon Parliament and the Government of Canada to oppose U.S. plans for missile defence. The petitioners request that the United Nations be required to permanently ban missile defence systems and space-based weapons worldwide by October 24 of this year, or convene a mandatory space preservation treaty signing conference thereafter for that purpose.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Darrel Stinson North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, the last four petitions, that I am fully in support of, are from hundreds of my constituents of Okanagan--Shuswap.

The petitioners urge Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including invoking section 33 of the charter, if necessary, to preserve and protect the current definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to present 10 petitions, primarily signed by the fine constituents of Canada's most beautiful constituency, Portage--Lisgar, in the centre of the country.

These petitions all deal with the issue of marriage. There is a total of approximately 13,070 signatories to these 10 petitions, each of which supports marriage as it has traditionally been defined. It asks us to acknowledge that the Supreme Court has recognized Parliament's jurisdiction in defining marriage. It also asks us to support the notion that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that it is a fundamental building block of society and represents the best environment for raising of children.

They ask us as members of Parliament to respect, uphold and support the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. It is my honour to present these petitions to the House today.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

moved

That the House call on the government to immediately establish a trust account into which the Liberal Party of Canada can deposit all funds received from companies and individuals tied to the sponsorship scandal and identified in testimony before the Gomery commission

Madam Speaker, today we are going to debate the worst scandal in contemporary Canadian political history. It involves the Liberal Party, which currently forms the government.

The Liberal Party ran its last three election campaigns with dirty money, tainted by corruption, the misappropriation of public funds, bogus invoices, tactics just short of money laundering and—there is no denying—what were at the very least questionable practices.

This culture of corruption was born from the desire of the Liberal Party leadership to fight the Bloc Québécois and sovereignists. It was not about democratically debating the future of Quebec and Canada. All the senior Liberal Party officials said, “It was about winning the war”; and they are still saying this today.

This government spent millions and millions of dollars during the 1995 referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec, money that was then laundered and which even the then Auditor General was unable to trace. It was about operation Option Canada, by which public funds were used in violation of Quebec legislation to intervene in the referendum debate.

From that point on, the Liberal government chose to break all the rules, supposedly to fight sovereignty. The current Prime Minister was finance minister at that time. So he took part, by secretly allocating funds, in this first serious violation of the most fundamental rules of democracy.

The current President of the Privy Council, the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, was personally responsible for these operations. The president of Option Canada was Claude Dauphin who, one year later, became the right-hand man of the current Premier of Quebec.

A little later, in 1996, the government held a special cabinet meeting on Canadian unity where it was agreed that the Quebec Liberal Party needed help—not the federal government, not federalism and not Canada, but the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister was there and not once have we heard him condemn this failure to stay on course. He has preferred to hold his tongue and be an accessory.

The Liberal Party of Canada started using dirty money in 1997. The Prime Minister himself, as candidate for LaSalle—Émard, did not hesitate to campaign with this dirty money, and all the Liberal Party candidates used this Liberal Party money.

Quebec was bombarded with flags, ads and sponsorships. We never heard a single complaint from the Prime Minister.

In 2000, the Bloc Québécois repeatedly asked very pointed questions about the sponsorship program. The Prime Minister and all the Liberal members were seated in this House and they heard every question, unless they plugged their ears so as not to hear them.

In 2000, five years ago already, the Bloc Québécois platform stated:

The Liberal government's propensity to award contracts for advertising, communications or for organizing ministerial tours brings sizeable profits to the Liberal Party of Canada.

That is what we wrote and that is what we campaigned on, among other things. The list of agencies followed, including Groupe Everest, Groupaction and Lafleur Communications, to name a few.

In 2000, we repeatedly urged the Liberal government to call an inquiry. The government always refused.

Despite all these questions, despite all the newspaper articles, the Prime Minister told us he knew nothing about any of this. In 2000, the Prime Minister and all the Liberal candidates in Quebec again campaigned with dirty money from the corruption.

Between 2000 and 2004, things became much clearer. We asked hundreds of questions, 440 questions to be precise, but the Liberals—including the Prime Minister—refused to take action.

In 2004, the Prime Minister had an opportunity to not campaign with dirty money, but he refused to take responsibility. He went against the promise made by his lieutenant, to never campaign with tainted money.

As a result, the Liberal Party of Canada campaigned in 2004 using dirty money, for the third consecutive time. The Prime Minister was the triumphant leader of the Liberal Party of Canada at that time. He accepted no responsibility, but today claims the moral authority to lead this government, which is corrupt to the core.

If the Liberal Party of Canada today finds itself up to its neck in mud, that is because it has refused to follow the rules of democracy. The Liberal Party of Canada has not respected the rules of democracy, and when a political party breaks the rules to such an extent, it must be sanctioned. And those who must shoulder the responsibility and face the sanction are the Liberals, and first and foremost their leader, the member for LaSalle—Émard.

The Liberal Party of Canada and its leader have used four defences so far. Their first argument: they were the ones who took action, for example setting up the inquiry and firing Gagliano, Pelletier, Ouellet and LeFrançois. The second: the Prime Minister states that he knew nothing, that he did not do it, that someone else did the deed. The third: the Prime Minister and his lieutenant talk about a parallel group. The fourth: they confirm that the dirty money does not show up in the books of the Liberal Party of Canada. Each of these arguments shows that this Prime Minister and his party are refusing to accept responsibility.

I would like begin with the first argument, the creation of the inquiry and the firings. The Prime Minister stresses the point that the Liberal government took action. He repeats the litany of creating the inquiry, firing Gagliano, Pelletier, Ouellet and LeFrançois, and recovering the stolen money, which incidentally he has not done. What the PM does not say is that each and every time, the Liberal government had to be backed into a corner first.

As for the commission of inquiry, for example, on October 10, 2002—over three years ago—the Bloc was calling for that commission. The present Minister of Finance refused, insisting that it would be much better to let the RCMP take care of everything. I have here the actual words of the present Minister of Finance:

Mr. Speaker, I gather that the hon. members have some difficulty with the work of the Auditor General. They must have some difficulty with the work of the RCMP.

Quite frankly, if members are interested in getting to the root of this matter, they would be best advised to rely upon the official and authoritative investigations that are already underway, on the one hand by the Auditor General, and on the other hand by the RCMP.

That is what he said when we were calling for a commission of inquiry. And here are the same people today boasting of having set it up, without being urged to do so. On June 13, 2003, in this House, that is what the present Minister of Finance said in response to a question on the creation of such a commission of inquiry.

As for the recall of Ambassador Gagliano, the hon. member for Mercier, from the Bloc Québécois, had previously asked the government not to appoint him ambassador. Later we demanded that he be recalled on numerous occasions, for example, on December 13, 2003, when the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard had already become Prime Minister. We had to wait a long time before our wish was granted. The Bloc Québécois and the opposition had to call for the dismissal of Jean Pelletier before the Prime Minister would agree to take action.

As for recovering the stolen money, that is the least we could expect, and once again enormous pressure had to be placed on the Prime Minister before he finally took action. Since August 6, 2002, the Bloc has demanded the recovery of the public money embezzled by the cronies of the Liberal Party of Canada. Furthermore, the Bloc Québécois first called for the abolition of the sponsorship program in 2002, one year before this government acted. On every occasion, pressure from the opposition, the media and public indignation has had to be brought to bear before the Liberal government and the Prime Minister would take action.

Next, the Prime Minister said that it wasn't him, that he knew nothing. The Prime Minister and his faithful lieutenant the hon. member for Outremont have tried and are still trying to distance themselves from Jean Chrétien and the Liberal cronies. “It wasn't me,” the Prime Minister tells us.

He says that he was outraged by Jean Brault's revelations. The Prime Minister defends himself by saying that it was he who dismissed Ambassador Gagliano. He did not know anything, but he fired an ambassador. Now that is really something. It really is a first in the history of humanity. The ambassador was appointed because of the sponsorships and then he was fired for the same reason.

I dare say that if the Prime Minister dismissed Mr. Gagliano, it was because he knew something that justified the decision. In a letter sent to Liberals, the Prime Minister emphasized that he had fired Messrs. Pelletier, LeFrançois and Ouellet because of their involvement in the sponsorship scandal. That is what he said. How, in that case, was he able to go to the polls saying that he did not know anything?

He tells us that he did not know anything. But the Prime Minister was there all those years, at the very heart of the Liberal government and the Liberal Party. It was the Prime Minister, when he was finance minister, who controlled the purse strings. It was he who was primarily responsible for the public finances used in the sponsorship scandal. He was the vice-president of the Treasury Board and as such he was responsible for reviewing programs and their effectiveness.

The Prime Minister was and still is a member of Parliament under the Liberal banner in Quebec. In November 1999, at the height of the corrupt activities of senior officials in his party in Quebec, he attended a little party held to mark the 15th anniversary of Alfonso Gagliano's entry into politics. He paid tribute to him in a video. In 1999, the Prime Minister was very much an admirer of Mr. Gagliano.

By 2000 he had heard—or maybe he preferred to cover his ears and hold his nose—the hundreds of questions asked by the Bloc Québécois about the sponsorship scandal. The member for LaSalle—Émard knew at that time that he was going to campaign with dirty money. Did he himself not buy campaign signs from Mr. Corriveau during the 1997 and 2000 campaigns?

In 1997, the Prime Minister received $15,935 from the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada to use in his campaign. Did he campaign in 1997 with dirty money? Everything leads to that conclusion.

During the last campaign, the Prime Minister had a chance to reply to the many unanswered questions about the sponsorship scandal. During the leaders' debate, I asked him at least three times who was part of the political leadership he talked about when creating the Gomery commission. He refused to reply. So far, he has not denied any of the facts or testimony heard before the Gomery commission.

So the Prime Minister campaigned in 1997 with this money. He had an opportunity to answer these questions, and did not. He refused to answer. He knew. He had to know or he was hugely incompetent. He turned his back on his duties. He refused to see, to hear and to smell the stench rising from the activities of his dear Liberal Party of Canada. The Prime Minister did not have the moral authority to put a stop to it while there was still time. How can he claim today that he has the moral authority to govern? I am convinced the Prime Minister knew very well what was going on.

His third line of defence was that a parallel group was involved. No parallel group behaved improperly; it was the leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada. There is no parallel group, as the Prime Minister would have us believe. There is only the Liberal Party of Canada. This is his party, and he is its leader. The Quebec wing of this party is his wing. He has always belonged to it.

He has been a member of it since 1988. For 17 years, he has been one of the gang, but he refuses to assume his responsibilities.

The Prime Minister's final argument is that the dirty money does not appear in the Liberal Party's books. In addition to denying his responsibility as the leader of the Liberal Party, the Prime Minister is refusing to face reality. His faithful lieutenant and his Minister of Public Works and Government Services state that the money does not appear in the books of the Liberal Party of Canada. Is anybody surprised? That was the whole point of the exercise: false invoices, cash, paybacks and money laundering. This is the very essence of corruption.

Dirty money must not appear on the books. This is the allegation against the Liberal Party of Canada under the leadership of the Prime Minister. The dirty money went to the Liberal Party of Canada in an effort to buy elections in Quebec.

This Prime Minister has a responsibility to act, to establish a trust account and to deposit in it an amount equivalent to the dirty money used by the Liberal Party of Canada. So far, this means more than $2 million, based on a single testimony. Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Prime Minister must do that to ensure the public that the Liberal Party of Canada will not once again use dirty money to campaign in the next election.

He would be well-advised to act quickly, because I can promise him one thing: if the Liberal Party does not put that money in trust before the next election, we will remind the public every day that the Liberal Party of Canada is campaigning with sponsorship money.

As a Quebec Liberal member who himself campaigned with dirty money, and as the former Vice-President of the Treasury Board responsible for examining the sponsorship program, the member for LaSalle—Émard did not do his job properly. As the former finance minister, who was responsible for allocating the sponsorship funds, he also campaigned with dirty money. As the second in command in the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien, as the one responsible for all the actions of this government, and as the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada who has been actively involved in the party's Quebec wing for 17 years, this Prime Minister is responsible for everything that has occurred and he must face the consequences.

The Prime Minister must assume responsibility for the worst scandal in Canada's recent history. He must apologize to Canadians, and particularly to the Quebec nation, whose reputation has been unfairly tarnished by the actions of the Liberal Party of Canada. The Prime Minister must admit that it is not the members of a parallel group who were involved in this corruption, but the party itself, the Liberal Party of Canada that he leads.

Those individuals who committed criminal offences will have to answer to the courts. The government officials who squandered public funds, and I am talking about senior officials, will be answerable as well.

The Gomery commission will provide details of what happened with the sponsorships and make recommendations. In addition, the Liberal Party of Canada should be punished for having violated the rules of democracy. It is not for the Gomery commission to do so; that is not what it has been mandated to do. Its terms of reference specifically state that, and I quote:

the Commissioner be directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization—

That is what the terms of reference state. The House of Commons is not a court, and the opposition cannot punish the Liberal Party of Canada. And the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada is certainly not going to punish his own party. The only ones who can and must punish the Liberal Party are the voters in Quebec and Canada in a general election.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister should establish a trust fund and require the Liberal Party of Canada to put all the dirty money in it. Naturally, doing so will not erase the shame the Prime Minister must be feeling right now, and it will never erase from our memories the corruption, cronyism and trickery that will be attached from now on to the image of the Liberal Party of Canada, which he runs, but he will at least have done the minimum that decency requires.

I therefore move the following motion, seconded by the hon. member for Roberval, which reads:

That the House call on the government to immediately establish a trust account into which the Liberal Party of Canada can deposit all funds received from companies and individuals tied to the sponsorship scandal and identified in testimony before the Gomery commission.

Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the sponsorship file is an extremely important file and it is important to all Canadians. I understand why the Bloc has brought forward this matter but I think the member has misled the House and Canadians with his facts and his rhetoric.

He gave some excuse as to why the Auditor General could not do her job but the fact remains that the Auditor General did review the $250 million program. She opined on $150 million of it but, on the other $100 million which went to advertising firms, she had no jurisdiction and that was why the Gomery commission was set up.

He also misled Canadians, this House and Quebecers about the participation of the finance minister. He suggested that somehow since the Prime Minister was finance minister at the time that he doled out the money. That is not the way it works. The finance minister does not write cheques. That is operated by the departments.

He says that somehow there has to be accountability and responsibility. What did the Prime Minister do? It is pretty clear that he cancelled the sponsorship program; introduced ethical guidelines for ministers, senior staff and crown appointees; established an independent ethics officer; overhauled the government advertising; established the Gomery inquiry; appointed special counsel to recover any lost funds; eliminated the unity reserve fund; acted to replace the heads of crown corporations; recalled Ambassador Gagliano; and committed to a voluntary appearance before the commission, which he has done.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that all the allegations will be properly investigated and, where any funds were used for a purpose for which they were not intended, that investigations will be completed and, if necessary, charges laid. That is more important to Canadians than any partisan interest. The Prime Minister is committed to doing the right thing and ensuring justice be seen.

Why does the hon. member come to this place and make a speech in which he says that someone is guilty until proven innocent?

Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

Madam Speaker, with regard to the first part of his remarks on the Auditor General's responsibilities, I do not know if he misunderstood or if the interpretation was lacking, but his remarks prove exactly my point. I am not the one saying that the Auditor General, and not Justice Gomery, should proceed; his Minister of Finance is. I thank him for sharing my opinion.

Second, when he says that the Prime Minister is in no way responsible, he is failing to consider the evidence and answer some very simple questions. He said, “There is political direction”. So I am asking him, since he knows, who is providing this political direction. He says there was a parallel group. Who then is in this group, since he says there is one?

He says that he dismissed the three heads of crown corporations because they were involved in the sponsorship scandal, but he refuses to admit this in the House. He says that he dismissed Mr. Gagliano. These are not allegations. The Prime Minister is the one writing that they were connected to the sponsorship scandal. The member is not reading the letters from the Prime Minister, his leader, who wrote to his supporters, “I have dismissed individuals who were tied to the sponsorship scandal”. He refuses to say this now. Even his MP believes that these are allegations. However, the Prime Minister is the one making these allegations. That means something.

The third argument, and the best, is that we do not understand how government works. No, we do not understand, if this is how it works; that is clear. We are being told that he is not responsible and that he does not sign the cheques. This is the same former finance minister who went around boasting that he had given so much to the environment and to health. When it is about allocating money, the finance minister is the one responsible, but when it is about talking about a secret Canadian unity fund and the money given to the sponsorship scandal, he no longer knows anything, he is gone, he is not there.

Frankly, a finance minister cannot just take credit for the good stuff, he has to take credit for the bad stuff too. He has to take all the credit. One of the worst things he did for Canadian federalism and democracy is the sponsorship scandal, and he is responsible for it.