House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was officers.

Topics

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you were to check the blues you would see that it was not mentioning a member of this House. In fact, it was mentioning an assistant to a certain minister whose name I will not use in this House. The hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill referred to members who are not members of this House. I believe you have ruled before on this question of privilege and the misuse of the freedom of speech by the hon. members of the opposition.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I will look at the blues, as suggested by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development, Social Economy, and get back to the House in due course if necessary in respect of this matter.

Treaties
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Papineau
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, with permission of the House and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I would like to table, in both official languages, the treaties that entered into force in Canada in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

In keeping with recent practice, I am also tabling CD-ROMs that contain the text of these treaties in an electronic format. The CD-ROMs have reduced paper burden, while at the same time providing wide accessibility to the treaties through the Library of Parliament.

Certificates of Nomination
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 110(2), I am tabling two certificates of nomination, one with respect to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, and one with respect to the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat.

Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments recently made by the government.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 85 petitions.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

May 9th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

The committee has examined the qualifications and competence of Mr. Yves LeBouthillier, nominee to the position of president of the Law Commission of Canada, and finds him competent to perform the duties of that position.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 123(1) and 19.1(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations concerning the revocation of subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations, 1989, included in this report and from which the notice was given to the regulatory authority.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology, concerning the certificate of appointment of Jean-René Halde to the position of president of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Food and Drugs Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-379, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (food labelling).

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a revised and improved version of one that I introduced in the last Parliament. In it I propose to require basic information on chain restaurant menus and the labels of processed foods and fresh meat. One or more of these measures finds support in reports of the National Academy of Sciences, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario and the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

Even the most vocal industry critics of the bill recently announced a voluntary restaurant nutrition labelling program that will do some of the things they said were impossible just last spring. The bill is supported by 29 health and citizen groups representing two million Canadians.

I urge colleagues on both sides of the House to make it work. Canadians expect no less.

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

Food and Drugs Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I understand that two hon. members wish to move motions again today. Could the hon. member for Edmonton--St. Albert tell us which motion he proposes to move today?

Food and Drugs Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Motion No. 1, Mr. Speaker.

Food and Drugs Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Then I will not even bother asking the hon. member for Davenport because his cannot be ahead of that one. Accordingly, we will proceed with the hon. member for Edmonton--St. Albert.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts presented on Thursday, October 28, 2004, be concurred in.

I will be dividing my time with the member for Prince George--Peace River.

The first report of the public accounts committee, which I tabled in this House when we came back in the fall, dealt with the issue of the Privacy Commissioner, not the sponsorship program or the sponsorship scandal.

I want to point out the clear similarities between the two when the government does not pay attention to what is going on and how everything gets right off the rails. Perhaps the government did know what was going on and it did it with its blessing.

The report dealt with Mr. George Radwanski, as members may recall. He was a Liberal hack, if I may say. He was appointed by the Liberal government to the position of the Privacy Commissioner, an officer of Parliament no less. The government had not done any background checks other than the fact that he was a major contributor to the Liberal Party.

Apparently, that was quite sufficient for him to get the appointment. The fact that he was bankrupt really did not make that much difference. The government was not that worried about finding out these things.

The fact that Mr. Radwanski owed tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes of course did not mean anything because now he was going to have the money from the salary to pay back his taxes. Then, of course, the court and the Bankruptcy Act wiped all of that clean. He got his salary and he did not have to pay it back. This was just a great little gravy train that he was on.

The Auditor General took a look at what was going on and she said in her report that the former Privacy Commissioner:

--abdicated his responsibilities and that under his stewardship, rules and even basic standards of decent behaviour were routinely and flagrantly ignored and broken. These facts are by now widely known and, with one notable exception, universally accepted

This is how the Liberal appointee, Mr. George Radwanski, who had no other criteria for being in the job, other than contributing to the Liberal Party, was acting as an officer of Parliament. Mrs. Fraser, the Auditor General, went on to say in paragraph 5:

--oversight mechanisms of central agencies—the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Public Service Commission—were insufficient or, in the case of central agencies, not used to either prevent abuse and wrongdoing or deal with them when they occurred.

While Canadians have been horrified at the sponsorship scandal and the revelations that have been coming out almost daily on that, there are other scandals that maybe did not quite reach the same headlines, but nonetheless are very important.

We have of course the concept that Parliament ensures and authorizes spending by individual departments and agencies and officers of Parliament. However, we found out that because Mr. Radwanski thought he was a small department, with a budget of only $11 million, that the Auditor General would never come along and take a look at what he was doing.

Since Mr. Radwanski felt that the Auditor General would never show up and take a look at his books, he thought that he could break the rules with impunity. He actually borrowed $250,000 from next year's spending to cover off his excess spending in that particular year, totally contrary to the Financial Administration Act. This was contrary to the whole concept of Parliament. Only Parliament votes the money. If we do not vote it, they cannot have it.

Mr. Radwanski just helped himself to next year's budget. How he was going to balance the next year's budget we do not know. We never did get around to giving him the chance to figure that out himself because we turfed him out the door.

Then I said to myself that there must be some redress, something must happen. Mr. Radwanski spent money without Parliament's approval. Somebody should come here and do a mea culpa, apologize, and say they are going to fix the problem.

Therefore, I stood up in the House on a point of order or a point of privilege, I do not remember which, and demanded an explanation. Back came the answer that if money is spent that is not authorized by Parliament, there is a little section in the Financial Administration Act that says that is okay. It is deemed to be authorized anyway.

That is the low point of democracy here. We had it with the Privacy Commissioner and we have it with the sponsorship scandal. The whole rules regarding the administration of ethical financial management were totally ignored. The government was complicit and complacent and nobody seemed to care.

Yet, no one has come back to the House to say said that they were sorry and apologize to the Canadian people, and to say that this should not have happened. No one, not the Prime Minister, not the President of the Treasury Board, the Deputy Prime Minister, or the Minister of Finance. No one has stood up here and apologized to the Canadian taxpayer and that is an affront to Canadians.

That is why we must take a look at the sponsorship scandal, the office of the Privacy Commissioner and what else yet we do not know. There was Canada Post where the president was helping himself to millions of dollars in expense reimbursement without producing a single expense receipt.

That is again totally and completely unethical behaviour and no one has admitted that they were responsible. Perhaps the time is coming that someone is going to be held responsible. That is the responsibility of the House.

That is why we have these debates and why no confidence in the government is what causes an election. Perhaps one day very soon the House will express its dissatisfaction with the government and we are off to an election.

As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the member for Prince George--Peace River and I will turn it over to him.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

We have questions and comments first. The hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.