House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

May 28th, 2008 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the former minister was in charge when the NAFTA-gate leak happened. Despite protests from his officials, but under pressure from the Minister of Public Safety and the PMO, he got a young Republican fundraiser appointed to a job at the Canadian embassy, Frank Sensenbrenner, now apparently the epicentre of that leak.

In light of that new information, will the government make sure, as promised by the Prime Minister in this House on March 5, “that every legal and investigative technique necessary” will be “undertaken to find out who exactly is behind” the NAFTA leak?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as the leader of the NDP is fully aware, the Clerk of the Privy Council undertook an extensive examination into this matter, retaining the best available consultants. In their findings clearing the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and our ambassador in Washington as not having released any classified information, the difficulty, of course, was that the memo in question was circulated to over 200 people, some of whom were outside the foreign affairs department.

There is no evidence of the type that he suggests and as we have seen in the newspaper articles, but simply mere assertions. The facts and the findings of the report state quite differently.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is now clear that our questions about the conduct of the former foreign affairs minister have been absolutely legitimate, but circumstances still demand some clarification from the government.

When did the government learn about the missing cabinet documents? When were the documents retrieved from Madam Couillard? Who retrieved them? Was it the RCMP? Was it CSIS? Was it PCO security? When and by whom?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I think there has been a fair bit of media attention on this question. There is not a lot of mystery. Documents were left. They were left in an unsecured place. Madam Couillard undertook with her lawyer to return those, and they were returned. We do know that they were returned and she has indicated that publicly.

With regard to whether there are any other security issues related to that, Foreign Affairs is conducting a review of that matter and can draw on whatever resources it wants. There is no mystery there. The event is a pretty simple one and has nothing to do with people's personal lives.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, since the government House leader would not answer the question, I have a question for the public safety minister.

We have been led to believe that more was happening behind the scenes than has been admitted by the government. Can the public safety minister confirm that between May 1 and May 8 of this year there was a meeting of CSIS and the Prime Minister's Office to discuss the conduct of his foreign affairs minister?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, all these questions have been thoroughly answered.

I hope the member opposite is not so naive as to think that meetings between CSIS members and the Prime Minister on any subject would be a matter of total public record. How naive is he being?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that does not sound like a “no” to me.

I would like to ask the chosen representative of the government a simple question. It would appear that the Prime Minister, at noon on Monday, said that he did not take these issues seriously at all. It also would appear, from the press reports that the government House leader has referred to, that the documents were returned well before that. There is even one report that the Prime Minister received a resignation letter from the former foreign affairs minister on Monday morning.

Can he account for the Prime Minister's statement at lunchtime?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I can account for it quite simply. Sometimes journalists get things wrong.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is true that everyone makes mistakes. Nevertheless, I would like to ask the government a simple question.

After problems with the minister first surfaced, it took a good five weeks for him to resign. Why did government members sit on their collective duff for five weeks?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, that did not happen. As soon as the Prime Minister became aware of this issue, action was taken and the resignation of the foreign affairs minister resulted.

There was no delay. Action was immediate. As the Prime Minister has indicated quite clearly, what took place was that as soon as he discovered the information the foreign affairs minister offered his resignation and the resignation was accepted.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2005, the D.R.P. security company, owned by Robert Pépin and Julie Couillard, bid on an air transport security contract. The Minister of Public Safety confirmed that systematic checks were done on bidders. The Minister of Public Safety and the security services therefore knew about the shady past of the member for Beauce's ex-girlfriend.

How could the minister be so negligent in his responsibilities as to not forward that information to the Prime Minister?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, this matter is not about the private lives of individuals. In the matter involving the minister of foreign affairs, the issue is the documents that were left in an unsecured location. That is the issue.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, an investigation was done in 2005 into the ex-girlfriend of the hon. member for Beauce, the swearing-in incident, trips to the UN and Afghanistan, and his meeting with President Bush. They would have us believe that the RCMP and CSIS did not inform the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister's Office.

Why did the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister, who were in the know, not take the necessary measures to ensure public safety, unless they were trying to hide the facts?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, the minister of foreign affairs' mistake had to do with documents, not with his private life. Private lives remain private.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, many things do not add up in the Couillard affair. The Minister of Public Safety has a report that dates back to 2005 on Julie Couillard's shady past, because she had bid on a contract. Yet on March 31, 2008, I saw the Minister of Public Safety in a restaurant in Ottawa with the member for Beauce and his former companion, Julie Couillard.

Is this not proof of the negligence and carelessness shown by the minister responsible for public safety?