House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was region.

Topics

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

June 17th, 2008 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we have learned that Julie Couillard's mother, Diane Bellemare, was appointed for a three-year mandate as chairperson of Saint-Jérôme's Board of Referees. This political appointment came on August 1, 2007, when Ms. Couillard was dating the then minister of industry.

Can the Prime Minister tell us if the member for Beauce, then the minister of industry, was present when the name of Ms. Bellemare, the mother of his girlfriend at the time, was submitted to cabinet for the position?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 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, Diane Bellemare was appointed in 2007. She had previously been employed by the Fondation de l'Hôpital régional de Saint-Jérôme. She was responsible for managing and coordinating fundraising activities and communications. All government appointees are qualified, as is the case with Ms. Bellemare.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that was not the question. We already knew what he just said. The question is whether or not the minister of industry was at the meeting when Ms. Bellemare was appointed.

Was the member for Beauce there when this partisan appointment was made—yes or no? The question is very clear.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 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 indicated, all government appointments are fully qualified. In the case of appointees for positions, such as the EI chairperson, which, in the case of Madam Bellemare, was her appointment, they are required to demonstrate knowledge of employment insurance, as well as knowledge of the geographic area to which they are appointed, which, in her case, was St. Jérôme. In her case, she matched those qualifications. She has a record in the area of several hospitals where she has worked, the St. Jérôme hospital foundation and the St-Eustache Hospital foundation. As in the case of all our nominations, she is qualified.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, if we understand correctly, the industry minister at the time was present at the cabinet meeting when Ms. Bellemare was appointed.

Diane Bellemare was appointed as chairperson of the boards of referees for the Saint-Jérôme district. The minister's office says that the candidate was subject to a security check. That check must have discovered that this women is the former partner of a man convicted of growing marijuana and is the mother of Julie Couillard, whose shady past is known to the RCMP.

Will the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, who is responsible for these appointments, admit that this looks suspiciously like a case of favouritism at the expense of the public interest?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 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, on the contrary, all appointments are subject to security checks.

All appointments to the Employment Insurance Board are the subject of rigorous security checks and this was the case with Madam Bellemare.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the checks were so rigorous, they must have discovered her past.

Julie Couillard was in possession of sensitive documents for weeks. She tried to win a contract for Kevlar while in a relationship with an advisor to Michael Fortier. She did everything she could to get access to Conservatives and airport security services, and her mother got a job that was actually a partisan appointment.

Is this not abundant evidence that the Couillard affair is a matter of public interest and that the Prime Minister is concealing a number of things from us?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

2:25 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 heard nothing in the question from the hon. member that suggested anything untoward about Madam Bellemare herself. I heard a lot of comments about other people but nothing about her.

I will point out that members of the Employment Insurance Board of Referees work typically about two days per month. It is a part time job and on those two or three days a month they hold hearings with regard to their regions for those who are making appeals related to employment insurance claims.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals are so concerned about all of these lost jobs, lost jobs in the thousands, we have to ask ourselves why they allowed confidence motions to pass in this House 43 different times to allow the government to stay in power.

The tar sands have an impact on our environment, the economy, wildlife and vegetation and human health, especially the health of aboriginal communities.

Instead of stepping up the development of the tar sands, as he is doing with the Kearl project, will the Prime Minister stop issuing new permits for new tar sands projects, yes or no?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government has received a report but has not yet made a decision.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting answer. All the investors are under the impression that the Kearl project is going ahead. If the Prime Minister is saying here on the floor today that he is finally willing to agree with the grassroots organizations coming forward, the environmentalists, the businesses, the mayors, the councillors, the labour unions and now the NDP who are saying that there should be no new approvals in the tar sands, I would like him to stand and say so because it would be the right thing to do, given the consequences of the development right now.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to doing the right thing. We have strong environmental statutes in this country. We are going to ensure that these rigorous standards are fully utilized to ensure we do the right thing for the environment.

What has gone on for far too long is uninhibited development up in the oil sands, which is why, for the first time in Canadian history, we are bringing in national regulations to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, something the previous government failed to do. We are also tackling the issue of smog and air quality, again, something that has lacked national leadership under successive Liberal governments.

National Security
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security is examining the matter of the ex-foreign minister and Ms. Julie Couillard, which deals with missing secret documents, RCMP contradictions, a federal appointment for Ms. Couillard's mother, government contracts and much more.

The committee must be able to do its work. Will the government today consent to passing a motion in the House for warrants for the member for Beauce and Julie Couillard to appear before the public safety committee?

National Security
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, the hon. member for Vancouver South has characterized his inquiry at the public safety committee about Madam Couillard as being about finding out who else she has relationships with because he would like to know. I am not sure the House of Commons should be issuing warrants for that but I will leave that to the House.

From the government's perspective, we have chosen to pursue this matter in a much more serious fashion through a review by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which has the ability to draw upon the relevant resources and agencies of government to do so.

National Security
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the unanswered questions are piling up, the government refuses to cooperate with the public safety committee, refuses to take expert advice that a foreign affairs review will not be enough, refuses to answer legitimate questions on national security and refuses to call a public inquiry.

Will the government finally act and call the public inquiry today or does the Prime Minister have something else to hide?