House of Commons Hansard #144 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

March 11th, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, this was the quickest and least expensive way to get rid of Christiane Ouimet; however, that does not explain why the government paid a fortune to someone whose poor quality work was criticized by the Auditor General.

Are we to understand that the determining factor in the government's decision was the fact that it wanted to buy the former commissioner's silence at all costs? Why is the Conservative government rewarding incompetence?

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner spent two hours before committee yesterday.

I understand that it may be disappointing to opposition members that they did not get to hear what they wanted to hear, but I would remind them that she answered all questions under oath. She can speak freely and so can we.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the Minister of Immigration used government resources for partisan purposes. Conservative Party fundraising letters, certificates of excellence with a nice logo and an election communications plan targeting ethnic communities were sent from his office. And now, lo and behold, we find out that his political office budget has increased 35% over three years.

Will the government admit that the increased spending of the Minister of Immigration can be explained by the increase in partisan activities being carried out by his office?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, not at all. It is because the Minister of Immigration was also the minister responsible for multiculturalism.

Perhaps the member for Repentigny could answer my question. I have here a press release regarding a cocktail fundraiser for the Bloc Québécois in Chambly—Borduas. It says that if you want information, you can call the riding office of the member for Chambly—Borduas.

Could you explain why you are using public resources for your election campaign and—

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I would remind hon. colleagues to address their comments through the Chair and not directly at other members.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, he seems to be confused about Quebec. Chambly is nowhere near Repentigny.

The government must stop trivializing the use of government resources for partisan purposes. Last year, the minister's budget went $500,000 over the Treasury Board's directives.

How is it acceptable for a minister to disregard Treasury Board rules? It must be because the Prime Minister himself is authorizing the diversion of public funds for Conservative Party purposes.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I already made it clear that this minister has two responsibilities. That is the reason for the change. He also returned over $300,000 to the Bank of Canada because he did not spend all of his money.

But I do wonder why the Bloc is using public resources for a Bloc Québécois cocktail fundraiser. Why did it use the riding office of the member for Chambly—Borduas? Will he return all of the public money that was used? I have not received an answer to my question.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are unable to figure out the distinction between their government activities and their partisan activities.

The Minister of Immigration is using his department to buy votes in “very ethnic” communities.

His staffing budget increased by half a million dollars in three years and he is using the money to produce and distribute partisan documents.

Is this really an appropriate use of taxpayers' money?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Immigration has two responsibilities, one as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and he has continued on with his good work as Minister of Multiculturalism in his new portfolio.

He has done an outstanding job at welcoming new Canadians, and doing more for immigration settlement, particularly in the province of Ontario where the member and I come from.

When my premier, Dalton McGuinty, had to come begging for a fair deal for immigration settlement funding, he did not get it from the previous government. This government is the only government that has delivered for immigrants in Ontario.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister's job is not to go out and get ethnic votes. The minister's job, as Minister of Multiculturalism, is to build up Canada. “Insidious” is a strong word but that is the word that is being used to describe this partisan vote getting activity.

In the Calgary Herald, it says that we are raising questions that lift “a curtain on an insidious overlap between government business and partisan politics.”

This is an abuse of tax dollars. The minister asks us to trust him but the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has demanded an independent review. Will we get one?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the member for Don Valley West is pretty happy to stand in the House today to talk about partisanship. Why do we not take a little look at his website. On his Don Valley West constituency website, he endorses, through a letter on his website, a candidate for municipal office.

The last time I looked, our jobs in Ottawa were to work for the people of our country, not determine who should sit on city council in the city of Toronto.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative edict to have government departments assume the name of the “H” word government is nothing but an arrogant, command and control, purely partisan propaganda campaign.

The Conservatives say that it is common practice. It is not. Mel Cappe, the former head of the public services said, “It is not the [H] Government...It is the Government of Canada. It's my government and it's your government”.

How can the Prime Minister not understand that he is undermining the impartiality and independence of 450,000 public servants? They work for the people of Canada, not him.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. This has been a long-standing practice across various governments. This terminology is widely used by journalists and the public alike.

In fact, Mel Cappe, who is quoted in these stories and mentioned by the hon. member, approved many of the releases, while he was clerk, using the terms “Chrétien government”.

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the late Jim Travers pointed out, democracy in Canada and Africa is currently going in different directions.

When we go abroad to teach democracy, we do not teach this.

Does the government think that naming governments after their leaders is a good idea for emerging democracies reeling from former dictatorships? When will this abuse of power stop?

Government Communications
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Office has issued no directives to departments. There is no need for one, as this has been a long-standing practice across various governments.

A simple check of online archives shows that the terms “Chrétien government” and “Martin government” and similar variations appear in official government communications by various governments.

This terminology is widely used by journalists, the public and the Liberal Party itself. In fact, the official Liberal website has at least 109 references since January, 2009.