House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was libya.

Topics

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member for Wascana seems to have come to conclusions.

What we have recognized is that they are very serious allegations. The moment we learned about these serious allegations we referred the matter to the RCMP, we referred the matter to the Ethics Commissioner, we referred the matter to the independent Commissioner of Lobbying.

It is our government that brought in these tough laws. We expect every Canadian to follow them. Those who do not should face the full force of law.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians were, I think it is fair to say, shocked and surprised to discover that Mr. Carson, who was the acting chief of staff to the Prime Minister, had been disbarred, spent time in jail, had the highest security clearance and highest access to the Prime Minister and to all the affairs of every single department of government, and that he then left the government to head an institution which miraculously receives $15 million from the Government of Canada.

Can the minister please explain how all this happens?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I think this individual's past has certainly been well known. It has been well documented not just before the courts but it has also been well documented in the Canadian media.

Let me be clear. When serious allegations were brought forward about this individual and his alleged contact, I think the government did the right thing and referred the entire matter to the RCMP, and referred the matter to the Ethics Commissioner and the Commissioner of Lobbying.

As a matter of first priority, it was our government that brought forward the Federal Accountability Act, which brought in these tough ethics rules. We expect every single Canadian to be held accountable when he or she breaks the law.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that Canadians who did not know Mr. Carson were very surprised to hear about his past and his criminal record, to discover that he had access to the government's most important secrets, and to learn that, when he left the government, the organization he joined received a gift of $15 million from the government.

How did this happen? That is the question.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. This gentleman's past was a matter of public record. It had been written about in the mainstream press. That is not a surprise and it should not be a shock to anyone. I know the member opposite knows that to be the fact as well.

This government brought in the Federal Accountability Act, which imposed tough new lobbying and ethics rules. This government expects every Canadian to follow that act.

When the allegations were brought to our attention we immediately referred them to the relevant authorities. We expect anyone who has broken the law to face the full force of the law.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport is hard to follow. Last February, he said in all seriousness that the Champlain Bridge was completely safe and that he did not see any urgent need to repair it. Since that time, we have learned that, for several months now, his department has had reports from engineers confirming that the Champlain Bridge is unsafe.

How can the Minister of Transport claim that the bridge is safe when the reports from the Federal Bridge Corporation say that the bridge is at risk of collapsing? How can a bridge at risk of collapsing be safe?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Yellowhead
Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the question.

We take the safety of the Champlain Bridge very seriously. In fact, we have done more than that. Last Friday, together with the previous years since 2009, we have announced $380 million to ensure that it is not only safe today but it is safe long into the future. We can affirm that. I actually have a letter in my hand coming from the Federal Bridge Corporation that I would be pleased to table or give to the hon. colleague to be able to help her out. It tells us that the bridge is safe today, and with the investment it will be safe long into the future.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is mistaken if he thinks that the band-aid solutions announced by his government will be sufficient to fix the Champlain Bridge, which, according to all the studies and reports published to date, is unsafe and has reached the end of its useful life.

What is the minister waiting for to listen to the engineers consulted by his department and announce the construction of a new bridge?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Yellowhead
Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the bridge, as I said, it is safe and I have that affirmed by the Federal Bridge Corporation. As for the investment of $380 million, only somebody from the Bloc would see that as plaster and a minor amount of dollars to cover the repair. Those dollars will keep it that way long into the future.

When it comes to any future options with the bridge, we are waiting for a final report and we will look at those options as they come forward.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, a long-time aide to the Prime Minister, Bruce Carson, is under investigation by the RCMP because he allegedly engaged in illegal lobbying activities. In return for a 20% commission for his girlfriend, an escort, he promised to provide full access to the Conservatives. The Prime Minister said that he was surprised. Nevertheless, his aide was sentenced to 18 months in prison for fraud.

How can the Prime Minister be surprised by Bruce Carson's illegal practices when he tolerated this individual with a shady past as a member of his entourage for so long?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear that when allegations were brought forward to the attention of the Prime Minister's Office, the matter was immediately referred to the RCMP, to the Ethics Commissioner and to the Commissioner of Lobbying.

The Liberal member earlier asked how could this individual outside of government know who was going to be the new minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. I remember watching the news the night before and it was Craig Oliver on CTV National News who I think had the scoop.

Ethics
Oral Questions

March 21st, 2011 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the heels of the Jaffer affair, here is another instance of illegal lobbying by one of the Conservatives' close associates. The Prime Minister promised that he would not allow individuals to use their time in government as a stepping stone to private lobbying. Nevertheless, that is what his former caucus chair and his advisor did.

Do these two examples not show that the Prime Minister has proven that he is incapable of controlling the greed of friends of the Conservative regime?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I guess the member from the Bloc Québécois does not feel that we should have an investigation, does not believe we should have a trial and she herself will determine the guilt or innocence of any Canadian.

It is this government that wanted to reduce the influence of lobbyists and impose tough five-year bans on those of us in government for conducting lobbying. When any individual breaks the law, he or she should face the full force of the law. We felt so strongly about that issue that we wrote the law ourselves.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, when Canadians hear of secretive, controlling governments that have political operatives, they likely think of other countries. Yet last week the Information Commissioner revealed that this was happening in Canada and the RCMP had to be called. We know she is studying other departments for interference in access to information.

How can we trust the Conservative regime when every week there is evidence of new abuses? How can we trust a government that hides information? How can we trust a government that does not believe Canadians have the right to know?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I am really going to miss the exciting vibrancy of question period and questions like this one. In fact, when it comes to information access, there has been a record number of requests this year both under the Privacy Act and under the Access to Information Act. As a matter of fact, over 75,000 of those requests have come in, which is a record, and the majority of those get answered within 30 days.

We are always working to improve those and hopefully with some good suggestions from my friend opposite, we may even be able to accelerate that process.