House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was libya.

Topics

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

June 14th, 2011 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that it is scandalous that $50 million was taken from the border infrastructure fund to fund projects in the riding of the minister hosting the G8 summit. The fact that this same minister is now in charge of the Treasury Board is also scandalous and source of worry for the country's taxpayers. Even more disconcerting is that the minister does not even try to explain his actions.

Can someone at least try to justify these poor choices and finally give us some real answers?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, 32 public infrastructure projects were supported. Each of the 32 projects was completed on time. Each of the 32 projects was fully accounted for and every single dollar was spent on public infrastructure.

I do notice that it is not only the President of the Treasury Board who is speaking glowingly about all these public infrastructure projects, I have a news release from a former Liberal MP, Anthony Rota, saying he is expressing his pleasure with the minister's announcement that the government has approved a funding request for the Jack Garland Airport. How was that funded? Out of the G8 legacy fund.

Even the Liberals are supporting these great public infrastructure projects.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the minister was taking advantage of the money in the border infrastructure fund, the Canada Border Services Agency had to close three posts and reduce hours in order to save money.

Can the President of the Treasury Board—yes, the President of the Treasury Board—tell the Canadians who will be affected by these cuts and who will have to wait in line at customs this summer how the investments in his riding, 300 kilometres from the border, will help reduce congestion? How will that shorten line-ups at the border?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what the government did is use the authority of an existing program to fast-track these public infrastructure projects at the height of the global economic downturn.

These investments were all part of Canada's economic action plan, a plan that has helped to create 560,000 net new jobs.

The member opposite may not be aware, but because of that economic action plan Canada is leading the advanced economies, and because of that economic action plan this Minister of Finance was named the best minister of finance in the world.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board seems incapable of standing in this House and explaining his $50 million pork spree in Muskoka.

It is so bad that he has friend, the foreign affairs minister claiming that the Muskoka gravy train was developed by public servants. It is simply not true.

The Auditor General's report is clear, and I will quote: Senior officials said “their input had not been sought”.

This deal was cooked up by the member from Muskoka. Public servants were deliberately frozen out.

When will the minister take responsibility for his abuse of public trust?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, just because the member opposite says something does not mean it is true.

Here is what we did. We supported investments to help Canada host the G8 with infrastructure, resurfacing the runway of an airport, resurfacing a provincial highway, and building the G8 centre which is now a community centre.

Each of those projects was approved by the minister of infrastructure of the day. Each of those projects came in fully on budget. For each of those projects, there is a full contribution agreement that was negotiated with the municipality. These are all good projects.

The Auditor General gave some advice on better transparency and better clarity and we fully accepted that counsel.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of disturbing elements to this scandal.

First, of course, is the minister's flagrant abuse of the public trust. Second, now that he has been caught, is the way he hides behind the foreign affairs minister.

Given the sheer scale of this dubious spending and the fact that he is in Treasury Board, how can we trust this minister? It is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.

Where is the accountability? Where is the transparency?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would say to the member for Timmins—James Bay that we should give him a pass on the civility for that question, because it was quite funny.

Here is the reality. We supported 32 public infrastructure projects. Each of them had a negotiated contribution agreement with the local municipality.

The Auditor General has come forward and given us counsel and advice on what we might do better on the intake process for public infrastructure projects and on reporting to Parliament where there could be greater clarity and greater transparency.

We thank the Auditor General for her work and fully accept her recommendations.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am listening but I am not hearing accountability. I am hearing bafflegab.

Since the member from Muskoka cannot stand up and defend his actions, I will turn to his friend and I will ask him why he allowed the minister to cook up this deal to bypass all the checks and balances? Why did he allow $50 million in border infrastructure to be divvied up by the three amigos, the mayor, the minister and the hotel manager?

Since the member from Muskoka will not apologize to this House, will his friend take responsibility and apologize to the Canadian people for his partner's misuse of public funds?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as to the three individuals the member mentioned, none of these three individuals approved a single project.

All of the projects were approved by the minister of infrastructure, by me. All 32 projects are public infrastructure projects, things like paving provincial highways, constructing a new runway and a community centre. We used the existing authorities under the border infrastructure fund.

The Auditor General has made advice and counsel that we could be more open and more transparent in terms of Parliament. We fully accept the Auditor General's advice and thank her for her good work.

Canada Post Corporation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, a great sense of anxiety continues to grow across this country as the labour dispute continues with Canada Post.

Business operators, rural residents and seniors are all beginning to feel the pain of this current dispute. We have seen actions taken on both sides that further enhanced that. This can certainly contribute to long-term hurt and long-term pain for the corporation.

I would ask the minister if she has placed a deadline on mediation? If not, will she?

Canada Post Corporation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is exactly correct in what he says. We are beginning to see these rolling strikes, and the means by which Canada Post is dealing with these rolling strikes, affect the average Canadian, seniors and business in general.

That is why it is important for us to continue to monitor the situation. We want the parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible. I have written to them. I have met with them separately. The parties should be strongly encouraged to reach a deal on their own accord.

Canada Post Corporation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, those are fine words, but the reality is that the Canada Post strike is now 11 days old. Today, 15,000 people in Toronto and Montreal are on strike. In addition, Air Canada began striking at midnight. Travel season is upon us. This will have a major impact on the economy, but a negotiated settlement is the preferred solution.

Will the minister take responsibility and require the parties to sit down and negotiate in good faith to come to an agreement? Canadians and Quebeckers need it.

Canada Post Corporation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as I briefly indicated, I have met with the parties separately. I have met with the parties together on a number of occasions. I have written the parties directly, asking them to show good faith to the Canadian public to make sure that they are doing the best they can to reach a deal, to be focused on getting a deal, and to make sure that they are looking after the Canadian public's interest.

The obligation is for these two parties to reach a deal. At some point, we have to make sure that the Canadian public's interest is protected.

Pensions
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today over 55,000 working Canadians are walking off the job in order to fight for their pensions. Why are they doing this? They know that the Conservative government's inaction is leaving employees and employers to sort the pension crisis out for themselves.

Just like the government failed pensioners at Nortel, pension security is now on the block at Canada Post and Air Canada. Inaction, rhetoric and empty promises are not a plan.

When will the government get serious about helping Canadians plan for their retirement?