House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

May 11th, 2012 / 11:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister's troubles do not end there. We also learned today that the minister's old department of ACOA is being investigated by the Public Service Commission for 11 politically influenced job hires. It seems that being friends with that minister is becoming a new government employment strategy.

The Conservatives were elected by promising to put an end to political interference in hiring. Why do the Conservatives keep breaking their promises to Canadians regarding their perpetual political port patronage placements?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it seems that we have a new poet laureate in the House today.

There are strict rules in place concerning hiring to ensure that agencies run their own competitive processes free of political interference. These rules are tremendously important and must be respected.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have one set of rules for their friends and another for the rest of Canadians. They really have no shame.

While hundreds of organizations are following the rules and waiting their turn for funding to make their buildings wheelchair accessible, the Minister of Foreign Affairs did not hesitate to give a free pass to one of his good friends, even though the project does not meet the criteria set by public servants.

Why is there a double standard when it comes to the Conservatives' friends?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will be very clear. I had a constituent approach my office asking for support for a project to help people with disabilities. I was very happy to inform my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, that this organization does good work. That was the extent of any involvement I had.

Members of Parliament from all sides of the House regularly represent their constituents, and good for them. That is their job and that is their responsibility.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not so-called interference, it is ministerial interference.

A project evaluation system was used to give money to organizations that really deserve it. When the project was refused funding because it did not meet the criteria, the Minister of Foreign Affairs had the nerve to go and see the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to have the rules changed.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs at least apologize to all the organizations that followed the rules and submitted better projects, but were denied funding because they did not have enough Conservative friends?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, the enabling accessibility fund has made nearly 650 community projects and public spaces more accessible to Canadians with disabilities.

The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development approved this project because it met the criteria for funding. An external evaluator certified the project and it provided value for money.

The NDP voted against the enabling accessibility fund when it was placed as an opportunity for them to support.

This government is proud of its record for families and Canadians with disabilities.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is screw-up after screw-up at National Defence. On top of the F-35 scandal, now the Libya mission cost 700% more than the ministry reported at the end of the mission, and Canadians are actually being lied to about what the contracts are actually for, claiming transmission parts instead of whole armoured vehicles.

Audit and control functions across government are being chopped, the Auditor General himself by some 10%. Access to Information is clamped down.

Why is the government choosing to hide the deceit and incompetence instead of actually fixing it?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it will not come as any surprise to the member for Wascana that I do not share the premise of his question.

Let us look at what the minister did. He tabled substantial documents before Parliament, as he is required to do. He has been fully open and transparent.

Let us look at a backgrounder on the website of the Department of National Defence dated July 8, 2009, which explains the whole project. Let us look at the MERX listing from April 11. It indicates very clearly a Leopard 2 conversion to an AEV, not transmission equipment.

The minister has been completely open and completely transparent on this file.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is all well and good but, despite the answer given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it appears as though the costs in Libya have increased from $50 million to $350 million. Yet, three days before that mission ended, the minister said on television that the costs were still below the $60 million threshold. Luckily, the minister was not flying a plane in the air raids because I do not know where the bombs would have landed, since he is already missing his budget targets.

The question is thus very simple. Is there a pilot flying the plane? Is there a minister at the Department of National Defence? And, does he know how to count?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. The men and women of the Canadian Forces did an exemplary job on behalf Canada. They helped to defend civilians on the ground in Libya. They did an exceptional job. The minister came forward with the costs associated with the mission. He tabled them in this House.

There are obviously incremental costs and obviously costs with respect to the assets that were used, that were already in Canadian ownership before the initiative.

The good news is that the Canadian Forces did an exemplary job defending innocent civilians on the ground in Libya. We should all be tremendously proud of them.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue is the minister, not the military.

On Wednesday night, surrounded by the deputy minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff, the minister could not even tell the House the cost per flying hour of the F-18s, an airplane we have had for 30 years. It is therefore no surprise that the Conservatives have grossly understated the cost of the Libyan mission.

Every procurement under this Conservative government seems to have two sets of books. It takes a special brand of incompetence to confuse 105 million dollars' worth of armoured vehicles with transmission parts. Is the minister again running two sets of books?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member and the media's description of this is dead wrong. In fact, as has already been stated, this information has been posted on the DND website for over three years. It was, in fact, included in a press release three years ago.

We are proud to continue to build the Canadian Forces, to make the investments in the equipment, the personnel, the programs, the places where they train, work and live.

We will continue to make those investments, despite the efforts by members opposite to oppose us in that regard.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Public Service Commission is now investigating 11 questionable appointments to ACOA, more jobs handed to Conservative supporters on a golden platter.

Merit and competence were thrown out the door and now it is the old boys' network of who one knows: a close friend of the Minister of National Defence, one of his former staffers and a failed Conservative candidate for good measure.

Why are Conservatives not looking beyond their Facebook friends when they appoint people to this taxpayer-funded group?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would know there are strict rules in place surrounding hiring to ensure agencies run their own competitive processes, free from political interference. These rules are important and must be respected.

The hon. member is ignoring, however, the fact that employment is up in Canada by 58,000 jobs. The private sector alone has acquired 86,000 new jobs. Full-time jobs are up by 44,000. The hon. member might want to pay attention to those numbers as well.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, not only is it patronage as usual under the Conservatives, but they are using their Trojan Horse budget bill to quietly get rid of the patronage-fighting Public Appointments Commission.

ACOA employees are receiving pink slips and the government is dismantling the watchdog while Conservative insiders keep making big bucks. Five out of seven board members are Conservative Party donors and their donations total over $9,000 since 2007.

When will the Conservatives realize that appointments should go beyond their friends, their donors and their ex-employees?