House of Commons Hansard #250 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Statistics Canada
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, first of all, our government is committed to collecting statistical data while protecting Canadians' privacy. This is the principle.

That being said, the survey provides useful and usable data for communities, representing 97% of the Canadian population. More Canadians responded to this survey than ever before. Statistics Canada just said yesterday, “At the national, provincial level, all of this information is pretty solid. It's high quality.”

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives still cannot tell us what the missing $3.1 billion was used for. Where is that money? Is it under a rock, between the cushions of a couch or in the toilet of an embarrassed mayor's cousin?

The Auditor General's report is clear: the Treasury Board stopped tracking expenditures made under the anti-terrorism initiative in 2010. Yesterday, I asked the President of the Treasury Board what has been happening since 2010. He was unable to answer me.

He lost $3.1 billion because he failed to track spending. How much more will he lose if he is still not tracking expenditures?

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, all of the information for every year from 2001 to 2012 can be found in the public accounts.

The Auditor General clearly stated:

We didn't find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money was used in any way it should not have been.

He went on to say that departments:

...are responsible for accounting and reporting their spending through the Public Accounts of Canada....

He said that departments would have undergone normal control procedures in those departments. So there are internal controls in departments about spending, and they would go through all of those normal processes.

Those are the words of the Auditor General.

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Give me a break, Mr. Speaker. Do we need to send the UPAC to search the President of the Treasury Board's office to get answers?

He still thinks that quoting the Auditor General out of context is going to convince people. Come on. The President of the Treasury Board lost track of $3.1 billion. It is therefore up to him to answer to Canadians, in his own words.

His department maintains that a new expenditure monitoring system will not be implemented until 2014. That means four full years without proper monitoring.

Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us how much money has been spent on the anti-terrorism initiative since 2010?

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asks whether I should be quoting the Auditor General. Who else should I be quoting?

He goes on to say:

We didn't identify anything that would cause us to say that we felt that anything was going on outside of these processes.

He is very clear that the opposition characterization of these funds as lost in any way is completely inappropriate. He indicated that there was nothing:

...that gave us cause for concern that the money...was used in any way that it should not have been.

Those are the words of the Auditor General.

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board continues to simply choose the quotes he likes from the Auditor General. He keeps saying that public accounts has the money.

Here is what the Auditor General actually said:

The information reported annually in the public accounts was at an aggregate level and...not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore...much of that information is now archived and unavailable.

Why is the President of the Treasury Board claiming the money is in the public accounts when the Auditor General says no, it is not.

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I will remind the hon. member that the public accounts are tabled in this chamber each and every year from 2001 to 2009, or if he wishes, 2001 to 2012. These are a matter of public record.

Parliamentarians vote on the public accounts. This is part of our responsibility as parliamentarians. Those are clear. In fact, the Auditor General says that each department is responsible for its own spending and “normal control procedures in those departments”.

Again, the Auditor General said:

...so there are internal controls in departments about spending and they would go through all of those normal processes.

I rely on him.

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, clearly the department of the President of the Treasury Board did not do those controls, or it would know where the $3.1 billion went in the first place.

The government has abandoned accountability. The Auditor General said this money was not reported to Parliament, and contrary to what the President of the Treasury Board says, it was not even reported to cabinet, the Auditor General said.

Earlier today, the Conservative member for Nipissing—Timiskaming said the billions of dollars would be identified in “due course”.

Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us when “due course” will eventually find its way to this House?

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I hate to disagree with the hon. member. I certainly do not want to be disagreeable.

However, again I will quote the Auditor General:

...[departments] are responsible for accounting and reporting their spending through the Public Accounts of Canada....

That is a direct quote from the Auditor General. He said that spending within the departments would have undergone normal control procedures in those departments. He concludes:

We didn't identify anything that would cause us to say that we felt that anything was going on outside of those processes.

These are the words of the Auditor General.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is a reason the government needs to find that $3.1 billion.

This week the Ontario Superior Court ordered a further increase in the award of damages the government must pay Envoy Relocation Services, now over $40 million in total.

In addition, it ordered the government to pay the full costs of $4.7 million because, in the words of the court:

reprehensible...conduct of the...[Crown] supplemented and aggravated by...conduct during the litigation.

How can the government defend this reprehensible behaviour, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I will leave the characterization of the former Liberal government's actions to the member opposite.

However, as the member knows, these actions did occur under the former government. Since this is still before the court, I am not going to comment any further.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when I asked the President of the Treasury Board about the $2.4 billion in consultation contracts awarded in secret, often without details and sometimes to companies with unknown numbers, he told me “I may be able to find other ways of achieving this transparency.” I should hope so. That is his job.

There is no information available on the awarding of 90% of the consultation contracts disclosed. Canadians have no idea how their money is being spent and who it is being given to.

Can the minister tell us what practical measures he intends to take to improve the management of the public purse?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

May 9th, 2013 / 2:35 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does make a fair point. I do not think it is too much to ask that when departments engage in management contracts for perfectly appropriate reasons, such as first nations health branch using nurses, for instance, that there be a line or two added for publication on exactly what the contract is.

I agree with the hon. member, and I think we should require this in the future.

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot even keep track of billions of dollars in contracts, but they are the champions of monitoring their own MPs.

We now know that they are going so far as to waste millions of taxpayers' dollars on media monitoring to keep tabs on their own backbench MPs.

We are talking about $2.4 million of our taxes to track 65 of their own MPs. It is ridiculous.

Can the Conservatives explain how they could spend and waste so much of the taxpayers' money?

Government Expenditures
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the member might be disappointed to find out the media monitoring services are used and accessed by the government but that they are also used and accessed by the opposition.

They are there because on this side of the House, we do want to be aware of all of the media reporting about our members of Parliament, because we are very proud of the work they are doing. They appear in many articles across the media, doing excellent work on behalf of the government, and we are happy to receive those clippings.