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House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it very clear that a mistake was made and that the government has put in place a system to ensure it does not happen again. The minister himself made it very clear that as soon as he understood the CRTC was misinterpreting his original letter, he sent a second letter to rectify the issue.

The member says she is going to turn it into a political issue. If the member is really interested in a solution she will recognize the fact that as of last Friday the Prime Minister issued a directive to all members of the cabinet that any letter by any minister to any quasi-judicial body will go through Mr. Wilson.

In the meantime Mr. Wilson is working very hard. In fact he had a meeting with cabinet this morning to establish hard and fast guidelines for dealing with quasi-judicial bodies that will respect the work of ministers and at the same time respect the rights of constituents across this country to be rightfully represented in Parliament. I do not want the electors of Hamilton East to have their hands tied just because I happen to be in the cabinet.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, once again I would appeal to you to make both the questions and the answers as brief as possible.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

We learned that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has written eight letters to the CRTC. Seven of these letters do recognize that he cannot interfere, yet in the eighth letter he does not qualify his interventions. The minister knew that he was not to interfere in seven cases. Why did he choose to intervene in this particular case with the quasi-judicial body for which he is responsible?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the premise of the hon. member's question in fact is refuted by a letter that she received from the person to whom she referred yesterday when she said there were allegations of undue influence.

In fact the secretary general of the CRTC has written back to the hon. member stating: "All communications related to a public process are treated in the same way regardless of originator. This includes a minister of the crown or other members of Parliament". The member will know that because she received the letter from Mr. Darling which clarified very specifically that no special treatment had been received.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question was directed to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. I believe we still do have a Minister of Canadian Heritage on the other side.

With respect to the communication between the CRTC secretary general and my office, yes indeed I did have a panic-stricken secretary general call me yesterday.

My question is focused on the Deputy Prime Minister in this instance. Yesterday in an interview the minister of immigration stated he would not send a letter to the Immigration and Refugee Board. He said it would be wrong for him to write to a quasi-judicial body that reports directly to him. I do not understand this. The minister of immigration appears to understand it, but the Minister of Canadian Heritage does not.

The Prime Minister is not applying the same ethic requirements to all of his cabinet. I ask this question specifically and directly for an answer. Why is he giving the Minister of Canadian Heritage such special treatment in this instance?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister came to this House and provided members with all the facts and information surrounding the matter. In fact he stated quite clearly that the minister in question made a mistake.

The minister in question made a mistake and the guidelines as they relate to quasi-judicial bodies were not clear. He had moved to rectify the mistake, first of all by the member's letter specifically to the CRTC. Second the Prime Minister moved to clarify the guidelines by asking Mr. Wilson to reintroduce a new package. In the meantime he has established interim guidelines where all future communications of all ministers to quasi-judicial bodies must go through the ethics counsellor.

I think he has done the job in four days and I feel that he has delivered on his promise of honest government. I believe he has reinforced the notion that ethics and integrity are the hallmark of his administration, they are not simply a regulation.

Canadian Security Intelligence ServiceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of Canadian Heritage continues his soul searching and is probably getting ready to confess all, let me address another issue. My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

CSIS is back in the hot seat. According to a book entitled Betrayal , which will hit the stands this week, CSIS asked one of its agents to plant a bomb aboard an Air India plane in Rome in 1986, so that Sikh terrorists would be blamed for it.

Does the government intend to check such troubling allegations and does it acknowledge that, if they are proven true, the strongest measures should be taken against such criminal activities?

Canadian Security Intelligence ServiceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this matter was reviewed by the Security Intelligence Review Committee and was reported on in its public report in 1987-88. It is my recollection that the Security Intelligence Review Committee in that report found that CSIS had acted properly, contrary to the allegations.

Canadian Security Intelligence ServiceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me point out to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons that one of his own members made this serious allegation.

Considering the allegations that democratic organizations were infiltrated by CSIS, that the conversations of members of the Quebec government were monitored by the CSE and a bomb was placed aboard an Air India plane by a CSIS agent, will the government agree to set up a real public inquiry on the actions of federal secret agents?

Canadian Security Intelligence ServiceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, responses about the CSE would have to come from the Minister of National Defence.

With regard to the matter reported in the press as being the subject matter of a book, which I have not seen yet, I have just read about it in the press, I understand the matter of Ryszard Paskowski was thoroughly examined by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. In its annual report for 1987-88 it stated: "CSIS dealt properly with Ryszard Paskowski". I think that speaks for itself.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister and has to do with the role of the ethics counsellor in the now infamous Minister of Canadian Heritage affair.

We have it on good authority, namely from the counsellor himself, that he first found out about the letter on Wednesday, October 26 and that his source was the press and not the Prime Minister's office. He was not asked by the Prime Minister's office to do anything. He was not asked to prepare a report on the letter and he has not done so.

My question is simple: Why did the Prime Minister take the trouble to appoint an ethics counsellor and obligate the taxpayers to pay for the cost of that position if he does not consult with him on an issue this critical when he had over a month to do so?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I think the Prime Minister more than adequately answered that question when the same question was posed yesterday and last week.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

I suppose, Mr. Speaker, we will ask the same question again until we get an answer that is correct for the Canadian people.

The ethics counsellor has confirmed that it was only on Friday last, October 28, that he was given a document which outlines the rules for ministerial conduct and that he was asked to bring it up to date vis-à-vis dealings with quasi-judicial bodies. The Prime Minister stated yesterday that his recommendations were to be discussed by cabinet.

Would it not enhance public confidence if the guidelines for ministers would be made public, be presented, debated and possibly amended in this House and approved by a free vote of members of Parliament on behalf of all Canadians?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the process that the Prime Minister promised earlier this week.

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Speaking yesterday at the convention of the Association des câblodistributeurs du Québec , the heritage minister stated that only the Canadian government should control the electronic highway, in order to be able to set national objectives and promote the Canadian cultural identity. He categorically refused to acknowledge the role or responsibility of the provinces in this matter.

How can the heritage minister exclude Quebec and all the other provinces from the electronic highway project and consider them, along with cable operators and municipal governments, as mere lobbies?

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, had our colleague taken the time to read the speech I made yesterday, he would know that what he has just said is absolutely incorrect.

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am just quoting today's newspaper.

Must we infer from the scornful attitude of the minister that not only does he deny in fact Quebec's distinct character, but that he also rejects off-handedly all our historic claims in matters of culture and communication?

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see how my words are distorted. In fact, I have been very open to any contribution the industry and any stakeholder in Quebec can make to the development of the electronic highway.

IndustryOral Question Period

November 1st, 1994 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to change the line of questioning in this House if I could. My question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

It has been one year since we were all elected to this prestigious House of Commons. In reviewing my files I happened to notice that this government had made a commitment one year ago that we wished to become a nation of exporters.

I have a large representation in the business community in Nepean and a large number from the high tech industry asking if this ministry has moved ahead on making sure that we become a nation of exporters?

IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario

Liberal

Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge this very timely question from the member for Nepean.

IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

The Reform Party does not seem to show a lot of interest here in the government's commitment toward small and medium sized business. This is National Services Month.

The service companies of this country employ close to 9 million Canadians and the Government of Canada has made a commitment to work with the service organizations of this country to make sure that they are properly equipped to be more competitive as we head into a global trading experience. We are adding all kinds of support to the FBDB and to the rest of the Department of Industry to make sure that the service companies of this country are looked after.

IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure we will all agree that all questions should have the same weight and they should be getting an answer that we all listen to. I would encourage you that when questions are asked we give the responder a chance to get the answer out.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to change the line of questioning. The Liberals of the 1990s are scandalously similar to the Liberals of the 1970s, smacking of allegations and conflict of interest.

In 1971 our present Prime Minister called a Quebec judge. Regardless of the reason he maintained he could call since he was acting just as a member of Parliament and not as a minister. Sound familiar? He did not say that was a mistake.

Could this be the reason 20 years later why the Prime Minister will not ask this minister to resign because he could not hold this minister to a higher level of responsibility than he himself had?