House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transport.


Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to address a few comments to the minister before he leaves. I hope that he will find it in his code of ethics to hear what I have to say despite his busy schedule. I would like to address three points of his speech.

First of all, if it were not for the calendar in front of me confirming this is September 28, 1994, I could have sworn we were back in 1990, when the Liberal opposition in this House was criticizing former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for appointing new senators to ram the GST bill through the other place. An action considered offensive.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, with the Conservatives in the majority in the other place. The Liberals did make use of their majority in the Senate when the time came to oppose the GST bill. This is the first comment I wanted to make.

My second comment is that throughout the election campaign, the Bloc Quebecois candidates stressed repeatedly-I know I did 250 times a day in my riding of Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans-the fact that Liberal or Conservative, it is one and the same. We have proof of that today in this debate and when we hear the minister's remarks about the Conservative majority in the other place.

The third comment I wanted to make concerns the answer the minister gave me when questioned in a meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport. He said I knew full well that as part of the Auditor General review process, all compensation granted could undergo scrutiny. I just want to point out to the hon. minister that all this auditing by the Auditor General takes place after the fact. After irregularities have been detected, the Auditor General tables three books confirming they took place, but nothing can be done about it. That is why the Bloc Quebecois called for the creation of a royal inquiry commission that could have shed light on this whole matter.

The minister revisited this issue in his speech today and apparently said that various institutions would shed light on this but only after the fact, after compensation has been paid. Of course, if no compensation is paid, the problem vanishes.

On June 14, I addressed this House at the second reading of Bill C-22 and asked that a royal commission be mandated to shed light on the contract awarded to Pearson Development Corporation. I put all my heart and energy in that speech, because I really thought it was my last opportunity to sensitize the House to this deal which was, if not illegal, at least highly questionable.

Although I disagree with the amendments proposed by the Senate, I am still happy to have another opportunity to rise in this House to try once again to shed light on a deal the current Prime Minister himself promised to cancel before he was elected, but I cannot understand how the deal can be scrapped without getting to the bottom of this, once and for all.

I must tell you that I had several opportunities in the Standing Committee on Transport to state, and I repeat it in this House, we heard a few witnesses who agreed to appear before us, before the transport committee. Still, even today, Canadians, Quebecers and transport committee members cannot really say that all the light has been shed on this deal.

My argumentation will revolve around three main themes. First, the interference of an unelected house in an elected house's decisions; second, the compensation to be paid to Pearson Development Corporation; and third, the steps to be taken to shed light on this shady deal.

Since the beginning, since Bill C-22 was tabled, the Bloc Quebecois, of which I am the transport critic, has been against paying any compensation to the developer before we find out the truth about this deal.

Under the bill passed by the House of Commons, the developer cannot go to the courts to obtain compensation from the government. The Minister of Transport-remember the clause in Bill C-22-reserved the right to set the amount of any compensation to be paid. That is why we are still opposed to the principle of Bill C-22.

The other place rose up against this bill and declared that the position taken by the House of Commons was unconstitutional. It has asked that Clauses 7 and 8 of the bill be deleted. As you may recall, these clauses prevent the developers from initiating court proceedings. What right does an unelected house such as the other place have to reject the democratic decisions made by this House whose members have been democratically elected by the people?

I could perhaps take this opportunity to comment on the actions of a representative of the other place appointed by the government party, a former president of the Liberal Party, former leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba, former Leader of the Opposition in Winnipeg, former killer of the Meech Lake accord, who bluntly stated that the elected members of this House were people with little education or at least less education than the members of the other place. I say to this representative of the other place that we at least have been elected by the people and not appointed because of our friendship with the Liberal Party of Canada, as she was.

That is outrageous and offensive. It really shows the urgent need to abolish the other place, especially since it has been using senators appointed by the Conservative government that was repudiated by the people in the last election to prevent democratically elected members of Parliament like myself from making essential decisions.

I mentioned earlier that the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to any compensation to Pearson Development Corporation as long as all the facts surrounding this issue are not known, and I want to tell the members of this House why it is important to shed light on this case.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I represent my party on the Standing Committee on Transport. It is important to point out that, contrary to what Mr. Greg Weston wrote in the Ottawa Citizen , it is the Bloc Quebecois which submitted to the transport committee a list of 18 witnesses to appear before that committee, this after our request for a commission of inquiry was turned down by the House of Commons.

Contrary to what Mr. Weston wrote in the same newspaper, the Bloc Quebecois is also the one which tabled motions to subpoena those who had refused to appear before the committee. It is unfortunate that a journalist would not recognize the good work done by the Bloc Quebecois in its role as Official Opposition. Instead, that person chose to give the credit to the Reform Party which, as the hon. member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke admitted, simply could not believe what was happening.

I want to confirm once again that the Bloc Quebecois did submit a list of witnesses that it felt should be heard by the transport committee. That list contains 18 names. Here are those names, as well as the reasons why we wanted these people to testify and shed light on the whole issue.

The first person on the list is Mr. Peter Coughlin, President of Pearson Development Corporation. The second one is Mr. Leo Kolber, a Liberal representative in the other place, who was an administrator of Claridge when the agreements were signed, this according to the Financial Post Directory of Directors . Mr. Kolber had organized, at his residence in Westmount, a $1,000-per-guest reception attended, among others, by Mr. Charles Bronfman, where the current Prime Minister of Canada showed up, in early October of last year, right in the middle of the election campaign.

The third person we wanted to hear was Mr. Herb Metcalfe, a lobbyist with Capital Hill, as well as an official of Claridge Properties and a former organizer for the current Prime Minister of Canada. There was also Mr. Ramsey Withers, a Liberal with close ties to the current Prime Minister who was Deputy Minister of Transport when the call for tenders was made for Terminal III at Pearson airport, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen , on September 26, 1993. And there was Mr. Otto Jelinek, a former Conservative minister who is now president of the Asian affiliate of the Matthews group.

Then, there was Mr. Don Matthews, who was president of Brian Mulroney's nomination campaign in 1983; he is also a former president of the Conservative Party and a former president of the Conservative fund-raising campaign, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen , on September 29, 1993. We also wanted to hear Mr. Ray Hession, a former Deputy Minister of Industry and senior civil servant at Supply and Services, where

contracts are awarded-sometimes, maybe, to friends of the government, since it might be helpful during an election campaign. He was appointed president of Paxport and hired all the lobbyists who were to work on the privatization project for Paxport Inc. This Mr. Hession left his job as president in December 1992, after Paxport's bid was accepted by the federal government. He was to be replaced by Don Matthews's son, Jack, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen , on September 26, 1993.

There was also Mr. Fred Doucet, a Conservative lobbyist and Brian Mulroney's former chief of staff. He was also a senior advisor during Kim Campbell's campaign and was hired by Jack Matthews five days after Mr. Hession left his job as president. Three weeks later, Paxport created a consortium with its rival, Claridge Properties. Then there was Mr. Jean Corbeil, a former Conservative transport minister, who signed the agreement while all the attention was focused on the leaders' debate, during the election campaign. He had been Minister of Transport for less than three months but, already, there were information leaks to the effect that he was bent on privatizing Pearson airport.

Then there was Mr. Robert Nixon, the investigator appointed by the current Prime Minister, who recommended that the contract be cancelled and who is a former Treasurer of Ontario under the Liberal government of Mr. Peterson, as well as a former leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.

There was also Ms. Kim Campbell. Internal documents given to her last August supposedly described the risks associated with the transaction, and in particular the fee increase for carriers, which would have cost taxpayers a lot of money.

We also asked the Standing Committee on Transport to summon the current Minister of Transport, and this request was agreed to.

We made all those requests not only to get the information I referred to earlier, but also to prove that, despite the fact that lobbyist fees are not compensated under this bill, taxpayers will still have to pay part of the expenses incurred by the corporations to make up for the lost tax revenues due to the corporate tax exemption for lobbying services.

What we wanted to ask the minister and what we did manage to ask him was: How can you justify the involvement of taxpayers in a patronage transaction? This fact alone justifies a public inquiry.

Also, the Minister of Transport himself stated that lobbying services should not be tax deductible, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen on March 9, 1994.

We also wanted to hear from Air Canada representatives, who were involved in this deal, since the government negotiated a decrease in rent for the next few years in return for a commitment by the corporation to remain at terminals 1 and 2 at the Pearson airport in Toronto.

We asked to hear from Mr. William Rowat, assistant deputy minister at Transport Canada, who was appointed by the past Clerk of the Privy Council to help move things along. You have to remember that he was appointed in March of 1993.

We also asked to hear from Mr. Bob Wright, closely tied to the Liberal Party of Canada, who is negotiating, secretly of course, the compensation to be awarded to the consortium.

We wanted to hear from the Toronto Airport Authority, a public agency similar to the Aéroports de Montréal organization, which wanted to be considered as a potential manager for Terminals 1 and 2, but claims to have been intentionally overlooked by the Conservatives.

We asked to hear from Ms. Huguette Labelle and, finally, from Mr. Robert Vineberg, Pearson Development Corporation's lawyer and board member.

In each and every one of these 18 cases, there were discussions in the committee on transport as to whether or not to call these witnesses before the committee. If the Liberals have nothing to hide, why did they refuse systematically to summon the people on our list so that we could clarify this deal?

Let us start with Mr. Robert Nixon, a key player in this issue. Mr. Nixon was the one who carried out the inquiry into Pearson Development Corporation at the request of the current Liberal Prime Minister. Last November, he recommended that the deal signed by the Conservatives and the Pearson Development Corporation be declared void.

Yet, the Liberals have refused to ask Mr. Nixon to appear before the committee on transport. Our resolution was defeated, four to two, by the Liberal majority. Is this normal? Do they have something to hide?

As for Mr. Robert Wright, who is no less important than Mr. Nixon, the answer of the Liberal majority in the committee was the same: "No." Believe it or not, only six of the 18 people I invited were heard by the committee. These were Mr. Ray Hession, the current Minister of Transport, Mr. Peter Coughlin, Mr. Don Matthews, someone from Air Canada and Mr. Robert Vineberg, representing Pearson Development Corporation.

I have used up all arguments to convince my colleagues from the committee to subpoena people on the Bloc Quebecois's list of witnesses. At that time, I remember very clearly the chairperson of the transport committee, the hon. member for Hamilton West, telling me: "Come on, sir, you know perfectly well that this is a procedure which has not been used in Canada since 1917 or 1918". But that was totally false. I sincerely hope that the chairperson of the Transport Committee did not knowingly try to mislead me because I checked and I found that that procedure was used in 1989, in 1990 and in 1992 to summon witnesses.

There was even one instance, in 1989 or 1990, when the present government House leader used that special procedure to summon witnesses to appear before the committee. I sincerely hope that the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Transport was not acting in bad faith.

I will give you another example. I told the committee members that since Leo Kolber was a parliamentarian from the other place, he would surely co-operate with us given his duties. Furthermore, at the time the contracts were signed, the Ottawa Sun reported that on October 10, 1993, that parliamentarian was a member of Claridge's board of directors and owned 60 per cent of the shares in Pearson Development Corporation.

You have to admit that he was a key witness who could have helped us shed some light on the matter. On top of that, the Ottawa Citizen reported on November 9, 1993 that the same member of the other place had given a reception at $1,000 a plate in his Westmount residence at the beginning of October, a reception attended by Mr. Charles Bronfman, among others, and by the present Prime Minister who, at the time, was in the middle of his election campaign.

If I had the time, I could also talk about the cleaning up of political party funding. We saw again, as recently as yesterday, that some people preferred to receive contributions from large firms rather than to have a clean election fund. The Bloc's position is clear and that is why the hon. member for Richelieu moved such an amendment.

I could give other examples. All those arguments that I put forward were useless since my request was denied by the Liberal majority on the committee. I could also mention the case of Mr. Otto Jelinek, a former Conservative minister who is now president of the Asian subsidiary of the Matthews group. The answer was the same as in most other cases. The Liberal members on the Transport Committee told me that it would be premature to subpoena Mr. Jelinek since he intended to appear voluntarily.

You will understand that, given the refusal of my Liberal colleagues to summon the people who could have helped this House understand the situation, I have no choice but to say that this matter is not transparent. I wonder if the Liberals are protecting the same people as the Conservatives or some other people. I also wonder if it is possible that the friends and backers of the system contribute to the election funds of both old parties.

What is troubling is that Canadians still do not know all the facts as to why the contract was awarded to Pearson Development Corporation. And I find it sad that the Liberal majority is enjoying hiding the truth.

It must also be pointed out that if the Bloc Quebecois does not know all the facts, it cannot be expected to decide on the validity of the financial claims made by each of the concerned groups.

When we look at the Nixon report, some words leave us with a bitter aftertaste. We could wonder what Mr. Nixon meant when referring to malversation in connection with lobbyists. Did he have any real evidence of this? Do you know anything about it, Mr. Speaker? If you do not know, I do not know either. No witness knows. Nobody but the opposition seems to want to know about it on the Hill. But then, who does know? We are being asked to make a decision involving the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars when nobody really knows what the Nixon report meant.

The Minister of Transport spoke about criteria governing compensation claims. Could the minister make these criteria public? If he has nothing to hide, I am sure he will not hesitate to do so.

Mr. Speaker, you are a lawyer and you know very well that due process was not followed by Mr. Nixon. In French law too there is the rule of audi alteram partem, the right of both parties in a case to be heard. I am sorry, but this rule does not seem to have been followed, no more than due process, by Mr. Nixon.

It is unfortunate that the minister should rely on a report full of half-truths to request-and that is what he is doing under clause 10 of the bill-the authority to spend tens of millions of dollars.

When will the minister launch a public inquiry to get right to the bottom of this matter? Several Liberal members approved of this inquiry, but they were gagged and had to toe the party line.

If the government motion is passed, obviously the bill will be passed too, but would the Minister of Transport agree? For want of a public inquiry, I ask him once more to have the Standing Committee on Transport examine any agreement and make recommendations before he signs it. If the minister says that the agreement was rejected because it was not acceptable for Quebecers and Canadians, why not give elected representatives the opportunity to make the necessary recommendations? The government would demonstrate its openness. Otherwise, a feeling of frustration will linger, and doubts will remain in our mind and that of the public in Quebec and Canada.

The best way to protect reputations is visibility and openness, and a public inquiry. Of course such an inquiry will be costly and will take time, but I ask this House if democracy costs something. Is democracy too costly? Are the costs more important than living in a democracy? I am sorry, but democracy is priceless. You cannot put a price on getting the facts and spending taxpayers' money wisely.

However, if the minister refuses to conduct a public inquiry because of costs and delays, he could ask a parliamentary committee to do it. Does the minister realize that the whole tendering process was botched? Consequently, will the minister take the necessary steps to prevent such a fiasco from happening again?

The government could refuse to order a parliamentary committee or the Standing Committee on Transport to conduct a public inquiry; this would bring us back to square one. If that happens, can the minister tell us how long the compensation claims process will take? As we know, the Nixon Report mentioned obscure dealings by lobbyists. Since these schemes were not revealed to the public, can we fear that such scheming will taint the compensation process?

At the transport committee hearings, when Robert Vineberg, Pearson Development Corporation's lawyer, appeared before us, I had prepared some very tough questions. If you do not believe me, you need only refer to the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Transport. It is an aberration. We had written to the representative, Mr. Vineberg's client, who told us that Mr. Vineberg would answer for him. I asked Mr. Vineberg over and over again if he was speaking for his client and he assured me that he was not, that he was speaking in his own name and that he could not speak for his client.

What happened was that two people were not only mocking us to our faces, but were arguing back and forth and we never got an answer. Mr. Vineberg is a well-known member of the legal profession here in Canada and I asked him four questions: Should an already flawed contract- because the rules of assent were flawed from the beginning-provide for compensation in case of cancellation? Would he agree with a public enquiry? Would his firm willingly submit financial analyses? Finally, I made a brief comment saying that those who live in glass houses should not cast stones.

I will not quote the answers because not one of them is worth repeating in this House. We would also have liked to get answers to other questions. For example, while he was involved in the case, had he ever been aware of any malversation in connection with lobbyists or of civil servants or political personnel being too closely interested in the Pearson issue? Also, did he agree with the profit analysis in the Nixon report which indicated a 14 per cent profit after taxes? I also asked him if he did not find it a little bit strange that bidders were only given 90 days to prepare their bid for a 57-year contract worth $1.6 billion? Are such things normal and reasonable in a democratic society? We have to wonder. The answer is obvious. There is not one Canadian who will find that it makes sense.

I am only relating some of the juiciest parts of what Mr. Vineberg said. I understand that Canadians and Quebecers will be able to read the whole thing in the minutes of the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Transport. It is a jewel in its own right, but the answers are not worth repeating in this House.

I could go on talking all day long about this famous Bill C-22 and the proposed amendments. I have already spent a lot of the taxpayers' money to convince this House to satisfy Canadians by keeping them informed of ongoing negotiations between the government and Pearson Development Corporation.

When I talk about money spent, I am talking about the transport committee's hearings, and the salaries of federal civil servants, researchers and MPs. This is a lot of money spent to achieve very little. I would like to add that my party and I agree with the government's motion to reject all the amendments presented by the other place. I am in agreement with the government but for different reasons.

First, as I mentioned earlier, I cannot accept that non-elected individuals try to have the upper hand on decisions in this country. Second, I cannot accept that the Pearson Development Corporation be given compensation for any loss incurred before April 13, 1994 since the circumstances surrounding the awarding of the contract were flawed to start with. This being said, if we reject the amendments proposed by the other place and adopt the government's motion, a doubt will always linger in the minds of Canadians for lack of a public inquiry.

Once again, I plead with my hon. colleagues to allow a royal commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of this so that trust in our leaders may be restored.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

We will now proceed to the other stage of debate where members will have 20 minute interventions, subject to 10 minutes questions and comments.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Liberals may not have as much support in caucus for this motion as they might like us to believe. I am sure being good members of the old style party of the past that they will vote the party line as they are told. I understand that they cannot find anyone else to speak to this debate. I am really sad if that is the case because I have some questions I would like to ask and have answered here today. We will have to make of the process what we can.

This whole business of Bill C-22 and the Pearson development contract was a very questionable process at best. We question the type of lobbying that was done, the allegation at least that there was an excessive amount, the close links that those lobbyists had with the Prime Minister's Office and a lot of the actions that the government itself took, the short duration, using one of the bidders to provide a lot of the parameters for the bid in the first place, the way it was signed at the last minute when it was known that the Tory government was on its way out. It was a very questionable deal. There is no argument on that at all.

We have a backroom deal. One of the problems is the government is offering us a backroom solution to this problem. That is not acceptable.

We have not heard a single piece of evidence stating specifically what improper, illegal action was taken by the bidder in this process. That is what we are trying to get to the bottom of.

My colleague in the Bloc tried to get to the bottom of that. We tried to get witnesses in and had very little luck with it, either co-operation from the witnesses or for that matter co-operation from the government in subpoenaing those witnesses.

On the other hand, it is said that during the time this was signed the leader of the Liberal Party said that if he got in this deal would be cancelled. That is not what he said. I want to clarify that. He stated that he would hold an independent public inquiry into this entire process.

I have talked to the principals involved in this consortium. They said that did not hold any fear for them. They welcome a public inquiry into this. They will open their books to anyone, as they did when this so-called public inquiry took place. They said the have nothing to fear, they have done nothing wrong.

What happened with our independent public inquiry? The government hired Mr. Robert Nixon. Is it really an inquiry when from start to finish in finished report the whole thing took 20 days? It took place largely behind closed doors. We were not able to suggest who he might talk to. Several of the people the industry thought would be the obvious people for Mr. Nixon to talk to did not get called in. There was no opportunity to cross examine the evidence that was put in. Whether or not it was a fair inquiry or a public inquiry does not seem to be answered.

To decide whether the inquiry was independent we have to look at who Mr. Nixon is. Mr. Nixon is the former leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. Mr. Nixon was the chairman of the 1987 Liberal task force on Pearson Airport. Mr. Nixon is the father of a sitting Liberal member. Immediately after he put in his report in 30 days, Mr. Nixon was named as chairman of the atomic energy commission. Independent?-I hardly think so.

There is another allegation. I think it is fair to bring the allegations into this House because all we have heard about this contract are allegations. In Mr. Nixon's so-called independent public inquiry there was no evidence. There were only allegations of possible improprieties, of possible wrongdoing. There was not one shred of hard evidence brought forward by Mr. Nixon.

The allegation that is floating in industry right now from many sources is that there are two Nixon reports, one Mr. Nixon actually wrote and one that was written for him and actually submitted. Do I have proof of this?-no, I do not, any more than the proof we have seen of the wrongdoings by the Pearson consortium in this whole deal. Allegations are all we have seen.

Then the Standing Committee on Transport decided it would hold hearings and we would have a chance to air all this out and find out what went wrong. As my colleague in the Bloc stated, many people were asked to come before the committee but very few of them showed up. This did not help the case of the consortium.

I was not very pleased that a lot of these people who claimed that they were hard done by did not come forward to defend themselves. We also did not get very much co-operation from the Liberal government in trying to ensure that we got those people in.

There were a couple of other interesting events. Aside from the people we asked who did not come there were several principals who asked specifically to come to the hearing and were denied. These were people like William Pearson, the president of Agra Engineering, George Ploder, president of Bracknell Corporation, and Scott McMasters, president North America, of Allders International Canada. One of the principal investors in this whole contract was denied the right to come before the committee. Why is the government trying to hide what truly happened in this whole process?

The topic of the return on investment being excessive has been brought up, while we have heard figures that are all over the scale.

The government was first alleging 18.5 per cent. Today we heard some figures going up to 28 per cent. The reality is this was examined by a firm I think the House would agree is credible. I am so overwhelmed by some of the stuff the government has done that I am at a loss for words on some of this. The firm I am talking about is Price Waterhouse. I do not think anybody here is going to question the integrity of Price Waterhouse. It said 14 per cent return.

It is really interesting that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was one of the tentative investors in this. It invested at what looked like a 18.5 per cent return on that investment. When it dropped to 14 per cent, which is exactly what Price Waterhouse says it was, CIBC pulled out because it was not a good enough return for the risk involved in this type of investment. Maybe the government wants to suggest that CIBC is not credible, I do not know. It has not answered that.

Included in this particular bill is the fact that there should be no compensation for lobbying fees. If there was something illegal about the way this corporation lobbied the government then certainly it should not get compensation for any illegal activity whatsoever, no matter what.

If the lobbying was legal according to the government and we like many others do not like the fact that there is lobbying, then until such time that the rules are changed it is the same as somebody driving down the street at 90 kilometres an hour in a 90 kilometre zone and someone pulls out from a side street in front of them and gets hit; an investigation after deciding that 90 kilometres is too fast on that street. You do not charge the person who was doing 90 kilometres because he was doing it in accordance with the law, even if it was too fast for that street. That was not his fault. You change the speed limit but you do not do it retroactively. That is what the government is looking at in this particular case.

It talks of third party contract liability. It is going to allow a few dollars to compensate the principles in this for third party contract liability. Third parties do not have a contract with the government. They have a contract with the Pearson consortium. They can sue in court for whatever amount they care to sue for. It could well exceed $30 million figure the minister threw out here today and there is absolutely no way for the principals in this to pay it. They have that much money out themselves, whether it is by regular and proper activities or whether it is some proper activity, notwithstanding they have already spent in excess of that. Now all of these third parties are supposed to be included in the settlement of $30 million. It may or may not be appropriate. We have not seen the figures.

There is an ongoing problem with terminal 1 and terminal 2 and the government has not told us what its alternative to this contract is. I tried to find that out from the minister today in Question Period. We did not get an answer, which of course surprises me. It is Question Period, not answer period. That seems to be a very common thing, we do not get answers from the government to our questions.

This is something that should be brought out if we are going to deal properly with this entire business evolving around the Pearson airport.

We are looking for something that is very open, very public and very honest. The government is looking to make a secret compensation deal behind closed doors. The minister was asked when he came before the standing committee if he would make this process visible.

I proposed an amendment both at committee and at third reading here in the House to say we would support this bill if instead of hiring another independent person linked to the government who was going to collect all these claims from the consortium, the minister could decide whether he was going to pay, who he was going to pay and how much he was going to pay them. We asked if he will make these figures public, if we will be privy to these figures and the process used to get to them. His answer was about as vague as it was here today dealing with T1 and T2.

He said they might be able to release some of the figures, but they are not sure because cabinet is involved. The minute we involve cabinet we could wrap the figures up for 20 years and know absolutely nothing about what went on. Under those circumstances there is no way to ensure fairness has taken place.

Today in his address the minister said that the threat of litigation was holding up a new solution. No, it is not. We can have all the solutions in the world telling us what to do. There is absolutely nothing that is holding up some alternative solution to the Pearson airport problem with terminal 1 and terminal 2. All the minister has to do is agree with what is being proposed in the House back from the other place. The contract will be cancelled; it will be over. The fact that litigation is going on in court will not hold up new solutions.

We are looking for a court review of the entire process. That was not our solution; that was not what we desired. We wanted it done in the House through the Standing Committee on Transport where the entire process could be brought forth.

One of the risks that actually happens if it goes to court is that the government could end up reaching a settlement and we would never know the true story about what happened in the Pearson bid process. That is not something we desire.

To turn around at this point and simply close the door, to let the minister decide he will pay what he wants and there will be no recourse and no argument, the public will never find out who was at fault in the process.

Was it the people who bid? Was it the Tory government and the way it was done? Or, do the Liberals have a large part in some of the problems that went on here? As it turns out they talk about the Tory cronies coming to the trough, but in the later stages of the proposal there were as many, if not more, Liberals involved in both the consortium and the lobbying. Is that what the government is really trying to hide?

The salvage value of the work being done has not been answered. We want to know what the government has for an alternative process to deal with the problem at Pearson. All kinds of money have been spent on plans, drawings, engineering, passenger load surveys, negotiations with users and tentative contracts that could still be honoured by a new contractor. There is a tremendous value in that, but until we know what it is we do not know what compensation the government should pay out for those things specifically and what the Canadian taxpayer will be able to recoup through the process.

The minister suggested that taxpayers are faced with cuts and therefore we should not consider going into court and allowing the contractors from Pearson to get a large settlement. Is that not interesting? Does that not send a wonderful message out to the business community?

It says that the Liberal government is in trouble with its overspending. The Liberal government has to make some cuts somewhere. It does not particularly care if they are fair or normal as long as they will save a lot of money and as long as someone else can be blamed. That is where some of these cuts will come from.

I do not want to see money wasted by the government any more than anyone else other than probably the government. We bring forward financially responsible proposals and the government seems to want to waste money. It is strange that it would suddenly turn around and want to be financially responsible. It is not proposing financial responsibility.

The matter has to go back to the courts. The courts will decide what went wrong in the process. They will discover whether there was any illegal or improper conduct on the part of anyone involved in the process and they will set the compensation accordingly.

If there was something wrong with the way the consortium lobbied the government it will be identified. The principals will not be compensated for illegal, improper type conduct. If they conducted themselves properly, just because we do not happen to like the way the rules work we cannot punish private enterprise for following the rules of the government. If that happens it sends out a message that no one should do business with the government, and that is not the kind of message we want to send out.

As far as what is going to happen to the bill, the Liberal government has an absolute dictatorship for the next four years. Obviously it can pass anything it wants as long as it can keep its backbenches in order. So far it has been able to do that. We do not know how long it will be able to maintain that, but for now at least it has managed to keep its members voting the way they are told. We have to suppose that it will go back to the other place.

How are we going to deal with it? I am going to meet with the Senate. It is very clear we want a triple E Senate, but as long as we have a Senate there has to be some function for it. If it provides the chamber of sober second thought, which is the function of the Senate, we will work with what we have to work with until such time as we can improve it. We will try to find a solution or an alternative way to bring the matter back to the House yet again until the government deals fairly and properly with the whole matter.

We will not support the government's motion.

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4:35 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was listening very passively to the hon. member's speech until I heard the word "dictatorship". It was like being hit over the head with a two by four. It brought me to attention.

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4:35 p.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Quorum, please.

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4:35 p.m.


Guy Arseneault Liberal Restigouche—Chaleur, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that it is fine to call for quorum but we have many members in committees right now and doing House duty as do other parties. If we start these shenanigans about quorum, we are going to be spending taxpayers' money.

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4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. A request has been duly made by the member. He has asked for quorum. By recognizing the other member on his intervention I believe we were getting into a matter of debate.

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4:35 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

The time the House was shut down with a quorum call probably resulted in another $100,000 being added to the national debt.

My comments will be brief. The hon. member mentioned a four-year dictatorship and the government keeping the backbenches in line. He should know that the government was elected in the most democratic process existing on the face of the earth. Whatever he may think about that election forming a dictatorship, I suggest he is dead wrong. If he wants to compare what happens in this country with what happens in any other country on the face of the earth he is welcome to do it. I think he should do it before he makes accusations of the kind.

I assure him the backbench is totally united on the issue. As a member who comes from the metropolitan Toronto area or its periphery and whose constituents work at Pearson, at ancillary industries at Pearson, in the airline industries and so on, I say that a successful outcome to the bill is very important.

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4:35 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the term dictatorship suggests when those in power can do whatever they wish. That is exactly what we have. Any time we have a majority party it is the equivalent of a temporary dictatorship. It can be a benevolent dictatorship, if it wishes to get re-elected, but it has absolute power nonetheless. That is where that particular term comes from.

The hon. member mentioned the people who work at Pearson and the fact that he comes from Toronto. I assume he was going to suggest they had argued in the political process of getting elected that they were going to challenge the Pearson deal. They did not challenge the Pearson deal. They simply overturned it.

We are talking about contract cancellation. That is not what they are doing. They are trying to pretend the contract never took place. That is not what they said they would do during the campaign. They said they would have a public review. We are still waiting.

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4:40 p.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak again on Bill C-22 and the amendments proposed by the other place.

Everyone in Quebec and Canada knows what effect this shameless attempt at privatizing the airport could have had if it had gone through and who would have had their palms greased as we say in Quebec with such a patronage-prone, foul-smelling plan as that to privatize Pearson Airport.

All the potential transactions, all the provisions of the privatization contract per se and all the people involved in this privatization attempt have not been brought to light yet.

Again, not only did we not get right to the bottom of the matter, but Bill C-22 still contains provisions which could be conducive to patronage, that which the people and Quebec and Canada detest most about the politics of older parties.

When you read in this bill that we continue to leave it to the Minister of Transport's absolute discretion to compensate promoters if appropriate, I find that is absolutely absurd. My colleagues have been pointing this out over and over since this bill was introduced and will continue to do so at every stage, unless the government changes course along the way.

I must say that this government's attitude toward Bill C-22 and privatization is worse than anything we have seen under the Conservatives. The Conservatives at least were upfront. They were open about their patronage deeds and about the fact they greased the palms of their friends, while the Liberals have a more underhanded, almost wicked, way of doing things. But they continue to do it after having rent their clothes, in fact a closet-full of made-to-measure shirts, starting with the Minister of Transport.

On November 29, 1993, the Minister of Transport himself openly told the media that he was thinking about holding an inquiry, an exhaustive inquiry into the ins and outs of this attempt to privatize Pearson airport. It was after he realized that it was not just Conservatives involved in promoting this project or in the investments connected with the privatization of Pearson, but that there were also friends of the Liberals, who had made contributions to the Liberal Party of Canada, that the Minister of Transport, probably on the advice of his cabinet colleagues, backed down and offered us instead the report by Mr. Nixon, a very close advisor to, not to say a member of, the Liberal Party of Canada.

From the beginning of the debate on Bill C-22, we spent some time cross-checking contributors to the Liberal Party coffers, even Canadian companies who had made contributions, and the principal players involved in Pearson. And we found the connections very easy to establish. It was obvious that somewhere there were people who had such an amazingly underhanded, nebulous influence that it halted the process of inquiry into the privatization, the attempt at privatization of Pearson airport.

Yesterday, the attitude of the Liberal majority to the bill tabled by my colleague from Richelieu on public funding of parties was proof to me that members of the Liberal Party of Canada are just as steeped in patronage as the Conservatives.

They roundly defeated a bill that would have applied, at the federal level, the old dream that Mr. Lévesque made come true in Quebec, namely financing parties with contributions from individual citizens of Quebec and Canada who require defended after, who require that those they elect defend their interests and not the interests of the very rich friends of the regime, especially of the lobbyists who previously belonged to former Liberal or Conservative governments. Their attitude yesterday tells me a lot about the inflexibility they have shown every time we asked them to set up a real inquiry process that would fully elucidate the attempt to privatize Pearson.

Why do we need to get to the bottom of it? Because, if we were able, with the fragmentary information at our disposal, to perceive the possibility of ethical problems and patronage in this issue, it may mean that there were many more in the past under the Conservative government and under the Liberal government before that as well. But above all, it means that the incongruities and strange happenings involving very powerful lobbies connected to the main federal parties may occur again in the future.

The taxpayers of Quebec and Canada find that quite costly. They must find out what happened in the Pearson affair and especially they must be assured that such incidents will not recur in future, where friends of the party, former ministers, senators, people who worked very closely with the government as senior officials affiliated with the old parties got rich at taxpayers' expense. That is why it is important to clear this

matter up. To find out whether the lobbyists accused of having influence-and we are not the ones who say so; it is in the Nixon report, the Liberal Party's report-the lobbyists accused of having extraordinary influence in this contract, lobbyists like Pat MacAdam, a Conservative lobbyist and friend of Brian Mulroney; lobbyists like Bill Fox, a Conservative lobbyist and college friend of Brian Mulroney.

We have been naming names for a long time now, because they should be ashamed if they have done something wrong, they should be ashamed to continue pressuring the government not to order a public inquiry. As professional lobbyists, they are certainly still worrying about the possibility, perhaps only a slight one because, after all, these people are friends, that there will be a public inquiry that would reveal to Quebecers and Canadians the amazing extent of their influence.

So, I go on because I want to make sure that Harry Near, a Conservative lobbyist and long-time supporter, Don Matthews, a former president of Brian Mulroney's nomination campaign in 1983 and former president of the Conservative Party, Hugh Riopelle, a lobbyist and the strong man in Mulroney's office, and John Llegate, Michael Wilson's personal friend, exert no more untraceable influence. They can lobby in a normal and legitimate manner, but when a Liberal report, the Nixon report, says that they exerted an influence which went beyond the bounds of normal lobbying activities, I think that we should have greater doubts than those timidly expressed in the Nixon report.

This deal did not just involve Conservative lobbyists or people close to the Conservative government. That is probably why the Minister of Transport, who went loudly after the Bloc Quebecois members when they told him the truth, that is probably why the Minister of Transport backed down within the space of a few weeks saying: No, there will be no inquiry, just a short preliminary analysis about the possible financial consequences for the Canadian government if we had privatized Pearson. He realized that friends of the Liberal Party were also involved.

As my colleague, our critic for transport, said earlier, there was Senator Leo Kolber, well-known for his haute cuisine dinner at $1,000 a plate. During the election campaign, Mr. Kolber invited all those who could have, according to the Nixon Report, a somewhat obscure albeit overwhelming influence on the government to come and meet the next Prime Minister at a private dinner at $1,000 a plate.

Among his distinguished guests was Mr. Bronfman, who was directly involved in the privatization of the Pearson Airport. Also involved in this deal were Herb Metcalfe, a lobbyist for Capital Hill, a representative of Claridge Properties and former organizer for the current Prime Minister, as well as Ramsey Withers, a Liberal lobbyist with close ties to the Prime Minister.

I think only one or two of these worthy Liberal supporters would have been enough to persuade the Minister of Transport to have a change of heart, since the minister was already not quite convinced that he needed to go after not only the friends of the government, but also of Canada's financial establishment.

The inconsistencies identified by a review and an in-depth examination of the privatization contract should have drawn anyone's attention. I have seen a lot of sales contracts in my lifetime, but none like this one. I have never seen, for example, a central government agreeing, like the Canadian government did, to insert a clause in the privatisation deal in order to cut the duration of the contract in half so that the promoters could avoid paying the Ontario sales tax which would have come to about $10 million.

In complicity with the Canadian central government, which some people find so praiseworthy, the promoters were able to save $10 million in Ontario taxes. I think that is a first, that never before did a federal government deliberately cause prejudice to provincial finances as this privatization contract did.

We also saw other discrepancies in the calculation of the basic rent. The agreement said that Pearson Development Corporation would normally pay to the government 30.5 per cent of its gross revenue from the previous year, up to a maximum of 125 million dollars in gross revenue, and that it would pay a rent equal to 45.5 per cent of gross revenue in excess of this figure.

But according to the Nixon Report, and remember it was prepared by a friend of the Liberal Party, the gross revenue was deliberately reduced in the contract because unusual deductions were included which lowered the rent required from the developers in the future. Given those deductions and the omission of all extraordinary income received by Pearson Development Corporation, the rent for airport facilities was reduced considerably.

We also noticed a few things that made no sense, some very innovative clauses in the Pearson privatization contract; it said that even though the federal government would no longer be involved in airport activities after the privatization, it-that is the taxpayers from Quebec and Canada-would assume all of Pearson's debts. The government was no longer involved, but it would have to pay the debts; so I was paying, my colleague was paying, Quebecers and Canadians were paying for all the bad debts of the Pearson Airport. However, as taxpayers, we no longer had any say in the airport's activities.

I could mention other flaws; we did so at the second reading. There is, for example, the absence of any serious financial analysis. Why should we privatize just about the only profitable airport in Canada without requiring some serious financial analysis? In the case of simple one million dollar deals, for the purchase of companies for example, financial analyses and

spin-off analyses are conducted. The absence of any serious analysis in the case of a transaction of such a scope simply makes no sense.

We could also have talked about the lack of a serious and independent analysis on projected revenue. We could have talked about the lack of analysis of the investors' situation. Those investors' were not very solvent, but with the overall benefits that the federal government was giving them, they were sure to be able to spend the rest of their lives in lavishness.

This attempt to privatize the Pearson airport is highly outrageous. No wonder that Canadian government finances are in such a mess. Why is it that the federal accrued debt will be around $550 billion this year? Why is it that we have so much trouble reducing the deficit below $40 billion annually? Why is it that we cannot control our government finances any more and that we are expecting another warning from the International Monetary Fund in the near future?

If there have been other transactions as dubious, as obscure, as appalling as this one, because it serves the friends of the Liberal Party, of the Conservative Party, in fact, the old Canadian parties, I understand why things are going badly in Canada. I understand why government coffers are being drained at an alarming rate and why the Minister of Finance is forced to take unpopular actions that affect the most powerless among Quebecers and Canadians, in order to serve the friends of the party, in the light of the millions of dollars that were in there, that were concealed there. Since there is no political will to get right to the bottom of that deal in order to avoid others in the future, I understand why Liberals tend to be more drastic than Tories used to be.

Ever since the Minister of Transport introduced Bill C-22, the Bloc Quebecois has been criticizing the fact that no public inquiry, no serious analysis has been made by a royal commission of inquiry.

Every time I look at all the benefits that deal had to offer, I keep asking myself: "Will it be better with the bill?" I think perhaps it could not be better, from a certain standpoint, because the Minister of Transport will still be able to bribe some friends of the Liberal Party of Canada, he will still be able to use his discretion to give his friends tens of millions of dollars, if he so desires, to make up for a potential loss without an analysis being made or a royal commission being established to get right to the bottom of the deal.

I am looking at that in comparision with the decisions the Minister of Finance made when he tabled is last budget on February 22 and reduced the unemployment benefits and the credits for senior citizens. Over the last few days, the Minister of Finance seems to be suggesting that the registered retirement savings plans could also be taxed, but family trusts are still being maintained.

Officials were told not to give any information to members of Parliament about the hundreds of millions that could be concealed there. This is precisely serving the interests of those same friends of the Liberal Party of Canada, or maybe the very rich friends of the Conservatives. It is also serving the 2,000 Canadian millionaires who did not pay a dime in income tax last year.

When I compare that to other decisions of the government, such as the possibility that the Minister of Transport compensate once more friends of the ruling party, I say it is a disgrace. The Liberals should be ashamed of themselves, the Minister of Finance first of all, as well as the Minister of Transport, his accomplice.

As for the Senate amendment, like my friend said, in my view the Senate has no value. It is not a legitimate and democratic authority. Therefore we dismiss everything that comes out of the Senate, good or bad.

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5 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Before moving on to the question and comment period that should follow the speech of the hon. member, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Bourassa-Immigration; the hon. member for Mercier-Social program reform; the hon. member for Quebec-National Defence; the hon. member for Red Deer-Haiti.

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5 p.m.


Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague just spoke on Bill C-22, the bill to cancel the privatization project of Pearson airport. I would like him to tell us about the millions of dollars that are being spent. It was said earlier that perhaps the Liberal government should give these companies thirty million dollars in compensation rather than wait for court action where they might get more. Could the hon. member tell me whether or not such monies are actually available, that is, if Pearson Airport brings in that much money, how come we have so little money to keep regional airports open, why is it that the Minister of Transport wants to close our regional airports?

These airports mean a lot to us. In remote areas like Northern Quebec, where air travel is the only means of transportation, what are people going to do when they want to travel south? How do we measure the cost? If the Val d'Or airport, for example, is to be closed on the medium term for lack of money, why not divert some of the money from profitable airports, like Pearson and maybe Montreal, to bring some equity nationally and thereby permit us to travel by air?

Maybe my colleague has an opinion on this and on the way to make the system equitable.

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5 p.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Abitibi for his excellent question. I believe there is only one possible answer to that question. For this government, like the previous one, it is not a priority to serve the population of Quebec and Canadians well. Its main interest is not there, as was revealed yesterday by the Liberals' position on public financing. The citizens of Quebec and those of Canada are not the ones who finance those two old political parties. It is rather the large companies, the very rich Canadian minority, and the ones who are served first when an old federalist party comes into office. That is crystal clear.

The logical result of public fund raising is that the first ones to be served when a member, a government comes into office are the citizens. Not friends who contribute several hundred thousand dollars to the party's campaign fund but real citizens with genuine needs. Members of parties who have adopted such a public fund raising serve first of all those electors.

If at the outset you have a predisposition to grease the palms of the very rich and mighty friends of the party, you are less disposed to think first in terms of equal services from coast to coast in Canada or, in the case of Quebec, in the regions as opposed to the big centres. You are also less disposed to think that way, you would rather choose to give $30 million to the party's friends who may have lost something. We do not know if they have lost or not because there was no inquiry. We are not saying that they are not entitled to compensation, but that we do not know what really happened, since there was no public inquiry into this matter.

Thus, you decide to compensate the Liberal hacks, to maintain the family trusts in which these same hacks invested and still invest year after year without paying a single cent in tax for up to 80 years. You also decide to maintain tax treaties with 16 tax havens around the world, again allowing the wealthiest, the very large and profitable Canadian corporations to file their profits overseas where these are free of tax and to report in Canada their losses made overseas, for example. These are the choices you make.

You also choose to cut billions from the unemployment insurance fund, simply because the unemployed are not those who contribute to the Liberal war chest. Grassroot financing is not enough. The Liberal Party turns to the large corporations, their great and rich friends, for financial support. Kolber, Bronfman and friends, these are the ones who hand out the money because they will be served later by the Liberal Party as well as by the Conservative Party. Thus, to me, Liberals and Conservatives are the same: old parties which are against democracy. They are old parties which are against grassroot financing as they obviously showed us yesterday.

Anyway, I am not surprised by the fact that such absurd decisions as the one to close regional airports which serve a specific population are being taken, while, in the case of Pearson Airport, they refuse any kind of inquiry or openness because they are afraid of the truth.

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5:05 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of Canadians and Quebecers who are listening to us, I will say that my question is unsolicited. In other words this is not, as we say back home, a planted question contrary to what Canadians are used to seeing during Question Period when a government member puts a question to a minister who in turn reads the answer. We see that regularly, but this is not the case.

I appreciated the speech by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot who, by the way, is a well-known economist in Quebec. I do not know if his fame has reached the riding of Stormont-Dundas which you represent so well, Mr. Speaker, but I want to say that in Quebec the member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot is renowned.

I ask him if it is true that companies who hired these lobbyists can deduct their fees from their income tax report. Therefore, if compensation is granted in the Pearson deal, and we do not know if it will be, or if it is justified, which we do not know, and if the minister deems that it is, the cost of this tax loss will have to be added to it. I am not sure what words to use as I do not have the same background as the member, but I would like to hear what he has to say about this.

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5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot has two minutes to answer the question.

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5:05 p.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is true that one was not planted. You may be sure of that.

To answer the hon. member's question: Yes, corporations can deduct lobbying expenses, and Jim will agree with me. Corporations can deduct lobbying expenses, just as they can deduct the taxes they have to pay every year. They can also deduct the cost of hiring experts to find loopholes in the Canadian tax system so that they can shelter hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars every year. We do not know the exact amount, because senior officials at the Department of Finance have been told not to comment.

Yes, I can assure the hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans that corporations can deduct lobbying expenses, just as they can deduct fees for consultants and experts to help get them around the tax system and avoid during their corporate duty every year, which represents a loss of hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars to the federal treasury.

We can afford it, with our cumulative debt of $150 billion and an annual deficit of $40 billion. Since we can afford it, that is what happens. Instead of closing these loopholes and tightening up the tax system, the Liberal government, and especially the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, prefer to keep them and make them even bigger-to let $30 million slip through, as we see in the case of Bill C-22-while hurting those who are

hurting enough as it is, and I am referring to the unemployed, to senior citizens who have worked hard all their lives. Above all, they can do without the very serious threat of attacks on RRSPs and pension plans.

This is unconscionable, immoral and obscene, and the Liberals should be ashamed of themselves.

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5:05 p.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the amendments to Bill C-22 sent to the House from the other place.

The motion before us today is quite simply a slap in the face to each and every taxpaying citizen who felt that the previous government had gone too far by attempting to sell terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson airport to a group of self-interested investors in the dying days of an endangered administration.

Contrary to the statements made by some of our friends in the other place, the proposed amendments to Bill C-22 have little or nothing to do with protecting the legitimate collective interests of taxpaying Canadians. No, the motion before us today is about protecting the private interests and profits of a handful of self-interested individuals over and above the collective interests of the unknown hard working taxpayers of the country.

As chairperson of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport I can report that due process was served when our committee conducted its thorough review of Bill C-22 last May. In addition to a clause by clause analysis of the bill, the Standing Committee on Transport conducted hearings in order to obtain input on the legislation from individuals directly involved in the Pearson deal.

We heard testimony from several witnesses including Transport Canada officials; Hession Neville and Associates, an organization that put an unsuccessful bid on a Pearson contract; Air Canada officials; and representatives of the Matthews Paxport Trust, Mr. Gordon Baker and Mr. Donald Matthews. Of course we will never forget the colourful and melodramatic testimony of the legal counsel representing the Pearson Development Corporation.

In addition to the hearings, the committee considered the findings of a report on the Pearson deal submitted by Mr. Robert Nixon to the right hon. Prime Minister. On this point it should be noted that Mr. Nixon's report contained the following conclusion. Maybe members of the Reform Party would be interested in what it concluded. It stated:

To leave in place an inadequate contract, arrived at with such a flawed process and under the shadow of possible political manipulation, is unacceptable. I recommend to you that the contract be cancelled.

As stated in the report itself, Mr. Nixon's comments were based on what was considered to be in the best interest of taxpayers, the travelling public and general economic development of the area. That statement captures the very essence of my case against today's motion.

Some of our friends in the Tory dominated red chamber and their friends in the Tory dominated Pearson development deal would like us to believe that Bill C-22 is a Draconian piece of legislation that, among other things, breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights by taking away the fundamental right of Canadians to legal recourse in the courts. Indeed the level of romanticized fiction in that argument is similar to that which might be found on any given day in a cheap supermarket tabloid.

With regard to the constitutional issues surrounding the legislation, it is worth while to examine an approach that has been used by the Supreme Court of Canada when interpreting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in order to put things in their proper perspective. I am referring to the so-called purposive approach to interpreting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as stated by Canadian constitutional law expert, Peter H. Russell. He said:

The main thrust of the purposive approach to charter interpretation, fashioned by Chief Justice Dickson in some early cases, is to inquire into the reasons a particular right or freedom came to be valued in the history of western civilization and thereby to identify the interests each right or freedom was meant to protect.

I would like to focus on the latter portion of that statement pertaining to identifying the interests each right or freedom was meant to protect.

In most democratic societies, including our own, it is a generally accepted principle of democracy that with some exceptions the legitimate interests of the collective are held in higher regard than that of individual private interests.

As I stated, however, there are exceptions to the rule: for example, a situation of some sort of social or economic injustice or inequity brought on by such social phenomena as racism, sexism, poverty or any number of things that might characterize a historical disadvantaged or disempowered minority group or individual in our society. Under such circumstances it is incumbent on us to ensure that the interests of the disadvantaged or disempowered minority are not overpowered by that of the majority. If we apply this approach to the current Bill C-22 and its proposed amendment we can see that in fact the government is attempting to act in a forthright manner.

In this particular instance, by cancelling the Pearson deal through Bill C-22, the government has clearly chosen to protect the legitimate interests of the collective taxpaying populace as opposed to protecting the individual private interests and profits sought by a handful of lobbyists and contractors.

I do not have any sympathy whatsoever for those lobbyists and contractors because the deal they signed in the dying days of the previous administration was simply not in the best interests of the taxpaying Canadian public as a collective.

In short, I challenge any hon. member in the House to prove that the organization this motion is designed to protect, namely the Pearson Development Corporation, represents the interests of a historically disadvantaged or disempowered group. Prove it.

Are these lobbyists and contractors in a situation of significant disadvantage such that the interests of the majority should be over-ruled in this case? No. All members of the House know full well that the motion before us today was created in the interests of protecting the so-called foregone profits of a very small but extremely privileged minority in our society. It is simply a shameful attempt to impede the legitimate purpose of Bill C-22 which is to cancel a dubious contract made under dubious circumstances by a dubious administration that was not acting in the public interest.

Let us not be fooled by the people in the other place who claim to be fighting for the rights of Canadians. Make no mistake. They are fighting purely for the profits of their corporate colleagues.

In closing, I implore the members of the House to take a purposive approach to the legislation in question in order to properly identify which interests are most appropriate to protect in this case. Should we be looking out for the majority of taxpaying Canadians who stand to gain only what they deserve if the motion before us fails, namely justice? Or should we join our friends in the Tory dominated red chamber by giving their colleagues in the Pearson Development Corporation a chance to take the citizens of Canada to the cleaners on a deal Canadians never wanted the previous government to make in the first place.

The choice is clear. This motion has no merit. Let us dispense with it and get on with serving the legitimate interests of our fellow Canadians.

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5:15 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Hamilton West, as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Transport, of which I am vice-chairman, has used his privilege as a member to speak in the House. I made a number of allegations in what I said earlier, and I would appreciate his thoughts on the following: When he told me in committee that subpoenas had not be used to summon witnesses to appear before a committee since 1917, did he give me the wrong answer? Was he aware of the situation when I showed him proof that this had been done in 1989, 1990 and 1992, for instance, by the hon. member for Windsor, the present government House leader?

Did he purposely answer that this procedure had not been used since 1917 or was he trying to evade the question? Because he knew perfectly well that if we had subpoenaed these people, we would have had genuine answers to our questions.

I have an additional question for the hon. member. If Senator Leo Kolber had been a Conservative, not a Liberal, would he have agreed to be summoned to testify before the Standing Committee on Transport?

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5:15 p.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would only answer my hon. friend in an honest and straightforward fashion. Beyond that he asked me to bring forward a process which we discussed thoroughly at committee that he knows full well would have extended the debate on Pearson airport for a minimum of months, maybe years, a process that would have Canadian taxpayers watching, being frustrated with it. It would hold back any development, process and progress at Pearson airport.

Canadian taxpayers want to see Pearson airport succeed. They want it to become viable. They need that airport for economic reasons, to sustain what we see as an important, viable piece of infrastructure for travel across this country, to connect this country and the world.

I would only answer my friend in the most honest, straightforward manner.

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5:20 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Hamilton West. I am glad to see someone from the government side speak that is subject to questioning.

The analogy that the hon. member brings up is very interesting. He said that there were some allegations or possibility of impropriety, so it is in the best interests of Canadians to cancel the deal and not compensate these people. He did not say that it has been properly investigated or if anybody really even created an improper procedure in this whole thing.

It is like being a person associated with somebody who drops dead. We do not know what killed the person, but we charge him with murder because after all he was around somebody that died. We do not even know if a murder happened, never mind whether this person contributed to it. Yet we want to find him guilty. That is what the government is saying in this bill: "We think there are some improper things and if we think there is something improper, then by God there must be something improper, because we know it all". I challenge that.

I would ask the hon. member if they are so anxious to cancel this bill because it is such a bad bill, they must obviously have something better in mind. I asked the Minister of Transport today what he had in mind, what he was going to replace this contract with, what he was going to do about the problems at Pearson airport terminals 1 and 2.

The government must have something better in mind. I would like to hear from the hon. member what will replace this bad deal that is better?

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5:20 p.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, maybe the hon. member's staff has not kept him abreast with what has been going on in government but the Minister of Transport has a national airports policy which has been released that should be of profound interest to this member and the Reform Party.

It takes away from the particular group that I spoke of, a very eclectic group of lobbyists and contractors and the profitability they might make, into a so-called Canadian airport authority, which has representation not just from government but from the community that it serves. It will give that opportunity to all the citizenry, not just around that airport but around that entire region, to have input into the process of decision making for the airport.

Guess what? It is not a revelation. It is quite simply input by the community. What do they need done at this airport? This is what they need done. Who is going to pay for it? They are going to pay for it with good old fashioned, common sense business practices. That is something else the government stands for and which I hear being touted by that party opposite.

On top of that I find it passing strange that we have a Reform Party, a third party in the House who stand opposed to-or in favour possibly of-this motion, when the motion says that we are looking at ensuring there is an opportunity for that eclectic group of contractors and lobbyists to strip away from the Canadian taxpayers a potential of over $400 million. This comes from a Reform Party, a third party that is concerned with cutting taxes, with ensuring that the debt comes down, with ensuring that the deficit is worked at. They stand and want to support this motion to possibly open the door to give $400 million to these contractors. It is incredible.

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5:25 p.m.


Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again to speak on Bill C-22.

Before I begin my main remarks I would like to correct a statement made earlier in the House today by the minister. I think the words the minister used were that the Liberals were elected to cancel this deal. I do not think that is quite accurate. I think they were elected to review the deal. That is what they were saying during the campaign, not to cancel the deal but to review it.

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5:25 p.m.

An hon. member

I heard the Prime Minister say that. Review the deal and act accordingly.

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5:25 p.m.


Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Not to cancel the deal with no regard for potential costs or the delay at Pearson airport, or due process. Let the record be straight, that was not what the Liberals were elected to office to do.

The decision was made to cancel a project of this magnitude on the basis of a hurried 30-day investigation. The decision was made to cancel a project of this magnitude, in 30 days, without any input from the people involved.

It smacks of a knee-jerk reaction to try to show a government in action, without due regard for the taxpayers of this country. They are the ones who are going to end up paying the bill that we are looking at here.

Unfortunately the solution to this problem has the potential to cost the taxpayers some hard-earned tax dollars that will further increase our deficit. And they are mostly wasted tax dollars because it will do nothing to improve Pearson.

I say mostly because I believe that by going through the courts and opening up this whole mess to the public, we will be doing something to restore some of the trust that has been lost between voters and all politicians. To me anything we can do to remove the cynicism that has developed between the voter and the politician is something at which we should seriously look. That is what we are talking about here.

A major part of the dilemma the government is facing in the debate is the "trust us" to do what is fair and reasonable behind closed doors. The message during the campaign, the message I was getting and I am sure many members were getting was that the trust that had once there had been lost and needed to be regained. We have to re-establish that trust. This bill does not do that.

Members may or may not agree with that, but the fact there were 205 new members elected to the House of Commons says to me very clearly that the voters were not happy with the old politics and wanted some changes in this place. There is no better way to achieve that goal than to open up this process to full disclosure. Let us review the facts that brought us to this point.

First of all, we have a deal that was negotiated by the previous Conservative government behind closed doors. It was signed during the election campaign in the full knowledge that it was going to be reviewed. It was not just a Conservative deal, it is a deal that involved friends on both sides, Liberals and Conservatives.

Second, we had a shady deal and now we have a shady review. Without questioning the abilities of Mr. Nixon who was asked to do the review, if we really believed in restoring the voters' trust and confidence in politicians, whoever was going to do this

review absolutely had to be non-partisan. It had to be done by somebody who was completely removed from involvement in the political arena. That was not the case here and that flawed review did nothing to restore the trust and confidence I am talking about.

Third, the review raises many questions about the process and puts into question the names and reputations of many people and firms. An implication is that perhaps the law has been broken.

In spite of this damning report this bill does nothing about giving those involved whose names and reputations have been put into question the opportunity to remove that cloud. Yet it does say that in spite of this secret and perhaps unlawful deal they will pay some compensation to these people. They are going to give them some money, but they are going to do it behind closed doors.

If this deal is only half as bad as the Nixon report suggested, not one penny of taxpayers' money should be approved for payout.

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5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The member will certainly have the option of continuing his remarks to the maximum of 20 minutes when this piece of business returns to the House.

It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.