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House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

However, I will let other Canadians be the judge of that.

I would like to repeat that the comments which have been brought to my attention are disturbing. They are being looked at by the deputy minister. As to any action that may be taken, I will have to inform the House at a later date.

AgustaOral Question Period

May 16th, 1995 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. The government is preparing to compensate the firm Agusta. After cancelling the contract to purchase nearly $6 billion worth of EH-101 helicopters, the Prime Minister stated, a few days after his election, and I quote:

"The program is cancelled and there isn't any compensation for anybody".

His Minister of Public Works reaffirmed yesterday the government's intention to conclude an agreement with Agusta.

How can the Prime Minister allow his government to pay compensation to Agusta from public funds, without any investigation into this $6 billion contract to purchase EH-101 helicopters, when Agusta is currently facing charges of corruption and influence peddling in Italy and Belgium?

[English]

AgustaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, this is the third or fourth time that members of the opposition have raised this issue. Unfortunately I am going to have to give the same answer to the hon. member.

The hon. member is making reference to "no compensation for anybody", a phrase which was used by the Prime Minister. However the Prime Minister went on to promise that his ministers involved in those talks would ensure that we "pay not a cent more than we are absolutely required to pay".

What we are doing under the contract which we signed with that company is paying termination costs, which every government must pay. That is not pay for future work, that is payment for work which has been completed or which was being completed upon termination.

AgustaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is clearly going to compensate Agusta. Therefore, if he will not refuse to compensate Agusta without an investigation first, will the Prime Minister at least guarantee, unlike his Minister of Public Works yesterday, that no new contracts for the purchase of helicopters are awarded to Agusta as a form of compensation for the cancellation of the first contract?

AgustaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what the minister has just said is correct. I have said it and I repeat it: the government has a contractual obligation for expenses incurred up to that point, which we must fulfil. There will, however, be no compensation for loss of profit or for future work.

If we eventually have to buy new helicopters, no preference will be given to anybody. We will follow the usual procedures in order to obtain the best product at the best price.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The director general of public affairs, Ms. Cardinal, has left the perception that her comments to the Media Club represent the views of the Department of National Defence senior management team. The problem is greater than one person's irresponsible comments and points to the leadership culture at the Department of National Defence which shows ignorance of Canada's frontline soldiers. There is no respect for the minister's authority at the senior management level at DND.

What does the minister intend to do to gain control over his department?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the specific allegation the hon. member raised, I answered that question Friday. I answered it yesterday and I answered it again today.

Some disturbing comments have come to light as a result of a speech given by the director general of public affairs. The deputy minister is looking into it. If I have any further announcement on any action that may be taken, it will be made to the House in due course.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, surely the minister must understand it is all well and good that the deputy minister is looking into it but the Minister of National Defence is responsible for this.

The problem is deeper than Ms. Cardinal's speech. These are the views of senior management at DND. The director general of public affairs does not speak off the record. She is responsible for disseminating national defence positions and policies.

What action will the minister take with respect to his supervision with his entire senior management team at DND?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the deputy minister will be looking into this shows that there will be some action taken.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

All federal public servants have had their wages frozen for several years. In his latest report, the auditor general reveals that, since 1993, diplomats have been allowed to cash in their plane tickets to and from Ottawa to pay for vacations anywhere in the world, without even having to submit vouchers.

How does the President of the Treasury Board justify this 1993 directive, which nets Canadian diplomats posted overseas $8.4 million a year, or about $5,000 tax free per person?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should understand that the auditor general's criticisms had to do with a former procedure that has since been completely corrected.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the reduction in the number of diplomats posted overseas, the total cost of their vacations, paid for by taxpayers, continues to increase at the rate of 9 per cent a year.

Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us why public officials posted overseas can enjoy all-expenses-paid vacations in an era of budget cuts?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would have appreciated it if the hon. member had at least listened to the answer I gave him. He refers to a situation that no longer exists. I cannot understand why he continues to claim that we give preferential treatment to some public officials when this practice has stopped.

Ethics CounsellorOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The auditor general's report reveals that an astonishing 58 per cent of public servants are unaware of the federal government's conflict of interest policy. The auditor general also noted that the best conflict of interest guidelines are useless without leadership from the top, the cabinet.

When will the Prime Minister take the initiative to lead by example and prove that he has nothing to hide by appointing an independent ethics counsellor?

Ethics CounsellorOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are some very strict guidelines for conflict of interest for everyone in the ministry and in the public service. The senior people in the departments are responsible for those guidelines. There is an ethics counsellor who is consulted on any problem and he reports to me. I am responsible to Parliament for any and all mistakes made and I have never run away from my responsibilities.

Ethics CounsellorOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the ethics counsellor has given an investigation on very, very few matters of substantive importance.

The Liberal red ink book promises an independent ethics counsellor. The Reform Party has repeatedly called for an independent ethics counsellor. Seven of ten provinces have independent persons in this role. Now Gregory Evans, the independent conflict of interest commissioner in Ontario, is calling on the federal government to appoint an independent ethics counsellor.

What is the government hiding? Why does the Prime Minister insist on keeping the ethics counsellor totally accountable to him?

Ethics CounsellorOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor will be invited to meet with a committee of this House if required. However, in his daily operations he has to be responsible to somebody so he is responsible to us. One of the reasons we have acted this way is because we did not want to have a multiplication of jobs. He has other responsibilities and we gave him this new responsibility. He is doing a good job.

In the end, no Prime Minister can get up in the House and say he is not responsible and that somebody else is. In this parliamentary system the government is responsible and the head of the government is responsible for the actions of all the government in front of this House, nobody else.

Tainted BloodOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

The Minister of Health has refused to take a clear and definite stand on the need to press criminal charges, once the Krever inquiry is over, against those individuals whose carelessness caused the death of hundreds of men, women and children.

Since the Minister of Health failed to take a stand on this issue, does the Minister of Justice undertake to see that justice is served and that, once the Krever inquiry is over, charges are laid against those whose behaviour caused the death of hundreds of haemophiliacs?

Tainted BloodOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this is really an insulting question, considering how much the government is spending to get to the bottom of this, by holding a judicial inquiry. Before we can take position on the inquiry, we have to wait for its findings.

Tainted BloodOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is for the Minister of Justice.

Will the minister admit that the information disclosed to the Krever commission so far is sufficiently incriminating to justify pressing criminal charges against those individuals whose irresponsible behaviour led to the tainted blood tragedy?

Tainted BloodOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, however one might characterize the evidence before the Krever inquiry with respect to alleged wrongdoing, in the final analysis the decision whether to proceed with criminal prosecution is up to the provincial authorities. In the circumstances, since it is not a matter for the federal government to initiate, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the strength of any such suggested charges.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Another surprise.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.