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House of Commons Hansard #98 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was guidelines.

Topics

The Government Of The United StatesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think that if we look at the various subjects at issue between Canada and the United States, there are no major, pressing problems, with the exception of Helms-Burton law.

As for softwood lumber, we have concluded an agreement with them. We have agreed to impose a limit on exports. The Minister for International Trade has concluded an agreement, after consulting with the provincial governments. As far as the United States and we are concerned, the matter was settled by this agreement.

If there are any other problems the hon. member wishes to raise, I will take note of them and mention them to the President when we meet. The softwood lumber question has already been settled, and

we are now putting the requisite mechanisms in place to implement the agreement.

The Government Of The United StatesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the Prime Minister seems to be open to suggestions, I would like to mention that the U.S. pensions issue is disturbing many Quebecers.

The official opposition asks the Prime Minister to raise with President Clinton those issues that are troubling our people and affect them directly.

Furthermore, I would ask the Prime Minister this: Following the preliminary ruling made in the controversial eggs, milk and poultry question, a ruling that is to be confirmed very shortly, I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he intends to make representations to the U.S. president before it is too late, before Canada is forced into the same kind of situation as in the case of softwood lumber, in other words, before we are forced to negotiate an agreement at our expense. The softwood lumber agreement is far from perfect and puts a heavy burden on lumber producers. The agreement on milk, eggs and poultry might go the same way, unless the Prime Minister quickly and proactively intervene with the President.

The Government Of The United StatesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as far as the eggs and poultry issue is concerned, we have discussed this problem several times with the Americans. Our position is clear. We have determined that the marketing boards that exist in Canada have a right to exist under the agreements we signed with them and under the GATT agreements that were renegotiated a year ago.

We believe that our position complies with the agreements we have with the Americans. If they want to challenge these agreements, legal recourse is provided under NAFTA and also under the GATT rules, so that we can defend our rights. Our positions are clear, and at this moment, these agreements between our two countries exist. They have been duly signed.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

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

Beyond trade-related matters, there is also a number of urgent issues on the international scene. Again, Canada can play a positive role, including through its relations with the United States.

Following President Clinton's re-election yesterday and the recent Nairobi summit, will the Prime Minister propose to the American president to submit to the Security Council a joint request from Canada, the United States and France to quickly put in place a multinational humanitarian force to put an end to the terrible plight of Zairian refugees?

We have nothing against diplomacy but, as Bernard Kouchner pointed out again this morning, time is of the essence and people are dying.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada showed leadership and initiative regarding African regional leaders. Indeed, we are prepared to carefully examine the African leaders' proposals for a safe haven, a corridor and the presence of neutral forces. Ambassador Chrétien's special mission will provide us with an opportunity to immediately review these proposals and to determine the types of resources and commitments required from the international community as a whole.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is another major issue regarding foreign affairs.

Given that tension is rising in the Middle East, does the Prime Minister intend to discuss, with the American president, the urgent need to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian authority, before the current crisis degenerates even more?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, beginning on Tuesday next week I will be in Cairo at the middle eastern major summit meeting. I hope to have direct discussions with the foreign minister of Israel and the representative of the Palestinian authority as well as other leaders from the Middle East.

We will certainly make very clear our strong support for continuation of the peace process, our commitment to help them develop economically and to provide the kind of support we need internationally on a multilateral basis to search for the right solutions for peace in that area.

I will be very pleased to report to the House after that trip.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, for months the Prime Minister has made frequent references to his special ethics guidelines for cabinet ministers. Then he says that he cannot release them because they are cabinet confidential. Now according to the CBC and his own ethics counsellor, these special ethics guidelines for cabinet ministers do not even exist. It seems that the Prime Minister's guidelines are imaginary like his homeless friends.

Will the Prime Minister clear the air and simply release his much touted ethics guidelines for cabinet ministers to this House?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the fresh start and it is not starting very well.

In every case that comes before this House the Prime Minister has to judge the facts and the facts are public. I have spoken about the case that was mentioned which I discussed with the ethics counsellor.

I have said in the House many times and I will repeat again that the directives written by the Prime Minister for his ministers are directives of the Prime Minister to the ministers for their conduct. The conduct of a minister is a question of public record. I take the responsibility if somebody questions the conduct of ministers.

In the case of the secretary of state, I have accepted her word and everything is in order at this moment. I do not have anything to add, but had the leader been here last week he would have heard the same-

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I would ask you to refrain from speaking about who is here and who is not here at whatever time.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been out talking to real Canadians, not imaginary ones.

This issue really should not be that difficult. The Prime Minister has repeatedly told this House that he has special ethics guidelines for cabinet ministers. The CBC and the Prime Minister's own ethics counsellor say that they do not exist.

Either it is one thing or the other. Do these special guidelines exist? If they do and the Prime Minister assumes responsibility for ethics with his ministers, will he table those guidelines in this House?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that I have guidelines for ministerial conduct which have been transmitted to the ministers. They have read them and they follow them.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Did they follow them?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

Yes, and they follow them very well.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister seems to regard ethics as a private matter between himself and the ministers. He will not release the guidelines to the House and the public, and he only uses them to his own political advantage, like when he had to sack the former minister of defence.

The ethics of elected officials are public business. For the public to judge whether the conduct of a cabinet minister is ethical, they have to know the standards against which they are being judged.

If the Prime Minister really does believe in open government and a higher standard of ethics, why does he not table in this House his special ethics guidelines for cabinet ministers?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the conduct of the minister is public.

We have been in government for three years. Never before has the ethics of a government been challenged so little by the public because the ministers are acting honourably in every case. I am not afraid to stand here with my colleagues who have shown in the last three years that we in this government have extremely high standards. That is why this government is respected by the Canadian public.

SecuritiesOral Question Period

November 6th, 1996 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the last Liberal report of the Standing Committee on Finance contains the following phrase, and I quote: "The Committee encourages the government to continue working with interested provinces in order to set up a Canadian securities commission" But, in this morning's papers, we learned that a number of provinces think the project is on the way out.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will he confirm that his government is dropping the project to set up a Canadian securities commission, knowing that it is unanimously opposed by economic, financial and political circles in Montreal and throughout Quebec?

SecuritiesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, at the request of several provinces, the federal government is examining the possibility of setting up a Canadian securities commission. We are negotiating with these provinces. It is not the federal government's intention to impose it on anyone.

It is certainly our intention to make it easier to put the industry in a position of being able to compete with the financial industry outside our borders.

SecuritiesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the very least that can be said in all this is that the Minister of Finance is completely confused. The first project was for a Canadian securities commission that would replace all the provincial commissions.

Second, faced with mounting opposition to the project, they decided it would be optional. Then there were, in theory, not ten securities commissions but 11. This morning, in the newspaper, the minister said: "This could perhaps be cut down to two or three". This is just so much stalling around. It is what comes of not looking after your own affairs.

Since nobody in Quebec wants a Canadian securities commission, since opposition is growing in British Columbia and Alberta, and since there is a viable alternative to this commission known as the SEDAR system, now being developed and put in place by provincial commissions, why is the finance minister so bent on pushing ahead with this project, which would be devastating for the economy of Montreal?

SecuritiesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member seems a bit confused.

What has happened is that the federal government at the request of a number of provinces has sat down and looked at the possibility of creating a national securities commission. The major purpose of this is to ease the issuance of prospectuses, a great deal of which will benefit the business community in Montreal, in Quebec and in Vancouver and all of British Columbia.

I find it very hard to understand that the hon. member opposite would say to the federal government that when the provinces want to rationalize their operations, make them more effective, make them more competitive, the federal government should not sit down with them and try to do that. It is very clear that the real purpose the member has is to not make the federation work, is to not make Canada competitive. That will not work out to the benefit of anybody, including the business community in Montreal.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the appointment of cabinet ministers to their posts is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and my question is directed to him. He has created a bit of a conundrum here by saying that the code has been read by his ministers, which shows that it is in printed form, yet the ethics counsellor says that it does not exist.

My question relates to a code that we do know exists. The 1994 code states that "a public office holder shall not directly or indirectly use or allow the use of government property of any kind-for anything other than officially approved activities".

Yesterday the President of the Treasury Board said quite clearly that the whited out portions on the case in question were for personal expenditures.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to admit at least that the secretary of state clearly breached that section of the code?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat what I said yesterday.

Under section 19 of the Access to Information Act, a government institution shall not disclose personal information. The Access to Information Act goes on to say that the definition of personal information stated under the Privacy Act applies. Personal financial transactions are included under personal information under the Privacy Act. Therefore, these things should not be given for public scrutiny because they are protected under the Privacy Act. It is clear and that is the end of the matter.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board has just confirmed what we believe to be true, which is that all of these things which are whited out are personal. All we want is accountability of those personal amounts so we can estimate their value.

An ordinary Canadian caught robbing a bank would not be allowed to simply return the money and walk away on the grounds that he was not committing the offence in bad faith or for personal financial benefit and intended to reimburse the bank at some future date.

In breaching the code and chapter 2-7 of the Treasury Board guidelines, the junior minister committed a serious offence, one which would have resulted in severe discipline for any other member of the department.

Does the Prime Minister's talk about a high standard of ethics not demand that these guidelines and code be enforced?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, once again the rule is clear. Government travel cards should be used for official government expenses. When they are not, when they are used for personal expenses, then the card holder must reimburse all personal expenses.

This is exactly what the secretary of state did. She has reimbursed all the expenditures which were made with the government travel card. In this case, she has followed the rules and has presented excuses for what she has done, but what she has done is considered to be under the rules.

Once again if we were to have a beer or see a film in our hotel room which is on an account and we pay with a government card, the rules say that we must reimburse that personal expenditure. This is exactly what the secretary of state did. She made excuses for using a government travel card. She now has a personal expenditure travel card. That is the end of it.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, as you know, in the preambles to our questions I give quite a bit of latitude because I am waiting until we get to the question. Although the question itself is in order, sometimes the preamble comes very close to being out of order. I would just ask you to be very judicious in your choice of words in the preamble.