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House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers have been taken for a sucker once more. In the auditor general's report tabled today we find that the government sold Nav Canada for $1 billion less than its value.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Why, when he is squeezing every last nickel out of employers, employees, taxpayers and retirees, did he give a $1 billion break to Nav Canada?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government estimated the net worth of the air navigation system as did those negotiating on behalf of Nav Canada.

In any deal no one expects to get their own financial adviser's top dollar. This was a good deal that reflected a negotiated compromise.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister is not telling us that the adviser to the government was also the adviser to Nav Canada and Nav Canada got by far the best deal.

We paid millions of dollars to lose a billion dollars. I want to know when it was the government's policy to approve conflict of interest sole source contracts that cost the taxpayer a billion dollars.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I think we have to keep in mind that at the time of the sale the viability of the air navigation system as a not for profit entity relied heavily on fluctuating interest rates. It relied on credit ratings which were creating a serious concern as to whether or not the new entity could actually raise the money. That is why the government moved in this direction.

With respect to the question of advisers, the advisers were retained in accordance with normal Treasury Board guidelines.

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on four separate occasions, the Prime Minister was asked what action he had taken after being advised of allegations of influence peddling within the Liberal Party of Canada, he repeated each time that his minister had done his duty in following instructions.

My simple and direct question to the Prime Minister, who likes clear questions, is as follows: What did he personally do to protect his government's integrity and that of his ministers once he was made aware of the fact that a fundraiser for the Liberal Party of Canada was peddling influence to businesses that had applied for grants?

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat at this time that there is a police investigation under way and we will wait to see what comes of it. Whether there has been wrongdoing or not will be determined after the police has conducted its investigation.

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that there is an investigation under way.

What I am asking the Prime Minister is what he did, what action he has taken, since his minister took action. Did he, personally or through his chief of staff, on the eve of a general election in Canada, remind his ministers of the directives on influence peddling issued within his government? Is that what he did or did he tour Quebec with individuals who were involved in influence peddling instead?

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is in fact because we have given and continue to give ministers advice on this issue on a regular basis that the minister acted on this swiftly. Only hours after being informed, he immediately called in the RCMP to conduct a proper investigation.

The instructions were clear. They were understood by the ministers. I regularly remind them that it is imperative that they follow all instructions issued to them on their conduct in their official capacity.

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs recently suspended an aide involved in a controversial issue, until the investigation into his conduct is completed, in compliance with the spirit of the government's code of conduct.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why, in the case involving influence peddling, did the Prime Minister not act like his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and comply with the government's code of conduct by suspending the person suspected of wrongdoing until all the facts were known?

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The question as asked is out of order.

They must go to the administrative responsibility of the person involved. This has to do in my view with a party matter as opposed to another matter. I will go to the second question.

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

I apologize, Mr. Speaker, but my question is for the Prime Minister and concerns his compliance with the government's code of conduct. With all due respect, I will put the question to the Prime Minister rather clearly, so everyone can understand what it is about, given that I have only one question.

I am asking the Prime Minister to tell us why his ministers comply with the government's code of conduct, but not him, since he left a person strongly suspected of influence peddling mingle with Liberal Party members and ministers.

I think the Prime Minister has a duty to respond.

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I will allow the Prime Minister to respond because the question is on the code of conduct.

Rcmp InvestigationsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the code of conduct applies to the government and to public servants.

In this specific case, the investigation concerns an organization that is not part of the government. It is a political organization. Moreover, in the case of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the person involved admitted he had made a mistake and the code of conduct was immediately applied because that person was an employee accountable to the minister and to the government.

EmploymentOral Question Period

October 7th, 1997 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

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

Canadian analysts including Wood Gundy's chief economist charge that the government's endorsement of last week's interest rate hike is “like waging war on yesterday's problem”. It is predicted that as many as 500,000 jobs will be lost if the government continues on its current path.

When will the Prime Minister show some leadership, start to live up to his campaign commitment and tell his finance minister to stop killing jobs?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, everything the government has done since it took office, whether it be re-establishing the credibility of government to bring interest rates down, keeping inflation low, investing in research and development or investing in youth employment, has been directed to the one aim of giving Canadians an opportunity for a better quality of life and greater job creation.

Since we have taken office over a million jobs have been created in the private sector. It is very clear that the policies we have put in place have worked.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is telling us that it is just too bad about the 1.4 million people who still do not have jobs. I have in my hands a paper—

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I remind hon. members that we can read from papers but I prefer that we not use them as props.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I refer to a finance department report that says the very best Canadians can expect from the government until the end of the century is 7.8% unemployment.

Before the election the Liberals said their unemployment goal was 5%. Now we learn that it is really closer to 8%.

Why does the Prime Minister not make this his big millennium project and put a million and a half Canadians back to work so they can join in the celebration?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, since we have taken office we have already put a million Canadians back into the workforce.

I refer the leader of the New Democratic Party to the numbers that came out last week. Long term interest rates have dropped and five year mortgage rates are now at the lowest level they have been since 1965.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. It has to do with the continual misuse, abuse and rip-off of the employment insurance system by the government, a rip-off we have been denouncing for some time which it refuses to acknowledge.

The auditor general in chapter 17—

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Would the hon. member for Sherbrooke please get to the question.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is this and it is to the Prime Minister. Will he guarantee to the House that his government, as the auditor general reports, will cease to abuse the employment insurance system at the expense of Canadians who are unemployed?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said last week and I will repeat that when we took over as the government the premiums paid by Canadians were $3.30. This has been reduced to $2.90 and is going down every year.

When we took over the unemployment insurance fund it was many billions of dollars in the red. We put it in the black. Good administration led to a reserve and led to a reduction in premiums. We are doing that on a regular basis.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, surely the prime minister knows that he is alone in this position. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, le Conseil du patronat du Québec all share the view that these premiums must come down.

Let me ask the question to the Minister of Finance. Since the prime minister will not move, will the Minister of Finance accept the recommendations of the auditor general and table here in the House of Commons the analysis on which he bases the premium rate?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the analysis is well known. The leader of the Conservative Party is very badly placed to comment on unemployment insurance premiums. The prime minister has set it out very clearly.

Let us be very clear. For a Tory to blame the Liberals for the unemployment insurance premiums is like a mosquito blaming the doctor for malaria.