Madam Speaker, I read the motion by the member for Wetaskiwin, which reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should support the right of all job applicants to be evaluated solely on the basis of merit.
That is asking a lot from a government that, as late as yesterday—as I am the public works critic on contracts awarded or the section of the department that oversees a lot of big companies—sent my office a list of recent appointments.
For instance, Vivian G. Albot of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was appointed to the position of office manager for the board of directors of Canada Post. Ms. Albot was a contributor to the Liberal Party of Canada's campaign fund, I even have the amount here.
I have other examples, including the appointment of Gérald Préfontaine of Ottawa, Ontario, as a member of the board of Canada Post. Janis Cochrane was appointed a director of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
What these people have in common is the fact that they contributed to a political party, specifically, the one handing out the jobs.
Another example is Cecil Mervin Ozirny of Melville, Saskatchewan, who contributed to the Liberals' election fund and who was given a position with the National Energy Board.
Is the prime requisite for such appointments the fact of having contributed something to the Liberal Party election fund or do these people really have skills not easily found or at least the same level as those of individuals who might apply or contribute to the management of the organizations I have just named?
Allow me to express my doubts, because I have a newspaper article here.
I remember the 1993 election campaign that brought the Liberals and the current Prime Minister to power, on October 25, 1993, to be precise. This election also produced the official opposition of which I was a member, with its then leader, Lucien Bouchard, who has since moved on to another stage. He has proved to the Prime Minister that he is a good manager and that he can practice in Quebec what he was preaching here, as he has brilliantly demonstrated. What he used to preach here, he put in practice in Quebec.
In their red book, the Liberals vilified the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mulroney, who, just before he left and handed power over to the newly elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, appointed 500 people to positions all over Canada. For instance, he appointed the manager of Montreal's Ritz-Carlton Hotel to the Senate, along with his wife's hairdresser, and he was roundly criticized by the Liberals.
In the red book, the Liberals were very critical of this kind of appointment. But who was recently appointed to the Canada Post Corporation? Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais, who used to sit in this place, who unfortunately—for her, of course—was defeated in the Edmunston region in New Brunswick. There have been others. There was Ross Fitzpatrick, a gentleman who had the bright idea of helping the Prime Minister to a capital gain of $45,000 by giving him shares in his company, which the Prime Minister sold at a profit of $45,000. He was another Liberal appointment.
Just to name a few members I have known in the House, André Ouellet was appointed to the Canada Post Corporation, David Berger was made Canada's ambassador to Israel, Ron Irwin was appointed to an important post, Canada's ambassador to Ireland, I believe.
They are thanking the friends of the Liberal Party. When the current Prime Minister returned to political life, he needed a safe riding. He had to win a seat somewhere to be able to sit in this House as the Leader of the Opposition.
A member by the name of Robichaud, a nice fellow from Beauséjour, in the maritimes, was kind enough to give up his seat so that the Prime Minister could get elected in a safe riding. It worked. Mr. Robichaud had to wait a few months for a national general election to be called and for Mr. Chrétien to win back his traditional riding, Shawinigan, and give him back his seat as the member for Beauséjour, which had become vacant.
Mr. Robichaud was elected in Beauséjour. He sat with us here during the 35th Parliament. Then came a young Liberal star and the Liberals said “The son of the governor general, now that is somebody”. They told him he would run in Beauséjour and asked Mr. Robichaud to step aside and let Mr. LeBlanc, the governor general's son, run for the Liberal Party in Beauséjour.
Unfortunately, it does not always work and, this time, it did not, but Mr. Robichaud was not blamed for the Liberal loss in Beauséjour. Mr. Robichaud, for whom a seat had been set aside in the Senate, soon replaced a good friend of the party who had been appointed to the Senate barely 14 months short of the compulsory retirement age in the Senate. He was obviously appointed to keep the seat warm until Mr. Robichaud was ready to make the move.
Sad to say, the good turns Mr. Robichaud did the Prime Minister were not done out of generosity. He did them because he knew that the payoff would be substantial.
It is no big deal if, in order to get some job, one must be a member of the Liberal Party and give $200, $250, $300 or $400. Many people in my riding would be quite willing to pay $400 to get a job in the Senate or with the Canada Post Corporation, or to sit on the board of directors of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
I can think, among others, of my friend Michel St-Laurent, a carpenter who does all sorts of jobs for me and someone whom I really admire. I am convinced that he too would give $200, $300, $400 or $500 for such an appointment, but he never had that chance. He was never informed of any vacancies. They do not want him because he is not a Liberal, and being a Liberal is the first condition, the prerequisite for such an appointment.
When the Reform Party member, for whom I have a lot of respect, tables his bill on what he calls quotas, but what I would rather call employment allocation equity, we should also discuss the type of jobs given to friends of the party, who get huge salaries or fees—whatever you want to call it—and who often do no work at all, killing time at taxpayers' expense while, in some cases, pocketing millions of dollars.
Consider the case of the friend of the government who was appointed ambassador to the OECD. This gentleman is paid $255,000 per year and he is barely 52 or 53 years old. If he retires at age 75, he will have had an annual salary of $255,000 for 23 years. This amounts to quite a bit of money. It pays to be a Liberal.