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House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offence.

Topics

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the people who will not let the commission do its work is the government itself. The former solicitor general pre-judged the outcome of the panel. That is tampering with the work of the panel. Now we have the chairman of the commission interfering to the point where the chairman of the panel quit.

Is it not true that the only reason the solicitor general keeps this panel alive is to keep the truth from coming out about the role of the Prime Minister in this whole sorry affair?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the public complaints commission acts under an act of parliament. It has a job to do and we must let it do the job. Under the law, it has received a complaint, it must deal with the complaint.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe the solicitor general should put the training wheels back on.

The reality is that the public complaints commission can be terminated under the following grounds: number one, the investigation be better carried out under the authority of another act of parliament, or further investigation is not reasonably practical. This situation fulfils both of those criteria.

When are we going to get an independent judicial inquiry from this solicitor general?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has not given accurate information to this House. I am not saying deliberately because he is not quoting the law as far as I know. As far as I know there are no grounds on that basis in the act setting up the commission to let the activity he is asking for be carried out.

The government has no authority under the law to take any role with respect to the workings of the commission. The hon. member knows that. He should have told the House that instead of what he alleged.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, section 45.36 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, RSC R-10 is the authority under which I say this person, Heafey, who was appointed by the Liberals, has the ability to terminate this boondoggle, which is all that it is. It is mortally wounded. Put it in its grave. Give us an independent judicial inquiry.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is quoting the act right, he is saying the chair of the commission has the right to terminate a hearing. The act does not say that the government has the authority to direct the commission and that is the fact. I would like to put this section on the record of the House and the House will see that what I am saying is correct.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for weeks now, the Prime Minister has been telling us about the independence of the APEC inquiry. He keeps telling us it has to do its work.

We now know that the commission chair exerted unacceptable pressure on the inquiry chair and that hearings are held up indefinitely.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us what is left of the supposed inquiry and its supposed independence?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the public complaints commission is an independent body. It has every right, and under the law it must deal with allegations that are brought before it. That is what it is going to do.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general is talking nonsense.

The Liberal caucus may be buying it, but no one else is. I wonder he can keep a straight face.

Is it not true that the reason the government alone believes that the inquiry has any credibility is because the more this inquiry into the conduct of the Prime Minister and his entourage is weakened, the less likely it is to get to the bottom of things?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the public complaints commission acts under an act of parliament, under an act of this place. It has a job to do and it must do that job.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, APEC commission chairman Gérald Morin resigned and accused Shirley Heafy, the chair of the RCMP public complaints commission, of political interference. As we know, Mrs. Heafy's appointment was a political one.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that the allegations made by former commissioner Morin about Mrs. Heafy just destroyed any credibility this phoney commission may have had left?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, according to my information, Mr. Morin remains a member of the commission. He gave up his position as chair of the panel investigating the APEC incidents.

Mr. Morin was appointed in the same manner as Mrs. Heafy. Again, the government has no right to interfere in the commission's internal activities. The whole issue of the commission rests with the courts.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. A solicitor general has resigned, a CBC journalist was suspended, the hearings were stopped, and now commissioner Morin too has resigned.

What more does the Prime Minister need to convene a true inquiry, an independent judicial inquiry that will finally shed light on the role played by the Prime Minister and his office?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, according to my information, Mr. Morin is still a member of the commission.

Second, if an inquiry is convened, the commission will be appointed by the Prime Minister. Therefore, I wonder why the hon. member thinks such a commission would be any more independent than the public complaints commission, which was established through an act of parliament and which operates at arm's length from the government.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, now that we know the RCMP public complaints commission chair has tried to influence the panel's activities, the next question is how the government has tried to influence the commission chair and in fact this whole process.

Will the solicitor general now share with Canadians what is really going on by tabling all correspondence, including telephone contacts, e-mails, the works, between the government and the commission and between the government and commission lawyer Ed Ratushny?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has indicated that the government will co-operate fully with the public complaints commission. Any material it wants is available to it.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, like the Prime Minister, the public complaints commission chair, Liberal appointee Shirley Heafey, wants the commission to do its work. But the Prime Minister and his appointee know the commission is fatally flawed, that it will not get to the truth about the Prime Minister's involvement in the APEC fiasco.

How far is the government prepared to go to keep this three ring circus going? When will the government get on with an independent judicial inquiry and just get it over with?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all the members of the commission, not just the chair, are appointed by order in council, that is to say by the Prime Minister. That is exactly what would happen if a judicial inquiry were to be set up. That person would be appointed by the Prime Minister. I would ask the hon. member to explain why she wants the Prime Minister to be involved in one way to set up a commission, and she does not want the commission to carry out its work when it is appointed in exactly the same way under the law passed by this parliament to work at arm's length from the government and from parliament. Is that not the way the work should be done?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can answer that. It is because a judge would be independent.

The APEC commission has ground to a halt amidst further controversy with the main players investigating each other and exchanging allegations of bias and interference. The commission panel has become a joke with more twists than a cheap detective novel. While this makes for good drama, it is a terrible way to uncover the truth. The current process lacks the credibility and the mandate to thoroughly investigate what happened at APEC.

Will the new solicitor general show this House and Canadians that he is not just a puppet of the Prime Minister and appoint an independent judicial public inquiry?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should give the House the right facts as the premise to his question. The solicitor general would not appoint an inquiry. It would be appointed by the Prime Minister under the Inquiries Act. That is obvious. The hon. member should prepare himself before he asks these kinds of questions.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, is that not a trite answer. I can almost see the solicitor general's lips moving from the ventriloquism of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I want the hon. member to go directly to his question.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, my direct question to the solicitor general is, will he give this House the assurance that there has been no ongoing influence by him or his government over the Liberals' friend Shirley Heafey who has been appointed and over her decisions as chair of this commission?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, yes I can give that assurance.

TaxationOral Question Period

December 7th, 1998 / 2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the industry minister, high tax levels if anything increase productivity. The industry minister thinks that high taxes help Canadians. He is the second most senior economic minister in the entire cabinet. Is the finance minister increasing taxes on January 1 because he thinks it helps Canadians? Is that why?