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House of Commons Hansard #201 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, for more than two weeks the Prime Minister has been avoiding questions about government grants being funnelled to personal associates. He sits on his hands in question period. He avoids reporters. He will not release documents. Access to information requests are censored.

Why does the government think that the Prime Minister does not have to account for his conduct or his ethics in this matter?

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the government, myself and other ministers have been quite open and upfront about this. The projects in the Prime Minister's area have been broadly supported by the community, the provincial government and the local PQ MNA; no friends of the Prime Minister or the Liberal Party. We were upfront and open. This is perfectly proper.

If the hon. member does not want to see the area go ahead economically, then the public should realize that he is against jobs in that area and across the country.

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is not about jobs. A convicted criminal named Yvon Duhaime received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government after he bought a money-losing hotel from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's assistant personally intervened in the process.

Pierre Thibault, another businessman with a crooked track record, also met with the Prime Minister and soon he gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in public grants.

Why does the Prime Minister not tell us about his private dealings with these people? Why will he not release all of his notes and records on these transactions?

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, these have not been private dealings. When it comes to the hotel convention centre in downtown Shawinigan, the Prime Minister has never kept his involvement, as the local MP, a secret, nor have the mayor and council of the city of Shawinigan, nor has the provincial MNA. This project has been strongly supported by the PQ provincial government. It has also been strongly supported by the city and council of Shawinigan. This has been open, desired and supported by the community.

The Prime Minister, as the local MP, has worked for his community. There is nothing wrong with that.

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about jobs. We are not talking about local communities. We are not talking about the Prime Minister associating with his imaginary homeless friends. We are talking about his association with crooked business people, a convicted criminal and an embezzler, both receiving government grants.

Why would the Prime Minister have dealings with these people in the first place? Why does he not disclose the nature of these dealings and clear the air?

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, these are unwarranted innuendoes and assertions. The Leader of the Opposition is accusing the mayor and council of Shawinigan of associating with crooked people. He is accusing the local PQ member of the provincial assembly of associating with crooked people. He is attacking the PQ provincial government of associating with crooked people. Those assertions are false. They are false on the face of it and they are false on the basis of any analysis.

If the hon. member had any courage and was straightforward he would withdraw these insinuations. He is refusing to—

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I am sure that no one's courage is under question in the question period.

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister lobbied for grant money for a former business associate. There is a difference. This is a conflict of interest. Not just with one letter did the Prime Minister lobby, but with letters, faxes and personal visits from the Prime Minister's own assistant.

The person the Prime Minister was lobbying for was Yvon Duhaime who bought a money-losing hotel from him.

I ask, and I would like to get a real answer this time, in all of that lobbying, why did the Prime Minister not reveal this conflict of interest?

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I reject the assertion of the hon. member that there was a conflict of interest. He looked into the matter as MP. He had a representative of his office attend meetings with officials. As far as I am aware, the decisions were made at other meetings where the Prime Minister and his staff were not involved and the decisions were made in the ordinary course, on the merits of the project.

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the list grows because Pierre Thibault also had the benefit of the Prime Minister's intervention.

He has admitted misappropriating a million dollars from a company in Belgium. He is under criminal investigation, yet the Prime Minister met with him and, abracadabra, hundreds of thousands of dollars became available to him for a hotel. The Prime Minister must remember that place. After all, that is where he hosted the Liberal caucus last summer.

Why is the Prime Minister using his influence to funnel government money to shady characters in Shawinigan?

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is doing the same thing that members are expected to do at the request of their communities. When the Prime Minister was asked to be involved, to help the community and the project supported by the mayor and council of Shawinigan, supported by the PQ member of the provincial assembly, supported by the provincial government, I think he would be subject to criticism if he had not responded to the request of his community, including the tourism association of the community.

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the Minister of External Affairs disregarded the opinion of a jury of experts, who had the benefit of advice from senior officials of his department and from Canada's ambassador to Germany, and decided to award the contract to build the Canadian embassy in Berlin to a consortium that included a firm of architects from Winnipeg.

Will the minister explain why he overturned the jury's six to one decision, and awarded the embassy contract to a consortium with an office in Winnipeg? This is another suspicious piece of business.

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it was very simple. There were four very distinct criteria. One was design. Another was functionality, including serious questions of security, which has to be a major concern in any embassy construction. Cost was another criteria. The fourth criteria was how it would work as an embassy. Those were the four major areas, of which design was only one.

I should point out to the hon. member that there was also a firm from Montreal which was part of that consortium.

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, how does the minister explain that the only member of the jury of experts to come from Winnipeg voted in favour of the design proposed by the Winnipeg firm, and that the minister, who is also from Winnipeg as it happens, decided to award this juicy contract to a consortium, one of whose firms is based in his Winnipeg riding?

Is it not odd that the only member of the jury to vote for the design chosen by the minister, the firm preferred by the minister, and the minister himself, all have Winnipeg in common?

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is just being silly. The major design firm was from Toronto. It was supported by associates from Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, which provided various engineering and other support services.

I do not know how the jury worked. I was not there. However, what I can say is that we will have a very good embassy that will represent Canadian interests and be a showcase for Canada in the new Europe.

We should all be proud of the work that Canadians are doing in this area.

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, when a jury is split three to three or four to four, naturally the government has to be able to cast the deciding vote. But when, as in the Berlin case, the jury makes an almost unanimous recommendation, then it is surprising.

How can the minister claim that he overturned the jury's decision because of special security requirements, when a senior official from his department and the ambassador himself were assigned to help jury members make the best decision? Was it not the specific function of these two individuals to provide the jury with guidance?

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the jury was made up of a group of design people who were arranged to make a judgment, of which a small, final selection was made, including the final project that was applied.

At the same time there were separate reviews being done on the question of functionality, which included a wide variety of performance criteria; cost, which is always a concern when constructing public buildings; and the technical working of the building to suit the particular nature of the site in downtown Berlin.

The point of the matter, which hon. members of the Bloc missed, as they do most points, is that design was only one among four—

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Roberval.

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is doing a very poor job of defending himself. A firm from Winnipeg, which just happens to be in his riding, was given a leg up and that is what concerns us.

The minister invited three top German architects to sit on the jury in order to ensure that the Canadian embassy fit in well on the Berlin site. These three experts voted unanimously for the same project, as did other members of the jury. Only one person was in favour of the Winnipeg project.

How does the minister explain that he went with the opinion of one jury member from Winnipeg over the opinions of three German experts?

Canadian Embassy In BerlinOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are not in the habit of letting foreigners decide what Canadian embassies will look like. Canadians will make that decision.

In this case the firms chosen were firms that have won awards, firms from Montreal, firms from Toronto, firms from Winnipeg, firms from Vancouver. It seems that that represents a pretty good cross-section of the Canadian fabric, and Canadian knowledge and skills.

Foreign InvestmentOral Question Period

March 22nd, 1999 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, who many years ago authored a report about foreign investment in Canada. The sale of Spar Aerospace, and with it the Canadarm, has raised concerns once again about foreign investment in Canada and the extent of it. Investment Canada reports that 796 foreign acquisitions took place in 1998, only 28 were reviewed, all were approved, and this constituted $63 billion in one year in foreign acquisitions.

Is the government not concerned about the extent of foreign acquisitions? If it is concerned, what does it plan to do about it?

Foreign InvestmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as I was quoted as saying over the weekend, the acquisition of Spar by MDA is saddening. However, it is important to point out that in the context of this deal the acquisition by MDA, previously by Orbital, has resulted in an increase in employment at MDA in Richmond, British Columbia. It has enabled it to compete effectively, in fact so well that it won the RADARSAT II contract which was open to bidding.

We are confident that in the long run the investment in the robotics division will continue to maintain Canadian leadership.

Foreign InvestmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is not just a question of short term jobs; it is also a question of long term control over our economy.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister again, hearkening back to another day: What has happened to the Liberal Party that brought in the Foreign Investment Review Agency, the national energy program and a number of other measures that expressed concern about foreign control, in particular American control of the Canadian economy? Is this no longer on the government's agenda? Is it simply a matter of Canada being up for sale and the highest bidder take all? Is that the situation we are in?

Foreign InvestmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his ongoing support of Liberal government policies. We will continue with our policies in the best interests of Canada as we respond to current and future situations. His key support of the Liberal Party will be noted in the byelection in Windsor.

Building ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jim Jones Progressive Conservative Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, Yvon Duhaime is a convicted criminal with financial problems. Pierre Thibault stole a million bucks from his business partners and is under criminal investigation in Belgium. Yet thanks to help from the Prime Minister, Duhaime got over $800,000 in federal loans and grants, while Thibault got the big prize of $1.5 million, both for hotel projects in the Prime Minister's riding.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister clear the air and table all documents related to the Prime Minister's support of Pierre Thibault and Yvon Duhaime?