He wants to hear more. Perhaps I should not. You will shut me down for being unparliamentary.
How about Frank the Wrabbit . This is interesting. We must not let our imagination run off here. This is a film about how humans and rabbits formulate and justify beliefs. How much? $194,855.30.
How about rats. We will go from rabbits on to rats. Rats , a film about people who in some capacity are linked together by rats. The film explores the netherworld of the sewers in Toronto seen as a metaphor for the unconscious. Great stuff. The National Film Board was so enthusiastic that it threw $140,000 behind this effort.
I have not found a Canadian yet who agreed with the National Film Board, but that is how the money is being spent and it goes on. Strange Invaders , a portrayal of a happy couple who feel blessed by the sudden arrival of a small child—is that not wonderful—until they realize the child is an alien from outer space. Trash. Absolute, unadulterated trash which cost us $71,135.
Then we are back into pornography. A few weeks ago we had Bubbles Galore which cost us $55,000. The movie did win an award. It won the best film award at the Freakzone International Festival of Trash Cinema. It is right up there as the worst of trash or the best of trash, whichever way one wants it.
Now there is Stolen Moments , a film which combines the hidden aspects of lesbian history and of contemporary lesbian life and culture featuring well known lesbians for $40,000 hard-earned Canadian taxpayers' dollars down the drain.
My waste report goes on.
In 1997 the auditor general published a report about the Small Business Loans Act. He said this was going to cost us big time. The reason it was going to cost us big time was that the Liberal government increased the amount of money a person could borrow to 100% of the cost of what the person was trying to buy. For example, if someone wanted to buy a large piece of equipment costing $100,000, every prudent lender not just in the country but in the world would say “Put your money down and maybe we will help you to finance the rest”. But no, the government said the lender would give the person 100% of the cash and he or she would not have to put in a nickel. It was that simple. Is this good business? It is going to cost the taxpayer a bundle.
In the province of Quebec a franchisor had this great idea about selling hot dogs. To set up a hot dog franchise, between $25,000 and $50,000 had to be paid for the privilege of getting the franchise right to sell hot dogs. The franchisor put this money in his pocket. He collected $2.15 million, thank you very much, and he is gone. But the money he got had been borrowed from the bank and secured by the Small Business Loans Act. The taxpayer ended up paying over $3 million. One has to wonder if this thing was even legitimate.
Prudent lending? We have to question the competence of the bank manager. Obviously the franchisor had got the measure of this bank manager and convinced him it was a hot deal for hot dogs. One branch alone gave out 30 of these franchises and they all went bad. We picked up the tab. The auditor general told us about it in 1997 and the fruits are coming home.
It goes on. There are computers with legs on them. In my last waste report I talked about computers with legs. Now we find that even if the computers disappear, even if we know that they are stolen, nothing happens. It is not even reported to the police. They only report it to the police when they have the criminal by the neck. When they know who the criminal is, they tell the cops to arrest the fellow. If they do not know who it is, they say “Well, we guess we do not know who it is”. They do not want any disruption in the office by bringing in the police to say they are losing their computers.
We are paying for that. The taxpayers are paying for that. We are paying for the Senate. We are paying for this. We are paying for waste. We are paying for mismanagement. We are paying through the nose. The House leader gave a great and eloquent defence of the status quo, but we also have a great and eloquent defence of the status quo of mismanagement and waste when it could so easily be tackled.
This very afternoon in the public accounts committee, which I chair, we had officials of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development appear before us. The auditor general had pointed out some serious problems in that department, about how we are spending $6 billion a year through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Health Canada and so on, which is going right into the pockets of the first nations people. I have no problem helping them, but I would like to help them get up on their own feet.
When I read in the paper that some chiefs are collecting a salary in excess of $167,000 a year, tax free, and the people they are supposed to govern have absolutely nothing, and DIAND does not seem to care about it, and they admitted as much in committee this afternoon, I get a little upset. That taxpayer money is going straight into the coffers of the people who are supposed to administer it on behalf of the people they govern. They are robbing them blind and taking it for themselves. It is criminal. It cannot be allowed to continue. Yet the Liberals continue to allow it. We wonder why we keep having to pay more and more money in that direction. We need accountability.
In democracy two fundamental things are openness and transparency, where the books and the records are open for public inspection. We have had the situation in the last few weeks with the Prime Minister and whatever has been going on with the grants and so on in his riding. Openness and transparency are absolutely fundamental to a healthy democracy.
I asked the departmental officials this afternoon why it is that the financial statements of these first nations reserves are not made public. I got the answer. It is because they may have a small proprietorship or business, or whatever, and when they prepare consolidated financial statements that contain, built in there somewhere, buried in the numbers, revenues and expenditures pertaining to private business, then the whole thing has to be kept under wraps. The Privacy Act prevails, which says it cannot be made public.
Yet when I asked them if they could not separate government from private business, as we do in in the rest of Canada, as we do in the rest of the world, they said “Perhaps we could think about it so that we would be able to publish the financial statements of first nations which consider themselves to be government”. DIAND considers them to be government, and yet DIAND tolerates a situation where their financial statements and records and mismanagement are kept under wraps because of one little quirk that could be fixed any time the government wanted. The status quo is disgusting on Senate reform, in the way the Liberals handle first nations, in the way they tolerate waste and mismanagement and in the way that the whole government conducts its business.
Back in 1995 when we were voting on supply, as we will be voting on supply later this evening, we had about 150 votes to go. We thought we were going to be here all night and well into the next morning. We reached a compromise with the government that we would form a committee to address the situation, to bring some sanity and modern thinking, some accountability and governance into the management of the estimates.
The deputy whip, who was the chair of the committee, myself, a member of the Bloc and others worked on a committee and produced a report on the business of supply. It called for three fundamental things. First, that we as parliamentarians be given the right to move money from within a department from initiative a to initiative b if we felt that was appropriate because we are parliamentarians and we should have that kind of authority. We oversee government. Second, that we create an estimates committee to review on an ongoing, year round basis the estimates and the proposed spending of government. Third, that we introduce what is called program evaluation to look at the $100 billion in spending that will not be voted on this evening.
Program evaluation asks four fundamental questions of all program spending. It asks what is the public policy that the program is trying to achieve, which is fairly simple and yet it does not exist. Canadians say they cannot believe that the public policy of programs is not articulated.
Second, it goes on to ask how well this public policy is being addressed. Once that is articulated we can measure it. However, the government does not want to measure it. It just thinks that as long as it blithely spends the money and throws money at the wall some will stick. Waste and mismanagement is everywhere. Surely we could make progress.
It goes on to say that we should look at the efficiency of program delivery. Can we achieve the same results in a different way?
After two years of hard work we finally got the government response to the committee's all-party suggestions and recommendations, which it dismissed out of hand and said “No, we cannot change. It is too much of an effort to change. We do not want to bring accountability into government. We do not want to have to answer to Canadians about how their money is being spent”.
That is about the same response we had from the government House leader on his defence of the Senate. It was a defence of the status quo. The response to the business of supply was a defence of the status quo. “We do not want to change, even though we know how to change. We can change and we know that change will save billions of taxpayer dollars. It will give a more focused program delivery”. The government says it does not even want to hear about it. It reminds us of the three monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.
The government has the responsibility to manage the country. It has the responsibility to govern the country and it is abdicating that responsibility every day.