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House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will want to put his question right away.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, is not the real reason he is protecting the human resources minister that he knows the footprints lead right to the Prime Minister's doorstep?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the other day one of his Reform colleagues talked about Bre-X. I was thinking about that. There is a link between Bre-X and the Reform Party. In both cases there is nothing there.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development continues to deny responsibility in the administrative mess at Human Resources Development Canada. She said in this House on December 16 that no funding had been given out without prior authorization.

How in all respect for the House can she justify what she said here on December 16, since the firm of A. Trahan of Trois-Rivières received $76,000 from Human Resources Development Canada in 1997-98, authorization for which was not given until March 1999?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to all the points the hon. member is making, I am taking my job seriously. I am dealing with this information. We are implementing a new plan that will fix the challenges we have had in the management of our grants and contributions.

If I am understanding the particular project the hon. member is referring to, and we can check it again, it is my understanding with absolute clarity that there was a contract in place in advance of the announcement. It was approved by the member of parliament for the region. It was approved and supported by the Government of Quebec. Yes, there were amendments to that contract, but everything was in order before the announcement was made.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, nevertheless, the minister cannot deny that she said on December 16 that grants had all been given with prior authorization by her department.

Why did she make such a statement when she knew then that the Ropak company in the riding of Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies had received an unapproved grant of $181,174 in 1996-97, with approval being given only in January 1999?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may correct the comments that I made on December 16 to the House. Those comments were made directly in relationship to the particular projects that had been asked about by the Reform Party. If the hon. member would take the time to read Hansard he would understand that.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think I could have given a better answer than that one. The Prime Minister has been likened to the godfather of grants and contracts. Donate to his campaign and one has a 33% chance of getting a grant or a contract, so the bureaucrats and the managers of HRDC have to bend the rules.

How else can the minister explain that one-third of the projects got upward amendments to the original dollar amount requested?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what we know to be true is that this opposition party has no interest in having a Government of Canada that participates with its citizens and communities to improve the opportunities that could be made for those who need support.

What we know on this side of the House is that these people would shut down all grants and contributions. What they would have is for every man and woman to look out for themselves. On this side of the House, our Prime Minister understands that the Government of Canada can have a direct influence on the lives of Canadians, and we stand behind him.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, for more than a year now the official opposition has been raising concerns about the grant and contribution process at Human Resources Development Canada. Yesterday the minister said:

With reference to the transitional jobs fund, I have answered numerous questions in the House...If the hon. member checks Hansard he will see that I was also forthcoming about the administrative problems with that program.

I suggest that the minister has a strange definition of forthcoming. However, since she was told of these problems months ago, why did she do nothing to address them until we exposed her billion dollar bungle?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, just on that very point, yesterday at committee the officials in charge of access to information stated that there was no access request from that party on the internal audit until two days after we made it public.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development has just told this House that what she said here on December 16 pertained to the project referred to in the question of my Reform colleague, that is the projects in the Prime Minister's riding.

What can she say about the project of the Auberge Mastigouche in the riding of the Prime Minister, which received $300,000 in grants from the budget ending in March 1998, when approval followed only eight months later? What can she say about that?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what we know as far as transitional jobs fund programs go is that they have made a true difference in the ridings of members with high unemployment. That includes the hon. member for Saint-Maurice.

The transitional jobs fund has created 30,000 jobs for Canadians that did not exist before. I would note again that in every case the approval process had to include concurrence from the Government of Quebec.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, what has gone on here is very serious. The minister is denying one of the statements she made on December 16, or, rather, is justifying it by saying “I was not talking about all the projects. It was not about those you are referring to. It was about those I was being questioned on in the Prime Minister's riding”.

I have just shown that in the riding of the Prime Minister, in the case of this project, the situation is exactly the same. There are questions everyone is asking. What is she still doing here? Why is she not resigning? She misled the House.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am here as Minister of Human Resources Development Canada in this particular case to make sure that we fix the problem with administrative deficiencies in the management of grants and contributions. I am here to support our side of the House which believes that grants and contributions can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of Canadians.

My job is to fix the problem. We have a plan to implement it, and I am glad that my colleagues on this side of the House support me in doing that.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is holding a trust. Supposedly it collects public moneys to spend in the public interest. In order to ensure it occurs that way we have a Financial Administration Act that binds the minister and her department.

The minister has broken this law. In a democracy ministers resign—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I do not think the hon. member in preambles to questions should be suggesting that there has been any breaking of the laws of this country in the House. If he wishes to do that, there are proper ways of doing it and we will not have it in preambles to questions. He will proceed with his question directly.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, in a democracy ministers resign when they do not meet this standard. Why does the minister think she is above the law?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say again is that I am taking this undertaking very seriously. We have made it public. We have a plan of action that is going to fix the problem.

I would like to report to the House that today we have completed yet another file of the 37 with the John Howard Society. We have found that there is nothing untoward in that undertaking. We will continue to look at the remaining files and report to the House as the studies are completed.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, Saskatchewan grandmother and farmer, Lillian Kurtz, has been driven to hunger strike because the Liberal government is ignoring her pleas to address the farm income crisis. At the same time the HRDC minister has broken her own grant rules, unlawfully diverting taxpayers' money that could have helped people like Lillian.

Why is the Prime Minister turning his back on farmers like Lillian Kurtz while still allowing the HRDC minister to mismanage billions of dollars?

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the hon. member's premise is totally wrong. The government is providing over a billion and a half dollars of assistance to farmers in Saskatchewan and elsewhere. We are very concerned about their problems.

The allegation that the Minister of Human Resources Development is mismanaging government funds is totally wrong, totally unwarranted, not demonstrated by the audit, and the auditor general is carrying out his own audit. I am confident that this will confirm that the minister is carrying out the right approach in identifying and solving the problems through her six point program, which the auditor general has also approved.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

February 11th, 2000 / 11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister, whose statements in this House contradict her department's documents, as I just demonstrated, also told us to do our own research. She will not give us her lists, on the ground that we have access to them.

We checked. I phoned Mr. Gagné, the regional director for Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, who referred me to the minister's office. My colleague, the Bloc Quebecois leader, phoned in his riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie. He too was referred to the minister's office.

Not only does she contradict her own department's documents, but the minister is denying us access to them, contrary to what she told the House this week, and contrary to what the Prime Minister said.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to report to the House that the Deputy Minister of Human Resources Development spoke with all of the regional employment officials yesterday and advised them that they should tell all of their directors at the human resources development offices to be prepared—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

That's not true. False.