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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Withdraw, withdraw.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I would invite my colleagues to please stay away from the word misleading. It incites us a little more.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there was an audit that was asked for. They do that under the authority of the deputy minister, and the deputy minister knows what is going on in his office. He knew there was an audit, so there was absolutely nothing to quarrel with.

I have to be candid with the House and report that I have received the last note about the number of cases, the 37 that have been reviewed. Seven have been reviewed representing $11,937,000. In five there was absolutely no overpayment and two had overpayment of $250.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. A random sample of over 60,000 receiving one billion tax dollars showed almost no checking, supervision or tracking. Eight per cent showed even worse wrongdoing. There are 60,000 cases of virtually uncontrolled spending with nearly 5,000 of those so bad we may never get to the bottom of it.

Why is the Prime Minister covering up the massive size of the problems in HRDC?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the auditors of the department have been reviewing the files. They have done it in a very professional way. They have been in contact with the auditor general who has accepted the work. The auditor general has said in a public letter that what the department and the minister are doing is the right thing to do.

When the opposition talked about a billion dollars I reported that in $11 million of so-called problems there was an overpayment of a little bit more than $250.

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister seemed favourable to the idea of having the legislative committee on Bill C-20 broaden its hearings to include not just experts, but other groups with opinions to offer.

According to the Prime Minister, the bill is at the top of the government's list of priorities. If this bill is as important as the government would have us believe, does the Prime Minister not think that he should let the public express its views, and that the best way for it to do that is to have the committee travel throughout Quebec?

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question.

This is a bill that affects all provinces in Canada and that will be studied by the House of Commons committee. The committee will decide who may appear before it, but we hope that the bill will be passed as quickly as possible, because it is not a major concern of the public right now.

The public wants us to address other problems, such as job creation, health, tax relief; things of interest to Quebecers and the rest of Canadians.

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's remarks are a bit strange, because his parliamentary leader said that it was the government's priority, and now the Prime Minister is telling us it is not important.

However, if the problem is about travelling only to Quebec, and the Prime Minister thinks the committee should travel throughout Canada, no problem; we would go along with that.

So I ask him, because it is well known that the Liberal members on the committee receive their orders from Cabinet—that is no secret; everyone knows that is how it works. I would like the Prime Minister's opinion. Does he agree, yes or no, that the committee should travel throughout Canada, as the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans did. I imagine this is just as important.

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is an important bill which is being debated in the House, and which will be considered in committee next week. The committee will do its job; it will hear from a certain number of witnesses, and the House of Commons will be able to make its views clearly known.

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister and the government House leader suggested that individuals and groups would be allowed to testify before the legislative committee, as was the case with the parliamentary committee that reviewed the issue of linguistic school boards, in 1997.

Can the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs confirm that the Liberal majority of the legislative committee will accept that representative groups from Quebec may be heard by the committee?

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

As all hon. members know, the committees are responsible for their own agenda. In my opinion the question is out of order, but if the government House leader wishes to address it, he may do so.

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, less than 24 hours ago, the hon. member's leader in the House sent me a memo asking me to address this issue on behalf of the government. I promised that I would give him an answer by the weekend.

It seems to me that the hon. member should speak to his leader to find out what was agreed on yesterday. We will of course provide a very clear answer.

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and I talk to each other, but we would also like to get the opinion of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Does the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs want representative groups from Quebec to be heard by his committee? Does he want, for example, Canadian groups also to be heard, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, which are asking the minister to withdraw the bill he introduced in this House?

Bill C-20Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the committee will determine its own agenda.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

February 9th, 2000 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government is withholding information that Canadians have a right to know. What is worse, it is twisting information to conceal the truth for its own purposes.

Why does the government not just come clean with the facts and table the detailed documentation already prepared at public expense on a riding by riding basis of all HRDC grants and contributions?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, members have information available then so that they can ask questions. These questions will be answered according to the formula.

I can understand that opposition parties are jealous because the other ministers and I are well prepared for oral question period.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it looks like the Prime Minister has already used up all his lifelines.

When a government deliberately conceals information from its own citizens there is a name for it. It is called cover-up. Why does the government not stop concealing the information—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. leader of the New Democratic Party can begin her question again if she wishes.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as we know when the government deliberately conceals information from its own citizens there is a name for it. It is called cover-up. Why is the government refusing to disclose all the information riding by riding on all of the HRDC contributions and grants?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this information is public information. Quite frankly, I am surprised that the hon. member does not know what tax dollars are being spent in her riding of Halifax. I would suggest that she go to her Human Resources Development Canada office, sit down with the director and go through all the projects.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a very straightforward and specific question for the minister. Would the Minister of HRDC please advise the House of the exact date on which she was first advised of the problems that were uncovered by the internal audit of her department?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this is public knowledge. I received a briefing on the full internal audit on November 17.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the minister has told us she knows where the money is, but does she know how the money was spent?

In March 1998, HRDC released a list of TJF grants awarded that year. On the second updated list produced in December 1999, mysteriously 20 companies that received $8.2 million had been deleted.

If there is no cover-up why did these companies disappear from the list and where did the $8 million go?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, if the member would like to provide me with that information I will review it and provide him with an answer.