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House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was yea.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we came clean with the Canadian public. We made the internal audit public. We presented to the House 10,000 pages of projects. I wonder when members of that party will come clean with the Canadian public and say that they were wrong when they said $3 billion was missing, that they were wrong when they said $1 billion was missing, that they were wrong when they said it was an access to information request—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me just tell the minister that we are getting close with all of these investigations going on. It will be surprising how much money they actually do come up with.

I would have thought that with a week away from the House she could have come up with a better strategy than that.

In August her officials had a plan to release the internal audit. They chose three strategies: a transparent one, a semi-transparent one and a hide and seek version. The so-called reactive strategy involved the department carrying on business as usual until it got caught.

Why did the minister choose a “let us not get caught” strategy?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where that party has been, but it is me and my department that made this internal audit public. It is my department that chose to implement a six point plan that is now making a difference.

From the point of view of the work of the Human Resources Development Department, we are taking this very seriously. We have said that over and over again and I, quite frankly, do not know where these questions are coming from.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you where this party has been. We have been filing access to information requests because this minister was not forthcoming.

Let me also add that the minister continues to say that she came forward with her little six point plan and everything was going to be all right. The only reason she made this plan public was because she knew she had been caught in the act.

Was the minister gambling that this little plan would be uncovered before the next election?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I categorically deny that it was an access to information request that made this report public. It is very clear from letters between myself and my deputy that I took this very seriously. It is clear that the approach which we have taken is one of transparency and openness.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, HRDC it will be recalled appointed Mr. Champagne, the lawyer of Claude Gauthier, to be trustee of the $1.2 million grant to be paid to the same Claude Gauthier once the Placeteco purchase had been completed. In the light of these facts, the minister said job creation was important.

Accordingly, how can the Minister of Human Resources Development justify the fact that her department's grant to Placeteco was in fact used by its new owner, Claude Gauthier, to pay off a million dollar loan the company had with the National Bank?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me repeat for the umpteenth time that in these transitional jobs fund grants we are but one partner. Over and over again it was the Government of Quebec that also accepted and supported these programs.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Human Resources Development Canada and the Government of Canada are administering and managing the funds.

A trust was set up, contrary to the opinion of Treasury Board. The lawyer, Claude Gauthier, acted for the company and for the trust, which seems normal to the minister. He is a friend of the Prime Minister and this must be why. It is also contrary to Treasury Board directives. Using $1 million to not create jobs is irregular and abnormal.

Could the minister tell us if the reason is not because there was pressure from the Prime Minister's office to help his friends and pay back the National Bank with the money that was supposed to be used to create jobs?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me remind the hon. member yet again that these undertakings were part of a partnership. They were community economic development strategies that were supported by the communities themselves, by the private sector, by the Government of Quebec and in some small way by the Government of Canada.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to continue with the Placeteco affair.

When Placeteco had placed itself under the protection of the bankruptcy protection act, Mr. Gauthier purchased the company for one dollar, with a commitment to invest $200,000 in it. Now that we know where the first $1 million went, we are still trying to find out about the other $200,000.

Can the minister tell us whether her department really knows what this $200,000 was used for?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I am glad to confirm again to the House is this. Placeteco has just signed a three-year collective agreement with its employees and it has signed a five-year contract for $8 million with a major aeronautical company.

This partnership, which has been agreed to by the local community with the Government of Quebec and with the federal government, is creating jobs for people in a region of high unemployment.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I am not all that surprised at the minister's response. What became of the $200,000 is still not known. Giving that kind of answers seems to be the only thing she knows how to do.

Will the government finally initiate a public and independent inquiry into all of her department's activities, or will she launch a fourth RCMP investigation in the Prime Minister's riding?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again, as part of our undertakings we have implemented a plan that will make a difference.

I want to remind the hon. member that the auditor general will be completing a full review of grants and contributions in the Department of Human Resources Development Canada. As an arm's length agent of this body, I am sure the hon. member would appreciate that he is the one who can best review and advise in this regard.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Federal neglect and the NAFTA mean that Alberta's retreat into two tier Americanized, privatized health care may soon be forced on all Canadians. Why will the current health minister not stand to be counted, as some previous health ministers are doing?

Why will the current health minister not just oppose Alberta's health privatization law clearly and unequivocally? What is he waiting for?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, we are looking at the legislation—and, indeed, I would like to see the regulations as well—to determine whether it complies with the Canada Health Act.

I was in Alberta last week and took the opportunity to say to Albertans and all Canadians that we do not believe private, for profit hospitals is the way to go. They are no less costly, they have longer waiting lists and there are issues of quality.

We have urged the Alberta government to reconsider. Private, for profit is not the answer to problems facing medicare.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is unbelievable. Rome is burning, health is in crisis, and the minister continues to fiddle.

Canadians do not want a two tier health system. Nor do they want Americans to play doctor with their health. That is clear.

Is the minister going to follow the advice of his predecessors? Is he going to clearly oppose privatization in Alberta?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, what I find puzzling is why the New Democratic Party will not join with us in the work we are doing to renew medicare within the principles of the Canada Health Act.

What the NDP governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. and the federal NDP are doing instead are playing into the hands of the Reform Party, those on the right who do not want the Canada Health Act.

The real enemies of medicare are over there on the right in the Reform Party. If they think those people are bad, wait until they hear the views of Stockwell Day on the subject.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, for months questions concerning the unprecedented mismanagement of millions of taxpayer dollars have gone unanswered in the House. The minister and Prime Minister have taken pains to minimize the enormous case of fiscal irresponsibility.

Almost daily now we have been advised of more RCMP investigations. We know of at least 19 grants now currently under investigation, three in the Prime Minister's riding, and one where charges have been laid.

Will the minister now restore some faith in her department by disclosing the full number of grants which she is aware of that are under investigation, active, completed or pending?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have been as transparent as is appropriate to the House with regard to this particular issue.

The hon. member knows that these issues are before the police and therefore the question should be addressed to the police.

Indian Affairs And Northern DevelopmentOral Question Period

March 13th, 2000 / 2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the minister is so transparent, we can see right through her.

We know that there is systemic mismanagement present in other government departments, such as CIDA and now Indian Affairs and Northern Development. In 1971 the Prime Minister was the minister of Indian affairs and he stated:

—we cannot spend millions of dollars without developing some criteria and rules for the administration of those moneys.

And yet, in an audit released while parliament was not sitting, as expected, why is the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development still doling out money to native chiefs if they are refusing to account for their spending?

Indian Affairs And Northern DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, that is not the policy and it is not what we are doing.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the human resources minister told the House on February 7: “I am not trying to hide anything. I made the report public”.

But new documents show the truth. Last fall the minister deliberately chose not to make the audit public unless she was forced to do so. How can the minister square her claim to transparency with her choice of the so-called reactive strategy?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I counter it with fact.

The fact is, it is our department that made the audit public. The fact is, it is our department that has provided over 10,000 pages of information to members of the House.

We have gone well beyond the most proactive strategy suggested in what the hon. member is referring to. Quite frankly, that was only a draft report.