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House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Canada Savings BondsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see the hon. member. I have not seen him since 6.30 this morning when he voted both ways on the clarity bill.

Let me say that decision has not been taken and it is not being contemplated.

Canada Savings BondsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, at least I admit my mistakes. This minister tries to cover his up.

The fact is that the decision has been made. I have an internal document from Roy Flett, the chief of GSS with the Bank of Canada, who said

I have been asked...to prepare Government Securities Services...to move the Retail Debt operations outside the bank. Achieving this objective will be my main preoccupation over the next 12 to 18 months.

If the decision has not been made, why is a senior bureaucrat devoting the next 12 to 18 months of his life to making it happen?

Canada Savings BondsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member ought to know that the Bank of Canada administers the Canada savings bonds. In fact the marketing is done by Canada Investment and Savings which is an agency of the Department of Finance.

What is being examined is whether the status quo should exist or that they might merge the two under the Department of Finance. I would simply remind the hon. member that the Department of Finance is part of the public sector of this country.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

March 15th, 2000 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, on November 4 the minister told the House that she found no breach of the law when HRDC funds were put in a trust in the Prime Minister's riding so that they would not lapse at the end of the fiscal year, completely contrary to what is stated in section 37 of the FAA.

The minister's opinion does not count for much in a situation like this. I want to know from the minister, has she referred this matter to the RCMP.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again it is clear to all that there are administrative improvements that we can make in our department with regard to the management of grants and contributions. That is a fact.

It is also a fact that along with the men and women who are employees of the human resources development department we have a plan that is being implemented to improve this undertaking.

Those are the facts and that is what this story is all about.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, right now employees of her department are trying to defend themselves in radio ads because of her incompetence in running that department.

We are not merely talking about an administrative matter; we are talking about a potential breach of the law.

I am suggesting to the minister that the actions of her department have violated section 37 of the Financial Administration Act. She has said that is not the case. She has offered that opinion to the House but her opinion in this matter does not count for anything.

Has the minister referred it to the RCMP?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have had the chance to talk to the employees of my department on a number of occasions. They are not defending themselves from me. They are defending themselves from the maligning that they are receiving from that party.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, in the course of the Human Resources Development Canada administrative scandal, we learned that Vidéotron had to give back $220,000 for 44 jobs that were not created.

In the case of Placeteco, $1 million of the $1.2 million grant was used to pay off debts rather than create jobs, and $200,000 has been lost track of.

Are we to understand that Placeteco will receive the same treatment as Vidéotron and that repayment will be required?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the particular file to which the hon. member is making reference, I can confirm as I have before that there were administrative problems with this particular file.

I can also confirm that my department has verified that the company provided invoices for supplies and salary costs which covered the amount of the transitional jobs fund contribution, and that in fact payments to the sponsor were consistent with the terms and the conditions of the transitional jobs fund program.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the grant money was to create jobs, not to pay bills.

Since at least $1 million was used for purposes other than creating jobs, should she not require an investigation into this case as well?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I will say again that the invoices we received were appropriate with the context of the transitional jobs fund program.

Speaking about jobs, there are 159 people, who otherwise would not be working, who are working as a result of this program.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has not denied that the grant rules were broken in the House today.

Documents from her own department state, and I quote “The minister and the deputy minister have instructed us to follow the rules starting immediately”.

If the minister had to tell her department to start following the rules immediately, what was she telling them before this point?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again I will confirm that the employees of the department are working very hard to implement the six point plan. The men and women of this department are working overtime to review the files and implement the aspects of the plan that will make a difference in the structure that is so important to us.

I would ask the members of that party to remind themselves that it was not too long ago that they were asking me to fire employees in my department. Now they seem to be defending them. Which way would they have it?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is very clear is that the minister is refusing to answer these very serious questions.

The minister's department did not follow the law. They had to be instructed to start doing so. They said things like this “Do we really have to start these measures before this year end?”

If following the rules was not a new practice for the minister, why did her department have to ask about when to start following the rules?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again let me be clear. The department is implementing a plan that will improve the administration of our grants and contributions. We have made that a priority for the department. We have already showed the results of the plan with the closing of the 37 files and the recapturing of any overpayments with the exception of just over $600.

Together as a team we are improving the activities of our department and that, quite frankly, is what Canadians expect.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development has spent days in this House justifying the fact that her riding received grants under the transitional jobs fund citing the famous pockets of poverty criterion.

How can the minister decently justify the grants received in her own riding by talking of pockets of poverty, when her officials tell us that this criterion did not exist at the time?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, that is not what the officials said at all.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister and her officials are totally contradicting each other.

Does the minister realize that she now bears the burden of proof and that she has no choice but to table in this House the documents proving that she and not her officials is right.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, time and again I have talked about the use and the value of the transitional jobs fund in my riding of Brant.

I would ask the hon. member to look at the local paper in my riding that was presented last week that went through every single one of these programs and found that there was nothing wrong.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, breaking the law was not an accident at HRDC, it was policy. The department's questions and answers—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Choose your words very carefully. The hon. member for Calgary West.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Reform Calgary West, AB

Breaking the rules was not an accident at HRDC, it was policy. The department's question and answer sheet produced after the audit says “The rules are not new; they are just being enforced”. Officials are being told to disregard the rules and all for partisan political gain.

What made the minister think that she could break the law—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

From what I heard, the question is in order. The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again let me categorically reject the allegations made by the hon. member.

What was policy in my department was to ensure that these important grants and contributions got administered in the ridings of each and every one of the members of the House and that includes members of the Reform Party. They know that when they are back home in their ridings the money that comes from the Government of Canada to help Canadians with disabilities, to help young people who have not been able to find jobs and to help in their communities where men and women do not have the opportunity for employment, is money well spent.