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House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Gander—Grand Falls Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

George Baker LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, the majority of the so-called 19 investigations concern ACOA. Four of them involve investigations when grants were given by the Tories when they were in power.

Three of them involve only provincial government shares in those particular grants. Only two of them involve money that was only from ACOA. In both those cases no money was disbursed. The question is in the application, so the opposition questions are full of sound and fury but the racket signifies nothing.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note the new minister of human resources development did not mention the fact that he has failed to call in the police about the violation of the Financial Administration Act.

Departmental Q and As and briefing notes refer to widespread disregard of this law. Let me quote from one of them: “It would appear that this section of the FAA was not respected”. In other words, the minister's department thought that the law had been broken.

Was it the fact that the Prime Minister was involved that kept the police from being called?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes reference to something that we have discussed in the House on a number of occasions. I talked about the trust funds on November 4 and 5 and on several other days subsequent to that.

I repeat again that it was an administrative error which was made in establishing the trust funds. It was an error done in good faith by an employee. In such a case the appropriate remedy is to correct the mistake, and that is what we have done.

If the hon. member thinks that the employee was acting in bad faith, that it was corrupt, that somehow there was fraud involved, then let him bring forward that information.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the minister should be held responsible for the actions of her department.

The Prime Minister's riding got more money from this minister than whole provinces with populations 32 times the size of Shawinigan. Fully one-third or 33% of the recipients donated to his campaign. This is all about political interference.

If she does not believe me she could listen to her own employees' radio ads. I ask again was it her boss' interference that kept her from calling the cops.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, these questions are absolutely incredible. If there was political interference then why did we invest $77 million in the riding of Saskatoon—Humboldt? Why were there $57 million of grants and contributions in the riding of Prince George—Peace River? Why were there $52 million in Nanaimo—Cowichan?

As I have said time and again in the House, the grants and contributions from the Department of Human Resources Development Canada are invested in ridings of all members of the House. They are there to support Canadian individuals who have disabilities, young people, those who want—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Sometimes when members are standing either to ask a question or give an answer the microphones are on at the next desk and are sometimes are picking up your voices.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is amazing and surprising is that the minister defends good faith errors instead of lifting a finger to do something about that kind of incompetence. There are very few places where that kind of incompetence is applauded. I am sure she will get—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. We will hear the question from the member.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are very few places where incompetence will get applause but there will be a lot of it this weekend, I am sure, for the minister at the Liberal convention.

Her own employees have taken out radio ads to distance themselves from the minister's incompetence. They warned against illegal trust funds in the Prime Minister's riding because, as they said, it would appear the Financial Administration Act was not respected.

If the minister were really concerned about rule breaking in her department, why did she not call the police when she found out about these trust funds?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I have said on a number of occasions, when I discovered that these trust funds had been created I asked the officials to look at them closely. I would like to quote from a letter from my deputy minister to me on this very issue wherein she wrote:

While the creation of a trust fund as a mechanism to flow funds is unusual, it is not prohibited by the Financial Administration Act. Our management approach on learning of such issues is remedial rather than punitive unless there is evidence of fraud or theft, in which case we refer the matter to the police for investigation.

In this case there was no indication of fraud or theft and, as I said before, if they have information then let them bring it forward.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the information comes from the minister's own employees. She says she is going to look at the information closely, but she is not lifting a finger to do anything about it. She takes it as an opinion instead of doing something about it.

We do not ask these questions just to watch the minister blush. We want an answer to these questions because she has not answered why there has been a policy of violating an act of parliament that has gone untouched by her department.

Why did she not inform the police? Was it because she was afraid of being caught, or was it that she was trying to protect the Prime Minister?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again all I can say is this is more Reform mythology. In all these undertakings what we see is members of that party talking about in the first instance $3 billion missing, and that is not the case. Why do they not say that? They then said $1 billion were missing. That is not the case. Why do they not say that?

In this case we have closed the trust funds and taken action, yet they persist. If they have information then bring it forward or else—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

An hon. member

Shut up.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

—admit they are wrong.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Of course the word shut up is not parliamentary, but I told members about open microphones.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, several aspects of the Placeteco affair remain rather troubling. A sum of $1 million was used to pay off a National Bank of Canada loan; $200,000 is still unaccounted for.

Will the minister tell us whether she intends to call for an investigation into Placeteco?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again we are talking about a file that has been discussed in this place on a number of occasions: on June 10, 1999; on November 4 and 5, 1999; and on March 13 and 15, 2000.

My officials have confirmed, as I have said to the House, that the moneys invested in Placeteco were for expenditures that were according to the terms and conditions of the program. Again I say in this case we are one partner and this undertaking was supported by the Government of Quebec.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised by the minister's answer.

She told us to get in touch with her department for information, which we did. They told us that they could not give us the information about Placeteco that we requested because the project was currently under investigation.

I would like to know who is telling the truth: departmental officials, who tell us that the project is under investigation, or the minister, who tells us that there is no investigation, or perhaps she does not know? Who is telling the truth in all this? Why is it that we are being told that the project is under investigation?

It is her department that has answered us. I will send her the letter. She tells us there is no investigation. Who is telling the truth?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have answered questions almost on a daily basis on this file. I say again that the expenditures to this company were according to the terms and conditions of the transitional jobs fund program.

This program has created employment opportunities for Canadians who otherwise would not have had them. I say again that we are but one partner and this undertaking was supported by the municipality, by the company, and by headquarters of the Bloc Quebecois, the Government of Quebec.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, this gets harder and harder to understand.

On the one hand, the minister does not know that Placeteco is under investigation and, on the other hand, her department tells us that it is. I will read her the letter again: “In response to your request, we are unable to send you the information you requested because this project is currently under investigation”.

Will the minister tell us whether there is an investigation under way, yes or no?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am standing here answering questions on this particular file. We have talked about this undertaking and again we find we have an investment that is ensuring that people in the province of Quebec are working when they otherwise would not be.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the minister presents a sorry spectacle.

Either the officials' information is inaccurate, or the minister has completely lost control of her department.

Does the minister intend, yes or no, to have Placeteco investigated, now that we have provided her with all the facts?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to give an answer and I am glad to say that in the case of Placeteco we have a transitional jobs fund that is according to the terms and conditions of the program.

Employees are working where they would not otherwise. In fact, as is usual in all these cases, we are one partner and this was viewed to be an appropriate investment in the province of Quebec for the people of that province.

RailwaysOral Question Period

March 17th, 2000 / 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been quoted as saying that one of his goals has been to prevent the Americanization of Canada. To me this sounds passing strange for someone who allowed a major piece of Canadian infrastructure, the CNR, to go from being wholly owned by the Canadian people to being largely owned by American shareholders.

That being said, we now have another proposal before us which is the proposed merger between the CNR and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads.

I want to ask the Minister of Transport, given the many concerns that have been raised about this, how does the government propose that this issue be dealt with, both in terms of process and in terms of some of the concerns that—