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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hrdc.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, what is missing is the smallest straight answer from the minister to even the simplest questions regarding her department. When asked about the notion of pockets of unemployment, the former deputy minister of her own department, now the top civil servant, said there were no such explicit guidelines.

If this is true, if pockets did not exist as explicit guidelines, then where did this document come from that the minister produced a few days ago?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again the whole intention of the transitional jobs fund was to help areas of high unemployment, to help build with our partners opportunities that otherwise would not exist.

If the hon. member would just take a trip up to northern British Columbia where many of her colleagues received this funding and talk to the individuals who are working in these companies, she would feel embarrassed about the question that she has asked.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 17, 1998, Human Resources Development Canada authorized trustee and lawyer Gilles Champagne to pay out $1,190,000 to Placeteco for the maintenance of 77 jobs and the creation of 42 new jobs.

How can the Prime Minister live with a Gilles Champagne, a HRDC trustee, who receives with his right hand approval to disburse the grant, and who then, with his left hand, as counsel for Claude Gauthier, takes that grant and says “Yes, I accept it”?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us review the facts again.

On a number of occasions in the House I have identified that there were administrative errors made on this file. On a number of occasions in the House I have identified that as a result of the continued investment in this company with our partners, Canadians continue to be working.

I would ask the hon. member what she would have had us do, nothing? Take the money back? If that is what she would have liked, then why does she not say so? From our point of view, the right thing to do was to ensure that the Canadians who were working were able to continue to do so.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the letter from Human Resources Development Canada authorizing payment of the grant stipulates that 42 new jobs be created, but the department has admitted that only one in fact was.

In this context, will Placeteco be paying back the excess grant money, as the Prime Minister announced and as Vidéotron has done?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again on this file I have confirmed that we have reviewed the invoices and that the invoices have been provided which substantiate the moneys that were invested in the company. In this file there are two companies that continue to employ people. As a result of these investments, 170 people are working in areas of high unemployment.

If members opposite have further questions on these files, perhaps they would refer them to the Government of Quebec which also supported these investments.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada's top public servant, Mel Cappe, told a committee this morning that there were no explicit guidelines for the use of this grant money in these so-called pockets of unemployment. The minister said there were guidelines but that they were flexible. Who are we supposed to believe, Canada's top public servant or the politician?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is in order but I would remind hon. members, please use our titles that we have in the House.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again there is no discrepancy between what the clerk has said and what has actually happened.

Indeed as I have said on a number of occasions, 75% of the money for the transitional jobs fund was to go to areas with higher than 12% unemployment. The other 25% was to go to communities that needed help, where investments would create spin-off opportunities, where we found within the boundaries of a larger community, areas of high unemployment.

Again I point out that the vast majority of communities that received moneys in areas of less than 12% were in opposition ridings. Many of them were ridings of the Reform Party.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister just said there was no discrepancy between what Mel Cappe said this morning and what the minister has been saying. In other words, she is telling the House and Canadians that there are absolutely no controls on the use of this money by politicians, by political leaders. That is unacceptable. That is why we have a problem in the country with the minister bungling the use of a billion dollars.

Is it the minister's position that there should be absolutely no controls on the use of taxpayers' money?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, probably I should offer an apology to the people of Alberta because if we did not have any flexibility in the program, not one cent from the program would have gone to that province. It would have been the same thing in British Columbia. It would have been the same thing in Saskatchewan. It would have been the same thing in Manitoba. But we knew there were pockets of unemployment in those four provinces and we adjusted the program to make sure that the money went into those provinces.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Michel Béliveau, the former director general of the Liberal Party of Canada's Quebec section, now the vice-president of the Liberal Party of Canada, who attended the Liberal convention on the weekend, who is a friend of the Prime Minister, is also a consultant for Placeteco.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Is it the presence of Mr. Béliveau, a friend of his in the Placeteco matter, that made him slow off the mark in calling for an investigation into this matter as he did in the case of the Canadian Institute of Tourism and Electronic Commerce?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I categorically reject the assertions of the hon. member. I say again, on a number of occasions we have talked about administrative errors made on this particular file. Those were corrected.

At the same time it is clear to us that continuing to invest in Placeteco and Techni-Paint was the wise thing to do. These projects were supported by the Bloc member in one case, by the Government of Quebec in both cases, and we see today that 170 people are working at those plants.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, everyone is wondering how the $1.2 million that went to Placeteco was given the way it was. That is the minister's explanation.

Then there is Claude Gauthier, who received a grant of $1.2 million and who bought the properties from the Prime Minister for $500,000; Gilles Champagne, who is a HRDC trustee and Claude Gauthier's lawyer; and Michel Béliveau, who is a friend of the Liberal Party and consultant for Placeteco.

Does the minister not think that there are enough coincidences, enough cronies in the Prime Minister's club, to ask what is going on and call for a public inquiry?

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

The question is in order. The 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 I would point out that it is the very close friends of that party opposite who also participated in this decision. The Government of Quebec supported these undertakings. If they have questions, why do they not talk to their government?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the public accounts list 10 long term loans to foreign countries made by the Export Development Corporation worth $685 million that are not repayable for up to 55 years. On top of that, EDC has agreed to charge zero per cent interest on these long term loans. That is no interest and no payments for up to 55 years. EDC policy is better than that of the Brick or Leon's no money miracle.

How can the government which is paying $43 billion interest on our debt at home justify giving these sweetheart deals to foreign countries?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the EDC is a very fine institution that has helped thousands of Canadian companies export to international markets. It is a very fine institution that has actually made money year after year. It made $118 million last year. It made $124 million the year before. It makes money with the loans it gives on a commercial basis while all the time helping Canadian companies abroad.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I appeal to you once again that when it is difficult for me to hear a response it must be more difficult for you.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is a case in point. The Export Development Corporation loaned $200 million to China interest free and not due until the year 2042. This is the government that charges interest on Canada student loans six months after graduation of the students but gives interest free loans to the Government of China for up to 55 years.

Can the minister explain why a country like China which enjoys a tremendous trade surplus over Canada cannot finance its own expenditures?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the EDC makes money from the loans it makes. Year after year it has helped Canadian companies sell goods and services around the world. The EDC is a very fine institution and is serving Canadian interests very well. That party might very well want to destroy itself in the next few months, but we will not let it destroy a fine Canadian institution helping us abroad.

Gasolines PricesOral Question Period

March 21st, 2000 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Industry, the one who was so quick to find money for professional hockey players, announced the federal government's solution to the problem of high gasoline prices: a study, to be tabled by January 2001, to be undertaken by the conference board at a cost of $600,000.

Does the minister realize that a study by the conference board, with members such as Shell Canada, Petro-Canada and other oil companies, is very much like an investigation conducted by the wolf to find out who ate the sheep?

Gasolines PricesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the conference board has existed since 1954. It is made up of about one hundred members. Is the hon. member insinuating that the conference board's reputation does not justify paying for the expenses incurred by its members, including the Quebec department of natural resources?