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House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-16.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, with proof to back us up, we showed that there was an agreement between the National Bank and Placeteco to have $1 million from Human Resources Development Canada paid directly to the National Bank.

When the minister allowed her trustee, lawyer Gilles Champagne, to secure a loan with the grant, did she not realize that she was shortchanging all the small creditors who were kept in the dark about the grant's existence?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again it is not for me to make determinations on how a private entity determines and uses its cash flow.

What I can confirm for the House is that an administrative review of this file was completed at the most senior levels in my department back in November. While that review indicated that there were administrative errors which had been made at the time, it also indicated that there was no reason for establishing any overpayment in this case.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, how can the minister sit by, knowing that her trustee in the Placeteco affair is also the legal counsel for Claude Gauthier, the man who directed over $1 million to the National Bank to the detriment of small creditors?

Does she not see this as a serious conflict between the two roles of Gilles Champagne, her trustee?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again in this undertaking I want to make it clear that it is not up to me to determine how a private sector entity determines how to use its cash flow.

What I can confirm is that an administrative review was undertaken and in this case there is no reason or evidence to establish an overpayment.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the health minister. The last time the federal government cosied up to Ralph Klein on health care it accepted Alberta's plan for health privatization. Let us make no mistake about it. This secret deal paves the way for full blown, two tier health care.

When the Prime Minister meets with the Alberta premier in Calgary will it be a greet and grip photo op, or will the Prime Minister take the opportunity to state unequivocally that the government will repeal the privatization bill?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the NDP talks about a secret deal, about privatization agreements between us and the Klein government.

I am disappointed frankly, although I am not surprised, that the NDP has bought the Tory spin job hook, line and sinker. It is nonsense. Those 12 principles do not constitute an agreement between governments and they will never stand in the way of the Government of Canada enforcing the Canada Health Act.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as usual the health minister avoids the question. As usual the health minister lawyers the facts. Yet the internal memos show clearly that Health Canada accepted Alberta's privatization principles.

Yesterday the Prime Minister tried to suggest there was no secret deal. My question is very simple. Will the Prime Minister deliver the message to Ralph Klein today that Ottawa rejects Klein's privatization principles?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the NDP would do better, rather than accepting the Tory's spin job, to pay attention to what is happening in the country.

What is happening is that this government has made it clear that private for profit hospitals are not the solution to the problems we face in medicare and that we can find innovations to solve those problems within the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Right now we have the draft bill. We have possible amendments, no regulations. Let us wait to see what the final bill looks like. The member can be assured that this government will be there to stand for the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, today the auditor general informed the HRDC committee that the internal audit resulted in many meetings of departmental staff. Does the minister seriously believe that the deputy minister did not inform her of these findings before the day that she said?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question on a number of occasions. Let me say that I was very glad to hear what the auditor general had to say to the standing committee. In fact let me quote. He said “Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional actions. The action plan is exceptional”.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the deputy minister chaired several meetings of the audit committee at HRDC.

Is the minister telling the House that the deputy minister was negligent for failing to inform her of her department's meddling?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, I am very proud of the working relationship that I have with my deputy and the men and women who are part of Human Resources Development Canada.

As a result of the internal audit and looking at the information we have, we are now implementing a six point plan.

Let me go further and quote from the auditor general, who said “I am supportive of the six point action plan, that it can solve the immediate problems in the department and that it will monitor how the implementation of the plan is going in the department”. The auditor general is working with us and he says that we are on track.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister wants it both ways. He wants a tax free crown corporation that competes directly with the private sector and follows private sector confidentiality practices. However, he also wants to use the money not paid in taxes to provide export financing for Canada's powerful and profitable corporations with Liberal connections. This is a sweet deal at the expense of the taxpayers.

Canadians are in the dark because this government refuses to tell them how EDC spent its money. Why?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me quote from some private sector individuals on what they think of the EDC. Let me quote the Canadian Chamber of Commerce that said “Export credit agencies, like the EDC, play a vital bridging role which lends the support that companies need to break into foreign and high risk markets and to make viable players. In no small measure, EDC has been a vital partner helping Canadian companies perform these roles”.

Let me also quote from another client of EDC.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary East.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me quote the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which said “EDC is alone in that it still has almost all its resources tied up in providing services that banks and insurers had been supplying for many years in other countries”.

Why is the government forcing the taxpayers to assume the risk that the private sector would be willing to take?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the EDC has made more than $500 million profit over the last five years.

Let me quote a financial institution. The Royal Bank Financial Group said that it values its EDC partnership because together they can assist Canadian companies of all sizes pursue opportunities in the global marketplace.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

March 23rd, 2000 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, to justify her refusal to give us the necessary explanations regarding Placeteco, the minister keeps repeating that this is a private matter.

Has the minister already forgotten that she herself is at the core of the Placeteco issue since her agent, trustee Gilles Champagne, was the main architect of this whole scheme, in addition to being one of the creditors, like Messrs. Gauthier and Giguère?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we have taken this file very seriously. As I mentioned earlier, an administrative review of this file was completed at the senior levels in my department.

I say again, that review indicated that there were administrative errors, but in no way did it indicate that there was an overpayment that would be established in this case.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told this House that all grants from Human Resources Development Canada not used to create jobs would be repaid.

In the Placeteco affair, given that the job creation did not match the size of the grant, will HRDC get its money back, even though the main actors are all close friends of the Prime Minister?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again let me note that the invoices we received for expenditures in this particular case were appropriate under the terms and conditions of the transitional jobs fund program.

There was no overpayment that needed to be established in this case.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1999 the Export Development Corporation's business volume was $40 billion. The minister keeps bragging about the $118 million that EDC made in profit that year.

Can the minister tell us how much of that $118 million bottom line actually comes directly from the taxpayers when the Government of Canada wrote off EDC's bad loans to foreign countries?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has a very hard time understanding that EDC is working out of two accounts. The corporate account, which allows for 98% of its transactions, is doing exactly the good news that the opposition member is referring to, $118 million just last year.

Out of the Canada account, which explains 2% of the transactions, we have, for humanitarian and political reasons, eliminated and rescheduled a number of debts to countries such as Poland. This is something for which Canadians can be proud.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, maybe we can gather from that there are two sets of books at EDC.

EDC's annual report for 1998 indicates that the crown corporation is due to receive another $97 million from the Government of Canada to bail it out for its bad loans. The government takes taxpayer dollars out of one department to give them to another and calls it a profit. That is Liberal economics at its finest, I am afraid.

Why is the government using taxpayer dollars to prop up EDC's bottom line?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the government is not using taxpayer money to prop up EDC's accounts. I have explained this time and again. EDC does a great job with its corporate account and it helps thousands of Canadian companies on the markets.

However, when, for humanitarian and political reasons, we actually eliminated debts for poorer countries, the government compensated EDC for the political decisions it had made that it would not have otherwise made. Canada is a member of the club of Paris and we will move with all other lending countries in the world.