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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is a little story tale here. She said that she wanted to make it public and she made it public. In fact we had to wait beyond the imposed limit of law, a month beyond that, before we even got this audit. She was not exactly parading it around as a success story.

That audit was an internal warning that there were serious ethical problems in the department. I will quote from it. It says “Employees were not convinced that they could report suspected contraventions without fear of reprisal”. This is nothing to brag about; they are talking about fear.

How is forcing honest employees to keep quiet any benefit to the minister?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us look at some of the other things that this report said. For example, it says “Senior management has taken steps to clarify roles and responsibilities where weaknesses have been identified”. We continue to build a strong public service.

What is interesting to me is that on that side of the House, they, day after day, attack us for taking action, for making an audit public and for implementing a new strategy of action that will change the relationship that we have with the Canadian public.

Which way would they have it?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the way we would have it is that honest public servants would be proud of the job they are doing without political interference.

The audit said that control was a four letter word. The audit said “The old virtues of prudence, probity, economy, efficiency and effectiveness are not as deeply embedded in the HRDC culture as they could be”, or probably as they used to be. Things are much different there now.

The minister's response was that she would “find modern methods” of control. What is the important modern method? Is it incompetence? Is it patronage? Is it waste? Or, is it this boondoggle that this government—

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, what is important to me is acting on information when I receive it.

Let us go through this one more time. An internal audit was done by the employees of the Department of Human Resources Development Canada, itself a control mechanism, itself a reference to ethical behaviour. Within the context of our department we made that information public and are acting on it.

Would the opposition have us do it any other way?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, 18 months ago a shocking HRDC audit made no bones about the fact that the department fell far short in prudence, honesty, economy, efficiency and effectiveness, yet the Liberals hid that damning audit and the Liberal minister has repeatedly denied that there was any serious problem.

Why should Canadians trust a government that hid this appalling situation for so long?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, why should the Canadian public trust an opposition that refuses to talk about the positive things in this audit and only talks about the negatives? Why do they not talk about the fact that we did a successful job of designing and implementing Canada's education savings grants, or that we deliver services consistently even when making significant program and organizational changes, or that we are able to resolve problems once they are identified as having operational consequences? Why did they not talk about the department doing a good job of implementing program review?

There are always two sides to the coin. I would like the opposition to also recognize the good in this audit.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, this minister must be the only person on the planet who can find something positive in a lack of prudence, honesty, economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

The bad part is that the Liberals did absolutely nothing to fix the problem. Only months later, when threatened with public exposure, did they begin to admit that they had been derelict in their duty. Nothing had changed from the time of the first audit to the time of public exposure just a few weeks ago.

I ask this question again. How can Canadians trust a government that let them down?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have been wondering what the Canadian Alliance is an alliance of. I wonder if it is an alliance to restore those who were kicked out of the party back into the party.

When I listen to these questions, I have a feeling it is an alliance of destruction, of negativity and of elitism. They show it day after day in the extreme.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Human Resources Development acknowledged that the fact that a company has placed itself under the protection of the Bankruptcy Act constitutes a breach of the contract signed by her department.

This is the case with Placeteco, according to section 10.1 of the contract. The minister made reference to section 10.2, so we will speak of this. According to it, the minister may issue a notice of breach or impose a recovery plan.

Has the minister called for a recovery plan? Has the minister produced a notice of breach, as was her duty under the section 10.2 she mentioned? This is a clear question, and I trust that I will receive a clear answer.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, in the contract, 10.1 and 10.2, there is a discussion of the issues of bankruptcy or potential bankruptcy. What is clear is that the government has options in this regard. We sit down, we look at the files, we look at the intended results and we make our decisions.

As a result of continuing to be in partnership with these companies, 170 people, including 92 in the Bloc riding of Trois-Rivières, continue to be employed.

Is the hon. member saying that he would rather not have those people employed?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, Placeteco is in Saint-Maurice. There were 81 jobs and now there are 78. The minister must stop clouding the issue. The loan was to Placeteco.

The minister decided not to make use of section 10.2. Instead, she decided to appoint Gilles Champagne, the Prime Minister's buddy, as trustee for Human Resources Development Canada. Gilles Champagne is the lawyer for Gauthier, the future purchaser of Placeteco, and another of the Prime Minister's buddies. Champagne and Gauthier were also creditors in the bankruptcy. It would be pretty hard to find a nicer set-up.

Why has the minister chosen a plan brought forward by some of the Prime Minister's buddies rather than doing her duty and requiring a recovery plan, as she is empowered to do?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I wonder how the hon. member opposite would respond to the 170 people who continue to be employed because of this relationship. Would he say to them “Sorry your jobs don't count. Sorry, you don't count?”

Whether we are talking about Placeteco or Techni-Paint, two companies that were part of our original contract, let us remember that 170 people are working and, from our point of view, that is a positive result.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the minister's arguments have no credibility. The facts are clear: not only did the grant to Placeteco not create jobs, some were actually lost.

Worse still, everything was done in violation of the minister's duty, which is to protect taxpayers' money.

In light of all these damning facts, why does the minister not avail herself of clause 10.04 of the contract, which enables her, today still, to withdraw the grant given to Placeteco?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, why does the hon. member not ask his colleague from Trois-Rivières if he would have wanted us to do that?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to divert attention not to discuss the serious Placeteco affair involving friends of the Prime Minister.

If the minister refuses to use clause 10.04 of the contract, is it not because that contract is now meaningless, since the minister did not avail herself in due time of the provisions that might have allowed her to manage this grant properly?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me just go through the facts again. Indeed, we monitored this file very closely. Indeed, a senior administrative review was done of this file. Indeed, there were administrative errors and I talked about those on a number of occasions in the House. Most importantly, men and women in the riding of Saint-Maurice and in the riding of Trois-Rivières continue to be employed as a result of the partnerships that we forged with the private sector, with the Government of Quebec, with the communities and with yourselves.

HealthOral Question Period

March 30th, 2000 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Markham meeting will shape health care in Canada for a long time to come.

The provinces say that we need federal money. The federal government says that we need a plan. Why will this government not admit that we need both? We need a plan to restore health care funding. We need a plan to transform health care for the 21st century based on the commitment to a not for profit, public, single tier system.

When Canadians so desperately need both, why has the government provided neither?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as usual the hon. member is wrong in the premise of her question.

I will quote the federal government's advertisement yesterday. It said “Canadians know that governments need to work together on a plan. The Government of Canada will put more money into health care once governments work out a common plan to strengthen health care, now and for the future. The Government of Canada will play its part”. Those are the facts.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, with answers like that no wonder Canadians are deeply worried that the outcome of the Markham meeting will be market medicine.

With so many key issues unresolved: privatization, home care, pharmacare, primary care and prevention, the success of the health ministers meeting depends on what the federal government puts on the table.

How can the federal government pretend that it is providing leadership in tackling these issues if it leaves its chequebook at home?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, no wonder the NDP is on the verge of disappearing from the political scene. It is simply out of touch. If is simply not listening.

I just said that if there is a common plan to strengthen health care, now and for the future, the Government of Canada will play its part. This means, and again I quote the advertisement of the government, “The Government of Canada will put more money into health care once governments work out a common plan. We say “Health care: let's pick solutions not fights”.

This is what we are asking the provinces to do, to join with us in finding the solutions we need to maintain our publicly funded, single tier health care system, something that is one of the glories of Canadian life.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, last night Canadians watched in horror as the CBC's Fifth Estate told the story of Stephen Truscott, a man who may have been wrongfully convicted of murder on scant and unreliable evidence. It appears that investigators fit the evidence to the guilt of the crime. Much of what went wrong occurred in the handling of the matter by members of the Canadian armed forces in conjunction with the OPP.

Will the Minister of National Defence instruct his officials to undertake a thorough review of all files relating to the involvement of the Department of National Defence in the Stephen Truscott case?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday in the House, we have not heard from either Mr. Truscott or his lawyer. If and when we do hear from Mr. Truscott or his lawyer, we will take any allegations or any submissions made very seriously.