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House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hrdc.

Topics

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.

Business Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among House leaders, and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, at the ordinary time of daily adjournment on Tuesday, June 6, 2000, proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 38 shall be taken up, but, at the conclusion of such proceedings, the motion to adjourn shall be deemed to have been withdrawn and, notwithstanding any standing order, the House shall continue to sit for the purposes of considering the third reading stage of Bill C-11, an act to authorize the divestiture of the assets of, and to dissolve, the Cape Breton Development Corporation, to amend the Cape Breton Development Corporation Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, provided that during this consideration the Chair shall not receive any dilatory motions, quorum calls or requests for unanimous consent and that, when no member rises to speak, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be deemed to have been put, a division thereon requested and deferred to the time of expiry of the time for consideration of Government Orders on Wednesday, June 7, 2000.

Business Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The House has heard the terms of the motion as presented by the government House leader. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to present petitions which were presented to a number of Manitoba MPs on April 20 at Minto Armouries in the regimental museum of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. These signatures were gathered by the St. Andrew's Society of Winnipeg. A number of other Manitoba MPs over this day and the following few days may well be presenting similar petitions.

The petitioners ask parliament to reject the Department of National Defence plans to abolish the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada or to amalgamate it with another militia regiment.

They believe that Manitoba's only highland kilted regiment must be retained as an important symbol of the province's great Scottish heritage. The Camerons are extremely useful to all citizens of Manitoba. Beside their excellent record in war and peace keeping missions, they protect Manitobans on the home front in events like the great floods of 1950 and 1997.

They also believe that a strong militia is the base on which capable national defence is built. Therefore, any necessary cuts in government spending should be done in other ways.

I might note that today is a particularly appropriate day to present such a petition. This is the 56th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, the anniversary of D-Day. It was during the Normandy campaign that many Cameron Highlanders returned to Europe to seek the liberation of their comrades who had been captured in the Dieppe raid on August 19, 1942.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too rise, as did the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona, to present a petition on behalf of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.

The 42-page petition contains 2,684 signatures. Again, as was most eloquently noted by the member for Winnipeg—Transcona, the Department of National Defence currently is looking at ways of rationalizing its defence budget. We are saying that the militia regiment in particular is not one of those area in which the Department of National Defence should be looking. I speak with some knowledge having a CFB in my constituency, as well as the 26 Field Regiment.

On the bottom part of this petition, it does say quite succinctly that a strong militia is the base on which capable national defence is built. Therefore, any necessary cuts in government spending should be done in other fashions. I support that and table the petition before the House.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of presenting two petitions.

The first relates to the excessively high gasoline prices. This petition is from the René Goyette “L'essence, c'est essentiel” team.

Since it is impossible for Canadian consumers to take any action to protect themselves from rising gasoline prices, these petitioners from Rimouski, Victoriaville, Sainte-Hélène-de-Chester, Arthabaska, Pointe-au-Père, Saint-Donat, Châteauguay, Terrebonne and Laval, are calling upon parliament to adopt a resolution to thwart the world oil cartels and thus reduce exorbitantly high crude oil prices.

The second petition comes from the René Goyette “L'essence, c'est essentiel” team in Montreal, and also addresses the excessively high price of gasoline.

Petitioners are from Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Magog, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Saint-Gabriel, Chambly, Sainte-Julie and Mont-Saint-Hilaire.

Since it is impossible for Canadian consumers to take any action to protect themselves from rising gasoline prices, these petitioners are calling upon parliament to adopt a resolution to thwart the world oil cartels and thus reduce exorbitantly high crude oil prices.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table two petitions. The first was given to me by people who wish to support rural postal carriers.

The petitioners are asking that subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act be withdrawn because it deprives these rural carriers of their right to collectively negotiate their working conditions.

Several of those who signed live in my riding and I support them completely in their efforts to make it possible for rural carriers to negotiate an acceptable contract so that they are not working for less than minimum wage, as some of them are now doing.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with the importation of MOX fuel, Russian plutonium.

This could cause serious, irreversible harm to Canadians, and especially Quebecers, because, as is well known, the route used is the St. Lawrence River. If an accident were to happen, we would hold this government responsible.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present three more petitions from citizens of the Peterborough area and, in fact, from across Canada who support the development in Canada of a bio-artificial kidney. This brings the number of signatures to well over 10,000 on petitions which I have presented to the House on this subject. This petition was started by Ken Sharp, who lives in my riding.

The petitioners point out that more than 18,000 Canadians suffer from end-stage kidney disease and that, although kidney dialysis and kidney transplants help and they are important life saving treatments, there are difficulties with providing sufficient dialysis service and difficulties in providing sufficient organs for transplantation. Therefore, the petitioners call upon parliament to support research toward an alternative to kidney dialysis and kidney transplants, and that is the bio-artificial kidney.

Research is being conducted at various places in the United States and the petitioners call upon parliament to work in support of research toward the bio-artificial kidney which will eventually eliminate the need for both dialysis and transplantation for those suffering from kidney disease.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Gruending NDP Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by approximately 375 people, consisting of 25 pages, regarding Bill C-33, the species at risk act, which is before the House at this time.

The petitioners ask that the bill be strengthened and they make the following suggestions. A legal listing of species should be done by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC. Politicians should not make this decision. Habitat protection should be automatic. When the provinces fail to provide protection for species at risk, the federal power to step in must be mandatory and not discretionary as outlined at the moment in Bill C-33. Finally, they ask for a guarantee of available and adequate funding to support stewardship options, which of course are attempts to protect habitat for animals and plants.

The petitioners are really saying that they have looked at Bill C-33 and it is not adequate. I mention in passing that our NDP caucus also feels that the bill as it exists is not adequate and we fully agree with the petitioners.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to present a petition signed by 300 petitioners of the Vancouver area who want to draw attention to a very desperate situation on the Island of Ambon in Indonesia where there has been continuous violence since January 1999 between Muslim and Christian groups.

The petitioners draw attention to the loss of life, the damage to property and to civil society, and the fact that the Indonesian army and police force have not acted in a responsible manner, thus aggravating and perpetuating the clashes between these groups.

The petitioners call on parliament to appeal to the Indonesian government to protect its citizens without regard to their religion and ethnicity and to bring justice to those who have perpetuated the atrocities in Ambon.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

moved:

That this House call for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into the mismanagement of grants and contributions in the Department of Human Resources Development, and into any attempts to control the disclosure of this mismanagement to the public.

Mr. Speaker, I am not entirely happy that this motion had to be brought forward today. I would have hoped after all these weeks that the government would have been able to provide clear and satisfactory answers to the very difficult and troubling situation in the human resources department, the largest department of government. The department handles huge amounts of public money, up to $60 billion a year. It handles by far the most public money of any department. It is a department which is more focused than almost any other on meeting the needs of Canadians in theory and in principle, but unfortunately not in deed.

Our motion today calls for the establishment of an independent inquiry into the mismanagement of grants and contributions by this department and also, unfortunately and sadly, attempts to control the disclosure of this mismanagement to the public.

We first called for an independent inquiry on February 8 in a letter from the Leader of the Official Opposition to the Auditor General of Canada. Since then there have been repeated calls from the opposition and the public for an independent inquiry, as very troubling discrepancies and lack of full disclosure continued to surface.

There are three reasons we believe an independent inquiry is necessary. The first reason is that enormous public interests are at stake. The grants and contributions program in HRDC spends over $3 billion a year. That is $3 billion which is hard earned by Canadians and taken from their pockets by the government. That is $3 billion which could be spent on a variety of initiatives that are of importance to Canadians, including health care, but this money is not spent on those types of things. That $3 billion really represents the tip of the iceberg because almost every other government department has grants and contributions spending totalling over $13 billion each and every year. That is $13 billion which is not available to Canadians for other priorities.

This is not a small matter when it comes to the public interest. An independent inquiry is very necessary if the public interest is not being well served by the grants and contributions management and programs.

The second reason we believe there needs to be an independent inquiry is to restore trust in parliament and in the institutions of government.

Even the Liberal surveys are now showing that government mismanagement of public money is looming large in the public concern. There has been a serious and troubling erosion of the public's trust and confidence in the way their money, their affairs and their interests are being managed and looked after by the government, and, by extension, all of us in the House of Commons who were elected to serve the public, to manage their affairs and to act in their best interests. The public is clearly questioning, and rightly so, whether their interests are being protected, cared for and looked after. They have a right to have their questions laid to rest.

The third reason we believe an independent inquiry is needed is because there is a long and unfortunately growing list of fundamental unanswered questions and discrepancies without full disclosure of relevant information. To be blunt, there is an information management strategy on the part of government to withhold, to cover and to keep full information and full disclosure about the situation not only from members of the House, but the public. There have been many examples and instances of that.

I could give a very full and comprehensive history of what has happened in HRDC. Unfortunately, my time does not allow it. However, my colleagues and others in the opposition will be bringing forward many of those concerns today.

In the time I have, I would like to focus on the withholding of very basic information about the mismanagement of grants and contributions in HRDC and why that is so troubling. I would like to emphasize that the audit which uncovered this terrible situation had the most damning rundown of statistics about the lack of controls and safeguards on the spending of public money in that department.

To name two figures: in 80% of the projects files there was no financial tracking of public money released into the hands of grant recipients; in 87% of the files there was no supervision of the projects. Any auditor or any common sense person would tell us that when there is no oversight, no controls, no safeguards, no supervision of the way money is spent, the potential and the actual likelihood of fraud, abuse and misspending is very high. There have been many instances which have come to light, in spite of the choke hold the government has placed on access to information requests and other documents, to show that this is in fact what happened.

This audit has not been a new phenomenon. On June 14 the interim audit results were presented to the department.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Did the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill indicate that she was splitting her time? I do not recall. If so, I need to give her a two minute warning.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

I am in fact splitting my time with the member for Kelowna.

This audit first came to light on June 14. Although it was an interim result, it was obviously very explosive. The deputy minister herself wrote to the minister some weeks later saying that since the interim audit results were released in June there had been very vigorous efforts to come up with some kind of a plan to deal with this. That has been confirmed by the deputy minister herself.

On June 14 the time bomb started ticking. By July 14, a month later, there was a proposed action plan. On July 19 briefing notes were e-mailed to all HRDC managers. On July 27 and 28 there was a two day meeting of 40 top HRDC officials.

The present minister was sworn in on August 3. On August 9 she asked for a briefing but she said, and I commend her for this, “I do not want to know all about the nuts and bolts of this department. I want to know what the hot issues are, what balls are in the air, what the key difficulties are”. That was on August 9. She claims in spite of that she knew nothing about this audit until November 17. She waited for two further months before she breathed a word of this to the public and did so only two days after we put in an access request for this audit.

This circumstance alone demonstrates to members of parliament and to the public that there is a culture and attitude of cover-up, of hiding, of denying problems and of whitewashing that cannot be allowed to stand. I urge members of the House for the sake of the public and for the sake of the integrity of our system and our parliament to support this motion to establish an independent inquiry into this matter.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to take up too much of question and comment period because I would prefer to hear what the hon. member has to say. I know that she has extensive experience on the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, on which I have also sat for a number of years.

What I find interesting in this whole situation is that, since the crisis first hit, there has been one piece of evidence after another of the need to get to the bottom of things. I am not saying that everything that has been done is deserving of criticism, but there is no doubt that we must get to the bottom of this, because the Canadian public has completely lost faith in the present and previous ministers and in the process itself.

Could the member enlighten us a bit on what she thinks of the fact that, after engaging in a partisan spending operation, the government is now carrying out a cover-up operation designed—this is the only reason I can see—to get ready for the next election. This strikes me as a very bad decision, given public opinion.

Could the hon. member please elaborate on this?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the very interesting circumstances is the unity of the four opposition parties in this whole matter. This matter is not one in which partisanship has played a big role. It is one in which reasonable, thoughtful and professional representatives of the people have grown increasingly uneasy, then alarmed, and then outraged at the non-answers in dealing with the HRDC grants and contributions audit file.

I could go on for at least an hour on the unanswered questions, the instances where the minister's story has changed, the times where undated documents have come forward out of thin air when the minister has been in a tight corner unable to explain some of the dealings with public money that took place under her watch.

One instance is the Modes Conili grant where three-quarters of a million dollars was given at the behest of a Liberal member. That Liberal member then got $7,000 for her election war chest. That three-quarters of a million dollars created not one new job. It was simply given to a company which hired all the workers from another company. It was the most transparent shift of workers from company A to company B greased with three-quarters of a million of our dollars.

When the minister was asked about it, she went through four stages. She asked what we were complaining about, that people are working. Then when it came out that no new jobs were created, that it was simply a shift of workers, she said, “I did not say that jobs were created. I just said people had applied and they were working”. Then it came out that this had been questioned and that an internal investigation had been done. The minister then said, “Oh well, the investigation said that there was no problem with this”, but then she refused to release the documents of the investigation to the House. If the documents cleared the situation, why were the documents never tabled? They were hidden. They have been withheld to this day. Then finally the minister said, “The RCMP have been called in. Now there is going to be an investigation”.

That is only one instance of the outrageous lack of transparency and credibility the minister has shown.

This is my opinion only but I believe the best way to get to the bottom of this is by an all party committee of the House, the same number of members of parliament from each party, delegated to look into this matter with full authority to look at any and all documents they consider relevant. I suggest that it be MPs because we are accountable to the people of Canada. This is what we have been hired to do, to look after their interests. The same number from each party would mean that no party would dominate, partisanship would not carry the day. It would be done right in the public eye because we are in the public eye. The sooner we get on with that job, the better.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member who preceded me. She laid the groundwork and foundation for the reason a public inquiry is needed.

This issue involves virtually every Canadian. It involves every member of parliament. It is an indictment not only of the minister of HRDC, but the Prime Minister and every other member of the governing party in the House today. By reflection, there is an indication, almost a draining over to any politician which makes us look as though we are all like that. I want to make it abundantly clear that we are not all like that. One of the reasons we want this inquiry is to be sure that the public understands clearly what it is the minister did not do.

We have to ask ourselves why the inquiry is needed. I would like to put it this way. The minister was supposed to respond in a way that was courteous and helpful, to provide service to her clients and to give a clear accounting to the taxpayers for the money that she or her department dispensed.

What did she do? She bent the rules and generally administered in a manner that was in no way accountable to the taxpayers. That means her work was pointless. Her work was supposed to be accountable to the people and it was pointless. When people do pointless work, the production of whatever it is that is produced is pointless. In the dictionary that is known as a boondoggle. That is what there is in this particular department.

The hon. member indicated what the audit found on the first instance. The auditor general then made a concluding statement. He observed that there had not been proper financial monitoring and there had not been an application of clear and transparent reporting to parliament. Because of that the auditor general said on March 23, 2000:

Large amounts of public funds were spent without the appropriate controls, making it difficult to know whether the funds were used as intended, spent wisely and produced the desired results.

At this point I cannot help but read into the record some of the examples of what has happened. I have before me 28 examples. We do not have time to go into each of them. We will only go into three of them.

One example is very interesting. Harding Carpets in Brantford, Ontario received over $400,000 in job creation grants in 1997-98 and went bankrupt in 1998. Did this produce the desired result? Clearly not. The jobs that were created, if any were created, were of very short duration and today the company is bankrupt.

There are two other examples. The first has to do with 80% of a $1.6 million job creation grant that is in support of a project to revitalize the riverfront in the Deputy Prime Minister's riding of Windsor West. Actually 80% of that money is being spent on materials. It is supposed to be a job creation contribution. It is not for materials in the first instance, yet well over half, in fact 80% which is four-fifths, is being spent on materials. It is mismanagement and misapplication of funds.

The hon. member referred to the MP for Ahuntsic in Montreal who received $7,000 in campaign contributions in 1997 from a clothing company called Modes Conili for which she had helped secure $719,850 in transitional jobs fund grants. She gave it the grant and two months later she received a $7,000 contribution for her campaign. We begin to wonder. The hon. member pointed out that no new jobs were created. In fact it was a transfer of existing jobs from an existing company into a new company that had just been created.

Those are three examples of why we believe a public inquiry should take place. It is so we all know what really happened.

As a consequence, treasury board has come up with a new set of guidelines. I said new guidelines but actually if we read the document, they are not new guidelines at all; they are a revision of existing guidelines. I would like to read a couple of the headings and a few descriptions of what the revised guidelines say.

There has to be effective management practices. This means due diligence to ensure assistance is approved only for eligible recipients and that payment is made only once all the required terms and conditions have been met. It shall be a results based management and what is the first word? Robust. A robust results based accountability framework must be provided when seeking treasury board approval of program terms and conditions including program objectives and expected results, performance indicators and milestones.

The spending shall be responsible which means increased transparency. The assessment criteria used to assess recipient eligibility and entitlement must be determined in advance, communicated to the public and applied consistently.

There shall be effective control. What does this mean? According to treasury board it means a more rigorous review of the proposed terms and conditions of grant and contribution programs will be undertaken by treasury board secretariat prior to submission to treasury board.

Those are beautifully revised guidelines. Very similar guidelines already existed while the minister was running the department and she did not use those guidelines. She bent those guidelines. The question is will she bend these guidelines or will she observe them? The issue is not whether they are good guidelines. These guidelines are good ones. The issue is whether they are being observed and practised. That becomes the issue. That is where the accountability has to be registered.

We need to recognize very clearly that some very serious questions have been raised on the performance of the minister. This has caused the treasury board to begin to react. It is a reflection not only on the operations of HRDC but also on the operations of the treasury board and the Prime Minister.

What did the official opposition have to say when it presented its report and responded to the report of the committee? It is very worth while to look at some of its 14 recommendations. I certainly do not have time to go into all of them, but I do wish to deal with a couple of them that primarily concern political interference.

When the committee reviewed all these grants and contributions it discovered that there had been direct and implied political interference in the granting of some of the contributions. The official opposition has shown that the number of project approvals and the amounts approved rose sharply at election time.

Lo and behold, could it possibly be true that the number of contributions made to the various communities had something to do with an election? They happened to go to ridings where the elected MPs were Liberals and part of the present government. Could it possibly be? That is exactly what we discovered and that is what the committee discovered.

We do not have time to get into all the other things, but I should like to refer to a speech made just recently by the Prime Minister in Europe. I will read a few sentences. He said:

One of the challenges all countries must grapple with is ensuring that all children get a good start in life and that families are given the support they need for the healthy development of their children, so that they are ready to learn and to seize opportunity later in life. Some argue that large, across-the-board tax cuts are sufficient. The Government of Canada has chosen a different path. While parents and families have the primary role in raising children, governments have a responsibility to ensure that the necessary supports are also in place.

He went on to talk about the child benefit program. The big point here is not economics. There is a totally different issue at stake here: the integrity of people, the character of individuals. We need to develop character so that people live by principles which clearly differentiate between that which is right and that which is wrong. What the minister has done reflects that it is not right to do the kinds of things he is doing. Therefore I should like now to amend the motion that was just presented. I would move:

That the motion be amended by adding after the word “public” the words “and that the Commission be required to lay before the House of Commons a final report no later than December 11, 2000”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The amendment is in order. Debate is on the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to what the member opposite was saying. On behalf of the constituents of Waterloo—Wellington, and indeed other Canadians to whom I have talked over the course of this discussion, I wanted to say that whenever members opposite, and more to the point, the reformed alliance people, run out of steam on an issue such as this one, it seems to me that one of their last tricks is to call for a public inquiry.

What they have done over the course of time on this very important debate is quite shameful. They have repeated the nonsense about a billion dollars missing and the business about a boondoggle, which is totally groundless, totally false, totally inaccurate and totally without base. They have continued to repeat that mantra in the most egregious fashion.

What I find objectionable is that they are not even big enough to admit that they were wrong. What they try to do now is to spin it out. The member for Calgary—Nose Hill, with her 15 seconds of fame in the whole issue, wants to keep spinning it out and is in the process of doing a job on the whole grants and contributions business that is inconsistent with what the regions, the provinces and the communities of this great country want.

I want to ask a question of the member opposite who just spoke. Why is it that in your usual extremist fashion, which is always consistent with the reformed alliance position, you cannot be big enough to admit that you were wrong and that you should apologize to the Canadian people?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Order, please. Members know that it is not necessarily just the custom but is obligatory to address each other through the Chair. It exists for a specific reason. I think this question indicates the necessity of addressing each other through the Chair. With that admonishment, we will go to the hon. member for Kelowna.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe the evidence speaks for itself. We have absolutely nothing to apologize for as far as the management style of members of this party are concerned. The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill has done her homework well. She has been very thorough in her study and in her analysis of what has happened.

The hon. member opposite suggested that as a last trick we resorted to the request for a public inquiry. As a matter of fact an independent inquiry was asked for as early as February 8, 2000. It is anything but a last minute affair. The hon. member needs to know that what has happened here is that the minister thumbed her nose at parliament and said members of the House do not matter and that the people of Canada do not matter. The real issue is that the hon. minister should have been given permission to resign her position and her portfolio.

The minister in charge is actually protecting the Prime Minister. A lot of it points to the Prime Minister because he is responsible for what his ministers are doing. If his ministers are not doing what treasury board and the Prime Minister say the guidelines should be, and if he does not permit the minister to admit that she was wrong and will either change her ways or resign her portfolio, he is the one who is to blame.

The hon. member opposite should recognize that before he makes blatant statements on extremism he should look in the mirror and ask who is extreme.