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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the cabinet make appointments based on the laws passed by parliament. We of course have some discretion on the appointments because we want to ensure that every part of Canada is represented.

We made a lot of appointments to increase the number of women on these boards that did not exist before. We make sure that a proportion of francophones are represented according to the population. We make sure that the people from visible minorities can have the occasion to serve their country on those boards.

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I just want to draw to the attention of members that we have stretched the limits on questions and answers throughout so far and I would ask for co-operation in ensuring we stick within the limits.

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a result of questions we asked in the House yesterday, we now know that the industry department is demanding the $100,000 grant back from ARC. Obviously the funds were used improperly.

Can the Minister of Industry tell the House exactly what the problem was with this file? Why did the government demand this money back?

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, a routine audit of the program, as is done on a regular basis, demonstrated that some $98,000 worth of expenditure funds that had been transferred had not yet been accounted for. The department, taking routine measures, sat down with the receiving organization and came to an agreement to recover those funds. This is the purpose of the audit process when it is done on an ongoing basis.

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it seems like the auditor general and the routine auditors will have to work overtime to keep up with the government across the way.

The fact remains that $100,000 of grant money was misused by the same two men charged in two other cases of fraud and theft. If he will not ask the RCMP to get involved, will the minister table a full accounting of this matter with a complete explanation as to the improper use of taxpayer funds? Will he table it in the House?

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would be quite happy to invite the member to meet with me and I will give him a full briefing. I also would be happy to table before the House a full briefing.

Perhaps the member opposite does not realize it, but today he, and yesterday his colleague, mixed up several different files and several different organizations.

The fact of the matter is that the CCIP is a good program. Shawinigan was only one of 22 communities across Canada that received funding for this program. According to today's Globe and Mail , its own analysis shows that Shawinigan deserved—

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lotbinière-L'Érable.

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the auditor general's report, 25% of the boards of crown corporations are totally out of their depth, because the government appoints members according to political criteria rather than competency.

My question is for the Prime Minister. How can he justify the fact that, for his government, political allegiance holds more weight than professional competency, when the time comes to select people who will be administering billions of dollars through crown corporations?

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I invite the hon. member to take care in making such allegations. He must be aware that the government has appointed competent people from all over Canada as board members.

Is he telling us that someone like Julie Payette, the well known astronaut, ought not to be on the natural science board, that Dr. Dyane Adam ought not to be the commissioner of official languages, that Beverley McLachlin ought not to be the chief justice of the supreme court, that Phil Fontaine ought not to be a member of the Canada millennium foundation board?

These are the kind of allegations he seems to be making.

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, by making appointments on the basis of political allegiance instead of competency, is the Prime Minister not demonstrating that, for his government, it is more important to ensure that it has influence over the crown corporations by appointing Liberals, than that they be properly administered by appointing competent people?

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are things we do and one thing we do not do.

This was the case of the Parti Quebecois, which required Quebec representatives outside the country to formally declare that they were separatists or lose their jobs.

Here we appoint competent people. Certainly, we appoint Liberals, because there are far more Liberals in Quebec and in Canada than members of any other party.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, there has been much speculation that the Russian government is trying to sweep the Knyazev drunk driving case under the diplomatic carpet.

Ten days have gone by since this tragedy occurred and not only are there no charges in Russia against Knyazev, but there does not even appear to be a criminal investigation under way.

My question is, has the Prime Minister been in touch yet with President Putin to ask him personally to move the case along, and if not, why not?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as recently as this morning I received a communication from our embassy in Moscow confirming once again that in their discussions with the Russian foreign ministry it has been confirmed that they are living up to the commitments that they made previously.

To me there is an internal investigation going on. It will lead to the request for the relevant documents to be forwarded by Canadian police to Russian authorities, which would then enable charges to be laid.

At this point I have every reason to continue to have confidence that they will meet the commitments they have made to us.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will have to switch gears here to talk about the case of Canadian William Sampson who is sitting in a Saudi Arabian jail right now facing murder charges and, if convicted, the death penalty.

Does the minister have confidence that Mr. Sampson's confession was not coerced, that our officials will have immediate access to him and that in fact he will get a fair trial?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have been in contact with Saudi authorities. I have asked the ambassador to deal not only with my counterpart, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but also with the interior minister with a view to obtaining renewed consular contact with Mr. Sampson. I really have no basis upon which to judge the alleged confession, nor do we have information about the case.

We would expect and request that any Canadian accused of criminal wrongdoing would receive a proper trial before an impartial arbiter.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general today confirmed in his report that the surpluses accumulated as at March 31, 2000 in the employment insurance fund amounted to $28 billion, twice the figure the chief actuary of Human Resources Development Canada deemed sufficient to build a reserve for the plan.

Is the auditor general not confirming in his remarks what the Bloc Quebecois has said for a number of years, namely that the government is unacceptably dipping into the employment insurance fund, thus making off with money that does not belong to it?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me remind the hon. member again of a number of things. First and foremost, unemployment numbers in Canada today are at record lows. More people are working, more people are paying premiums and that is good for us.

I would remind the hon. member that there have been times in the recent past where we have been in deficit and so we have to manage that account wisely.

I would also remind the hon. member that there is a bill before the House that will allow us to review the premium setting process. I am sure he will want to support that bill.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, did the minister not just acknowledge that the employment insurance bill, which will now enable her to use the fund surplus as she will, is intended to escape such scathing remarks by the auditor general in future reports?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it seems like the hon. member is asking us to review the process by which employment insurance premiums are set. In the bill before the House that is precisely what we are recommending.

Surely he will support that bill when it is in committee and we will move on.

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the health minister allowed the Sagkeeng Solvent Treatment Centre to receive over 40 times the average funding for native addiction treatment. This enormous windfall was given in the face of his own auditors looking into corruption and misspending beginning in 1995.

Can the minister explain to Canadians why he poured such extraordinary amounts of the public's money into a group with a long track record of questionable practices?

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, first let me congratulate the member on her appointment as the health critic for her party.

Let me first say that she should know we have ordered a forensic audit of the centre to which she has referred. In fact, we are before the court this week to ensure that we get full access to all the records so that we can trace all the public moneys.

I share her concern that there be a full accounting for all public moneys spent. We have stopped funding the centre. We will get to the bottom of this. We will do everything possible to recover any funds that were misspent.

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the point is that the minister ignored an earlier audit which showed incredibly questionable practices by this group.

Here are some of the warning bells in the audit that the minister slept through: more than $1 million in payments to companies owned by clinic directors; a whopping bill of over $300,000 for just one client; questionable vehicle payments; unsupported travel claims; and money spent on trips to Las Vegas, Australia and Hawaii. The list went on and on.

Why did the minister fail so badly in his duty to protect the public interest?

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, some of the transactions the member refers to and the entire activities of the centre are now under careful scrutiny, not only by Health Canada and auditors but where appropriate by police authorities.

I share her concern that those public funds be accounted for fully. I assure her we will do everything to make certain that occurs.

Auto IndustryOral Question Period

February 6th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, DaimlerChrysler has announced it is reducing its operations in Canada as part of its restructuring plan. In particular, Windsor and Brampton are the subject of job losses.

As one in seven jobs in Canada depends on the automotive industry, could the Minister of Industry inform the House and all Canadians today what action the government is taking?

Auto IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Essex for her question. I acknowledge the interest of the member for Brampton Centre and many others in this place about the health of the auto industry.

Yesterday I spoke with the international president of DaimlerChrysler. I met with Mr. Buzz Hargrove from CAW last night. I offered the assurance of the government that we want to work with both the industry and the union to assist in the transition for those who for the moment have lost their jobs because of the downturn.

We stressed quite strongly with DaimlerChrysler our interest in seeing both R and D in Canada continue and a new product line for the Pillette Road plant.