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House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I recognize it is Wednesday, but it is difficult to hear the questions and answers.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we asked about a piece of land purchased for $500,000 by Claude Gauthier, a friend of the Prime Minister, at a time when the Prime Minister was owed nearly as much for his shares in the same golf course.

Mr. Gauthier's investment unquestionably increased the likelihood that someone would buy the Prime Minister's shares.

Was the Prime Minister or his agent involved in any way in the sale of the land to Mr. Gauthier?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have said no. Mr. Gauthier won a bid with the government. His bid was $2.5 million less than the second bidder. As the Minister for International Cooperation clearly explained, a bid was made and the lowest bidder got the contract.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Claude Gauthier got the $6.3 million CIDA contract, for which he did not qualify, and soon thereafter bought land from a company in which the Prime Minister had a financial interest.

After donating $10,000 to the Prime Minister's election campaign, the PMO ensured that Mr. Gauthier received a $1.2 million HRDC grant.

Is this what the Prime Minister had in mind when in 1993 he promised Canadians to govern with integrity?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, everything is well known. It has been debated in committee. The RCMP looked into all that. There is absolutely nothing wrong.

Those people on the other side do not understand that they can slander people all the time but it does not help the cause of people who serve in public life.

I have no shame in my record here. It will be 38 years next week that I will have been defending the rights of all Canadians.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us assume that the Prime Minister is telling us the whole truth, let us assume that the 1993 bill of sale was a final document. I have a very simple question for the Prime Minister.

Why should his company compensate the new buyer in the event of a problem? Why should his company pay Mr. Michaud's lawyers? Why should he pay for something if he no longer has any interest? I would appreciate an answer.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, lawyers always put in every contract all the clauses that they think are necessary for the protection of the final deal.

This is what happened in this case. I apologize to the hon. member for replying in English. I simply want to tell him that everything has been said for weeks and weeks.

This proves once again that they have nothing against the government. Just yesterday, they tried to tarnish the Minister of Finance's reputation. They have absolutely nothing to do other than try to destroy people who have given a very good and honest government to all Canadians.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, basic honesty requires a person to answer questions. We would appreciate it if the Prime Minister began answering questions.

When the Prime Minister tells us that the lawyers covered everything in case something were to happen, is he telling us that Mr. Michaud was afraid there might be an inquiry and that he arranged for the Prime Minister's company to pay for his lawyers? What interest did the Prime Minister have in agreeing to such a clause, if he was not involved? Is he so generous as to help anyone who is in trouble?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the hon. member that I read that document only when it was tabled.

The whole transaction was completed by the person who acts as my trustee and lawyer. She did not even inform me of the nature of the documents. She settled the issue and, as far as I was concerned, everything was very simple in that, as of November 1, 1993, I no longer had any involvement with this golf club, which has probably been an issue for months and even years in this House.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that the lawyers had provided for everything in the September 1999 contract. They even provided that the Prime Minister himself would assume the cost of any inquiry.

Are we to understand that, if the Prime Minister agreed to such a clause, it was because he was sure there would be no investigation, because he is the one who decides in the end?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, had she listened to the answer—because her question was prepared in advance—I said that I was not even aware of the nature of the document. My lawyer in charge of the trust settled that and she did not inform me of the nature of the documents she signed with whomever.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just remind the Prime Minister that he is the one who keeps saying the same thing, because he is incapable of proving his innocence in this whole matter.

So, in ethical terms, the Prime Minister has again put himself in a position of conflict of interest, since, by deciding or not to hold an inquiry into his own activities, he is judge and jury in a decision that concerns him directly.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that he has put himself, in ethical terms, in a very difficult, if not untenable, situation by agreeing to this clause, which makes him judge and jury in the matter of the Auberge Grand-Mère?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the House will vote. All members will vote later today.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, finally hope on the horizon, at least potentially, for Canadians desperately concerned about the future of health care. Roy Romanow is a fervent champion of medicare. We applaud his appointment, but let me say that the success of the commission depends upon the government.

Will the Prime Minister give assurances that the terms of reference of the commission will be sufficiently broad to include the threat of privatization from flawed trade deals, and that the government will actually implement the commission's recommendations? Will he give those assurances?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the NDP for complimenting the government for the actions that have been taken.

She knows that I know Mr. Romanow very well. Before accepting the job, he read the terms of reference. I can tell the House that if the terms of reference had been too narrow, he would not have accepted the mandate I gave him.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to think that the Prime Minister might be willing to bring the terms of reference before the House so we could debate and strengthen them.

The fact that the Prime Minister evaded answering my question is not promising. Canadians want these issues addressed.

I will repeat my question. Will the Prime Minister indicate that it is the government's intention to address the threat of privatization posed by trade deals, and that the government will not leave these recommendations on the shelf to gather dust as has been done so many times by previous commissions and forums?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said in my little meeting with the press earlier that Mr. Romanow, like the people on this side of the House, believes in the five conditions of the Canada Health Act and in that there is no place for privatization of the health care system in Canada.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

April 4th, 2001 / 2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1986 in Hansard during the Stevens affair the current Minister of Industry stated:

—the overwhelming media and public preoccupation with this issue (of conflict of interest)...might have been avoided if we had in place...a means to investigate immediately and cause to come to conclusion serious allegations of wrongdoing—

Does the Prime Minister agree with his Minister of Industry? Will he therefore allow a free vote of the Liberal caucus on today's motion to establish an independent judicial inquiry on conflict of interest?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, after weeks and weeks of debate I looked in the House yesterday and there was a time when there was not one Tory member in the debate in the House of Commons. I agree entirely with the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who said:

The Prime Minister could have put this matter to rest a long time ago by providing definitively...everything if he was to table a document that would give us the agreement of the sale.

He said to table the document and I did.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, could the Prime Minister tell the House why it took his lawyer, Deborah Weinstein, three long years to negotiate the sale of the shares to one of his original partners?

Will the Prime Minister confirm that a condition precedent to Mr. Michaud's agreement to buy the shares was that the Prime Minister's personal company would pay the costs of any inquiry or any other proceeding?

Will he tell the House if there is any limit to the amount of money the Prime Minister's company will have to pay in the event of a public inquiry?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member is fishing. Yesterday he wanted to have my income tax returns and so on. He is the one who refused to tell the press how much money he is paying himself as the leader of the party when his party is $10 million in debt.

He is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to himself with money subsidized by the government and he has the gall to get up and talk about conflict of interest.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is very difficult for the Chair to hear the questions and the answers. The Chair has to be able to hear the questions and the answers. I appeal for order. I know it is Wednesday. The hon. member for Edmonton North.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday when the Prime Minister responded to my question about the bill of sale he said:

I recognize my name on that. It was my name. I had signed it a long time ago. I signed this contract. I was probably in Ottawa—

I would like the Prime Minister to think back, to think way, way back. Where was he and who was there?