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House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, indeed I am responsible to the public. I promised to investigate every one of the allegations that was brought to my attention that merited either legal actions, references to auditors, time verification audits, or a review under the Financial Administration Act. All of that activity is underway. I would note that I have brought forward the final report of the file review process voluntarily, without being required to do so.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government is rewriting defence and foreign policies on the fly. We asked a couple of months ago about the deal and about the terms and conditions of the agreement signed today with the United States with absolutely no input from Parliament or, for that matter, all Canadians.

We know what happens when the government operates in the dark. The mismanagement of Bill C-68 is a classic example.

Why was this deal signed with the Americans with absolutely no input from Parliament and, for that matter, all Canadians?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we did speak to parliamentary committees. Parliamentary committees have produced reports recommending, some of them, to go even further than we have gone today in terms of Canada-U.S. military cooperation.

I would just add that this is a great deal. It is in the historical tradition of when we joined with the United States to defend the continent against Nazi Germany 60 years ago. Against the Soviet Union, we created Norad more than 40 years ago. Today I am very proud to say that faced with a third external threat, terrorism, we have joined together with the United States to once again defend this continent.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am on the defence committee and we never once discussed this agreement before that committee.

The fact is, we have major differences with the United States when it comes to military issues. We have differences over nuclear arms, landmines, the international court and our Arctic sovereignty. The United States still has not recognized Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

Again I ask the Minister of National Defence why he enters into these agreements without input from Parliament and, for that matter, all Canadians.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is true that we have important differences with the United States over such things as landmines and the International Criminal Court. This is obvious. We have said this many times, but this agreement today has nothing to do with that. Indeed, the hon. member may have forgotten, but as it says right here in my briefing notes, I recently discussed planning for this agreement when I appeared before the committee of which he is a member on November 27.

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, on June 12, 1991, the Prime Minister said:

...every minister in the cabinet that I will be presiding over will have to take full responsibility...If there is any bungling in the department...The minister will have to take the responsibility.

Which minister will take the full responsibility for the $700 million bungling on the gun registry? Will it be the current Minister of Industry, who started the scheme, or the current Minister of Health, who hid the costs from Parliament, or the present Minister of Justice, or will the Prime Minister himself take responsibility, and, Sir, what will the penalty be?

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice, who is handling the file at this time, is a very competent minister and he is doing what is needed at this moment.

Obviously the Auditor General indicated very clearly to us that we have some problems with this program and we are taking the steps to correct them.

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Then, Mr. Speaker, my next question is for the chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Will the chair seek agreement of the committee to conduct early public hearings on the report of the Auditor General concerning the overspending on the gun registry and the failure to report that overspending to Parliament?

In addition to hearing from the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Justice, will the committee seek evidence from the current Ministers of Industry and Health, who are directly involved in these cost overruns, and from the member for LaSalle—Émard, who on at least five occasions as a member of the Treasury Board had an opportunity to put an end to this billion dollar fiasco?

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the right hon. member for his question.

I will say that I will place this question before the public accounts committee and if there is agreement from the Liberals as well as this side we will be glad to hold these investigations and table a report on what we find.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have a brand new trend here: an actual answer in question period. Will wonders never cease?

In 1997, Public Works endorsed a proposal from Claude Boulay, owner of Groupe Everest, to create Attractions Canada. Taxpayers were already on the hook for the Canadian Tourism Commission. Its former president said, “...there's no real reason to have Attractions Canada up and running”, none at all.

The minister is clearly dragging his feet on cleaning up this abuse of $27 million in taxpayers' money. Is the job too big for him or do these programs simply serve the Liberal Party too well?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the project known as Attractions Canada is now in the final year of its previous commitments and it will not be renewed.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the final year was 2001, but in 2002-03 it got another $3.5 million pledged to it, so the problem is that the Liberals have created a system that funnels tax money through their friends' ad firms and then back to the Liberal Party.

Why will the minister not just stand today and say that all of these self-serving programs are gone forever, not delayed, not set aside, not under review, but gone once and for all?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have indicated that the Attractions Canada program is now in its final stages of initially a five year period. That period has virtually now expired and it is not my intention to renew the program.

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

December 9th, 2002 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Agriculture claims that December 9 is not an important date for the École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, does he not realize that he is contradicting the assistant dean of the faculty, Mr. Dallaire, who is categorical on this issue? According to him, the school must have all the information today to meet the deadlines imposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, in order to clear this up once and for all, I would like to read from an e-mail of this morning from Dr. Don Simmons, director of the education and research division, American Veterinary Medical Association.

In response to your request, the AVMA Council on Education, the accrediting body for schools/colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and Canada, require accredited programs to submit annually an interim report addressing the 11 Standards for Accreditation. The 2002 reports are due in my office by January 20, 2003. This date is later than usual because the Council meets in late spring this year, rather than earlier. I hope this information will be useful.

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is because the veterinary school must prepare that report. Unlike the government, it will not have it done by Groupaction. The minister should realize that.

When the minister tells us that veterinary colleges are all in the same situation, he is again mistaken. The cut-off date for Saskatoon is 2003. For Prince Edward Island, it is 2004. For Guelph, it is 2009.

How could the minister claim that everyone was in the same boat, when the École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, which now holds partial certification, must begin writing that report today to get back its full certification at some point in time?

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, it is a known fact, and it is clarified in this letter as well in what is said, that every year each veterinary college has to submit information to the accrediting association. Every college has to do that every year, and for Saint-Hyacinthe and for any of the colleges, that does not have to be there until January 20, 2003.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the scandals plaguing the Liberals have left the government's reputation as competent managers in tatters.

This latest unbelievable twist has the Minister of Public Works forming a quick response team to look into the mismanagement in the sponsorship program. However, the minister tables only the Reader's Digest condensed version of the report, and this incredible quote is from the minister himself, as he says, he did not release the full report because it raises “questions, allegations, suspicion”. Well, duh.

The minister promised transparency. Why has he broken that promise by helping to cover up the real problems in his department?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, there is indeed no cover-up. The quick response team was put together to review every one of the files that was under question, about 721 of those files altogether. The team prepared a final report. That final report described the nature of the problems, such as overbilling, for example, that needed further investigation.

That final report was released on the 10th of October, together with a statement by me indicating that in every case these allegations were being followed up and the appropriate action would be taken, whether that was a reference to the police or a recovery action or a reference to the Department of Justice or whatever. Each one of them is being pursued.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is good at editing; he is not so good at auditing.

Let me read what the complete report actually says: there is “systemic and egregious overcharging”. There is an “extreme nature of...overbilling”. There is “no” final “report or post-mortem”. One lucky advertising executive charges 10 hours a day, 365 days a year, for a total of $625,000.

We have had boondoggles from the government. We had the gun fiasco last week. It goes on and on. Is not the real reason the minister does not like to talk about the full report is that the rot from the government goes from one end of that front bench to the other?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. What the hon. gentleman has referred to are the questions, the allegations, the suspicions, that have been raised by the internal review team. That review team recommended that these matters be referred to auditors for time verification audits to determine whether or not the allegations were founded. That is in fact the exact action that we have taken.

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's attitude as far as the École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-Hyacinthe is concerned is not only inexplicable, but also absolutely regrettable. Regardless of what the minister may think, a report of that magnitude is not going to get written overnight between January 19 and 20. The process needs to start today, if the American association's deadline is to be met.

Is the minister aware that, thanks to his behaviour in this matter, Quebec will no longer be able to turn out accredited French speaking veterinarians in the very near future? It will be all over. And he will be the one responsible.

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, speaking of attitude, I can tell you the attitude of the caucus and the government has been one all along. Not only do we want to help the veterinarian college at Saint-Hyacinthe achieve its accreditation, we have been working on that all along and we intended to work on that because we know the importance of not only that veterinary college in Canada but all veterinary colleges in Canada.

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, they have been doing a good job all right. They are supposed to have settled this problem two years ago, and Quebec has already done its part. It has already put in $41 million. Moreover, the minister has been misinformed on this issue, and continues to be misinformed.

How is he going to explain to the people of Saint-Hyacinthe and the rest of Quebec that, faced with an urgent situation and despite the $41 million Quebec has contributed as its share to save the accreditation of Saint-Hyacinthe, he is doing nothing and is allowing the veterinary school to die? How is he going to explain that?

École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-HyacintheOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that this caucus and the members of the government are showing a lot more mature attitude on this than the hon. member has been recently.