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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

Michel Berthiaume and Allan LoneyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to underscore the courage of two individuals in my riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry, Michel Berthiaume and Allan Loney, who received the Medal of Bravery today for an act of bravery under dangerous circumstances.

On September 10, 1999, they came to the rescue of a colleague who was seriously injured during an explosion at a chemical plant in Saint-Timothée, Quebec. Alerted by the sound of the explosion, they ran toward the victim, who, despite his injuries, had managed to escape the burning building. Despite the risk of collapse of the brick wall, next to which the victim was lying, and the shower of explosive debris, Messrs. Berthiaume and Loney carried the victim a distance from the building where hundreds of kilograms of explosive powder could have ignited at any moment. They then laid the man down in a van and administered first aid until help arrived.

Congratulations.

Health CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is no end to the government's wasting of taxpayer dollars: the billion dollar boondoggle by HRDC, millions of untendered contracts to Groupaction, millions more to Attractions Canada to promote tourism when we already fund the Canadian Tourism Association, and now the 400% cost overruns of the gun registry.

Under the direction of the former finance minister from LaSalle—Émard, the Liberals slashed health care funding and cut EI benefits while raking in a $40 billion surplus.

The Liberal government pretends to care about Canadians while wasting dollars that could go to health care funding.

The Prime Minister has received the Romanow report. Canadians have spoken but is the government listening? Is the Liberal government promoting Romanow's recommendations? No, it is silent. Canadians wanting to review the report must pay $49 to get a copy.

Canadians want a publicly funded, publicly delivered system. Canadians agree that there should be accountability by the provinces but how can the Liberal government ensure that accountability when it misuses and abuses taxpayer dollars?

Government ContractsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government has had too many scandals to count. On Saturday, we learned that certain Liberal cronies were awarded contracts of close to $150,000 to surf the Internet. Some devoted supporters of the Liberal party tried to convince us that they worked more than 10 hours a day for 365 days of the year, for the benefit of Canadians and Quebeckers. Others appear to have submitted somewhat padded bills as well.

However, it is unfortunate that the revelation of these scandals has depended on leaks, reports from the Auditor General and informed but usually anonymous sources.

Time passes, but the names remain: Gosselin, Everest, Groupaction, Lafleur, Polygone, Coffin. Unfortunately, while the players are the same, the sums of money involved continue to grow.

How long will it take to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel? How long will it take before we really find out the true extent of the damage? Will we have to rely on Groupaction to get the study done?

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, 54 years ago today, the United Nations adopted the genocide treaty, sometimes referred to as the never again treaty, to prevent and protect against this most unthinkable and unspeakable of crimes.

Regrettably, and incredibly, genocide became the paradigmatic form of armed conflict in the 1990s, including the advocacy and perpetration of genocide in the Balkans and Rwanda.

The enduring lesson of the Holocaust is that Nazism succeeded not only because of the industry of death but because of the ideology of hate. It was this teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other, this is where it all began.

Fifty years later we have witnessed an appalling trafficking in state sanctioned hate, which led us down the road to the unthinkable, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the unspeakable, the preventable genocide in Rwanda, and the demonizing, once again, of the Jews.

What is needed at this point is a strategy of prevention, a culture of human rights in place of a culture of hate; a culture of respect in place of a culture of contempt, of respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and the equal dignity of all persons everywhere.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

December 9th, 2002 / 2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Auditor General said that the government misled Parliament by hiding an unprecedented $700 million.

The Liberal government's accounting has been a prodigy of slyness and concealment. The safe handling of firearms is needed. All Canadians support this, but a cost overrun of $700 million is not a break in procedure but a break and enter on the Canadian taxpayers.

We all know the program got off to a rocky start by the founding father who originally guesstimated the cost to be $2 million. Seven years later the cost is over 400 times that figure.

Next up we have the Minister of Health, another player in the firearms fiasco. I think all members are curious over the fact that these numbers were kept secret during an election year. How was it that justice officials were saying that the program would cost $300 million, then simultaneously asked for half a billion dollars in supplemental estimates?

Then we have the revisionist finance minister. He now says that the firearms registry needs to fixed. He fixed it all right, by approving supplemental estimates of half a billion dollars.

Why does the government not cut its losses for the taxpayers and scrap this bureaucratic billion dollar blunder?

Queen's Jubilee MedalStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge 20 deserving citizens of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia who have been selected to receive the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of significant achievement or outstanding service to the community.

They are: Jean Ammeter, Colonel Bert Cheffins, John Datzkiw, George Elliot, Lauren Flynn, Jeanne Gitzel, Gwen Hatch, Howard Holtman, Beth Ilott, Robert Irving, Dr. Jagdish Khatter, Dr. Michael Moffat, Connie Newman, Paul Robson, William Scott, Jim Stewart, Jeff Stroughton, Verna Van Roon, Alf Warkentin and Myrtle Zimmerman.

The presentation of the medals was made by Lieutenant Governor Peter Liba of Manitoba on November 14. I invite the House to congratulate these fine people. They are truly outstanding Canadians.

Acts of BraveryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, on December 7, 2000, Mrs. Jody Kuntz of Prince Rupert risked her life trying to prevent a suicidal man from jumping from a small aircraft some 3,000 metres above the Hecate Strait on the northwest coast of British Columbia.

Deputy Sheriff Kuntz was escorting a prisoner to Prince Rupert when, 20 minutes into the flight, he lunged out of his seat toward the emergency exit, opening the door and partially exiting the airplane. Bracing herself against the door frame she managed to hold onto the back of the prisoner's clothes with one hand. Determined to end his life, the man freed himself from her grip and, despite Deputy Sheriff Kuntz's desperate attempt to pull him back, he eventually fell to his death.

The Governor General's Medal of Bravery is awarded for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances. I am proud to congratulate Mrs. Kuntz today as she is presented with her Medal of Bravery.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it turns out that the Prime Minister could have actually found a good reason to fire his former finance minister this past summer. We have now learned that backroom deals have allowed the government to hide another $1 billion in GST losses. By law, Parliament is supposed to be informed of GST losses, theft and fraud.

My question is, exactly who in the government is responsible for the illegal cover-up of $1 billion of losses in this boondoggle?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the facts are as follows. CCRA is more transparent than ever. We regularly report all bad debts to the public accounts committee. We put on our website all of the 700 convictions of which last year 70 were for GST alone.

We pursue every last dollar to see if it can be collected. Only when we have exhausted every effort to collect those dollars do we then write them off and report to--

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have already had a hat trick of mismanagement. We had a billion dollar boondoggle at HRDC, criminal investigations in public works on sponsorship, another billion dollars squandered on the gun registry, and now the fourth wheel is off the bus. We have these billion dollars losses regarding the GST. The reporting of them and the law have been sidestepped since 1994.

I ask the government, and I expect the Prime Minister to get up and answer the question, why have these not been reported under public accounts for the past eight years?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the facts are as follows. We have had double the number of GST convictions and every time we get a conviction it is posted on our website with a media advisory.

When it is written off as a bad debt, we report to public accounts where we answer all questions. We are more accountable than ever and I would point out that the public accounts committee is chaired by a member of the official opposition.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister is going to retire early he should give up his salary too.

Foreign tax experts warned the government that GST fraud would be a problem. The government's answer was to disband special teams of auditors and investigators. Today in the newspaper we see a quoted multi-billion dollar scheme to subsidize the implementation of Kyoto by big companies.

How can anyone believe the government claim of implementing something on the scale of Kyoto, when it screws up program after program on a much more modest scale?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is one fact that is very clear. It is that the administration has provided such a government that this year we have--for the sixth year--a surplus. It is because our administrative operations are very good.

There are always problems in a big administration, and when we are informed by the Auditor General or even by committees of the House, we work very hard to bring about a report to the House and to do the right thing. In this case, the chair of the public accounts committee is a member of the opposition and he has not yet reported on that to us as far as I know.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, with the government, the bigger the surplus the more it thinks it can waste, and that is sad.

Coming back to the GST fraud artists, the government reported that fraud in 1994 and in 1995 it was absent from the public accounts. I am asking the Prime Minister to explain that to Canadians. Why the sudden change?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the facts are as follows. We report all bad debts to public accounts. It can take us up to five years before we write those off because we try to recover every possible penny that we can. We are doing better because we are able to work with international partners.

I would point out to the hon. member that it is not fraud until there is a conviction. As soon as we have a conviction it is posted on our website with a media advisory. Last year we posted 700 convictions and notified the media.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have seen what happens when the government chooses secrecy over accountability: a billion dollar boondoggle in HRDC, millions of dollars lost in an advertising problem, a billion dollars with the gun registry, and now untold millions from GST fraud. With the government there are lots and lots of cheques, but very few balances.

My question is, exactly why is the government hiding GST fraud from Canadian taxpayers? Why is that?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the truth is we post these on our website and we report to public accounts. The opposition is giving out the wrong impression. I have heard the leader of the official opposition say that we had disbanded a unit to track this fraud. In fact, we have expanded it to 1,000 people. That is why have doubled the number of convictions. Those are the facts.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, by only releasing a 5 page section of the investigation report into the sponsorship scandal, rather than the full 16 page report that he had in his possession, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services kept it under wraps that ad executive Gilles-André Gosselin had billed the government for 10 hours of work per day, seven days per week, for one year, all of which came to a mere $625,000.

How can the person who was supposed to be sorting out the sponsorship affair and cronyism justify keeping this report from us?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the report that was released clearly identified that there were difficulties with the time of billings of certain firms. It indicated that time verification audits were to be undertaken to verify what those difficulties were. That process is underway. We are enforcing the rules as we said we would.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are told about enforcing rules and audits. It seems to me that it would have been simple to produce the full report.

Is the reason that the minister only produced part of the report not to hide a certain number of facts that would have been embarrassing for the government, and for some of his colleagues? If they are going to talk about transparency, they should not hide 11 pages. Why did he hide these pages?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, there is one final report and that report has indeed been released. The department, in preparing that report, identified a number of difficulties having to do with billing procedures and other matters. The report indicated that every one of those allegations was being properly followed up. The appropriate action will be taken either by the police or through legal action to recover the money. All proper steps are indeed being taken.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the 16 page report became public, the minister said that he had hidden it to respect the principle of privacy.

How is the right to privacy violated if taxpayers know that, once again, Groupaction Marketing, received $147,000 to do a study but never submitted any report, if they know that, on average, Polygone received eight times too much money to organize the outdoor shows for which it was responsible? Whose privacy does the minister want to protect?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, in the material that the hon. gentleman referred to there were a number of allegations and questions raised. All of those allegations and questions are being pursued, as I indicated they would be when I released the material on October 10. When the process results in specific action that too will be released.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister was supposed to provide us with all the details of the internal investigation, not just tell us what he wants to tell us.

How does the minister justify that he hid this report from us to respect the right to privacy, when we are talking about public funds, about people working for the public, about a government that is accountable to the public and to whose Minister of Public Works I am directing my questions? What is private in all this?