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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it might have been nice if he had answered the question, but we will get back to it later.

In 1996, when the member for Sudbury was the minister of public works, Groupaction was paid $500,000 for the initial contract. Then, in 1998, after the arrival of Alfonso Gagliano, Groupaction got a second contract for $550,000 to do the same job. In 1999, the same scheme was used, and this time, Groupaction was paid $575,000 for doing nothing more.

Does the fact that the same contract was renewed at least twice, supposedly without anyone in the department noticing it, not prove that there is a system of sweetheart deals going on at public works and that a public inquiry is required?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, in case the hon. member was not listening to what I said, the auditor general was mandated, and I quote “to review the requirements of contracts”. This applies to the three contracts. She can examine them all.

Clearly, the document I have before me dates from before the sponsorship program began; so it was not an evaluation of the prior program . It had not started at the time. So it is clearly not the same thing. I suspect the hon. member realizes this.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, three contracts produced three reports that are virtually identical.

I concentrated on the first contract, and I noticed that on July 2, 1996, the contract was awarded for $250,000. Two months later, despite the fact that work had yet to begin on the contract, there was a recommendation to increase the fee from $250,000 to $500,000 for this contract. All of the other terms and conditions remained the same.

Could I please be told why someone, in the middle of the summer, decided to double the price for the Groupaction contract?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking me about changes made to a report proposed six years ago. That is the question he has just raised.

Regarding the three reports, I have repeated and I will repeat again, the Auditor General of Canada will audit the books in the case of the three documents. Yesterday, I quoted the auditor general's mandate, as well as her usual mandate, and I am also prepared to table this document.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first contract is the one that established the amount for all of the subsequent contracts. That is why it is of interest.

My question for the minister is as follows. Can he tell me what happened poolside in Ottawa in July, 1996, for a $250,000 contract to become a $500,000 contract, without any of the other terms or conditions being changed, as recommended by Mr. Guité and approved by Mr. Guité? We want to know what happed poolside that cost taxpayers $250,000.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, speaking of pools, some cooling off is perhaps in order.

The Auditor General of Canada said, regarding her work, that "For the moment, [the focus] is the . . . contracts. We will see how things progress, and if we feel that it is necessary to go further than that, we will". This is what the Auditor General of Canada said. This must be true, since it comes from the Globe and Mail .

Lumber IndustryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

In spite of the fact that the lumber industry in the United States seems to have more power than the president of the United States and in spite of the fact that it seems intent on imposing what the Washington Post has called an American new home ownership tax on American consumers, I wonder if the Deputy Prime Minister could tell us, as the Prime Minister is in Monterrey and so is the president with whom he will be meeting, will he be raising this with the president today to make sure that commitment is kept and a solution is found to this problem that does not amount to a form of blackmail on Canada and a threat to our sovereignty?

Lumber IndustryOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made a point of raising this very important issue with the president on each opportunity that he has had occasion to speak with him. Given that the negotiations are not completed and are continuing, it is very likely that he would be intent on raising the issue again with President Bush.

That being said, we are not prepared to sign any agreement. We are attempting to negotiate an arrangement that will serve our interests but will not yield territory that is important to us, namely the ability to have full and free access to the U.S. market for our products.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of financial institutions.

Today world leaders are in Monterrey at the United Nations summit on global poverty.The first draft of the Monterrey consensus document includes a reference to a currency transaction tax, the so-called Tobin tax, but the current version of the draft does include any such reference.

We understand that the Canadian delegation was instrumental in removing reference to that tax.

The House voted overwhelmingly in favour of pursuing internationally a Tobin tax initiative. Why did the government betray a resolution of the House which was supported by 130 Liberal members of parliament, including the Minister of Finance?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I was not in the House at the time and was not aware of that motion. However, I would commend the government for ceasing to support a Tobin tax because I think it is a pretty bad tax.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

March 21st, 2002 / 2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned, big surprise, that, in addition to the two almost identical reports prepared by Groupaction in 1998 and 1999 for the department of public works, there was a third report. There is, no doubt, a fourth one on the horizon. This report lists many of the same events. There are three similar reports, three contracts and three payments of half a million dollars.

How many reports and how many millions will it take for the government to understand that Matane does indeed hold a shrimp festival? When may we expect a public inquiry?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I do not know who wrote that, but he should be fired on the spot.

The hon. member says that this is a third report. He says that it is identical to the other two. The House should know that the member has never asked me for a copy of this third report, and that he has therefore not seen it.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will get a copy to him before he gets one to me.

That having been said, there is a taint of scandal, corruption, patronage and overpayment hanging over this government.

After one, two, and three reports, when can we expect a fourth and a fifth? When will there be a full public inquiry? Will the minister stop defending the indefensible patronage of this government?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of defending. I myself asked the auditor general—the member was perhaps not here when I did so, but I will reread him the terms of the auditor general's contract—first, to review the requirements of the three contracts given to Groupaction. He does not want to hear the truth. Second, to analyze and compare the deliverables. Third, to review the approval process for payments made to Groupaction. Fourth, to conduct any other audit procedures necessary and, finally, to provide findings and recommendations with respect to the three, not two, reports.

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that there may be a Canadian connection to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately, U.S. authorities arrested Suhail Sarwer only after luring him across the border from Canada. He was wanted on charges of destruction of aircraft, bombing, and FBI investigators actually believe he has a direct and recent link to the September 11 tragedy.

The RCMP had investigated him but did not see fit to detain him despite knowing that he was wanted in the United States.

Why did the RCMP not arrest Sarwer and turn him over when it had a chance?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague indicated that there was a link. There is no direct link to what happened on September 11.

I can also tell my hon. colleague that I do not direct, as solicitor general, who the RCMP arrests and who it does not arrest.

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, naturally we all hope there is no Canadian connection with the September 11 attacks but to let that hope blind us to our own responsibilities would be a tragic error.

American citizens died on September 11 but so did Canadians. Americans are fearful of a repeat of these terrorist attacks and so are Canadians. Suhail Sarwer was in Canada and the RCMP let him go. Canadians want to see justice done. They will not accept the overwhelming denial and complacency of the government on this issue.

When will the government understand that a Canadian connection demands a Canadian solution?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, there is no Canadian connection at this time. However my hon. colleague needs to know that the RCMP has responded to over 9,000 tips. It has worked with CSIS and its American counterparts since September 11 to make sure that any individual involved in terrorism around the world is brought to justice. It has and will continue to do that.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that the official responsible for this file at public works, Charles Guité, asked Groupaction to not bother with an important part of its mandate, namely the qualitative analysis, and focus instead on the inventory of events that could be sponsored.

Considering that, at the request of Public Works Canada, the qualitative analysis component was dropped, how does the minister explain that the initial contract was billed in full and then paid in full by Public Works Canada?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, this is a reasonable question. I can tell the hon. member that if he read—and I believe he did—the statement released on March 19, he knows that the auditor general has a mandate to do that and that I also pledged to ask for a refund, if we paid for services that we did not receive.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can understand why the minister wants to hide behind the auditor general's investigation, but she is not the one in charge of the department.

The minister must tell us if, as we speak, there are still contracts from his department that are being executed by Groupaction, one of its subsidiaries or related companies. If so, what is the nature of these contracts?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, even those who read today's newspapers, or who listened to the news, know that there are nine companies that execute advertising contracts for the government. There was a call for tenders. We originally had 14 bidders. Of course—and this is already public knowledge—Groupaction is one the nine companies that is doing work for us at this point. There are two or three contracts that are about to be completed. There are jobs that are being done under competitive bidding.

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, U.S. officials only told Canada about Suhail Sarwer after he was arrested. We already know that inside our country the RCMP and CSIS do not always talk to each other. Obviously we do not talk to our American counterparts either. So much for the Ridge agreement.

Why would the U.S. wait to tell Canada until after the suspect was in custody? Is there something wrong with our relations with the U.S. when it comes to national security?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that my hon. colleague wishes to criticize the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and CSIS. We have one of the best police forces and security intelligence agencies in the world. They have worked with the United States authorities since September 11 and in fact before that. They work in co-operation to make sure that anybody involved in terrorism is brought to justice.

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, flag waving does not do it.

It seems the United States has been forced to act alone in capturing this suspected terrorist. Many experts on border security and immigration have warned the government that if Canada does not do its job others will step in and do it for us. This now seems to have happened.

Could the solicitor general explain to Canadians how he can be satisfied with the country's security services if the U.S. has been forced to act alone to catch this terrorist in Canada who was let go by the RCMP?