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House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was excise.

Topics

World Day for Water 2002Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, today on the 50th anniversary of Bill Mosienko scoring 3 NHL goals in 21 seconds, nations around the world are marking World Day for Water 2002.

One of the goals set out in the United Nations millennium declaration is to reduce by half the number of people around the globe who do not have access to affordable safe drinking water, and that is why this year's theme of water for development is so important.

Water is vital to the survival of humankind. This year water pollution and water shortages will kill 12 million people worldwide and millions more will suffer. World Day for Water 2002 is an opportunity to open the eyes of the world, particularly in Canada where we have for far too long taken for granted our access to safe clean water, to the crisis that faces millions.

We must all act together to ensure water for all. Let today be a call for the developed countries of the world to take action to meet the goals of the United Nations millennium declaration and later this year reinforce our commitment at the UN world summit on sustainable development.

Highway InfrastructureStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a short while, I will be taking to the Prime Minister's office over 3,000 postcards from inhabitants of the Saguenay region, who are demanding that the federal government hand over the money promised for highway 175 before March 31, 2002.

Before and during the last election campaign, the Liberals promised $3.5 billion for roads in Quebec. The money now available is nothing like what was promised barely a year ago.

March 31 will mark the end of the fiscal year for the government, and its surplus is estimated at close to $10 billion. According to the usual budget provisions, this money will go completely toward debt repayment.

Those who sent in these postcards are demanding that the Prime Minister free up the money promised from this surplus so that his government can ratify the five memorandums of understanding for highways 175, 185, 30, 35 and 50 immediately.

The Prime Minister should open the till, because a promise is a promise.

MulticulturalismStatements By Members

March 22nd, 2002 / 11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday night I had the honour of participating in a conference of the friendship group of parliamentarians for UNESCO. The conference was focused on the dialogue of cultures and civilizations, building on the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations that was celebrated in 2001. I was honoured to join His Excellency John Ralston Saul as well as a number of my colleagues in exploring this important issue.

In this age of international uncertainty it is more important than ever that we actively engage in dialogue between those of different backgrounds. We want to create lasting peace in our world. We must find ways to speak to the hearts and minds of our common human family.

Political PartiesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday evening the new leader of the Canadian Alliance was chosen by its members. I congratulate Stephen Harper for the strength of his victory, for the clarity of his ideas and for the eagerness to tackle the Liberal government on the big issues of the day.

Most encouraging to me were early expressions of reaching out to others who are interested in building a principled conservative option. For the same reason, I also express my encouragement and my ongoing gratitude to the leader of the Progressive Conservatives, a man who is breaking new ground and taking new initiatives in an effort to build a democratic conservative alternative.

In the years leading up to the founding of our country, political coalitions sprung up and withered away with alarming consistency, mostly because their only purpose was to wrestle power into their own hands. However the great coalition, a coalition strong enough to usher into being a new and wonderful country, held together and was effective because it put the dreams and hopes of a nation at the top of its personal agenda.

Right now Canadians want a principled conservative option. Parliament desperately needs it and democracy demands it. I encourage both Stephen Harper and the leader of the Progressive Conservatives to put the hopes of the nation in first place and strive to put substance to the dreams of a better Canada.

Middle EastStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, in every quarter, there are people who are inclined to dismiss Palestinians and Israelis equally, condemning the actions of both in the same breath. Others seek to make the problem go away by calling for an end to the violence and a return to the negotiating table.

The military occupation of part of Palestine by Israel since 1967 is the fundamental cause of the crisis in the Middle East. The end of this occupation is a necessary condition for ending the violence and restoring peace.

Canadian policy does not recognize the permanent control by Israel of the territories occupied in 1967 and is opposed to any unilateral action to predetermine the outcome of negotiations, such as settlements in the territories or unilateral action—

Middle EastStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but we must proceed to oral question period.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week it was revealed that one of Paul Martin's top fundraisers was also on contract with the Department of Finance.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I think the hon. member knows that he cannot refer to other hon. members by name. He will want to refrain from any such conduct.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week it was revealed that the finance minister's top fundraiser was also on contract with the Department of Finance. That was too much for even the Liberal's ethics lapdog who asked the finance minister to cut his ties with Jim Palmer.

Now we learn that there are new guidelines for leadership fundraising by cabinet ministers but they are being kept secret.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister end this cover-up and insist that leadership fundraising rules be tabled in the House?

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I saw the newspaper article on which the member based his question. There are no such rules that have been drafted.

The basic rule that ministers in conducting their affairs need to avoid, real or apparent conflict is the predominant rule. That is one that we need to respect.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, obviously that has come under question and that is why we are asking the government to be honest with Canadians and table the rules.

The government's approach to ethics is see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Ethics violations that would have had the rat pack screeching under the Mulroney government are tidily hidden away by the ethics lapdog.

How can the ethics rules have any credibility if the Deputy Prime Minister and his colleagues are not prepared to be publicly accountable to uphold them?

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the system has worked.

There was an issue that came to light. It was dealt with by the ethics counsellor according to the most important rule, that ministers should avoid an appearance of conflict, and corrective action was taken. That is what needed to happen and that is what happened.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, this has been a consistent pattern with the government. There are always problems when it comes to ethics and accountability. It owes Canadians better than that.

We found out that a minister's fundraiser has been on contract with his department only because he accidentally slipped the wrong cheque into the mail. How many other cabinet ministers have had their leadership bagmen on the payroll?

Could the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House that no other minister has given contracts or government appointments to their leadership fundraisers?

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, unlike members on the other side, we are not in a leadership campaign, although I guess they no longer are either.

The fundamental rule, which is one that everyone agrees on and one that needs to be respected, is that ministers must comport themselves with a great deal of probity, and that includes avoidance of real or apparent conflicts. When they arise, the ethics counsellor is there to provide advice to the minister as well as to the Prime Minister.

The system has worked in this case and corrective action has been taken. I am sure that all ministers will take that into account.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the problem continues. Isabel Metcalfe is fundraising for the Minister of Canadian Heritage while lobbying her department. Her husband, Herb Metcalfe, is a lobbyist who is raising money for the Deputy Prime Minister. We know the finance minister keeps a whole stable of lobbyists on the public payroll at Earnscliffe Strategy Group.

Without public guidelines, how can we have faith that there are no conflicts of interest between a minister's public duties and private leadership ambitions?

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am not accepting the truth of what the hon. member has stated and the premise to his question. However, quite apart from that, I think the rule is very clear. The rule is that one should not be in a real or apparent conflict.

We have created a very transparent and open system for lobbyists to register their activities and to do so in a way that any member of parliament can investigate any person who may be a lobbyist and see who it is they are retaining to lobby and who they represent. It is for ministers to avoid an appearance of conflict.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, if there are rules why does the government not table them?

The government has kept its conflict of interest guidelines for cabinet ministers secret for eight years. Last fall the ethics counsellor gave the Prime Minister a new report on ministers dealing with crown corporations and it is still secret. Now we find there are more secret guidelines on leadership fundraising.

How can the Canadian public have faith that the cabinet is following the rules when we do not know what the rules are and the Deputy Prime Minister will not table the rules?

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member is trying to find a set of rules that somehow or other will explain to him what the principles of real or apparent conflict and good judgment are. Those are things that most people understand and they recognize real or apparent conflict. Ministers are expected to avoid that. It is a question of judgment not a question of detailed rules.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem with the Groupaction affair is more than administrative.

Losing documents, awarding a series of contracts, changing the amount without the work being done, is not explainable only by poor management. It also assumes an organized system of patronage and corruption.

The minister of public works must realize that the auditor general is going to address only the management issue. The minister, who claims he wants to see a cleanup, must realize that only a public inquiry will be able to restore confidence and dispel the atmosphere of corruption and patronage.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago the hon. member, or rather her colleagues, called for an audit by the auditor general.

To their great surprise, probably, the response was yes. They are having a hard time accepting that yes.

Regardless of the opposition's problem with accepting a yes, the answer concerning the auditor general is still yes.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes the Bloc Quebecois has called for the auditor general to audit the government's entire administration, but every day we learn something new that goes beyond mere government administration. That is why we want a public inquiry.

Clearly, this entire affair is more than merely government administration. What we want to know, what the public wants to know, is the nature of the involvement of both ministers, including the hon. member for Sudbury, the political staff, and the senior departmental staff, in the awarding of phony contracts to the Liberal Party's cronies in recent years.

Does the minister understand that this affair, which involves public funds, requires a public inquiry?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the only thing new here is that this is the newest version of the same questions.

I repeat to the hon. member that the mandate of the auditor general is, first, to audit any file she wishes to audit.

Second, in connection with the Groupaction matter, she has been asked to review the requirements of the three contracts, to analyze and compare the content of the three documents, to review the process and to conduct any other audit procedures necessary.

Games of La FrancophonieOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport told the House that he would conduct an investigation and that he would answer all questions concerning the organizing committee for the Games of La Francophonie.

Even though a Canadian commissioner is refusing to comment on the regularity of the committee's financial books, we learned this morning that there will be no investigation.

Can the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport explain why he went back on his word, and is he still sure that he will be able to answer all questions about the organization of these games?

Games of La FrancophonieOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of a Canadian audit, but an audit by the international committee of the Games of La Francophonie.

Furthermore, the Bloc Quebecois critic accompanied me to the international conference two weeks ago where the rules for this audit were established. It was in Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso and, if I am not mistaken, it was the same member who asked the question who delegated his colleague to attend in his place.

Games of La FrancophonieOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming clear that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services has inherited a political hot potato from former minister Gagliano. But this is a matter in which he is involved.

We will try another little question. We have in our hands documents showing that the Canada Information Office paid the organizing committee $600,000, much of it for advertising activities.

Can the minister assure us that no part of this $600,000 was paid as a commission to Rhéal Leroux, the games' general manager?