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House of Commons Hansard #194 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, members only had to listen to the explanation of Mr. Wilson when he appeared on CTV on Sunday afternoon. He explained the difficulty that we were facing at that time. He is advising everybody.

I have asked him to report to the House of Commons. We hope that the House of Commons on both sides will agree to have an ethics counsellor that will be for all members of parliament, including ministers, for their duties as members of parliament and reporting to the House of Commons. It will be in front of parliament in October.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister who, last week, was preaching the virtues of ethics, has a very elastic moral code when it comes to protecting his minister of immigration. Indeed, the Prime Minister stated that his minister has the right not to answer questions on his stay at Claude Boulay's condominium. Yet, the former secretary of state was required to comply with the code of ethics when he denied these facts. He was a secretary of state and was therefore accountable for his actions when he gave the interview to the Globe and Mail .

Will the Prime Minister admit that, by protecting his minister of immigration, he is once again contributing to undermining public trust in the government and in democratic institutions?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have been a member of this House for a very long time, and there is a well established and very appropriate principle whereby the personal problems of MPs are not within the public domain.

The reported incident occurred before the member became a minister. At the time, he was dealing with his private life. He does not have to talk about it to anyone, and nor do we want MPs to be required to answer questions from journalists, regardless of their position in the House, and this applies any day of the week.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about private life, we are talking about public life. When the interview took place, the member was a secretary of state. We are talking about public actions done in private. That is something quite different.

The Prime Minister is absolving a minister who did not tell the truth in the Groupe Everest affair. While Groupe Everest had just been awarded a $500,000 contract, the member was denying the facts, this while he was a secretary of state, a minister who knew full well that if he admitted staying at Claude Boulay's condominium, it would put him directly in a conflict of interest situation.

Will the Prime Minister admit that, by downplaying the actions of the minister of immigration, he is sending the signal that it is OK for a minister to lie to the public?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister acted very properly. He said that what was going on in his private life before he became minister was his own business. If there are public matters that have occurred since then, while he was a minister, then he would have to answer questions.

The case to which the hon. member is referring involves a contract which, as far as I know, was awarded by the department of public works.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the treasury board's special rules established for advertising contracts, departments are required to hire firms through Communications Canada, which comes under the department of public works. However, the minister making the request does have some authority to recommend to public works.

My question for the minister of heritage is the following. In the case of the contract awarded to Everest, who at the department of heritage used this authority to recommend?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the authority to recommend followed the usual procedure in the public service.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, upon leaving the Liberal caucus, the Minister of Justice gave an explanation and what he said was this: “The minister does not have enough opportunities to intervene in the choice of communications firms. He should have more. He should be able to choose the firm he wants”.

Is the Minister of Justice not setting the stage, in order to justify and explain what his colleague from immigration did, which is about to be brought to light?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I think it is quite simple. In the debate that is currently taking place in the House, the members on the government side are being raked over the coals on a daily basis for decisions that were made, not by us, but through delegated authority, particularly when it comes to communications contracts.

Basically, if the other side wants to discuss reforms, then let us talk about even greater reforms. Let us talk about the role of politicians in the entire administration of government. Let us also talk about the role of members in the entire administration of government and in their ridings to ensure that the rules are clearly laid out and that when we go before the public every four or five years, we can fulfill our responsibilities.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

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

It is predictable that the government would hide behind RCMP investigations. However we do not need an RCMP investigation to know that it is sleazy to transfer government funds to a crown corporation through a marketing firm, in this case Lafleur, so friends can get a piece of the action.

We assume the Prime Minister has been fully briefed on this latest revelation. I would ask him to inform the House whether railroading VIA Rail funds via Lafleur is an isolated incident or, with the government, is it just business as usual?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the matter the leader of the New Democratic Party referred to is, as she knows, in the hands of the RCMP. The very best legal advice given to me is that the worst thing members of the House could do would be to involve themselves in that investigation and perhaps defeat the purpose of what the RCMP are trying to accomplish.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I said, it was quite predictable that we would have government members hiding behind the RCMP investigation. However let me remind government members what we have here.

Lafleur Communications, owned by Groupaction by the way, pocketed $120,000 for the privilege of having $1 million in government funds pass through on its way to VIA Rail, a crown corporation.

Does the Prime Minister not think that is a pretty hefty fare for railway passengers, even for Liberal freight?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the circumstances of the file resulted in a review by the officials in my department who referred the matter to the RCMP for the appropriate action.

The police will investigate. That investigation will take them wherever it takes them. It is up to them to conduct the investigation and I suspect they are considerably better at it than the hon. member.

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister just told the House that the Auberge Grand-Mère loan is being repaid. That was the loan that was approved after the Prime Minister personally intervened with the president of the Business Development Bank.

Business Development Bank records are supposed to be confidential. The Prime Minister spent all of last spring saying that he had no interest in the loan. How does the Prime Minister know that the Yvon Duhaime loan is being repaid?

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am a graduate in law and I know that if a loan has not been paid after six months the loan is recalled and the company is sued. There is no such a record to the effect that the loan has not been paid. If the loan has not been paid, the Caisse populaire, le Fonds de solidarité and the Business Development Bank would have taken action against that businessman and they have not done so in the last six years.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the Prime Minister needs another napkin to write an agreement on.

The RCMP said that its investigation into the Groupaction files will go wherever it needs to go. It now extends to Lafleur Communications. Yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister told the House that Alfonso Gagliano was not under any police investigation.

How does the Deputy Prime Minister know that? Is he suggesting that the RCMP investigation will go wherever it needs to go except to Alfonso Gagliano?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have said that there is an investigation. We have seen no mention of former minister Gagliano's name on any of the documents or in any public communication in relation to this inquiry.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us try to figure this one out. Ministers who get caught with their ethics down get rewarded, fired, promoted or demoted.

One minister does the same thing as the Prime Minister and gets fired, while the Prime Minister takes trips and shrugs his shoulders.

Why are Liberal standards and ethics only made up on the day something happens?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thought those people had some standards. Yesterday I was in Rome for one of the most important days in the western world. We made a decision to take the Russians into NATO.

Perhaps I can inform the hon. member that while I was there, NATO Secretary General Robertson said to me “Thank you, Prime Minister of Canada. The first time this problem was discussed at NATO it was an idea of Canada”.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, but meanwhile back at home the government has a terrible ethics problem and I think the Prime Minister should maybe concentrate on that a little.

Does this make sense to anybody? One day there are no standards, then there are some standards, but that is only when the Prime Minister looks bad, and then there are standards, but that is the bureaucrats' fault.

Why not develop quality standards for cabinet then hire an independent ethics counsellor who would report to parliament to oversee these? What is wrong with the concept? What is wrong with the government understanding--

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, rather than reading a prepared question, if he had listened he would have understood what I said. I said that I was inviting the House of Commons to establish an ethics counsellor who would look at the ethics of members of parliament, senators and ministers and would report to the House. I said that a minute ago. He should listen before asking questions.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

May 29th, 2002 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that—

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is impossible to hear the hon. member for Chambly, who has the floor.

I warned hon. members about the problem with our air conditioning and this will not help.