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House of Commons Hansard #195 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.

Topics

International AidOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I hope there will be a replacement named within a week or two.

While I am on my feet, I just want to make a correction. Listening to the opposition members, I tend to take the habit from them to exaggerate a bit. I was speaking about $50,000 but unfortunately I said $50 million. It is the atmosphere of exaggeration that exists on the other side that seems to have come over to our side at this moment.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always somebody else's fault.

I have a question for the Prime Minister, which I am sure he has looked into. Did the then minister of state for amateur sport recommend to the Minister of Canadian Heritage in any form that the $500,000 contract for organizing cross country consultations on amateur sport be awarded to Groupe Everest?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have no information before me to that effect.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister. When accused of improper behaviour, the solicitor general was allowed to speak for himself, so was the former Minister of Public Works and Government Services, so was the former Minister of National Defence, so was the Minister of Justice and so was the Minister of Finance.

On a matter relating to public policy and while he was a minister of the crown, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration gave two absolutely contradictory stories. The House needs to know which is true.

Why does the Prime Minister not allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the same right as other accused ministers have to stand in the House and speak for himself?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, who is a long time member of this House, should know the rules. The rule is that a minister should answer in the House of Commons about his responsibility for the ministry he has at that moment. If it is a question related to his previous ministry, the question should be asked of the new minister. That has been the rule unless the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister or an acting minister are replying in place of the minister of immigration.

These are the rules and we are obliged to abide by the rules, as the Speaker asks us to do.

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, once long ago the Prime Minister and his cronies were offended by patronage. In fact 10 years ago, when in opposition, this is what they said about getting jobs and contracts for friends, and I quote:

--we've seen two different incidents within the last 10 days of this Family Compact type of affair, I think the people of Canada have a right to know what's going on...

I agree. Do the people of Canada not still have a right to know what is going on with this kind of sleaze and patronage?

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all the facts are known. There is a long time president of a university in P.E.I., an extremely well respected citizen of P.E.I., who is running a public institution. He has requested money, like any other president of a similar institution, from existing federal programs. That is known. He has the right to do it and has done it.

If he is no good at his job, it is up to the provincial government to replace him. However I am told that he has been doing a good job for many years in having one of the best--

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Macleod.

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the problem is he is a brother and it involves the appearance of a conflict of interest. Listen to what they say about patronage today. I am quoting the justice minister, who said:

--it is time to end the hypocrisy and let ministers...have more of a say in which communications agencies are chosen to do [their] work.

More of a say? I say that the Canadian public does not want the minister to have any say in communications agencies, none.

Government GrantsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the day will come when opposition members will have to make up their minds. They keep asking questions and demanding that the minister be responsible for what is going on in his department. Right after that they say that the minister should not be responsible. They should make up their minds. Are they for responsible ministers or no ministers at all?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

May 30th, 2002 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is now blaming public officials, his public officials for the problems and misfortunes that are currently plaguing his government.

Yet some time ago, this same Prime Minister said that he would never let others shoulder responsibilities that are his to bear.

Are we to understand that the Prime Minister's change in attitude is mostly due to the fact that he and some of his ministers were caught with their snouts in the trough?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Honestly, Mr. Speaker, I have always taken responsibility for my actions and I will always do so.

By the way, what is disgraceful is that while there are problems in this country, while people would like to discuss agriculture, Kyoto, softwood lumber, all the opposition is interested in is trying to ruin the reputation of members of the House.

You will see, Mr. Speaker, that people will recognize that this government is responsible, that it has always taken its responsibilities seriously, and that the opposition, desperate because it is faced with a good government, is trying to ruin reputations.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the real problem in Canada is the Prime Minister, who refuses to answer questions asked in the House.

He lays the blame on public officials who are not here to defend themselves, who are not here to listen to what we have to say. This is completely unfair of the Prime Minister.

Will the Prime Minister admit that until there is a public inquiry, which we are calling for, it is impossible to subpoena public officials, to swear them in and to question them on the extent of political interference, which falls outside the auditor general's mandate?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was at the opposition's request that we asked an officer of the House, the auditor general, who has all of the necessary powers to investigate, to look into this issue. She will report, and we will draw conclusions.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal scheme for doling out taxpayer money by passing it through the sticky fingers of their friends is truly unacceptable to Canadians. Lafleur Communications, a fishing buddy of the justice minister, donated $57,000 to the Liberals after receiving a $120,000 commission for taking $1 million in a briefcase down the street to VIA Rail.

When we see options like that out there in front of taxpayers, what they are crying for is a truly independent public inquiry. When will the minister set one up?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, consistent with the obligations that my officials have under the appropriate legislation, including the Financial Administration Act, steps have been taken by the appropriate officials to refer this matter to the RCMP.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the list grows. Week after week and day after day we see more and more things hitting the RCMP. I hope it has enough members and budget to take it all in.

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that giving huge commissions to Liberal friendly ad companies is just bilking the taxpayers for more money. It is greed and corruption: no reports, no files and verbal contracts, just cancelled Liberal donation cheques, which is really all we can go on.

All these ministers were sitting in cabinet when this scheme was hatched and implemented. How can they not see that it will take an outside independent public inquiry to clear the air?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more independent, more authoritative, than the RCMP. It will conduct the appropriate investigations. It will make the appropriate decisions. The proper course of justice will be served.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to know the connections that exist between public officials, deputy ministers and ministers. This is why the case of the minister of immigration is of interest to us.

Yesterday, the minister of heritage told us that the recommendation to select Everest had been made by public officials.

Could the minister of public works tell us which Canadian heritage official recommended that the contract be awarded to Everest, because we want to know the connections of this public official with the minister of immigration?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I do not have that information before me. Nor do I think it may be appropriate to discuss that in the House of Commons.

However I do want to assure the hon. member that the choice of Groupe Everest was made by officials in the Department of Public Works and Government Services on the basis of the agency's standing offer with the department, and that standing offer was the result of a competitive process.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the government has nothing to hide, why does it not produce the documents relating to the recommendation made by Canadian heritage that Groupe Everest be chosen for the Canada-wide tour of the former Secretary of State for Amateur Sport?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I will examine the request that has been made by the hon. member to see if further information can be presented. She may rest assured, however, that it is my intention and my responsibility to ensure that transparency, accountability and the public interest are served by my department.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister has acknowledge that Jean Lafleur is a friend of his and that he will continue to have a friendly relationship with him even though an RCMP investigation is under way.

Is this the way the minister of justice should conduct himself? Is it right for the minister of justice to pal around with someone who is at the centre of a serious police investigation that may involve a violation of the public trust?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is really a pity to hear such a statement. In Canada one is not guilty until found guilty.

As I said yesterday, I will go back fishing. I also said that Mr. Lafleur did not pay for my fishing trip. I have not been involved at all in the process, and the member knows that. The only thing that he is trying to do is to “assassiner un personnage ou un caractère”, as was said by the Prime Minister.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve an open and transparent way out of the contract mess of the government. There are two simple things the government can do to do that.

The first thing is the British have made public the ethical standards of their cabinet ministers and in fact they are published on the web. The government can do that. It is a very simple thing. The second thing is that the inquiry into the contract mess should be made public. These are two very simple things in which at one time in the past the Liberal government used to believe.

Why are these simple ideas so hard for the government to grasp?