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House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.

Topics

ForestsStatements By Members

May 9th, 2002 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, from May 5 to 11, Canadians can get together and celebrate National Forest Week, the theme of which this year is “Biodiversity”.

The great biological diversity of our forests depends on our careful use of resources. Thanks to sustainable development based management methods, the Government of Canada is helping to improve the quality of life of all Canadians.

Not only do our forests contribute to our high standard of living, but they also play a vital role in keeping our air and water clean. In addition, their majestic trees and natural vistas provide Canadians with recreational opportunities.

Beyond our borders, Canada is contributing to the vitality and sustainability of the world's forests by developing and exporting its know-how and its innovative high-tech tools.

Westray MineStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to honour Lawrence McBrearty and Verne Theriault, who are on the Hill today to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Westray mine disaster in Plymouth, Nova Scotia.

Today we honour the memory of John Bates, Larry Bell, Bernie Benoit, Wayne Conway, Ferris Dewan, Adonjus Dollimont, Robert Doyle, Remi Drolet, Roy Feltmate, Charles Fraser, Myles “Sparkie” Gillis, John Halloran, Randolph House, T.J. Jahn, Lawrence James, Eugene Johnson, Steven Lilly, Michael MacKay, Angus MacNeil, Glen Martin, Harry McCallum, Earl McIsaac, George Munroe, Danny Poplar, Romeo Short, and Peter Vickers.

They were fathers, grandfathers, husbands, lovers, brothers and friends. They were workers who died in a mine that the management knew was unsafe. They are victims for whom the law has failed. Let us fix the law in their memory.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his last budget, Canada's Minister of Finance estimated the surplus at $1.5 billion.

We now learn that, after all the end of year accounting adjustments, there will still be a surplus of $10 million to $12 billion for fiscal year 2001-02.

It is indecent that the Minister of Finance is unable to do the math properly and that he is unable to properly forecast the surplus for the current year. He was out by almost $10 billion. With a surplus like this, he could easily afford a calculator.

Yet all the Minister of Finance had to do was listen to the Bloc Quebecois and immediately make the necessary monies available to honour the promises made during the last election campaign to invest in highways 175, 185, 30, 35 and 50 in Quebec.

In addition to reneging on the promises made by his colleagues, the Minister of Finance is just plain thumbing his nose at people by deliberately deceiving himself about the size of the budgetary surplus.

Asian Heritage MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Asian Heritage Month celebrations in Calgary. Calgary has the third largest Asian community in Canada. It is a truly multicultural city.

It was my pleasure to lead a forum with over 300 in attendance to discuss the future of the Asian youth and their community in Calgary.

I would like to extend my congratulations to the Calgary Chinese Community Service Association for all its hard work in organizing a firstclass program in celebration of Asian heritage and culture.

Westray MineStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago today, May 9, 1992, at 5.18, a terrible rumbling shook the ground. A violent explosion ripped from the depths of the Westray mine. The lethal gaseous Foord seam had again claimed the lives of miners: 26 men whose names were read beside the eternal flame this morning and today in this House and whose lives were commemorated today in Pictou county, Nova Scotia.

While we remember the heroic efforts of the draggermen, the fire rescue workers, the police and the paramedics, and give condolences to the family, now is the time for action.

Let us recommit as lawmakers to protect citizens in the workplace. The chilly message of Westray and the report of Justice Richard was clear: company executives and directors must be held accountable for failing to provide a safe workplace. No words of condolences can comfort the families of the Westray miners more than those printed in legislation.

I close with the poignant words of Jennifer MacDonald of Stellarton who, at the age of 15, wrote:

Beyond the heavens light above, We think of you with all our love. Pictonians feel beyond the dreams, Of the men who's spirits are in the seams.

Westray MineStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, at 5.18 a.m., on May 9, 1992, 26 coal miners lost their lives in the deeps of the Westray mine in Pictou county, Nova Scotia. Wives lost their husbands. Children lost their fathers. Parents lost their sons.

There is a long history of mining in Nova Scotia. Cape Breton, Springhill and Pictou county were all once sources of coal exported around the world. Now they are silent. Also silent are those who died in search of coal. They are gone but not forgotten.

Let us remember those 26 miners who died on this day a decade ago.

Westray MineStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

In honour of the 10th anniversary of the Westray mine disaster, I would ask that the House stand for a moment of silence.

[Editor's Note: The House stood in silence)

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, as the auditor general said, Canadian taxpayers deserve better than this. All the Liberals want to do is reward their friends. It is not about good government. It is not about the priorities of taxpayers. It is all about the Liberal gravy train.

The RCMP will look into criminal aspects of this. The auditor general examined business practices. Who will expose the Liberal cultural corruption? Why not a full independent judicial inquiry?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general's report was tabled in the House yesterday as the hon. member knows. The issue has now been referred to the RCMP as was requested by a number of members of this House, including members of his own party.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, let me quote another wise woman who wanted the government to root out corruption. She said:

If the Criminal Code stopped everyone from robbing a bank, we would have no bank robbers in Canada. Anybody who expects...to absolve this Government of a litany of corruption, a litany of scandals and a litany of self-aggrandizement and self-benefit--

--it will not.

That was said by the present Minister of Canadian Heritage in 1988.

If a criminal investigation was not good enough for the Liberals in opposition, why should Canadians accept anything less than a full public inquiry to root out the culture of corruption in this government?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the hon. member a moment ago, it was members of his own party who asked for an RCMP investigation. The matter has been referred to the RCMP by the auditor general, and the hon. member said that was part of it.

The auditor general, who is an officer of this House, has undertaken a full review as part of her work and will present a report.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have an another quote that was made on November 24, 1992 by the member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell when he said to the Tory government at the time:

Therefore, I would ask the minister the following: when will this old and tired government learn that the taxpayers' money does not belong to the Tories and that they cannot use it to reward their friends?

This government had the Shawinigate boondoggle and smelly land deals. When will the government call an independent judicial inquiry into this issue?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member across wants to quote. Let me give him a quote, “Why not have an RCMP investigation at the same time”. That was said by the member for Edmonton--Strathcona, if he was himself that day.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us say again that the RCMP investigation is just fine for criminal matters and the auditor general, an independent officer of this House, has done a real good job with the accounting and business practices. What about the culture of corruption that we see across the way? Who will look after the culture of corruption?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that the RCMP is just fine. Yesterday his leader said in an interview on national television that the RCMP could not be trusted to do this work because the commissioner of the RCMP, according to him, was tantamount to a deputy minister. That is how much he knows of how this place works after having been here for three decades.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I suppose directing attention to someone else might be a good tactic but on this one the minister will not to get away with it.

This is about a culture of corruption. The minister, when stood on this side of the House, said that a culture of corruption should be wiped out. He was right. When are we going to wipe out the culture of corruption that exists over there?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, obviously there was no question in what the hon. member just said. Nonetheless, let me continue by answering like this.

Yesterday I announced a number of measures to ensure that we have the highest level of transparency into contracts that deal with sponsorships. The member knows that I announced those yesterday, and today he is not even asking questions about how this new system will work.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the revelations made by the auditor general, the Prime Minister refuses to shed light on the political ramifications of the awarding of sponsorship contracts by his government.

As far as he is concerned, the investigations that will be launched by the RCMP and the auditor general are more than enough.

Does the public works minister realize that the RCMP investigation will only focus on Groupaction, that the auditor general's investigation will be restricted to management practices, and that a public inquiry is necessary to determine the political role played by ministers in the awarding of contracts to friends of the government?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I believe there are a couple of inaccuracies in the question of the hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

First, there is no RCMP investigation yet. The case was referred to the RCMP to determine if an investigation is called for.

Second, the hon. member said that the Auditor General of Canada will only look at sponsorship contracts. This is not what she said yesterday and what she wrote in her report.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general only referred to the management aspect. The investigation has been referred to the RCMP. We are telling the minister that this is not enough, because the RCMP will only investigate Groupaction, it will only investigate a limited number of contracts.

There is political interference in this case. Orders were given to senior public servants by Liberals, including an ambassador who is in Denmark and some of his peers who are still here.

Therefore, I am asking the minister if the government will object to a public inquiry that would shed light on the stench of corruption that emanates from this government?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I will quote a comment made on May 7, 2002 by the hon. member for Longueuil. I believe she represents the party opposite. While directing a question to me, she said:

—call for a police investigation, or rush to consult the ethics counsellor—

This is what she asked. We said yes. This is the second time that we say yes to a question asked by the hon. member, and the answer is still yes, because we believe in transparency and we want to make things better.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the minister needs to understand is that, with every passing day, something new is coming out and only a public inquiry can shed light in what has gone on. That is what we are coming to realize.

On December 4, the President of the Treasury Board made the following statement:

—our contracting policy is very clear. It is respected by all departments, including Public Works Canada.

How could the President of the Treasury Board make such a statement about public works respecting the policy, knowing what we know today, unless she too was trying to put a lid on things?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, such accusations are not called for.

The hon. member has read yesterday's report by the auditor general, just as I have. He knows very well what it is all about. He knows that the auditor general spoke of three contracts and cautioned against generalizing. She said that yesterday, and again this morning in a national TV interview.

If the auditor general, an officer of this parliament, tells us that there must be no such generalization, why is the hon. member over there doing so?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the minister of public works has decided to come to the rescue of the President of the Treasury Board, we will look at his own words:

On March 11, he said the following:

Both contracts were in fact prepared in accordance with treasury board guidelines.

Having carried out a check in his own department in response to our questions, how could he not have noticed what the auditor general found so obvious that she realized it within days of starting her investigation? What is he, as the minister, trying to hide?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have not tried to hide anything, as everyone knows. I myself was the one to announce here in this House on March 19 that I had asked the Auditor General of Canada to cast light on this matter, and that is what she has done.

At that time, I also made a commitment to make the report public. Forty-eight hours after I was informed of the report, I myself tabled it in the House, still in the same effort to ensure transparency. I shall continue in the same way, as I most definitely do not wish to hide anything.