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House of Commons Hansard #204 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member why he just does not pay attention to the facts. It was because of that precise indication in the forensic audit that the files were referred to the RCMP. Can he not accept the fact that the RCMP has reviewed the files and in two cases found nothing untoward and dropped the cases? There is one that is still under investigation. If he has questions about that file he should put them to the RCMP.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

June 12th, 2002 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has not solved anything with his ethics rules. In fact, while he said he wanted to restore public confidence, he completely missed the mark by going after his rival in the Liberal Party. Yet, it is clear that what is really undermining this government's credibility is the sponsorship scandals, which the Prime Minister is stubbornly refusing to go after.

If he is serious when he says that he wants to rebuild public confidence, why does the Prime Minister not do what he should have done two years ago when he was alerted to the problem and launch a public inquiry to get to the bottom of all of the abuses under the sponsorship program?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat for the seventh, eighth or tenth time. At the request of the opposition, the auditor general is examining all of these cases. A few of them have been referred to the police for investigation.

We responded to the request of the House of Commons that we ask the auditor general to examine these cases. She is doing so, and we await her recommendations.

In the meantime, the minister has suspended the program. He is in the process of changing the system. He will have an announcement, I hope, in the next few days.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government changes ministers more often that the system.

In attempting to neutralize the leadership hopefuls with his ethics rules, the Prime Minister has done nothing to keep scandals from recurring. He has done nothing to prevent his ministers from continuing to intervene on behalf of Liberal cronies.

How does the Prime Minister explain his refusal to order a public inquiry, when his new ethics rules do absolutely nothing to prevent the abuse committed under the sponsorship program from happening again in the future?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the hon. gentleman that before the Prime Minister's announcements yesterday he already instructed the President of the Treasury Board to review the governance system and the management system with respect to all advertising, all sponsorships and all polling. That was before yesterday's announcement and it is proceeding under the President of the Treasury Board.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is behaving as if the sponsorship program were unrelated to his government.

In fact, the setting up of such a program implies discussions by cabinet, the establishment of a management structure and the allocation of a budget. This means that all government ministers are responsible for the implementation of this program.

Why does the Prime Minister refuse to admit that he and all his ministers are directly responsible for the establishment of this system to divert public funds?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, to identify past problems and make sure they are corrected, we have launched a departmental review. The auditor general will conduct a government wide examination. The police are informed whenever there are circumstances that raise legal issues. The treasury board is examining the management framework and the governance system. The public accounts committee is making inquiries.

The government is proceeding on all fronts to correct the errors of the past. For the future we intend to have a good, solid, transparent program that does not engage the services of external aids.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has referred a number of times to the Internet site of the Department of Public Works and Government Services to exonerate himself in the sponsorship case. This site mentions double billing, overbilling and inadequate follow up.

And what did the Prime Minister do? Did he refer the files to the RCMP? Not at all. Did he end the program when he found out about the scandal? Not at all. He convened the guilty parties to tell them “Be careful; we could get caught, so I am preparing a communication strategy”.

Does the Prime Minister realize that only a public inquiry will shed light on this business and that the responsibilities of—

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is more than a communications strategy. The departments involved launched an action plan to respond specifically to the audit findings of the internal audit section of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Over the course of the year 2001 those audit recommendations were implemented. In the spring of this year we sent the internal audit team back in to verify that corrective action had in fact been taken.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the American government is providing billions of dollars in new subsidies to their farmers that could put thousands of Canadian farmers out of business. This year alone our farmers will suffer a trade injury of $1.3 billion.

Farm organizations and provincial governments have been pleading with Ottawa to provide compensation to cover off that amount. The very future of our family farms lies in the Prime Minister's hands.

Will the Prime Minister commit today to a trade injury compensation for our farmers of $1.3 billion Canadian?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have been working for the farmers while the House was talking about something else for many weeks.

We have had a task force from the caucus which introduced an excellent report. The minister introduced a program that is being studied at this time by the cabinet.

While they were talking we were acting.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, they were acting all right. They were acting against the farmers of Canada.

The government of the United States is providing full compensation for its farmers. It is not asking the states to do it.

In Canada the agriculture minister is insisting that 40% of any aid package should come from the province, and that is simply unacceptable.

The responsibility for trade injuries lies with the Prime Minister. Will he admit that it is the federal government's responsibility to cover the cost of the $1.3 billion trade injury suffered by our farmers?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I see that the great friends of the farmers do not want to put one cent where their mouths are, for the farmers. They want the federal government to do it.

We will do our share. The provinces will have to do their share. Agriculture is a joint federal and provincial responsibility. We are more generous. We pay 60%, not 50%. The provinces should be very happy that they only have to pay 40%.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

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

Do the guidelines published yesterday prohibit the Prime Minister from instructing his chief of staff to summon the president of the Business Development Bank of Canada to 24 Sussex Drive and then urge the crown corporation to change its position on a loan which interests the Prime Minister?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as usual the leader of the fifth party is wrong. This person visited 24 Sussex along with 50 other young presidents. He was not summoned to 24 Sussex. He had his picture taken with me, like I did with everybody else. He asked to have a picture taken with me. I did not ask to have a picture taken with him.

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, surely people have no idea what he was talking about.

As part of the new no ethics package, the Prime Minister is asking leadership contenders to put their money in a blind trust. This of course will further shield and protect cabinet and contenders from public scrutiny.

There are no rules when a blind trust is established, particularly if there is no official leadership underway.

Could the Prime Minister say what will happen to the unofficial leadership campaign funds that were already collected by Brian Tobin, the former minister of industry, and the former minister of finance, the member for LaSalle--Émard?

Leadership CampaignsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can act only with ministers. Individuals or members of parliament who collect money will have to answer to the public for the collections they make, and when one is no longer a member of the House of Commons.

The candidates who are ministers have agreed to publish the amount of money they collected over the last months and years. For those who are not in cabinet, I have no authority over them.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's fingerprints are all over the latest revelations of waste, mismanagement and even potential fraud flowing from the transitional jobs fund.

That same failed company, Les Confections St-Élie, received $900,000 from taxpayers through the Business Development Bank of Canada, and we all know how fond the Prime Minister is of lobbying the BDC.

How much influence did the Prime Minister exert to get that loan okayed?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the opposition may have just received its access to information request information but it does not change the details that were rehashed over weeks in the spring of the year 2000.

I guess what the opposition is telling us is that it is bankrupt of ideas and bankrupt of any issues to deal with to take us back to 1997 and 1998 when things have been reviewed fully and are a matter of public record.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, it would be nice to have an answer from the Prime Minister. He is the only one who knows the answer to the question.

The Prime Minister's fingerprints are all over the latest revelations of waste, mismanagement and even potential fraud flowing from the Canada Jobs Fund.

That same failed company, Les Confections St-Élie, owed $900,000 to the Business Development Bank of Canada. This was taxpayers' money.

How much influence did the Prime Minister personally exert to get that loan okayed?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the record shows that the transactions were dealt with by the BDC entirely in accordance with the standard protocols.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the scandals that are sullying the government at this time are connected to the abuse of power and the creation of a system of administration involving third parties who get their hands on some very tidy commissions by acting in place of the government.

My question is for the Prime Minister.

I challenge the Prime Minister to inform us as to which of the new ethics rules will stop his ministers from using the sponsorship program as they did before, and from handing it over to be administered by their cronies.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, there is a precise section in the release issued yesterday by the Prime Minister dealing with strengthening public service management and accountability for public funds.

In addition to that, the President of the Treasury Board is developing a new governance system and a new management framework to make sure that the problems of the past are not repeated.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will read the press release.

Since the sponsorship program, according to all the ministers who have answered our questions, complies with all treasury board rules, why has the Prime Minister not changed these rules in any way, when they can allow the worst possible abuses, as we have seen?