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House of Commons Hansard #205 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lead.

Topics

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, earlier today the public works committee took the important step of summonsing a former, now retired, senior civil servant to appear before the committee. There have been public news stories that this individual, Mr. Charles Guité, was planning to sell his residence and leave the country.

What steps will the government take to ensure that Mr. Guité remains in the country until he has been summoned and indeed has appeared before the committee?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am told that this issue is still before committee. Given that it is still before committee, no report has yet been filed with the House. Therefore may I suggest that at best, the question is out of order.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the terms of negotiation may be still before the committee but it was passed 14 to 2 that Mr. Guité would appear before the committee, so my question is very relevant. We simply want to make sure, and the Canadian public wants to ensure, that the gentleman remains in Canada until such time as he has appeared before the committee, be that next week or next year.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. opposition member seems to be advocating the arrest of a person who has not been charged. That is an unusual procedure. I do not know whether he was at the committee to which he is referring but I hope that his testimony before that committee, if such were the case, was different from that which he is saying in the House today.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, today at the committee it was confirmed by Howard Wilson that before he was appointed ethics counsellor, he himself demonstrated a serious lack of ethics while on the job at Industry Canada. A damning audit carried out by Mr. Wilson's own department found that he himself had acted unethically with respect to contracting irregularities. This resulted in the suspension of his signing authority.

This morning Mr. Wilson admitted that the Prime Minister was aware of this prior to his appointment. How could the Prime Minister appoint an ethics counsellor whose own ethics he knew were so severely compromised?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would point out to the House that the Prime Minister consulted with leaders of the other parties before appointing Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson has shown in the course of the years that he has held his important position that he is capable of carrying it out responsibly and effectively.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor has been advising the Prime Minister and the cabinet on ethical conduct for eight years. He is the one who advised the Prime Minister that sleeping at a chalet owned by one of the government's chief advertising contracts was ethical. He is the one who exonerated the Prime Minister for his call to the president of the BDC over a loan to a friend while holding an interest in an adjoining property.

Was this atrocious appointment due to an appalling lack of judgment or was this a deliberate ploy to give the Prime Minister leverage just in case the commissioner questioned his own lack of ethics?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

And, Mr. Speaker, he is the ethics counsellor who appeared before the committee this morning, answered questions and very openly explained how he does his work.

The ethics counsellor has for a number of years been giving good advice to the Prime Minister and the government.

Perhaps the member might tell us the next time he is on his feet, just who was the ethics counsellor for Brian Mulroney? Who was the ethics counsellor for the right hon. member for Calgary Centre?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, for the record, that consultation was a phone call telling us who the ethics counsellor was.

In March of this year, a B.C. firm, Dynamic Maintenance Ltd., won a $77,000 contract to provide cleaning services to the Natural Resources Canada building in Calgary.

On the face of it, this would seem like an ordinary matter. However, the Minister of Natural Resources owns Dynamic Maintenance and his company is now making money from his department.

Does the Prime Minister agree that it is wrong for a minister to do business with his own department?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know how the system works.

This is a contract that is put out by Public Works and Government Services Canada. As the hon. member and members across know, I have a number of businesses and they are in trust but they continue to operate. All contracts are done through the normal process. Public works puts them out, not natural resources.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me quote the Prime Minister's toothless suggestions on ethics: “public office holders have an obligation to perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law”.

The Minister of Natural Resources is not meeting that standard by doing business with his own department. Does the newest contract with his own department not violate the Prime Minister's own rules?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously there are particular challenges every time a person enters parliament with private interests. These need to be dealt with in accordance with rules that are well understood and are well documented. The procedures need to be followed very carefully.

In this case I am sure that if the hon. member has the decency to look at the facts, something they did not do on the question of Harrington Lake, she will find that the ministry acted in accordance with all standards for ministers.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

June 13th, 2002 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the minister of public works does not seem to understand the questions we are asking him, I have one for the President of the Treasury Board.

While Media IDA Vision was enjoying the use of taxpayers' money, the President of the Treasury Board was happily telling us at every opportunity that all treasury board rules had been respected.

How can the President of the Treasury Board, the person responsible for the proper management of taxpayers' money, explain that she failed to notice that millions of dollars were going through Media IDA Vision's accounts, constituting an undue advantage to a company—

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, again the hon. gentleman raises the question of money that was paid in the form of a commission to an agency of record that held that money for some period of time before paying its subsidiary accounts.

That is part of the nature of an agency transaction. That is why we are examining the issue of value for money and that is exactly why we want to dispose of the agency system so that this problem does not occur.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, how does the President of the Treasury Board explain that she rose in her place and told the House that the rules of proper management were being scrupulously followed, when that was far from being the case?

How does she explain this, except to say that, like her other colleagues who are involved, she was always trying to put a lid on things?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the treasury board encourages every department of government to have a strong internal audit division that can investigate issues of financial probity within the various departments.

My department happens to have a particularly good internal audit section. The auditor general herself has said that. It was the internal audit that disclosed that some treasury board procedures had not been respected and that is why we have taken corrective action.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's actions make a mockery of his own ethics guidelines.

The newly revealed audit from HR speaks of companies that may have been set up just to defraud, companies in the Prime Minister's riding. It shows that the Prime Minister broke the rules in trying to arrange money for those selfsame companies.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister not see the irony in the Prime Minister proposing ethics guidelines that still allow the same sort of behaviour that the RCMP is investigating today in Shawinigan?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, here we go again, throwing mud, unsubstantiated allegations, smear campaigns. Yesterday they got up and accused the government of misusing Harrington Lake. We have demonstrated the falsehood of that allegation.

Do we hear a word of apology? Do we see any contrition? No, because these people are in the scandal-mongering business. Questions like that are not worthy of a response.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister's indignation will not rearrange the facts for him. The truth is, we have an audit from the Department of Human Resources Development and the Deputy Prime Minister denies the truth. I think he has an ethical problem.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Why does he sit there and defend ethical guidelines that today would allow the same sort of behaviour that the RCMP is investigating today in Shawinigan?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think the people of Canada are just getting a little tired of hearing these people get up, and a whole bunch of them do it--

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

And they all yak, yak, yak while I answer.

They get up day after day, throwing mud, making allegations, unsubstantiated allegations. They will not make them outside where they are not safe, with the legal protections of parliamentary privilege. Yesterday we caught them dead to rights making allegations that were totally wrong, and today they will not even get up and say that one was wrong. That is the measure of their integrity.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a few days, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services will be announcing changes to the sponsorship program. Last month, the Bloc Quebecois proposed an alternative: elimination of the middleman so that all of the funds would go directly to a support program for cultural and sporting activities.

Is the Minister of Public Works and Government Services in a position to tell us whether he plans to announce the conversion of the present sponsorship program along the lines of the Bloc Quebecois proposal?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the Bloc has indicated its support for my position that we should find a system that performs without the use of agencies. That is certainly my objective for the future.

The hon. member will know that we are in the middle of an administrative year where it is difficult to make changes partway through, but I will do my best to deliver a system that does not use agencies.