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House of Commons Hansard #201 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was broadcasting.

Topics

Wharf MaintenanceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, today residents of Trois-Pistoles came to ask the Minister of Transport to put an end to the horror story that has put the 2002 Basques ferry season on hold, due to the federal government's irresponsibility in allowing the wharf to deteriorate over the past five years.

The minister must today announce that the 2002 season will be saved and that the wharves of Trois-Pistoles and les Escoumins will be repaired. Otherwise the minister will have adopted an inexplicably arrogant attitude, and his negligence will have deprived 30 crew members and others who work in the region's tourism industry of their livelihood.

The federal government owns the wharves. The federal government is responsible for the deterioration of the situation. It must provide the service, or else compensate the population and those who have lost their jobs because of the Minister of Transport's inefficiency.

Skate Canada Hall of FameStatements By Members

June 7th, 2002 / 11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute today to Elvis Stojko, three time world champion in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and two time Olympic silver medalist in 1994 and 1998. I am pleased to announce that Elvis Stojko will be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 2003. After representing Canada so well for 10 years, Mr. Stojko announced his retirement shortly after the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

In addition to Elvis Stojko the following individuals will also be inducted into the hall of fame at a ceremony that will take place at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Saskatoon on January 13, 2003: Tracy Wilson and the late Rob McCall, Olympic bronze and world championship bronze medalists in 1998; coach Michael Jiranek who was the mentor behind Kurt Browning's international successes; and Barbara Graham, a lifelong dedicated administrator in the sport.

I congratulate all of them.

FisheriesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government insists it is patrolling overfishing on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap, so let us take a look at the record.

From 1990 to 1993 when this government was not in power there were 65 seaborne surveillance missions and 500 air surveillance missions. From 1993 to 1997 that average started to drop once the government got in power until there were 58 sea surveillance missions and 475 air surveillance missions. From 1997 to 2000 it dropped again until there were 40 surveillance missions by ship and 450 by air.

Let us look at the record in 2001 when the government said it was protecting the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. In 2001 there were 31 sea surveillance missions and 467 by air. In 2002, and let us understand that the year is half gone, there have been only 10 sea patrols and 166 air patrols.

That is a sad and sorry--

FisheriesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Thyroid MonthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and all Canadians that June is Thyroid Month in Canada.

Approximately 15 million North Americans have thyroid disease and many do not know it. An untreated, abnormally functioning thyroid can lead to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression.

The Thyroid Foundation of Canada, a non-profit registered volunteer organization with 23 chapters across Canada, promotes awareness and education about thyroid disease and raises much needed funds. Health Canada has funded the development of a thyroid assessment questionnaire to open physician-patient dialogue on thyroid symptoms and has developed a special program to ensure the accuracy of thyroid testing.

I invite hon. colleagues to join me in supporting Thyroid Month in Canada.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it just keeps getting worse. Nearly two years ago, just prior to the release of the audit that began to expose all the problems in the government sponsorship program, the Prime Minister ordered his people to get together and devise a plan for damage control. The Prime Minister had a choice then: correction or cover-up. He chose door number two.

Why did the Prime Minister not order a suspension of the entire program back then instead of allowing millions of precious tax dollars to be wasted on a program that is now completely discredited and is the subject of multiple RCMP investigations?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the internal audit that was conducted by the internal audit section of Public Works and Government Services Canada was an initiative launched by the department itself. The auditor general has described that work as excellent, courageous and a critical piece of work in this whole process. I think the audit section deserves a lot of credit for doing its job extremely well.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know that officials meet regularly to address issues, so that is not the trouble here. It is the direction they took. Faced with a choice of fixing it or fudging it, they chose door number two.

To compound the problem, department officials met with the supplier companies to work out ways to keep the gravy trains running on time. Two of these companies are now under RCMP investigation and are still eligible for additional government work.

Why does it take the government so long to fix its messes when it is plain to everyone that something is drastically wrong?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, immediately upon the conclusion of the internal audit, the department prepared an action plan to respond to that audit over the following 12 to 18 months or so. There was a review in the spring of this year to determine whether or not those audit recommendations had in fact been implemented. That review confirmed that corrective action began immediately after the year 2000 and had proceeded progressively through all of this period of time to deal with the issues.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 2000 prior to the snap election, a public works department audit exposes problems with the sponsorship program. The PMO works a cover-up plan. The department colludes with the sponsorship companies to keep the cash for contract scheme alive. The minister gets shipped to Denmark.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

An hon. member

We want the facts.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

If he wants facts, listen to more of them. The auditor general is called in to investigate. She calls for reinforcements from the RCMP. Now two ministers later we still cannot get a straight answer.

Canadians deserve better. When can we have a full public inquiry?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let me again remind the hon. gentleman of all of the steps that have been taken.

Indeed the internal audit was conducted at the instigation of the department of public works itself. The action plan was developed and implemented. My predecessor confirmed in the spring of this year that the action plan in fact had been implemented as promised. The auditor general did her work. There is an internal review continuing by my department. Treasury board is conducting a government wide examination of the management framework, and whenever and wherever issues arise that require the attention of the RCMP, that is given.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, this government had a detailed knowledge of the obvious problems at the department of public works. However, instead of making real changes, it hid the problems.

Why does this government invest so much energy in covering up for itself and why does it make so little effort to deal with the real issues and the real scandals?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, again I reject the insinuation that is contained in the hon. gentleman's remarks. He says there was secrecy. I would remind him that an executive summary of the internal audit was in fact posted on the Internet and all ATIP inquiries about that audit have been duly responded to.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, here is an opportunity for the government both to get around the secrecy and an opportunity to live by a higher standard. We want to know. We do not want any lawyerly answers. We just want a straight yes or no answer to a very simple question.

Will the minister tell us if the government in its entirety, not just public works, will stop doing business with Groupaction immediately, yes or no?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the approach that I have taken is a careful approach, a steady approach, a step by step approach. I want to be certain that every step is the right step on a solid foundation and that it will withstand any challenge from anyone. That is important. This process must be completed and I do not want any false steps to foul it up.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, in August 2000, the internal audit report of Public Works Canada revealed irregularities in the federal government's sponsorship program. This resulted, close to two years ago, in a meeting between the manager of the sponsorship program and the presidents of Groupaction, Everest, Coffin Communications and Gosselin Relations Publiques.

How can the Deputy Prime Minister justify that the person responsible for the program chose, after being informed of these irregularities in the sponsorship program, to have a meeting with those who were directly involved, those who fully benefited, so much so in fact that a number of them are the object of a police investigation as we speak?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, with respect to two former officials in particular, the auditor general obviously has indicated her deep concern with their approach to certain issues. The government shares that concern. That is why we have acted promptly not only on our internal audit but also upon the advice given to us by the auditor general. We are as anxious as the auditor general is to resolve this issue and to make sure that in future this kind of thing does not in fact happen.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is even more interesting is that following this meeting, the Prime Minister's closest advisors met on September 28, 2000, to prepare communication guidelines in case the issue became public. Guidelines were also prepared to fight separatism, to correct the problem and to deal with administrative problems, but not the political problem.

Considering that the Prime Minister's advisors developed their defence strategy almost two years ago, how can the Deputy Prime Minister deny that the Prime Minister knew about this issue since the beginning, before the last general election?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the internal audit in the year 2000 obviously called for corrective action. The department instituted a plan to deliver that corrective action.

In the spring of 2002 we invited the internal auditor once again to go back in and make sure that the corrective action had been taken. In fact it had been taken and the auditor general describes the work of the internal audit as excellent, courageous and critical to solving this problem.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the serious thing about this whole affair is of course the fact that the Prime Minister knew and that many people were taking advantage of the sponsorship system. And yet, far from wanting to curb the misuse of public funds, the Prime Minister continued to make lavish use of his sponsorship program, as we learned yesterday in connection with the Montreal Grand Prix.

How does the Deputy Prime Minister explain today that, even though the Prime Minister knew, the system continued on stronger than ever, with his blessing moreover?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the issue of the use of agents is now very much under reconsideration.

As I have indicated many times over the last couple of weeks, I believe there may well be more effective ways to deliver a sponsorship initiative internally through direct government programming rather than relying on external agents. That is the way we are headed.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was perfectly well informed about the rip-off going on at Public Works Canada. His close advisors were working on damage control plans, in case it became public knowledge. Several ministers had very close ties with the presidents of the firms involved. The system kept right on operating, until now.

How, in these circumstances, can the Deputy Prime Minister deny that what we have here is an organized system, a system which involves the entire Liberal government, including the Prime Minister?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the question alleges that the previous system that existed prior to the audit in the year 2000 continues up until now. That is in fact not correct. Immediately upon the conclusion of the audit, corrective measures began to be implemented.

It has been verified in the spring of this year that in fact those corrective steps were taken. The Prime Minister's reaction based upon the audit was to begin fixing the problem and to do it as rapidly as possible.