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House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was leader.

Topics

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister has been repeatedly asked questions this week about his actions on the Irving file. Yesterday I reviewed his answers from Hansard and what I found was that he was giving the same pre-rehearsed, scripted response to every single question.

I would tell the minister that this is simply not good enough. I am going to ask one of the questions I asked yesterday and I expect a specific answer. Has he consulted the new Liberal leader to see whether his standards of actions on this file were acceptable?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. There seems to be a lot of yelling whether the question is in order or not.

The Minister of Industry is free to consult with whomever he wants. Whether he wishes to answer the question is up to him. If he does not wish to answer, then he does not have to answer. That is the rule in question period. There is a freedom to consult people. It seems to me it is legitimate for members to ask. If a member has consulted a particular individual, he might have consulted me.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the person I consulted was the ethics counsellor. He is the person to whom I made complete disclosure.

If there is a sameness to my answers, it is because I am telling the straightforward facts that are relevant to the issues being raised. The fact is that I spoke to the ethics counsellor, sought his advice and followed his advice to the letter.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the same stonewalling as yesterday.

The ethics counsellor already gave the minister his judgment. It was not to be involved in the Irving file. He got involved. He is now forced to consult the ethics counsellor again.

Has the minister consulted either of his leaders to see whether his standard of behaviour on this file is acceptable to the government?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, what is relevant to the question is the question of ethics. The counsellor is there for that very purpose. It was the ethics counsellor I consulted. I made full disclosure of the relevant facts. I sought his advice and accepted it.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister still has outstanding questions in front of the ethics counsellor.

Frankly, the Prime Minister or the new leader should be able to say whether these standards are acceptable to the government.

I am asking the question again, because we have asked questions but we have not yet got any answers.

The industry minister continues to give his prerecorded answers, scripted in advance. It is inappropriate for him to shirk this responsibility.

Has he consulted the new Liberal leader in order to determine whether his conduct meets the government's ethical standards?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I have answered every question concerning my behaviour in this matter. I have responded to the issues raised by the opposition. I consulted the ethics counsellor about the real questions raised by the opposition and I can say that I sought, accepted and followed the ethics counsellor's advice.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, article 23(1) of the conflict of interest code states clearly that “A public office holder shall take care to avoid being placed”--or the appearance of being placed--“under an obligation to any person or organization”.

The Minister of Industry has admitted to enjoying a family vacation paid for by the Irving Corporation far beyond the $200 allowable limit.

My question is simple. Exactly what part of being placed or the appearance of being placed under an obligation to any person or organization does the Minister of Industry not understand?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, at the time this occurred I was minister of health and, for one reason or another, I did not perceive a conflict.

When I became Minister of Industry and began dealing with files that affected this sector and this particular family, I did consult the ethics counsellor. I made full disclosure and I asked for advice on how I could continue my work and avoid a conflict of interest.

I received that advice and I followed it.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry would like Canadians to believe that his not reporting his free vacation from the Irving empire was a simple oversight and yet we know he clearly knew the rules.

On six occasions the Minister of Industry filed declarations with the ethics counsellor claiming such gifts as tea cups, a clock and some CDs. However he did not report the greatest gift of all. He hid his free, all expense paid vacation from the ethics counsellor.

As a result, will the minister do the right thing and resign?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it was a mistake not to declare the trip at the time. In fact, it was a mistake to go on the trip.

The fact is that when I was in circumstances that brought the possibility of conflict into focus, and before I was involved in any decisions that affected the interest of the family, I did make disclosure. I told the ethics counsellor about it. The ethics counsellor gave me advice, which I followed to the letter.

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the successor of the present Prime Minister has made it known that he questions the appropriateness of Team Canada's trade missions, which were initiated by the present Prime Minister. Eddie Goldenberg, chief of staff to the present PM, who is currently in China, has reacted by calling this “stupid”.

Is this not just one more example, actually the perfect illustration, of the fact that the motion before this House calling upon the Prime Minister to leave soon so as to get the government working again is totally justified?

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I believe Mr. Goldenberg has clearly explained what he said in China. It is clear, I think, that each government makes its own decisions while in power. It will be up to the next government to decide whether or not it wants to continue the Team Canada missions.

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister is in China, trying to develop trade connections with that country, his successor back here is stabbing him in the back. That is reality.

Does the government not realize that this cannot go on, because the infighting within the Liberal Party is not only paralyzing Parliament and the workings of government, but is now spilling out onto the international scene?

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is in China at the present time representing Canadian trade interests. The government is, therefore, continuing to do what is required to promote the interests of Canadians.

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, try as it may to defend the indefensible, the government will not convince anyone. There is infighting within the government; all this squabbling and backstabbing will have serious repercussions.

Will the government admit that the infighting and intrigue have degenerated into a diplomatic incident and that it is high time to put an end to it?

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

No, Mr. Speaker. In fact, we noted yesterday the extraordinary success of this government. I think that anyone looking for examples of internal problems need only look across the way, at the Bloc Quebecois.

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the situation is deplorable. The Prime Minister is not running anything any more. The member for LaSalle—Émard is pulling the strings behind the scene. There is no one in charge any more and backstabbing has become the order of the day.

How can the government tell us with a straight face that all is well?

Team Canada Trade MissionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is quite simple. Because this is the only kind of questions being asked in the House. If there were problems, they would come up with other questions.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, finally the industry minister has released a statement in which he admits he was wrong. He also said in the statement that he immediately went to the ethics counsellor when he was dealing with an Irving file, but that is not true.

The industry minister was appointed in January 2002. He did not contact the ethics counsellor until the end of May 2002.

My question for the industry minister is simple. Why did he wait five full months before he contacted the ethics counsellor?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Because, Mr. Speaker, it was about the time that I was dealing with this file and the issue was brought into focus.

However I do want to emphasize that I was not involved in decisions that affected the Irving companies. I went to the ethics counsellor before that happened.

The member has made reference to a statement, which I will be making public this afternoon, in which I go through the chronology, in which I also say that it was a mistake for me to go on that trip without making immediate disclosure, and in which I apologize to members of the House, to my colleagues and to Canadians.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is the industry minister was involved with the Irvings in at least two incidents. One was in February 2002, not in May 2002 when he contacted the ethics counsellor, when he wrote the letter to ExxonMobil. He has now admitted he was wrong. He was wrong to lobby on behalf of the Irvings. He was in a clear conflict of interest.

The honourable thing to do is for him to stand up, take responsibility and resign. Will he do that today?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

No, Mr. Speaker, and the facts are not as the member just stated them; the letter to ExxonMobil for example. In May 2002, I wrote to ExxonMobil because I was told that ExxonMobil was going to satisfy its need for major equipment in the offshore in Canada by going to the United States to get it built there. I wrote to the company and said “buy Canadian, have that equipment made in Canada, use Canadian people because it is a Canadian resource”. I made no reference to Irving.

That is what a minister of industry is supposed to do, is stand up for Canadian interests.

FinanceOral Question Period

October 23rd, 2003 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The Minister of Finance said that he wanted different kinds of questions from the opposition and I have one for him.

I wonder if the Minister of Finance could tell us why it is that he refuses to use the surplus, which he now knows about, to meet the commitment the government made to add another $2 billion to medicare funding in the country, to relieving student debt, to helping hospitality workers who have suffered from the SARS epidemic and to helping ranchers who have suffered from the BSE problem. Why will he not commit to using the surplus to meet the needs of Canadians?