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House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was courts.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it will have to be the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who prosecutes the charges and these will be potentially against members of his own party.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that his ministers “probably” did nothing wrong. The former public works minister, and I am not sure we put him in the “probably” category, avoided accountability when the Prime Minister assisted his flight from Canada with an ambassadorship in Denmark.

How many more people who “probably” were not involved in scandals does the Prime Minister intend to give patronage appointments to before he leaves office?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I must go back to my role as a professor of law and tell the hon. member that when there are prosecutions under the Criminal Code in one province it is the attorney general of that province who lays the charge, not the Attorney General of Canada.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, Communication Coffin is facing 18 fraud charges. A 2000 public works audit red flagged that company. Wrongdoing was exposed, yet the government continued to award new contracts. Corruption and political interference continue. Rules by themselves will not end political corruption. Political interference must end and ministers must be held accountable.

Will the government initiate a judicial inquiry into the public works scandals that will include recalling the former public works minister, Alfonso Gagliano?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning of my responsibility in this file I have been very careful to ensure that the proper steps were taken, first things first, step by step, every step on a solid foundation and then moving on in a progressive manner to ensure that all matters were properly exposed, all investigations were properly undertaken, and the public interest was satisfied. I have embarked on that course and I intend to continue it.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that in spite of what the minister says we saw another summer of scandals: a $1.4 billion Royal LePage contract, so bad it had to be re-tendered; Allan McGuire writing himself $250,000 worth of cheques, never audited; the department purposely bankrupting a Canadian company; and now the Liberal Party is under investigation. Canadians do not believe that corruption will end with the claims of the minister.

To deal with the sponsorship scandals, will the government initiate a judicial inquiry into the sponsorship program?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, specifically with respect to sponsorships, it is very important that the two official investigations that are presently underway be allowed to proceed to their full conclusion without any interference of any kind whatsoever.

One set of investigations is being presided over by the RCMP. It is obviously doing its job. The other set of investigations is being presided over by the Auditor General. We have in fact complied with her request to expand her mandate to allow her to do her full job in this matter. Those things must not be impeded.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada is under police investigation, and disciplinary measures will soon be taken against the people who ran the sponsorship program for Alfonso Gagliano. But while all indications are that politics were involved, strangely, no one is looking at the role played by the ministers in this scandal.

Since only an independent public inquiry could shed light on the political dimension of the sponsorship scandal, why is the Prime Minister so determined to protect his ministers by refusing to hold such an inquiry?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are two investigations under way, one by the RCMP and one by the Auditor General. These agencies are both completely independent of the government. So far, they have been doing very good work. There is no reason to change the policy adopted by this government a very long time ago.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister wants to limit himself to the RCMP and the Auditor General and not discuss politics. Let us see why.

In May 2002 in Winnipeg, speaking to Liberal supporters, the Prime Minister admitted, and I quote, “Perhaps there was a few million dollars that may have been stolen in the process,” but, he added, “we have re-established the stability of Canada.”

If the Prime Minister refuses to launch an independent public inquiry, might it be because his government, his ministers and he, himself, authorized the shameless use of public money to promote Canadian unity while lining the pockets of friends of the party?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is a law and it is the role of the police to investigate theft. That is the case in all jurisdictions, and that is exactly what the police are doing at this moment. The police have the authority to act when there are charges of theft.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister says that a few million dollars may have been stolen, but that since this saved Canada, it is not serious, I would like to remind him that in 1970, it was also said in his circles that it was OK to burn barns in Quebec and steal books from PQ members. It was not serious, it saved Canada.

Does the Prime Minister remember that a public inquiry was commissioned at the time—the MacDonald Commission—and that it revealed a fair bit about the government he belonged to?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has always said in this matter that where there was administration that needed to be corrected, that correction would be done, wherever there were audits that needed to be performed, those audits would be done, wherever there were criminal matters that needed to be investigated, that that indeed would be done, and if anyone had broken any rule, they would pay the consequences.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP is only investigating criminal acts. It is highly likely that cabinet ministers violated ethics rules and independence rules and crossed a line without going so far as stealing. The RCMP would never look into this type of behaviour.

Does the government not understand that we want to know what part the ministers played? We do not think they stole anything directly, but we would like to know what role they had in the sponsorship affair. That is not something we are going to find out from the RCMP.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I would again emphasize what I said yesterday. It is very important in this matter to proceed in a steady and logical fashion, first things first, step by step. Let us ensure that we do not make a misstep that fouls up the investigations that are presently underway.

It is very important not to take any action that would in any way impede the activity of the RCMP or the Auditor General. We are absolutely determined that those two bodies should be allowed to do their work and to ventilate this matter to the satisfaction of the public interest.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, last evening I attended a meeting of area farmers in St-Albert, Ontario, who are concerned over the ongoing ban of beef that is keeping their product from the market. The border is still not open and farmers' lives are at stake. Their livelihoods are being lost because they cannot move their cattle. Their entire lives and way of life is at threat.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to be in New York for a meeting at the UN. Will he request, will he intelligently and intensely make the case on behalf of Canadian farmers to open the border to Canadian cattle?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have always done that with the President and other people at the White House with whom I have had the occasion to meet. I think that I will have occasion to meet with President Bush. Whenever I talked with him he had always said and agreed with me that this had to be based on a scientific basis.

I wish to report that the only country that has managed to go back into the American market after having a case of mad cow is Canada. The beef has started to move but not fast enough and we are keeping the pressure on the American government.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the beef is moving at a trickle across the border. That answer is not good enough.

I challenge the Prime Minister to give that type of drivel to the farmers who are going to gather on the lawn here tomorrow. The Prime Minister has to get active on this file. If he is not going to get active, maybe he should back to 24 Sussex and start packing. There are people in this country who need his government's help, need his leadership.

When is he going to actively engage in this file and help Canadian farm families?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have been extremely active with this file. We have put in more than half a billion dollars to help the farmers who are affected by this ban of the export of beef and we are doing our best with the American government. Ministers raise that all the time. I did that all the time.

I talked with the ambassador here about it many times. The Canadian ambassador in Washington raises this matter all the time. Ambassador Cellucci has said, “The relationship is in very good shape. We are working each and every day. We are making progress”. When the ambassador says that we are working well with them on all the files, I think that this--

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the good news is that hurricane Isabel has been downgraded and may not be a serious threat by the time it reaches Canada, but of course the bad news is this can change. Also the bad news is that we have a government that does not exactly have a sterling record when it comes to being prepared for crises.

Could the Minister of National Defence tell the House what he is doing to be in a state of readiness should hurricane Isabel prove more destructive than we hope it will be. We do not want the minister of defence operating by candlelight after the fashion of the Prime Minister during the blackout?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the member that just an hour ago the public security committee of the cabinet had a fulsome discussion of this matter, a briefing from OCIPEP so we would be fully briefed and aware of all scenarios in advance of such an event. Of course we hope that it will not happen but we must always be prepared.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Well I am glad to know they are meeting, Mr. Speaker, but I want to ask the Minister of National Defence this, looking beyond hurricane Isabel, and as I say, hopefully there will not be anything for which to be prepared.

Is the Minister of National Defence considering what has been suggested by a number of people, including my leader, that there be set up something like a Canadian security council and a permanent situation room, something that is independent of the risk factors that come with crises so we know the government can be in charge no matter what the circumstances?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that kind of issue is beyond my purview involving the machinery of government. However let me remind the hon. member that when it comes to things that really matter, the federal government was there backing up the province of Ontario in the power storm and backing up the province of British Columbia for the forest fires.

Ernie Eves does not always say great things about this government. He was unequivocal in his thanks, as was the case with the Premier of British Columbia. So we delivered.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

September 16th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Public Service Integrity Officer, Edward Keyserlingk, has stated a strong call for whistleblower legislation. We should not have to wait 10 years.

Will the minister commit now to introducing a comprehensive bill? Does the minister finally admit that her internal memo policy did not work and that real whistleblower legislation is sorely needed?

Public ServiceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I really welcome Dr. Keyserlingk's report and I thank him for his thoughtful and judicious comments. As he recommended that we need perhaps deeper reflection on that matter, I announced this morning that we would have a working group, including Dr. Keyserlingk, to propose a Canadian model. I also intend to give that report directly to parliamentarians so they can review it and have consultations so that we can make the final solution about that problem.