Mr. Speaker, yesterday during question period there was some discussion between the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and myself about the sponsorship program. During that discussion and in answer to a question, the Minister of Public Works mentioned the member from South Shore. What he actually stated when he was talking about the sponsorship program was:
The fact is all MPs were aware of this program. All MPs across Canada from all political parties received support from that program--
The fact is that the sponsorship program, at its beginning stages, was a for Liberals only program. It may have sent money into opposition-held ridings but those moneys were not accessible to members of the opposition because there was no way we could know about the program. It was a secret program in its beginning years.
Furthermore, sponsorship moneys that did come into the South Shore were not accessed through my office. I was not aware that the sponsorship program had been accessed at all until the access for information that brought the Bluenose debacle to light.
For the Minister of Public Works to say that all members of Parliament, including myself, were aware of this program is just patently false and, I feel, misleads Parliament. I am very certain that is not what the Minister responsible for Public Works intended to do.
Again, contrary to what the Minister of Public Works has stated, that “all MPs were aware”, there was no way that I was aware of this program. I would like your intervention, Mr. Speaker, to seek redress on this issue.
The minister was incorrect in his statement in this House and specifically mentioned me. It is only fair and, I believe, in keeping with the parliamentary tradition, that he correct his statement.