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House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was langley.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, one columnist said that the testimony at the Gomery commission is “a Liberal Party mired in patronage, political interference and yes, corruption”.

Three witnesses have said that the sponsorship program was initially kept secret and only Liberals knew about it. The rules for the program were written after the media requested it, years after the program began. Political direction was given to public servants and were told to use Liquid Paper to blank out certain names. Now we learn the Prime Minister's staff was involved in directing the program.

My question is for the Prime Minister. What has his staff whited out?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I fear that the hon. member may be wrong yet again.

I have a letter here addressed to the former minister of public works from my good friend Elsie Wayne, a former senior member of the Conservative Party, in the year 2000, seeking funding from the sponsorship program.

The folly of commenting on day to day testimony of a judicial inquiry is that one runs the risk of being wrong. I am surprised they do not break limbs jumping to conclusions on that side of the House.

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance can say what he likes about following objective criteria, it is still true that Desjardins Securities was excluded from the sale of Petro-Canada shares in a cavalier fashion.

If the federal government acted as properly as the finance minister claims, why did the Prime Minister tell Alban D'Amours, president of the Desjardins Group, that he was sorry, if, indeed, the federal government did all it was supposed to?

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the Minister of Finance followed the proper procedures with enormous integrity, exactly as he was supposed to.

I think that all Quebeckers and all Canadians recognize the importance of the cooperative movement and the role Desjardins plays in it, as well as its role both inside Canada and in less-developed countries. The growth of the cooperative movement in Canada is something I have always recognized and shall continue to recognize.

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it might also be interesting if the federal government were to recognize that movement when it is time to do business, and not just pay lip service to it. When the Minister of Finance has the nerve to call this transaction one of the “single most successful transactions of its kind in the last decade in the western world”, I would like to remind him that Quebec is also a part of the western world.

It is the best vehicle for selling shares in Quebec, and Quebeckers have been excluded from buying Petro-Canada. That is what was done, the same way André Ouellet tried to use Bill S-31 to prevent Quebec from buying shares in Canadian Pacific. That is what happened.

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is simply mistaken.

I am proud to salute the work of the team that was created and also emphasize the fact that this transaction was an opportunity for companies from one end of the country to the other to show their talents, in particular, two Quebec companies, the Banque Nationale and Casgrain.

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see that most of the brokerage firms chosen by the government have contributed money to the Liberal Party of Canada. RBC Dominion Securities contributed $117,000, BMO Nesbitt Burns $79,600, while GMP Securities contributed $51,000 to the Prime Minister's leadership campaign. There is only one important exception: the Desjardins Group did not make a contribution to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Did the Minister of Finance have the contributions to the Liberal Party in mind yesterday when he said that all the companies had been chosen according to objective criteria?

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge whatsoever of what the corporations contribute.

However I want to tell the hon. gentleman that in order to secure the very best results, we first consulted thoroughly with the Department of Justice to make sure all the rules were complied with. Second, we consulted with senior officials in the Department of Finance with long experience in these matters. Third, we went entirely outside the government to get two independent experts to verify to us that the pattern we were following was precisely proper in the context of the transaction.

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is too bad. If he consulted the Department of Justice, the choice available to the government is even better today. One of the firms chosen under the Minister of Finance's objective criteria is UBS Security, which had to pay a $2 million fine, one of the biggest fines ever paid, for questionable trading practices. That must have been quite the consultation at the Department of Justice.

How does the minister explain choosing UBS Security over Desjardins, the largest brokerage firm in Quebec and, as a result, denying numerous Quebec investors the opportunity to buy Petro-Canada shares?

Petro-CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, in the context of this transaction, it was not possible to include every conceivable worthy applicant. We included 22 very worthy applicants. Unfortunately, it was not possible to include everyone. We did include Casgrain and the Banque Nationale.

I want to tell the hon. gentleman that we went outside the circle of the government to get professional independent advice so that I could absolutely assure myself that the transaction was conducted properly. That advice came from a former governor of the Bank of Canada and a former auditor general.

Government PoliciesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

On his recent foreign trip, foreign leaders had to point out to the Prime Minister that he had not kept his promise on foreign aid.

Students, meanwhile, of course know that he has not kept his promise on student debt. People trying to breathe clean air know that he has not kept his promise on pollution control. Cities know that he has not kept his 5¢ promise and the result is property taxes are going up.

Will the Prime Minister give an undertaking that he will keep all his promises before he starts to reduce taxes?

Government PoliciesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let me simply tell the hon. leader of the NDP that we are keeping our promises on cities. I would quickly remind him of the $7 billion on GST over the next 10 years alone.

We have increased every single year the amount of money that we are putting into foreign aid. I would remind him of the very important role that Canada is playing with the most heavily indebted countries in the world.

I would ask the hon. member to take a look at the amount of money that we have put in terms of the municipalities and the environment, and the fact that the Minister of Finance has committed over $1 billion to go into environmental technologies from the sale of Petro-Canada.

Let me assure the hon. member that we are keeping our promises.

Government PoliciesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Finally, Mr. Speaker, in this House I get to say that this so-called GST promise to the cities, this giving of money to the cities, is the government not taking money from the cities. That is what it is.

I am just trying to understand this House. What we have here is an opposition leader who wants to separate English from French and we have a Prime Minister who wants to separate words from action.

Why is it that the Prime Minister has an infrastructure minister who is crying poor when he has a finance minister who says his pockets are full of our money?

Government PoliciesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have gone across this country, as has the minister who is in charge of cities and communities and infrastructure. I have met with the people in small towns and with the mayors of the biggest cities. In every single meeting they have praised the government for the $7 billion that they will be receiving over the next 10 years.

Let me just say that if I have to choose between the judgment call of the leader of the NDP and the mayors, the reeves and the wardens of this country, I will choose the mayors, the reeves and the wardens.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes down to it, what Canadians want to know about the sponsorship scandal is whether the Prime Minister is or is not responsible. The facts are fuel for speculation.

Yesterday, his assistant at the time admitted to having requested over $1 million in funding for his organizer, Serge Savard. Did she do so on her own, or at her boss's behest? Is the Prime Minister now going to disavow any connection with this?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been extremely accountable, which was why he ended the sponsorship program and commissioned Justice Gomery to do his work.

I urge hon. members opposite to support Justice Gomery and not to prejudge Justice Gomery, because it is an independent judicial inquiry. They would also do themselves a favour by not making grievous errors on the floor of the House of Commons on a daily basis.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is being so open he cannot even answer a question in the House of Commons. Canadians want to hear from the Prime Minister, not from the minister of public sell-outs.

We know the Prime Minister's Office intervened to support a $1 million grant for his friend, Serge Savard. We know that Mr. Savard turned around and raised $1 million for the Prime Minister's leadership. Only the guilty hide.

When did the Prime Minister know that his office was calling to secure money for his millionaire finance raiser?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam knows well that making up fictitious names for ministers is not helpful for order in the House. While some may be amused by names, I am sure others are not, and it only creates disorder to do that.

I assume he was referring to a particular minister but of course I have no idea, but if he was, I hope he would use the proper nomenclature in future. I believe the hon. Minister of Public Work and Government Services will answer the question.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member was perhaps referring to a speech I gave on September 21 when I talked about the strategic direction for the future of the public works department, which is a very positive direction. It involves new approaches to procurement, real property and IT, all aimed at providing better value for Canadian taxpayers and better services for Canadians.

I would urge the hon. member to get involved and get engaged in a positive debate about the future of our department, and to let Justice Gomery do his work.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that the Prime Minister's Office staff lobbied the sponsorship program for money for Serge Savard who in turn raised a bunch of money for the Prime Minister. It is also a fact that the Prime Minister said that he wanted anyone who knew anything about this to come forward.

Well, here is his chance. Why does he not come forward right now and tell us what he knew and when he knew it with regard to his own staff lobbying the sponsorship program for Serge Savard?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, yesterday they were making the same type of error over there by accusing the Prime Minister of making calls on behalf of individuals. Today maybe they are wrong again. We will not know until we have Justice Gomery's report.

We are not afraid to have the full report because we are not afraid of the truth here in this government and we are looking forward to that report.

Again, I would urge the hon. members to discontinue prejudging the work of Justice Gomery by commenting on testimony and by making errors on a daily basis because after a while it gets embarrassing on all sides of the House.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister lets his little helper answer these questions instead of answering them for himself, he makes a mockery of his own commitment to get to the bottom of this.

Why will the Prime Minister not meet the standards that he set for everybody else back when he was mad as hell about the sponsorship program? Why will he not meet those standards right now and tell Canadians directly, here and now, what he knew and when he knew it with regard to his own staff lobbying the sponsorship program to get money for his fundraiser?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today in the House to provide a little help to the opposition. In fact, I want to point out the important work being done by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works who has done the most extensive procurement review in this country since 1963.

That procurement review will provide exceptional value for the Canadian taxpayer and better services for Canadians. I am proud of the work that he is doing and the work the Department of Public Works is doing.

I would urge the hon. members opposite to become involved in this exciting future vision for the department and not to continually focus on the past.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's defence that it is up to the Gomery commission to receive the testimony relating to the sponsorship scandal collapsed yesterday. Although the PM has been questioned five times in this House, after yesterday's oral question period someone from his office revealed to the press the identity of the individual in his office who called Gagliano's office.

Since the Prime Minister himself admitted during the election campaign that there was indeed political involvement in the sponsorship program, I ask again, who was behind that political involvement in the sponsorship program?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the advice that I have provided very graciously to the members opposite in the Conservative Party also applies to members of the Bloc. Both parties have intervener status at the Gomery inquiry and are participating and being supported during that process. We are supporting Gomery. We are providing a tremendous level of openness, transparency and information to Gomery, including cabinet documents to 1994.

We are not afraid of Mr. Gomery's work and we are looking forward to Justice Gomery's report.