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House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was military.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, first of all, again, we have to respect the independence of a judicial inquiry. I believe the hon. member is a lawyer and ought to recognize the importance of that.

Beyond that, I want to talk about members of Parliament who have phoned the public works minister's office on sponsorship programs. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands in fact made phone calls to the office. We have letters from the former member for Saint John, who was not a Liberal, and from the member for South Shore to the minister. In fact, the member for Edmonton--Strathcona received funding for projects in his riding, as did the member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill has the floor now. We will want to hear the question. We will have a little order, please.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to put on the record that I categorically knew nothing about the sponsorship program, nor did I receive any money from it. Never.

This member knows that Parliament is the highest tribunal in the land. Here we have a Prime Minister who promised full disclosure about a terrible scandal in his own government. He has been asked for a simple explanation as to why his own office was involved and he stonewalls. He will not answer the highest tribunal in the land.

Let him stand in his place and give Canadians the answer that he promised them.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Once again, Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member was not aware as a member of Parliament, then I expect her constituents will probably be quite upset with her because in fact, many members around the House from all parties were aware of the program. It was a federal program and part of our jobs as members of Parliament is to be aware of these programs, to assist our constituents in their ability to receive funding.

In my riding, when I was part of the former Progressive Conservative Party which no longer exists, we were able to obtain funding for the pumpkin festival in Windsor and--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Gomery commission has brought to light the existence of a memo dating back to June 1999 from Michael Calcott, the former director general of Communications at the Treasury Board Secretariat. Even then he was complaining about mismanagement and waste in the sponsorship program, and saying that it could not go on that way. Yet the office of the present Prime Minister intervened directly.

How does the Prime Minister explain that he did not have access to this important information as either the Minister of Finance or the vice-president of the Treasury Board? That is unthinkable.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, not only did the Prime Minister set up the Justice Gomery commission to do its work, he cancelled the sponsorship program and then encouraged all departments and ministers to cooperate fully.

We are doing the right thing in this government by cooperating fully and by providing information broadly, in fact, cabinet documents back to 1994, which is a remarkable step. We are doing the right thing because we are not afraid of receiving Justice Gomery's report and the truth.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims not to have been in the loop. He was Minister of Finance, yet he knew nothing. He was vice-president of the Treasury Board, yet he knew nothing. He is the member for LaSalle—Émard, and his executive assistant was phoning Gagliano's office, yet he knew nothing. I wonder if perhaps he did not even know that he knew Serge Savard. We ought to ask the Minister of Social Development, because he does know Serge Savard.

In a more serious vein, I am asking the Prime Minister whether he is in fact giving us the right answers. Did he know about the sponsorship program?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said repeatedly that he was aware of the sponsorship program, as were all members of Parliament in this House aware of the sponsorship program.

The Prime Minister was not aware of any alleged malfeasance. When he became aware of that alleged malfeasance as a result of the Auditor General's report, he acted swiftly to end the sponsorship program and to ask Justice Gomery to get to the bottom of this issue. That is why we are cooperating with Justice Gomery. We are looking forward to his report. We would urge all members of Parliament to respect the independence of that judicial inquiry.

Noranda Inc.Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Rivière-Du-Loup—Montmagny, QC

Mr. Speaker, Noranda Inc. may soon be purchased by Chinese interests, and this sale is apparently the first of a long list of acquisitions we can expect, according to a Chinese minister.

Since a transaction of this size requires government approval, does the Minister of Industry intend to make the company's respect for human rights one of his criteria for deciding about the authorization?

Noranda Inc.Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the parliamentary committee on industry will be discussing the Investment Canada Act. I am sure it will give some advice and we will give that advice serious consideration.

Noranda Inc.Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Rivière-Du-Loup—Montmagny, QC

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the minister's decision may have serious economic consequences for a number of regions of Quebec, if the Standing Committee on Industry makes its recommendation promptly, will the minister promise to make his decision known as quickly as possible?

Noranda Inc.Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we will respond in a very timely manner to any advice we get from a parliamentary committee.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, this man is allegedly the Prime Minister of Canada, but he will not answer questions that go to the integrity of his government. What is the matter with that?

The truth is the Prime Minister made a commitment last spring to ensure that he would get to the bottom of this. He made a commitment to answer questions regarding his own integrity and the integrity of his government.

When did he know that his own office was calling the office of Alfonso Gagliano to ensure it got sponsorship money for Liberal fundraisers?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, individuals over there actually called for a judicial inquiry. That is what the Prime Minister ensured happened, a full judicial inquiry.

I cannot understand why they would actually attack the independence of a judicial inquiry. For goodness sake, what will they be questioning next, Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms? I guess they have already done that. Sorry.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said he wanted to clean up government. Now he is part of the problem. This Prime Minister is showing contempt for Canadians when he will not stand up and answer questions about his involvement in this whole affair.

My question once again is, when did he know that his office was involved in calling Alfonso Gagliano's office to get sponsorship money for Liberal fundraisers?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister cancelled the sponsorship program and appointed Justice Gomery to do his work.

We have a new ethics commissioner who is reporting directly to Parliament and appending amendments to the Financial Administration Act. Whistleblower protection legislation has been introduced in this Parliament. A new ethics and integrity package in my department has been rated a best practice model by the Conference Board of Canada for both the public and private sector.

We are on the job and doing the right thing in defending the ethics and integrity of government over here in this government.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. We are not asking questions about the Gomery commission but about the Prime Minister's integrity. We will not accept the Prime Minister's refusal to answer our questions.

When did the Prime Minister learn that his office had made calls to obtain a grant for his financial backer?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have been able to enumerate at least three errors that the hon. members have made in a three day period in this House by commenting on the testimony at Justice Gomery's commission.

In fact, it is not just to respect the independence of Justice Gomery, but also to protect them against themselves over there because they are really damaging their own credibility significantly by commenting on a day to day and play by play basis on testimony today that could be contradicted by testimony next week. Let us wait for the full report and have the truth.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Prime Minister said earlier this year:

--it is important that as Prime Minister I be very clear about what I know and what I did not know. It's very important for public confidence that as Prime Minister I be clear about the degree of my knowledge of this matter.

We agree. That is why we will not be stonewalled. We want to know, when did this Prime Minister learn that his office made calls to obtain sponsorship funds for his million dollar fundraiser? When did he know?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the hon. member's attention a report today, an independent analysis, that Canada and our government received a score of 8.5 out of 10 in terms of an ethics index. It remains well ahead of the United States which, incidentally, was tied with Belgium at 17th.

EducationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the opposition is having fun balkanizing, or even waffling over the country's future, I have a real question for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The Canada-Ontario agreement on education for language minorities has expired. This agreement is vital to the accessibility of post-secondary education in French in Ontario.

When will the Minister of Canadian Heritage announce a new agreement, which is so important for such institutions as the Cité collégiale, the Collège d'Alfred and the Collège Boréal?

EducationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Jeanne-Le Ber Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and I commend him on his determination in encouraging and defending minority communities.

We have allocated $1.2 billion for minority language teaching or learning a second language. We are currently in negotiations with the provinces. They will wrap up on March 31, 2005. I must say that these negotiations with the provinces have been very productive and we have had excellent cooperation, as we have had for the past 30 years.