This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that not all of the government agrees with that. The Privy Council Office told the Auditor General that it used sound professional judgment in its decision to purchase these two new luxury jets.

The current finance minister, who was public works minister during the audit, also defended the sole sourcing contract to Bombardier. However, the Auditor General, as the minister points out, says that the sole sourcing of this contract could not be supported.

So who does the Prime Minister believe? His finance minister or the Auditor General?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, procurement practices require judgment in different circumstances. There are issues of compatibility with previous equipment. There are issues of sole sourcing where only one type of equipment or supplier is available in the country. There are issues of analysis and taking the proper time to answer those questions properly.

The Auditor General has commented in a critical way that not enough time was taken for proper analysis, in her opinion. We are willing at this point as a government to accept that opinion and apply that standard in future.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Auditor General once again exposed how the Liberals have broken trust and plundered the public treasury.

The Prime Minister was forced to admit that his government broke the rules when it blew a hundred million dollars, money taxed from struggling Canadian taxpayers, so top Liberals could ride around in luxury jets. Fairness to the public was trumped by Liberal greed.

The Prime Minister was vice-chair of the key cabinet committee that approved this shopping spree. Why did he betray Canadians so badly?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General makes it clear that the normal process was not followed in this case because it was toward the end of the fiscal year and there was not time for proper analysis. It did not go through the normal processes even though it was strictly within the rules.

This government accepts that it should go through the normal processes. Whether it is within the rules or outside the rules or not, adequate time needs to be taken for proper analysis. That will be the process that we will follow in the future.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

It is not only the Prime Minister who failed in his duty to protect Canadians' money from abuse. Another minister also hid what was going on. Just five months ago, he told the House “all of the rules were properly followed in this transaction to acquire the aircraft”.

The Prime Minister has admitted that was not true, yet he appointed the very man who made this misleading statement as the nation's finance minister.

Why are Liberal ministers who have betrayed Parliament and betrayed the public trust holding high office in our country?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is confusing rules and process. This was within the rules, but the process was inadequate because it did not leave time for adequate analysis, in the Auditor General's opinion.

On reflection, and the Prime Minister has said, this did not go through the proper process and did not come to his attention in his position in cabinet, but we are satisfied with these recommendations. And in the future, such a process will not be followed, whether it is inside the rules or not.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is all well and good for the government to have announced a commission of inquiry yesterday, but there is no guarantee we will learn anything before the next election.

Will the government commit today to have the commission of inquiry issue a preliminary progress report before the next election is called?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the inquiry commissioner is dealing with the government to set the exact terms of reference, but within the Inquiries Act an inquiry commissioner sets his or her own rules of process, which could include an interim report if the commissioner feels that will be helpful in giving information along the way or in a way that might be helpful to cause correction at the earliest possible date.

Those questions will be in the hands of commissioner. Hon. members opposite will have an opportunity, if they so wish, to make representations to the commissioner for an interim report or any other--

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the government was capable of limiting the commission's term to one year, why could it not at the same time require the commission to produce a preliminary report before the next election is called?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

As we have said, Mr. Speaker, the government is not putting any limits on the commissioner in setting his own process, which includes reporting, calling evidence, and starting at an early date, in whatever order he wishes. If there might be an election called while the commission is sitting, it continues. It can call witnesses in any order that it wishes and pursue any line of questioning.

This government is not putting on any restrictions or time limits with respect to an election or anything else, other than the request that this be done urgently so that the public can learn the facts as soon as possible.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, these are sad days for Canadian democracy. The revelations made by the Auditor General strike at the very heart of the problem of the democratic deficit in this country. They strike at the reason why Canadians so distrust their public servants.

The most sickening part of the Prime Minister's response is the hypocritical and shallow attempt to deflect personal responsibility by pleading ignorance. My question to the Prime Minister is, how does he propose to address the democratic deficit when he is the democratic deficit?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member in the preamble to his question makes a point, and that is that one way to address these failures is to get the House more engaged in the oversight of estimates. It is 50% of its constitutional responsibility. The auditor has written about that over and over and over again.

I would ask the member who asked this question, how much time did he spend in committee on estimates last year? I think I can answer that: less than 5%.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report reads like a dime store novel. It is about con men. It is about fraud artists playing by their own rules: Liberal rules. If you are a Liberal you can belly up to the trough, you can be paid for work that you do not do, you can get everything you want and it is okay because you are a Liberal. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, oink, oink: “You are okay, you are a Liberal”.

This kind of cronyism is what got the Prime Minister into power. The Prime Minister knew what was going on. Why did he look the other way?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as entertaining as the barnyard noises of the member are, I think it is probably worth repeating what the Auditor General has said. The Auditor General this morning on national television said the Prime Minister has obviously taken this very seriously by calling a public inquiry.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Last December, the Ontario Minister of the Environment announced that heavy-duty diesel standards will be tightened on April 1 of this year, making Ontario's emissions standards the strictest in North America.

Since the movement of vehicles crosses provincial borders, could the Minister of the Environment indicate when similar standards will be set for the rest of the country?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, certainly we congratulate the Province of Ontario on this forward step. We will be working with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to extend that across Canada, and also with the Commission on Environmental Cooperation to extend it north-south through the United States and Mexico.

I should add that for new heavy-duty trucks, we brought in new regulations on January 1 of this year. This will require new emissions control technologies, which will reduce nitrous oxide and particulate matter by respectively 90% and 95% for the new heavy-duty vehicles.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day when the Prime Minister defends a government currently under investigation by the RCMP, a Liberal government the Auditor General has tarred as one of the most corrupt in the history of our nation.

The sponsorship program was a money laundering scheme, taking money from taxpayers and giving it to Liberal friends, and then having the Liberal Party of Canada reap the rewards.

Canadians deserve an answer. Why did the Prime Minister allow this to happen under his watch as finance minister?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what happened--I said this yesterday--was unacceptable. It was intolerable. There is absolutely no excuse. There is no excuse for what happened. Those people who took that money should be punished.

Let us understand that the end never justifies the means. National unity in this country is going to be protected by thousands of Canadians who stand up for their country. It will not be protected by people who violate the laws of this land. This government will find out what happened and it will be made public to the Canadian people.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, what is truly deplorable is that this Prime Minister still says he knew nothing about it all during the time he was the finance minister and the lead minister in Quebec.

BDC, VIA Rail, Canada Post and the Port of Montreal: all these crown corporations are run by the Prime Minister's Liberal cronies. Crown corporations are not subject to access to information. Will they be subject under this inquiry?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I announced that a complete review of the governance of crown corporations will be undertaken by the President of the Treasury Board. I have also asked him to, on an accelerated basis, meet with the crown corporations in question, to talk to their boards, to talk to their executives, to determine exactly what the facts are. I have then asked him to recommend to me, on an accelerated basis, the course of action the government should follow.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

February 11th, 2004 / 3 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again the Auditor General deplored the way the employment insurance program was managed. She denounced the fact that, year after year, the government takes in more money than it needs to properly run the program, and suggested that the $44 billion surplus is a real tax grab, a hidden tax.

Given that the unemployed have been treated very unfairly over the past few years, does the government intend to repair the harm it has caused by correcting the shortcomings of the system, since there is money available to do so?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as I have already mentioned in the House, the purpose of the employment insurance program is obviously to provide benefits to the unemployed, those who are out of work, and to help them find employment in temporary tough times.

All the funds from employment insurance went—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Churchill River.

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Laliberte Liberal Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, farmers and the agricultural industry remain hopeful that we will regain our foreign markets soon, but a recent newspaper article stated that the borders could be closed for years and not months to Canadian beef.

Could the Minister of Agriculture tell the House what information this was based on and is this indeed correct?