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House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was going.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Well, first let it be said, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister said the public accounts committee will also deal with this so do not let the Minister of Public Works bury this in a judicial inquiry.

Earlier today the Prime Minister laid the blame on a small number of bureaucrats and some political people and earlier right in this House he acknowledged that the scandal was driven by a few political people. I want to know, the House wants to know, and all Canadians want to know, who were the political people who were driving this scandal?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

We want to know too, Mr. Speaker.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Well, we also want to know, Mr. Speaker, who already has the answer because this week the Prime Minister said that he knew nothing, saw nothing and did nothing until two days ago when the Auditor General's report was released. However, earlier today he was acknowledging that back in 2000 he knew that this problem was going on. So which story is correct, the 2000 story or this week's story?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the chair of the public accounts committee has a very important responsibility. For him to deliberately mislead by stating that what happened in 2000 was anything other than an administrative study, and that the deputy minister of public works came forth and said the problem was an administrative one and it was later that Groupaction occurred, is really unbecoming of him. I would hope that as the chair of the public accounts committee he would show a greater degree of responsibility.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

If the Prime Minister was suggesting that something in the question that the hon. member for St. Albert put deliberately misled the House, I am sure he would not want to make that suggestion because that would be, as he knows, unparliamentary. I was not quite sure whether he was referring to the hon. member's question or not, but the Prime Minister will want to review that.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General reaffirmed that it is hard to believe that someone could have outsmarted the controls for 4 or 5 years. She added that people had to have known.

Does this not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Prime Minister, who was right there as Minister of Finance and Vice-President of the Treasury Board, knew but did nothing?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, let us quote the Auditor General in her testimony before the public accounts committee today. She said:

Within our system the minister of the department has responsibility of that department. I think, quite frankly, most people would not expect even the minister to know all of the day-to-day operations. Some people would call into question how appropriate it is for a minister to become involved....

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, of all the ministers who are guilty of complicity in this scandal, the Prime Minister is one of the most deeply involved.

Will the Prime Minister recognize that, in his duties as finance minister and Treasury Board vice-president, he not only was in a position to correct the situation but had a duty to do so?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, once again a member of the opposition is arriving at a guilty conclusion before the evidence is produced.

If she has facts that back up that conclusion, she should put it in front of the inquiry and see how it is received. If she has any proof then she should bring it forward and we will act on it.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the former heritage minister said yesterday that the Prime Minister must have known.

Other Liberal MPs say that they raised red flags about the sponsorship program in the Liberal caucus as far back as 1999. Yet the Prime Minister wants Canadians to believe that everyone in the Liberal caucus knew about the sleeze except him.

Why does the Prime Minister continue to deny the obvious truth that as finance minister he let Canadians down?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I was not in the Liberal caucus in 1999. However I am well aware of the open discussion that goes on and the issues that are raised.

However since that time, and it was on an incremental basis, from internal audits to independent forensic audits to Auditor General audits to RCMP investigations following the Groupaction issue, we have constantly been bringing this forward to the public's attention in greater detail.

When the government took office in December we immediately stopped the sponsorship program altogether. We have now, with the Auditor General's report, instituted a whole series of inquiries, commissions and activities.

I ask members to bring the evidence forward, not here in the House but under oath before the--

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Provencher.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was in caucus in 1999. Even as the Liberal cone of silence is beginning to crack and the sleeze is oozing out of it, the Prime Minister's pattern of denial and casting off blame continues.

In a press conference he said that as finance minister of Canada his advice was not sought on matters relating to Quebec.

The fact remains that the Quebec caucus knew political abuse was taking place and he said nothing to the public. Somehow he was struck dumb.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am amazed that a former attorney general of Manitoba would use language such as that, acting within the immunity of the House, when there are processes where he may go forward.

I would like to see the member use that language and make those accusations under oath before the public inquiry commissioner or in front of the public accounts committee.

Surely this is not the place to make wild accusations on the behaviour of members of the House. He should come before the committee, under oath and in public, and make his allegations.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that the government has made a strong commitment in the Speech from the Throne to improving foreign credential recognition to ensure that immigrants to Canada can fully participate in the economy.

Could the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development inform the House of the action the government will take on this important issue?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right to draw the House's attention to an issue that is very important for all of us.

We have in recent times invited people from all over the world with credentials that outpace even our own. In fact, we have currently a disconnect between the talent pool and human capital investment that is entering our country and the jobs in which they engage.

I am pleased to advise the House that today I convened a meeting of my colleagues from the Departments of Citizenship and Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, Health, Foreign Affairs and the parliamentary secretary for immigration.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps accusing this group of 14 of dreaming up this corrupt scheme. What could they possibly have to gain from doing that?

Does the Prime Minister really expect us to believe that this group of 14 were so sophisticated that they fooled the entire government, including the cabinet and the Prime Minister?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the statement made yesterday in the House by the Prime Minister was reflecting the view of the Auditor General yesterday morning in an interview where she was distinguishing between the 14,000 employees of public works and the 14 in this small unit who were involved in some way as public servants in this incident. She was in no way, and nor was the Prime Minister, suggesting that there was someone outside in a political or other position who might have been involved as well. In fact, the action of bringing home the ambassador from Copenhagen demonstrates that it was someone outside that 14. That was not--

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lakeland.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, this culture of corruption is in the cabinet, not in the civil service, but the Auditor General has no authority to do an inquiry into cabinet. She only has authority to do an investigation into the public service.

The Prime Minister has to stop blaming our public servants. He has to start pointing the finger of blame right back at himself, at his cabinet and at the former cabinet.

Will the Prime Minister admit the obvious, which is that he knew what was going on through this whole despicable scandal?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member has failed to understand after three days is the purpose of calling the commission of inquiry. It was called so it could go beyond where the Auditor General could go and in fact go beyond perhaps where the parliamentary committee could go. That is the whole purpose of the inquiry.

In terms of the public servants, let me take this occasion to say that I agree with the Auditor General that those 14 do not make the public service. We can be incredibly proud of our public servants. They are hardworking men and women who give up their lives for the greater good of our country. I am very proud to be part of the institution.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the arguments being used by the Prime Minister are pretty hard to swallow, when the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine says he was present when she raised the issue in caucus, that the report was on the website as far back as the fall of 2000, that he was able to obtain all the details as the Minister of Finance and Vice-President of the Treasury Board. Yet he did nothing.

How can the Prime Minister keep on saying he knew nothing of all this?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the real question is: Why is the member from the Bloc Quebecois not prepared to quote the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine? What she actually said is that there were administrative problems relating to the costs, but it was not a question of theft or anything to do with what has come out about Groupaction. It was strictly an administrative problem relating to the costs, when we look at the way funding was allocated.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

February 12th, 2004 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

The Auditor General has said that many national historic sites in the country are showing serious signs of deterioration. She also mentioned that this issue must be addressed within the next two to five years. Three of the five sites described as being seriously impaired are in Ontario, including Fort Henry in Kingston.

What is the government planning to do to preserve these sites of great historic significance?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, chapter 6 of the Auditor General's report closely reflects the annual report of the park service of last year. We intend to look at the recommendations of the Auditor General very closely, as with other areas of her report. We intend to fully implement measures to take care of her concerns.

I can assure the hon. member that as this proceeds I will be reporting to the House on the success in dealing with the sites that are currently listed as being in poor condition.