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House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Business of the House

10 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Discussions have taken place among all parties and I believe you will find there is unanimous consent that the recorded division on the motion for second reading of Bill C-12 scheduled for Wednesday, February 18, 2004, be taken today at 5:30 p.m.

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions from different areas, not quite worded the same, but dealing with marriage. The constituents call on the government to revisit the topic of what actually constitutes marriage. The petitioners are from across western Canada. They are pleading with the government to do what they are asking for in these petitions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions. The first one is mostly from members of my riding in the City of Windsor with a couple hundred signatures in support of Bill C-10B, which is the bill providing further protection to animals in our society by way of amendments to the Criminal Code.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second one is again from the City of Windsor regarding the definition of marriage.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

The third petition is in regard to the use of sonar, and the disruption and damage it causes to wildlife in the ocean. This petition has come from a good number of signatories in the province of British Columbia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is in regard to the destruction of a forest and the building of an opera house here in Ontario. I am filing this petition on behalf of residents residing in that region of the province.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my privilege to present to the House a petition dealing with marriage and signed by 110 concerned constituents.

The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that the institution of marriage has always been defined as the union of a man and a woman. It was upheld as such by votes in this very House.

The petitioners pray and request that the Parliament of Canada respect and uphold the current understanding of marriage as a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition is one more of millions that have come in from across Canada in regard to marriage.

The petitioners from Manitoba, including Winnipeg and my own riding, point out that marriage is the jurisdiction of Parliament. They ask that Parliament pass legislation recognizing marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions on the subject of marriage. They represent approximately 1,050 signatures.

The petitioners are calling on the government to recognize that social policy should be decided by elected members of Parliament, not by unelected judges, that support of the legal definition of marriage as the voluntary union of a single man and a woman remain, and that Parliament respect the vote in 1999.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition with nearly 900 signatures. It is on the subject of private member's Bill C-420.

The petitioners are calling on the government to respect the freedom of choice of Canadians in health care products. They suggest that herbs, dietary supplements and other traditional natural health products should be classified as food and not arbitrarily restricted as drugs. They also remind Parliament that the weight of modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases and disorders through the judicious use of natural health products.

We hope that all members will support that bill.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions from about 600 constituents who are asking Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions. The first one asks that Parliament legislate an opposite sex requirement for the institution of marriage and that marriage be restricted to be between one man and one woman.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition asks Parliament not to amend the Human Rights Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act nor the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way that would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships, or of homosexuality, including amending the Human Rights Code to include the prohibited grounds of discrimination and the undefined phrase “sexual orientation”.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the last petition asks Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with in excess of 500 signatures, all from Albertans and mostly from my riding. The petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition from the rural route mail cariers which calls upon the Government of Canada to repeal section 13.5 of the Canada Post Corporation Act, the part that forbids rural route mail cariers from having collective bargaining rights.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Liberal government has and continues to nurture a culture of corruption through the abuse of its influence and the use of public funds for personal benefit and to benefit friends, family and the Liberal Party of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be dividing my time today with the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

For those who are not familiar with the parliamentary process, this is a day when the official opposition gets to put forward an issue to debate. This is a fairly significant issue.

I want to start by asking, why does the sponsorship scandal matter?

I have received a number of letters over the last week. I want to put some of the statements on the record.

R.G.G. in Victoria, B.C. wrote: “If the Prime Minister were caught in a bank robbery he would claim he was innocent, as he was only driving the getaway car”.

S.M. in Toronto wrote: “The fleecing of Canada, I am absolutely disgusted by what appears to be fraud perpetrated on the Canadian people with a view to coating the pockets of loyal allies of the Liberal government, if not the Liberal Party itself”.

C.T. wrote: “The consensus of my senior citizens group who meet most mornings for coffee in order to discuss the political highlights of the day in order to solve the problems of the world, a modest goal, strongly believe that an election should not be held, at least until a first interim report is issued in order to be able to vote intelligently. Anything less would be undemocratic”.

Someone in my own riding, E. and H.D. in High River wrote: “Private citizens get jail and public restitution. As a heavily taxed Canadian with less write-offs than members of Parliament, I request a cash penalty given to members who are responsible for their poor judgment while entrusted in their portfolios. I'll vote all right. I can hardly wait for the opportunity”.

B. and N.C. from Priddis wrote: “Outrage. This is inexcusable and we trust persons will be prosecuted. The average Canadian would be behind bars”.

Those just reflect a little bit of what the public is saying to me.

Let me quickly summarize this scandal. The sum of $250 million was spent on increasing the visibility of the federal government in Quebec. This of course followed the near loss to the separatists on the Quebec referendum. The sum of $100 million plus of taxpayers' money went to commissions and fees. The companies implicated were Liberal-friendly ad agencies and some big crown corporations, such as VIA Rail and the BDC.

As we pass the BDC I cannot help but mention the fine president of the BDC, François Beaudoin, who has been exonerated publicly for the excoriation that he received at the hands of the Liberal administration. I cannot believe that a man had that fortitude to stand up before that onslaught. François Beaudoin does down in my books as a hero in Canada.

I have been asked if this is their way of doing things in Quebec. The answer is no. This is the way the Liberal Party of Canada does things.

Let us take the example of the possible leadership scandal in British Columbia, where there are allegations concerning the use of narcodollars, or using drug money to buy membership cards. Such is a party's tradition gone adrift.

Why is the Auditor General so credible on this subject? I looked back on the way the Auditor General reported on the firearms scandal. Suddenly, the public paid great attention to that. Our member for Yorkton—Melville had been saying exactly the same thing for months, years in fact. The Auditor General came out and suddenly the figures were credible.

This is because she is non-partisan. She does not have an axe to grind, as politicians do. She backs up everything she says with irrefutable facts. She is cool, calm and collected in her delivery and quite frankly, the Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, is in my view another Canadian heroine.

What excuses have been offered for this wilful ignorance? Wilful ignorance is no excuse under the Criminal Code of Canada.

First, this scam was carried out by a small band of rogues in the civil service. It was pointing directly at individuals who, in my view, have never, ever been found guilty. Second, the rogues surely must have had some political direction; however, there was no suggestion where that direction might have come from, just innuendo. Third, political direction could have come from Alfonso Gagliano and other ministers yet unnamed. Finally, it was directed at the ex-Prime Minister himself.

Whenever I hear a litany of excuses and the excuses change day by day, I am inclined to doubt the truth of any of them.

How has this played out in the media? Here are some headlines to consider, some are fairly gentle and some not so gentle: “Liberals scramble to contain the scandal”; “Prime Minister must have known”; “Report blasts Ottawa cronyism in the contract scandal”; “Blatant egregious arrogance”; “Your money, their friends”; “Prime Minister blames rogue staff”; “Prime Minister says Chrétien rivalry kept him in the dark”. Here is one that I think is very important: “Eight in 10 Canadians say the Prime Minister knew more”.

An editorial from the Ottawa Sun stated:

An abuse of power, tens of millions of tax dollars diverted to secret bank accounts concealed with forged invoices and laundered through politically-connected businesses. A veil of strict secrecy protects the activities from the eyes of the public.

And when the jig is up and the fraud is exposed everybody claims to know nothing or blames some secret cabal of shadowy operatives in the bureaucracy.

That is describing the Government of Canada. What a disgusting thing to have to say.

There is an alternative to the corrupt culture we have just had exposed by the Auditor General: a competent cabinet untouched by scandal; a new generation with fresh ideas; a party that treats taxpayers' money as a sacred trust; a party that puts health care as a top priority, spending dollars for that instead of siphoning off funds for their friends; and a party that would help hepatitis C victims of tainted blood instead of wasting money on worthless projects and scandals.

That alternative is the Conservative Party of Canada.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the opposition has brought forward this question today because for the first time we will actually have a substantive debate on this issue.

We have time to lay out our positions and look at what our solutions would be.

I listened to the member speak and took some notes. He said people were angry. I agree with him. I am angry. I have no question about that, they should be angry.

He said that this program was designed to increase the visibility of the Liberal Party in Quebec. That is not true. This program was designed to increase the visibility of Canada. The program is not what is at issue. What is at issue is the management of the program and the mismanagement of the program.

He then said that the Auditor General is credible. I agree that the Auditor General is exceptionally credible. I have spent a great deal of time with the Auditor General over the last few years since she was appointed and before that talking about issues of public management. I will have a few quotes from the Auditor General because if she is credible on her concerns then surely she is credible on the other things that she said. He cannot have it both ways.

He then ended by quoting headlines, headlines that were drawn from statements that he and his colleagues have met, but I did not hear in the entire speech a single suggestion on how we improve public management.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Throw the members out.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

No, this is the time for substantive debate, not sloganeering. I would like to hear a single substantive suggestion.