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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 HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Don Valley West Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Cities)

Mr. Speaker, I shall be sharing my time with the member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

I rise today to speak as somebody who firmly believes that all Canadians have the right to respect and expect that their public office-holders will act in accordance with the highest ethical standards. Last week's Auditor General report outlined unacceptable behaviour within the public sector. We will fix this mess, no matter what.

The government is accountable. We accept collective responsibility, not for criminal wrongdoing but for correcting what went wrong. Nobody is shirking his or her responsibility or his or her duty.

Our plan is simple and it is what Canadians expect. We will hold those responsible to account. We will try to recover lost funds. We will overhaul management and administrative practices, and we are calling an inquiry to answer all remaining questions.

These necessary actions reflect our vision of values and ethics as presented in the government Speech from the Throne. They are rooted in the steps our Prime Minister has already taken to ensure we function in the most ethical and transparent manner possible.

As Canadians, we are fortunate to be served by a public sector that is overwhelmingly honest and professional. I believe that the troubling reports we have seen in the media, following the Auditor General's latest report, in no way reflect behaviour of the wider public service. I believe that when confronted with ethical dilemmas, the overwhelming majority of public servants unfailingly take the right road.

In short, I believe in the public service of Canada and I believe we do a disservice to the public service as a whole if we allow the actions of a few individuals to discredit the loyalty and hard work of many.

The reality is that the vast majority of public servants in Canada serve Canadians with honour, integrity and excellence. Recently even the Auditor General has expressed concern that only the negative portions of her reports get coverage, noting she does not wish to damage the morale of the public service.

On December 9, 2003, she defended the integrity of the vast majority of public servants when she said:

I think Canada is very fortunate in the calibre of men and women who make up its public service—the vast majority of whom uphold high ethical standards and take very seriously the need to carefully manage public money to meet the needs of Canadians.

As recently as February 10, 2004, Ms. Fraser reaffirmed that these incidents of wrongdoing were isolated cases and it would be very unfortunate and unfair if the vast majority of public servants who came in every day with great integrity and great dedication to their fellow citizens were tarred by this and that people thought that they all worked like this.

Nevertheless, research conducted in countries of the OECD over the past 30 years has revealed a decline in citizens' regard for and deference toward their governments. Canada has been no exception. A study released by Ekos last summer showed that over 60% of Canadians had only a moderate or low level of trust in their government.

It is not enough for those of us in government to say to Canadians that our intentions are good and that they should trust us. We need to demonstrate that trust is justified day after day. We need to operate in a manner that holds up to the most intense scrutiny. Our actions at every level of the organization, from the minister and deputy minister to the frontline worker must be consistent with our words.

At a broader level, a loss in confidence in government institutions weakens the foundation of our democracy, as citizens become more and more disillusioned and less and less interested in participating in the governing process. I thought the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar spoke powerfully on this point. We have too often seen evidence of this in many jurisdictions through low voter turnout in elections, the most fundamental exercise of democratic rights.

Canadians' trust in their government must be restored. We have already moved on a number of early initiatives to reassure the public that our new government will act with the utmost integrity.

The Prime Minister has already distributed to his cabinet ministers a revised guide for ministers and ministers of state which provides his personal directions to the government on democratic reform and integrity.

The guide includes a new policy on mandatory publication of the travel and hospitality expenses of ministers, ministers of state, ministers' offices and parliamentary secretaries on a quarterly basis. This policy is even being extended to deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers and their equivalents.

The Prime Minister has also issued a new conflict of interest and post-employment code for public office holders, ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries, members of ministerial staff and governor in council appointees.

The government is also reinstating legislation to establish the office of an independent ethics commissioner and a Senate ethics officer.

We will also be acting soon to respond to the recommendation of an independent panel that we create legislation to protect whistleblowers from possible reprisal. We need to encourage people who are aware of wrongdoing to come forward. We need to protect them when they do so, and we will.

As organizational leaders our first question has been how we catch people and punish them. However, we need to look further in order to determine how we stop unethical behaviour before it happens and how we help people make the right choice. It comes back to providing guidance and doing so in a positive, affirmative fashion. That is an approach that we have already taken in introducing another code of conduct.

The government's new “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service” came into effect last September and was made available to each public service employee across Canada. Our code of values and ethics tells the world what the public service does, where it fits into democratic government and what it stands for. It was not imposed from above. It is the product of many years of discussion and consultation at every level.

The code provides a strong foundation for public service behaviour. It sets out four interwoven and balanced baskets of values by which public servants should be guided in their work and professional conduct.

First, there are democratic values, helping ministers under the law to serve the public interest in a spirit of non-partisanship. Second, we have professional values, serving with competence, excellence, efficiency and objectivity. Third, there are ethical values; the public service commits itself to acting at all times in such a way as to uphold the public trust, not just following the letter of the law, but the spirit as well. Finally, there are human values, the values that we all strive to reflect in our daily lives and interactions with others, values such as compassion, fairness and courtesy.

The code is an important step forward in providing a moral compass for the public service, but it cannot simply be a statement of principles. It cannot merely be rhetoric. It must be a living document that can be operational in the workplace. That is why we have given it some teeth.

The code is now a condition of employment in the federal public service. Breaches of its provisions can involve disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal.

In addition, public servants who feel that they are being asked to act in a way that is inconsistent with the code or who wish to report a breach of the code can do so in confidence to the senior officer in their organization or to the public service integrity officer. This is a key element for rebuilding public confidence in government.

Values and ethics are not things that should be compartmentalized into a single office. They cannot be allocated to a single box on an organizational chart. Values and ethics must permeate the organization. Everyone sitting around the management table should in their own way be a values and ethics specialist and should view their work through a values based lens.

Integrity begins at the top. The Prime Minister has taken this challenge head on. He has been open. He has created a public commission of inquiry. He has involved the public accounts committee. He has appointed a special counsel for financial recovery. He has talked directly to Canadians, unfiltered, for two hours on Cross Country Checkup .

In short, as he did with his attack on the deficit, the Prime Minister has courageously laid his reputation on the line in fixing the problem. For his honesty, for his directness, he deserves our utmost respect and support.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties and I believe if you were to seek it, you would find consent for the following motion:

I move:

That the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning membership on committees be deemed tabled and concurred in.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. deputy government House leader have the consent of the House to table this motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:15 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt these proceedings and put forth every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from February 13 consideration of the motion

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 17th, 2004 / 5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order made on Friday, February 13, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the referral to committee before second reading of Bill C-2.

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I think you will find unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as voting on the motion now before the House, with Liberals members voting yes, except those who would have voted otherwise.

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent of the House to proceed in this fashion?

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members present here today will vote no to this motion.