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House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was document.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is the same government, obviously.

In 1994, the Prime Minister's executive assistant sent a memo to officials stating that the then finance minister hoped a number of Liberal-friendly ad firms would be added to the government's list. Among them was Claude Boulay's Groupe Everest, the same firm named as a huge beneficiary of Liberal largesse by the Auditor General.

If the Prime Minister was willing to recommend Mr. Boulay's firm and give it a recommendation for its work in 1994, how can he possibly say he knew nothing of its shady actions 10 years later?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted in fact to have that memo tabled. What it said was that it agreed with the suggestion from someone else and then went on to say that we wanted it all to be on a competitive basis, we wanted everything to be tendered, and there was a list of other companies that we, the government, wanted to see on that list. I would be quite happy to table that memo.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will be happy as well, but according to the Prime Minister's communications officer, Mario Laguë, no records were kept about decisions made at closed meetings on advertising decisions. How convenient.

While the Prime Minister's man Mario was in the thick of it, the Auditor General stated that the problems plaguing the sponsorship program touched the advertising contracts as well. Does the Prime Minister expect Canadians to believe that his special request for the addition of Groupe Everest was not politically motivated and that with all those connections to his office he was not aware of its actions until 2002?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has just answered the question with respect to his request that the process for choosing advertising companies be done on a competitive basis.

As we know, in the late 1990s, problems did occur with respect to the advertising and communications factors. Those have been reported on by the Auditor General. This government is taking every possible step to get to the bottom of it. But this does not go back to the 1994 suggestion and encouragement by the Prime Minister, then finance minister, that these be on a competitive basis.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

February 18th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Jean Carle said in court in 1998 that as soon as he arrived at the BDC from Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's office, the mandate given to him was to improve the visibility of the Government of Canada. To do so, Jean Carle acknowledges having met Chuck Guité and a number of ministers including Alfonso Gagliano, Marcel Massé, the member for Outremont and the current Minister of Industry.

How can the Prime Minister say he wants to get to the bottom of things when he has kept in his government a minister involved in the sponsorship scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, first, the member's question alludes to the ruling by Justice Denis of the Superior Court in which he refers to the corporate identity program of the Government of Canada, which has nothing to do with the sponsorship issue.

Second, I do not recall these meetings.

Third, he quotes paragraphs 16.68 and 16.69 of the ruling but neglects to quote paragraph 16.90 in which the court finds that the witness has no credibility.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, anyone who says the BDC is not involved in the sponsorship scandal should read the Auditor General's report. BDC is one of the Crown corporations that was used as a smokescreen. It is linked to groups, Liberal cronies, receiving commissions.

I have the following question for the Prime Minister, who says he wants to clean up this mess. Did he check to make sure that none of his ministers was involved in the sponsorship scandal, or did he turn a blind eye to the involvement of some of his ministers, including the Minister of Industry?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as part of the ministerial swearing in ceremony on December 12, the ministers were asked whether there was anything in their past that should be discussed with us.

Moreover, I have asked each and every one of my cabinet ministers whether they had any knowledge of inappropriate activity in the sponsorship issue. Rest assured that in each case, the answer was no.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a little problem. Jean Carle, who was appointed by the PMO to improve Canada's visibility and managed to get the BDC mentioned in the Auditor General's report for its involvement in the sponsorship scandal, met with Messrs. Gagliano and Guité, the two main actors in the sponsorship saga, as well as the Minister of Industry and the member for Outremont.

Will the Prime Minister not agree that this represents a pretty superficial review, if one asks ministers whether they were aware of a certain thing, when here we are informed that the minister does not recall, and the member for Outremont has just told the press that he too remembers nothing? Amnesia has set in.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, two totally different matters are being deliberately confused. There is the Quebec Superior Court ruling on Beaudoin and the BDC, particularly paragraphs 16.68 and 16.69. Jean Carle is speaking of the Canadian corporate identity program, and yes we do have such a program. This is perfectly normal, and nothing to do with sponsorships.

The witness says he has met with certain ministers. I say I have not met that individual. I wish to point out as well that the court stipulates that it does not find this witness to have any credibility.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry is referring to the second aspect of the sponsorship program. It is true that, overall, there was something like $1.25 billion for sponsorships, to the same ad agencies, for the government's corporate identity.

What we have trouble believing today is that the minister remembers so well how the programs operated, but suddenly does not remember that she discussed them with colleagues, that a meeting was held, that she intervened, and that as a result the BDC is today named as being involved in the sponsorship scandal.

What kind of selective amnesia is the government suffering from?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the member for Roberval has never been a member of government, and has never paid any attention to government programs. On the one hand we have the sponsorships, and on the other, the government corporate identity program, which applies to all government departments. What we want is for the public to perceive a department doing something as acting on behalf of the Government of Canada. That is the first thing.

Second, with respect to the sponsorships per se, the Auditor General's report indicates that the BDC was involved. This is why the President of the Treasury Board has personally met with the Auditor General and has even called in the BDC's board analyst to rectify what happened with the sponsorships.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister, whom I would like to welcome back from his recent political road show. I am sure the Prime Minister never realized that his first disaster relief tour would be his own.

The Prime Minister says that things are getting better, but I can tell him that a lack of phone calls at the constituency office does not always mean anything. Sometimes silence is scarier.

Given that one of his senior advisors worked with Mr. Gagliano at one point, could he tell me who else is in his office that was imported from that office, presumably for their ability not to notice what was going on.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Laguë did not work for Mr. Gagliano. He was the secretary of the cabinet committee on communications. That is a cabinet committee.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I believe I said worked with Mr. Gagliano, not for.

The fact of the matter is that this is a person right in the Prime Minister's Office who should have known what was going on. The Prime Minister is telling us he has never had a conversation with this person who said he did not know that people were actually stealing money. He might have thought that maybe they were stealing money, but not actually.

I mean, how much more does the Prime Minister have to ask us to believe?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we all have to avoid in the House is deliberately setting out to destroy the reputation of any single person.

It is perfectly valid for the hon. member to pursue a line of questioning, but when he deliberately seeks, by association, to damage somebody else's reputation, a public servant who is not here in the House capable of defending himself, it really is despicable.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister seems to have had time to talk to everyone in the entire country about how he was clueless about the wagonloads of cash that were being shovelled into Liberal-friendly advertising agencies on his watch.

He has had time to run around doing everything except get a few straight answers from his own Quebec ministers. I invite the Prime Minister to remember that he himself implicated the Quebec ministers in this fiasco.

Why is he not busy getting the truth out of them?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I was very clear when I gave my answer. In fact, I asked all the ministers around the cabinet table, and I do not really think that we should be singling out Quebec ministers. The fact is that I asked all of the ministers, and all of the ministers said they had no knowledge of those activities.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I can understand why the Prime Minister has a hard time getting his story straight. Now his story is that not only was he asleep at the switch, but every other Quebec cabinet kingpin was as well. They took absolutely no notice when a cool $100 million was diverted out of the federal treasury.

The Liberal Party must have been rolling in ill-gotten gains, yet Canadians are to swallow the fiction that Liberal cabinet ministers were not at the front of the line to divvy up the loot. Is it not true that the Prime Minister's real problem is the fact that he himself was one of those ministers?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this kind of activity taking place within the political process is a breach of trust and nobody supports it. It has happened elsewhere in this country, unfortunately, and we must do everything possible to ensure that it does not happen again.

However, what is very despicable is when the hon. member singles out a province and then the rest of her colleagues stand up to applaud the fact that they are engaged in Quebec bashing. Let us not have any more of that here in the House of Commons.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it was the Prime Minister who said that a very few Quebec ministers were involved.

The Prime Minister originally said that he was only aware of administrative errors in the sponsorship program. The truth is that the 2000 internal audit, cited so often by the government, actually outlined double billing and fraud.

The Prime Minister said he saw this report and was very familiar with it. My question is, why has he stayed so silent about incidents of fraud and double--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the 2000 internal audit identified a number of problems. The two deputy ministers, before and after, came before the public accounts committee to say there was no political influence on them. The audit only included managerial and administrative problems.

The action plan to that report was put on the Internet and indicated the steps that would be taken to overcome the managerial problems. If in the working papers in that audit there is an indication that may lead to some illegality, those are the very things that will be looked into in the various processes--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is important that the Prime Minister address this issue because it goes to his credibility.

The Prime Minister has used that report to defend his statement that he thought this was only about administrative errors. Clearly, that report indicates many examples of actual fraud.

Does he consider the fraud that was revealed in that report to be only administrative errors?