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

Topics

Official LanguagesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is addressed to the minister responsible for the action plan for official languages. In the context of the review of the action plan for official languages, the Commissioner of Official Languages, testifying before the parliamentary committee, told us that the review must not become a pretext for relenting on programs related to official languages.

What steps is the minister prepared to take to assure the House today that the Official Languages Act will be strengthened, not weakened?

Official LanguagesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his excellent and timely question. Today at noon, in fact, I had lunch with the ministers responsible for each of the parts of the action plan for official languages.

I noted that the ministers around the table were very enthusiastic and committed to promoting the action plan in favour of the linguistic communities in this country. I saw that they wanted to keep their sights on the action plan as a priority over the next five years.

As the House is aware, the Minister of Finance recently announced in Regina that he fully intends to honour the $751 million commitment.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence. New Democrats will not be fooled or bullied by a fan of the Iraqi war waving a piece of paper proclaiming “No space weapons in our time”. The fact is his letter to the U.S. defense secretary said not a single word about the government's supposed objection to space weaponization.

If missile defence is not on course to weaponized space, why is the U.S. Missile Defense Agency budgeting $3.3 billion for 304 space-based missile interceptors?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the facts of the hon. member's question are totally out of whack with the reality, as the debate in the House last night demonstrated.

In so far as the government is concerned, she has been attacking us for the fact that the defence minister did not mention the weaponization of space in one single letter to the defense secretary of the United States when we have voted on this in the United Nations and when we have raised this continually in every single international disarmament organization of which we are a member.

The member knows full well that Canada is on the record as being against the weaponization of space. The United States of America knows it, and every member of the House too.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, last night in the House Liberals and Conservatives accused the NDP of star wars scaremongering. It is not scaremongering, it is just plain scary, especially with proposals for equipping those missiles with nuclear tips. This is the weaponization of space.

If the minister thinks Canadians will shut up about it, he is dead wrong. When Canadians do not trust a word that scandal-ridden Liberals say these days, why would they not think the government is lying about star wars?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the reason why Canadian citizens do not think that the government is lying about star wars is that the Canadian people are wise enough and smart enough to see behind the rhetoric and know the facts.

There is no star wars. We are not engaged in discussion with the United States about star wars. As the debate in the House last night revealed very clearly, and most members of the House understand that, we are discussing and only discussing with our American colleagues the possibility of a missile defence system, land and sea based, for North America which might eventually be of benefit to Canadians.

Let us pursue--

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dewdney—Alouette.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 2000 internal audit alleges fraud and double-dipping, but the Prime Minister simply minimizes that by calling it administrative errors.

He said that he only heard rumours of the wrongdoing at the time and did not feel the need to look into it. He did not speak to the prime minister or the minister in charge. He did not even give it a passing thought. However, he was finance minister of the day and he was responsible for Canadians' hard earned tax dollars.

How does the Prime Minister expect us to believe that he is as mad as hell now and when he first heard the word “fraud” he did absolutely 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, what I would invite the member to do, as a great many of the journalists and columnists have done, is to go to the website, download the report, read it and see what he finds in that.

I think he will find what some of the, shall I say, more thoughtful columnists from western Canada have found. Don Martin said:

--I don't buy the notion Martin knew about any criminal wrongdoing ahead of the Auditor-General's report or that he will ever be directly implicated in the scandal.

He had read the audit. Why does the hon. member not read it?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, we will find allegations of fraud in that report, and perhaps he should read it again. The Prime Minister should have been outraged four years ago, but he is only pretending to be outraged now that he is in hot water.

He should have talked to Mr. Chrétien and to Mr. Gagliano. He should have considered whether an RCMP investigation needed to happen. He should have done anything but turn a blind eye to what was going on all around him.

Now there is nowhere left to turn. It is his problem and Canadians want to know why he did nothing.

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 government did a great deal when the first indications of problems with the sponsorship program arose. Following an internal audit and further questions arising in 2001, the minister was removed and replaced by another minister.

Referrals were made of the Groupaction case to the Auditor General. Further administrative reviews, independent forensic audits and referrals to the RCMP by both the Auditor General and the government, all these things were happening as more information became available, finishing with the killing of the sponsorship program--

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Crowfoot.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, for a week now the Prime Minister has tried to convince Canadians that he acted immediately upon hearing of the Auditor General's report.

The question remains however, why did he not act when this scandalous affair first came to light in 1997? Why did he not, at the very least, express the same outrage in 1997 or even ensuing years, as he attempted to show last week?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure when in 1997, but I think the member is referring to a period before the program was created.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister really expect Canadians to believe that, when everyone else knew about the kickbacks, he was unaware of what was happening? He, the senior minister from Quebec, knew nothing, saw nothing and asked no questions.

Why did this senior minister at that time ask no questions?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when the questions were raised and revealed in the interim audit prepared in the year 2000, that same report they refer to made a series of findings. There were 37 administrative changes. Those administrative changes were made.

There was a subsequent involvement in it which confirmed that those were the right changes. Then in the year 2002, the deputy minister of public works, in referring to that very internal audit, said that there was no evidence of any criminal activity, it was all administrative. Besides that, it was all in the hands of the Auditor General who accepted it.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier, the President of the Treasury Board asked me to give him a single fact.

Chapter 5, page 7, paragraph 5.31 of the Auditor General's report states:

A core subscription to “Rethinking Government”, for example, costs about $27,000. We noted that 10 copies were purchased by departments in 2002-03 at a total cost of $270,000.

Since this is taxpayers' money, I would ask him this nicely: which ten ministers—

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

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 issue raised by the Auditor General was one of efficiency, that different departments should not be separately subscribing to syndicated public opinion research reports. That is something of efficiency that has been a useful recommendation, which the government has accepted.

If the hon. member wants to know the departments that individually subscribed to the same syndicated report, I will certainly supply that, but that was not the issue. It was not identifying the department. I will get the names for the member. However, the issue was one of efficiency, not of impropriety of any one of the departments.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister came to Quebec to say, “I will do my best to be transparent”. He came to say that. He told people, “Believe me, I want the truth to come out”.

For three days now, we have been asking which ten ministers each paid for the same report for a total of $270,000. We are not getting an answer.

Is the way they handle a request for a minor piece of information indicative of what goes on with sponsorships?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, when the member asks the question, he might want to listen to the answer, just for a little bit. The Auditor General in her report, the famous report, says:

In a large organization like the federal government, there are bound to be problems and failures, despite best efforts

The minister stood up and said that the Auditor General had said that a number of departments were buying the same report, and this was foolish. The minister said, “I agree”. We changed the program. We stopped it from happening, and if you want the list of names, he will give them to you.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I hope the President of the Treasury Board was quoting the minister in saying, “you”. I would urge all hon. members to please address their remarks through the Chair, as required by the rules. The hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

February 18th, 2004 / 3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the Prime Minister's major planks was to restore Canada's visibility in the world. He has chosen a very interesting way to do it.

Headlines like these around the globe have screamed out the news this week. A headline in the New York Times said, “Scandal Haunts Canadian Leader”. Headline in the Washington Post said, “Canada's Prime Minister Acts to Counter Scandal”. Taipei Times headline said, “Kickback Scandal Grips Canada”. The Korean Daily said, “Corruption Raises Ugly Head”. BBC News said, “Ottawa 'mishandled' public funds”. BBC News said, “Ottawa 'damaged by funds scandal”.

Is this the Prime Minister's way to win our international reputation?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the reputation of Canada is enhanced by the way in which this Prime Minister frankly has stepped forward. Every country on this globe has its problems of governance. Each is judged by the way it handles it, and this government is handling it with transparency, openness and frankness by the Prime Minister and are--

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.