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

Topics

Trust FundsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

If the hon. member wishes to raise a point of order after question period, I will deal with it. I have a citation ready for him on this point. In my view, as I have indicated, the question as phrased, is out of order.

The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister pleads ignorance of sponsorship program abuse, but it took place on her watch. She was president of the Treasury Board. Her job was to approve all government spending and ensure that no rules were broken. Yet her story is that in this senior position of trust she saw nothing, heard nothing and certainly did nothing while the public purse was being ripped off. Just what was she taking her salary for?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to read some of the literature that we get in the House, like the Public Accounts of Canada . The Auditor General, who signed the attest audit in 2001, had 562 staff whose full time job was to examine all spending in government. They did not uncover this scandal, yet the opposition expects a minister to know intimately the details of what is two one hundredths of one per cent of the total envelope.

The auditor could not catch it, not because it was not a good audit, but because it was a very small area.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians do know from the Auditor General is that when the industry minister was president of the Treasury Board, she was negligent in protecting the public's money. She proved to be a toothless watchdog while the Liberals looted the treasury and broke every rule in the book. The industry minister failed to serve Canadians faithfully and well. Why did she betray the public trust?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it seems that members on the other side cannot add and they cannot read. I would encourage them to read what the auditor said which was, after the government had alerted her office to this problem, they went to work under the current finance minister, when he was the minister for Public Works and Government Services, and under the Minister of Industry, when she was in charge of the Treasury Board, and cleaned it up.

The auditor gives the former president of the Treasury Board full marks for fixing this problem.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the public accounts committee is charged with getting to the bottom of who authorized the theft of millions of dollars from the taxpayer. The Prime Minister admits that some cabinet ministers knew about the abuses in the sponsorship program.

Will the Prime Minister assure the House that any privy councillor in the know is not sitting on that committee as it looks into this scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, since the opposition likes to repeat things, let me repeat what was said today. Most Canadians are already tired of the daily barrage of shrill charges and allegations, and are ready to let the official inquiries do the work.

If the hon. member has a concern, if he has a single substantive fact to put on the table, I would encourage him to do so. In the absence of that, he should stop the slander.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is this Prime Minister who said that some ministers were involved and in the know. That is what this Prime Minister said.

What I am saying is that he has now stacked the public accounts committee with members of the Privy Council. That is a conflict of interest.

Will this Prime Minister take immediate steps to remove the privy councillors in order to remove that conflict of interest?

Sponsorship ProgramOral 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, that hon. member is actually from my home province. He was indeed the attorney general of that province. I think it is disgraceful that he displays so little understanding of due law and process.

RefugeesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of days ago, three Palestinians who were denied refugee status sought sanctuary in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce church in Montreal to avoid being deported. Although Thérèse, Khabil and Nabih Ayoub lived in refugee camps for 50 years, Canada has no qualms about giving them a one-way ticket to a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Can the minister explain the logic behind Canada's decision to refuse to grant refugee status to applicants, although these same authorities confirm that status by sending them to refugee camps in Lebanon?

RefugeesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, as she knows, I am not able to comment on a particular case, but all cases are given full and due process. When people seek sanctuary in a church, we do not go after them. We have a very fair process. One of the processes that is often criticized is that we are too fair.

Canada can be very proud of the processes we have in our immigration and refugee system.

RefugeesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act came into force on June 28, 2002, and the refugee appeal division is still not in place.

What is the reason behind the minister's delay in setting up this appeal division, which is essential to the implementation of an equitable process for all individuals claiming refugee status?

RefugeesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have a very fair process. There are at least four avenues of review or appeal on every application. It is always looked at with common sense, fairness and transparency.

Canadians can be very proud of the system we have in place.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Communication Canada is supposed to be gone by March 2004, yet the Treasury Board has approved an additional $9.8 million.

The Prime Minister boastfully claims that he has killed the program. Why has he not killed its budget?

Government ExpendituresOral 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, I am pleased to receive an actual question about the Treasury Board. The member who poses it is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect and with whom I have worked closely in the House.

It is a good question. It is a legitimate question. The reality is, though, when we close something down, there are closing down costs. We closed it down and we paid out the costs.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, talk about closing costs. The problem agency has spent $92.5 million so far this year. The government admits the failure and says it has shut it down.

If that is the case, why is Treasury Board asking Parliament for an additional $9.8 million and still counting? When will the waste ever end?

Government ExpendituresOral 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 me see if I can sort this out for the member. On December 12 of last year, three-quarters through the fiscal year, the government changed and the new Prime Minister shut down Communication Canada.

In the principles of accrual accounting, one has to assign all the costs and close it out. We closed it out, and it is costing a little over $9 million to do that.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

February 19th, 2004 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to comment on the most recent homicide bombings that recently occurred in Israel and other parts of the world, which specifically target civilians.

As a personal friend of the brother of Yechezkel Goldberg, the Canadian-Israeli victim of the most recent atrocity by a Palestinian terrorist group, this is now much closer to home. I have as a result come to appreciate a whole new dimension to the human cost of terrorism.

Homicide bombs are a crime against humanity and those who encourage these acts must be held accountable.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the House will recall that after the tragic death of Dr. Goldberg, we united together in the House to condemn the terrorist attack and to regret his tragic death.

I also want to thank the hon. member for his question because the question clearly illustrates that members of the House want to make it clear to everyone in the international community that we in Canada condemn acts of terrorism.

We recognize that this terrible violence and the tragic death of Dr. Goldberg was destined and designed not only to kill an innocent individual, but to destroy the chances of peace in the Middle East for which we work. We urge all parties as a testimony for this to work for peace in the Middle East.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, to review again, Jonathan Murphy was a Liberal research director. He has written a tell-all insider's view of what was going on in the Liberal Party. He states that Mario Lague, now the Prime Minister's communications director, was involved and given a mandate in practising strategies to divert attention away from the Auditor General's report, the practice of discussing ways to thwart access to information; all in simple terms, meaning how to cover up what was going on in the sponsorship scandal.

Now he is the head of the Prime Minister's communications office. Why?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, as has been asked, the member should not use his position in the House to impugn the credibility or attack unfairly someone else.

The simple fact is that if the commission of inquiry wishes to interview Mr. Lague, we have made it very clear that it can interview him and it can interview any other Canadian who may have knowledge as to this affair. All it has to do is call him.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are hardly doing something that has not already been done by a senior Liberal in the Globe and Mail two years ago.

The Auditor General has in fact already questioned Mr. Lague about this. She asked about the poor record keeping at the Privy Council Office from 1998 to 2003.

Why has the Prime Minister re-hired staff that had intimate knowledge of the sponsorship scandal, just as he has reappointed cabinet ministers with obvious knowledge of what was going on and put them on the council? Will the Prime Minister admit he has made a mistake in this most recent hire?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Lague was an assistant secretary of cabinet. He also assisted in helping various cabinet committees. One of them was the communications committee. He was not involved in other matters, and he was not involved in the management of the sponsorship file.

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says he wants to get down to real business. How can he expect us to take him seriously, when this very morning the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Finance refused to apply retroactivity, in the event that the equalization agreement is renewed several months past its expiry date, thereby depriving Quebec and the provinces of financial resources, which they need precisely in order to get down to real business?

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the equalization program is a very valuable federal program at about $10 billion a year. The largest beneficiary province in the country is the province of Quebec. That is a natural part of the cohesion that holds this nation together. I can assure the hon. member that when the renewal package is concluded, it will be retroactive to April 1 of this year.