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House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ethical.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that most members, if not all members, of this House, who were sitting at the time up until 2000, knew about the sponsorship program. What we did not know until fairly recently was the misspending of public funds through commissions.

I would expect members of the House in doing their duty for their constituents, where approached to get support for sponsorship funds for a valid festival in their community, to send that on to the program.

What we do know now is that there were problems with it. That is why we are investigating in every--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the money tree has roots in British Columbia. The Minister of the Environment has a pretty good grasp on how to launder money to his Liberal buddies. The minister's own staff were briefed how to get $50,000, with no paperwork.

Where is the outrage now? How can they defend this? No rules; no paperwork; secret slush fund. Where is the Prime Minister's outrage this time?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is staggering along the line between truth and fiction. What we have here is a program to fund legitimate festivals in members' ridings. Many members had access to it.

What we also find we have is some misspending and misdirection of public funds, and they are being investigated in every single direction: public accounts, public inquiry, special council, RCMP. We are taking this seriously.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the members should know where the truth came from. It came from their own Liberal friends. It came from a man who endorsed the Minister of the Environment in the last election. How can they continue to stand and defend these outrageous practices? No paperwork; secret slush fund. It is not acceptable. Then they pretend we all knew about it.

That minister needs to be fired right now, on the spot. It is outrageous that the Prime Minister can stand in the House and defend him.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we are hearing a lot of accusations from the other side. Within parliamentary privilege, they are simply repeating third-hand accusations. The place to put these accusations is before the public inquiry, under oath, in a disciplined process to find the truth, not simply repeating allegations in a newspaper. We have the processes in place. Let us use them.

HaitiOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that he was closely monitoring the situation in Haiti and believed that only a political solution would guarantee the long term success of any intervention. However, the situation could deteriorate tomorrow.

Can the minister tell the House if any concrete efforts are being made to intervene in Haiti in the short term, such as sending an implementation force?

HaitiOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question, which is extremely important.

Obviously, we are closely monitoring the situation in Haiti. Along with my counterparts in the Americas, meaning Mr. Powell, my counterparts in the Caribbean and elsewhere, I continue to pursue a political solution.

We are examining what other measures may be necessary, but for now, the opposition has assured us of an answer today to our request for its collaboration. We are maintaining political pressure and we are considering what other measures may be necessary.

HaitiOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, given how quickly this situation is evolving, can the minister tell the House if all options remain open, including the departure of President Aristide, to ensure that the opposition can accept the plan of the international community, thereby avoiding a blood bath?

HaitiOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, during meetings on the weekend attended by our minister responsible for the Francophonie, it was clear that the Haitian government was driven by the necessity to agree to CARICOM's conditions. Everyone believes that if it does not accept, all possibilities and eventualities must be considered.

However, for the time being, let us stand firm with the international community, put pressure on the Haitian government and on the opposition, and try to find a political solution, and we will look at what else we can do to guarantee safety in Haiti.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister from B.C. says that there are accusations from the other side. In fact these accusations come from a well connected, well donating Liberal from B.C., whose name is Jamie Kelley. He said that the environment minister's office said that there was a secret slush fund for which we did not have to write any application form, just a letter to Mr. Pierre Tremblay.

Also the minister says that the government is staggering on this side of the House, and this is a Liberal making the accusation, between cash and kickbacks.

Was the Prime Minister, when he vouched for the innocence of his cabinet ministers, being irresponsible, was he in denial or was he incompetent?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, yes, I was speaking of accusations coming from that side: for one, there was no paper trail. There is a very significant paper trail. There is a four page application describing the festival. There are 15 pages of endorsements for the festival to demonstrate that the money, which was given to that local community group, was well spent and appreciated by the community, just as there are examples in many of the ridings of the members opposite. This is this paper.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, everybody knows that was not an application form. It was a four page letter, which Jamie Kelley, talked about to Pierre Tremblay. Then all of a sudden they get cash for that. That is not a bad deal. Everybody knows the job is never done until the paperwork is done, is it then?

The Prime Minister knows exactly what was involved with his environment minister. When he vouches for the innocence of all his cabinet, maybe he has a bit too much blind trust in all those people.

Will he accept his prime ministerial responsibility and get to the root of this rot that every Canadian knows is there?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that hon. member to do her duty and come before the public accounts committee or before the public inquiry and put forward evidence of wrongdoing. That is so obvious.

The processes are there. We are all trying to find the truth. There was misspending of public funds and the government is getting to the bottom of it.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Last year avalanches caused eight fatalities in our national parks, including seven students from Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School in southern Alberta. What has the minister done to improve the public safety in our national parks?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform you and the House that in Calgary last week I announced a contribution of some $525,000 over the next three years for the Canadian Avalanche Foundation for the creation and development of the national avalanche centre. We are accepting all 36 recommendations of the avalanche risk review, and we are having the centre co-ordinate public safety programs and provide avalanche warning systems throughout Canada.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment's constituency office staff knew about the secret Liberal slush fund since 1997. In fact the staff of other ministers' offices may have known as well.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Does he still believe that none of his ministers had any knowledge of any scandal in the sponsorship program, yes or no?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned the other day, at the time that each minister was either named or reconfirmed as a minister of the crown, we went extensively into the person's background. At a cabinet meeting some two weeks ago, I asked every minister if he or she had any knowledge of wrongdoing at the time that this was going on, and my ministers responded in the negative. I have complete confidence in my ministers.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, no one else in the country does and no one else in the House does.

Contrary to the Prime Minister's assertion or testimony that he knew nothing, he saw nothing, he did nothing, the environment minister's office staff not only knew everything, but eagerly boasted and bragged about the fact that it had access to a secret Liberal slush fund.

Why has the Prime Minister not kept his word? Why has he not stepped forward and dismissed the Minister of the Environment?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, obviously hundreds of MPs' constituency offices across this country, over a number of years, knew of this program. It was not a secret program.

What has been discovered in the last couple of years is that there were significant problems with commissions paid to advertising companies. That does not disparage the worth of the festivals that were funded through many of these funds. That is not the issue. The issue is the commissions, so that is what we are looking into. Bring this evidence before the public inquiry and let us find out the truth.

PharmaceuticalsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, many pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline, have been limiting their drug sales to Canadian pharmacies since the end of 2003, for fear that these drugs will be sold over the Internet to Americans who want to save money by purchasing drugs from Canada.

With the growing phenomenon of cyberpharmacies, has the Minister of Health obtained guarantees from U.S. pharmaceutical companies that we will not run short of drugs here in Canada?

PharmaceuticalsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve raises a problem that is very important to our government.

Health Canada has not yet seen any signs that we will run short of certain drugs on the Canadian market. But I can assure the hon. members that we are monitoring the situation very closely and that we are going to do everything we can so that the Canadian market will continue to be supplied by all pharmaceutical companies.

St. Lawrence SeawayOral Question Period

February 24th, 2004 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Christian Jobin Liberal Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the maintenance of the St. Lawrence Seaway has always been the responsibility of the Canadian government. For several years now, the Canadian Coast Guard has been transferring the cost of dredging and ice-breaking to users.

I would like to ask the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans if he wants to maintain his position while transferring costs to users, and if this gradual withdrawal means that one day the entire responsibility for the maintenance of the St. Lawrence Seaway may end up being transferred to private enterprise, with all the ensuing consequences?

St. Lawrence SeawayOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank my hon. colleague because he has done a great deal of work on this issue.

The government believes that a portion of the costs of maintenance services for the St. Lawrence Seaway should be absorbed by the shipping industry, which enjoys the benefits.

As for dredging, I can assure the House that the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to fulfil its responsibilities.

FinanceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the finance minister would like the opportunity bring down a budget to draw attention away from this horrible mess that his government is involved in. I wonder when we could expect a budget from the finance minister.