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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

2:20 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, first, it is not my responsibility to authorize something in a fund that does not even belong to the Liberal Party or the government. I do not have the authority to allow this. The commission of inquiry can do so.

However, be careful. If we are going to start investigating everyone who contributes to the financing of political parties, then this has to apply to everyone. We would have to investigate all the contributions made to the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives and our own contributions as well.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a classic example of trying to muddle the issue. The government can say what it wants; they have individual funds that were written into a bill. It is in the legislation.

These funds were automatically transferred, and the Chief Electoral Officer said, “This is out of control”. No one can deny this.

What I want to know from the government is this: if it wants to be more transparent with its finances, will it allow these funds to be examined?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is true that Bill C-24 effectively eliminated any possibility of having such funds in the future. It is also true that the bill regarding the ethics commissioner contains provisions for members to provide declarations of assets.

These are facts. It is concrete. It is real. The rest is nothing but hot air and allegations.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister who no doubt is keenly aware, through the sponsorship scandal, of what happens when Liberals refuse to see what is really going on, when this sort of wilful blindness happens.

I say to him that there is a wilful blindness on the part of the Liberals right now with respect to national missile defence. They refuse to see that what is really going on is that the Americans intend to weaponize space.

Will the Prime Minister finally get up and say to the House, because he has yet to speak on this, that Canada will not participate in what is really going on?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member well knows that the Prime Minister answered this question once before. He made it very clear we are engaged in negotiations with the United States with respect to the security of the North American continent and the security of Canadians, but that we will continue to pursue our longstanding policies in terms of disarmament. We are pursuing an initiative to try to get a treaty on the weaponization of space, to prohibit it.

The Prime Minister is clear. The government is clear. The weaponization of space is completely contrary to what the government stands for, what this country stands for, and what we are negotiating about.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not want to talk about this issue and I can understand why. Perhaps he does not want to repeat the mistakes he has made with respect to the sponsorship scandal and say something that turns out not to be true.

I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, why this willingness to sacrifice Canadian sovereignty? How does he have the nerve to get up and say this is part of Canada's policy on disarmament when this has already led to a new arms race with respect to space?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have had two debates in the House about this extremely important issue. Let us not distort the facts. The facts that have come out in our debates have made it very clear this is a land based and sea based defensive initiative directed to a very limited possibility of an attack against North America.

In our view, it does not lead to an arms race, nor does it lead us toward weaponization of space. If, during our negotiations, we find out that such is the case, we will withdraw from those negotiations, but it would be improper to make that judgment before we even get into the negotiations.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, on February 13, the day after the sponsorship scandal was known to Canadians, the Prime Minister set the standard. He said anybody who knew about this and did nothing should resign immediately.

The environment minister knew. Why has the Prime Minister not asked for his resignation?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that many people in the House knew about the existence of the sponsorship program. That is why many members from all sides of the House, through their consistency offices, assisted people, who were proponents of festivals, with their applications to public works.

That is what happened in the constituency office of the Minister of the Environment. His office simply provided information on how to get to a very good festival. The problem was not with whether the festival was good. It was, as we know now, the commissions that were paid to advertising companies. That has been stopped.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is failing his test of leadership. The Prime Minister said that if any ministers knew about this scandal, or if they were responsible, they must resign.

One of two things is true. Either the Minister of the Environment knew, in which case he was complicit and by the Prime Minister's standards he must resign, or he did not know, in which case, how can Canadians trust him with billions of dollars in his portfolio? Which is it Mr. Prime Minister?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam intended to address the Chair. His question, I think, was addressed to the Prime Minister but he knows the rules. He must address the Chair. The right hon. Prime Minister.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is talking absolute nonsense. Every member in this House knew of the sponsorship program. They applied for it.

I referred to those who knew of wrongdoing at the time that it took place. The environment minister did not know of wrongdoing. The members of this cabinet did not know of wrongdoing at that time. Those are the facts. The hon. member ought to get his facts straight.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to Jamie Kelley, a long time Liberal, he was told by the minister's staff of a secret slush fund. Does that sound like a normal program? That is wrongdoing.

Why is it that the Prime Minister says that anybody who knew about mismanagement of this program would have to resign? Now we know that the environment minister knew about the operation of a secret slush fund. Why has he not resigned?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, money going to festivals and other activities in communities which were important to those communities were not secret slush funds.

The problem, as it has belatedly come to light, that has become obvious to all of us is that there was misdirection of funds, not to valuable programs and festivals in our communities, but for the paying of commissions that were unearned.

That has been stopped; that is being fixed. That is what is being investigated, not a valuable festival in the minister's riding.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

This crowd is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker. They change their story every day.

It was not just about the commissions paid. It was the entire program from start to finish, the lack of paperwork, the lack of procedures, the operation of, and in the words of the minister's assistant, “a secret slush fund”.

Jamie Kelley says the minister must have known about the modus operandi of this program. That being the case, why is he sitting in his cabinet seat today?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the festival took place in 2000. It was extremely valuable to that community. The application was made by the proponent through a four page letter describing the festival with 15 pages of endorsements from people in the community. It was a good festival for a good cause and it was properly funded.

The problem was, as has subsequently come to light, that there were false commissions paid. That is what is being investigated. That is why we are chasing those funds.

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the most recent calculation of the federal government's equalization payments has had a catastrophic effect on Quebec. It has lost close to $1.5 billion between 2001-02 and 2003-04.

Instead of this divide and conquer approach, going over Quebec's head directly to the municipalities, does the Prime Minister not think it would have been better to amend the equalization formula and correct the fiscal imbalance, thus settling for once and for all the problems of the municipalities and the problems in the health sector?

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, indeed, we are changing the equalization formula. After more than a year of extensive discussions with the provinces and others, we are introducing a number of changes, the vast majority of which favour the calculation toward Quebec.

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are losing $1.5 billion yet this is being held up to us as a gain for Quebec. That is totally false. For example, Quebec's share of the $2 billion for health amounts to $472 million. That offsets barely one-third of the losses over the past three years because of the faulty equalization formula.

How can the Prime Minister claim health is a priority if he is not prepared to amend the equalization formula immediately?

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in my discussions with the finance minister from the Province of Quebec, he indicated to me that his number one priority was to secure the $2 billion that was indicated in the last health accord.

In fact, we have delivered on that $2 billion. We have put legislation in the House that will ensure that it is delivered and delivered in the fiscal year in which each province wishes to receive it. We have met Quebec's number one priority.

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister met with the mayors of the big cities of the metropolitan region, with no representatives of the Government of Quebec present, and promised them more money, provided the Government of Quebec does its part.

Can the Prime Minister explain how he could, with one hand, substantially reduce the equalization transfer payments to Quebec by $1.5 billion over three years, and, with the other hand, create additional budgetary pressure on Quebec by using the big city mayors? Is this not a totally irresponsible way to act?

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the entitlements under the revised formula for equalization across the country will be going up by some $1.3 billion over the course of the next five years.

Obviously, we want an equalization program that is strong and robust. We wish to help municipalities in this country. I have noted that the mayors of Quebec City, Montreal, Laval and Gatineau have all applauded the measures taken by the government with respect to cities.

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is creating additional pressure on Quebec while cutting the equalization payments on which it relies.

Is the Prime Minister going to realize that it is not his place to negotiate directly with the municipalities, that the Government of Quebec is completely capable of assuming its responsibilities without him, and that his role is to deal with the fiscal imbalance that has left Ottawa with too much money for its responsibilities and Quebec with too little? Quebec is being strangled.

Equalization PaymentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, not only has there been no encroachment, but we talked with the big cities about immigration, the environment, our infrastructure capabilities, and the partnership we have enjoyed for years and years. We worked very hard and it was an excellent meeting. I want to congratulate the mayors of the big cities for holding this meeting, for taking this initiative, and for showing leadership for all cities in Canada.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

February 24th, 2004 / 2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, as far as we can tell, here is the scuzzy little arrangement that works for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Mr. Jamie Kelley blew the whistle on the Liberal cover up and here is how it worked. We make an application to the minister's office. Right away the minister and his staff respond with “No problem, sir. We have a secret slush fund just for this purpose”. Within days we get a call from Media IDA Vision, the same Media IDA Vision which commissioned the transfer of sponsorship funds to crown corporations that have been disciplined with a smack on the fingers today.

How can the minister make us believe that he did not know about this scuzzy Liberal cover up?