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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

Canada Labour CodeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning I introduced in the House a bill to amend the Canada Labour Code in order to prohibit the use of scabs. This initiative is the 10th by the Bloc Quebecois since 1990.

Such measures are more necessary than ever in order to promote civilized negotiations and to establish a true balance of power between employers and employees.

The current Prime Minister's silence is not surprising considering he was the head of Voyageur during a very difficult dispute in which the employer resorted to using scabs. Moreover, the first ship to use scabs at the Cargill facilities in Baie Comeau belonged to the current Prime Minister.

Workers in Quebec, particularly those at Radio Nord Communications in Abitibi-Témiscamingue—who, tomorrow, will be entering their 17th month on strike while their employer uses scabs—can count on my determination to continue the battle to put an end to this denial of labour rights.

French Language Health ServicesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health and the Chief Government Whip announced yesterday that the Government of Canada will be allocating more than $25 million over the next five years to support the training and retention of health professionals in French-speaking minority communities.

These funds will help three francophone organizations, the University of Ottawa, Cité collégiale and the Consortium national de formation en santé to promote their health training programs and increase the number of students registered in those programs.

Canada's linguistic duality is at the heart of our national identity, and a priority for our government.

The government deserves to be congratulated on this measure which demonstrates its commitment to francophone minority communities and their access to health services.

National DefenceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, a report by Queen's University and the Conference of Defence Associations has predicted the air force will likely disappear by the year 2013, and maybe the army and navy will disappear in the same timeframe. This occurred because of years of Liberal neglect of our military.

The current Prime Minister presided over the largest national defence cuts in recent history: over $20 billion since the Liberals took power in 1993.

The Canadian Forces are currently facing a half billion dollar shortfall. The situation is so dire that senior defence officials are talking about closing bases in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario and western Canada.

Since 1993 our military has had to deduct funds from the equipment portion of the defence budget in order to pay for the maintenance and operations. The Liberals have sacrificed our future military force to pay today's bills.

Frankly, the Prime Minister's defence policy is casting doubt in the eyes of our allies and destroying the morale in the hearts of our soldiers, sailors and air personnel.

Prior Learning AssessmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, on February 20, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development announced funding of $825,248 over three years to support a research project by the Centre for Education and Work in Winnipeg. The project will measure the long term effects of prior learning assessment and recognition as a labour market tool.

The basic goal is to help workers develop and apply the skills needed in today's changing workforce. The recognition of prior learning is an important component of Canada's lifelong learning agenda. Prior learning assessment, or PLA, is a key innovation in Canada's learning system that will help meet urgent and relevant labour market demands and enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability within the teaching, learning and administrative systems.

The PLA initiative is part of the workplace skills strategy, whose objective is to strengthen our nation's capacity to produce the skilled workers and the kind of workforce that will carry us forward in the 21st century.

The national research project is the first of its kind in Canada and its results could have a significant impact for PLA and its adoption in Canadian workplaces, academic institutions and government policy.

Poplar River First NationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, for years the federal Liberal government has failed to respond to the housing shortages and poor housing conditions in first nations communities. The issues include mould, which is creating health problems, poor ventilation, and building houses to a standard not acceptable in white communities.

Now the worst case scenario has come to light. Houses in some communities were insulated with loose asbestos. One family from Poplar River First Nation has lost three members to mesotheliomal cancer, a cancer directly related to asbestos exposure.

INAC and Health Canada failed to notify the first nation that asbestos exposure can cause death. The family is searching for answers. The first nation needs and deserves assistance.

INAC and Health Canada are not likely to criticize each other. An independent study must be done. The first nation has limited resources. Funds for an independent study and the removal of asbestos should not come from the first nation's regular budget.

It is not okay for the Liberal government to stonewall the family and the community. They deserved an immediate response and they got delays and the death of another loved one. How many more members of Poplar River First Nation must die before immediate, thorough action is taken?

RwandaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the present time, preparations are under way by an international movement created and coordinated by Quebeckers and Canadians, with the active support of such public figures as Roméo Dallaire, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda and the murder of thousands of politically moderate Hutu.

We must not forget that, between April 7 and July 4, 1994, more than one million Rwandan Tutsi were savagely and systematically exterminated. At the same time, several thousand moderate Hutu were also killed for opposing this madness.

Since Quebec and Canada are home to the largest community of survivors of this genocide in North America, I wish to see April 7 declared, in compliance with the request of the associations of Rwandan communities and genocide survivors in Canada, a Day of Remembrance of the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Amyotrophic Lateral SclerosisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, next month Hamilton Mountain mom Sharon Babineau will attempt to climb over 19,000 feet to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Her journey is a tribute to her late husband, Stephen Babineau, who died of ALS.

Sharon is also acknowledging the hard work and dedication of caregivers who work tirelessly for patients of ALS, or what is known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Sharon has been a champion for the cause for over 14 years. She and her husband were co-recipients of the ALS volunteer of the year award in 1995. Currently she is a regional manager of the Hamilton--Niagara ALS Society, helping other families affected by ALS deal with their grief.

I want to commend the courageous and fighting spirit of Sharon Babineau. Her journey to one of the world's highest peaks will be long and arduous, but she has proven that she can overcome difficult obstacles.

Sponsorship ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, as much as the Liberals want it to, the sponsorship scandal just will not go away. As the Auditor General has stated, just about every rule in the book was broken.

Today let us focus on the environment minister. He secured $50,000 for his riding. The minister merely advised his office of a secret slush fund. If funds were requested, they would be provided. No application was required and none was asked for. Ministers of the crown used this sponsorship program as their own personal pork barrel.

With ministers of the crown and Liberal MPs using this fund routinely, how could the Prime Minister not know?

Most Canadians do not believe the Prime Minister. They know that he knew what was going on. It is time that he came clean.

Albert ChartierStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Lanctôt Liberal Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, the comics community is in mourning since the death of Albert Chartier, who was a pioneer of this art form in Canada.

Mr. Chartier died on Saturday at the age of 91. He was born in Montreal in 1912, studied graphic arts in the United States, then returned to Quebec. Today, a comics award bears his name. He is mentioned in the Larousse Dictionnaire mondial de la bande dessinée , an honour few in this country can claim.

In 1943, he created the character of Onésime, whose goings-on were a feature in the Bulletin des agriculteurs for 55 years. This character even attracted attention from academics. Onésime and his wife Zénoïde witnessed Quebec's evolution from their creation until quite recently.

I ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to this great cartoonist who was one of the country's pioneers in this art form.

Sponsorship ProgramStatements By Members

February 24th, 2004 / 2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, following the statement made by my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest, today's Toronto Star states that the organizer of the music festival in Victoria, B.C., himself a strong Liberal, was told of a secret slush fund that ministerial aides could help him access for constituency projects.

He was told there was no application form, no process other than to write a letter to a Mr. Tremblay at Public Works. Two cheques totalling $50,000 were delivered to B.C. by a Montreal advertising firm with Liberal connections. Guess what, its commission was already paid.

How can the Prime Minister claim that he did not know about the sponsorship program when ministers from across the country were dipping into that slush fund? Lopping off the heads of a few Crown corporations will not do it this time. The rot in this scandal is as wide as it is deep.

Yes, there was a secret slush fund and all Liberals knew about it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:10 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal culture of corruption runs now from coast to coast.

Jamie Kelley spilled the beans on how one can access this secret Liberal slush fund. Number one, be a Liberal. Number two, be a Liberal. Number three, be a Liberal.

The environment minister, the Prime Minister's own supporter, knew all about it. His constituency staff knew all about it. How can the Prime Minister still pretend that he knew nothing about it?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is referring to the sponsorship program, obviously people knew about it. The people on this side of the House knew about it, as did the multitude of members of the alliance who supported such proposals in their own ridings.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister stood in the House and personally vouched for every single member of his cabinet. He said that he asked the question did they know of any wrongdoing in the sponsorship program and the answer was no. We now know that was wrong. The environment minister is up to his neck in this scandal.

How can the Prime Minister continue to say he knew nothing about it?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, where indeed was the wrongdoing? In fact, my understanding is that the article said that the environment minister was scrupulous in the way in which he handled it. That is a direct quote.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing scrupulous about taking money from taxpayers and feeding it to Liberal hands.

The Prime Minister promised the resignation of anybody who knew about this. We now know the environment minister knew about this scandal. My simple question is, has the Prime Minister sought the disappearance of the environment minister, yes or no?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the assertion of the hon. member is totally incorrect and he should apologize.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, not only do Liberals benefit from grants, but unfortunately for Canadians, the only grant that Conservatives are benefiting from is my colleague from Macleod.

Revelations today indicate that the culture of corruption is pan-Canadian. According to the Prime Minister's own words, he said he was going to get to the bottom of this, he was going to find out the source of this.

According to a Liberal source, the Minister of the Environment was accessing a slush fund. He accessed it through the former public works minister.

Can the Prime Minister tell us if, during his rigorous interview process of the Minister of the Environment, this meeting with the minister of public works came up?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the very article that the hon. member is basing his question on says that in this case there is no doubt the project fits the parameter of the program. It goes on to say that I acted scrupulously in my behaviour. In fact, as he knows or should know, I did not even send a letter recommending this particular project to the minister of public works. There were some 15 other letters, but not from me.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, there appears to be a collective case of cabinet amnesia going on on the other side. The Prime Minister has a dose of it as well.

He denied all knowledge of the Liberal slush fund. He said on February 13 that anybody who knew anything about this should resign immediately. Those were his words.

I ask the Prime Minister, will the multiple investigations, the multiple inquiries, include looking into these allegations of Liberal Party panhandling? When is he going to compost the current recycled Minister of the Environment?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the sponsorship program was well known by all members of the House and in fact endorsed and had constituencies referred on to the program in 2000.

The point in this case is that the hon. member's office referred on to the public works department. I have seen the application. It was four pages in detail, 15 pages of endorsement letters, not from the minister but from people in the community. A post-mortem of the festival found it to be entirely successful. This was an appropriate expenditure of public funds in the community.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House, the government House leader was unequivocal. He said that Liberal transparency had its limits, and there was no question of forcing Liberal members to immediately open the books of their personal slush funds, if they had any.

Will the Prime Minister, who said he wants to get to the bottom of things, admit that the public has the right to know before the election if the money from the sponsorship scandal ended up, for example, in the coffers of The Friends of Alfonso Gagliano Inc., registered with Industry Canada?

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, the Bloc members keep changing their minds. Yesterday, they told the media they were satisfied with my answers. Today, they are no longer satisfied.

We refuse to react in kind to the Bloc's inconsistent and changing moods. A commission of inquiry had been set up to investigate this matter.

Yesterday, I said that the Liberal Party of Canada is transparent, that its books are open and that the figures published are available on the Elections Canada website.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I said that I was not satisfied because something was overlooked, namely individual funds and foundations, such as The Friends of Alfonso Gagliano Inc.

Since the government has nothing to hide, because all the millions in the slush funds of individual Liberal members were transferred to either the Liberal Party of Canada or the Liberal riding associations on December 31, 2003—we asked that this be clarified, but it was not—why is the government refusing to open the books immediately on where the funds now in the Liberal Party coffers came from?

I want to hear what the Prime Minister has to say about this.

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, I need not remind the leader of the Bloc Quebecois that it is up to us, not him, to decide who will answer the questions.

The answer to his question is quite clear: the Liberal Party has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made by the leader of the Bloc.

His allegations mention millions, but he has no proof. Can he produce any documents? If so, then he should table them. If he has the slightest bit of evidence, he should table it. If he has any evidence that will assist the commission of inquiry, he should table it. But he should stop making gratuitous allegations that unfairly smear the Liberal Party, which does not deserve it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my colleague that Bill C-24 included a clause that allowed Liberal members of Parliament to transfer their personal trust funds into Liberal Party riding coffers, without anyone having any oversight. This is not something we made up; it is in their own legislation.

What we are asking the Prime Minister is this. If he truly wants to be transparent, will he allow an inspection of these funds, which, as the Chief Electoral Officer has said, are completely out of his control?