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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

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we are getting some accusations from the other side, but let us look at the facts.

A very valid and respected festival in the minister's riding was proposed in a four page proposal with 15 pages of endorsements from community supporters.

The application went to the minister's constituency office. It in turn informed the applicant where to send the application at public works. The festival got funded, not for the full amount applied for, but enough to support a very valid and successful festival.

I would like everyone on the other side to stand up and say what festivals in their--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Ho, oh.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Before the hon. member for Fraser Valley asks his question, I would urge hon. members to listen to the questions and answers.

The minister has to answer a question and the member of the opposition has to be able to hear the answer in order to ask an intelligent supplementary. It makes it very difficult to do that if we cannot hear and everyone is yelling. The hon. member for Fraser Valley is doing his best, I am sure.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thought the principle of ministerial accountability might have the actual minister stand up and respond to this.

Here is how it worked according to the member from the Laurier Club, Mr. Kelley. There was a secret slush fund that one could get hold of at the minister's office. A letter was then written to Mr. Tremblay, the chief of staff to Alfonso Gagliano. Within a few days the minister would contact Mr. Gagliano and arrange all the fine details.

As far as Mr. Kelley could tell, Media IDA Vision got hold of the applicant to say that $50,000 was available, it was in the mail if the minister for the crown corporation had not been suspended.

How can the Liberals say that was a normal way of doing business? It was corruption from top to bottom.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we know that there was a very successful local event that received funds and was appreciated by the community. We do not know whether the third-hand accusation being quoted by the member opposite has any truth to it.

Therefore, let us go before the public inquiry or the public accounts committee and find out the truth. Those fact finding missions and processes are set up to find the truth.

What we do know is that it was a successful festival.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said he wanted to get to the bottom of this. However, all day today, the government has covered up the allegations that this was nothing but a Liberal slush fund.

Every minister has said there was no problem with this. That is absolutely ridiculous. It is the ugly face of Liberal arrogance.

If the government really wants to get to the bottom of this, when will it take serious an allegation coming from a long time Liberal who was complicit in the whole affair?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government is very aware of the problems with the sponsorship program. They were not with this minister acting as an MP through his constituency office. That is why we have problems with it. We killed it the first day that the government took office.

That is why we have a public inquiry. That is why we have a special counsel going after financial accountability. That is why we encouraged the public accounts committee to sit immediately, and it did. That is why the former minister of public works, Mr. Gagliano, is appearing on Thursday. Let us get to the bottom of it but not through third-hand accusations in a newspaper.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kelley said, “They told me of a secret slush fund where they could access money for constituency programs”. The aides in the minister's office told him that. I want to make that very clear.

The Prime Minister said that he interviewed the environment minister about whether or not he knew anything at all about this. I want to know, did the environment minister raise this issue with the Prime Minister or not?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, all moneys involved in this came from the sponsorship program. It was so secret that everybody in their riding offices knew about it as did the member's constituency association. They told the public about these government programs.

How can that be a secret slush fund? It is obvious that there was a government program. It is obvious that it is the duty of MPs, in their constituency offices, to tell the public about government programs.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. We want to have a little order in the House. We are listening to questions and answers and while I am sure the Minister of the Environment appreciates all the assistance from the other side, we do not need this much noise if we are to hear the answers and the questions.

The Chair must be able to hear in case somebody says something out of order. It could happen. So we do not want to have this kind of disruption.

The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre has the floor.

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on another topic, but a question of importance to many Canadians. My question is for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

The Speech from the Throne has indicated that a review will be taking place of the Canada student loans program. The Prime Minister has appointed a parliamentary secretary responsible for the student loans program.

Would minister to tell the House if the review will extend to reducing the existing debt load for the many thousands of students who are currently heavily indebted--

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to answer such a question. The member opposite has been very much engaged in promoting the issues of students and post-secondary education.

I am delighted to address the fact that, yes, we are addressing that concern specifically. My parliamentary secretary responsible has been travelling the country to look at the ways in which we can engage to reduce the debt through interest relief and others.

However, I want to point out to the House that the Government of Canada spends in excess of $1.6 billion a year in student loans to help out 350,000 students--

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

HomelessnessOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister claimed that he did not cut affordable housing when he was finance minister. In actual fact he did not just cut affordable housing, he abolished the whole program.

Now we are living the consequences of 250,000 people who are homeless in Canada while $10 billion were shovelled out the back door in tax cuts.

Does the Prime Minister really expect anyone to believe that he has suddenly found his heart when what he is really trying to do is rewrite history because he knows that his decisions are the cause that put people on the streets homeless in the first place? It is his responsibility.

HomelessnessOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott LiberalMinister of State (Infrastructure)

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech demonstrates quite clearly our commitment to affordable housing in Canada. That is what the Prime Minister spoke of yesterday. We are making that plan now, and we are going to continue to invest in affordable housing in the country.

HomelessnessOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, what commitment? The fact is the Liberals abolished the program in 1995. In fact they have only spent 7% of what had actually been committed in previous budgets. Ontario alone is still waiting for 9,800 units.

Why should anyone believe this Prime Minister or this government when they cannot even deliver the housing to which they have committed? How many poor people have to die on the street before this housing is delivered?

HomelessnessOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott LiberalMinister of State (Infrastructure)

Mr. Speaker, we announced a billion dollars. We have had agreements of $680 million, there is more to come, and we will see her next week.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

February 24th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that only a few Liberal ministers knew enough about the sponsorship slush fund to get hooked on the free flow of cash.

The environment minister clearly knew how to get his fix. The President of the Privy Council, the ministers of health, industry and finance all have the sponsorship monkey on their backs. His whole front bench is loaded with slush fund junkies addicted to doling out these illicit funds.

How does the Prime Minister really expect us to believe that the environment minister was the only one with access to these funds?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the House might be interested in knowing that in the riding of Edmonton—Strathcona, in the year 2003-04, les Jeux francophones de l'Alberta received $5,000. That is in the hon. member's riding.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

The difference is, Mr. Speaker, I had nothing--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. We have to have some order. The hon. member for Edmonton--Strathcona has a supplementary question and everyone is going to want to hear it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about over $100 million for Liberal friends and that is something this side of the House could have nothing to do with when it came to cabinet ministers knowing how to access the money.

The Minister of the Environment was in on the sponsorship slush fund. His staff was in on it. His Liberal friends were in on it.

The Prime Minister has said that anybody who knew about this should do the right thing and resign. The Minister of the Environment is defying the Prime Minister by not resigning. Will the Prime Minister do what is necessary and fire that minister?