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House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was turkey.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government, through the Prime Minister, in December of last year cancelled the sponsorship program. The first act of the former minister of public works in May 2000 was to cancel the program, put a moratorium on it, until the commission problem was fixed.

We have valid festivals often being funded. We have valid representations by members of Parliament from all parties. We had a problem in the middle and that is why we have a public inquiry.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about the merit of those who received the money. We are talking about the process of how they got it. It was corrupted.

The government's line that this slush fund--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has the floor. We have to be able to hear the question. How can the minister respond if he cannot hear the question?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, my reference is the government decides who gets the money. The Liberals line that the slush fund was available to all Canadians is nonsense, as is the assertion that it followed a normal practice. When Jamie Kelley applied for his $50,000 grant the program did not exist, according to government officials.

Would the Prime Minister then tell us how $50,000 made it into the hands of a supporter of the Liberal Party from a program that did not exist and how--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, of course there was a program. Whether it was registered in some way or described in some way, there was a program. Many members of the opposition applied to the program, including the member for Red Deer.

Yesterday, we heard an accusation about the member from Victoria third-hand. We find in the newspapers this morning that in fact the person three steps back was only joking. The person two steps back was not sure what he heard. Then we get the newspaper and this is their accusation. Take it to the--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, speaking of steps, here are the steps. Mr. Kelley visits the Minister of the Environment's office looking for a grant. His staffers tell him there is a secret slush fund available.

Mr. Kelley sends a letter to the public works department. Media IDA Vision then sends him two cheques for $50,000. No checks or balances, just big, fat cheques.

Why did Media IDA Vision, a disgraced ad agency fingered in the Auditor General's report, inform Mr. Kelley about this grant and not the public works department? Membership has its privileges.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am quite surprised that the hon. member, having been a prosecutor in a former career, does not know the difference between evidence and hearsay, and in fact, hearsay three steps removed. He comes into the House and he puts forward as evidence in a condemning way information that is hearsay two times removed. Now let him come before a public inquiry, under oath, and give that evidence. That is great. That is where he should be.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the National Post , cabinet documents show that, in June 2002, after the release of the Auditor General's damning report on Groupaction, when everyone knew about the sponsorship scandal, an unidentified minister continued to defend the firms that were friends of the Liberal Party.

Can the Prime Minister, who claims to be totally transparent, tell us which minister of the cabinet's communication committee persisted, despite all the abuse, in defending the firms that were friends of the Liberal Party?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 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 think that, at the time, the current Prime Minister was no longer a member of the cabinet.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not say that it was him. However, I would like to know who this minister was.

The Prime Minister, who told us that, in May 2002, he noticed that this may possibly have been criminal behaviour, cannot now remain silent. He must—with all his talk about transparency—have the decency to tell us who, among the President of the Privy Council, the former minister of intergovernmental affairs and the other ministers on the cabinet's communication committee, continued to defend the firms that were friends of the Liberal Party. He can tell us, because these are cabinet documents.

Perhaps it was not him—

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is referring to cabinet documents that were tabled at the public accounts committee, I believe those are embargoed. I have not had access to them. In any event, I am not sure how we can answer that question without access to them and those of course have not been made public.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister suspended the Business Development Bank of Canada's Michel Vennat for his role in the Auberge Grand-Mère affair.

Since the Prime Minister is asking Michel Vennat to take a week to reflect about how to explain his role in the Auberge Grand-Mère affair, why not also ask him to think about how to explain what happened to the $4.8 million that disappeared from Option Canada in 1996, when he was chairman of the board?

We would be interested in knowing what happened to the money.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, we have made public our decision with regard to certain crown corporations. The decisions concerning Mr. Vennat are directly connected with the Quebec Superior Court ruling by Justice Denis, and have absolutely no connection with anything else.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, as long as they are cleaning house, they should do it properly.

In 1996, Michel Vennat was the chairman of the board of Option Canada, the predecessor of the sponsorship program. Some $4.8 million has totally disappeared. The Auditor General could find no trace of it. We are talking about $4.8 million here.

Would it not be in the public interest to shed light on what these people did with $4.8 million from the program that preceded the sponsorship program? This is the same Michel Vennat. Perhaps he could reflect long enough to provide us with some answers.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Business Development Bank of Canada, there were two totally separate matters.

On the one hand, there is the Auditor General's report on the sponsorship program and, on the other hand, there is the ruling by Superior Court Justice Denis.

In the sponsorship matter, the Auditor General met with Mr. Ritchie, the chairman of the board, herself. The Auditor General's analyst met with all the board members. The Auditor General said she was satisfied with the answers she received from the BDC.

Canadian National RailwayOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

For a week now Canadian National Railway has been importing Americans to do the work of striking Canadian railroaders and yet the Prime Minister and his government have said nothing at all about this.

I want to know from the Prime Minister whether there is any connection between this silence and the fact that one of his cronies is working for CN. John Duffy sat on the Prime Minister's transition team, and on February 6 he started representing CN as a corporate lobbyist, a cozy revolving door for the Prime Minister's corporate cronies. Why is there nothing to prevent a crony from working for him one day and working for CN the next?

Canadian National RailwayOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw LiberalMinister of Labour and Minister responsible for Homelessness

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that under part I of the Canada Labour Code if employees feel that somebody is out there doing their work, they can bring their complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

Canadian National RailwayOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, where is the Prime Minister when Americans are being imported to do the work of striking Canadian workers? I ask him again, is this silence related to the fact that one of his cronies, John Duffy, is now a registered lobbyist for CN? Is this the explanation for the silence and for the pathetic answer of the Minister of Labour?

I ask the Prime Minister to get on his feet and either defend Mr. Duffy or tell us he is going to do something about this revolving cronyism between the Liberal Party, the PMO and corporate Canada.

Canadian National RailwayOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw LiberalMinister of Labour and Minister responsible for Homelessness

Mr. Speaker, I will stand up as Minister of Labour and defend the Canada Labour Code any time because it was done by the employees and the employers and this part of the House is very proud of that.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

February 25th, 2004 / 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, Jamie Kelley, a friend of the Minister of the Environment from Victoria, said, “Political parties by their nature support and advocate their supporters and I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with that. That's just the way it is, and that's just the way life works”.

It is no wonder that this gentleman was of course courted to be a Liberal candidate with this kind of mentality.

I want to know philosophically from the Liberal government, do these Liberals and this Prime Minister really believe that it is the role of government to advocate specifically on behalf of their friends and to give them money ahead of other people? Is that the government's agenda?

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 hon. member did not introduce the question, but I assume he is speaking about the fourth-hand information that was presented yesterday and that since has been either varied or denied in the interim by people in the press.

In any event, it is the appropriate role for any member of the House to make representations on behalf of constituents by referring them to an opportunity for funding of local events through the federal government. That is something that we all do, I am sure, and I am sure the member opposite has.