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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

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we seem to be going over this ground over and over. We have processes to get to the bottom of this. Members of Parliament and their offices appropriately make representations on behalf of constituents allowing them to apply for programs. Many members of this House have done exactly the same. Many festivals are put on very successfully with the money.

The transition and flow of the money from public works to the festival is exactly what we are looking into. The members opposite and the public accounts committee, chaired by their member, are helping us do that.

Canadian National RailwayOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gilbert Normand Liberal Bellechasse—Etchemins—Montmagny—L'Islet, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. Nearly 5,000 Canadian National employees have been on strike since last Thursday.

What measures is the minister planning to take to send the employees back to work? Did she even consider using special legislation to send them back to work?

Canadian National RailwayOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw LiberalMinister of Labour and Minister responsible for Homelessness

Mr. Speaker, the government is not considering using back to work legislation. Federal mediators who have been working with the parties since last week have asked the parties to return to mediation, and they will do so later today.

I invite employees and management to come to the table and negotiate a new positive collective agreement.

Government AssistanceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, having been forced to cancel your own visit to Halifax Metro, our constituents are digging out from 95 centimetres of snow. They barely had time to recover from hurricane Juan. It could cost $5 million for Halifax to complete snow removal, yet the municipality may not qualify for federal funds because of the disaster relief assistance criteria.

Given the federal government's new-found commitment to support cities, will the government offer assistance to the Halifax Regional Municipality if it is needed?

Government AssistanceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to speak with my provincial counterparts in relation to this matter. We are all aware of the Herculean task that those in the Province of Nova Scotia face in relation to digging out from this latest snowstorm.

My officials are in discussions with provincial officials and it is possible that the DFAA could apply in these circumstances. Those discussions are ongoing.

EqualizationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has cut equalization payments to the provinces, endangering the public services available to Canadians and ignoring the Romanow report recommendations. The provincial premiers say it is a tragedy to see the health system fall apart when the federal government is sitting on a multi-billion dollar surplus.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will the Liberal government stop giving with one hand, by transferring $2 billion to the provinces, and taking with the other, by cutting equalization payments by $2.2 billion?

EqualizationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we are in the last year of a five year period for equalization. The new period begins on April 1. There is legislation before the House at the moment to extend the present arrangement. I am in discussions with provinces and others about the renewal formula.

When the renewal is in place, it will provide over the next five years something in the order of $1.3 billion or more to the receiving provinces, on top of the basic entitlement.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

February 25th, 2004 / 2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said he was going to take the guillotine to the heads wearing the crowns. Instead, the government has suspended three crown corporation bosses without releasing the review done by the President of the Treasury Board.

When will the government release the evidence against and the defences made by these Liberal appointees?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member uses terms like evidence as though this is some sort of court of law prosecution. This was an examination of the actions of the various crowns based on the information that is already in the public domain and was given by the Auditor General.

We had further conversations with the principals of the Auditor General who reinforced the information we were given. I am quite willing to sit down with the member and point to the sections of the Auditor General's report that detail that.

I then presented my findings and beliefs about the confidence that the government could have in the 11 agencies. I was pleased to report confidence in 8 of them. I had some concerns with 3 of them and we acted on that.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, that evidence should be made public in this place so that we can do our work here in Parliament.

For André Ouellet, the former cabinet colleague of the Prime Minister, his suspension amounts to a $10,000 paid vacation. He is the highest paid bureaucrat in Canada, running Canada Post, a crown corporation responsible for the misdirecting of millions of dollars. Yet, as a Liberal friend of the Prime Minister, Mr. Ouellet continues to collect a salary.

Why is André Ouellet the only one involved in this scandal who continues to collect his paycheque?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, that question goes right to decisiveness and I think the Prime Minister and the government has been very decisive on the crown corporations.

It goes to a question of fairness. To that end, it also goes to the question of what Canadians feel and the encouragement they have for Canada Post.

Quite frankly, we must understand that on the Auditor General's suggestion, we acted quickly. I spoke with the chair of the board of the Canada Post Corporation. There is an independent audit being done. Concurrently, there is an audit being done on the internal management practices. We will have a report from those audits in 90 days.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Lester Pearson used to call the official opposition the detergents of democracy, which is pretty ironic given the Prime Minister's recent failed attempts to clean up his own mess. One cannot clean up a dirty wardrobe by hiding it in the closet and one certainly cannot clean up by sending a few suits out to the cleaners.

What is the Prime Minister hiding? Whitewashes and cover-ups do not change the fact that there is still dirt underneath.

Will the Prime Minister commit to letting the public know and see the defences filed by the heads of the crown corporations?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, this is an action that is comparable to a staff employee action. People who serve in positions of public trust are expected to meet certain values and certain actions. Those actions were evaluated based on information provided by the Auditor General that is public information.

We are dealing with our employees and we will deal with them in an appropriate and fair manner, but we will also deal with them in a manner that respects their privacy.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks about transparency.

What is transparent is the Prime Minister's willingness to stay glued in his seat and play dodge ball with this issue, simply unwilling to take accountability for the real openness that should occur, and deferring to other people to answer these questions.

Whatever happened to doctor democratic deficit? What ever happened to accountability? What ever happened to leadership? Why is the Prime Minister hiding? No one's best interests are served by secrecy here.

Will the Prime Minister commit to releasing the statements of the crown corporations offered in their defence?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, when the current Prime Minister was the finance minister and first put in that position in 1993, he had a very tough job to do. It was called getting the deficit down and balancing the books.

Now, as the Prime Minister, he has another very tough job to do. I guarantee the House that he will do it.

Royal Canadian MintOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that a vice-president of the Royal Canadian Mint may have fraudulently claimed to be living in Ottawa to avoid paying taxes in Quebec. Today, we are finding out that senior officials at the Royal Canadian Mint made a lot of money, literally, since their maximum salary level has increased by 45%.

Does the Minister of Finance, who would have us believe that he is scraping the bottom of the barrel to balance his budget, find it normal that a bunch of friends of the Liberal Party can put that kind of money into their pockets, considering that, in 2002, the Royal Canadian Mint lost $6.6 million?

Royal Canadian MintOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, this is a private matter between the individual in question and the Government of Quebec on provincial taxation. We are not prepared to comment on that at this time.

Royal Canadian MintOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can the Prime Minister agree to make cuts the way he did in health and at the same time condone the internal management practices at the Royal Canadian Mint, which not only lost $6.6 million in 2002, but also found a way to increase the maximum salary level of its senior officials by 45%?

Royal Canadian MintOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, the salary of the president of the Canadian Mint is established by Treasury Board guidelines. The salaries of those individuals in the executive positions at the Mint are guided by the board of directors at the Canadian Mint.

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is another Liberal scandal in B.C. that has deep roots leading right to the Prime Minister's front door. The Prime Minister's chief B.C. organizer, David Basi, is under police investigation related to allegations of money laundering and proceeds of crime. The Prime Minister does not deny his connections to David Basi.

How can anyone expect the Prime Minister to have any credibility to clean up the scandal surrounding him, when his own B.C. organizer is under police investigation?

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, once again we see a continuation of the innuendo, the slurs, the guilt by association.

The Prime Minister's chief organizer in the province of British Columbia was not the gentleman questioned. We need to correct the record on that. In fact, as we have said over and over again, if members have specific information to table, evidence of the claims that they make, they should put it on the table.

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I guess the Prime Minister is taking the fifth amendment today.

The fact is that the police raided David Basi's home in connection with allegations of money laundering and proceeds of crime. The fact is David Basi sold thousands of Liberal memberships for the Prime Minister. The fact is that the Prime Minister's senior B.C. minister got caught doling out cash from sponsorship funds to Liberal friends.

How does the Prime Minister expect Canadians to believe that he is going to clean up the culture of corruption in his own government when these scandals are so closely linked to him?

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 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, this question is not acceptable. It is not about government accountability. This question should not be accepted in the first place.

Public Service of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask the President of the Treasury Board a two-pronged question regarding the public service.

First, when does the President of the Treasury Board intend to lift the freeze on the reclassification of positions and second, is the government planning a program review?

Public Service of CanadaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I must say the member for Ottawa--Orléans has been on both myself and the President of the Queen's Privy Council continuously on this question.

As far as the second part of the question goes, the government is undertaking an expenditure review. We are not recreating program review. However, on the question about the freeze on reclassifications, I am pleased to announce that effective today, the freeze has been lifted.