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House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the following motion was adopted, “That the committee request that a copy of the daily agendas of Guité, Quail and Gagliano between November 1993 and December 2003 be forwarded to the committee's counsel for his review”. That will be done.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member knows very well exactly what the Liberal members did and how they blocked information coming out about the sponsorship program. Shame on him for trying to fool Canadians that way. Shame on him.

I guess the Liberals do not know how to keep a promise. They promised that they would get to the bottom of this, yet there is something in Gagliano's records that they do not want to get out.

My question is, who is the Prime Minister really trying to protect? Is it Alfonso Gagliano, or is it himself?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, normally a successful budget usually lasts for about two or three days of question periods. Having been there, I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance. His budget has not even lasted two questioners. There has been one question here.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. We are wasting time again. Hon. members do not want to waste time in question period, even on a Wednesday.

The hon. member for Roberval has the floor now.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, as of yesterday, the Prime Minister thinks he has solved all his problems by asking the Minister of Finance to cut the secret unity fund administered by the Prime Minister himself.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that, since this fund is at the heart of the sponsorship scandal, he has an obligation to tell us why he put millions of dollars into it for nine years when he was finance minister? Who signed to release money from the fund? Who made representations to take money out of the fund?

He has an obligation to answer these questions.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we will not mention the Conseil de la souveraineté and ties to Oxygène 9. Members opposite keep quiet about that kind of thing.

I can say that this fund has existed within the government since 1992. In fact, it was set up by the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney.

All government programs and commitments related to this fund went through regular government procedure. They were approved by the Treasury Board and are part of the public accounts, line by line.

There is nothing secretive about this, and the opposition knows it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite efforts by the Minister of Health, I can say that there has never been a dirtier or uglier thing done by any other government in the history of Canada.

I call on all government members to tell us how they—these so-called kings of transparency—can justify that, at the request of the Prime Minister's Office, on the very day the Minister of Finance cut the secret unity fund, the Liberal members were blocking the disclosure of documents. If all the documents are public, then why do we not have access—

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Health.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the show the hon. member for Roberval is putting on for the cameras. Obviously, it bothers members opposite a great deal to be reminded of the Conseil de la souveraineté and all their ties to it.

I can tell the hon. members that all the projects approved under this fund are on the books and in the Public Accounts of Canada. They are part of the public accounts. They were included in regular programs of various departments and have been approved, in all transparency, under Treasury Board standards.

Still, it is painful for them to recall the bad memories for which they are responsible.

HealthOral Question Period

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

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance learns quickly. True to his predecessor's old habits, he is hiding the surplus at the beginning of the year so that he can surprise us with it later, in the fall.

Does the government not find it repugnant to hide surpluses when the needs for health care are so great, and to transfer nothing to Quebec and the provinces for them to invest in direct patient care? That is where the need is.

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government has established the practice of maintaining a contingency reserve and an extra amount of prudence for the very specific reason of making sure that we do not slip back into the red ink, into deficit once again, but can in emergency circumstances deal with the urgent problems of Canadians.

In this past year we proved the value of that. We had to deal with SARS. We had to deal with BSE. We had to deal with the hurricane. We had to deal with massive forest fires. We dealt with all of them and stayed solidly in the black.

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, part of the money the government earmarked for health will be used to establish pan-Canadian information technology structures that will make the system even more cumbersome, rather than streamlining it.

When will the government understand that the way to improve the health care system is not to inflate the bureaucracy but to put the money where it makes a difference, directly into patient care? Will the Minister of Health please rise?

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thought that the opposition felt that I rose too often in this House. I am thrilled to rise and I never miss an opportunity to do so, especially when I have a chance to point out that we have made a new investment of $100 million in the Health Infoway, a project in which the Quebec government is participating. It will provide us with a system of faster alerts for epidemics and diseases.

We have invested $400 million in vaccination, creating a fund from which Quebec and the other provinces can draw to improve vaccination. For the long term, I count on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to work—

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Ukrainian festival in Manitoba received a sponsorship grant of $30,000, approved by Public Works Canada. First the festival organization was told in writing by Public Works that Compass Communications in Halifax would get the commission. Then it was told to make the bill out to Media/IDA Vision in Montreal. Then it was told to send the bill through Compass in Halifax, and it would then be passed through Media/IDA Vision in Montreal, which would pay the government.

Does the minister have any idea at all why Public Works would tell a Manitoba organization to send this bill through one Liberal advertising agency in Nova Scotia and have it funnelled through another one in Montreal for an event in Manitoba to be paid for by Ottawa?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise to anyone that there were problems with the sponsorship program. If the hon. member has evidence of a problem that should be brought to our attention or brought to the attention of any of the processes going forward, then he should do this, but allegations and reading from pieces of paper in the House do not help us get to the bottom of this. Members can either table them in the House, and we can answer, or put them before the processes that are set up to deal with them.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the piece of paper I am reading from is signed by Pierre Tremblay, executive director of Public Works Canada. Mr. Tremblay said in the letter that the Government of Canada would pay the fees of Compass Communications but the letter from Compass said Media/IDA Vision in Montreal would send the final bill.

Did the government pay commissions to Media/IDA Vision in Montreal or did it pay commissions to Compass Communications in Halifax, or did it pay commissions to both of these Liberal advertising firms?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but notice, watching the member opposite, that sitting right behind him is the chair of the public accounts committee. I think what he should do is hand the papers over his shoulder and hear them at the public accounts committee, which is sitting to deal with this. That is exactly where it should be dealt with, or at the public inquiry.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, across Canada, Liberal-friendly ad agencies have skimmed huge percentages from grants destined for community initiatives. Liberal ad agencies from as far away as Montreal and Halifax dipped into a Ukrainian community initiative in Manitoba.

Who allowed Liberal ad agencies to take money from the Ukrainians of Manitoba through an elaborate money laundering scheme?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, some of the hon. members on the other side have been deriding process. We have processes set up so these questions can be answered. There are certainly problems with the sponsorship program. That is why we are getting to the bottom of it. If the hon. members want to assist in that process they can put the evidence--not allegations but evidence--before the processes that are set up to hear them.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, money laundering is not acceptable process.

According to the Prime Minister, over the last 10 years the Liberal government he was a part of was engaged in cronyism and patronage. Now the Prime Minister engages in cover-up. Why is the Prime Minister hiding the fact that he ordered the Liberal majority on the public accounts committee to vote against releasing the very information that Canadians need to get to the bottom of this scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister did no such thing.

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Last week, Jewish homes, property, synagogues and schools were targeted and vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a Jewish cemetery was desecrated. These were anti-Semitic incidents of hate.

Could the hon. minister explain to my constituents, to members of all minority groups, and to Canadians who are concerned and angry, what steps have been or will be taken to ensure that these acts of hatred and racism are not and will not be tolerated by the government?

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, these racist hate crimes where anti-Semitism has once again reared its ugly head constitute an assault on the inherent dignity of the human person, an assault on the equal dignity of all persons, an assault on the right of minorities to protection against group vilification, and an assault on our own multicultural democracy. Therefore, this government and I am sure all members of this House join me in unequivocally condemning these acts of racist hate.

We say to all Canadians, to all minorities, that we will not be silent. We will act through an action plan against racism, anti-Semitism--