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House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was year.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning in committee, Norman Steinberg made the following comment in connection with the fall 2000 internal audit: “I am deeply disturbed by the fact that some people's impression was that we had characterized the problems as administrative in nature. I believe that serious, unacceptables errors were made”.

I am asking the Prime MInister, who was finance minister and vice-president of the Treasury Board at the time, whether he took the trouble to read this internal audit report, which was available to the Treasury Board and included what Mr. Steinberg described as serious, unacceptable errors.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must be aware that the deputy minister himself, when before the public accounts committee two or three weeks ago, was the one who used the words “administrative problems” in relation to the report. Those are the very words of the deputy minister.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that was not the question. I know the Prime Minister did not want to answer it, since he claims to have known nothing. But we are talking about the Public Works auditor who, this morning, contradicted what Alfonso Gagliano had said, as well as the federal government's contention, here in this House in the early days of the debates on the scandal, in 2004, that these were administrative errors. This morning, the internal auditor said otherwise.

How can the Prime Minister and his government make the same contention as Alfonso Gagliano, unless it is because they are defending the same interests and want to conceal the same things?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, not in the least. It has been admitted on several occasions by the deputy minister himself that administrative errors were made at the time, and that is what we based our interpretation on.

I find it very interesting that the Bloc is constantly peppering us with all manner of questions on this. I can say one thing: we want to get to the bottom of this. More than any other government, we are going to get to the bottom of things with this public inquiry.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor said, “I am deeply disturbed by the fact that some people's impression was that we had characterized the problems as administrative in nature. I believe that serious, unacceptable errors were made”.

How can the Prime Minister justify resting his government's entire defence on Alfonso Gagliano's argument without even reading the report, since Alfonso Gagliano did not read it either? How can he explain that?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Steinberg said, before the public accounts committee this morning, that he believed that proper control, accountability and transparency were essential to the functioning of good government. He went on to say, in answer to a question from a member opposite, that the sponsorship program was clearly the exception to the general rule of good governance which applied.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor is very clear: he is shocked to see that his report could have been interpreted as “administrative problems”. My question is for the Prime Minister.

How can he justify that, in his first solemn declaration to the people of Quebec and Canada, he did not even bother to read the internal audit report? Does he realize that his entire defence is falling apart and that his credibility is taking a hit?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the internal auditor of public works and government services, the former deputy minister, Ranald Quail, said on March 1 to the public accounts committee that they were not minor administrative errors. With respect to the same audit, he thought they were serious administrative errors and that there was a strong action plan in place to fix them.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want to know exactly where the Prime Minister stands on privatizing our health care system. There has been no mention of the Romanow report in the throne speech and no mention of it in the budget. All of a sudden there is a change of tactic when secret plans for Liberal privatization are divulged and now we cannot stop talking about Romanow.

The Liberal record is very clear. The government opened up the act once before to allow more privatization. So the question is, why should Canadians believe that the Liberals will not do this again and bring in more privatization?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear the hon. member quote Commissioner Romanow. The fact is that Commissioner Romanow's report provides the basis for the kind of 10 year plan that we need to ensure that our health care system is sustainable.

It is on that basis that the government is prepared to put in more money to ensure that the health care system is as strong as it can possibly be.

We agree with Commissioner Romanow that what we require is a transformative change. We look forward to meeting with the premiers this summer to attain just that.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, if that is the case, why was there not any new money in the budget for health care? Why was there no mention of the Romanow report? Why has the Prime Minister appointed a minister for privatization?

He knows that the premiers of B.C. and Ontario are privatizing health care. He knows that his top adviser was a corporate lobbyist for private health care. He knows that the Liberals opened up the act once before to allow privatization.

Why not be clear with Canadians? Where does the Prime Minister stand?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, only an NDP member could possibly say that $2 billion on health care and $665 million on public health is not money. Only that party could possibly say that this is not money.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to call your attention to the fact that Roy Romanow, on the very day following the budget, absolutely supported the government's position on financing for the future of the health care system.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is more Liberal interference with the parliamentary committee investigating the sponsorship debacle.

The committee decided to do up a summary of the evidence so far that would help in questioning some of the other big players still to appear. Suddenly, the Liberal communication spin has this little summary of evidence morphing into a full-blown committee report.

Is this shameless Liberal spin because the government is desperate to say there has been a report so that it can call a spring election?

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, it is all fine and dandy to accuse the government of wrongdoings. The point of the matter is very simple. The committee is master of its own destiny.

The committee will decide what it wants to do. What the opposition is asking us to do is to not respect the rules of the House by respecting the autonomy of committees.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal whip knows very well that he is master of the Liberals on the committee and they are being directed to block evidence.

They are being directed to call a summary of evidence a full-blown report. At the same time, they are being directed to keep this thing going until an election can be called.

Is it not true that the real agenda of the Liberals is to interfere in the committee that is investigating political interference?

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, this is total nonsense. I remind the House that up until last week those members were the ones who were delaying the work of the committee.

They were taking more time than they were required to do so and it took a resolution at the end of last week in order to meet next week. They are talking from both sides of their mouths and they are not very credible either.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claimed that the 2000 internal public works audit showed merely administrative problems in the sponsorship program. Today, his view, and that of Alfonso Gagliano, was directly contradicted by the man who did that audit. He said that he never claimed they were merely administrative problems, that there were much more serious problems.

I want to ask the Prime Minister, why did he claim they were merely administrative problems when clearly, according to auditor himself, that was not the case?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the deputy minister at the time gave evidence before the public accounts committee. He said, “I thought they were serious administrative errors and that there was a strong action plan to fix those”.

In the mind of the most senior public servant with respect to public works at the time of the 2000 audit, they were serious administrative problems and there was a strong action plan to fix them.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

In other words, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is just using the Gagliano defence which has proven to be fibbing to the public accounts committee over and again.

We know that the public inquiry is not going to start until next fall. We know the public accounts committee has not even begun to scratch the surface of Liberal corruption in this matter.

Why is the Prime Minister trying to force the committee to jam through a so-called interim report to whitewash this Liberal corruption before he calls an election?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we also know that the chairman of the public accounts committee has already made up his mind as to the guilt and sentencing of people, as reported in today's

Hill Times.

I think it is an outrageous position for a committee that is supposed to be inquiring into the matter.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister confirmed his intention to invest new funds in health in the future, but only if changes are made to the health care system and if he agrees with those changes.

How can the Prime Minister justify not taking advantage of the federal budget to increase health care funding, when the needs are urgent and the premiers had advised him of the urgency of investing in this area, and to do so with no strings attached?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the premiers agreed with the Prime Minister of Canada to hold a new federal-provincial meeting this summer, preceded by serious work by the health and finance ministers. Everyone agrees that ensuring the long term sustainability of the health care system will certainly require additional funding, but also a serious effort at reform and restructuring, which we want to discuss with all the provinces in the spirit of cooperation.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, by demanding that Quebec and the provinces allow the federal government to interfere in the management of health care as a condition for getting back a share of our own money, which we need to sustain quality services, is the Prime Minister not engaging in despicable blackmail? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, everyone is well aware that health is obviously our government's top priority. We are determined to work with the provinces. I know that the Bloc does not like it when we say we want to work with the provinces, but that is what our government wants to do and will do.

Everyone agrees, and Canadians are fully aware of this, that money alone will not solve the problems. We need to develop a plan together with the provinces to ensure the long term sustainability of the system.

Older WorkersOral Question Period

March 29th, 2004 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the pilot project to assist older workers will end on March 31—two days from now—and no replacement or extension measures have yet been announced. Among the numerous people who lose their jobs, many are older workers, for whom finding another job is very difficult.

Can the government tell us what its intentions are with respect to this pilot project, and, among other possible solutions, does it plan on making it permanent?