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House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, clearly the answers we are getting have nothing to do with the questions.

We can see that no one in this government knows anything; no one saw anything; and no one did anything.

My question is the following. Is the government not blaming public servants just to bury the issue for a few weeks, until an election is called, to keep the public in the dark? It does not matter what happens after, the problem will be dealt with, but for the time being, no one will know—

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, the government and the Prime Minister are committed to transparency and accountability.

Minutes after the Auditor General's report was released, the Prime Minister announced a comprehensive package of measures to get to the bottom of the situation and to answer the questions that the Auditor General identified that she could not answer.

It is unprecedented for a Prime Minister to do the things the Prime Minister has done: call a public inquiry; reconvene public accounts early; bring in whistleblower legislation; a review of the Financial Administration Act; ensure the--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Ottawa Centre ByelectionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. It has to do with the fact that the Prime Minister called a byelection in Ottawa Centre for November 29. This creates a situation where the citizens of Ottawa Centre could possibly be left without representation, if there is no spring election, for up to 15 months, which I believe is a record.

How does the Deputy Prime Minister reconcile this with trying to address the democratic deficit, this abuse of the democratic rights of the people of Ottawa Centre?

Ottawa Centre ByelectionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, far from being a democratic deficit, the Prime Minister called the byelection. It is his responsibility once a vacancy occurs to call a byelection within six months. That is exactly what the Prime Minister did.

Ottawa Centre ByelectionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that has to be one of the weaker answers I have heard in a long time. The fact is he called it only when he absolutely had to and he called it in a way that if there is no spring election, the people of Ottawa Centre will be left without representation. This is clearly at odds with any respect for democracy or for the question of addressing the democratic deficit.

I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister again, does she really believe that leaving the citizens of Ottawa Centre this way, without representation for possibly up to 15 months, is in harmony with addressing the democratic deficit?

Ottawa Centre ByelectionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, the law requires that once a vacancy occurs, a byelection be called within six months. That is exactly what the Prime Minister did yesterday.

Let me reassure everyone in the House that the constituents of Ottawa Centre continue, and will continue, to receive constituency services until such time as the byelection is held.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

March 8th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, in Friday's National Post it says, “the government fired VIA Rail president Marc LeFrançois for his alleged role in the sponsorship program”. Saturday's Globe and Mail quotes the transport minister as saying, “The decision to fire Mr. LeFrançois was based on the Auditor General's report”.

The public accounts committee has not yet heard from Mr. LeFrançois and no recommendations have been made at all about his future, so why was he fired? What is the standard for firing heads of crown corporations?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I said and as the hon. member quoted, the firing of Mr. LeFrançois was based on the Auditor General's report. Mr. LeFrançois had an opportunity to provide a submission. He did so on March 1. I subsequently met with Mr. LeFrançois. We discussed his submission. Based on that, Mr. LeFrançois' appointment was terminated.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, the question is still on the table. What Canadians really want to know is whether the government is cleaning up this scandal. What we need to know is the standard the government will apply to terminate the employment of bosses like Mr. LeFrançois. What is the standard? Is there an equal standard or is there a legal or a political standard? What standard will the government use to clean up this terrible scandal that is dividing the government and preventing it from governing the country?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, first of all, it is not preventing the government from governing. We are governing. We are engaged in policy and we are doing a lot on this side of the House. If the opposite side would actually ask a question that had relevance for Canadians, we might in fact get some answers.

With respect to the question that was asked, Mr. LeFrançois was provided due process. It was based on that process that we made a decision. That decision was one that was made after reviewing and receiving that submission and the government stands behind that decision.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we would rather have the member from Hamilton back.

Alfonso Gagliano is back from Denmark and he is talking, but the Prime Minister does not like what he has to say. The other day Mr. Gagliano said, “Naturally, the Prime Minister wants to get re-elected. He wants to distance himself from the previous government. But he can't. He was part of it”.

Why does the Prime Minister pretend that he was not part of that corrupt government? Why was he always in the other room when the loot was being divvied up? Was he really the most senior minister in the Chrétien administration, or was that just his evil twin?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier in question period, the actions the Prime Minister has taken to get to the bottom of this matter are unprecedented. Where before have we seen a Prime Minister release cabinet documents earlier than the 30-year period? Where have we seen a Prime Minister within minutes of an Auditor General's report come forward with a comprehensive response such as that of the present Prime Minister? In fact, everyone on this side of the House, we take responsibility. We take our responsibilities seriously, that is why we want to get to the bottom--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Let us be clear, Mr. Speaker. Nobody over there is taking responsibility for this. The public accounts committee has heard from senior bureaucrats. All of them knew nothing. They saw nothing. They heard nothing. The former Minister of Public Works knew nothing. The President of the Privy Council, even though he was hip deep in it with his cronies, knew nothing.

When will somebody in the government take responsibility for this? When will somebody tell us who among the Liberals was responsible for this scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, let me--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. With all this yelling it is very difficult to hear the Deputy Prime Minister, who has the floor and is trying to answer the question asked by the hon. member for Calgary Southeast. I am sure he will want to hear the answer too.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure but I think I may have forgotten the hon. member's question with all the shouting.

In fact, let me reiterate again that we are committed to transparency and accountability. We are committed to answering the questions that the Auditor General identified in her report and could not answer. We want to get to the bottom of this matter. That is why we have a public inquiry. That is why we have public accounts. That is why the Prime Minister released--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Drummond.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the governments of Quebec and the provinces are denouncing the serious fiscal imbalance in Canada, citing a new study by the Conference Board. The fiscal imbalance consists of the $10 billion surplus for next year, which will gradually rise to $80 billion in 2019.

Will the Prime Minister admit that there is a fiscal imbalance in Canada and that the only way to solve the serious problems in the fields of health, education and poverty is for the federal government to agree to correct this fiscal imbalance once and for all?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the study being referred to, done by the Conference Board, is in fact a static linear projection that as we stand here today is already out of date because its assumptions are out of date.

That projection does not include any investments in municipalities. It does not include the most recent thrust with respect to health care. Obviously the study suffers from some very major statistical defects. In fact, the evidence of the government's performance is in the investments that we make in children, in education, in health, in communities--

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Drummond.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has enormous budget surpluses at hand without making any effort, while the provinces and Quebec that have to provide the services directly to the people.

Will the Prime Minister admit that, as he is getting ready to budget enormous surpluses, despite his encroachments on the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces, the latter are about to announce deficits even though they have made major cuts and painful choices?