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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

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I hate to disillusion the hon. member, but I am afraid there will be no enormous surpluses. I would point out that on the analysis filed by the Conference Board a 1% variation in either revenue or expenditure changes a projected surplus of $80 billion to a deficit of $10 billion.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec and the provinces have just launched an ad campaign explaining that, in 1976 and 1977, the federal government was paying 50% of all health care expenditures but now pays no more than 16% of these same expenditures.

Will the federal government admit that, over the past 30 years, it has gradually withdrawn from health care funding, forcing Quebec and the provinces to shoulder this increasingly heavy burden? It is disgraceful.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

No, Mr. Speaker.

In fact, all of the expenditures by various levels of government on health in Canada today total about $87 billion. The federal contribution to that is about $34 billion. That is 40%, not 16%.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are only three weeks left in this fiscal year.

Will the Prime Minister admit that there will be an approximately $7 billion surplus—an amount much greater than his government announced—and that the entire surplus will go to paying down the federal debt on March 31, when health should be the top priority?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the answers to those two questions are no and no. In fact, I hope the budget will be in a position to make some important contributions to Canadian quality of life, but I would point out to the hon. gentleman that extrapolations of the surplus are grossly exaggerated and in fact we are dealing with a very tight fiscal situation.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to testimony from the public accounts committee last week, we understand that the sponsorship program was financed by a slush fund, money made available by this Prime Minister.

As the vice-chair of the Treasury Board, this Prime Minister had to know how extraordinary it was for the PMO to directly request funds for the sponsorship program, but he remained silent through all of that. Later, he received a letter from a very credible source alleging criminal activity in the sponsorship program, but he did absolutely nothing.

Why did the Prime Minister ignore all the warning signs of what has become the biggest government scandal in Canadian history?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this extraordinary announcement was that the document released by the government shows that the Prime Minister signed, as it is his right to do so when he makes a referral to the Treasury Board, a document putting money into the sponsorship program.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Well, stupid is as stupid does, Mr. Speaker.

High-ranking Liberals across the country had access to this fund. Rumours were flying for months in Liberal ranks alleging fraud in the sponsorship program.

The Prime Minister says he wants to get to the bottom of this. If that is the case, why did he fail to call in the RCMP when he received a letter in February 2002 alleging criminal activity in the sponsorship program? Why did he not blow the whistle?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

One more time, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has called the most open review possible. He has put in a judge who can subpoena people and compel testimony. We have a special counsel seeking the money and we have the public accounts committee. We have had an unprecedented release of confidential information, which is the information upon which they are asking these same questions. All the information is on the table. If the member has a substantive allegation to make, he can add it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Bluenose II has become the latest victim of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Public works documents show more than $3 million was allocated to the Bluenose through a Liberal friendly communications firm. One contract in 1997-98 was for $2.3 million, yet the Bluenose trust insists it received only $359,000.

Will the Minister of Public Works explain how his department wrote a cheque for $2.3 million and only delivered $359,000?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that the government did issue a cheque for $2.3 million to go toward the Bluenose event. We are now in litigation with the communications company. We are withholding funds from it and are in litigation to trace where the funds went to. This is the very action that we have said we are going to take across this whole range of communications contracts. This one has come to light and we are tracing.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians absolutely deserve to know where the sponsorship money allocated for the Bluenose has gone. This taxpayer money was only accessible to high-ranking members of the Liberal Party. Will the Minister of Public Works table all documents showing the application, assessment, contracts and analysis relating to the Bluenose since 1996? Maybe then we can find out where the money went.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as we have said many times before, all documents related to these issues of sponsorship are available, will be available and will be tabled. People can come before the various processes and answer questions on them. As well, we have said we are tracing funds that may have gone adrift and we will be getting them back. In this way, with Lafleur Communications we are withholding funds and we are also suing to recover them.

HaitiOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Duplain Liberal Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, for more than one month, the international community has done nothing to stop the situation in Haiti from deteriorating. Now, despite the presence of a provisional international force, the situation there is getting worse.

Could the Minister of National Defence tell the House what the Canadian government intends to do to ensure peace and stability in Haiti?

HaitiOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the international community is very concerned about the situation in Haiti, as are Canadians. The Prime Minister was certainly speaking on behalf of Canadians when he indicated that we would be taking a leadership role in the Haitian situation.

I had the pleasure on Friday, with the chief of defence staff, of announcing Canada's contribution to Haiti, which consists of approximately 425 personnel, some of whom are going to be coming from the second battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, a company group, as well as a helicopter detachment from the 430 squadron based in Valcartier.

Status of WomenOral Question Period

March 8th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, here we are on International Women's Day and what do we get from the government? Hit lists, slush funds and slamming the door on women.

Liberal policies since 1993 have directly harmed Canadian women. There is no home care program to help women cope with an aging population and the Prime Minister simply broke his own red book promise on child care.

What a horrible, awful record. Will the Prime Minister apologize to women for breaking his promises to them so he could afford corporate tax breaks for his friends?

Status of WomenOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, in reply, I would mention the programs relating to, in particular, women, multiculturalism and violence, and would inform my colleague that the Department of Canadian Heritage is one of seven departments receiving a special allowance from Treasury Board for initiatives to stop domestic violence.

For example, the Department Of Canadian Heritage received $460,000, $215,000 of which was allocated to multicultural and women's programs.

Status of WomenOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the women of Canada deserve a government that is committed to equality, but what do we get from this government, a government that kills the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, a government that ignores the UN recommendations on equality, a government that refuses to protect immigrant and visible minority women from domestic violence, and a government that ejects women candidates. It seems revenge is the Prime Minister's only gender neutral policy. What exactly is the government's commitment to the women of Canada?

Status of WomenOral 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 quite truthfully cannot believe what I just heard. Over the past 10 years this government and our new Prime Minister have done more in relation to ensuring women's equality within our society. Does the hon. member forget, for example, the national child benefit? Most people describe that program, which helps women and their children, which helps families, as the single most important initiative since universal health care.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal sponsorship scandal has already tarnished the RCMP and now it is dragging another Canadian icon through the mud because of this ad scam.

The Minister of Public works has just said that he was conducting a criminal investigation. That contract was in 1998. If he knew in 1998 that there was a problem, why is he now saying that the government does not know anything about it and it is all a big surprise?

We want to know how much money was stolen from the Bluenose and how much went to the Liberal ad 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 am not sure what the member's reference to 1998 is, but with respect to today, the $2.3 million contract through Lafleur Communications to the Bluenose foundation is now being investigated. We have heard that the services were not provided. We have withheld funds from Lafleur Communications and we are suing it in court to recover the funds. This is not a criminal investigation. We do not conduct those in government, but we do conduct litigation and we do withhold funds until we get to the bottom of this.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, maybe the government should conduct criminal investigations.

The minister said the cheque was written for $2.3 million. He also said he was withholding funds. How does the government do that? If it wrote the cheque, it is gone. Did the government write the cheque or is it withholding the funds? Not only that, there are six grants altogether, with three different ad firms. We want to know how much money was stolen from the Bluenose .

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 as well want to know how much money has gone astray, which is why we have a public inquiry, which is why we have a special counsel for financial recovery, which is why we have referred 18 matters to the RCMP and which is why we have the public accounts committee, in which all members of the government are participating and cooperating.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister of public works, formerly the minister for western economic diversification, stated in July 2003 that his department was ready to provide direct support to workers laid off due to the softwood lumber dispute.

Instead, the softwood lumber money was diverted, stalled, fought over and delayed by internal fighting within the federal government. Four hundred and forty-five days after the original announcement on December 2002, this money has not reached these workers.

Why did the public works minister fail to deliver this money to the people who deserve it; the softwood lumber workers in British Columbia?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul Manitoba

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalMinister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I would say that to have $32 million for 83 projects, creating 2,000 jobs and leveraging another $68 million is good news for the members of the British Columbia community.