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

Topics

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, openly transparent it was, but also custom-made for Earnscliffe. That is how it was done. Since the present Minister of Finance wanted Earnscliffe, and the President of the Privy Council wanted Everest, the three ministers arranged custom-made contracts for their friends.

Does this not mean this is exactly like what was going on before? This is a Liberal pattern, for this Liberal government as well as the previous one: giving preference to friends of the regime.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the information before me indicates that in August 1994 finance in fact requested a full competition. In October 1994 a request for proposal was issued. In December 1994 Earnscliffe won that bid in an open competition. Earnscliffe again competed in 1996, 1998 and 2001.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the contract with Earnscliffe was cancelled as soon as a new finance minister replaced the old one, now Prime Minister.

Does this not clearly demonstrate that the contract was in place with the PM's consent, when he was finance minister? He could have put an end to it, but he did not. His successor is the one who did.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, again I fail to see the hon. gentleman's point. It has been indicated, as I indicated in my previous answer, that all of the rules throughout this process were indeed followed. When the new minister arrived on the scene, he preferred to rely upon different information or different advisers. That was his option. That was his choice. He too followed the rules.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the sponsorship scandal is still with us. Nothing has really changed: ministers prepare tailor-made invitations to tenders that are likely to match the specifications of a single company. That was the case with Earnscliffe. The contract is awarded, and then we are told the rules were followed.

The fact is that this was the company of a bunch of buddies of the present Prime Minister, and he never terminated the contract. It took his departure, and the arrival of a new finance minister for the decision to be made that enough was enough. That speaks volumes.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my recollection of the analysis of the polling activity that the Government of Canada had undertaken by the Auditor General and included in her most recent report is that she found, with very few exceptions, the polling activities of the Government of Canada were properly conducted and that there was a wide basis of competition with indeed tens of companies being able to participate.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that it comes as no surprise to us that the Prime Minister is not an incarnation of innocence when it comes to contracts.

I have another question for the Prime Minister, welcoming him back from the campaign trail, where he is out there re-announcing Chrétien policies at the same time as he is trying to put distance between himself and the former prime minister. I want to give the Prime Minister an opportunity not to campaign but to govern and not to re-announce but to actually renounce a policy of the Chrétien government.

Will he stand up in the House today and tell us that the contract with Lockheed Martin to conduct the Canadian census is going to be dropped?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the contract referred to was won through a fair, open and transparent competition. The Government of Canada has no intention of cancelling that contract.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

It was probably about as fair and open as the way that Earnscliffe won its contracts, Mr. Speaker.

We understand that there is concern now about the public reaction to Lockheed Martin conducting our census. There is concern about the effect of the patriot act and the fact that this information may well have to be shared with the United States, given the relationship between Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon and the United States.

Is the government not concerned about the effect on the Canadian census and public opinion? Is it not in fact reconsidering this contract? Will the Prime Minister kindly address this issue?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the terms of the contract with Lockheed Martin Canada provide for complete confidentiality and security of Canadian census information. If there is any suggestion that this strict condition of the contract cannot be fulfilled, then of course the government will look at reviewing it.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's indignation does not really change his sorry history of ripping off taxpayers to help his friends at Earnscliffe. Let me quote from the memo of July 24, 1995, from Warren Kinsella to Chuck Guité: “I require an immediate explanation as to how the department in question”--the finance department--“was permitted to breach the guidelines in this way”.

How can the Prime Minister deny his role in this whole sorry mess, this contract scandal, when he was the first one in the pool when it came to breaking the rules?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, again, referring to the documents that have been brought before the public accounts committee, the memorandum of May 30, 1994, and then the memorandum of December 22, 1995, neither of those documents indeed support the proposition that the hon. gentleman is talking about.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister should get up to speed because we have documents that show this Prime Minister was directly involved. We have a smoking gun. The Prime Minister has been fingered as being directly involved in breaking all the rules in the book. He used his influence to help his friends at Earnscliffe. That is unethical and that is un-Canadian.

Why should Canadians have any faith in a Prime Minister who has played such a direct role in lowering the ethical standards of government in Canada today?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the record of the Prime Minister and his staff in dealing with these matters is to argue for more competition, not less, argue for it sooner rather than later, and to defend the proper processes of contracts.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, a new document has come to light that blows holes in the Prime Minister's cover story on ad scam. The 1995 internal memo shows Public Works questioning why advertising contracts had been given out under the authority of the finance minister, now the Prime Minister, and I quote, “contrary to cabinet-approved guidelines”.

The Prime Minister has been telling Canadians he did not know about advertising rules being broken. This damning memo exposes the Prime Minister as a rule breaker. How can Canadians possibly trust him after this?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is a document tabled in the House, and in fact tabled by the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, I believe, which demonstrates very clearly that what my office said was that it wanted an open competition and it wanted a number of firms and as many firms added to the list as could possibly be done. It wanted competition for the advertising contract, and that is the way it should be.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is nonsense, because this is what the memo really says. They want to know why the finance department, with the current Prime Minister then in charge, and I quote, “was permitted to breach the guidelines in this way”.

Yet now the Prime Minister sputters about being mad as hell and he wants to find out how rules were broken. Now Canadians have found out how they were broken. They were broken by the Prime Minister. The truth is coming out. Why does he not now just give up this whole pretense of innocence?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, on issues related to advertising in that period in 1994 and 1995, the documents that have indeed been tabled in the House, the memoranda that flowed from the minister's office, indicated very clearly that he was arguing for more competition, not less, and he was arguing for that competition earlier and sooner rather than later.

Indeed, on the matter of polling, the Auditor General has reviewed that matter. The hon. member will know that in the chapter in the most recent report the review from the Auditor General is essentially favourable.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, even Pierrette Ringuette, vice-chair of the Liberal committee studying the issue of employment insurance, finds that the threshold of 910 hours imposed on new entrants into the labour force is too high and prevents many people from obtaining benefits.

Does the Prime Minister agree with Ms. Ringuette's rather harsh opinion?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Ms. Ringuette is studying the shortcomings in the employment insurance system. It must be noted, however, that, while there are still shortcomings causing problems, there is also good news. The good news is that the unemployment rate, the number of people without work in Quebec and in the whole country, is still declining.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

April 20th, 2004 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, according to Ms. Ringuette, the legislative amendments needed to change the employment insurance system will take at least six months. Meanwhile, the people fleeced by the EI system are living in great difficulties and expressing their discontent, as they did yesterday in Forestville.

How can the government justify the fact that it has waited so long before acting on the unanimous recommendations of a committee, when all the necessary changes were identified by that committee three years ago? Will the government admit once again that all it is doing is stalling for time at the expense of the Sans-Chemise?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, there is a much broader perspective. Obviously the hon. member wants to point out problems. However, the truth is that, in the past, the government established a partnership with the regional authorities and thus also with the provincial authorities. The government has transferred $597 million every year, in part to deal with these problems.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, in support of their report on the introduction of mega-hospitals in Montreal, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Premier Daniel Johnson reiterated yesterday that what the health care system needed was money from Ottawa, with no strings attached.

How can the Prime Minister make his share of funding for health care conditional on doing what Ottawa wants? Even former Prime Minister Mulroney admits that what the health care system needs is money, nothing else.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, that was not even the opinion of Bernard Landry, the real leader of the chapter here in the House. When he was finance minister, he recognized that simply making funds available for health would not ensure the real long term sustainability of our health care system for Canadians.

This very morning in Toronto, I gave a speech outlining the plan for health that we are developing with the provinces. This plan—

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.