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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nation.

Topics

Citizenship and ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 24, 2002 the House of Commons unanimously voted in support of a motion that called for the release of 13 Falun Gong practitioners with family ties to Canada, who at the time were imprisoned in China. It was passed with the specific intention that these prisoners of conscience be reunited with their families here in Canada.

One of these prisoners, Mingli Lin, was freed on March 26, 2003. However since that time, our consulate in Shanghai has repeatedly denied him a visa to come to Canada. While the Chinese authorities have respected the requests of Parliament as communicated through the former prime minister, our own consular officials are refusing to act upon the stated and unanimous directives of the House.

I call upon the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to respect the express and unanimous will of the House of Commons by allowing Mingli Lin to enter Canada to be reunited with his family.

Gasoline PricesStatements By Members

May 10th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday in the Saguenay region, the Prime Minister of Canada announced with great fanfare—for the second time—federal financial participation in the widening of highway 175. The Prime Minister seems to be short of ideas, to say the least, if he has to resort to recycling an announcement that had already been made by his predecessor, two years ago.

The man who wanted to do things differently is taking up the old Duplessis-style methods of winning votes. People are not fooled by this and they can see through these electioneering moves. It would have been much more significant for the people of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean had he made a commitment to take swift action to curb the spectacular rise in the price of gasoline.

If he really wants to stand out, the Prime Minister should agree to establish a petroleum monitoring agency, as called for by the Bloc Quebecois. But it appears that he would much rather serve up leftovers than create anything new.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, today's charges stem from an earlier Auditor General's report, an earlier investigation, an earlier scandal, although there is one common denominator and that is the Liberal Party of Canada.

These charges will not provide Canadians with any answers regarding the sponsorship program or the Auditor General's concerns over the $250 million of taxpayers' money. There will be an 18 month delay before there will be any answers from the public inquiry. There are 13 RCMP investigations. There are no answers coming from the government.

Canadians deserve to know, where is the money, who is responsible and who gave the political direction?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what the Prime Minister wants to get to the bottom of and he has made it absolutely plain. That is why we have a public inquiry. That is why the public accounts committee is at work.

What I would do is call upon the public accounts committee to put together an interim report, especially in light of the charges that were laid today. It is probably a good time for the public accounts committee to take stock of what it has heard so far and share that with the Canadian public.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the death knell is tolling for the public accounts committee. There is a deep, gaping hole through the government and the bureaucracy. We are nowhere near the bottom of answers in the sponsorship scandal.

Given the recent comments from the Prime Minister's Quebec lieutenant, Jean Lapierre, calling for charges in the sponsorship scandal, today's charges seem suspicious at best. They are soiled because of those words. It is inappropriate for public commentary to come from someone that close to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister gave his absolute assurances. Will there be no political manipulation of this system and will Canadians truly get the answer before an election?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member is not impugning either the integrity or the independence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Let me quote Corporal Patrice Gélinas, who today made the following statement in relation to the investigation: “Our investigation is totally, totally independent from whatever is going on in politics, so we are doing our police investigation, notwithstanding whatever is going on everywhere else”. He said that it does not affect by any means the RCMP investigation.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is not about the RCMP.

The Auditor General very much said that in the sponsorship scandal every rule in the book was broken. When it comes to shutting down inquiries, incomplete inquiries, and political interference, the government wrote the book.

The manipulation from the Prime Minister's Office to shut down the inquiry is evident. The Prime Minister himself said that Canadians deserve answers. They do not have answers as yet. He has said that there will be answers before an election.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister reassure Canadians that we will get to the bottom of this before he shuts down the committee and pulls the plug?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the public accounts committee is not being shut down. In fact, members of the public accounts committee, as I understand it, have called for an interim report. I think that is perfectly reasonable in the context of everything that committee has heard, the witnesses that committee has heard.

In fact, I would think Canadians would expect at this point an interim report that takes stock in relation to everything that has been heard and learned so far.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, that answer shows just how arrogant the Liberals have become. They think Canadians are naive enough to believe that, when a Liberal member of the committee, the minister for P.E.I., said that an interim report would make it easier for the Prime Minister to call a spring election.

Is it not true that the reason the Liberals are jamming out an interim report this week and shutting down the committee before it has heard from 90 witnesses is that they do not want Canadians to know the truth about where the millions went before we go to an election?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, no one has done more than the Prime Minister to get to the bottom of this matter, to learn the truth. He was the person who called for a public inquiry. He was the person who asked the public accounts committee to sit early so it could begin its hearings.

I think it is really unfortunate that members of the opposition choose to play politics with the committee. The public is watching. The public, I can assure every member of the House, is not impressed with what it is seeing. It wants to get to the bottom of this matter. I call upon the public accounts committee to continue its work.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

What a joke, Mr. Speaker. We have over 90 witnesses on the list yet to be heard from, including people like Warren Kinsella, including many of the major ad scam firm activists, and including the former prime minister.

We have not heard from the key players. We do not know who gave political direction. We have no idea where the money went and they are planning to jam out a report, a whitewashed report, to prepare the way to call an election long before there are real answers to the questions that Canadians want answered.

Why is the government shutting down the only inquiry in town, the only opportunity that Canadians have to learn the truth about Liberal corruption?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as we know, the public accounts committee is not the only process. In fact, Mr. Justice Gomery has begun his public inquiry into the matter.

Let me return to the public accounts committee. I would encourage members of that committee to get on with their work. I think an interim report makes perfectly good sense in terms of giving Canadians a sense of the witnesses who have been heard to date and what those witnesses have said.

On behalf of the government, I would encourage the public accounts committee to continue its work.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as regards the sponsorship scandal, charges have been laid today against Jean Brault and Charles Guité—two underlings—just before an election call. So, as we get closer to political leaders, the Liberals want to put an end the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and adopt a partisan report.

Will the government at least have the decency of admitting that Liberal members are currently manoeuvring to spare the political leaders involved in the sponsorship scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, government members are trying to manipulate absolutely nothing. The public accounts committee has a mandate and I would encourage the public accounts committee to get on with its work.

An interim report to the Canadian public, it seems to me after hearing dozens of witnesses, does make good sense at this point.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what does not make sense right now is closing the books just before the testimonies of Jean Chrétien and the current Prime Minister. The latter admitted that there was some political direction behind the sponsorship scandal. It was the Prime Minister who said that. We would like to hear him at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. However, as we head into an election, the Liberals would prefer that only the underlings be singled out.

Why does the Prime Minister want to close the books when even Chuck Guité admitted that, in the sponsorship scandal, the PMO and the ministers not only gave advice, but also made decisions?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the public accounts committee was called early by the government. The public accounts committee has been at work and I thank the members for their work. I hope they continue their work but if someone is suggesting that at this point it is somehow inappropriate to issue an interim report, after hearing dozens of witnesses, to provide Canadians with a summary of that which has been heard to date, I simply disagree.

I think it is very important to inform Canadians as to what the public accounts committee has heard so far.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the charges that have finally been laid today in connection with the sponsorship scandal have targeted individuals actually involved, but not the ones really responsible for it, politically.

Will the government admit that, with today's arrest of Charles Guité, the charges are directed only at the government's henchman, and not at all at the politicians really behind this scandal?

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, Charles Guité was arrested this morning on evidence the RCMP saw fit to use. The rest is nothing but gratuitous and totally unfounded allegations, which are part of a vast and totally pointless political dragnet. Frankly, I believe that the Canadian public will be better served by waiting for a progress report from the committee than by listening to allegations of this kind.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are entitled to expect some light to be shed on the political responsibility to which the Prime Minister has admitted, as has been seen on television broadcasts from coast to coast.

Will this government admit that an incomplete committee report—when that committee has not had the opportunity to hear Jean Chrétien, and the Prime Minister, with respect to these allegations of political responsibility—has but one purpose: to cover for a little while longer the people responsible for the sponsorship scandal, the ones who approved—

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

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, I really do not understand the question.

Political leaders have appeared before the committee. They were summoned and they came. The committee has, I trust, done a thorough job of questioning both politicians and public servants, as well as other witnesses. It was free to call whomever it wanted. I believe it is perfectly normal for the Canadian public to be made aware of what the committee has done so far. Therefore, it should provide a summary.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, today two people were arrested and charged with fraud, representing just 2% of the $100 million at the heart of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Clearly there is more to come given the rush of Liberal members who want to shut down the public accounts committee so the Prime Minister can go to the polls before his hypocrisy on almost every issue becomes clear to the voters.

Is it not true that the Liberals want to shut down the committee because they know that today's arrests are just the tip of the iceberg of Liberal corruption? Is that not what is really going on?

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, far from shutting down the public accounts committee, it was the government that asked that committee to sit early. It is the government that has been encouraging that committee to get on with its work. I want to thank the members who have been working very hard.

I think it is appropriate to have an interim report, if that is the decision of the committee this week. I think it is appropriate to let Canadians know about the dozens of witnesses who have been heard and the state of the investigation by the committee to this point.

However let me reassure the hon. member and the House that it was the Prime Minister and the government that said we would get to the bottom of this matter.

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us go to yet another fine example of Liberal democracy. There are 14 ridings in which friends of the Prime Minister have been appointed or his opponents miraculously dropped out so a friend could run. Fourteen times Mr. Democracy decided his friends needed to run more than local communities needed to vote. Of course, this goes hand in hand with Liberal patronage, including the joke job of special adviser of the near east and south caucasus, wherever that is.

Could the Prime Minister explain why anyone would believe anything he says, given the gulf between rhetoric and reality on democracy?

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to note first and foremost that this is a matter of internal party politics and I do not know whether it is really an involvement of government operations and accountability.

On the other hand, I want to say that in each political party there are ways of proceeding which are dictated by way of the constitution of the party, which is adopted by the membership of the party. It is not for government to dictate what should take place in each one of the political parties.