House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was witnesses.


Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The Chair has been as generous as it can be with the time.

Debate, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot.

Our motion today is very simple. It is to make sure that the parliamentary inquiry into the sponsorship program continues even though Parliament will be dissolved in a few days time for an election call. We think this is very important because two key questions remain unanswered.

The first question that remains unanswered is who gave the orders that allowed this program to be so badly mismanaged. The second question that remains unanswered is where the money really ended up.

I would like to refresh the public's memory about what the Auditor General said about the sponsorship program which involved a quarter of a billion dollars. She said:

What is particularly disturbing about these sponsorship payments is that each involved a number of transactions with a number of companies, sometimes using false invoices and contracts or no written contracts at all. These arrangements appear designed to provide commissions to communications agencies, while hiding the source of funds and the true nature of the transactions. The parliamentary appropriation process was not respected. Senior public servants in CCSB and some officials of the Crown corporations were knowing and willing participants in these arrangements.

We observed that from 1997 to 31 August 2001, there was a widespread failure to comply with the government's contracting policies and regulations, a pervasive lack of documentation in the files, and little evidence in many cases that the government had received value for its sponsorship—in some cases, no evidence.

The Auditor General concluded:

Considerable amounts of public funds were spent, with little evidence that obtaining value for money was a concern. The pattern we saw of non-compliance with the rules was not the result of isolated errors. It was consistent and pervasive. This was how the government ran the program.

If the government ran the program that way, we know that someone in government gave the orders to break the rules. In fact, the Prime Minister himself said over and over, after the report became public in February, that there had to be political direction. Yet there has been no identification of the politician, the elected person or people in government who said to the bureaucrats and civil servants that they should break the rules because that was how they wanted a quarter of a billion dollars to be dealt with.

No one has taken responsibility. We heard evidence from Professor Franks to the effect that the Privy Council Office had interpreted the doctrine of parliamentary and ministerial responsibility in such a way that no one could really be held accountable. That is the most disturbing thing, but I will get back to that.

We need to have a clear understanding of who gave the orders because if no one is responsible then we can never be sure that this will not happen again. Canadians have to be sure that when they give money into the hands of government, into the hands of the people administering their country, that it will be dealt with according to the rules, the law and the highest standards of accountability and, if it is not, that someone's head will roll and someone will pay the price. Right now no one is paying the price because no one has been identified as giving the orders.

What has been troubling a lot of Canadians is where the money has ended up. Media reports have been very disturbing about where the money might have ended up. CTV reported back in February that the allegation “is that senior political figures used the ad agencies to launder money.

“So, for example, the wife of a senior politician goes shopping in downtown Montreal buying very expensive clothes and a person from the ad agency goes along with a VISA card and goes, “click, click,” and it gets charged back to the advertising agency and then charged back to the Government of Canada”.

Canadians are justifiably concerned about this. Another media report in the Ottawa Citizen quotes an ad executive as saying:

Well, we'll do the dry cleaning for you.

We do it all the time. You know, dry cleaning--we pick up the expense and charge it to you (the government).

If this is going on, then it must be stopped. The people who are doing this, conniving at this, giving the orders and looting the public treasury in this shocking and unacceptable manner, must be brought to account.

This is Canada and we pride ourselves in having the highest first world standards of uprightness, fairness and right dealing in a democratic way with public money. Yet we have seen in the Auditor General's report that the rules were thrown out the window and where the money really ended up might well be in a cynical and even criminal defrauding of the public.

We need to be clear about this. The public is not just a big mass out there. The public is people like my constituents in Calgary—Nose Hill, people with children, people struggling to get by, to pay the mortgage and to pay the cost of putting gas in their vehicles so they can get back and forth to work, people who are struggling to pay their taxes, people who are just barely getting by. When they find out that the government is taking their money that they struggled to earn and using it to buy luxuries and in a money laundering way, this bothers them, to say the least, and it should bother them.

This is a gross betrayal of trust and we should not rest for one moment until the people who have engaged in this, in any way, shape or form, are brought to justice and brought to a place where they will pay the price.

A lot has been made about the fact that there will be a public inquiry. I sat on the public accounts committee looking into this and I can say very frankly that it is a very imperfect instrument for getting to the truth. All members of the committee have eight minutes to get some facts and some evidence out on the table. That includes the witnesses taking up air time and, in some cases, taking up air time just to burn up our time. It is almost impossible to get a concentrated line of questioning that really gets to the facts in those brief few minutes. Sometimes it is only four minutes.

Yes, the parliamentary committee is an imperfect instrument and those rules do need to be changed, but to shut it down when it could keep going, does not serve Canadians' interests. The judicial inquiry will not even get going until next fall. Even if the inquiry pushes full bore ahead, it is not going to report until the end of 2005, if they are lucky. Canadians will not know until 2005 what is happening.

Let us look at the mandate of the judicial inquiry. One of its mandates is that the commissioner, Judge Gomery, “be directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization and to ensure that the conduct of the inquiry does not jeopardize any ongoing criminal investigation or criminal proceedings”.

The judicial inquiry will not be able to say if someone defrauded the public or money laundered through the ad agencies. That it is not in its mandate. It cannot talk about civil or criminal liability. I really believe the government does not want the truth to come out.

When a motion was moved to bring forward the Gagliano papers because he was the key minister involved at the time, the Liberals in the committee voted it down. When a motion was moved to allow the committee to see the Privy Council briefings to the Prime Minister about the sponsorship program, the Liberals voted to keep that evidence hidden. The reason is that Liberal dealing with the sponsorship money, with quarter of a billion dollars, cannot stand the light of day and that is why they want to shut it down.

There is a bigger issue here and that is the reputation of our country. Parliamentarians from our Parliament, from the House of Commons, go to other countries in the world and say, “Let us help you do things right”. My colleague from St. Albert started the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. They go around the world helping other parliamentarians clean up the mess in other countries, and what happens? To our red-faced embarrassment and shame, we find out that our own government is misusing and mismanaging hundreds of millions of dollars and is hiding the evidence and not letting it come forward, is shutting down the inquiry and putting off the day of reckoning until after an election. It is wrong. It is wrong to do that.

That is why we brought forward a motion that we keep the evidence coming, that we keep working to get to the bottom of this issue, so that we can win back the trust of Canadians, so that we can win back the trust of the international community. In that way we can show by our deeds that we will not leave a stone unturned until we get to the bottom of this issue, until we find out who gave those orders, until we find out who really got the money. We must get the bottom of this terrible allegation of money laundering.

I urge the House to support the motion.

Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege for me to rise today, as it has been an honour to stand in this chamber for the last 10 years.

If the conventional wisdom is accurate, the Prime Minister will call the election some time in the next week. If that is true, this will be my last opportunity to speak as a member of Parliament in the House of Commons. While I support the motion before the House, I hope and trust that my colleagues will permit me this brief moment reflection.

Thirty years ago as a wife and a mother whose home was flooded because our neighbourhood was built on a flood plain, a generation later I stand here, a three term member of Parliament and the first woman to have been mayor of the city of Saint John, and a very proud grandmother.

Growing up in Saint John it was never my ambition nor my intention to seek elected office. I did not aspire to a career in public service beyond helping my friends, my family, my church and my community. Yet with each passing year and every election, I discovered there was more that needed to be done. As a councillor, I realized that the challenges facing our great city could not be solved unless we changed city hall. As mayor, I realized that the solutions to many of our most pressing problems were in the hands of the federal government in Ottawa.

As a member of Parliament I saw that our hopes and dreams were the hopes and dreams of all Canadians and that Saint John was not alone in its struggles.

As I stand here today, I am proud of what we have accomplished together. I am proud that we helped get the compensation package for our merchant navy veterans and for those who were used for testing mustard gas and chemical weapons. I am proud that we helped force the government into finally replacing our aging Sea Kings. I hope that continues to happen. I am proud to have worked on a daily basis on behalf of the men and women of the armed forces. I am proud that we continue to bring attention to the challenges faced by Canada's growing number of seniors as well. Most of all, I am proud that we were able to make a difference.

There comes a time in our lives when we must decide whether the journey is ours to continue or whether the torch must be passed to another. I have faced that decision many times, but this time was the most difficult. Being a member of Parliament is a great honour but it involves great sacrifices. It means being away from the people and places we love and it means our time is not our own.

For close to 30 years I have had the most wonderful and understanding family anyone could have. My husband, Richard, has been a source of constant strength and wisdom. He has stood by me through good times and bad, willing to share the obligations of an office he never asked to hold. Whichever decision I made, I always knew that I could count on his unconditional love and support. That was the greatest blessing of all.

As much as I love this place, and although there are many more adventures on the horizon, there is nothing I would rather do than spend more time now with Richard, our boys and their families. Therefore I decided some months ago that I would not seek a fourth term. Let me be clear that I am no less committed to the people back home in Saint John and no less grateful for their continued kindness.

While this marks an important change in my life, one thing will never change: Saint John is now and forever the greatest little city in the east and I hope everyone knows it. Although I will not hold elected office, I will continue to be a passionate advocate for the city in whatever capacity I can best serve.

The fact remains that our country and our city are now facing serious questions about the course we will take in the years to come. No one person has all the answers and no one party has all the answers. We need vigorous public debate between a principled government and a powerful opposition. Our common goal must be to improve the lives of individual Canadians and their families.

It has been a rare privilege to serve the people of Saint John and I have cherished every moment of it. I am indebted to the hundreds of people who have helped me in my various campaigns and the thousands more who gave me their trust.

To my colleagues on both sides of the House who have shared this great experience with me, let me thank each and every one of them for their friendship and wise counsel. To those Canadians who have written to me with their words of encouragement and their prayers, let me thank them for their kind words.

I want to thank the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker for their friendship and their guidance. I really appreciated it.

When I leave this place today it will be for the last time. I want to thank all the young pages for serving me my water each day.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, the city of Matagami has compiled an opportunities wish list. It reflects the community's demands as expressed during a consultation process held on February 21, 2004, and was prepared with the help of members of the action committee of the city of Matagami with a view to counteracting the negative effects of the Bell Allard Mine closure by the Toronto-based Noranda group.

The city of Matagami, founded in 1963, owes its existence to the mining industry. Forestry now holds an important place in the local economy, and the tourist industry is developing a very strong presence as well.

Matagami has about 2,000 citizens and is located strategically in northern Quebec, strategically in terms of both location and access. This is why Matagami is the gateway to James Bay.

The Government of Canada ought to follow the example of Mayor Robert Labelle and his fellow citizens, who have injected the sum of $50,000 from the city's surplus to help implement the community's plans.

Rights of the Unborn
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians have gathered on Parliament Hill for the annual March for Life. Addressing the crowd were Archbishop Gervais and Rabbi Bulka of Ottawa, various clergy and members of Parliament from both political parties.

Tragically, surveys reveal that nearly half of the women who have abortions do so because of pressure from abusive or unsupportive boyfriends, husbands or family members. They feel betrayed by their doctors and medical personnel who do not tell them the truth about their babies or the high risk procedure they would undergo.

Denise Mountenay and Linda Menon are here for the March for Life. These are courageous women who represent a group called Canada Silent No More. They spoke of their own suffering because of a procedure that they say was neither safe nor medically necessary. They are concerned about long term physical and emotional consequences of abortion.

It is the women themselves who are asking us as parliamentarians to open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to hear this cry for help. They are determined to be silent no more.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, researchers at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom report an accumulation of plastic fibre pollution, from seabeds to beaches. Marine organisms are swallowing microscopic fragments of plastic from pop bottles, grocery bags, rope, fragments of nylon, and polyester. It takes between 100 and 1,000 years for plastic to disintegrate.

Researcher Dr. Thompson says that the evidence suggests we are dealing with a problem quite widespread in the oceans and expresses concern that there may be the possibility of food chain contamination.

Plastics contain various additives, such as hormone interfering compounds and are also known to aid in collecting, transporting and releasing of additional toxins into the ocean.

For the sake of future generations we should actively and firmly prevent plastic pollution.

University of Prince Edward Island
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, the year 2004 marks the 200th anniversary of higher education on Prince Edward Island.

On May 8 the University of Prince Edward Island conferred honorary degrees upon three outstanding Island alumni. The individuals who were honoured have each made exceptional contributions to Canada and the world in their chosen field.

The first person was Dr. Arnold Hiltz, a graduate of Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. His expertise is in chemistry and he has been employed by NASA.

The second person is quite familiar to the House, Senator Jacques Hébert. He attended St. Dunstan's University in Charlottetown, and later founded Canada World Youth and Katimavik Canada.

Finally, Madam Justice Ellen MacDonald graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island in 1970 and was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 1991.

I have no doubt that members of the House will join me in congratulating all those who graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island last Saturday and especially those three distinguished Canadians.

Canadian Railway Museum
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to draw hon. members' attention to the important contribution made by the Canadian Railway Museum to the riding of Châteauguay and the region of Montérégie. This museum, the only one of its kind in Canada, is located in the municipalities of Saint-Constant and Delson.

The Government of Canada is proud of its association with this museum. In March, it made a contribution, through Economic Development Canada, of $1.2 million for phase II of the museum's Exporail project. This is in addition to the October 2000 contribution of $3 million for phase I of this project.

Since its creation in 1961, the museum has managed to assemble the largest rail collection in the country. These recent investments will enable the Canadian Railway Museum to join the select ranks of the world's top five railway museums. It is source of great pride to our region.

Once the work is completed, the museum expects to attract 85,000 visitors annually. Its vital mission of education and raising awareness will thus continue to expand.

Samuel de Champlain
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, Samuel de Champlain was known to Canadian school children as the father of New France, yet those same students do not realize it all began on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

On May 8, 2004 a re-enactment celebrating the 400th anniversary of Champlain's landfall was held on Rissers Beach, including a ceremony of greeting by the Mic Mac.

Champlain made his first landfall at Cap LaHave, named after Cap de la Hève in France. He explored and mapped the coast of what would become Acadia. Names like: Rossignol, Cap LaHave, Port Mouton, Port Royal, Cap Negro, Isle Haute, Cap D'Or and Port Joli pay tribute to his travels.

In 1605 Champlain founded Port Royal, the first permanent French settlement in Acadia and later went on to found Quebec in 1608.

My congratulations to the festival Champlain committee in recognition of its hard work in celebrating this truly Canadian story.

Margaret Anna Lawson
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Miggsie Margaret Anna Lawson, honorary president of the Lawson Foundation of London, Ontario. She passed away on May 5.

During her lifetime Miggsie brought her special vitality and dedication to a variety of community activities. She was a driving force behind making the Lawson Foundation what it is today.

Since the foundation's establishment in 1956 by Miggsie's father-in-law, Ray Lawson, it has donated over $43 million to charities across Canada. Today the Lawson Foundation honours the family traditions and focuses on early childhood competencies and the strengthening of communities.

Miggsie truly personified the foundation's values of respect, trust, family, community, faith, prevention, commitment, empathy and a strong work ethic.

I thank Miggsie for being a positive person and a shining example of the commitment to the London community. She will rest in peace.

Member for Trois-Rivières
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to take advantage of my last intervention in this House to thank the people of Trois-Rivières for their trust in me and to share my feelings ranging from disappointment to confidence.

I am disappointed that after more than 40 years of activism, we still have not reached our goal; Quebec is still just a province within Canada. The Quebec nation is not recognized by Canada nor by the international community. Only in song is Quebec a country.

I am worried about the future of the Quebec people, whose survival is seriously threatened if it does not react quickly and decide to take full control of its destiny.

I am proud of my track record as the member for Trois-Rivières in terms of my initiatives and the role I played in many issues.

I am confident that a solid majority of Quebeckers will soon realize that the only decent and honourable option for them is sovereignty.

Vive le Quebec, vive le Quebec souverain.

Canadian Forces
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, with service comes sacrifice. This past January Canadians were all deeply saddened by the death of Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, a Newfoundland soldier serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment who was killed by an explosion while patrolling near Kabul, Afghanistan.

Today, we have in Ottawa one of the three survivors of that tragic attack, Cpl. Richard Michael Newman. Cpl. Newman is stationed at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, but proudly calls Hartland, New Brunswick his hometown.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Cpl. Newman and all the brave men and women for their loyal service to Canada in the interests of peace. We are very proud of the contributions our soldiers have made to the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

To Cpl. Newman and all members of the Canadian Forces, we express our thanks. We thank them for fulfilling Canada's important role as a world peacekeeper.

Member for Nanaimo--Cowichan
Statements By Members

May 13th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has been my privilege for the past seven years to represent the beautiful British Columbia riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan. It has been an incredible experience to participate in the Parliament of Canada with distinguished colleagues on all sides of the House.

I have worked on many different issues. Some of the most notable ones for me personally have been to represent the victims of hepatitis C, who were excluded from the 1986 to 1990 window; to fight for compensation for workers and aid for the forest industry damaged by a prolonged softwood lumber dispute; to work on behalf of disabled Canadians who were in need of better disability benefits; and to listen to and represent many grassroots aboriginal people who found no compassionate ear to listen to their voice in this government.

I would like to pay particular thanks to my wife Louise and family members who have endured my long absences from home. I thank them for their understanding and support.

My thanks to the voters of Nanaimo—Cowichan who twice elected me to represent them here in this place. It has been a privilege and a pleasure. Now I am retiring from this place to take up another vocation.

I wish to thank all my colleagues. God bless them and God bless Canada.

Member for Davenport
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we thank a friend who came to Canada from his native Italy to seek a better life and by his presence here he enriched the lives of all of us.

He was elected to local government in his new adopted city of Toronto in 1964. In 1968 he was elected to the first of his 10 successive and successful mandates to the House of Commons. He became a parliamentary secretary, and later in 1981 he was appointed to cabinet where he eventually found what most of us would consider his true calling, the environment.

He is currently the chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. He is the president of the Canada-Europe Association. He is the dean of the House of Commons and of course of our caucus.

He is the hon. member for Davenport to whom today we say: thank you very much, grazie mille.

Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, 13 years ago Kevin Ross Ferris turned police informant enabling the OPP to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen goods, narcotics and sending several individuals to jail.

His life in danger, Mr. Ferris was placed in the witness protection program, given a new identity, and relocated to British Columbia. Believing he was not receiving adequate protection and fearing for his life, Ferris fled Canada, creating his own identity.

Returning in 2002, the RCMP arrested him for parole violation under the name of Kevin Ross Ferris instead of his witness protection name, thus putting his life in danger once more.

Last year the National Parole Board ruled his sentence had been fully served back in 1992, yet for 15 months Mr. Ferris has been unable to work as he is without either a social insurance number or driver's licence. Throughout this time neither the RCMP nor the witness protection program has provided any meaningful assistance.

Kevin Ross Ferris wants his life back.