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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, Justice Gomery finds the Liberal Party of Canada guilty. Here are some facts: clear evidence of political involvement; kickbacks and illegal contributions to the Liberal Party of Canada; agencies paying Liberal campaign workers; and a culture of entitlement among Liberal party officials. His report is clear. It is an indictment of criminal activity and wrongdoing.

The Liberal Party, which included the Prime Minister who was supposed to be guarding the public purse, was fully engaged in the Liberal ad scam. Why should Canadians believe that the Liberal Party's culture of corruption has ended if the Prime Minister will not even sue his own party for the money?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, that is a gross misrepresentation of the facts in Justice Gomery's report.

What Justice Gomery said about political parties and governance in Canada is:

There is no reason for the public’s confidence in the integrity of our democratic institutions to be shaken. (...) Canadians should not forget that the vast majority of our public officials and politicians do their work honestly, diligently and effectively, and emerge from this Inquiry free of any blame.

The Liberal Party of Canada is a great national institution that works hard to defend Canadian interests. The fact is that a small group of individuals did something wrong and they will be punished.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first articles on the sponsorship scandal appeared in the press as far back as December 1999. In 2000, the Bloc Québécois spoke out in its campaign platform against the somewhat dubious administration of the sponsorship program, even identifying some advertising firms involved in the scandal.

If the Prime Minister did not read the Bloc Québécois platform, he surely read the papers. How can the Prime Minister, who used to be vice-chair of the Treasury Board, explain that it never occurred to him that a thorough audit was required as far back as 2000?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all pertinent questions have been examined, asked, and asked again at the Gomery hearings. I myself testified before that commission. The one who knows most about the whole matter is Justice Gomery. He has made his report and we accept his findings.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, that ought not to prevent the Prime Minister from answering this question in the House.

Jean Chrétien said the following concerning the sponsorship program: “I had given the order to Treasury Board to carry out the necessary audits. They confirmed to me on several occasions that I had nothing to worry about.”

Does the Prime Minister confirm receiving such an order from Jean Chrétien and did he, as vice-chair of the Treasury Board, confirm to Mr. Chrétien that there was no problem, that everything was being done properly? Will he answer the question?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, all these questions, all these matters, were raised during the hearings with Justice Gomery. I myself testified, as did the former Prime Minister. Justice Gomery has the best knowledge of the matter, and has made his report. I accept his findings.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must realize that this question was never asked at the Gomery inquiry.

We are asking him today, as Prime Minister and former vice-chair of the Treasury Board, if he can confirm what Jean Chrétien said, that the ministers on the Treasury Board had assured Jean Chrétien on a number of occasions that there was no problem in the management of the sponsorships. Will the Prime Minister confirm this?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I think that the hon. member is now trying to take the place of the lawyers at the Gomery inquiry. All the pertinent questions were asked and all the pertinent answers were given. Justice Gomery made his report public yesterday. We accept the findings and the Bloc Québécois should do the same. Otherwise, is it not casting doubt on Justice Gomery's integrity?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, no one is questioning Justice Gomery's integrity. Nonetheless, the Prime Minister has responsibilities to the public.

The public watching us wants to know whether what Jean Chrétien said yesterday is true. Jean Chrétien said that the ministers on the Treasury Board—including the current Prime Minister and the former President of the Treasury Board—had assured him that everything was going well in the administration of the sponsorship program.

My question is for the Prime Minister. People want to know. Did the ministers say that to Jean Chrétien, yes or no?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am having a hard time accepting the Bloc Québécois members' indignation at Justice Gomery's findings because they go against the Bloc's claims. All last year, they did nothing but try to tarnish the reputation of the Prime Minister, the ministers of this government and certain hon. members. They should have the integrity to stand up and apologize for the smear campaign they engaged in last year.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the indignation from the government benches is, frankly, quite astounding. There clearly is no shame whatsoever.

Judge Gomery said that there was a culture of Liberal entitlement but the Prime Minister is carrying on with that exact same culture today. We see the appointment of political staffers as ambassadors, of Liberal bagmen as senators and we see lobbyists running for the Liberal Party.

Will the Prime Minister take some responsibility for having continued this culture that the judge--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important in this debate to accurately quote what was said by Mr. Justice Gomery.

He said that those who were involved in the sponsorship program suffered from a culture of entitlement, specifying a certain group of people.

The fact is that actions have been taken in those cases. One of the reasons that we commissioned the commission of inquiry headed by Mr. Justice Gomery was to make this open and transparent so that no culture of entitlement would exist.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the Prime Minister said is true. Judge Gomery did specify a certain group of people. He said that the Liberal Party of Canada was institutionally responsible for what happened.

The fact of the matter is that it is carrying on even today. We have cronyism in appointments. We have every kind of lobbyist on the go, in and out of the Liberal government and in and out of the PMO.

When will the Prime Minister take some responsibility for the fact that this culture continues in the Liberal Party today and stop being so congratulatory about it toward himself and his party?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, again, I simply ask the leader of the NDP, who has called for rational debate in the House, that when he stands up he should accurately quote from the transcript.

Mr. Justice Gomery did not say that it was the Liberal Party. He said that as an institution, it has a responsibility for certain people who were members of the party. We understand and accept that, which is why we have acted in that particular field.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period, the government tried to argue that the Liberal Party would cut a cheque for money that it thinks could be attributed to it. However, in our political system we do not get to decide our own penalty, unless, of course, we believe we are above the law.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the Liberal Party should be sued, unless he thinks the Liberal Party is, indeed, above the law?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been clear all along, as has the leadership of the Liberal Party, which is that if any funds were received inappropriately they would be repaid to the Canadian taxpayer.

That is exactly what has happened. The Liberal Party has paid in full any funds received as the result of the inappropriate behaviour of a small handful of people and those people will be punished.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if that is what the Prime Minister believes, I am sure Canadians would not mind hearing it from the Prime Minister himself.

The Prime Minister tried to say earlier in question period that those Liberals who engaged in this conduct will be held individually responsible. However Justice Gomery was clear when he said that the Liberal Party, as an institution, should be held responsible as well for those actions.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing, hold the Liberal Party responsible and sue it for the $45 million that still cannot be accounted for?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Leader of the Opposition said in an interview that he thought the figure might be $700,000. Yesterday some of his members were saying $5.4 million. Now he is saying $45 million.

Our analysis of Justice Gomery's report lead to a credible figure that has been repaid to the Canadian taxpayers. Our figure is based on the facts. The opposition's figure is based on vacuous partisanship. They are doing more to diminish the reputation of all political parties and all politicians through that irresponsible behaviour.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Conservative Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier, in a response to the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister said that he rejected the premise that the Liberal Party is responsible. In case he cares to follow along, I would like to accurately quote Justice Gomery on page 78 where he said:

The LPCQ [Liberal Party of Canada's Quebec wing] as an institution cannot escape responsibility for the misconduct of its officers and representatives.

The Prime Minister is the representative and is now the leader of the Liberal Party. As leader of the Liberal Party and former senior minister from Quebec, will the Prime Minister take responsibility--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, who appointed Justice Gomery to do the work, fully supported Justice Gomery during that work and accepts full responsibility for Justice Gomery's report. He has taken responsibility and has done the right thing. As leader of the Liberal Party he has disciplined individuals who were involved.

Once again opposition members are misrepresenting the truth. They continue to misrepresent what Justice Gomery said in his report. That may serve their short term partisan interests but it does not serve the people of Canada who deserve the truth from the House of Commons.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Conservative Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think they were listening. I am reading word for word from Justice Gomery on page 78 where he states:

The LPCQ [Liberal Party of Canada's Quebec wing] as an institution cannot escape responsibility for the misconduct of its officers and representatives.

That is you. Stand up and take responsibility--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saanich--Gulf Islands is an experienced member and I know he will want to address his remarks through the Chair.

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services is rising to respond.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister, the leader of the Liberal Party, has taken responsibility. The small handful of individuals who were involved in this affair have been disciplined, and we will continue to see action taken.

Beyond that, we as a government are suing 28 firms and individuals to recover $57 million for the Canadian taxpayer. There are criminal proceedings against some individuals. Justice is being served. We will ensure that both the Canadian taxpayer and the Canadian citizen get the justice they deserve because that is the right thing to do.