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House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, Liberal mismanagement has sprawled far beyond the sponsorship program. The recipe is the same, whether Shawinigate, the gun registry or Option Canada and its advertising: contracts to friends of the regime, with the Liberal Party getting a return on its investment.

It is all very well to do as the president of the Liberals' Quebec wing says, and hold one's nose, but that does not alter reality. Will the Prime Minister confirm that this is a tried and true old family recipe the Liberals use in a great variety of ways?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister has taken action on the sponsorship problems. The separatists ought to look closer to home, to such problems as Gaspésia and Oxygène 9, where millions of taxpayer dollars seem to have been mismanaged.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the start, this government has claimed that the sponsorship scandal is based on allegations. Yet the recent testimony by the Auditor General has shown a model of repeated Liberal mismanagement, the objective of which is to generously compensate friendly firms.

Will the minister at last admit that his government brings out that same old tried and true Liberal family recipe at every opportunity?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we have made significant and positive changes to our advertising practices since 2003 to ensure greater competitiveness, greater value for the Canadian taxpayer and greater openness and transparency. We are not just talking the talk like those members over there. We are walking the walk and making the changes that are important to Canadians to ensure better value for taxpayers and better services for Canadians.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, in connection with government advertising, the Auditor General has noted laxity and a flagrant lack of control. This led to the abuses of which we are well aware, untendered contracts awarded to Liberal friendly companies with kickbacks to the Liberal Party coffers. In short, that same old Liberal family recipe.

Since it is the task of the Treasury Board to keep an eye on the proper use of public funds, how can the Prime Minister, who was the vice president of the Treasury Board, justify his failure to react to all this when it was going on?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we have made important and substantive changes to strengthen our advertising program as a government.

While he refers to allegations, he should also recognize that there are allegations against his separatist cousins, the Parti Québécois in Quebec, allegations that it received funds inappropriately which impacted the Parti Québécois government in terms of contracts given.

Perhaps those members should have the courage that this Prime Minister has had and perhaps they should have their own inquiry into separatist activities in the province of Quebec.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Just a minute, Mr. Speaker. The minister keeps on talking of allegations, but it is written in the Auditor General's report that there was political interference that favoured Groupaction and BCP, two nice little Liberal friendly firms, in getting Liberal contracts. We know how that happened.

Why did the Prime Minister, who was vice president of the Treasury Board, allow use of the Liberal family recipe without reacting?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister was the finance minister who actually helped turn the finances of the country around and who helped deliver what was to become a record in the G-8 of eight consecutive balanced surplus budgets. We are proud of that record. Canadians are proud of the fiscal fortitude that this Prime Minister instilled in this government and in this country as finance minister.

Democratic ReformOral Question Period

May 17th, 2005 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Under the former minister for democratic reform there was nothing short of foot dragging and we have to really observe, as the member for Ottawa Centre has done, that it has to be considered deliberate.

However now we have a new Minister responsible for Democratic Reform and I would like to ask the government a question. What specific plans to fix our broken voting system does the government have in mind to bring forward with this new minister?

Democratic ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today we are having an example of the benefits of living in a federation with two orders of government where we can learn from each other and each other's experiments.

Today there is a vote in British Columbia on whether the population wishes to change the method by which it chooses its representatives. I believe the members in this House would be well advised to learn from that experiment as we find out tonight what the results are.

In the meantime, the federal government has been preparing and waiting for a report from a committee, a report that is due soon, and is as a result of a unanimous request from the House.

Democratic ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the principal lesson that will emerge from the election in B.C. is that a lot more people are voting NDP.

I also hope that the new minister will light a bit of a fire under the government when it comes to the issue of electoral reform because we have seen absolutely nothing so far.

The Prime Minister now has a new minister responsible for democratic reform, but the real question is whether he has a new attitude. Democratic reform requires more than words and must go beyond Parliament Hill.

What is the timeframe for true electoral reform?

Democratic ReformOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, last fall, all the members of this House unanimously asked a committee to propose a way of consulting Canadians on democratic reform and electoral reform. We are waiting for the committee's report.

In the meantime, the government has not stopped dealing with this issue. We have conducted an overview of the situation and consulted Canadians in many ways. Once we receive the committee report, the government will reveal its action plan in due time.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, Justice Gomery himself says that the Prime Minister's terms of reference prevent him from directly identifying any guilty party in the sponsorship scandal, but the Minister of Justice keeps saying the opposite in this House. This government likes to give the illusion that justice will be served, but it is clear that Justice Gomery's hands are tied.

Will the Minister of Justice admit that he is defining the Prime Minister's terms of reference in such a way as to prevent Justice Gomery from identifying any guilty party?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member is trying to tarnish the mandate of Justice Gomery because he is afraid that Justice Gomery will be more balanced in his consideration of these allegations than the opposition.

The fact is that clause k is part of almost any judicial inquiry. In fact, the provincial government of Mike Harris used clause k as part of the parameters of any judicial inquiry in that province.

This is not uncommon and, in fact, Justice Gomery is doing his work and he is doing it well. That is what the opposition does not like about what he is doing.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it looks like the minister may have finally read the terms of reference but the Liberals continue to mistakenly tell Canadians that Gomery can get to the bottom of Liberal corruption. I know they do not want to mislead Canadians, so let me help. The terms of reference the Prime Minister gave the judge include the following:

the Commissioner be directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion...regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization--

Will the Prime Minister commit to telling Canadians that Gomery's hands are tied instead of leaving them with the wrong impression that Gomery can actually do something about Liberal wrongdoing?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that Justice Gomery can do something because he is doing something and he is doing something very important. Part of his mandate involves fact finding. Part of his mandate involves providing prescriptives to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again.

Beyond that, we do have criminal proceedings against individuals and against firms, in fact some of their favourite witnesses over there are the subjects of some of those criminal charges.

Beyond that, we also have a financial recovery process and civil action against 19 firms and individuals to recover $41 million.

This is a government that is covering all the bases to do the right thing and to get to the truth for Canadians.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Justice denied all allegations by Liberal Party officials that Liberal political affiliation plays a key role in obtaining judicial appointments. This week he admits that the appointments process needs a review.

Why, however, does the minister refuse to turn this matter over to an independent body for review?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the nomination process begins with an application by a candidate. It is reviewed and evaluated by an independent committee. It is under the jurisdiction of an independent commissioner for judicial affairs. It goes in accordance with criteria of merit. I have said before and repeat again that this is an excellent, merit based process.

With respect to seeing whether we can improve the process, we are always open for improvement with respect to any matter that would be in the public interest.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians understand that this is a Liberal process, controlled by Liberals, for Liberals.

The Minister of Justice claims to have consulted and reviewed for the past year, but he has failed to institute any significant reform to the judicial appointments process. It remains a political process controlled by Liberals. When will the minister finally agree to an independent judicial appointments process that is transparent and public?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there is an independent process that was actually introduced by the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Mulroney.We regard that process as being an excellent process in principle. If it can be improved in practice, we will do it, but the attempt to politicize it, to undermine the independence of this process and to impugn the reputation of candidates nominated, that, in my view, is undermining the independence and the rule of law in this country.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General said that the BCP advertising agency should not have obtained a $65 million contract from Tourism Canada and that, clearly, Tourism Canada split the program in two and no competition was held.

Given the Auditor General's testimony, will the Prime Minister agree that the Liberal approach is not limited solely to the sponsorships but extends to advertising as well, where the budgets are three times as high?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again, we have made significant and important changes to our advertising program as a government. In fact, it is resulting in greater competition and, beyond that, greater value for the taxpayer and better services for Canadians. That is what it is all about: providing better value for taxpayers, better services for Canadians and respecting every hard-earned tax dollar that we receive as a government.

We are walking the walk. We are not just talking empty rhetoric like they are on the other side. We are making significant progress in doing the right thing on behalf of Canadians.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a case of too little, too late. The Auditor General went on to say that just because a firm comes second in a competition does not mean it is first in line for the next contract.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the Auditor General's statements are extremely serious and that they confirm that the old Liberal recipe is the best way to get around any competition process?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let me talk about the Liberal recipe for competitive processes. In fact, we have increased the number of suppliers. We have changed the hourly rate of remuneration. We have a new agency of record. We use fairness monitors on most of our procurement practices to ensure that the best practices are in fact followed. We have changed the rules relative to Canadian content. We post all our advertising contracts.

We are doing the right thing. Canadians know that these are the kinds of actions that will make a real difference in terms of getting better value for the Canadian taxpayer and a more open, competitive, transparent process.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite complaints filed by Department of Justice officials about the communications firm under contract to the department, Groupaction retained its contract, benefiting from postponed calls for tender or the monthly renewal of its contract on a long-term basis.

Does the Auditor General's finding not confirm the testimony of Jean Brault before the Gomery commission that he had to pay $50,000 to Joe Morselli, the Liberal Party fundraiser, in order to keep his contract with the Department of Justice?