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House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cmhc.

Topics

Canadian Forces DayStatements By Members

June 3rd, 2005 / 11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a former soldier and the official opposition critic for national defence, I am pleased to rise in the House today to commemorate Canadian Forces Day.

Serving one's country in the military is both the highest honour and the most profound duty. It demonstrates an individual's willingness to assume the most demanding and dangerous obligations of citizenship and creates a debt of gratitude owed by the society they fight to protect.

One day of tribute seems hardly enough to reflect and pay respect to the work done on behalf of Canadians by our military in Canada and abroad. I encourage my constituents and all Canadians to take time to recognize the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform every day.

I would like to personally thank all members of the Canadian Forces for their exemplary service.

AudiotapesStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Mr. Speaker, yesterday senior Conservatives tossed about allegations based on bogus tapes that were released by a member of the party under a cloud of suspicion. They said that the tapes were “pristine” despite the fact that several experts had already questioned their authenticity.

Let me tell the House about those tapes. Several independent experts, including John Dooher, a forensic audio engineer hired by CBC News, have confirmed that the tapes have been tampered with.

After question period they admitted that, “I haven't heard the tapes. I haven't seen the tapes”. See no evil, hear no evil.

Why did members opposite not call for the authentication of the tapes before passing judgment? Instead, after making allegations, we get this statement from the Conservatives:

“It is not up to me to determine the authenticity of the tape.” Here we have one more Conservative rushing to give an opinion on evidence that is, in fact, not evidence at all. Does this remind you of anything?

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, from one end of highway 138 to the other, people were out on May 7 and 8 to express their displeasure with the federal government's handling of the employment insurance program.

In Montérégie, the people of Huntingdon blocked highway 138, to make their demands clear, one of which was reinstatement of POWA, the program for older worker adjustment.

More than 800 workers there have recently lost their jobs, and a quarter of these are 55 years of age or older.

In La Malbaie, another 150 demonstrators blocked their section of the highway to protest the status quo in EI. They were angered by the lies told by the Liberals during the last election campaign.

The unemployed have had enough of false promises. The Bloc Québécois supports them and calls upon the government to reinstate POWA and to remedy the shortcomings in the EI program so that it provides the unemployed with proper assistance.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern in the Prime Minister's parliamentarian purchase plan. First, develop plausible deniability by trying to insulate the directions of the Prime Minister. Second, when caught on tape, deny, deflect and divert attention to some tampered tape excuse.

We saw with ad scam no responsibility in the Liberal government, just rogue bureaucrats.

The Prime Minister's chief of staff and his Minister of Health are caught red-handed acting as agents trying to buy Tory votes to save a corrupt government.

Is the real reason the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister's chief of staff remain that they were simply acting on the Prime Minister's instructions to do whatever was necessary to save his corrupt government?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I honestly wish the official opposition would stop making these wild accusations and allegations without evidence that call into disrepute, not only their actions, but the responsibilities of all of us as ministers and members of Parliament in this House.

I think if there is any pattern here, it is a pattern being established by the official opposition. Yesterday afternoon the deputy leader said, “It is my understanding that those tapes are pristine. They haven't been altered, edited, nothing of the nature”.

We have the member for Calgary Southeast referring to four hours of discussions.

We have not seen four hours of tapes. They are--

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Central Nova.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is on the tape what matters. That is what is in question here.

There is a bad smell emanating from the government's sordid attempts to buy votes, including attempting to get the Ethics Commissioner to take the cloud off an investigation and suggestions as to an RCMP investigation.

Tim Murphy's crass assertions hurt the office of the Ethics Commissioner. The commissioner himself said, “The cloud is over the person who makes the suggestion, not the office”.

Any complaints about his office being bandied about in these negotiations are wrong.

Why has the “let's make a deal Prime Minister” not fired his chief of staff for even attempting to manipulate an officer of Parliament?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalMinister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament, chosen by all parties of this House. He himself will make his own determination in this matter.

He also said that he had not been approached by Mr. Murphy.

If any member has any information, such as the two hours of missing tapes, apparently, that can be provided to the Ethics Commissioner, we would ask the members opposite to do so.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, even a senior Liberal member of Parliament is calling for the Minister of Health and the chief of staff to step down until an investigation into the vote buying takes place.

The member for Sarnia—Lambton says, “The situation is totally odious and it makes his skin crawl”. Another senior member says, “The bar is so low...”, probably lower than his mentor, Jean Chrétien.

The Prime Minister promised to bolster trust by ensuring Canadians know, “That it is always the public interest that motivates the public business”.

Why did the Prime Minister let the bar drop so low by allowing his personal ambition to pervert the public interest? What shoddy ethics from the highest office--

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was absolutely clear. When it came to his attention that a member of the official opposition might be interested in crossing the floor, the Prime Minister made it absolutely plain that no offer was to be made to that individual. It is that simple.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is absolutely clear is the level and depth of corruption in the government. The self-proclaimed wire brush of ethics was going to restore integrity to Parliament. That is a joke.

Instead, the Prime Minister's own caucus has this to say about his ethics:

The bar is so low now.... Have you ever seen anything like this?

Everybody gets away with stuff. It's just a joke.

Will the Prime Minister take the first step in restoring integrity to Parliament by doing the right thing and demanding that his health minister and chief of staff step down?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if we want to throw quotes around in this House, let us see what the member for Edmonton—St. Albert had to say about the conduct of the member for Newton—North Delta.

I don't think that one-sided taping of conversations is something that we should brag about or be doing on an ongoing basis.

He said that he would not do it. Or let us quote from the member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, where he says:

"I don't think it helps the atmosphere of a minority Parliament...to be secretly taping conversations.

There are lots of quotes.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeHouse Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today we learned from Hardev Bal and Kushpal Gill that as early as April 30 the Prime Minister was trolling to bring the member for Newton—North Delta across the floor to save his government.

Tapes now prove that both the Prime Minister's chief of staff and the Minister of Health were the Prime Minister's agents in this sordid vote-buying scheme. Neither Mr. Murphy nor the Minister of Health have been asked to step aside by the Prime Minister. Is this not because the Prime Minister was ultimately micromanaging this vote-buying scheme?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would advise the hon. member to be very careful about the allegations that he is throwing around. He has just referred to two individuals as the agents of the Prime Minister. That is a legal conclusion and it is another example of how those members do not have the guts to go outside and make that claim, but they come in here and are willing to destroy the reputations of innocent people and the offices they hold.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this secret taping affair, we hear rumblings, even from within the Liberal caucus, suggesting that the government needs to put its own house in order and suspend the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister's chief of staff while this case is being reviewed by the RCMP.

Will the Prime Minister listen to his own members and do the only honourable thing in this situation, which is to suspend his Minister of Health and his chief of staff while this case is being reviewed?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, there seem to be lots of allegations flying around. It is my understanding that the RCMP is reviewing this matter. The RCMP will determine what action, if any, it thinks is appropriate.

At this point we all need to stand back a little and stop throwing these allegations around that can impugn the character, integrity and reputation of individuals. I suggest that we simply let the Royal Canadian Mounted Police review the situation and determine the appropriate course of action.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton finds the references to Senate and ambassadorial appointments, which we can hear on the tapes, to be “totally odious”.

Will the Prime Minister face the facts and does he intend to make his chief of staff and his health minister step down immediately, as the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton asks?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, again there is a reference to tapes. We have seen that there are serious and troubling assertions and issues around the tapes. It is my understanding that, unlike that which was said by the deputy leader of the official opposition that the tapes were pristine and turned over in an unaltered fashion, I gather now that is not the case. I gather that the members of the official opposition in fact themselves have indicated that the tapes that are public were not pristine.

I think we should all step back a little and wait to see what the RCMP's review--

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Drummond.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, another Liberal MP, who was reporting comments made by his constituents, said, “What people are telling me is that as long as the matter is not cleared up, everyone should step down”.

In light of such clear demands, not only from members, but also from the public, what is the Prime Minister waiting for to order the suspension of his chief of staff and his health minister?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, I think there are way too many allegations being thrown around here. The RCMP, as I understand it, is reviewing the matter. I understand the Bloc itself made a complaint to the RCMP, at least that is what was reported in the media. The RCMP is reviewing the situation and it will decide what action in its opinion it believes to be appropriate.

We should all, as I say, let cooler heads prevail. Members should understand that with these unsubstantiated allegations in relation to people and the offices they hold, all we do is call into question the integrity of the House of Commons.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the government has nothing to hide, as it claims, then why is it handling the situation with the health minister and the Prime Minister's chief of staff any differently than the situation in the past when the former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the chief of staff of the Minister of Canadian Heritage stepped down while investigations were ongoing?

What is the government waiting for to take action?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, there are way too many allegations being thrown around here. Based on a previous experience involving the member for York West, we saw that throwing these unsubstantiated allegations around can be very hurtful of innocent people's reputations. It can also be incredibly hurtful to the stature in which Canadians hold this House. Therefore, I would ask everyone to await the RCMP's review of this matter.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence concerning his testimony this week before the Arar inquiry. I ask because the government needs to take some responsibility. The member for Halifax consistently raised Syria's record of torture in this House and elsewhere.

Presumably the minister knew of Syria's appalling record on human rights. He was, after all, the chair of the foreign affairs committee. How could he not know a Canadian citizen deported to Syria would be at risk for torture? How could he not have known that?