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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

Maher Arar InquiryOral 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 we have said before in the House, we do not comment on the daily testimony that is being put into evidence before a public inquiry. Regarding the Arar inquiry, Mr. Justice O'Connor was put in place to determine the facts around the conduct of Canadian officials in relation to Mr. Arar's deportation to Syria and his treatment while in Syria. That is his mandate. He is independent. We in the House do not comment on daily testimony.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question was for the minister who gave his own testimony. Surely he is able to comment on what he said and take responsibility for it. The question is, how could he not have known about Syria's appalling record about torture? To fall back on the idea that somehow his staff did not tell him is a total cop-out.

I ask the minister again, how could he not have known what might happen to a Canadian citizen deported to Syria and that he would face the risk of torture? Surely the minister can account for and be responsible for and have the government be responsible for the travesty of this affair concerning Maher Arar.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of commenting on the evidence before the Arar inquiry. However, I have to tell the members of the House that I resent very much the allegations regarding members of our civil service. They worked their hearts out to do their best for Mr. Arar. They work around the clock in very difficult circumstances, and are doing their best for the people of Canada. They gave me the best advice they could, and we worked as hard as we could to get Mr. Arar released.

Believe me, I think we can be proud of the actions of our civil servants. We can recognize that we might have done better and we can learn from our mistakes, and we will from the inquiry, but let us not denigrate the work that was done which successfully got Mr. Arar out--

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Member for Newton--North DeltaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister claimed there was no intention on the part of the Prime Minister to offer anything to any member who would consider crossing the floor to join the government. Yet the words spoken by the Prime Minister's chief of staff and the health minister indicate the exact opposite. It was wink, wink, nudge, nudge, sort of like Monty Python's flying circus but far more sinister.

Is there anyone on that side of the House who can provide a single shred of evidence that contradicts the evidence on the audiotapes that Liberals are prepared to do anything to maintain power?

Member for Newton--North DeltaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I will simply say again that the Prime Minister was absolutely clear that no offer was to be made to anyone. But let me suggest that when talking about people who are willing to do anything, it does seem passing strange to me that we have this situation where yesterday the deputy leader of the official opposition was talking about pristine tapes, unaltered and so on, and then a few hours later the very same party said that the tapes were altered.

Member for Newton--North DeltaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know that the chief of staff and the health minister met and talked numerous times with the member for Newton—North Delta. There are two possible explanations: either the chief of staff and the health minister have too much time on their hands, or they are addicted to meetings. There is no other explanation for all those meetings between the Minister of Health and the chief of staff, especially after the Prime Minister ordered them not to make any offers.

How many meetings do Liberals have to have before they can say no?

Member for Newton--North DeltaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I think the problem here is that the member for Newton--North Delta would not take no for an answer.

Federal-Provincial RelationsOral Question Period

June 3rd, 2005 / 11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the 1996 Speech from the Throne, in response to the Quebec referendum, the Liberal government made the following commitment:

The Government will not use its spending power to create new shared-cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction without the consent of a majority of the provinces. Any new program will be designed so that non-participating provinces will be compensated, provided they establish equivalent or comparable initiatives.

Does the government continue to stand by its 1996 throne speech commitment on the right to opt out with full compensation?

Federal-Provincial RelationsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we went beyond that. We have now the social network agreements that give the government the obligation to work with the provinces and to have the support of the majority of them before coming out with new social initiatives in provincial jurisdictions.

Social DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has invested billions of dollars in a child care program. This program encroaches on provincial jurisdictions. Yet the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs remains silent on this issue. The provinces have spoken: they want to have a choice. However, the Minister of Social Development refuses to acknowledge that demand.

When will the minister finally listen, and respect the rights of the provinces?

Social DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden LiberalMinister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we have been involved in discussions and negotiations with all the provinces and with all the territories. We have come to an agreement with five different provinces: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. We are in discussions with the other provinces and with the other territories. The provinces and the territories have engaged in these discussions with great interest and great delight, because the amount of money that is involved in an area of great priority to them would represent a 40% increase on what all--

Social DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Charlesbourg--Haute-Saint-Charles.

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's chief of staff is intimating that he could put pressure on the Ethics Commissioner to hurry up an inquiry report on the Conservative member for Newton—North Delta.

How is it the Prime Minister is still hesitating about suspending his chief of staff who, according to the tapes, indicated his intention to influence the ethics commissioner?

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalMinister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, first, the Ethics Commissioner is an officer of the House. He is completely independent. He is chosen by all parties in this House. He alone will decide on this matter, since it has been brought to his attention, I believe.

Second, the commissioner himself acknowledged that Mr. Murphy had not spoken to him on this matter.

Third, when tapes that have been altered, reduced from four hours to two hours in length, are used as evidence, considerable caution must be exercised in making statements of the type made by the member opposite.

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, the commissioner himself has described the remarks of the Prime Minister's chief of staff as unacceptable. He also said that if there are any clouds hanging over anyone they are over the person making the suggestion, Tim Murphy, and not over the office of the Ethics Commissioner.

In the light of such a blatant allusion to political interference, does the Prime Minister not feel his chief of staff should withdraw immediately?

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalMinister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner said “if there are any clouds”. I believe the hon. member opposite would do very well to follow this matter.

Judgments cannot be made based on recordings that have been altered. That is recognized now. They were reduced in length from four hours to two hours. I therefore think that the Ethics Commissioner, this House's independent officer, should be permitted to decide for himself, as he is empowered and is intending to do.

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the tape, we can hear the member for Newton—North Delta say, “If we have something then we don’t need to lie to the media. We can tell them that OK, if we do something out of encouragement and conviction, then you have to have something for that. Some reward or whatever”. To which the Prime Minister's chief of staff replied, “Right”.

If that is not indicative of a desire to buy a member's vote, what is it?

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, first of all I go back to the fact that we need to be very careful in terms of the allegations that we throw around in this place.

Yesterday we had an assertion that the tapes that are in the public domain were pristine or unaltered. A few hours after that statement was made, we discovered that this was not the case. I think we need to be very, very careful here in terms of the kinds of allegations that are being made and the basis on which they are being made.

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Health is challenging the quality of the translation of his remarks from Punjabi, I will read an excerpt from what the Prime Minister's chief of staff said, and he said it in English. He said, “I think it is important that we are honest about it. But [we] also think that those people who take risk are ought to be rewarded for the risk they take”.

If that does not hold the promise of an offer, what did it mean?

Member for Newton—North DeltaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Again, Mr. Speaker, let me be absolutely clear. The Prime Minister said that no offers were to be made and that is as simple as the matter is, but let me say that I think we in fact come back to a very basic proposition here, which is that the hon. member for Newton—North Delta was simply not willing to take no for an answer.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers paid millions of dollars in rent for an empty building owned by the company of a Liberal senator. In committee hearings over this Liberal rent for nothing scandal, the public works minister admitted that his Liberal caucus colleague broke the law. I asked the minister, “You learned that he was contravening section 14 of the Parliament of Canada Act from me in question period?” The minister's reply, “That's correct”.

Liberals wasted money and broke the law. When will they stop paying the rent?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, if I could go over the sequence of events, the building in question was first started in May 2001. By the way, in December 2001 the contract was awarded. It was an irrevocable offer to lease. The document was signed. A fairness monitor, KPMG, was involved in the whole process and the building was done on time and on budget.

The situation with the departments moving in is that they were merging and it took a little time to merge those departments. There were 1,000 people involved in the move.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 17 the minister's lawyer wrote the senator's company threatening to cut off the rent by the end of May because of this violation, but after a mysterious phone call, the minister's department granted the Liberal senator another month's rent worth half a million dollars. That is a half a million dollar phone call.

What happened during this secret phone call? What dirty deal was cut to give the Liberal senator's company another half a million dollars?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let me reiterate. The contract was signed in 2001, an irrevocable offer to lease legal document. Let me also reinforce the fact that yes, when the Minister of Public Works heard about the situation, he acted immediately. He has referred it not only to the company but to the individual involved.

The Minister of Public Works should be complimented. On hearing of this, he immediately took action. That is what the minister does. He takes action.