Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to have a chance to follow up on a couple of questions that I asked this week in the House.
I asked questions on successive days about the extravagant use of limousines by the Minister of Canadian Heritage while at the Juno's last year in Halifax. I received no answer on two key fronts.
There are a whole host of questions, but two key questions were never answered. Number one: Does the government consider it an extravagant use of taxpayers' money? Number two: Why were Treasury Board guidelines broken when these expenses were not posted on the website as required?
Last year Halifax was delighted to host the Juno's. In fact, Nova Scotia is one of the cultural capitals of Canada. We were delighted to have the Juno's for a number of reasons, one of which was the economic boom that it brought to Halifax. Taxpayers, however, were not aware of the extent to which the heritage minister contributed to that economic boom by the use of taxpayers' dollars.
I have the bill for the limo services that were used by the minister while she was in Halifax. It is interesting to note that she arrived on March 31 and left on April 3. On March 31, two different limousines were required. In fact, one was a mini-van and one was a limo. Apparently the mini-van was not good enough and the limo was requested. It took two orders to get her into the Delta Barrington.
Later that day she had another limo from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for three hours. That evening she required a stretch limo from 4:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. It was on standby, meaning it was not even used. It was just sitting there being charged to taxpayers while she was doing other stuff, some of which could have been business, some of which could have been personal.
On April 1 a sedan limo from 9:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. was used for seven hours. Most of that time the limo was on standby. Later that evening, a stretch limo was required from 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m., with a half hour break, and then another limo from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. That was hospitality night, and the minister should go to some of those.
The hotel the minister stayed at, the Delta Barrington, is exactly one-tenth of one kilometre from where the Juno's took place. The hospitalities were all in the same general area as well. The Economy Shoe Shop is a great place and one that I would recommend to many members for the artichoke dip. It is a great spot. It is where CTV had the big bash. Did the minister really need 7.5 hours of stretch limo on standby while she was inside the Economy Shoe Shop, which is less than one-tenth of one kilometre from the Metro Centre? The Metro Centre and the hotel also happen to be connected by pedway and underground tunnel. It seems a little excessive.
The next day she used a stretch limo. The day after the Juno's it says here that a stretch limo was on standby from 12 noon until 5:30 p.m. That evening, two sedan limos were required for standby for the red carpet walk event. So even when she walked, she needed limousines. It boggles the mind. After the Juno's a stretch limo was required from 11:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. The next morning a stretch limo took her out to the airport.
The total bill for limousines for the approximately three days that the heritage minister was in Halifax was $5,475, of which she repaid $2,000, leaving $1,000 a day for stretch limos to the taxpayer.
I notice the parliamentary secretary here. He is not the guilty party. He is probably as disgusted by this as I am. He is most likely armed with all kinds of notes about the wonderful things that the minister has done for arts and culture. It is a mirage, all these cuts that the rest of Canada knows about.
I would give him three of his four minutes to give us that stuff. That is fine. I would ask him to take one minute to answer two simple questions. Is $1,000 a day for a limousine reasonable? Why did the minister break Treasury Board guidelines, try to hide her expenses, and not post them on the website?