This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ethanol.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence claimed “operational security” as grounds justifying his refusal to tell Canadians and Parliament the truth.

But if operational security justified the policy change, then why did this government refuse to tell our NATO partners, our “operational” partners? After all, they have the right to know.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, the premise of the question is false. It is not true that Canada did not communicate with NATO. We have always communicated with NATO.

The deputy leader likes to wonder why we do not communicate on operational detail. It is because, and it should not come as surprise to him, the Taliban actually monitor the media. They might also be interested to know that he said, “...defeating terror requires violence. It may also require coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights”. That is what the deputy leader of the Liberal Party had to say to his favourite publication, The New York Times.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the request of the Prime Minister's Office, Dimitri Soudas, the Prime Minister's press secretary and advisor on Quebec issues, put pressure on the chief of staff of unelected Public Works minister Michael Fortier to find an amicable solution to the conflict involving Michael Rosenberg, President of the Rosdev Group, a key Conservative ally.

Does the Prime Minister, who was elected on a platform of transparency and ethics, realize that the Conservatives are now behaving exactly like the previous government, with their interference and cronyism? Is that what they consider ethics?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. This happened a year and a half ago and the company received no advantages or special treatment from this government.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is telling us that it did not work, so it is okay. That is what he is telling us.

Conservative Senator Nolin said that it was rather unusual for a government. It is public knowledge that the Prime Minister likes to control everything. And his press secretary confirmed that he spoke to Public Works on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Will the Prime Minister admit that there was political interference in favour of a party ally and that it was all directed by his own office?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, it is quite the opposite. It is very odd that the Bloc Québécois would complain that a business owner received no special treatment from this government.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not all. There is also Leo Housakos, a major Conservative fundraiser in Quebec, who was recently appointed to VIA Rail by the government, and who was put to work and met with the Minister of Public Works' chief of staff, to push for Rosdev.

Does the Prime Minister, whose obsession for total control is well known, wants us to believe that he personally did not hear anything about this meeting between Housakos and the Minister of Public Works' chief of staff regarding Rosdev, particularly from his own press secretary—

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is very simple: at no time did we ask the senior officials of a department to change their strategy regarding the management of this issue. At no time did we pressure them to change their strategy.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister cannot ignore this issue and plead ignorance regarding the representations made by Housakos, and he cannot claim that this individual was a complete stranger, since it is his government that appointed him to VIA Rail.

In this context, will the Prime Minister tell us whether he ever met with M. Housakos at 24 Sussex Drive, his official residence?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc member mentioned the names of two individuals of Greek origin, namely one employee who works here in Ottawa, and another who is a Conservative Party supporter, in Montreal. The fact that there are two Montrealers of Greek origin does not mean there is a plot.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot hear myself think with the hooting and hollering that is going on. I hope that you will allow me to--

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Yes, I quite agree with the hon. member. There does seem to be a lot of noise today in the House. It is Wednesday, but we can perhaps start the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth again so he does not lose time, given all the noise.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, revelations of the Federal Court case challenging the Afghanistan detainee agreement reveal a high level of coordination with most of the senior officials in Kandahar. It was stated in court that every senior minister travelling in the war zone must meet with the governor of the province.

Can the Prime Minister tell us when he last met with the governor, Asadullah Khalid, and was there any progress made at that meeting in ensuring that Afghan prisons under the governor's control are secure and torture free?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my recollection is that I met the governor on my first visit to Afghanistan in March 2006. This was not a question of controversy at the time. I do not believe I have met him since, but I can check my records.

The Minister of National Defence tells me he has met recently with the governor and has discussed these issues.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said that he had not spoken to General Hillier about the detainees. Now we cannot get straight-up information. I hope we will get it in a statement in the House in the near future, because what we have here is a culture of secrecy and it has to stop.

In 2005 an Afghan prisoner died in Canadian custody. It was not deemed a matter of national security when the information was revealed in 2007, but since then, every other request has been returned with reams of blank pages marked “secret”.

Did the Prime Minister give the order to stop the transfer and the making available of detainee information, or is he going to pass the buck to the Canadian military again?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP has never been in government. Had he been in government he would know that government lawyers administer the Access to Information Act. They determine what sections can and cannot be released. Based on the terms of that act, that is not discussed with the government. The government has nothing to do with those decisions.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

First, Mr. Speaker, I find it degrading for a Prime Minister to make racially charged comments as he did, because we are talking about two individuals of Greek origin here. That is unacceptable on the part of a prime minister.

I have two questions. Could the Prime Minister tell us under which section of the Federal Accountability Act members of his own office and defeated candidates for his party are allowed to act as lobbyists without having to register? Could he also tell us which ethics rule he has taken out of the code for his press secretary, his right hand, Dimitri Soudas, to hear representations—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Quite simply, Mr. Speaker, no favourable treatment was accorded and no special favours were handed out to the interested parties. Mr. Soudas indicated yesterday that he only looked into this issue to follow up on a question from a Montreal municipal councillor.

Only the Liberals could find it outrageous for a staff member looking into an issue not to give special treatment.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that there is a settling of scores of sorts going on between Léo Housakos and Michael Fortier, who ran against each other in the riding of Laval West in the 2000 election. This explains why Mr. Housakos needed his trusted friend Dimitri to relay to him messages from non-elected member Michael Fortier.

As we know, the Prime Minister's Office is running the show. The problem is that Mr. Housakos was rewarded for his services to the Conservative Party, which, incidentally, raised funds for Mario Dumont, when the Prime Minister recently appointed him to VIA Rail.

When was the Prime Minister apprised of this issue, and what kind of ties does he intend to maintain where Dimitri Soudas and Léo Housakos are concerned?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member had much to say, but the facts remain the same: no special favours were handed out to any of the interested parties.

I understand how the Liberal Party can think that this is outrageous, a feeling shared by the member for Bourassa I believe. There is no scandal, however, but rather behaviour we can be proud of.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, for once the ethics committee has investigated an unregistered arms lobbyist who got privileged access to the Mulroney Conservative government. It looks like nothing has changed.

Today we learned a Conservative Party bagman and unregistered lobbyist was secretly meeting with PMO staff unbelievably to lobby for the same company Karlheinz Schreiber had shilled for, breaking all the rules for the enrichment of the Conservative Party all over again.

The Prime Minister had to be forced to act in the Mulroney-Schreiber affair. Is this why? Is this just business as usual for a Conservative PMO?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, every time I hear a question from that member, I think I am reading the fiction section of the library. Once again he is engaging in fantasies.

No such lobbying took place in the Prime Minister's Office. That fact is clear and simple, and I do not know why he thinks otherwise.