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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the budget speech is being prepared within my office. It is not quite ready, but I will be pleased to let the member know soon when we will have the opportunity to use the budget speech.

The work was done by Mr. MacPhie and his company. All of the documents were produced. They have been available for examination by all hon. members. Members can have a look at them for themselves. Hon. members can decide on the reasonableness.

This work was done over several months with respect to policy and communications, and there was value for money.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, he misses the point. Why does he not apologize for breaking the rules?

An ugly pattern is emerging. First, he breaks the contracting rules without saying he is sorry. Now we see 101 finance contracts, just a tad below the $25,000 limit for sole sourcing.

Does the Prime Minister want to force an early election before all this dirt that is oozing out of the finance department escalates into a mother of all mudslides?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is good to see this afternoon that the member for Markham—Unionville has slithered out from under his rock once again.

Most of the contracts to which reference is made, and I make the point most of the contracts to which the hon. member refers, were routine departmental contracts in the Department of Finance for photocopying and other services delivered to the Department of Finance. All of it is publicly available for examination.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the dirt keeps on oozing because in order to get untendered communications contracts from the Conservative government, one clearly needs to be a buddy of the finance minister.

There was one untendered contract worth $122,000 from the finance minister and two other untendered contracts from Industry Canada, all given to Hugh MacPhie. Who is he? A former Mike Harris operative. There was another sole source contract to the vice president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

How many untendered goodies has the finance minister given to his former Mike Harris cronies?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the contracts were awarded in conformity with Treasury Board requirements. The department had two contracts with MacPhie & Company for work completed in 2007. The total invoice for these two contracts was $19,575.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, we need an apology because it shows that MacPhie's Industry Canada contracts were to describe the government's strategy on science and technology. That could not have been too much work because if we look at the recent firings and gag orders, one does not have to really believe that the government actually believes in scientific expertise.

The government actually fired Canada's chief science adviser. Will the President of the Treasury Board explain why government rules are being violated, all in an effort to pocket the books of the finance minister's cronies?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, to be perfectly clear, no rules were violated.

As fas as Dr. Carty is concerned, he announced that he would be retiring effective March 2008 as science adviser. The government has been supportive of a motion brought before the industry committee. We will be having Mr. Carty before our committee to answer all questions and we await his appearance.

Public WorksOral Questions

February 11th, 2008 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance awarded an untendered $122,000 contract to a friend to write a speech. The unelected Minister of Public Works, Michael Fortier, awarded a $875,000 contract for the installation of a security fence in Montebello, again without obtaining bids. This clearly contravenes Public Works rules that require the use of the tendering process.

How can the government allow its unelected minister to contravene this rule with impunity?

Public WorksOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. A contract was awarded to Matériaux Bonhomme Ltée of Gatineau, Quebec, for the installation of a fence to secure the perimeter of Chateau Montebello during the Summit of the Americas. For technical reasons, the RCMP decided that it was the only type of fencing that could meet their needs.

We did our job to provide security and we will do so in future. That is our approach.

Public WorksOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is justifying this expense, at four times the market rate, on the basis that the event was to take place shortly. Yet, they knew for months that the summit would be held in Montebello.

Why does the government hide behind this false pretext to justify its contravention of the basic rule of tendering?

Public WorksOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, the rules were followed. The RCMP required the security fence in a timely manner. We did our job. We provided the proper security fence and that is exactly what was required by the RCMP. Rules were followed, the fence was provided, and the summit went forward in a secure manner, just exactly as was required.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has said that he will release information about the transfer of detainees when transfers are once again taking place and when an operational decision concerning this matter has been made.

It would appear that the transfer of detainees is not yet taking place, so will the minister tell us what he is doing with them in the meantime? Where are they?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the member is misinformed. I never said that it was the government's decision to make. This is clearly an operational decision. As I said again this weekend, if a decision were to be made about resuming the transfer of detainees or increasing the number of detainees transferred by military personnel, it would be a decision, an announcement or an operational call made by senior officers and leaders on the ground in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us that he was not involved in building prisons. If he is not involved in building or running prisons, then surely we should ask ourselves where are we putting detainees and what are we doing with them?

Are we subcontracting them to the United States or Great Britain? What are we doing with them? It is high time the government answered these questions. We have been asking about this for weeks now. We would like a clear answer for once.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said last week, we have an agreement in place. The armed forces are responsible for implementing the agreement on the ground at their discretion.

That being said, we are proud of this agreement. Few NATO countries have an agreement as good as ours. It is in place and it is working very well.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parade of untendered contracts and waste by the government continues. On the weekend we learned the government overpaid $600,000 for a fence in Montebello. With yet another untendered contract, taxpayers were left on the hook paying four times what the project should have cost. This was a 24 hour fence that cost $875,000. Now that may only be half the cost of a Conservative budget speech, but to everyone else, it is outrageous waste.

Who is being held accountable for this mess?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, as it was once so well put, this is not fair. The security fence was required by the RCMP. It was required to have a secure summit. The contract was given to a firm that could provide the only fence that the RCMP said was required for this operation. The fence was provided, the summit went forward, and there were no security concerns. This was a success in terms of security.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, a summit with the presidents of the United States and Mexico does not happen on a whim. It is planned months in advance. George Bush does not just show up even for his good pal, Steve.

Certainly there was more than enough time to find a 24 hour fence that was not $600,000 over price. Accountability is not just words one pays someone $100,000 to write a speech, it is about actions taken every day. Day in and day out the government substitutes action for rhetoric, accountability for blame.

I ask again, will the minister hold someone to account, yes or no?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I will take the word of the RCMP on Canada's security needs over that of the member for Ajax—Pickering. The RCMP said it needed this fence. It needed it in a timeframe that it provided to this government. We provided the fence. The summit went forward in a secure manner and the job was done by this government.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would remind the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering that he would want to be very careful not to refer to other hon. members by name if that is what was happening there.

The hon. member for York West.

Municipal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, late Friday afternoon the Conservative government finally admitted that while the Minister of the Environment was in Bali, he instructed his chief of staff to call the head of the OPP anti-racket squad. He called not once, but twice, and the calls were made on the day after the OPP confirmed it was transferring this file to the RCMP. What an odd coincidence.

Why did the minister not just issue his own press release if he was so desperate for clarification?

Municipal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 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, I know the Liberals do not like it when the police clear Conservative politicians of any wrongdoing because they cannot get them to clear them of any wrongdoing in the case of the sponsorship scandal.

However, they should stop casting aspersions on the police. The OPP, which I need not remind the House is not a federal agency, issued a news release on December 14. The chief said that the Ontario Provincial Police investigation of and subsequent charges against an elected Ottawa official, who was municipal, was not influenced in any way by federal officials. Commissioner Julian Fantino said today, “The OPP does not permit the media or politics to influence how it undertakes investigations”.

I know the Liberal Party does not operate that way but that is how the OPP operates.

Municipal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue. Charges have been laid as a result of this bribery investigation concerning a federal appointment.

The minister has been interviewed twice by the Ontario Provincial Police and will be called to testify in a criminal trial. Confidential informants are waiting to tell more.

OPP evidence suggests that the minister as well as other Conservatives have played a role here. Will the Prime Minister call in the RCMP now to investigate this attempted cover-up?

Municipal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 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, there is one thing the hon. member said that is right: This is a very serious matter. We have a situation where there are charges, a police investigation and a statement by the police clearing individuals who that party continues to smear in public.

The Liberals should accept the word of the police and accept that there is no wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of the government. The leader of the Liberals should get control of his party and stop spending time in the gutter the way they seem to like to do.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years, our government has given close to $190 billion in tax relief to hard-working Canadians.

We delivered on our promise to cut the GST from 7% to 5% and unemployment is at its lowest level in over three decades.

As we approach our next budget, the government has been clear that we will take cautious steps to ensure that our finances are stable and that we will continue to pay down debt.

Would the Minister of Finance please inform the House when he will present the next budget?