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House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was airbus.

Topics

Food and Drugs ActRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-516, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (food obtained from cloned animals).

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present to the House my private member's bill, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (food obtained from cloned animals).

The purpose of the bill is to ban the sale and importation of food obtained from cloned animals. The sale and consumption of cloned meat raises a number of ethical, safety and animal cruelty issues. Parliament has an obligation to weigh these issues carefully, and this bill intends to force this discussion before the sale of cloned meat and milk becomes an irreversible fact in Canada.

According to a 2006 survey, 64% of consumers are uncomfortable with the idea of food from cloned animals. Furthermore, at a time when consumers are rightly demanding the labelling of genetically modified foods, the least we can do is to ensure that we do not slide further down this slippery slope.

I ask all members to support this bill. I look forward to a fulsome debate on this topic.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Food and Drugs ActRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-517, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to introduce this bill, which you have just mentioned. The intent of the bill is not to pass judgment on GMOs, but rather to allow consumers to make informed choices about their food.

Bloc Québécois members have been eager to present this bill for some time now, ever since my hon. colleague from Drummond began expressing her concern about 10 genetically modified organisms when she first came to this House.

I hope this bill will receive everyone's support.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Official LanguagesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition here today containing 869 signatures. These Quebeckers support Bill C-482 and are calling on the federal government to actively respect the Quebec nation and Bill 101.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of many constituents today.

The petitioners note that the unborn child is not respected when it comes to violent crimes. They point to the case of Olivia Talbot of Edmonton who was shot and killed in November 2005. Her 27 week unborn son, Lane junior, also died. Because there is no legal protection under the law, no charge was laid. The petitioners call for that to be changed so there would be a separate charge laid when an unborn child is a victim of a violent crime against the mother.

Manufacturing IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that brings to light an issue of great concern to the health of Canada's economy.

Canada is currently facing a crisis in the manufacturing sector. Every year thousands of Canadians who work in manufacturing are losing their jobs and every week, more and more manufacturing companies are shutting their doors. The manufacturing sector is vital to the engine of the Canadian economy and the loss of these jobs and the closing of these companies will have a negative impact on Canada's future economic prosperity.

I urge Parliament to join with me and these petitioners and develop and implement a plan of action to protect Canada's manufacturing jobs and to protect our economic future.

Volunteer ServicePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to present a petition on behalf of constituents, principally emanating from the Barrhaven Legion and led by the very distinguished community leader, David Palmer.

They are seeking that the Government of Canada, through the Governor General, institute a volunteer service medal for volunteer service by Canadians in the regular and reserve military forces and cadet corps support staff who are not eligible for the medals that were brought in for specified periods between 1939 and 1947, and 1950 and 1954.

This new service medal would honour Canadians who would otherwise have qualified for those medals but did not serve during the time period when the medal existed. It is a very good idea and members will be hearing a lot more of it from myself and from Mr. Palmer as we raise this on the national stage in the House of Commons.

SuicidePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition from constituents seeking a national strategy to combat suicide.

Bill C-482PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition containing approximately 100 signatures in support of the Bloc Québécois' Bill C-482. As we all know, this bill aims to ensure that the federal government respects Bill 101 in Quebec.

What is noteworthy about the signatures I gathered compared to those gathered by my hon. colleague is that they are the signatures of unionized employees from across Quebec. They strongly insist that the Canada Labour Code include a provision requiring federally regulated companies to comply with Bill 101, since that is not at all the case at this time.

Rights of the UnbornPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have, once again, a whole handful of petitions that have been signed by people right across the country in support of Bill C-484, the unborn victims of crime act.

I really appreciate the people who are doing this. I would like to mention a few towns. We have many from the major cities, but there is Pambrun, Saskatchewan, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Regina and Pembroke.

All of these petitioners come from right across the country and they are supporting legislation that would recognize that there would be a separate charge laid when an unborn child dies or is injured when its mother is the victim of a crime.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

February 29th, 2008 / 12:20 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have several questions for the member for Peterborough, who spoke about the Mulroney-Schreiber or Mulroney-Airbus affair just before oral question period.

Earlier, I asked the Prime Minister a question, and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons answered. I also asked the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale a question about when the Prime Minister would launch his public inquiry. On January 11, the Prime Minister said:

After reviewing the report and consulting Professor Johnston, the government has decided to convene a public inquiry once the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has finished its hearings.

He did not mention the committee's work or its report; he said “hearings”. Our hearings ended this past Tuesday. Why did this government, in this case Mr. Del Mastro, announce earlier—

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Madam—

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, let me try it this way.

Earlier, the member for Peterborough said that he wanted to wait for the report, which is due in two weeks. The only reason for waiting is that the Conservatives are trying to find any reason to put off a public inquiry. They do not want a public inquiry. They want to hide and conceal things and not hold a public inquiry. In the meantime, they want to delay it for as long as possible.

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. We went through all these hearings and conducted these studies but the member is now essentially indicating that these should not form any basis of the public inquiry.

Professor Johnston, an appointed, non-partisan eminent Canadian, specifically wants to look at our findings so that he can frame the ultimate terms of reference of a public inquiry into this matter.

As I said in my speech, this is an old story. I do not understand what the rush is. Let us do it right.

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my Conservative colleague for intervening on this very important subject.

Just to review, the motion before us today is the motion from the Liberal member for West Nova who is a member of the ethics committee, as is my colleague. The problem is that the motion wants the public inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair to move forward before there is a final report from the ethics committee.

It was the understanding of most in the House and most Canadians that Professor Johnston had recommended that a final report be delivered before an inquiry move forward.

My Conservative colleague knows that the member for West Nova, today in the House, made a startling accusation, which I do not believe is true, that somehow our Conservative government is implicated in the Schreiber affair. However, I have not seen any evidence to that effect.

Since the hon. member for Peterborough actually participated in the committee hearings at the ethics committee, he is probably in the best position to advise the House whether there was any evidence to show that the current government was implicated in the Schreiber affair.

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the committee heard was exactly the opposite. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Every witness who came forward said that this had absolutely nothing to do with the current government or any member of the current government. They also said that they had absolutely no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of any public officer holder at all.

The only unethical behaviour that has occurred, in my personal opinion, is the unethical behaviour of the member for West Nova, who has been attending dinners with Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber, according to Mr. Schreiber, dating all the way back to August, which is well in advance of a--

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Dinners?

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I agree with that--well in advanced of a statement made by Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber in court and in sworn testimony that is contradictory to statements he has made before, but then again, just about everything Mr. Shcreiber says--

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me some time to talk about the Mulroney-Schreiber affair.

This morning, the hon. member for West Nova painted an excellent picture of the Mulroney-Schreiber, or Mulroney-Airbus affair. As far as we are concerned, the person involved is a former parliamentarian. This also concerns the ethics committee, which, as we know, is the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. I will refer to it as the ethics committee.

This committee has been dealing with the Mulroney-Airbus affair. The person we are most interested in is Mr. Mulroney, because he is a former parliamentarian. In fact, he is the former Prime Minister of Canada and it was his actions that worried us. At first we were concerned about his actions, but after what we have heard we are now worried. It is for these reasons that, as you heard a few moments ago, the committee has presented a motion to this House asking the Prime Minister to launch a public inquiry as soon as possible to shed light on this whole affair.

The hon. member for West Nova painted an excellent picture, provided an excellent summary of what has happened since the early 1980s, and even the 1970s. It is a very complicated story. I say “story”, but I know that is not the right word. It is not a story; these are events that occurred one after the other and some even overlapped. Some 20 years later it is quite difficult to understand.

Four books have been written on the subject. I invite those watching us to read them. The first book that was written was On The Take. Then there was A Secret Trial, and then Presumed Guilty, followed by The Last Amigo. All these books were written in English and, to my knowledge, have never been translated. They shed light on some of what has happened since Airbus decided to flood the North American market.

That is why the committee is calling for a public inquiry and asking that it be launched as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, promised on January 11, that there would be one. The Prime Minister

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I would ask the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert to sit down for a few moments. This is the second time in 10 minutes that she has named a member of this House. I hope it will be the last time.

Thank you.

Opposition Motion — Public Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber AffairBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that this is the first and second time this has happened since I was elected. I am terribly sorry and I hope it will be the last time.

On January 11, the Prime Minister promised that he would start the public inquiry as soon as the committee hearings had ended, and we believed him. Now that the hearings are over, he is delaying it for another two weeks. What new excuse will he give us in two weeks?

So far, the Conservative government has been trying everything it can to put off a public inquiry that would shed light on what happened under Conservative rule.

It goes without saying that our committee did an excellent job. All the committee members did their jobs. We all worked differently and with a different perspective, but we did so within the limitations of a parliamentary committee. Some people were disappointed, but it was not a court of law. Some people were disappointed, but it was not an inquiry or a police investigation. It was a parliamentary committee with members sitting around a table asking questions in the best faith possible to get a clear understanding of the situation. This was very difficult, considering the amount of time we were given.

We think that the committee has finished its work, and that it did a good job. However, the committee was working under some constraints, and that is why the matter must be turned over to a public inquiry with the broadest possible mandate. I will explain why.

First, a public inquiry is justified because of conflicting information. Brian Mulroney's explanation of his international work does not make sense. Nobody believes that a former Prime Minister, who claimed to be against selling arms to China, would set off the day after leaving office on a contract to sell weapons. That does not make sense.

Mr. Mulroney was unable to prove that he actually worked for the $225,000 or $300,000 he received. The people working on the Bear Head-Schreiber project—Mr. Schreiber, Mr. Alford, and Mr. Marc Lalonde, do not remember having seen Brian Mulroney work on the project. Nobody can confirm that he did. Not only is there nobody in Canada who can confirm that Mr. Mulroney worked on the project, as Mr. Schreiber claims, but there is nobody anywhere in the world who is still alive and who can testify that Mr. Mulroney did the international work he was supposed to do.

That is very troubling, and I wanted to mention it. Some people claim that there is no need for a public inquiry. Yet, as I said, there are too many contradictions, too many inconsistencies, too many implausibilities, and too much suspicion. Some people say that suspicion alone, no matter how great, does not constitute proof, and they are right. However, suspicion surrounding potentially criminal actions led to the creation of the Gomery commission, which was an excellent initiative. This public inquiry must take place so that everyone can testify under oath. We are looking forward to hearing the former Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, testify under oath.

Some people say that this was not public knowledge, and that it does not concern the public because public funds were not involved. However, Canadian and Quebec taxpayers paid some or all of the $25 million in commissions through their taxes because Airbus and other companies made the Government of Canada pay $25 million more to cover those costs. Moreover, perhaps if there had not been so many secret commissions, the government at the time might have made a different decision about buying 34 airplanes, and the purchase might have ended up costing less.

Some say that nothing illegal went on. However, the mandate was unclear and implausible on both sides, as I mentioned earlier. The former prime minister was paid in cash. He was paid $300,000 in $1,000 bills. We would like to remind the House that the Bloc Québécois was responsible for having $1,000 bills withdrawn from circulation. Why? Because we believed and we convinced this House that $1,000 bills were used in illegal dealings and mafia transactions.

For that reason the Bloc Québécois convinced this House to withdraw $1,000 bills from circulation. In the end, it was unanimous.

Let us try to imagine the former prime minister of Canada receiving $225,000 or $300,000—it is no longer clear—in $1,000 bills in a brown envelope, always associated with something secret, in a hotel room, away from prying eyes, without an invoice, receipt or supporting documents. He was asked about these but he was unable to provide any receipts for expenses incurred here or abroad. There are no accounting records. He put the money in a safety deposit box. If everything was above board, why did he not deposit it in the bank? It was five years before he reported the money as income, just when Karlheinz Schreiber was arrested for the first time because he ran afoul of the law. The two events are related. Mr. Mulroney stated as much in his testimony. When he discovered that Mr. Schreiber had problems with the law, Mr. Mulroney finally reported the $225,000 or $300,000 to the tax authorities.

When a former prime minister of Canada receives that kind of money, under the circumstances I just explained, from a businessman who pocketed $25 million in commissions for contracts he obtained from the government of this prime minister, we should all be asking questions. A public inquiry must be held.

No one has been able to corroborate Brian Mulroney's version of the facts. Even his friend, Fred Doucet, testified that he did not hear what was said. No living person on earth can corroborate the international meetings of Brian Mulroney and no documentation has been provided to support his account.

Taken separately, his actions may not be illegal. However, in sociology, there is a principle according to which the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It seems that this would apply in this case.

Mr. Mulroney said he had made a mistake, a colossal mistake. He admitted he was wrong. He said he had made a serious error in judgment. But he never said why he had made that error. That is what he must be asked. What clouded his judgment? What was his motivation? Why did he not react as he would have ordinarily? He must be asked these questions. Unfortunately, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics did not have time to do so.

People have said they did not learn anything from the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. I am sorry, but we on the committee learned a great deal, and many people have said so.

First and foremost, the hearings allowed all the information that was circulating in English-language publications in English Canada to circulate in Quebec as well. This gave Quebeckers the chance to learn about this serious and disturbing situation.

It was the first time we understood that there were so many contradictions. In fact, it was the first time we heard Brian Mulroney's own version of events, rather than the subjective version given by his spokesperson, Luc Lavoie. Mr. Mulroney told us that he and Luc Lavoie only spoke for 10 minutes or so now and again, which is why Mr. Lavoie did not have full information. By the way, Luc Lavoie, who told us he had been Mr. Mulroney's spokesperson for years, was much more knowledgeable about specifics and details, such as the RCMP code number for journalist Stevie Cameron. He remembered her code number, but he was not aware of information such as the amount of money Brian Mulroney had received.

It was the first time Brian Mulroney had given his version of events publicly, and it differed from his spokesperson's version. It was the first time we could see that there were so many contradictions as to the amount of the agreement, the agreement itself and even the company that was to give Brian Mulroney the contract.

I must say that I personally learned a lot. Of course, I have read all the books written on the topic and have had the opportunity to question the witnesses. I did so in good faith and I learned a great deal.

I learned, for instance, that an invoice for $90,000 and a cheque for $90,000 had been given to Fred Doucet by one of Mr. Schreiber's businesses just a few weeks after Mr. Doucet left an official government position and only three weeks after Airbus had deposited $5 million in one of Mr. Schreiber's accounts.

Let us review the chronology of events—of what probably happened or what appears to have happened. A $5 million commission is deposited into a Swiss bank account for Mr. Schreiber, by Airbus. Three weeks later, Fred Doucet sends an invoice for $90,000 for services rendered, although he had been on the open job market for only a few weeks. That was $90,000 and I will come back to that in a moment. Then, a few days later, he receives a cheque for $90,000 for services rendered. Who makes that kind of money? Imagine, $90,000 for a few weeks of work, for services rendered. Exactly what kind of services? Please!

In any case, as I said earlier, it was the first time we heard Brian Mulroney's version. Now, Canadians and Quebeckers have the right to hear him under oath.