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House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote the Prime Minister, who said last year: “The former foreign affairs minister admitted that he left classified documents in unsecured premises. That is the reason why he tendered his resignation and I accepted it.”

Does this standard still apply?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I have indicated to the House already the steps that have taken place. We do treat it as a very serious matter. Procedures that we had in place were not followed by a member of my staff and corrective action has been taken.

As well, it is important to note that I did offer to resign to the Prime Minister and he did not accept my resignation.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's own guide for ministers says this:

The Prime Minister holds Ministers personally accountable--

--I repeat, personally accountable--

--for the security of their staff and offices, as well as of “Confidences of the Queen's Privy Council of Canada”... and other sensitive information in their custody.

Are these just words on paper? Why will the Prime Minister not apply his own rules?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to the House, we do take this as a serious matter. In fact, that is why corrective action was taken instantaneously, once it was discovered that the procedures were not followed.

I have offered my resignation to the Prime Minister, if he felt it necessary, but he did not accept my resignation. However, I have taken responsibility.

The person taking responsibility for handling these documents offered to resign and I accepted it.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister's office, it was the Minister of Natural Resources' aide who left secret documents at the CTV office. Although they may try to have her take the blame, the Prime Minister was very clear at the time of the Couillard affair: ministers are responsible for their secret documents.

Consequently, will the Prime Minister ask for the resignation of the Minister of Natural Resources because of her negligence?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, we treat this as a very serious matter and it is a very serious matter. Clear procedures in my office that had been set out regarding this material were not followed and as a result corrective action has been taken.

The person who had the responsibility for the documents offered to resign and I accepted it.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are told that this situation is different than the one involving the former minister of foreign affairs. If I have understood correctly, leaving secret documents at a television station full of journalists is less serious than leaving them at a girlfriend's. They cannot be serious.

Either the Minister of Natural Resources is being given preferential treatment or the reason given by the Prime Minister for accepting the resignation of his former minister of foreign affairs was not the real one.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as we have indicated and as the member has pointed out, this is a serious matter and we have treated it as such.

The procedures in place were clearly not followed and corrective action has been taken. I have accepted the resignation of the individual who was responsible for the documents.

I also offered my resignation to the Prime Minister, if he felt it necessary, but he did not accept the resignation.

Nuclear WasteOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of stubbornly insisting on consulting the municipalities and going over the head of the Quebec government—which wants nothing to do with the project—the Prime Minister should take care of his own affairs and dismiss his minister who cannot keep track of her secret documents.

Will the Prime Minister ensure that Quebec's areas of jurisdiction are respected and put an end to all attempts to negotiate directly with the municipalities?

Nuclear WasteOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is referring to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization which is undertaking a very long process associated with finding a willing host and informed community for the repository of nuclear waste. This is a 30-year project.

What the NWMO is doing this year is inviting public review and comment on a discussion paper and holding a series of consultations in various provinces this summer. That is the extent of the consultation.

Nuclear WasteOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife for Quebec, Claude Béchard, has been very clear: Quebec wants no part of any projects involving the disposal of any nuclear waste produced outside its borders. The Quebec National Assembly has passed a unanimous motion to that effect.

Will the government immediately commit to respecting the position of the Quebec National Assembly?

Nuclear WasteOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which is a separate organization, is carrying out the mandate of determining a willing and informed community for the purposes of nuclear waste disposal and storage in the long term.

I invite the opposite member to give that feedback to this organization and it will take it as part of its decision making for a suitable community for this project.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is what the Prime Minister said exactly one year ago: “Minister Bernier has learned and informed me that he left a classified government document in a nonsecure location.”

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Outremont is well aware that the names of members cannot be used in the House. He must be more careful.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, one year ago, our Prime Minister said, “What matters here is that rules respecting government classified documents were broken”, and he had to resign.

“There is in this, obviously, a warning to all ministers”. All ministers? Really?

Why this double standard?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious matter. Clear procedures that were set out in my office with respect to the handling of documents were not followed and, as a result, we have taken corrective action. The individual who was responsible for handling these documents has offered to resign and I accepted it.

I also offered my resignation to the Prime Minister but he did not accept it.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us look at what the Prime Minister had to say about this a year ago. He said:

...no matter what their personal circumstances, ministers must follow the rules concerning documents. The rules were breached in this situation and that is why the minister resigned.

He said that on June 3, 2008. That was then and this is now. The rules say that she is the one responsible, not some underling. How come a year ago the minister had to resign and today they are allowed to blame an underling, a subservient person, for all the responsibility of the minister? How is that acceptable?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am a little concerned with the language being utilized by the member opposite. He utilized the term “subservient”. The people who work for us on the Hill work very hard. Indeed, in this case, clear procedures were not followed and the individual took responsibility by offering to resign and I accepted it.

I am more concerned about the tone in which the hon. member has put this forward, indicating that perhaps only a woman could be subservient.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is one for the record books. The person who resigned was a man.

She is still there and she is trying to claim that it has something to do with her status as a woman. That is pure, unmitigated nonsense.

The reason she is still there is that the Prime Minister publishes rules for confidentiality of documents and does not apply them. He said that it was a warning to all ministers. She is still there. It is unacceptable. She should resign and leave immediately.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the one thing I have learned in the House is that just because one yells louder does not make it any more compelling an argument.

This is a serious matter. Clear procedures were not followed and corrective action has been taken. The individual responsible for handling these documents offered to resign and I accepted it.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue is not a staff member. The issue is the minister and the oath she took. If the Minister of Natural Resources cannot even manage her secret documents, why should Canadians be surprised that we have an isotope crisis?

The minister needs to explain how a secret document could be missing for a week. Does the minister not have a tracking system for her own secret documents? Does she not understand the concept of ministerial accountability?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, clear procedures were in place in my office and, as indicated, they were not followed in this case. We have taken strong and corrective action. The person who was responsible for the documents has offered to resign and I have accepted it. That is clear accountability.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, ”Ministers are always responsible for the protection of classified documents”. Who said this? The Prime Minister of Canada.

Could the minister answer this question? Why did she offer to resign unless she admits that she did something wrong and did not honour her oath as a minister?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we have treated this as a serious matter because it is, indeed, a serious matter. Procedures that were set out in my office regarding the handling of documents were not followed. We did take corrective action and, as I have mentioned, I have offered my resignation to the Prime Minister, if he chose to take it, but he did not take it.

In the case of the staff member who was handling the documents, she has offered her resignation and I have accepted it.